Archive for the 'Not So Fun' Category

The Dog Ate My Blog Post. And my Plants, and my Pillows, and my Porch…

Posted by laura on May 05 2011 | Awesome, Not So Fun, Uncategorized

I’ve never had a puppy before. Here’s the thing – it turns out when people say it’s like having another baby, only worse, they’re not actually joking around with you. We brought home this adorable fluff of fur, and the next thing you know she’s totally running our lives. There we were, making neurotic charts

just to keep her from having accidents in our little house, we were up at all hours of the night… scratch that. Tom was up at all hours of the night. I did that two times already, for many, many months, so I got a pass on that job this time around because Tom is awesome. But there were so many things I didn’t (still don’t) understand! Why did she go totally and unbelievably bazonkers at the same time every day? Why does she have to dig a hole to China every chance she gets?

And why, oh why, does she have to eat absolutely every single object she comes across? Not lick, sniff, chew, but ingest? She’s like a miniature Godzilla ransacking everything in her path. There’s the usual range of odd and disgusting things, but she also has a deep fondness for the trash in the bathroom, and the plastic pots that you buy plants in, and all forms of dead and discarded things that any sentient being should seriously want to avoid. As a matter of fact, it’s oddly appropriate that even as I type this she’s moaning and gagging in her crate from some unknown indigestion.

By now you’re wondering, what’s the big deal? Puppies are a lot of work. Give us something more exciting, Laura! Give us a saga! Fine. You asked for it. (Literally. This one’s for you, Pam!)

The month was February. Just to keep things interesting, I made an appointment to have all my wisdom teeth pulled. It was a long time coming, and even though many friends asked me why I’d want to go through that at my age (thanks a lot, friends), anyone who has young children and a puppy would appreciate that I actually looked forward to this surgery like a week at the spa. Anesthesia guaranteed at least one hour’s solid sleep, recovery offered the possibility of more sleep and maybe even a movie or two… I was golden.

Then the week before my surgery, poor Honey got super duper sick. She had some insane intestinal bug or bacteria that landed her in the ER one night, getting fluids and lots of tests and lots of bills. It was a serious drag for her, but she started to pull out of it by the end of the week. She was up a lot in the night, so we inflated the Aerobed under the bunk in her room and I slept with her at night to help her out. One early morning, we were both sleeping peacefully when suddenly I woke to the very distinct feeling that something was plucking at the bottom of the bed. Honest to goodness, it felt like an animal was plucking at the mattress from below. As you can imagine, it freaked my freak, and after I released my grip on the ceiling, I determined that there was not actually anything in the room with me, so whatever it was had to be under the house. Then I very reasonably started whaling on the floorboards with my fist, because, well, that oughta learn ‘em, right?

I grabbed Honey out of a deep sleep and dragged her into the guest bed, then ran into our room and woke Tom up, saying, “Tom! I need you.”

“Right!” he said, popping out of bed, instantly awake and on full alert. Did I mention he’s awesome? We pulled Honey’s room apart just to be sure, and then called the exterminators, because we had rats under the house. From the feel of it, mutant zombie rats the size of bobcats. Good times.

We spent the weekend dealing with that issue, and the following week I was prepping the house for my surgery. I cleaned everything, cooked ahead, lined up playdates, you know the drill. My surgery was set for Friday morning. On Thursday, Tom took Twix for a walk. When they came home, we noticed that one of her toenails looked like she’d pulled it out a bit, and it was bleeding. After watching her for a while, I called the vet for some advice and they said to just bring her by. Well it turned out she must have snagged the nail (which was trimmed!) on something, and – wait for it – broken her toe. No problem, the vet said, just drop her off in the morning, we’ll put her under and fix the toe, and she’ll be fine in a week or two.

So Twixie and I went in for surgery bright and early on the same day. Fortunately I did not get a cone of shame – I just got six weeks of soft foods and some very intimidating bruises. Luckily, through it all, Tom was (say it with me) awesome.

tl;dr. insane puppy, intestinal sadness, ER, rats under house, puppy surgery, wisdom teeth surgery, still married.

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This is the Week

Posted by laura on Jun 09 2010 | Awesome, Fun, Holiday, Not So Fun

in which we went from this -

to this.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, but honestly, Vegemite isn’t that bad. No, it was something far more unsavory, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with the good stuff. Tom turned 40 at the end of last week, and we decided to take a quick trip down to Santa Cruz for some fun on the boardwalk with Gini and Craig. It was a perfect day.

It started with a steam train – really the best start to any day for Tom. We weren’t on board, but we got to see it head out for a tour through the Santa Cruz mountains, and it was beautiful.

We checked out the boardwalk…

and had our lunch at the best taco bar. We’d stumbled upon this place the last time we were in Santa Cruz a few years back, and boy were we happy to find it again! $1.50 taco? Yes thanks.

Santa Cruz has a cool style going on – check out this mural:

How about a close-up of that awesome retro mod car? You got it.

Seriously, now – who doesn’t want one of those?

And just before we left town, we caught some surfing action along the coast. Gorgeous weather, awesome time.

Now for the opposite end of the scale. Are you sitting down? Both of our kids have whooping cough. That’s right – check your calendar, but it’s still going to say 2010, and our kids are still going to have this crazy thing I thought belonged to the history books. Here’s the story. Hot Wheels got a cough at the beginning of Memorial Day weekend, and we’d just been reading in the local paper that our county is currently inundated with Whooping Cough cases. Feeling a little alarmist, we brought him to the doctor and asked if he could have pertussis. No way, the doctor said. His booster was only a year old, he didn’t have any of the right symptoms, and the cough sounded like an allergic cough. It was Memorial Day weekend, so we pressed the issue – was he safe to be around people? Absolutely.

Let’s go forward a week. He was still coughing, but no real change in symptoms. Then we heard that some friends’ kids had been quarantined with Whooping Cough. “We’ve got to bring him up again,” I said to Tom. So off he went for another check – and more assurances that he was fine, but we said we really wanted him to be tested. Two days later, Honey was coughing and I brought them both into the pediatrician’s office. She swabbed Honey and said she’d bet they both had it.

HOW? I wanted to know. How do two healthy kids with all their immunizations get Whooping Cough? You might be more up to date than me on this one but I learned for the first time that no vaccine is 100% effective, and if we have enough exposure to a disease, we can contract it even if we’ve been vaccinated. When enough people in a community are vaccinated, you develop a ‘herd immunity’ so you don’t have enough exposures to risk sickness.

I just read this morning that our county has the highest rate of families choosing personal belief exemptions for vaccinations. Ten years ago, less than 2% of kindergarteners in our county entered school without their vaccinations – in 2009 it was 7.1%. Clusters of exemptions like that in a community increases risk for all of us. I respect that lots of people were scared by the autism fear, but the science just wasn’t there to support the scare – and I didn’t fully realize until this week the danger those exemptions pose not just to the kids who aren’t immunized, but to all our kids.

Personally, I feel horrible. I know we were acting on doctor’s advice, and I know it’s all around us, but of course I get hives at the thought that we were walking around with this unknowingly. I’m also pretty angry. Our kids have been miserable and we’ve lost a week of school and work and a good chunk of change dealing with this.

Here are our takeaways. Ready?

1. Don’t assume that your kids are protected by their immunizations.

2. Even if your kids aren’t presenting the traditional whooping cough symptoms – runny nose, slight fever, cough that ‘whoops’ – they might still have it. One friend of ours tested positive with no cough at all.

3. Tom figured the last one out – if your child develops a cough, call Wildcare. Tell them you found a baby bird and it’s coughing. They’ll have you tested and treated by mid morning.

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Let’s Talk About Tuesday

Posted by laura on Jun 03 2010 | Not So Fun

Shall we? Here’s the thing – you’d think that a holiday weekend would provide us all with two terrific benefits: the beautiful addition of a weekend day and the crucial removal of Monday, the bottom-dweller of the work week. That’s the way it’s meant to be. Occasionally, though, the Tuesday of the holiday weekend decides that it has a noble duty to take on the pressures and pains of Monday, for reasons I cannot fathom. Stinky Tuesday. What is its problem?!

This particular Tuesday, the one that thankfully ended 48 hours ago, was wedged between the social revolving door of Memorial Day and the arrival of Tom’s parents from Australia on Wednesday morning. A great deal was expected of it, and I suppose it was too much to ask that it simply behave itself. It all started with a baby bird.

Tom and Honey found this scrappy little thing at the base of our neighbor’s stoop on Monday night. Honey, of course, wanted to scoop it up and bring it in for the night, but we persuaded her to hold off. Well, first thing in the morning, they went across the street and found it still shivering on the ground looking very much like it had been bumped out of its nest in the climbing roses nearby. They took it in and found some sites that talked about feeding baby birds. I was suspicious.

I’m sorry – I know this picture is blurry but it’s the only one I got with the little guy’s mouth open. It was pretty cute in a squawky kind of way. I left Tom with the bird and took the kids to school, where I had a chat with my friend Lauren, who told me that they had scrub jays in their yard, and that those birds kick the babies out of the nest at a pretty young age. Back home, I looked them up online, and sure enough, they looked just like our little birdie. Tom had called the local Wildcare folks for advice, and he spoke to me about it afterwards.

Tom: “I wish our pediatricians were as great as the Wildcare people!”

That’s saying something, because our pediatricians are awesome.

The Wildcare lady called me and reviewed our next steps, which went something like this; return the baby bird to the place we found it, monitor its behavior throughout the day, bring it in if it gets overheated. Basically it was an hour out of the day which ended in this lesson: don’t mess around with nature, stupid. Turns out that is exactly what scrub jays do with their babies, even though it seems pretty ridiculous in a world full of cats.

Ok, back on track, I was going to really be efficient for the rest of the day. So I dashed up to the shopping center near us, and did my last birthday shopping for Tom who is 40 on the 4th. Woohoo! I bought a couple of nice things at the shops, then ran into the grocery to stock up on some basics. I was fast, I was on fire. I got back to the car, and while I was unloading, the owner of the car next to mine asked me a question, so I answered and we chatted a moment. I was fast, I was friendly!

Back home, I did some work, I put the groceries away, I got ready to pick up Hot Wheels and his best buddy from school who comes home with us after Kindergarten on Tuesdays. I thought – I’d better hide those gifts for Tom. Now, what did I do with that bag?

I left that bag in the bottom of my shopping cart, that’s what. You know that feeling when your heart just sinks like a stone? And you’re grateful the kids aren’t around to hear you swearing? Hmm, hello Tuesday. I called all the shops, and they politely didn’t laugh at me when I asked if anyone had turned in my bag. Then after I got the boys from school, we even drove up there to look, just in case. It was crazy busy, it took forever, it was useless. I was kicking myself for being in such a hurry and not paying attention to what I was doing. I’ve never left a bag under the cart like that before.

Back home, I traded in Hot Wheel’s friend at the regular school release time (Kindergarten gets out early) for Honey and my California goddaughter, who spends Tuesday afternoons with us. We came home and I thought I’d try to make up my lost time and work like mad. Hot Wheels asked for a snack, so I said, “I’m super crazy busy, Hot Wheels – just grab the cheese from the fridge, and I’ll slice it for you to eat with some crackers.” He went into the fridge and a moment later I heard an uh-oh. Turned to see that he’d pulled out a huge bag of shredded mozzarella that wasn’t sealed properly, and there were mounds of cheese all over the bin, the fridge, the floor. Just everywhere. Ok, should have taken a moment to do that job myself.

Then my friend Sherri swung by to pick up her daughter, and we were chatting. This is where it gets really good, people. I was talking to Sherri about my crazy day and my poor lost bag, and how I blamed myself for doing too many things at once, and while I was talking to her… I superglued a piece of a ceramic bowl to my finger.

Not intentionally, of course. I was fixing this broken bowl, talking to Sherri, Honey came in with a question and in a flash of distraction, I slipped and completely stuck myself to this ceramic shard. I kid you not. What a knucklehead.

I suppose it’s not entirely fair to blame Tuesday for all this. The universe was clearly sending me a message – with a bullhorn – but I had a banana in my ear.

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Downhill is Usually So Much Fun

Posted by laura on Mar 03 2010 | Not So Fun

It all started back in the fall when I had to have my license renewed. I was a little bummed about that because my license actually had a good picture on it and you know that photographer at the DMV has kept his job all the years since, just waiting for his chance to correct the error. It was pointless, but I still turned up that day with my hair washed, ready to thwart the laws of the universe once again.

No dice. Let’s just say the DMV took their title back, and in a flash I went from 90210 to Desperate Housewives. (And that’s even the ‘you wish’ scenario. It was actually a bit more like Reality Bites to Thirtysomething.)

Then, a month ago, I went in for my decennial physical, and they said I was an inch shorter. To be clear, the height they gave me was an inch shorter than any other time I’ve been measured as an adult. Are you feeling the downward rolling sensation here?

Now we arrive at this afternoon, when I was attempting to be a good citizen and donate blood. I actually don’t mind donating blood – needles don’t bug me and I like Lorna Doones, so it’s all good. Except for today when they told me, for the first time ever, that my veins were kind of hard to find. Then once I was all hooked up, it wasn’t going fast enough and the blood speedometer kept beeping. The ladies told me that my vein was deflated. Seriously. They said it with this slightly sorry tone like I was about to dry up.

Lots of great things go downhill – roller coasters, snowboards, the part of the bike ride where you can breathe again. But Thirtysomething is threatening to turn into the Golden Girls out here, people, and all this wind in my face is starting to make my eyes water. I’d better tuck a tissue into the sleeve of my cardigan.

(If you don’t have great aunts, you might not get that last joke.)

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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Posted by laura on Oct 26 2009 | Not So Fun, Uncategorized


Well things have been creeping along out here. Honey’s not exactly on the express recovery train, but I guess it’s to be expected given all she’s been through. Last week she started back to school, thanks to my new best friend, Motrin. Friday was her first full day back and it went pretty well, and over the weekend it seemed we were out of the woods; she still had pain but it was manageable with medication. This morning, though, it flattened her again. Was it the classic equation, Pain + Monday = Misery? Quite possible. But the last time I brushed off her jaw pain she had raging infections and emergency surgery, so I’m a little hesitant to step down that path again.

Then there’s Hot Wheels, who woke up this morning looking mostly grey with a slight flush to the sides of his cheeks and complaining of a ‘liquidy mouth.’ I took a look, and there was the swollen red throat with the red spots all across the top, looking all too familiar. That was a drag because we’ve already done our tour of duty in Strepland this year and are meant to be on leave. Who’s handling these assignments, I ask you?

Finally, for the full set, we have poor Tom who cricked his neck something fierce on Saturday afternoon and has been doing the Frankenstein walk since then. Poor guy – it’s one of those injuries that deliver amazing levels of pain and inconvenience. (I’m sitting here at the computer, looking from side to side, just because I can. In fact I think I’ll just sit here for a while, turning my head and eating incredibly crunchy food, in sheer appreciation of being well.)

It was quite the scene in our house at 8 this morning. Honey was bawling at the table, Hot Wheels was picking dejectedly at his breakfast and making thick throat noises, and Tom was lumbering around and wincing. I thought about the lineup of calls to school (they really should have given me a dedicated line by now), the doctor, the orthodontist and the parents of the girls who ride with us to soccer practice in the afternoon. I considered the white paper drifts of homework piling up in the corners of Honey’s room. I added up all the days I’ve been out of the office this month. I walked down the hall to the linen closet to find the thermometer.

As I passed the bathroom, Tom was standing in front of the sink. He asked, “So what do you think?” I said, “I think I’m going to find a dark corner and cry quietly for a while.” Tom replied, “Before you do that, could you help me stick this heatwrap on?”

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Get Well Gerbers

Posted by laura on Oct 17 2009 | Awesome, Not So Fun


If you weren’t feeling so great, wouldn’t these beauties brighten your day? I think yes.

Honey had her second oral surgery of the year on Wednesday morning, and I’ll make this brief, since I’m not spending too much time away from her just yet. She’s recuperating in our art/guest room, which is actually an awesome sick room. It has a nice big bed, great light, a stack of movies, a private bathroom and plenty of coloring books. (So the next time you have a procedure scheduled, pick a Bay Area doctor and book your stay with us. You’ll be so looked after you’ll wish you were sick more often.)

The surgery went pretty well, I think, although that morning I heard some pretty classic “lines you don’t want to hear from your surgeon.” For example, when your surgeon (your ridiculously kind, hugely respected surgeon) enters the room and says quietly, “I’ve been dreaming about this one,” that’s what you call both a good and bad sign. Or when the surgery finally ends after 2 and quarter hours and the doctor says, “In all my years as a surgeon, that’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” that’s a moment when you think, “darn.” Or how about when the surgeon recalls looking over the x-rays with the orthodontist and saying, “It can’t be done?” Really, not what you want to hear.

On the other hand, I heard some great lines from the surgeon and the staff that day as well. They had lovely things to say about our girl, and they couldn’t have been more caring. It was a bear of a day, and the week has been challenging. Yet again, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for all the friends and family who have called, brought flowers and even balloons (thanks, Ducky!!), sent coloring books, loaned us movies and helped with Hot Wheels. We have been showered with kindness, and are profoundly grateful. Honey even got a get-well card from the school secretary, which for an elementary school student is like receiving a get-well card from God. Thank you so much, everybody.


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Really, Wednesday?

Posted by laura on Sep 23 2009 | Not So Fun

THIS is the state of our art room this morning.


Our dishwasher is on the fritz, requiring me to rewash all of its contents by hand.

I’ve been welcomed onto the board of two additional committees at the elementary school, and I have absolutely no recollection of signing up for them.

I just came that close to walking out of the door with my t shirt on backwards.

Really, Wednesday? Are you sure you’re not Monday?

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Posted by laura on Jun 18 2009 | Not So Fun

On this, the very first official day of summer in our house, both Tom and Honey appear to have come down with the flu. I believe it’s the flu because they’re both complaining about every single square inch of their bodies and they have the same miserable, crawl-under-the-porch look on their faces.

I think it shows spectacularly bad planning on their part.

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Bad Bad Parent Day

Posted by laura on May 13 2009 | Not So Fun

I thought I hit a parenting low when I had to take my 5 year old son in to have a cavity filled this morning.

Then I forgot to pick up my daughter from school.

Really, I should leave it at that – it would definitely be more entertaining. I’m compelled to give a little justification, since my parents are regular readers here. The cavity situation is humbling for sure since I discovered I have a real attitude about cavities. I don’t really have anything to say for myself there except to cry foul, since Honey has never had one and I personally don’t believe in them. The good news is that they were able to get him in quickly, the dentist is insanely nice and Hot Wheels was a champ. He didn’t really mind it at all, which wasn’t part of my plan. I was secretly hoping it would be just uncomfortable enough for him to never want to go through it again, which would make my new Brush Ten Times A Day program more palatable.

After the dentist, Hot Wheels wasn’t really up for school, seeing as he kept trying to drink water but ended up dribbling it all down his shirt. Messy. So he stayed home with me, which set me up for trouble, since he’s usually home with me on Tuesdays and Thursdays, not Wednesdays. Wednesday is “early release day” at the elementary school, so all the kids get out an hour early. For three years I’ve been anticipating the day that I forgot it was Wednesday, and hooray! It was today. The defense rests. Literally – I’m going to go lie down. I think first I’ll ask the kids to prep the dinner with the sharp knives or maybe light some candles for me or possibly just go play in the street.

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The Taxman Cameth

Posted by laura on Apr 16 2009 | Not So Fun

And hopefully wenteth away again, right? How’d you do? With any luck you’re breathing a sigh of relief and beginning the receipt neglect that will carry you happily through the next [fill in the blank - mine's about 340] days or so, until it’s time to panic again!

For those of you who don’t live in California, I have a moment of zen. Consider it my gift to you, this Thursday morning. Massachusetts and New Hampshire, you might want to sit down, because this might be a whopper for you – but in a good way. Our sales tax here in my county just went up to 9%. Are you laughing yet? In San Rafael, just ten minutes north of here, it’s 9.5%.

But it gets better than that. In all your friendly generosity, you might be thinking, “Aw, honey, just come out here and visit. We’ll fix you up – we don’t have any sales tax!!” And I appreciate that, I do. It’s just that out in California, we also have this cute little thing called Use Tax. In a nutshell, California residents have to pay our local sales tax on any purchase made anywhere in the world.

According to the California State Board of Equalization, they want to “make it easy for you to report and pay use tax.” They even sent out a nice brochure that stated at least three times that this process is easy! Don’t fret, California, here’s what you do:

1. Look at every purchase you made in the past year from out-of-state or Internet sellers (worldwide) without payment of California sales tax. (Don’t worry! You only have to pay use tax on items for which you would have paid sales tax in California.)

2. Now for each purchase, find the CA tax rate for the location where you used, stored, gave away or consumed the item. (Because the sales tax varies from city to city, and heaven only knows where you’ve been storing and consuming those purchases of yours.)

3. Multiply the purchase price by the CA use/sales tax rate.

4. Subtract any use/sales tax you paid to another state.

5. Make note of this amount, and move on to the next item on your list. Repeat steps 1-4.

6. When you’re finished, add up all your step 5 totals, and that’s what you owe in use tax. Wasn’t that easy? In most cases you can simply put this on your tax return, instead of filing a separate use tax return with the State Board of Equalization. But you’ll have to look that up! We’re not sure! And foreign purchases follow a slightly different set of instruction, but you can look those up too! And couples filing jointly can split it, which is swell!

The brochure they sent out encouraging Californians to do this easy bit of calculation had a nice little worksheet included, which had about 5 lines to enter out-of-state or internet purchases and work out the use tax. For the percentage of the California residential population that is on complete bed rest with no internet access, this probably works quite well!

So there you have it. I hope this was uplifting. Happy April 16th!

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