Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Am I Crazy, Or Has The World Gone Mad?

So there's this new video game coming out in time for the holidays, and...

Aw, hell. I already wrote about it over at ParentsConnect. Do me a favor, would ya? Click that link, read what I wrote, and be outraged on my behalf/your own behalf/the behalf of the still-rational persons in this world.

Oh, and just for the record...I'm not converting. So don't even ask.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Why Is He Hiding All the Knives?

I was flipping rhrough my news feed when I saw the headlines about Jane Wyatt's death at age 96.

Me: Wow. She can't really complain about that, can she?

Baroy: Yeah, really. I'd be OK with dying at age 96.

Me: Oh, no you don't. I've got plans for after you're gone.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Day In The Life

I feel sort of keyed up today, I thought as I trudged up the hill at 8 am to take the kids to school, then took the long way home to make sure Snug got enough exercise to tire him out for a while so I could get some work done.

Not exactly anxious, but definitely a little out of control, I mused as I spent a couple of hours juggling calls for my university job with emails from my ParentsConnect job.

Or maybe just kind of distracted, I thought as I spent an hour on the phone with my father's girlfriend, reassuring her about the results of some neurological tests he'd had taken the week before, after symptoms that indicated the possibility of a mini-stroke.

I wonder if my meds just aren't working right, I considered as I trudged back up the hill to the kids' school at noon, Snugless this time, to spend an hour volunteering in Em's classroom, running copies, pasting haikus onto construction paper, keeping the kids in line while they waited to sign their Red Ribbon Week drug-free pledge.

I mean, it's only been three weeks or so, so maybe I'm just not giving it enough time, I chided myself as I ran up to the kindergarten classrooms, late because the pledge-signing had taken longer than expected, only to find that N and Mrs. W were already heading to the office since I hadn't been there on time to pick him up.

She must think I'm a total flake, and maybe I am, I thought grimly as I apologized to her and took N's hand, walking him home while he chattered away about the joys of being Line Leader this week and getting to stand at the head of the line wherever the class went.

Part of the problem is definitely a lack of patience on my part, I mused an hour later as I sat with N as he did his homework--plus the extra writing practice his teacher has asked us to take on--while Baroy picked up Em at school.

It would be nice to know whether that lack of patience is just something I'll have to live with my whole life, or whether it's something that the right drug, the right diet, the right regimen would address, I considered as I switched over to helping Em with her increasingly beyond-my-abilities math homework, returned a few work-related calls, and checked in with my boards on ParentsConnect.

It'd probably help if I was a more organized person, I admitted as I bundled Em into the car at 3:45 to take her to religious school, 20 minutes away.

Part of my problem is definitely that I fly by the seat of my pants way too much, I told myself as I took a long walk around the temple's neighborhood while Em was in class, stopping at a bookstore to look up some information for an article I'm writing, grabbing a decaf coffee and then walking back to the temple while checking emails on my Blackberry, only then realizing that I had a PTA meeting scheduled for that evening and the minutes from the last meeting weren't printed out.

Idiot, idiot, idiot, I berated myself as we drove home at 6:30, any relaxation derived from the walk vanishing.

Clearly, I'm just at a loss for how to handle my life, I muttered to myself as I printed out and signed a dozen sets of minutes, then dashed over to the meeting at 7:15, 15 minutes late.

And mostly, it's my poor kids who suffer for it, what with my inability to keep my temper in check and my overall ditziness these days, I thought as I drove back home at 8:30 to find N just waking from a 'nap,' hungry for dinner.

What sort of example am I setting for them being so scattered and snappish? I considered as I heated up some pizza for N and myself, suddenly realizing how hungry I was, too.

I really do need to get my life under control and bring some order to it so that my kids can have order in their lives, I decided as I cuddled with N before Baroy put him to bed at 9:15, then read with Em in her room until nearly 10:00.

Because all of this flying by the seat of my pants is getting old, I thought as I spent a couple of hours sending out more work emails, putting together a document for one of my university projects, and creating a letter for Em's teacher about Accelerated Reading reports, something I hadn't had a chance to finish while I was in the classroom that afternoon.

Mostly, I think it's all about not letting myself get so keyed up, and learning to go with the flow a little better, I thought as I slipped into bed around midnight and read for a while, unable to relax enough to go to sleep. I really ought to be able to handle my life with a little more grace and aplomb. I really ought to be able to get through the day without feeling like I'm going to fall apart. I really ought to get my shit together.

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Can You Help? (#3)

Having already explained this concept, I'm just going to get right to it.

Can you help a mom whose baby has his first ear infection?

Can you help this same mom with her concerns about giving her son antibiotics?

Can you help a parent who needs to find a flu shot for his or her child?

Can you help a mom who has a manic/bipolar son?

As always, anything you can add to these conversations will be hugely appreciated.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

From The Mouths of 9-Year-Olds

Last night, watching Project Runway’s season finale (yes, we let Em stay up until 11 on a school night, Just This Once), we listen as Michael talks about the journey of discovery his collection is supposed to represent, and then gaze slack-jawed as the women walk the runway.

Me: Oh my god. She looks like a prostitute!
Em, without taking a beat: Well, maybe that’s what she’s discovering about herself.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Young Poet

Each week, Em is supposed to take a certain number of her fourth-grade spelling words and do three out of a list of about 12 possible activities with them. For the last couple of weeks, she's chosen to write a poem. They're interesting poems, being that they have to contain certain words, and that she's still finding her way in the world of written language. Overall, I find her use of language rather sophisticated, though her grammar (and, ironically, her spelling) are not.

But what got me this week was not so much the poem (copied below, in all its line-break-lacking grammarless glory), but what I saw when I looked up at the child who stood before me, asking if she could read said poem to me. All I can say is that nobody will ever accuse my child of not looking the part.

Em's Poem

A trees trunk is really tall or really short. They sometimes have fruit hanging from them. And in the morning due will fall on the leaves. When it is going to rain the dull sky will have an attitude and pour on the poor tree. And in the morning after I slumber I will get a orange from the tree and make juice. As I look at the tree I know it's life as a tree will continue.

[Spelling words: trunk, due, dull, attitude, slumber, juice.]

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Monday, October 16, 2006


I know he's sick.

I know he's feeling restless from being confined inside all day.

I know he thinks there's nothing cooler than peeing outside.

But why? Why? WHY would a five-year-old sneak outside to pee on the grass and then, spying the dog, decide to switch targets?

And why why WHY would he think that I would respond positively to his wide-grinned announcement of having done so?


That poor, put-upon, peed-upon dog.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Paging Dr. Mom

It was the usual Sunday night gang, gathered this time at our house. Seven of eight parents; nine of nine kids. There were pizza boxes strewn all over my kitchen; there were children running everywhere, interrupting the grown-up conversations, vying for attention.

N cam ambling up, munching on potato chips. He began to choke on one, coughing until I had him sip some water.

“You have to give me medicine now, right Mommy?” he said, when the coughing had subsided.

“No. Why would you need medicine?” I replied, already rolling my eyes. (Have I mentioned that there is absolutely no question that he is my child, this boy who will undoubtedly one day insist that he ‘has things’?)

“Because I’m coughing,” he said, throwing in a few couldn’t-be-faker, please-don’t-quit-your-day-job-kid coughs for good measure.

“You’re not sick,” Baroy said from the other end of the couch, while various other parents laughed at N’s pathetic bid to get a dose of his beloved Children’s Tylenol.

“I am!” N insisted. “Feel my head.”

Sighing, Baroy did so, while I returned to my conversation. But N was not to be denied.

“You too, Mommy,” he said. “Feel my head. It’s burning hot.”

“It’s not...” I began, even before my hand hit his forehead. Which was, as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, hot. Not burning. But definitely hot.

I sought Baroy’s eyes over my girlfriend’s head. “Did you...?”

He was nodding before I even finished. “Yeah,” he said with an abashed smile. “I thought he felt a little warm.”

The upshot? 100.4 axillary (i.e., under the armpit), which translates to somewhere between 100.9 and 101.4 actual temperature.

Whoops. I guess in my house, you’re a hypochondriac until proven diseased.

In my defense, however, he really doesn’t have a cough. A fever, sure. But no cough.

That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Birds

Ever since Snug came to live with us, our cats (Buttons and Benni) have chosen a life of isolation--a life spent specifically and entirely in my and Baroy's bedroom. There, they are safe from the large, slobbery beast, who is kept from venturing upstairs by a baby gate at the bottom of our stairs. (Our bedroom, which was an add-on built in the 1970s, is accessed by a staircase that descends directly into the kitchen; that bedroom, along with a not-so-masterly bathroom, makes up the entirety of our upstairs suite. I love that room and, in particular, the huge plate glass window that takes up one entire wall of it and looks into the mountains looming above our foothill home...but that's beside the point.)

Neither Benni nor Buttons seems particularly put out by having their territory so severely curtailed; it was their own choice, after all, to fight us literally tooth and nail when we tried to run through the 'introducing your cat and dog' checklists we'd found when we first decided to adopt Snug. They have their food, they sleep on our bed, the kids come up and play with them. They enter and exit the house through the now-unscreened window in our bedroom, which leads out onto a rooftop. They seem perfectly happy. And we don't mind it, either. Except for the birds.

Or, I should say, the dead birds. And the dead lizards. And the live lizards. And the dead rats. And the live rats.

There really is nothing quite like climbing the stairs to your bedroom at midnight to find a perfect circle of feathers spread across the carpeting, with a tiny wren-like bird at the epicenter. Unless, of course, it's pulling back the curtain to your tub to find a tail-less lizard skittering around the porcelain bottom. Or unless it's hearing a terrified squeaking only to discover a terrified baby rat who has taken up residence in the milk crate of out-of-season clothes you keep in your closet. Or unless it's taking that crate downstairs to free the terrified rat and finding, when you dump the clothes out, that there was a de-tailed lizard in there, too.

(The former, by the way, was last night. And a week ago. The lizard: at least once a week. The three rats, one live, two dead: early summer.)

All I can do is shudder and wonder, what's next? A squirrel carcass wrapped in my bath towel? An oppossum in my underwear drawer?

Only time will tell, I fear.

Welcome to my world.

Friday, October 13, 2006

A Week In

Seven days on Lexapro. Let's review:

* All nausea gone.
* Four pounds of unneeded weight regained.
* Irritability almost fully annihilated.
* Dizziness gone.
* Brain has returned to a solid form and resides once again inside my skull. (To say it's functioning would probably be overly enthusiastic.)
* Depression is...well, not any worse. Which is good, since I only took what-is-to-be-my-therapeutic dose for the first time yesterday, after a week on an introductory half dose. And these suckers can take weeks to kick in fully, anyway.

Overall? I'm fat and calm. Could be worse.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Mom In The Classroom

Because I can't let sleeping dogs lie...and because even though I know that Jane wasn't really talking about me when she recently talked about how teachers really don't like having all these overinvolved parents in their classrooms I still have to have the last word...I give you this, from our local newspaper, in an article talking about how N's kindy teacher, the incredible Mrs. W, was honored as Teacher of the Year from our school district:

One of [Mrs. W's] goals for students is to include paents in their children's learning experience.

"There is a volunteer parent in my class every single day," W said. "I want to give the parents the opportunity to experience their children in a different way. I encourage parents to engage with their children."

My point? She WANTS me there. Really she does. I'm not smothering my kid; I'm experiencing my child in a different way.

And fulfilling what seems to be a life-long mission to suck up to every teacher I've ever had or met. But don't tell Jane I admitted that.

Monday, October 09, 2006

There's No Crying in Soccer

Em complained of a headache much of yesterday afternoon. But we were helping get ready for a Sukkot dinner at our synagogue, and I figured she had just hit the end of her helpfulness rope. That feeling was seemingly confirmed by the fact that, once the dinner party began, she was in rare form.

But on the way home, full of food and fun with friends, she began to complain again. By this morning, the headache had turned into a full-blown fever.

"Well it's a good thing you don't have school today anyway, because I wouldn't let you go!" I announced cheerily. (For the record, they're not off for Columbus Day; they're off for a 'teacher work day.' Columbus has definitely fallen by the wayside in this town.)

"But I can still go to soccer practice tonight, right?" she asked eagerly.

"Absolutely not!" I replied.

Tears. Sobs.

"Whoa, whoa, calm down," I said. "Let's see how you're doing later, and we can discuss it then, OK?"

Thus began the hourly requests for more Tylenol to make sure her fever would be down, and the half-hourly temp checks. ("Mom, I'm down to 99.6. Is that low enough?" "Mom, I'm only up to 100.3. Can I go?")

By 5:30, her temp was down to 99.0, thanks to two hits of Tylenol during the day, and I decided to give her a break.

"OK," I said, "here's the deal. You can go to practice with Dad [Baroy is the team's assistant coach, so has to attend the practices whether Em's there or not], and you can do the drills. But you have to sit out the scrimmage, because I don't want you to push your body too hard when you're sick. OK?"

She nodded OK, but her eyes, brimming with tears, said something else entirely.

"Oh for god's sake!" I exploded. "I ought to keep you home completely. Why are you being like this!"

"It's just that I love soccer so much!" she wailed. "And I want to get better at it. I just don't want to miss a minute of practice!"

I have to say that, although I held my ground--I've always considerd my number one job as a mother to make sure she stays safe and healthy--inside, I was so proud and pleased with her. She has real drive, that kid. Real commitment. She loves playing this game, despite her growing realization that she's not one of the best players out there. She's finding her niche: It's become obvious that she's much better as a defender than she is when playing offense, and she's begun agitating to stay in defense throughout the games, despite the fact that there's no glory in the backfield. And she's working at getting better and better in that niche. And she's doing this to no particular end, either; she doesn't seem to have dreams of playing professional ball or anything like that. She just loves being in it, part of a team, striving to win.

She couldn't be less like her mother--especially her mother as a child. And yet, her mother couldn't be prouder of her. Tears and all.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Can You Help? (#2)

Having already explained this concept last week, I'm just going to get right to it.

Can you help a mom whose son has a cat allergy?

Can you help a mom whose baby's face is rashy?

Can you help a mom who needs advice on how to ask for flex time at a new/potential job?

I thank you, in advance, for any words of wisdome you might have to offer these parents.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Fuck fuck fuckity fuck

Looks like my last day at the university job will be December 31.

There goes two-thirds of our income, our health insurance, and the World's Best 401K ever.

We'll survive. But it still sucks, and I think I'll be taking a week or so to wallow before pulling myself up by my bootstraps.

First person to leave a comment with any variation on the idea of "why doesn't Baroy help out?" will be responsible for my subsequent complete mental breakdown. In other words, don't. Please.

[In better news, two days on Lexapro, and I feel like a reasonable human being again. I expect to begin acting like one any day now.]

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Desperately Seeking Stability

After several emails back and forth, my doctor declared my increasing nausea, dizziness and exhaustion--not to mention the soul-crushing irritability and depression--unreasonable and pulled me off of the Wellbutrin. (Crankmama, I'm now officially with you in the "I hate Wellbutrin" club.) In its place, she's put Lexapro; we already know I did OK on Celexa for quite a while, so I should be fine on its close cousin, which supposedly has even fewer side effects. And while I was at the top dose of Celexa, more or less, there's room for me to play with the Lexapro until I get stabilized. (Or not.) The only concern is whether this more potent drug will activate me--that's psych-speak for making someone either anxious or manic--the way Zoloft did. But I'm willing to give it a try, especially if it means I won't spend the next few weeks wanting to crawl into a cave and die the way I have the past few weeks.

It may be a placebo effect, but after not even 48 hours off the Wellbutrin, I'm feeling significantly less queasy. And after not even 24 hours on the Lexapro, I'm feeling a lot calmer, less likely to snap. These are Very Good Things. Whether they continue is anyone's guess.

We'll see.

Completely unrelated:

As we were walking toward school this morning, a girl got out of a car in the drop-off lane. She was wearing a mini-mini-mini skirt in a check pattern with a matching short jacket, tights, and high heeled, shiny patent-leather knee-high boots. Her lunchbox had her name on it and the words "First Grade."

Thinking that I'd never let my kid out of the house dressed like that--much less buy her the clothes in the first place--I glanced at Em, whose jaw had dropped, and laughed.

"Some outfit, huh?" I said to her as I bent to kiss her goodbye.

"That's totally inappropriate...and especially for a first grader!" my fourth-grade woman-of-the-world replied. "I can't believe her mother let her go out like that!"

The apple doesn't fall far...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Hanging In

I emailed my doctor this morning, telling her that I was concerned that Wellbutrin and I don't really have much of a future together. I'm just waiting on her reply, now. And a pharmaceutical knight in shining armor to scoop me up and take me away from all this.

But lemme tell ya...When you're already cranky and angry and headachy and tired, fasting? Not so much fun. I made it though (with the exception of the small glass of water I took with my Wellbutrin Sunday night), but I wasn't a particularly happy camper. Or even a sullen camper. I was an outright snarling, nasty camper, to be honest. Though I kept most of the snarling quiet and to myself, if you ignore the snide little asides I threw at various congregants and guests at services yesterday. That's something, right?

Somewhere up in the heavens--or wherever they may be--an incorporeal God is sighing and rolling his/her genderless eyes at me. I know, dude. I know. I'm trying, really I am.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Can You Help?

One of the things I'm finding particularly frustrating about my job as a Host Parent for ParentsConnect is meeting the needs of members while the community is growing and the site is changing to meet its demands. For example, one of the things that has become obvious is that while the numbers visiting the site are still relatively small, it can be hard for people who need advice to get it quickly. A single plea for help can get easily lost asmidst such a large number of boards.

There are several fixes in the works to make that less and less of a problem; the problem will also abate naturally, as more and more people begin to come to the site on a regular basis. But in the meantime, for those of us hosting boards where we hear requests for advice go answered, it can be frustrating.

Which is why I'm writing. In an attempt to take matters into my own hands while ParentsConnect goes through its learning curve (aka beta testing), I'm going to institute a new feature here: Can You Help? Once a week or so I'm going to post a series of links directly to posts from people who need advice that I can't give. If you're so inclined, go and give these people a hand. (Yes, registration at the site will be required for you to post a comment; I have no way around that.) Also, if you know of anyone who might be able to help a particular poster, please forward them the link, or email the relevant entry here, and ask them to join in.

As an extra inducement, some of us Host Parents have been talking about maybe putting together a weekly raffle from those of you who step up to the plate and help out. More details on that, soon.

And now, without further delay:

Can you help a mom who can't find a dentist who will let her go back with her 2-year-old while cavities are filled?

Can you help a mom whose son was recently put on Ritalin?

Can you help a mom who is trying to deal with the typical 'sandwich generation issues of caring for babies and elderly parents at the same time?

Can you help a parent looking for altmed treatments for asthma?

Can you help a mom dealing with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder)?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Poor Pathetic Dog

This was Snug for the first 24 hours after his run for home. He just lay there; he wouldn't eat, he wouldn't stand up. He moaned and groaned in pain. He was truly pathetic. He broke my heart.

Yesterday, he returned to the living, but gingerly. He looked like a newborn foal trying to stand up and take a few stumbling steps on those bandaged paws. If it weren't so sad, it would have been hysterical.

Today, he's starting to feel his oats, walking around the house, going outside and up the stairs to the grassy part of the yard, even coming to the table begging for food. Who'd'a thunk I'd have been so thrilled to see his little face glued to my side as I tried to enjoy a sandwich?

Later on today, our vet/down-the-street neighbor/mother of one of Em's best friends is coming by to take off his bandages and check his feet. We'll see if they need to be rebandaged or not. If his mood is any indication, they're healing nicely.

At first, I took Snug's running away from me very personally. How could he do that? Why would he want to? Was he not as devoted to us as we are to him?

But then I realized that he ran home. Not away. Home. And then I got what had happened, and I simply couldn't be angry any more.

Over time, since we've had Snug, we've tried to give him more and more freedom. A month or so ago, I'd started letting him off-leash to run from the car to the house after we go to the dog park, and he'd proven happy to go straight to the front door. And so, a week or so ago, Baroy had begun letting him off the leash at the top of our street, three houses away, and letting him tear down to our house free of a leash and without our slow human feet dragging him down. He'd been letter-perfect about it.

And so, best I can figure, on Friday, when he pulled forward on the leash and I, in a moment of inattentiveness, dropped it, he thought I was giving him his signal to run home. I remember that he even looked back at me at first, as if to say, "Are you sure?" By the time I'd found my voice, though, he'd taken off, and nothing was going to stop him--not the big street he must have flown across, dodging traffic; not the pole around which his extendable leash wrapped, pulling him to a pad-shredding stop only long enough for the plastic clasp to give; not the pain that shredding must have induced. By the time I'd called Baroy and alerted him to Snug's escape, Snug was already on the porch, panting, bleeding, home.

That he survived this adventure relatively unscathed makes me almost tearfully happy. In just four months, he's become an essential part of our family. Sure, the stuffed animals in the house would have heaved a sigh of relief if he were gone, and the still-too-scared-to-leave-our-bedroom cats would probably have had a party, but the humans would have been devastated.

Besides, who would N have to nap with if Snug weren't around?

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