Thursday, December 10, 2009

Why am I in a crimson steed, with my boltcutters, anyway?

I've had a request from one of my most frequent readers (no, not you, Mom) to explain the origin of my blog name and by-line.

And so, I shall tell you the story, dear readers.

Once upon a time, way back in 2006, I began writing this little blog. Truth be told, I was trying to comment on someone else's blog, and it seems like the blog required me to have a blogger login. So I fell back on my old faithful, sdfgarcia.

I think it's awfully nice that my parents named me with the initials "SDF" and super nice that I married MrG, so now my initials are SDFG. Type it out. Go ahead and see how nice it feels to have your left hand just tap in rhythm across the keys. It feels good, huh? But I digress.

sdfgarcia has kind of been my go-to name for "stuff" like websites, emails, etc. It just followed that I would use that to create a blogger login.

So I created my login, and then I figured since I had it, I may as well use it. I wrote and wrote and sometimes people found me, but more often than not, they didn't. Was it my totally lame ass boring blog name? Probably, but I'll never know.

Because, dear readers, everything changed late in the night on September 1, 2008. I got a call from my BFF, who lives only a mile or so away. Here is how the call went, more or less:

BFF: Hi.
Lady Steele: Hello. You're calling late.
BFF: Yes. I know. Do you have any bolt cutters?
Lady Steele: Why yes, I believe we do. I think they are in the room where we keep the car.
BFF: Can you get them and come over right away?
Lady Steele: Why yes, of course. Whatever has happened?
BFF: You know the metal baby gate between the living room and the foyer?
Lady Steele: Yes, I believe I do.
BFF: Well, Toby has managed to get his head wedged between two bars, and we can't get him out!
Lady Steele: Holy mother of pearl! I will be there forthwith!!

And away I galloped.

Actually, I went into the room where we keep the car, found the bolt cutters, and hauled ass in my dorky red minivan to my best friend's house, where we proceeded to pry the metal baby gate open enough to release one very scared little weinee dog. (I should note for the record that no animals were harmed in the naming of this blog).

My BFF is a notorious night owl, and I suspect after her scare that she was up for hours just working off adrenaline. Nevertheless, when I awoke the next morning, I had an email thanking me for my late night trip over to save her (she would have done the same for me, and more!). In the email, she said I reminded her of a superhero, charging forth on my crimson steed, boltcutters ever at the ready.

And a superhero was born! Well, not born, but definitely named.

I do consider myself a modern superhero. I parent full time. I work full time. I do laundry ALL the damn time. I manage a house full time. Ok, so maybe the manage a house part is only part time, but I pay the damn maids to fill in the parts I can't or won't handle. I'm on the PTA. I'm a soccer mom.

Maybe I don't make the most money or keep the cleanest house or feed my family the best meals ever, but I do a pretty good job at covering the bases most of the time. And for that, I consider myself a modern superhero. As I consider every other working schmuck mom out there who holds down a full time job, then comes home every evening to start her second job.

I went to a terrific Thanksgiving potluck at a dear friend's house last month, and I was so thrilled when one of her guests hopped up, hugged me and said "you're Lady Steele!" As great as my initials are, nobody ever called me by them at a potluck. So I figure, I've got a winner.

Also, I think it's a nice tribute to my BFF, who is there for me always, asking nothing in return, except maybe a late night trip to her house with a tool of one sort or another.

And there you have it friends, a tale of the birth of a modern superhero. I hope it was worth the wait.

Lady Steele

It's hard to keep up with them Joneses

This whole Christmas decoration thing is becoming quite a burden. First I have to nag MrG to go into the room above the garage, which I think he refers to as "the attic." Then I have to listen to him yell in a muffled voice about how much crap we have up there and how much of it we really need to keep. Once he gets it all down the stairs, then I have to nag him and LittleG to help me get it all placed appropriately in the house and the yard.

For what? So we can try to one-up the neighbors in our quest for the perfectly decorated Christmas wonderland, deep in the heart o' Texas?

By the time we're finished, we're all three mad at each other and exhausted. And we never freakin' one-up anyone. So this year, we're taking another approach. Instead of trying to out-Christmas our neighbors, we're going to bow out politely and let them win. Here's my basic plan....

Don't hate me because I'm clever. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! And by the way, Miss Betty, you've got a light out on your eave.....

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

It's a Festivus Miracle!

Well, dear readers, I cleared a hurdle today. A big one.

This was my first post-op mammogram since finishing up my radiation, and I'm glad to say I passed with flying colors! Both of my girls are free and clear, at least for the next six months.

I won't go into many details, except to say that after my first diagnostic mammogram after two surgeries and 33 zaps of radiation, I will NEVER again complain about the old run of the mill screening mammo, which heretofore, I thought was the most painful thing ever. I know better now.

Get 'em checked girls. It's better to know than not know!

Lady Steele

Friday, December 04, 2009

Baby announcements from Mars and Venus

Reminders of how different men and women are can strike at the strangest times! We've had two babies born at work in the past couple of months. One's birth was announced by a woman, and one was announced by a man. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

You think you can guess which came from the man?

Subject: Baby Smith is here

John Alexander Smith was born 8 lbs 12oz and 21 inches long. Mom and baby are resting and doing great. Chris said something about the baby being cute…That’s the 48th time we’ve heard him use that word in the last 2 weeks.

Subject: He is here!!!!

I am happy to pass along that

Jackson “Trey” Young Brown III

Arrived at 4:02 am this morning – 9 lbs 3 oz and 20.75”

Mom went into labor on her own yesterday, they checked into the hospital yesterday afternoon at 4, she pushed for two hours, and Trey arrived via c-section this morning.

Mom is fine and dad is ecstatic!

I have attached a picture and will send more later.

Congrats to the Brown Family!!

The Brown family baby was born first and the announcement was made by...yes, you guessed, a woman. The woman was kind enough to use lots of happy punctuation and gave us both the time and date of the blessed arrival. The man, on the other hand, gave us straight up information. No silly talk about dates or how the baby got here. No fancy schmancy punctuation or special spacing. Baby is here, all is fine.

I was excited to get the news in both cases, and both of them pretty much got the job done. But it was striking how different the messages were, both in tone and content.

I guess there might actually be something to this Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus theory. Maybe I'll spend some time thinking about that this weekend during the celebration of the six anniversary of the birth of the most spectacular child ever born. Or as MrG says, that "damn party."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mother of The Year, indeed

Can any of you more experienced moms please weigh in on this?

LittleG: Mom, these shoes are too tight (use your whiney voice for best effect).
I will fix them when we get to Nana's .
LittleG: Mom, these shoes are too loose!
Me: How can your shoes be both too tight and too loose at the same time?
LittleG: Because you won't fix my shoes.
LittleG, do you realize that tight and loose are opposites? It is not physically possible for something to be both too tight and too loose at the same time.
LittleG: Nuh huh. Because YOU. ARE. THE. WORST. MOM. EVER!

All of this at the tender age of 6. Before, by the way, 8 o'clock in the morning. On a Monday.

Thanks, Mom, for taking one for the team this week. I'm sure you are having a delightful day already. Thank heavens you quit being the worst mom ever about a decade ago. I guess it's my turn to take the reins.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Birthday, Little Duck

Lots of cool people have birthdays today. A guy named Peregrine White was the first child born in the New World to Pilgrims after a journey aboard the Mayflower as it sailed towards a new land and a new promise. Two Nobel peace prize winners (Selma Lagerlof and Karl von Frisch). An astronomer, Edwin Hubble, who discovered galaxies and is the namesake of the Hubble telescope. Several important political figures, Oliver Wolcott (governor of Connecticut who signed the Declaration of Independence), Robert Byrd, (D-Sen-WV, majority leader), Robert Kennedy, (D-Sen-NY assassinated), and Joseph R. Biden Jr., our very own VPOTUS. There are authors and humorists and prima ballerinas, and even Bo Derek, sex symbol extrodinaire.

But by far, the birthday that deserves the most attention is my LittleG, who turns 6 today. At 8:09 am on November 20, 2003, LittleG came in to this world at a healthy 6 lbs. 13 oz, surely the most beautiful child ever to grace the nursery in Irving, Texas.

She arrived to the joy and relief of family and friends who had prayed for her arrival for years (shout out to you and the Sunday School Girls, Mom) and went from the nurses' capable hands into the arms of her father, who knew at that moment in time that his only job in life was to keep that baby safe and happy.

To say that the first six years has flown by would be the understatement of the year. It seems like just yesterday we ushered her into her new bedroom and stared at her wondering "what now?"

Together we have watched her navigate her early years, the first tedious steps that turned into full blown running within a few days. The first words we thought would never come that now fill our home and hearts constantly. The cataclysmic growth spurt that has thrown her head and shoulders above her peers. The transition, seemingly overnight, from the Dragon Tales and Dora of her babyhood to Hannah Montana and Wizards of Waverly Place that so define her now.

I sit here, in shock and awe, of what we have created and grown together. A beautiful little girl with the sweetest smile and the warmest heart, an undescribable fashion sense, and a stubborn streak a mile wide.

I don't know what her future holds, whether she will become a famous astronomer or writer or God forbid, a politician. But I do know this - her father and I, along with her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and a swarm of family friends will be there for her no matter what. With the exception of the sex symbol. She's on her own if she goes that way....

Happy Birthday, Angel, we love you BIG MUCH!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Where exactly did this child come from?

My adorable little cherub is growing like a weed. She stands fully a head taller than most of her classmates, and she's already in a size 2 1/2 shoe. I am blaming this on her father, by the way, as I am a nice normal 5'7" tall and he towers over 6''3". But I digress.

Fact of the matter is, fall is upon us here in Texas, and I have nary a garment to keep my little darling warm during the cool fall months. Since she's been wearing uniforms to school, regular clothes have not even been on my radar. Yep, Mom of the Year, here I come!

So last weekend, we set out to solve the problem.

Me: Ok, LittleG, we have a problem.
LittleG: What's the problem, Mom?
Me: We don't have any cool weather clothes for you to wear, and we are going to see Abuela over Thanksgiving.
LittleG: So?
Me: So it's going to be cool there, and you don't have any clothes to wear.
LittleG: Can't I just wear my shorts?
Me: No, shorts won't be warm enough.
LittleG: Can't I just wear my pink dress?
Me: No, you pretty much outgrew that this spring but I didn't fight you on it.
LittleG: What are we going to do? (Read this using your best whiney voice for full effect).
Me: We have three options.
LittleG: Hit me with them, Mom.
Me: You can wear your uniforms at Abuela's house
LitteG: No way.
Me: You can go shopping with me and pick out some new clothes.
LittleG: Shopping is SO BORING, Mom.
Me: Or, you can just let me go shopping and pick out some new clothes for you. But if you do that, you have to wear what I buy for you.
LittleG: Girrrrrllll, THAT ain' gon' happen!

WTF? That ain' gon' happen? She just figured out she's half Mexican, and now she be tryin' to go all ghetto on me? Straight up, gangsta bitch!

Clearly, I am going to need therapy and some really good drugs to get me through the pre-teen years. I don't know what it's going to take to get me through the teenage years, but I'm certain there will be vodka involved. If you'd like to contribute to my mental health therapy, feel free to donate through paypal.

Peace out, peeps.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Going Stupid

I’ve not commented, on purpose, about Our Lady Sarah Palin and her antics of late for a lot of reasons. Probably the number one reason is I don’t want to be that “bitchy sick girl who doesn’t have anything better to do with her time than gripe.” But today, I’m commenting. So if you’re on Team Sarah, go ahead and step away from today’s blog. I recommend clicking here: Go ahead. I’ll wait.

For those of you who hung around, this won’t be a total bitch session. But I will be bashing Lady Palin today on the rollout of her new book, Going Rogue.

It troubles me that She Who Would Have Been Queen VP chose Going Rogue as the title of her book, based on the actual meaning of the word “rogue.”

Webster’s Dictionary defines “rogue” as follows:
1. Vagrant, tramp
2. A dishonest or worthless person: scoundrel
3. A mischievous person: scamp
4. A horse inclined to shirk or misbehave
5. An individual exhibiting a chance and usually inferior biological variation

Check it here: Really. You can’t make this stuff up, folks!!

Anyway, does she have an editor? Is there anyone in her camp who can point out to her that she’s now labeled herself as a tramp, scoundrel, or scamp? Or at least that she’s headed that direction, given that the word “going” implies she’s moving towards something?

I’m assuming based on previous media interviews that she has a ghost writer, since she has been unable to compose a coherent sentence on her own. Maybe the ghost writer could have pointed out politely that she might have spent a few more minutes thinking up a better title.

I watched the Oprah interview on TV yesterday in its entirety, and I have to say it was certainly more sympathetic that I had thought it would be. And I do have to admit that I hate Lady Sarah a tiny bit less today than I did yesterday. Still TOTALLY NOT a fan, but my hard little heart might have warmed up towards her just a tiny smidgen. A smidgen, mind you. JUST a smidgen.

She was either uberprepared for the Queen of Talkshows, or she might just have a lick of sense after all. She was well-spoken and kept her composure. She answered hard questions pretty credibly. She did not wink at the camera or play the “you betcha” card one time! There was none of the good old girl, pitbull with lipstick crap we saw in the campaign.

For the most part, she sounded like she had a brain and actually knew how to use it. Things might have been a whole lot different if that’s the Sarah Palin we had seen last fall. Good thing she was coached so effectively by the good old boys in the McCain camp.

Now for those of you (mostly Mom and Robin) who might be holding out hope that I’ll jump on the Palin for 2012 bandwagon, stop it right now! I think she’s totally unqualified to be the leader of the most powerful country in the world. I disagree with her on most issues, and I think it’s a crying damn shame that she played the good old girl card last fall when she’s clearly perfectly capable of portraying women as smart and credible.

She could have used last fall’s campaign to show that women can be credible politicians and play alongside the men. But her campaign, like this stupid book title, fell far short. And with that, she failed us all.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lookin' for love in all the wrong places

From the Dumbass Criminal Files....

Please write your own joke. Thanks for tuning in.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bouncy Bouncy Bouncy Bing!

I'm finding this bouncing back from cancer thing a lot harder than I thought it would be. Remember back in July, I was all optimistic and bright eyed about how this was just another inconvenience along life's journey? This was just going to be unpleasant and expensive and then I would bounce right back, no worse for the wear? My glass was half full, and by gosh, I was going to enjoy every last drop of it!

Now? Not so much.

Welcome to the stage tonight, if you will, Dark & Twisty Lady Steele.

Some strange phenomenon happens when you are diagnosed with cancer, even the "not bad" kind. Suddenly, all you think about is cancer. Is it going to kill me? Will I lose my hair and throw up for the first time in 22 years? (I'm really not making that up, but that's another blog). Will I leave my poor sweet child an orphan and her father a widower at 36? Will he remarry a woman that's able to keep up with the laundry? Will my mother and my sister and my brother lose someone else they love to this dreaded disease? Will I get fired? How will we pay for this? Will I lose my boobs and have to wear a part of my butt in my bra for the rest of my life?

What sucked most for me was the time between the "hey you've got cancer" talk and the "ok, now we at least know it's not likely to kill you" talk. I don't know why it is ok to think that waiting a couple weeks to get an answer about how bad this really might be is acceptable. But for some reason, it is. And so, you wait.

I've survived the lumpectomies, both of them. I have a scar and some soreness still, which seems odd to me since my last surgery was four months ago. I made it through radiation, all six and a half weeks of it. I have a fistful of vicodin from the surgeries that I'm saving for a special occasion.

On the surface, I ought to be good to go. But now every little mole, every headache, muscle twitch, or tummy ache sends me to the computer in search of what might be slowly killing me now.

I had the strangest thing happen about a month ago. I won't burden you with the details, but if you'd like to read more about a REALLY fun affliction, click here: Trigeminal Neuralgia. The short version is that I was knocked upside the head with this horrid pain that stung quickly, struck hard, and stuck around anywhere from seconds to hours. Was I optimistic and bright eyed when this thing struck? Hellll no. I was convinced that my non-metatastic (a fancy word that means "doesn't spread") breast cancer had spread to my brain, where a giant tumor was slowly taking my life. Turns out, not so much. A trip to a couple of new docs, some really great medicine, and bing, bang, boom. I'm cured. But it was scary.

MrG and I have been battling some type of upper respiratory thing. Coughing. Snot. Lots of both. He's been sick for more than a month, and I've had it for a couple of weeks. Is it the swine flu, I wonder? Bubonic Plague? Pleurisy? Tuberculosis? Not so much. Turns out it's simply seasonal allergies and a compromised immune system.

My friends look at me differently now. The previously casual "hi, how are you" has now turned into "how are you, really? Are you ok? Do you need anything?" I have a friend (shout out to you, Shelly) who walked for 3 days with my name emblazoned on her pack. My dear sweet friends at work wrote checks to the Komen during a month when no one should have been asking them for anything. Well earned praise at work due to a decidely kick-ass sales year is now tempered with, "and you've done it with all of the challenges you've faced."

The old me has been replaced by the Me 2.0, Cancer Upgrade Pack.

The point is, Cancer has defined my life since June of this year, and I'm having a terribly tough time shaking it.

Some really good things have come of it - our company will now be making screening mammograms available EVERY YEAR for our women, not just every other year. And that is due in part to my story. I have friends who are getting their first mammograms because of me, and they are sharing my story with their friends. I know to the center of my soul that my fight will help another woman win a fight. Somewhere, somehow, I know this. I've raised money, my friends have raised money, and together we have raised awareness. So it's not all bad.

I'm really ready, though, to shake out from under this black cloud that has hovered around me. My inner writer is with me again - she's talking to me in the car and at night as I try to unwind for a night of restless sleep. I'm finding myself amused by every day stuff and making little notes that I promise myself I will act upon. Days later when I find the note, it seems beyond my scope of comprehension that at any one time those little scribbles made enough sense to me to convince me that I could indeed write about them.

I must admit I feel a certain amount of pressure to be witty and interesting here, and I suspect that my blog niggling at me is just one more thing that my overtaxed brain has to work through. But we're getting there. Like I tell LittleG, "we're not there yet angel, but we're getting closer."

Hang in there, dear reader, because I am on the upswing. I'm headed into Holiday Hysteria, which commences next week with LittleG's sixth birthday. I've already considered my holiday baking, which is good, but I don't think there is a way in the world I can pull off the 12 Days of Christmas this year.

I might surprise us all, though, so keep those cards and letters coming. And cross your fingers that I bounce up more often than down. I'll get there, friends. Ever forward.

Friday, October 23, 2009

You're sitting in a the sky!

This is Louis CK from an appearance on Conan. He is one funny dude.

My friend MK sent this to me months ago, and it's just been waiting patiently for me to share it with you.

I flew to Tampa, FL, two weeks ago for a trade show. If you want a true appreciation of how much we expect, the sense of entitlement we've bestowed upon ourselves, simply fly by yourself to a city you've never been before. Here's how myfirst day played out.....
  1. I loaded my car and drove to a parking area near the airport where a man I've never met before picked up my luggage and transported me and my luggage to the American Airlines check in counter.

  2. At the check in counter, two guys I've never met before looked at a paper print-out I brought from my office. They picked up my bag, put some magic numbers on it and put it on a conveyor belt. I didn't see the bag again until Tampa.

  3. Inside the airport, a lady I've never met before scanned a barcode on my piece of paper and let me get on a plane, where a man I've never met before flew the air... from Dallas, TX, to Tampa, FL. And while we flew, a nice lady I had never met before served me ice cold Diet Cokes.

  4. At the Tampa airport, my luggage miraculously appeared before my eyes on a conveyor belt.

  5. After collecting my luggage, I took it outside, where a guy I've never met before loaded me and my luggage into a yellow car, and took us both to the Intercontinental Hotel. By the way, I had no idea whatsoever of the address of the hotel.

  6. When I got there, I handed my drivers license and a piece of plastic to a woman I've never met before. And she gave me a nice safe place to sleep and a place to hang my clothes.
Are you getting this? I went, by myself, all the way across the country and slept in a room with nice fluffy pillows, armed only with my drivers license, a print-out from Orbitz, a credit card, and a handful of dollar bills for tips and taxi.

I didn't know a single soul who helped me that day, but I expected nonetheless that each of those strangers would perform his or her function and my trip would go off without a hitch, which it did.

What a remarkable world we live in!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Clorox Wipes and Lysol and Potty Covers....oh my!

We have this woman in our office who never fails to amaze me when she sneezes. She lets loose a full blown, snot flying ACHOO-echoing kind of sneeze. I've seen her stifle them in meetings, so I know she's physically capable of doing so. In general, when this woman sneezes, everyone hears it. And many in adjacent areas feel it.

There is no attempt to cover the sneeze or to come out with some little delicate "ah-choo" (or the "study hall sneeze" as my little sister used to call it). It's a big ugly nasty, loud, snotty affair.

I've been quite put out by this for the entire time we've worked together, but I can't really figure out a way to bring it to her attention that it's totally offensive to those of us who office near her to hear her shout ACHOO and see her blow spittle across the office without sounding snarky.

So I was a little shocked today when I walked into the ladies room in front of her. I headed in to my designated stall (yes, I have a favorite) and heard her file into a stall just down the row. At that point, the Toilet Cover Rustle began. You know the one - I've got to fish this potty cover out of its tissue box home and spread it on the potty so I can sit down on it. Rustle, tug, tug, rustle, spread, rustle.


Let me make sure I understand this. The SNEEZER is worried about germs?

Trust me lady - my booty cooties ain't got nothing on your lung butter.

If you're so worried about germs, try sneezing into the crook of your arm. Or perhaps a tissue. Make an effort to protect us from your germs. Or for the love of all that's holy, don't attempt to protect yourself from ours.

It seems a bit out of line for me to point out to her that she's spreading a lot more germs when she sneezes than she's protecting herself from when she uses a potty cover. Maybe I just need to work on my delivery a little. Subtletly has never been my strong suit.

SNEEZER, if you somehow got ahold of this post and it hurt your feelings - so sorry. My bad. Someone should have pointed out to you gently a long time ago how bad it is to sneeze uncovered, especially in the land of Swine Flu and The Hygenically Correct. It's nasty. It's unsanitary. It's offensive. And it hurts your credibility as a professional.

In the meantime, I'm really glad to know you won't be picking up any nasty germs on your on your lady parts. We, on the other hand, will be walking around with your snot in our hair. Thanks a bunch for that.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 anyone there??

Dear Right Brain,

Hey. I know you've had a rough summer, and I've tried to cut you some slack. Quite frankly, I feel like I've filled in the blanks pretty well. After all, I've kept up with all the scheduling tasks for the past three months. The bills have been paid on time. You and your family have gotten where they are supposed to be at the time they were supposed to be there - that's including soccer practice, soccer games, radiation treatments, doctors appointments, PTA meetings, boys day out, work, school, travel. Prescription medications were taken on time by the appropriate family member. Pets have received heartworm medication. The grocery list has magically appeared each week. And you know what? I'm freakin' done for awhile.

You have been curled up under your desk in your mental fetal position for long enough. You've not published a blog in weeks. You're not decorating cakes. You've not made a necklace in heaven only knows how long. It's time you just get over yourself. Put your big girl panties on and get back here and blog, for the love of all that is holy.

Some of your friends have been understated in their desire to see an update; some have been more outspoken. Regardless, this is your gig, not mine, so pull yourself together, sister.


Left Brain

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Hello, all.....

Just wanted to pop in and say hello. I have lots to share with you, but not enough energy to sound witty or interesting. Snarky, mean, or just plain old unpleasant? I can pull that off. But witty or interesting? Not so much.

Here's the Cliff's Note version.... LittleG has started Kindergarten, Big Girl School, with BOYS in it. I am in the midst of PTA Board Member Boot Camp. LittleG has ventured in to the world of organized sports in the form of 5-year old soccer, which is about as close to herding cats as you can get without actual four-legged beasts.

I am just over halfway through with my radiation treatments. I am exhausted. And itchy. And blistered. And bitchy. And braless as often as possible. And still, I have 14 more treatments to go. Heaven only knows how bad I will be three weeks from now.

My big challenge this week is to figure out how I can go to LittleG's soccer tournament this weekend without a bra and not look like total white trash. Given that it's September in Texas, I'm thinking that the layered sweater approach is not going to work.

I've got a stack of books to read but not enough energy to follow a simple story line, or in some cases, a sentence. I am working my way slowly through one about lessons learned (and not learned) about breast cancer. It's struck a chord with me, and it's a shame I can't just sit down and knock it out in one sitting.

I am having a challenge at work that makes me very unhappy and I don't know what to do to fix it, or even if it can be fixed.

We have sort of adopted this crazy little dog and we are working him into our family. He's fitting fairly well, but adjusting to another living being is just another interesting turn of events for us.

My life sounds kind of like it sucks right now, but truly, it doesn't.

Did I mention my kid started school? And soccer? And that I've been entrusted to make school a better place for 900 kids? And that I have health insurance and a job to pay for it all?

School has been eye opening, and at turns, hysterical. Seems our LittleG is a tiny bit boy crazy. I don't for the life of me get where she gets THAT. But that's another blog.

My home life, new canine notwithstanding, has been pretty darn good. MrG has really stepped up and helped me when I've been too tired to function, letting me nap on weekends, and running taxi duty to and from school. He might just turn into a pretty good soccer dad, too. He doesn't coddle me, but he has been supportive, and dare I say it, nurturing. My sweet baby girl is at turns empathetic and caring, and totally self-absorbed, just as a five-year old should be. My mom, ever present, would do whatever I asked of her at the drop of a dime. My sister, from across the miles, channels energy to me and I feel it from afar, even when I'm too exhausted to let her know.

My friends continue to amaze me with their support and love. From random niceness at the office to an unexpected afternoon with my BFF last week, it's clear to me in every way that I'm not bearing the burden of this summer by myself. I have no way of telling them, without sounding patronizing, how much it means to me when they check on me, or when they leave me the hell alone when they get the vibe that what I need most is solitude. Somehow, they just know what I need, and they give it to me, again and again, asking nothing in return from me.

I have found the most ridiculous way to divert my mind....I'm playing Farmville and Farmtown on Facebook. It is absolutely inane to me that I am harvesting pretend crops and collecting pretend eggs from pretend chickens on a pretend farm with pretend money that I only pretended to earn. And yet, I am almost foolishly proud when I click in and see that I have a row of pretend squash to harvest. I guess it makes me feel like I am at least accomplishing something, when I feel like in real life, I'm missing the boat a lot of the time.

Soon, I hope, I will return from the land of pretend back into the land of reality. In the meantime, I am going to keep pretend farming my pretend crops, and do the best I can to keep my head above water.

It's probably good for all of you that I am as quiet as I am right now, because ohmygosh if I could form coherent thoughts, I would be ALL OVER the scandal that is POTUS speaking to the school children. Hopefully, when I do make it back to the land of the living, the subject will still be timely enough to debate. That will be worth waiting for!

Keep those cards and letters coming in. I'll be back next week. Or not.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Important Parenting Advice

LittleG is starting Kindergarten in two weeks, and I've been dunked head first into the What Not To Say in The Principal's Office pool....

Certain schools in our school district offer a Dual Language program for children, but the elementary school to which we are assigned is not one of them. Since our last name is Garcia, I feel like it might be a benefit for LittleG to learn a little Espanol. Since you can't get no Spanish teachin' in our 'hood, I do a little internet research and figure out which 'hood can teach my chula the mother tongue.

I trudge across town, notebook and checkbook in hand, to visit one of the campuses that does offer the program. I march my Caucasian (Irish/Scottish descent), blue eyed, freckle faced self into the principal's office, fully ready to write whatever size check it takes to get the office staff to approve our transfer to the predominatly Hispanic school. I figure between my lilly white skin tone and checkbook, I've got a pretty good shot at improving the English to Spanish ratio in Mrs K's Kindergarten class.

And that's when it goes downhill.

Lady Steele: Hello, nice offfice ladies.

Office Ladies: Hola, guera. {Hello white lady}

Lady Steele: I understand that your school pioneered this cutting edge dual language program and that the original dual language teacher is still on staff and teaching Kindergarteners.

Office Ladies: You are absolutely right! Clearly, you are one highly informed parent and you've thoroughly researched the program.

Lady Steele: Yes I am, and yes I have. And I AM. DESPERATE. TO. GET. MY. CHILD. INTO. YOUR. PROGRAM. I will do WHATEVER it takes to enroll her here.

Office Ladies: Lady Steele, how do you feel about the PTA? Drop your checkbook and step away! That's not going to work here.

And that's how I ended up serving on the Board of the PTA before my child even crossed the threshold of the school.

Truth be told, I am pretty excited about it. My real life gig has prepared me well for the challenges of whatever being the Chair of Donations and Special Projects will bring. I certainly am not afraid to ask for things, and good gawd y'all, the public schools in our 'burb have a long list of needs and wants.

So any of you out there whose children have NOT yet started school, please write the following phrase in BIG TALL LETTERS using the scented marker of your choice, then post it on every flat surface you come in contact with:

I will not, under any circumstances EVER utter the phrase,
"I will do whatever it takes" in the principal's office at school.

I can assure you that if you offer, they will take you up on it, and you will find yourself with an irrevocable seat on the elementary school PTA for the next five years. My mom (a teacher herself) is already predicting a meteoric rise to the top of the PTA food chain.

Peace out, friends. I gotta go buy some new pencils and scented markers.....

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Four Women, 1 Man, 1 Tube of Krazy Glue

From the Krazy Glue® website:

Whatever you're making or repairing, there's an Instant Krazy Glue® formula or applicator to help you do the job - in an instant.

Meanwhile, from our friends at the Associated Press

WAUSAU, Wis. — A married man who planned to rendezvous with one of his handful of lovers at an eastern Wisconsin motel instead found himself bound, blindfolded and assaulted by a group of women out for revenge, according to court documents.

Four women, including his wife, eventually showed up to humiliate the man, who ended up with his penis glued to his stomach in a bizarre plot to punish him for a lover's quadrangle gone bad, according to the documents filed in Calumet County.

Now it's the women who face punishment, perhaps six years in prison, and at least one said Monday the story has gotten twisted and she's embarrassed.

"I am disturbed. I am upset. I am having a hard time handling life; an emotional wreck," Wendy Sewell, 43, of Kaukauna, said in a telephone interview from her home. "I am ashamed."

Sewell, Therese Ziemann, 48, of Menasha, Michelle Belliveau, 43, of Neenah, and the man's wife are charged with being party to false imprisonment, a felony. Ziemann also is charged with fourth-degree sexual assault.

The women are free on $200 cash bails. Investigators say all the women but Belliveau were romantically involved with the man. Online court records didn't list defense attorneys for any of the women Monday.

The Associated Press is not naming the man's wife to protect his identity as an alleged victim of sexual assault.

The women's plot for revenge unfolded last Thursday at the Lakeview Motel about 30 miles southwest of Green Bay in the tiny village of Stockbridge near the scenic shores of Lake Winnebago.

Criminal complaints filed Friday allege the man agreed to be bound with "sheer sheets" and blindfolded with a pillowcase for a "rub down" by Ziemann. She instead cut off his underwear with a scissors and summoned the others to the room with a text message.

Ziemann struck the man in the face, and used Krazy Glue to attach his penis to his stomach when the other women arrived, according to the complaints. The man told investigators he also was threatened with a gun. Ziemann told investigators she didn't have a gun but may have told the victim, "Do you know how much I want to shoot you?"

He started screaming and the women rushed off fearful that he could get loose and hurt them but allegedly took his wallet, vehicle and cell phone.

Ziemann told investigators she met the man online through Craigslist, fell in love and paid for his use of a room at the motel for the past two months. She said she gave him about $3,000. Then last Wednesday, she learned from the man's wife that he was married, had other girlfriends and was "using them for money." She expected the money to be repaid, according to the documents.

During Thursday's confrontation with the man, Ziemann told investigators Sewell asked him, "Which one do you love more?" and the man's wife made a derisive remark about him being scared.

The man got free from the bed by chewing through one of his bindings, went outside and borrowed a telephone from the motel owner to call police.

~ You no-good cheatin' bastards outta watch out fer yerselves. That's all I'm sayin'.

I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. Peace out, friends, and be faithful.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Things that make you go 'hmmmmm

Turns out that my inner writer must be something of a lush. After I fed her a little white zin last night, she kept me awake, for a long long time, working on a series of posts I've been thinking about since March.....

With that in mind, I'm pretty sure we're back. Thanks for checking in. See you soon.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

You've got mail!

I have an embarrassing fact to share with you. You've Got Mail is one of my very favorite movies of all times. I love that cheesy, sappy, predictable chick flick film. Don't hate me because I'm shallow!

Anyway, tonight, I feel a little like Kathleen Kelly (the Meg Ryan character) from the movie, because this keeps running through my head, "Dear friend, I like to start my notes to you as if we're already in the middle of a conversation."

You've been on my mind. I know you're out there, because I can see you're clicking in. Some of you click often. Others wait to see me on your RSS feed. Point is, I know you're there, and I've been thinking about you. Unfortunately, I've been thinking about a whole bunch of other stuff, too.

I've been all wrapped up in this beast that is breast cancer. And concerned about where I'm going to find the money to pay for all of it. And worried, truly, about what "all of it" actually entails, because as I'm learning, "all of it" seems to mean one damn thing after another.

I've continued to struggle with my job situation and have celebrated unexpected and perhaps unearned successes. I've been delighted to be sharing a super secret surprise for my baby sister on her 40th birthday! We've been planning it since the end of March, and I feared desperately that I would say something here in passing that would spoil the surprise. I learned the hard way that sometimes when you can't filter the words coming out of your mouth (or your fingers, in this case), it's just best to say nothing at all. Lucky for me, the surprise was last weekend, so Free at Last! Free at Last! Thank God Almighty, I'm Free at Last! (with apologies to MLK).

So why have you not heard from me, during this emotional and tumultuous time? I tend to write the most meaningful stuff when my soul is stirred. And surely, my soul has been stirred, not shaken, over the past two months. You would think the words would be pouring out of me, just begging to be read.

As it turns out, not so much.

I truly believe that the words I put out for you to read are ultimately a picture of me, Lady Steele, modern superhero. Mom of LittleG, wife of MrG. Goddess of Booth Sales, and Excel Genius. The Wizard of Oz to my friend Dorothy, and a bright yellow box for my favorite purple crayon.

I could get hit by a bus tomorrow and physically what will remain of me are photographs and notes in a contact management system. Canceled checks and medical bills. A beloved husband and daughter, a lovely family of origin and their families. A box of fantastic jewelry that I hope someone would love as much someday as I do now. Some really, really terrific friends.

And these words.

I need these words to count, to mean something. I don't want to put words out here, simply for the sake of putting words. I want the spirit to move me - to impart something to you or the future that I feel is worth hearing, something that would define me to my daughter, or to hers. A funny little anecdote (although clearly, short prose is not my strength), a thought-provoking quandary, or a sappy little story that makes you want to hug the ones you love.

So I have been pretty damn quiet over the past eight or so weeks. What strikes me most about this self-imposed quiet time is that I have not only been quiet on the screen, but my inner writer has been silenced.

In the "normal days" my inner writer speaks to me, suggesting funny phrases, or the subject of a blog. She inspires me to think creatively, be funny, tap into emotions. Sometimes all I get is a phrase, a simple snapshot or a funny outline. Other times, I get full blown themes that I have to explore with myself (can I do that without going blind??) before I commit them to cyberspace.

But somehow dampened down by the stress and the fatigue and the fear, the voices in my head have gone silent. I logged nearly 16 hours behind the wheel of the crimson steed last weekend, and I have to admit that my inner writer and I wrote nary a sentence the entire time.

Tonight, though, after a super sized glass of white zinfandel, my inner writer tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me to write, to reach out to you, and just to say, "hello dear friend."

And so I did. I probably owe it to you to bring you up to speed on what I'm willing to share online. I have been through two surgeries now, and my surgeon assures me he's gotten it all. Just to be sure, I'll go through six and a half weeks of radiation therapy, which I'll begin in about 10 days. I have an incision about 3 inches long, shaped like an eyebrow, slightly below and to the left of my heart.

I have a little pain, especially when I move my left arm in certain directions. Sleeping is a bit uncomfortable, but I've been so exhausted each night that I have fallen into a deep, noisy sleep, much to the chagrin of MrG. I'm sleeping reliably day after day until my alarm clock goes off, which usually pisses me off royally.

I'm eating well and drinking little (last weekend and tonight notwithstanding). I'm taking pleasure in my family and friends and my job that I love so much. I am excited at the prospect of having this all behind me in a few weeks and eagerly anticipating wearing a pink shirt in the Susan G. Komen in October.

I was glad to hear from my inner writer this evening, as I hope you were, as well. I don't know when the two of us will make an appearance again, but I do suspect we'll be back. And when we do, it will be meaningful, and it will personal. Because, as Kathleen Kelly said in one of the greatest movies ever made, "Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal."

Ever forward, friends.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Finally, some good news

I've been away contemplating wellness and my destiny, and traveling for some much needed family time.

Here's what we know. My BRCA came back negative, meaning I do not have the two genetic markers that put me at a 40% higher risk of getting invasive cancer in my breasts or ovaries. That's the good news. And it's really good news. This news is the difference between a simple lumpectomy and a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

So Wednesday, I'm headed in for my lumpectomy. It's day surgery, so I should be home safe and sound by early afternoon. Two thirds of the time, the surgeon is able to remove the entire cancerous area the first time around, so odds are good it will only be one surgery.

After that, I will see a radiation oncologist, and begin a 7-week course of radiation therapy. I expect to be tired and have some bad skin effects, especially since I'm pasty-white and as I've mentioned before, a big-busted gal.

I'm a little frightened at the prospect of the surgery. More accurately, I'm frightened that I will fall, once again, into that foolish minority, and have to go back in a second time. I am not looking forward to the radiation therapy, although truth be told, it's 15 minutes out of my day that I will be addressing my own needs instead of someone else's. For almost 9 full hours over the next two months, it will be my needs that take center stage, something most moms never allow.

My friends and my coworkers have been extremely supportive, and for that I am so thankful! We have had offers for meals and babysitting, and one of my dear friends has offered to sit with me during my treatment every single day for seven weeks. I will never hesitate to offer my sincere help to a friend in need, because I know now what it feels like to be on the receiving end of things!

I had a terrific sales week last week and a much needed visit with family from far and wide, so I would have to say that the past week, overall, has been pretty damn good.

Keep your fingers crossed for me on Wednesday. Light a candle, say a prayer, hug that tree. Whatever works for you. I need all the karma, good wishes, blessings, and divine protection I can get.

And the same goes for the doctor in charge of my care on Wednesday. Poor schmuck has no idea how bitchy I am going to be without my morning Diet Dr. Pepper!

I will check in as I'm able, and as my addled mind allows. Ever forward, friends.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Just checking in

I will be on the road for a few days. I'm ok. Still stunned, a little frightened about what the future holds. But all told, I'm doing pretty well.

I'm going to go do what I love - sell some stuff and rub elbows with my clients, in a ritzy resort in Reno.

It's not ALL bad in the Land of Lady Steele.

Have a nice week!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The best kind of bad news

I know I'm a day late. Sorry.

I needed a few hours to wrap my mind around the news I got yesterday. The news was not good, but on the scale of catastrophic news, it was the best kind of bad news.

I have early stage, non-invasive breast cancer. My life is not in danger. This will not kill me.

Still, though, when the radiologist dropped the bomb on me yesterday, I was stunned. I have thought all along that this is "the sky is falling" kind of medical hysteria. So big deal, there are some calcifications. 80% of calcifications turn out to be nothing.

Wouldn't you know, I'd fall into the 20%? I do love to distinguish myself among my peers, but trust me when I say, this is NOT the time to be in the minority!

Anyway, my mom beat this two years ago, and I will beat it, too. I am definitely facing surgery, probably just a lumpectomy, but we will know more after an MRI and some genetic testing. At the very least, I will have a lumpectomy and seven weeks of radiation therapy. At the most, a double mastectomy.

It is scary to know that this puts me at a higher risk for invasive cancer down the line. And it is almost more than I can bear to consider a mastectomy at 41. You don't realize how attached you are to these things until you think about waking up one day without them. Although the prospect of a fresh perky pair is not too depressing, now that I consider it.

Mentally, I am in a decent place right now. I'm looking at this like a really bad broken arm. It is a hassle. It's going to take some time and money to heal. I'll have to take some time off work and more importantly, some time away from family, that I had not planned to take. My quality of life will be gently compromised.

But very few people die from a broken arm.

I also believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that this has happened for a reason. There's a plan out there for me that I didn't get to write, and I don't get to approve. I don't understand it, it's not clear to me, but I still believe there's a plan, and this happened for a reason.

What's the reason? Who knows! Maybe my scare will encourage one of you to have a mammogram, and that mammogram will save your life. Maybe a group of us will walk together in the Komen someday, (I will be the one in the pink survivor's shirt), and the money we raise will be the money that goes to the doctor that finally figures out the cure for breast cancer. Maybe it will strenghten my relationship with my husband, a friend, my daughter, my mother, my sister. Maybe I will meet a lifelong friend during my seven weeks of radiation. Maybe I will learn I am stronger than I think, or maybe I will finally learn to let others help when I need it.

It's not my plan, so I don't get to understand the reason. I get to live it and hope I learn the lessons that are set forth for me.

Regardless, we have a rough plan in place, and the important thing is that this thing won't kill me.

I have good health insurance, a very understanding group of bosses, and the best support group a modern superhero could ever ask for.

Thank you all again for you thoughts and support. The waiting and the worrying is crazy scary, and just knowing I have an army of friends, real and cyber, makes me feel like I'm almost invincible.

If you've not had your mammogram this year, go get one. And do it now.

Ever forward friends, and as my friend Stu says, F Cancer.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A note to my friends

"Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light."~ Helen Keller

I have the dearest friends, perhaps on the planet.

Many of you have been in my orbit for years, some just a few months. Some of you I've never even met, and yet I feel a connection to you beyond what I ever thought possible in this world of cyberfriends and cyberfriendships.

I want to thank you all for your generous support - your calls, texts, emails, flowers, cards, good thoughts - all have meant so much to me! I feel like you've been sharing my burden with me, and it makes my heavy load so much easier to bear. Thank you.

Whatever the outcome today, my life is better because of your presence in it.

Here's to good health friends!

Lady Steele

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

And so we wait





Lather, rinse, repeat.

Yesterday was frightening and the waiting is interminable. As soon as results are ready, I'll get a call on my cellphone tomorrow. Good news or bad, I will either speak to the doctor or get a voice mail with the news.

I am tender and uncomfortable, but I am not really in pain. I am delighted to say I did not leave the Imaging Center in my $4 WallyBra, but instead, wrapped in a giant Ace bandage. I sported the bandage again today, and now the girls are cradled tightly in a heavy duty sports bra.

And so we wait.

Monday, June 08, 2009

My body is a wonderland

“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.” ~ Bill Cosby

I alluded awhile ago to a health situation I am currently facing, and I've thought long and hard about how much I want to share here with you. Those of you in the Inner Inner Circle know what's up. The rest of you probably know that something is going on but don't know details. So here you go.

After a string of absolutely fine, run-of-the-mill mammograms, I had one come back with some suspicious spots. I've gone in for additional diagnostic mammograms, and what we know now is that something is going on, but we don't really know what.

Today, at 1:00 pm Central time, I'm having a breast biopsy. And I'm facing it with as much courage and humor as I can muster.

Breast cancer killed my maternal grandmother. The spring after cancer killed my father, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She beat it. Take that, you smug bastard disease!

It's even odds right now that what is showing on my mammogram will turn out to be nothing - a benign group of little cells. Or, it could be malignant. We don't know until the biopsy, so that's what we're doing.

I on purpose didn't put this out there for general consumption. The ones who need to know - my mom, my sister, my best friend, my dear posse - all know the gory details. For the rest of you, I've not made mention. I don't want your pity, I don't want your fear. I don't want to talk about it, because if you bring it up, I have to think about it. And then I just get scared.

Besides that, I am pretty sure that HIPPA laws prevent me from even acknowledging that I have breasts, much less that there might be anything wrong with them. Please sign the attached form to indicate your acknowledgment before proceeding. Blah blah blah.

Anyway, as I said, chances are even that this turns out to be absolutely nothing. My rational mind has held on to that for dear life over the past three weeks. My irrational, oh-my-god-who-is-going-to-take-care-of-my-family-while-I-am-puking-my-guts-out-from-the-chemo mind already has a Lady Steele In Waiting for MrG and a new Work Posse member all lined up.

I will know more on Wednesday. Until then, I will breathe in and breathe out. You can feel free to join me if you'd like. There's really not a whole lot else we can do. Pray if you want. Light a candle. Hug a tree. Whisper a spell. Whatever floats your boat. I kind of feel like the universe is no doubt unfolding as it should and there's not much I can do about it, but if you find comfort in one thing or another, and you think it will help, please knock yourself out.

I'm sure you're saying to yourself right now, Lady Steele, you promised me humor. Nothing about this is funny thus far. And you're right, dear reader, so here we go.

I am going in for what's called a stereotactic biopsy. My mother the former RN would tell you it's really cool technology, and she would use a bunch of fancy words and the correct medical terminology to describe the affected body parts. I'm in sales, not medicine, dear friends, so let me dumb this down for you.

I will be crawling on a table in a few hours that has a big hole in the center of it. I will proceed to hang the offending body part down through the hole. The nice doctor will raise me up on the table, kind of a like a 1987 Ford Taurus at the Jiffy Lube, so she can get a good angle on the offending body part. She will then use a fancy mammogram machine to "locate the area of concern" which as far as I can tell involves two plexiglass plates smooshing me in my altogether into one nice flat plane, which is funny when you take my size into account, but more about that later. I really can't tell you any more about the process, because when the doctor was describing the procedure to me, I pretty much blanked out after the smooshing part. I'm sure there are needles involved and some type of tissue removal, but I can't say what at this point. I do know I don't get Valium, which makes me a bit grumpy.

Anyway, when we're done, they will lower me from the hydraulic lift, apply a "pressure bandage" to my "surgical site" and send me home. But wait! There's more.

As one final parting shot, the salt in my wound so to speak, the insult to my injury, my post-op instructions tell me that I am not to wear an underwire bra until my "surgical site" has healed.

Say what?

I'm a 41-year old, rubenesque kind of gal. I'm more in the "Needs Weight Watchers as a Lifestyle" category, rather than the "Quick, Get the Gastric Band Surgery" category. However, I do have, as they said back in the good old days, nice ample bosoms. And I am going to be required to flop out of the Womens Imaging Center, and through the next several days, WITHOUT. THE. BENEFIT. OF. UNDERWIRE.

I am not really a girly girl, but I do admit I lean towards pretty lingerie. My favorite bras are from Nordstrom, and I'm embarrassed to say that I spent more on my last bra than I did on my last tank of gas. They don't call me "Lady" Steele for nothing.

But I digress.

I'm being forced, by the threat of this smug bastard disease, to purchase a bra without underwire. And I will NOT for all the tea in China, spend good money on a garment I am going to wear a few times and then hate forever. My goal is to wear it only as long as I have to, then burn it in effigy on my back porch while I drink scotch and watch the grass grow. (And with that sentence, my dearly departed scotch-loving conservative father is officially rolling over in his grave).

Going braless is clearly NOT an option, at least when I'm alone or with other people. I have to have a plain old vanilla bra, so I treated myself this weekend to a nice standard non-underwire support undergarment. Yep, bought it at the Walmart. For $4.00. Because I'm a Lady, and I'm worth it.

And there we have it. The threat of maybe having cancer is terrifying to me. The thought of Jiffy-Lube-Mechanic-Does-Biopsy is a little funny, if you scrunch your face up and forget the part about the needle. But the vision I have in my head of me, in all my $4 underwireless bra glory, jiggling and wiggling all over the office for the few days is downright, knee-slapping, guffaw-inducing funny as hell.

Don't be afraid for me. Instead, think of me and giggle inside as I slide off the Jiffy Lube rack and work those babies into a $4 bra.

Ever forward, friends. You'll hear from me when I know more on Wednesday. Or sooner if I put someone's eyes out with one of these things. Cheers.

Humor is just another defense against the universe. ~ Mel Brooks

Friday, May 29, 2009

To each his own, I guess

I know I said last night I would be on hiatus for awhile, but a girl can change her mind, right? I was reminded this evening of a funny story, and I thought I'd share it with you.

I am married to a big strapping guy. He does manly stuff like take out the trash and change the propane on the gas grill. He fancies himself quite the outdoorsman and enjoys hunting, fishing, and golf. He loves football, hates the Cowboys. He is a good provider and protector, here in the Land of Estrogen.

His shoulders are broad, he carries a few extra pounds. He is hairy and he has big feet. He snores and his goal in the morning is to get clothes on that match...he doesn't begin to pretend to understand the concept of an "outfit." He is unabashedly a big smelly boy.

For a guy who is perfectly happy wearing a golf shirt and Dockers every day of the week, he cleans up pretty nicely. He prefers his clothing freshly pressed (too bad he chose me for a wife), and he never fails to spritz himself with some masculine foo foo juice of some sort, so he always smells good. His beard is cleanly trimmed, and he wears his hair quite short and always nicely groomed. Most days he leaves the house looking pretty well put together.

But as all you married girls know, a husband is sort of a work in progress. As much as he gets right, there is always room for improvement. And given my man's propensity towards the manly version of "getting ready" I've had some hurdles to clear during the past 15 years.

I worked on him for years, YEARS! I tell you, to get his eyebrows waxed. Lots of guys can pull off the no-maintenance brow, but my man is just a lot better looking when an aesthetician works her magic on him. I begged. I pleaded. I nagged. And finally, he gave in. Now, he's hooked. And, by the way, all the more handsome for it.

My latest ongoing Metrosexualization Project has been The Pedicure. I tell him to just suck it up and go do it. Your feel will feel great in the warm bubbly water. You get to sit in the fancy chair and the Magic Massage Motion will take away the troubles of your day. Kind of like Calgon, only in a nail salon surrounded by girls who don't speak English. Lena the Nail Goddess will clean up those calluses and trim up those toenails (I try not to use the word "nasty" here because I think it's a bit offensive). I sense that I am ever so close to selling him on the idea.

One Friday evening last fall, we found ourselves with a child-free Friday night on our hands. I needed a pedicure badly, and I pitched the idea to my beloved. We'll go have dinner, get side-by-side pedicures, and then find a way to while away the child free hours. He didn't bite, so I sent him home alone to ponder what he could have been doing with me while LittleG was away. And I went for a mani-pedi.

When I got to the nail salon, Lena the Nail Goddess swept me to my appointed nail station so she could give me the child-free Friday night pampering I so deserved. As we walked to her station, I noticed a nice grandfatherly looking man in the waiting area. I figured he was waiting for his wife or maybe a granddaughter, so I have to admit I didn't pay much attention to him. At first.

As Lena got started on my nails, something in the waiting area caught my eye. A quick flash of red kind of crossed my peripheral vision, so I turned to see what it was. There, in the waiting room, right on the bench by the nail polish, sat the nice grandfather guy. He was sixty-ish or so, wearing a polo type shirt and khaki pants.

And four-inch patent leather peep toe pumps.

Yeah, you read that right. Four inch patent leather peep toe pumps - red ones.

Before I could laugh out loud or stare inappropriately, Lena took me back for my pedicure. After a few minutes, you guessed it, here comes Gramps, headed for the spa chair next to mine. He slipped off his pumps - and trust me, they were fabulous - and one of the other girls got started on his pedicure.

At this point, I am too stunned to speak. While the other clients around us began to visit with him about his fabulous shoes, I did the only thing I knew to do. I turned up my iPod, shut my eyes, and prayed for it all to end. Lena finished me up and sent me off to the fancy toe dryer, and I missed the end of the conversation about where in the world a man who is over six feet tall can go to find a decent pair of stilettos.

I leave the shop with all the composure I can muster and go home and tell MrG what I've just seen. I let some time elapse before I call Lena to get the scoop, and I try not to giggle when I ask her for the low down on Gramps. Is he in the theater, I wonder? No. Is he a drag queen? No. What's the story then? Lena tells me, "he's just some normal guy." Huh? Say what?

Hate to tell you, Lena, but normal guys watch football. They wear clothes that usually almost match. They brush their hair and trim their beards. Sometimes they get their brows waxed. But a "normal" dude does NOT frequent the salon-in-a-box for semi-monthly spa pedicures, complete with French tip nail polish.

I've thought about Gramps often since our first encounter, but I have not been back to the shop on Friday night since then. Until tonight. I waltz in, and lo and behold, there sits Gramps, feet happily submerged in a tub of fragrant bubbly water.

Turns out, pedicures and high heel shoes are his thing. He's a regular in the shop, every other Friday night, 6 pm. Always French Tip polish, and always high heeled shoes.

Tonight he was pretty conservative in his white golf shirt, khaki capris, and cork wedge heel sandals, complete with woven straps and shiny rhinestones. If I had to guess, I'd say they were about 3 inches high. I suppose a boy's gotta go casual when he's sporting his summer capris.

A rather large, and dare I say scary-looking, man of color came in with his wife for side-by-side pedicures this evening, and they sat down in their respective spa chairs just as the Nail Goddess In Waiting was finishing up with Gramps. I guess since the guy had already forfeited his Man Card at the door, he lost all rights to judge another man at the pedicure station. But that didn't stop him from guffawing out loud as Gramps teetered out to his truck once his polish dried.

After what we're calling the Patent Leather Peep Toe Pump incident, I've given up trying to drag MrG in for a pedicure. And I'm pretty sure that the lovely lady who was in with her man tonight won't be enjoying side-by-side pedicures with her guy any time soon, either.

I guess now I need a new project for MrG, because the pedi' ain't ever gonna happen for my man. Thanks, Gramps.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Just wanted to pop in and say hi. I've been traveling, and there's nothing like 12 hours in the car with nothing but flat land ahead of you and lots of time alone with your thoughts to fuel the creative word machine that is the blog.

But, alas, I have some health things going on right now that are taking up a lot of my brain power. I'm hoping they turn out to be nothing, and when the time comes, maybe I'll share more with you.

But for now, I've sort of curled myself into the fetal position, hugging my duck, and rocking myself in time with my night night music. And so, no blog for you! For that to be funny, you have to say it like Seinfeld's Soup Nazi. For those of you who aren't Seinfeld junkies, sorry about that.

Be back the meantime, if you're due for one, please go get your annual gyno exam and mammogram. Go see the dentist and get your teeth checked. Have a colonoscopy if you're over 50. Eat enough fiber. Lay off the booze. Get some rest.

Yeah, I know. None of that sounds like a bit of fun, but no one should have to be frightened about something they can help control.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lady Steele, by MrG

Tonight, while watching the Dancing with the Stars Finale with my highly metrosexual husband, I was so enjoying the spectacle that is Lady Gaga. I commented on her unusual outfit and persona, and my Dearly Beloved pointed out that she may be Lady Gaga, but I am Lady Steele. And, he pointed out, I am TWICE the woman she is.

In case you are wondering, I will NOT be riding his Disco Stick. Not for a long damn time.

Monday, May 18, 2009

My spam filter, my friend, Monday Morning Edition

Sorry. I just couldn't let these go without a little Monday morning commentary.

We know the method to quit the aging process. Yeah, me too! It’s called death.

Sick of instant headaches? With us you can forget about them. They’ll still hurt like hell, but you just won’t remember them.

Prove to your wife that there still can be a lot of flame in your bed. That’s right kids, fire!!

A complete man consists of virility, stamina, endurance, and strength. Not a sense of humor, good job, intelligence of any kind. Sounds pretty damn incomplete to me.

Know the exact time at any part of the world. Oh, look! It’s 8:37 pm in Sri Lanka! My life is complete now.

Forget about depression and be in a perfect mood all the time. I know, I shouldn’t be tempted, but somehow I want this.

Have a look at medicine of unbelievable quality but funny prices. I don’t even know what this means.

You can look great without any special efforts. That’s right, ladies. Don’t primp, preen, or pluck. No effort whatsoever. Somehow I think this ties in to the pharmaceuticals referenced above.

We got medicine to cure any illness you suffer from. Oh yeah? Seems to me like all you got is bad grammar. A preposition is a horrible thing to end a sentence with. Ha!

When you feel that your virility is already dead, call us us. Because we we are offering special members only virility death ceremonies.

We offer the best alarm-clocks for your little friend down there. Goodness. Every little friend I’ve ever known has been able to get up without the aid of an alarm.

Our common secret! How secret can it be if it’s common?

Lose that fat without exercise. And while you’re at it, bank a million bucks without a job, and solve world hunger without feeding anyone.

A complete male in bed is always ready. In bed, yes! In the garage? In the back yard? In the kitchen? Not so much.

Make her sweaty and exhausted. Yeah, baby! Nothin’ says “I feel pretty” like sweaty and exhausted.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

An open letter to KFC

Dear KFC Grilled Chicken Product Manager and Marketing Team,

I'd like to congratulate you all on the greatness that is Grilled KFC! I couldn't believe it when I heard a few weeks ago that you had finally come up with the perfect combination of the Colonel's secret spices AND healthy grilled chicken. Could it actually be true?

Oh, yeah, baby....KFC without the fat! A whole chicken breast for just four grams of fat? And a yummy one at that? Hold me while I cry!

It's now possible for me to feed my family grilled chicken, corn on the cob, and mashed potatoes, without turning on the stove! Toss in a bagged salad, and bingo, instant bordering-on-healthy dinner that we can all agree on!

I would like to ask you to rethink your new website, though. I know you marketing guys get your eyes on the prize and forget to really THINK about the message you're sending. In this case, you're telling us about thinking thin, about the unfried, the healthy, blah blah blah.

But seriously, guys! Your new website? You know the one:

Some of your predecessors spent their entire careers branding KFC in the minds of consumers. So I hate to be the one to break it to you, but when we see "unthinkfc, "we don't read "Unthink FC." We see "Unthin KFC."

Hello? This the message you're trying to send?

Silly me! I was totally sold on grilled chicken throughout your commercial. See the pretty chicken? Ooh, pretty chicken! Low fat! No grease! Feed your family fast food, minus the guilt!

Then you go and eff it up by splashing your web address across the screen, and you replace the message of decent healthy meal by telling me "unthin KFC!"

Now I'm just confused! Can someone tell me - is it healthy or is it unthin? I'm a pretty smart girl, but this is just too much to figure out.

Reminds me of the Nissan commercials a couple years ago that said G O F A R T H E R. We all know they meant "go farther" but the way the letters appeared on the screen the first time I saw the commercial, I read "go fart her." And the next five hundred times I saw the commercial, I wondered only what "go fart her" really meant.

Maybe you and the Nissan guys all work for the same ad agency and no one checks your work? Hard to know.

In all fairness, I am in sales and not marketing, and I really don't understand what it takes to put together a marketing campaign for a new product. I've gotta believe, though, based on my own experience with marketing managers, that at least SOMEONE out there ought to be paying better attention!

Gotta go fart her. Unthin KFC. Peace out!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Anna Quindlen on motherhood

As is so often the case, my friend MK has sent me once again the perfect message. Funny and sweet and touching and true. The message, and my friend who sent it.

By Anna Quindlen, Newsweek Columnist and Author:

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once poured over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach, T. Berry Brazelton, Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education, have all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories. What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations --what they taught me, was that they couldn't really teach me very much at all.

Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2.

When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow. I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton's wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there some thing wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China. Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the, 'Remember-When- Mom-Did Hall of Fame.' The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language, mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, 'What did you get wrong?' (She insisted I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald's drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.

Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That's what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.

My spam filter, my friend

We have a spam filter at work to help cut down on the total crap we get through our email system. I always take the time to go through what gets caught there, because inevitably, one of my clients emails me and their note gets stuck in cyberspace.

I am alternately enraged and entertained by what I get via email from the scumbag spam masters who clearly don't speak English. Here are just a few real live subject lines, verbatim from my spam filter this morning, along with my thoughts.

Lost your libido and strength? We will help you look for it! Really? Wouldn’t it be more effective if you help me find it instead of just helping me look for it?

Aid your darling sexual times. Darling kittens I get. Darling puppies I get. Darling sexual times? Not so much!

We know the method to get rid of even the most destroying ache. Yeah, me, too. I’m thinking it’s a better spam filter!

We have inexpensive medicine from every illness. From, not for. Morons.

Uplift your belove night adventures. What is a belove night adventure and how do I know if I have one?

You feel like your little friend is a real dengerate? No, not my little one, but maybe my big one.

Barak caught nude. Good gawd, y’all! You think POTUS actually takes a shower in the buff?

Ascent your sweet sexuality. Not accent, mind you. Ascent.

You will like the quality of our soft, but moreover you will like the prices. Well, of course, if you’re going for soft, you'd better get your money's worth.

Revew your masculinity for yourself, for her and for your love. Is “her” also your love or do you have two “hers?” Or maybe a “her” and a “him?” Hard to tell from this. Really.

Enlarging your male instrument means winning a war. Hmm. Hadn’t really considered that a man’s sexual organ has anything at all to do with men and women fighting and dying.

The lack of confidence in men is a real turn-off for every woman. Oh yeah, baby. I like my men to be total arrogant jerks. Forget those sensitive, understanding, caring, loving guys. Wussies.

Hoist your sweet sexual times. Hoist, like using a pulley? Is there heavy machinery involved?

Could go foreverv. Write your own joke.

Never half-staying in bed. Far better to be half-falling out??

Wanna be a big sized guy? No, I’m much happier being a girl, but thanks.

You might not have gold in your wallet buy you will have gold on your wrist. Gold? Who needs it? I have plastic!

When you wish to feel like a man, nothing will stand on your way. Poor way! You think it hurts bad when you stand on it?

Be cool and be trendy, be a man that looks like candy. Nothing says big handsome stud like a peppermint patty.

This crysis never ends. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

This is how we do it!

This is why we do what we do, folks....

I've wished all my life to be a mom, and now that I am, I totally get it! It doesn't really matter how different your child is from you - different eye color, different skin color, different gender, different beliefs - you love that kid anyway, because that's what we do.

We love and we provide and we nurture when we can, and we help our little ones learn to stand on their own. And hopefully, we do the same with the children around us who aren't our own.

There may not be a more noble job imaginable.

Happy Mothers Day!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

I have achieved Nerd Nirvana

I got an email at the office today as follows:

Subject: Oh goddess of the spreadsheet

Will you help a lame mortal with Excel?

Now how, exactly, do you turn down a request for help from anyone (much less a beloved co-worker) who refers to you as a goddess (of anything) AND thinks you have it going on well enough to solve a problem??

I did, by the way, have the answer.

I SERIOUSLY need a dose of coolness in my life. Now where did I put that damn pocket protector?

Monday, May 04, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dad

I missed you today. It's been a long time, and sometimes I just wish the phone would ring and it would be you. I didn't appreciate our time together like I should have, and I'm sorry.

For your birthday, I'm assuming you got what you always asked for....a little peace and quiet. I thought I'd give you a quick update on my world.

Life is good for me. My job right now is what you would have called "a learning experience" and I'm happy to say that my mind, like a parachute, works best when open. You were right about that, but I don't know that I ever told you. It might surprise you, or not, I guess, to find out that I turned out to be a pretty respectable sales person. Funny where life leads you, I guess.

You were also right when you told me, sometimes repeatedly and not very nicely that I am just like my mother. I would like to think that's true, and I believe it is to some extent. You loved her for more than 40 years, so I'm thinking her track record isn't half bad.

LittleG is beautiful and sassy and so much like me that it would make your heart ache to see her. I call her Sugar sometimes, like you used to call me. It makes us both happy, and I think it's a quiet tribute to you. I told her the other day that you used to call me by that name. She asks about you sometimes and wonders if you and Daisy are ok together in heaven. I don't know how much she will remember about you, but I'm doing my best to remind her that you always had a sucker for her, especially when we visited you in the hospital.

MrG is such a good man and I am convinced at alternating times that he is a total blithering idiot, and the most brilliant man on the earth.

I am so lucky to have such a nice family.

We've been in our house now for nearly a decade, and we've never been a day late on the payment. Who would have thought all those years ago when all I could manage was overdue student loans that I would ever turn into a real live grownup?

Just because I know you'd want to know, yes, my car is running well. I have just over 53,000 miles on it, and it will soon be time to rotate the tires and change the oil like a good little car owner should. Thanks for the valuable lesson in car maintenance and responsibility. By the way, I still have my dorky Excel spreadsheet that calculates the mileage. Some habits die hard, I guess.

I'm putting some money away every month, just like you taught me, and someday, perhaps, I will be able to afford to send LittleG to school for a semester and buy a book or two. Those lessons about financial planning make a lot more sense to me now.

I have some really terrific friends - friends who surround me and hold me up, who laugh with me and cry with me, and see my faults and love me anyway. Jennifer sent me a message today on Facebook, and I know she misses you, too. I learned a lot about the value of a friend from you.

I look back with respect and admiration at your friendships....the 12 men who stood with you as we celebrated your life then marched down the aisles of the church to the strains of the triumphant Aggie War Hymn, the hundreds of people from all over the world who played an online memorial backgammon tournament in your name, the church friends you found late in life, and the folks from the irrigation community who respected and loved you. I will probably never have the type of friendships you had, because I think few people do. But you know what? My posse is mine, and they love me, and I love them in return.

I tried to make you proud, Dad. Good job, good family, good friends. A girl could do a whole lot worse.

I hope wherever you are tonight that this message finds you and you feel the love across the miles. I miss you, Dad. Happy birthday.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

No more Dark & Twisty

I've been looking for a way to extricate myself from my self imposed pity party, and Thursday night, it finally happened. Although this wasn't really the way I would have wanted it to go.

A little background, first. LittleG has had a long and colorful history of respiratory issues - lots of snot, lots of coughing, tubes in her ears at 16 months, and a tonsillectomy a year ago. We do preventive antihistamines every night, and I have a respiratory medication plan that we follow when she gets wheezy. I've become more relaxed over the past five years, and have learned that a sniffle is not necessarily indicative of a trip to the doctor. Most times, they tell me she has a virus and there is nothing they can do, so I have adopted a "no doctor till fever" policy that has served us pretty well.

She's been suffering from Texas springtime allergies lately, and I knew she was getting pretty close to the infected stage. I picked her up at school on Thursday, and she was burning hot with fever and very weepy. Mine doesn't just cry for no reason, so when she turned on the waterworks, I knew something was up.

We went to doc-in-the-box in our suburb and I was disappointed to see 11 names on the list in front of ours. When I asked how long our wait was likely to be, the receptionist told me at least an hour. This is the old fashioned wait-in-the-waiting-room-with-everyone-else-in-town-who-is-sick-as-a-dog kind of clinic. If you're not certifiably ill when you walk in, you will be when you walk out, because there is surely someone in that waiting room carrying every contagious disease known to man, and most of them are sneezing in your direction. We high-tailed it out of there and headed home for Plan B - Care Now.

We don't have a Care Now in our city, but there is one about 20 minutes away. I LOVE Care Now because you sign in online and you get a call when you're on deck. You wait at home instead of surrounded by sick people, then drive across town, they whisk you into your own little relatively germ free room, and bang, you see the doctor. Yeah, it's hard to explain to a sick little one why we aren't at the doctor, but if she's eating popsicles, she really doesn't care anyway.

We waited our time at home, drove across town and got right in, gave the nurse the rundown of her symptoms, and I, certified Mom of the Year, say, "I know it's just a sinus infection, but her fever is high and she's out of sorts."

The doctor comes in, checks ears and nose and throat, then listens to LittleG breathe. It's then that it gets a little scary.

The doctor wrinkles up her forehead and raises an eyebrow as she asks LittleG to take another deep breath. Her brow furrows further as she repositions the stethoscope and listens some more, and I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

"Has she been tested for pneumonia," the doctor asked. "Well, no. She hasn't acted sick, hasn't had a fever," I say. "Well, we're doing a chest x-ray," she says.

Off we go to position a squirmy, feverish, overwrought 5-year old in front of the x-ray screen. Lady Luck smiled down upon us and we got two good shots right away, so we only had to go through one round of pictures. The x-ray tech ferried us back to room #3 and we waited for the doctor to come back in.

She came back in with a grim look on her face, and a quick nod confirmed my fears. My sweet baby girl had pneumonia!

Pneumonia these days doesn't mean what it used to mean. It's serious, but it's not "pack your overnight bag, you're staying in the hospital" serious. LittleG had to get a shot of something magic called Rocephin, and we left with four prescriptions and instructions for managing the fever and cough throughout the night. Despite my pleading, those cold hearted bastards would not give me a valium, which I had certainly earned by holding down my thrashing child so they could give her a shot.

After a 30-minute stop at the all night pharmacy (with an accompanying 3 digit bill for medicine), we were off to the house for a super quick dinner and a round of medication. I slept on the blow up mattress on the floor in her room that night, and she was so wiped out that she was asleep before I could get my teeth brushed. She slept very well; I slept fitfully, at best.

We were back there early Friday for a check-up, and while she wasn't 100%, she was a whole lot closer to it than she had been. Saturday, she had bounced almost all the way back, and today, you'd hardly know she had been sick at all.

So I had been desperately seeking a diversion from the drama at the office - something to help clear my mind. I have to say after this weekend, that there are probably not very many things more effective at helping you remember what matters - and what doesn't - than a sick child.

I am so grateful that I was plugged in enough to realize that something was amiss, although my mom diagnosis was totally off base. Thank heavens we have the option of the after hours clinics, and thank the good Lord above that we have health insurance that allows this type of care. I'm looking at a $600 bill, for which I've only paid a $20 co-pay so far. How in the world do families without health insurance ever manage situations like this?

I shudder to think what would have happened if we hadn't had that option available to us, or the financial wherewithal to pull it off. Or, God forbid, if I had still been all wrapped up in whatever has been eating at me the past month.

So my little duck is tucked in her bed right now, breathing fresh oxygen deep into clear lungs, dreaming of happy fairies and princes. And that, my friends, is the silver lining in this cloud......