Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Still here

Sorry for the absence. It's been a busy few days. So you get bullet points. Lucky you!

  • Saturday was spent shopping for the Oscar party we hosted Sunday. We planned our errands well, finishing (well, mostly) in time to eat some Mexican food then get home and watch the most frustrating basketball game ever.
  • Sunday was spent preparing for, then hosting, said Oscar party. It was a good party, with nine guests and food, as usual, themed to go with the best picture nominees. Can I just say that if there hadn't been a scene involving a grocery sack of baguettes in Michael Clayton, that movie would have been impossible to pair with food? Because George Clooney never eats or drinks in the whole movie. Juno was much easier, for obvious reasons.
  • I'm working on my first performance review as a supervisor at the Corporation. I'm not really enjoying it.
  • We just got home from a very, very long school program. It was for Black History Month, but it was called the "Brotherhood" program. I think I need to bring to someone's attention that by choosing to not use the word "Black" they instead used a word that is not a bit inclusive, but, in fact, leaves out 51% of the population. Hint: "Unity" is a lovely word.
  • I have a bad feeling that American Idol could turn me into an alcoholic. It's a bad, bad season this year.

Now that it's all written down, it doesn't seem like much. But it's felt like more. I'm delighted to have no plans for the next three evenings, because it's going to be an amazingly packed weekend. I just hope March doesn't speed by quite as quickly as February did, because I'm a little stunned that we're in the last few days of the month.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


When I was logging on to Blogger, I was planning to write an update-y post, mostly about work, but then I saw that this was going to be my 400th post, so I thought it should be more, well, special.

But for special? I got nothin'. I've been doing this get up, go to work, come home, be tired, go to bed thing this week, and there's just not much left. I did successfully complete my end of my son's homework (quizzing him on his multiplication tables) but I will also admit that I tried to outsource it to multiplication.com (that, my friends, was a nightmare...timed tests make him very, very stressed). But beyond that, there's little to say.

So here's the update-y part of the post: I had my first "performance improvement" type conversation as a manager. Actually, my first AND second. Within an hour of each other. (Yes, that was planned.) It wasn't as hard as I thought it would have been (seriously, I was dreading this). But then again, I've fired volunteers before (THAT, my friends, is hard). I think things will work out, mostly, and I'm quite optimistic about the future in my department. We have some very, very good leadership, and a few potential rising stars in our field. It's going to be fun to watch things unfold through the summer.

This 400th post thing is making me feel pressured to write something good. And the bizarre spike in traffic my site has experienced for the past few days isn't helping the pressure to write well. I like to think that most of the time my writing is pretty good (my boss thinks so, anyway), but lately it's been less-than-creative. Or insightful. Perhaps it's more a function of being tired and maybe getting sick and then being preoccupied about the whole surrogacy thing.

My headspace is a little more occupied than usual because of that, but I don't think I need to spill it all yet. It's, to use the completely wrong word, premature. We're still on "if", not "when." And it may not even work anyway. So allowing myself to spend too much time there is not wise. I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the future anyway (not the distant future, more like the next three, six, ten months), and this particular situation is not definite. And I need to remember not to treat it that way. But then, there are conversations that need to take place, sooner than later. I suppose it's probably time to get Craig back into the mix, right? Given that the couple seems to be leaning toward a tentative "yes", it's probably time to re-introduce the topic. He's not been involved in these exchanges, though he and I have discussed it (briefly) once.

But I approached the couple before he and I had thoroughly hashed it out. Because I didn't know if it even merited a long discussion (there was that possibility that they would have been entirely disinterested in such an offer). And now that there is a conversation underway with the other folks, and it's going the way it's going, there needs to be a long, and maybe not easy, conversation with my husband (who mostly does not read my blog, so please don't bring it up to him if you know him.)

But I somehow don't have the heart to bring up such a serious, and life-altering (at least for a year) topic during Oscar week. With our party coming up on Sunday, he's already a bit more stressed than usual. Yes, that probably makes me sound like a big chicken, making lame excuses, but I already knew that, because the conversation I had with my employees today should have happened two weeks ago. (Maybe the fact that it wasn't horrible with them might convince me that this conversation, too, will probably be fine, even if it's not easy.) Because nobody promised easy, right?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Letter to my Body

Over at BlogHer, Suzanne started an interesting conversation. And, being the consummate joiner, I'm playing along.

Dear Body,

We've been through a lot together. Things seem to be better these days. Maybe because of that radioactive pill I took a few summers ago. It felt strange, conspiring with the medical establishment to kill part of myself, but that part was malfunctioning so much, fighting against the rest of me, that it had to be done.

That summer was hard on us, body. We suffered through high doses of steroids and still sport the changes it caused in our face and belly. Sometimes my face still surprises me when I look in the mirror or at photographs. I don't think of my face as being as round as it is, has been since the summer of 2004.

Up to and including that summer, a lot of my adult decisions were influenced by that pesky thyroid gland. I was afraid to exercise more than walking and a little yoga, because my heart was already working itself into a frenzy, just sitting still. I approached my first pregnancy with more than a little fear: fear that I wouldn't get pregnant, fear that the physical stress of pregnancy would cause my thyroid to spin even farther out of control.

But you worked it out, didn't you? You had no problem getting, and staying, pregnant. You kept me safe, kept the baby safe, even through a car accident. You built two healthy and strong babies and more than enough milk to nourish them beyond a year.

The changes my body experienced during pregnancy were exciting while they were happening, and I was delighted with my new curves. I even let art students share the joy. But after the babies were born, I looked at my rapidly-deflated belly and didn't know what to think of it. The art teachers called and I didn't want to model anymore. I was happy to share my pregnant body, but my postpartum body wanted privacy.

But all that is behind us, at least for now. And I started taking you to the gym. After all, we're not getting any younger, and I want to keep us around for a while. It seemed fair enough that with all you've done to take care of me and my kids, I could spend some time taking care of you. Working out with you feels much better than I expected.

And I'm reveling again. No, we're not 22 anymore. Some of those soft places will stay soft. But we feel stronger, and we're looking pretty good. Craig appreciates and enjoys you.

So thanks, body, for a pretty good 36 years. We've been through a lot together, and I can't wait to see what happens next.


Saturday, February 16, 2008



The feedback (which, yes, I requested) from my last post gave me plenty to consider. But the message I got from the female member of the couple in question (which I just read today) is also interesting. I'd characterize it as receptive.

Which is interesting.

But, anonymous commenter, no, I won't send you a picture of my boobs. Maybe if you try hard enough you can find a drawing of them from my art school modeling days. I still regret that I never asked any of the students for a copy of a drawing. Because some of them were good.

In other news, Craig and I were supposed to have a date night tonight. Damn those kids and their sick sickness. Not only did sleepover hosts #1 have to cancel because of kid illness, hosts #2 also canceled. And really, we would have been in the wrong to have sent our kids to spend the night with anyone anyway, since they were full of pestilence too. Thank goodness for the buy one, get one free on Walgreen's cough and cold medicine. We may go through a whole bottle before Tuesday. Score one for the drug store, zero for the disco.

And we were even on the V.I.P. list. (Which impressed the crap out of our kids, who really couldn't imagine us at a disco.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Your feedback, please

Let me preface this post with a disclaimer: no decision has been made. All parties involved, in fact, have not discussed this for more than a few minutes, and no discussion at all has occurred that involves all the parties at the same time. So don't expect anything to come to fruition in the immediate future, if at all.

Something's been tugging at me. Keeping me up at night. Waking me up from a dead sleep in the middle of the night. While some people might say that God is talking to me, I'm not entirely convinced. But I do know that if something is forcing itself into my consciousness, I need to pay attention.

I'm seriously considering being a surrogate mother for a couple I know.

They never asked. They never even expressed any interest in pursuing such a course of action. They've been trying to conceive for some time, and at some expense, and it hasn't worked. Craig and I, on the other hand, practically looked lovingly at each other across the table and conceived our kids. Fertility? Is not a problem for me. I've carried two healthy pregnancies to term, both resulting in healthy children.

And before you ask, I don't want another baby. Not in the least. Craig and I are both very, very happy with our family's size and have no interest whatsoever in increasing it. The children, too, do not want another sibling. So this is not coming from a place of "I want a bay-bee!!!" I don't. I'm not sentimental about pregnancy, nor am I sentimental about childbirth. In fact, I'm pretty much resigned to the idea that if this happens, I'd have another Cesarean section. After two sections, I'd be hard pressed to find a doctor in this conservative medical town to attend a VBAC. And honestly, I don't know if I would want to make the emotional investment in trying again. After what happened last time, I don't think I'm up for the disappointment of trying and "failing."

This couple? I don't get to tell their story. It's not mine to tell. I'll just say what I feel. They would be wonderful parents. It's a horrible injustice of random, cruel nature and nothing more that they haven't made a baby. I hate to see wasted potential, and they just ooze "fantastic parents" potential.

It's a leap, I know, to go from idly musing about how it sucks that some people who should be parents aren't to thinking that I can do something about it. And maybe it's just a bit narcissistic on my part.

But it's keeping me up at night. And maybe there's a reason for that, a reason bigger than what I can comprehend.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Fessing Up

Since I subjected you to this meme last week, I thought it would only be fair to give you the correct answers. I know your anticipation was killing you. And I couldn't stand increasing the body count. See how much I love you?

1. I modeled nude, for money, during my second pregnancy. I earned about $200. For sleeping.

That one is absolutely true. I modeled for life drawing classes at two colleges after reading a newspaper article about the difficulty art teachers were having finding models. I figured a pregnant body would be interesting to draw. It was fun. If you're wondering, no, it's not cold. They crank up the heat for the naked person. And after the first two seconds, it wasn't even remotely awkward. I was able to carry on conversations with the instructors and also, yes, sleep. I fell asleep many times. Laying completely still. Except my belly, which sometimes wiggled.

2. Even though I've lived out of the country and traveled pretty extensively during my childhood, I haven't left the United States since a year before I got married.

My mom outed me on that one. It's false. I've left the country several times since 1992. Mostly to Canada, but also to the Bahamas.

3. I've never voted for a winning candidate, whether in a major or local election. Turns out, I'm just not in the mainstream. Period.

Lie. I voted for Clinton in 1992, my first presidential election, and we know how that turned out. That being said, I've lost many more than I've won.

4. Until I started dating the man who later became my husband, I was a rabid college football fan, and even missed dinner in the college refectory if a game went into overtime.

Very true. I toy with the idea of getting into football again, but I really don't have time.

5. I dye my hair so frequently that I honestly have no idea what my natural color is. Or if I have any grey hairs.

False. I know my hair color. And how much of it's grey. Which is too much. Hence the hair color.

6. I'm unreasonably afraid of tornadoes.

Nope. That's false. Weather doesn't really scare me.

7. I won't eat organ meat. Of any kind. It's gross.

False. Liver is one of my favorites.

8. I've tried, but never succeeded, at giving blood. One time I was denied because I was under the required weight (110 lbs.) and once because I still had the sniffles. As a result, I force my husband (definitely more than 110 lbs.) to give blood since I never can.

False, but barely. I've only successfully given blood twice. I tried to give platelets at work, but that was a disaster. A painful disaster. With a lot of bruising. And heat packs. And did I mention pain?

So now you know the story. Hope it was worth the wait.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Job security

My new area of supervision at work got a surprise visit from the health inspector today.

Our score? 99/100.

Very nice.

Plus, that means that my madd supervision skillz must be working.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Thank you

I suppose that you already know that my fair city got hit pretty hard by strong storms last night. Warehouses were destroyed, homes were destroyed, even a mall sustained major damage. My family spent hours glued to the radar pictures on the television, seeing ourselves in the direct path of a tornado for a few minutes (fortunately for us, it veered east, and we were out of its path). Friends of mine saw tornadoes. Friends of mine lost neighbors.

In my house, we had a panicking dog and a panicking boy. My sweet son has a rather irrational fear of weather, particularly hurricanes and tornadoes. Fortunately, we've been able to talk him down from his hurricane fear (it helps that we live very, very far from saltwater), but any serious threat of tornadoes is a guarantee that he'll be at best, fearful, at worst, a complete wreck.

Last night he veered closer to the "complete wreck" side of the scale. There were tears. There was a ten-minute-long episode of such fear that I could barely be near him. He planted himself in the laundry room (the safest room in the house for such events) and assumed the "duck and cover" position. Keep in mind that there was no tornado heading even remotely toward our house at that point. I finally convinced him to watch Hannah Montana in my bedroom, demonstrating that the trek from my bed to my closet (the other, more comfortable "safe room" in the house) took only seconds.

Because a second line of storms was forecast to come through the area around 10 p.m., we dragged the futon mattress downstairs so the kids could sleep in our room. I think it gave him peace of mind, and he slept well (except when the second front came through, with astonishing force).

But the title of this post is "Thank you" and there's a reason.

Some people may think I'm a bit odd, in that my usual online routine includes checking weather.com. I almost always know what the day's weather is predicted to be. And this storm system? Was no surprise. As early as Sunday afternoon, I knew that Tuesday was going to be an interesting day. There was a "Special Weather Statement" posted, warning that conditions would be ripe for such storms. By Monday, the forecast had been narrowed down to the point that the predicted storms were projected to arrive between 1 and 9 p.m.

The first raindrop hit my neighborhood at 4 p.m. Just as predicted. The worst was over before 11 p.m.

Even though I whined (and wined) about missing American Idol and House, our local weather forecasters kept us informed, alerting folks when the funnel clouds began forming, figuring out the path these storms would follow, and telling people to take cover.

They were exactly on target. And for that, I'd like to buy all the weather forecasters a Coke. They all deserve a nice day off.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

In lieu of a real post

Here's a meme (or something like it) that I shamelessly lifted from Hola, Isabel. And, without further ado, six lies and two truths about me:

1. I modeled nude, for money, during my second pregnancy. I earned about $200. For sleeping.

2. Even though I've lived out of the country and traveled pretty extensively during my childhood, I haven't left the United States since a year before I got married.

3. I've never voted for a winning candidate, whether in a major or local election. Turns out, I'm just not in the mainstream. Period.

4. Until I started dating the man who later became my husband, I was a rabid college football fan, and even missed dinner in the college refectory if a game went into overtime.

5. I dye my hair so frequently that I honestly have no idea what my natural color is. Or if I have any grey hairs.

6. I'm unreasonably afraid of tornadoes.

7. I won't eat organ meat. Of any kind. It's gross.

8. I've tried, but never succeeded, at giving blood. One time I was denied because I was under the required weight (110 lbs.) and once because I still had the sniffles. As a result, I force my husband (definitely more than 110 lbs.) to give blood since I never can.

So, if you think you know the truth, comment. I'm missing the comments. Please?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Science fair

I just finished my portion of Susie's science fair project.

Let that sink in for a moment.

See, these science fair projects are serious business. Last year, Susie and two friends teamed up to do a pretty good experiment (the effects of different liquids on tooth enamel), and they took third place. I'm convinced that they would have taken first if I had been more proactive and helped them more with the graphic design of the project.

This year, Susie has a new partner and a new topic. The two girls chose nutrition as their topic (at my suggestion...after all, I have good resources at work), and their experiment was good: for one week, they ate a typical diet and kept a food diary. For week two, they first planned a "balanced" diet based on the recommendations at www.mypyramid.gov (good stuff there, by the way), then kept a food diary again. The food diary was input (mostly by them, but also by me) into www.my-calorie-counter.com, a good-enough site that calculates calories, fiber, fat, and the like.

My portion of the project involved taking that data and feeding it into an Excel spreadsheet, then creating a zillion graphs depicting the recommended calories, fat grams, etc., comparing them to the actual calories, etc., consumed, then overlaying the percentage above or below the RDA the girls consumed.

I learned something that I didn't tell the girls. True, it's not a scientific sample, but the results played out as I expected. Susie, as a middle-class white kid with post-graduate-school-educated parents, had a pretty darn good diet in her "control" week. Her nutritional intake was very similar in weeks one and two. Her partner, on the other hand, is economically disadvantaged, African American, and has a less-than-stable family situation. I don't know her mother's educational attainment, but I suspect it's minimal based on the contact I've had with her. And this girl's diet? Is a mess. It's almost a textbook diet for how to get heart disease, an epidemic health problem in the lower income African American community. Her sodium intake is generally 2-3 times the recommended daily limit. Her sugar intake is high. Her saturated fat is high. Her fiber consumption is about half of what it should be.

But what's most disturbing about her results is that her intake of "bad" stuff (fat, saturated fat, sodium, sugar) was markedly WORSE during the Food Pyramid week. I'm not sure why. Perhaps her mother was not able to provide a balanced diet that adhered to the eating plan the girls had designed. I know her mother did not understand the plan, because she called me last Sunday evening, after I'd dropped the child off at home, asking me, "What is this mess she just handed me?" The "mess" was her daughter's food chart. I went over the project with her, explaining the experiment and what they were trying to accomplish. I explained portioning and what foods needed to be consumed in what quantities. The family does not have a computer, so I couldn't direct her to a website.

I talked to the girls today about their results as I was creating the charts. I was gentle when I told Susie's friend about the issues in her diet. I explained that she needed to look at product nutritional labels when she and her mom went to the grocery store. And I beat my favorite dead horse. Lunchables? Are the worst thing in the world that kids can eat. Except maybe rat poison.

The girls did a great job writing up their findings. And I'm about to head to the office to print all these beautiful charts (in color), as well as some pages from the food pyramid site. They'll put the whole thing together and (hopefully) win a prize next week.

I hope they learned something. And make changes accordingly. As they wrote in their report, "It's hard not to eat too much salt and sugar."