Sunday, June 28, 2009

Have Child, Will Travel...We hope...

Traveling with children can be a challenge, but it's one that I am up for. My family plans to make two big trips this summer - a two plane ride trip to Germany and a car trip from Texas to Wisconsin.

Our four year old son was in Germany when he was a baby, but now that he's a cognisant preschooler, this intercontinental trip will be a whole new experience for him. We are actually supposed to be with our German relatives in The Land of Beer and Oompah Bands at this very moment, but children have a way of throwing one's plans to the wind. Three days before our departure date, our son came down with a fever that turned into a febrile seizure later that evening which sent us scurrying to the ER (this was his first febrile seizure and although harmless they are still scary). The poor child still had a 102 fever the day we were supposed to fly, and we just didn't want to take the risk of traveling on that long of a trip with a sick little boy. So, the people at Continental Airlines were very gracious and allowed us to postpone the trip at very little cost. (Kudos to you, Continental, for making this mommy a little less stressed out about the whole situation.)

We're hoping our next departure date will be uneventful and we'll be on the plane and on our way. (Keep your fingers crossed for us!) I've prepared as well as a mommy can. I bought my son a few new toys for the trip: a neat new coloring book of sorts, called Holes, in which the child colors in holes in each page of the book that turn into something else on the next page. It's pretty neat, you mommies of preschoolers/young kids out there should check it out. I also bought two easy reader books about Transformers, a 2-pack of small Transformer robots, and a small Matchbox car and mechanic shop. We decided not to take the plunge and buy a DVD player. I hate sitting my kid in front of a TV for hours on end, even in circumstances like one of long travel that might warrant it. I hope we made the right decision!

What do you do to keep your kids occupied on long trips?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Scrapbook Connection

I have a feeling that we are going to have some baby news this weekend so, I thought I would post early.

Obviously everyone has been touched by the trio of iconic deaths we experienced this week. Ed McMann, Farrah Faucett and Michael Jackson. The world took a HUGE cosmic hit. I always feel like we all lose something positive when legends pass on and they were all legends in their own right.

I was mostly touched by Michael Jackson's passing. Mostly because it was so sudden but also because he was a big part of my childhood. As a child of the 80's, you would have to live under a rock to not be a fan but I was much more than that. We listened to his music. We watched his videos. We witnessed on TV his global-shifting performance at the Apollo. We hung the posters, bought the T-shirts and envied those fortunate enough to see him in concert. His passion was clear in everything he did and it was contagious....especially to an impressionable starry-eyed dreamer like me. I took all my little visions of singing and dancing and put them into my admiration for him.

I collected every piece of information that I could about him and put them into a special scrapbook. Magazine covers, newspaper articles, posters, pictures...anything I could get my hands on went in that book. It was my attachment to him. I came across that scrapbook a couple years ago and I had a blast going through all the old memories. I enjoyed remembering the young wide-eyed girl I used to be. That was my connection to me.

Ironically, I had rid myself of that little piece of nostalgia last year. I was cleaning out a closet and I needed to let go of those memories to make room for new ones. I didn't regret my decision until today when I got the morning paper. Of course, the front page read of his passing. I paused a moment and remembered the feverishness in which I clipped those articles for that book. How fitting this would have been for a final entry. Fitting and sad. Fitting because he held the dreams of a younger me and sad because he could have been much more. If he were, perhaps, I would still have that scrapbook.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Although this is a blog about and for women, many of us are mother. Without fathers, there can be no mothers. So today, I am taking a break from the normal girlie stuff we talk about around here to pay tribute to my man: Jeffie:-)

I couldn't do everything that I do without him. Not only is he a great husband and father, but he is the most generous person I know. He started off buying his house in 1996 as Bachelor Extraordinare. When I joined him here in 2001, he got two for the price of one because my older daughter and I were a group package. We added our youngest in 2004 and he was outnumbered 3 to 1. Then in 2007, when my mom got sick, he opened his heart and his home to yet another girl in the house. He is swimming in a sea of estrogen over here.

He does it all for us. He brings home the bacon and on ocassion, he fries it up in a pan. He fixes the things we break, mows the lawn, programs our computers, unplugged our sinks, takes out the garbage and kills our bugs. He is literally and figuratively the strength of our family and we are VERY lucky to have him.

Happy Fathers Day, Honey! Enjoy your presents, your BBQ, your computer games and your race! You deserve it all:-)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Spousal Satisfaction High

The fun days of summer have been in full swing at our household for several weeks now. My husband, a teacher, is home for the summer, too, and I've been keeping him busy. When we're not visiting family out of state during these hot months, there isn't much else to do in Hotter Than Hades Houston other than tackle house projects inside where the air conditioning keeps us all from hating this place too much. House projects are all good as far as I'm concerned. They keep my husband busy and productive, and we are both happy and highly satisfied with the outcomes. So far, my husband has tackled some pretty big tasks. He's fixed our sprinkler system, installed a ceiling fan, and completely redone our guest bedroom. This last job was quite the project. We painted it two-tone, installed chair railing, and moved all sorts of furniture around in order to hand the room over to our four year old son, who has outgrown his smaller bedroom and has been ready for a big-boy bedroom for a while now. We also bought him a huge bookshelf from IKEA, as he's accumulated quite a numer of books which were in piles all around his room before this point. Here's the finished project (well, almost - my hubby still has to fix some of the chair railing, but, generally speaking, this project is done):



Not bad, huh?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Nostalgia

ER had it's final season this year. Now, for most of you, this was the closing of a TV program but for me, it was the end of an era. To me, it signified the end of my 20's. My husband laughs at that statement. "Your 20's should be over....you are almost 40". Shut up:-)

For those of you who don't know, Diane (another author on this blog) and I were roommates for those formative years in our 20's. You know, the years between college and marriage where you are trying to find yourself, find a career, find your husband or just find the next party. It was the mid-90's and on Thursday nights, we got together for "Must See TV". It was a chunk of TV that we could really relate to because in many ways, we were "Friends" in real life. Anchoring our Thursday programs was ER. Now, many of the shows have come and gone (including "Friends" which was another one that was hard for me to swallow) but the last hanger onner was ER.

So, when it became clear that the last piece of my 20's was calling it quits, I decided to not let it go uncermoniously. I chose to not watch any of the season as it happened. It was going to end on my terms. For my birthday, my gift to me was the whole season that was waiting patiently for me on my DVR. I made it through half of the season.

The rest remains on my DVR waiting and waiting for me. Maybe, if I don't ever watch the whole thing, a piece of me will always be 20 years old. Do you think it will work?

What about you? Do you have something like this that clearly marked a sign of passage in your life? I would love to hear about it.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Allergies strike again...

There are a few things in my life recently that have made me take a hard look at my physical health and start to make some changes.

First and foremost, I'm about to leave for Germany for a family reunion of sorts on my dad's side of the family. My aunt, his sister, turns 80 soon, and we all decided to take the trip to celebrate with her. My dad, who was born and lived in Germany until he was 26, hasn't been back to the Fatherland since he visited me when I studied there in 1990 - that's 19 years. So, my parents and my family are all traveling there together which I am very much looking forward to. In any case, my relatives there are your typically stylish Europeans, and at 38, I decided it was time to get into shape and start my quest to be age-appropriately cute so I don't look like a completely frumpy schmuck overseas.

Second, as I approach 40, there are some aspects of the way my body looks and feels that I can simply no longer tolerate. For example, I no longer wish to be slightly overweight and definitely out of shape. The muscles of my youth are almost nonexistent, and I wouldn't mind seeing a trace of them again. It's funny...I sing a lot in front of my son, because he enjoys it, and recently I taught him, "My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean." Since then, my son sings it on his own, but at 4, can't quite remember the words. I cracked up hysterically when I heard his version of the chorus, which I have since adopted as my exercise mantra:

Give back! Give back! Give back my body to me, to me!
Give back! Give back! Oh, give back my body to me!

Probably the most troubling aspect of my physical appearance is that I still have a pizza face, still struggle with acne after all of these years. I decided that I'd research and find a solution to this problem first, since, well, this is the issue about my health that, frankly, really pisses me off the most when I think about it.

After doing some online research, I discovered that adult acne can be caused by food allergies. This struck a nerve with me, because my son has food allergies. I've always blamed my husband's side of the family for his problems, because my husband's father and sister both struggle with plant and food allergies. On a whim, I decided to get myself tested at my son's allergy doctor.

Well, as it turns out, I am the source of most of my son's allergy problems! The results of my tests showed that I am allergic to a host of tree, grass, and weed pollens, dust mites, and also quite a few foods, including soy, chocolate (KILL ME NOW!), shellfish, peanuts, and tomatoes (OK, I am 25% Italian and LOVE tomatoes - I CAN NOT DEAL WITH THIS ONE). These initial results also indicate that I am probably allergic to other foods as well. Next week, I'll have my last round of food allergy testing done.

For the last few weeks, I've done my best to avoid the foods I'm allergic to, and I've noticed my skin has improved some, but, even more dramatically, my energy level has increased a lot. Furthermore, since my early 20s, I've had occasional neck and back pain and also joint pain. These problems have also improved lately. My allergy doctor says those are all common complaints from food allergy sufferers. Imagine that, I always thought my problems were due to getting a little bit older and not staying in good physical shape, but the culprit was mostly FOOD. Unbelievable.

As far as my acne goes, I paid (yet another) visit to my dermatologist and essentially told him, that's it, I've had it with acne, I want it gone. So - and, pardon my French, I don't know why the HELL he didn't do this earlier - he did some really gross test (don't read this part if you're eating right now as I just may induce your gag reflex!) in which he poked a bunch of my zits, squeezed some puss out of them, and sent the goo off to a lab to be tested. Apparently, if one suffers from acne for a long period of time, it can become resistant to the medication/topical treatment one is using. Sure enough, my acne turned out to be resistant to the prescription foam wash I had been using. So, now I am using a new topical lotion and it is working much better. I am happy to say, there has been a definite improvement in my skin and I've only been using the lotion for about 2 or 3 weeks.

All of this has taught me an important lesson. It's so important to be proactive about one's health. I always thought I was, but apparently not enough. In the past, I'd always hated running off to the doctor for something unless I was really suffering. Clearly, this is the wrong approach. I've been quite amazed at how I've been able to make some wonderful improvements in the quality of my life and health. And I'm proud of myself for taking the initial steps that have generated those results.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Is it Just Me? (Installment #2)

It has been awhile since I have been at home alone on a week day. Over past year or so my company has been on a campaign to improve its image and keep its employees longer, so as of last week, I have a new schedule. I work 9 hr days (as I would normally anyway) and every two weeks I get a day off. Hooray for flexible hours- there is hope for me not turning into my workaholic parents yet.

Did you ever have a day off that you knew was coming so you kept putting things off thinking you would do it then and all of the sudden you have a too do list that is a mile long? Of course, it could only end in disappointment since there is no way everything will be accomplished so I sit here trying to determine what is the most important or most doable. Writing a quick blog was among the top favorites. I don’t know that it is any more important than calling my insurance company to see why they did not cover my last doctor’s appointment, but, somehow it ended up being one of the first things I did after taking a shower and making the coffee this morning. Shortly, I will be leaving to go work out with my trainer and a friend. After that we are off to lunch. These are the things I have been looking forward to. This afternoon, however, I have a date with Jiffy Lube to rotate my car tires and change the oil, do the dishes, do some laundry and perhaps clean the area around my crowded desk. If I was a mother, I am sure not even half of my personal things would get done and the time would be filled with other things.

Why is it the majority of the time that I have a day off from work, it is not truly a day off? It is a day to get things done. To my husband, a day off means rest and relaxation. It is not his fault; I don’t know how to do it any other way. It is how I have been conditioned. Is it just me or is it most women? How do we become unconditioned?

Monday, June 8, 2009

In the Merry, Merry Month of May

May is my favorite month. Mostly because of my birthday and the lilacs (which are my favorite) but also because I love the promise that May brings. The promise of summer.


In May, both my girls came home for the whole summer! We brought one home from college and one graduated from preschool. My husband was even on vacation! I just feel so complete with the whole family together. All the pieces of my heart are in one place at one time and I am on Cloud 9!!

I am savoring every minute because, they won't be here forever. Hubby goes back to work today. One daughter is getting ready for Spain and one is getting ready for kindergarten. No matter what they are doing in the fall, I just love that they are both here now. We have a new play set and the pool up and next week, we are going to put the badminton net up. This is going to be the best summer ever!!


So, thank you May for wheeling in the Summer of Susie:-)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Making a move to help

Well, I read it. For those of you who read my last post, "How can I do more?", you know I was planning on reading Peter Singer's book, The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty. I figured the sooner the better, so I checked it out from the library and just finished it today.

I must say, this is one of the most compelling books I have ever read, one that will prove to be life-altering, I'm sure. Singer presents shocking, factual evidence about the 1.4 billion people who live in extreme poverty around the world and how little we citizens of this planet are doing about it. Before reading this book, I was not knowledgeable about so much information about world poverty that Singer presents. Plus, as a long-time professor of ethics, Singer makes an ethical argument based on sound logic which one simply can't refute for making financial donations to aid organizations which fight poverty, stating that if you are not currently doing so, you are doing something morally wrong. Singer's intent is not for us to feel guilty, but is rather a compassionate and urgent call to action to help the thousands of people who die unnecessarily around the world every day due to the culprits of poverty: a lack of clean water, not enough food, and easily preventable illnesses and diseases.

Singer presents his reader with many helpful hints concerning which aid organizations are reliable and effectively help the world's extreme poor. My husband and I intend on giving an annual donation based on Singer's recommendations.

If you strive to live an ethical, moral life, it is absolutely imperative to read this book. So, how about a pledge? Who will pledge to read Peter Singer's, A Life You Can Save: Acting Now To End World Poverty? (If you don't want to buy it, get it from your local library.) Leave a comment if you'll make the pledge to read this incredible book!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Customized Pyramid, Menu Planner, Activity Tracker and more

I thought I would follow up my last blog with a link to some pretty neat resources that are available for free on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's web site at http://www.mypyramid.gov that I think nearly every woman and mother would want to take a look at. You may have visited this web site years ago and just found a little information and a graphic on the food pyramid- now, you can get a customized pyramid and menu plan for your age, height, weight and activity level, assess your activity level, listen to pod casts on diet and nutrition and more. There is even a kid's pyramid plan and a cute game to teach them all about the foods (fuel) and activity (energy) they need. I don't think that most people know all of this information and tools exist and it is all free. I spent nearly an hour just looking at it all and I still didn't cover everything. If you have some time it is definitely worth checking out.