6.22.2017

A Dog's Life

Today has been a spectacularly craptastic day.

Our 15-year-old dog, Mollie, died this morning.
She died on our deck.
With me sitting next to her in my pajamas, crying.

Mollie was our sweet and sassy and spunky border collie/golden retriever mix. She was the first baby Kevin and I had - we adopted her a few months before our wedding in 2002. She was part of a litter that had been abandoned in a box on the side of the road.

She was a smart dog, a kind dog, a sassy dog. And she lived her life believing it was her job to herd everyone and everything that ever walked past our backyard. She barked at everything. And everyone. But always with a wagging tail and never out of anger.


Mollie was also really freaking cute. No. She was pretty. A damn pretty dog. We didn't know it when we adopted her but she had super long hair (she was just a fuzzball as a baby pup). We soon realized that we'd have to get her groomed (see pic above) unless we wanted her to look like a lion.

As a puppy she learned to sit, speak (no problem learning that), shake, and roll over. As a senior dog she could still speak. Loudly.

Last year after one of her grooming sessions we noticed a large tumor on her front leg. She didn't seem bothered by it - she was still chasing Jake (our other dog) around the yard, acting like a dog that was much younger than 14 years old.

Earlier this spring we visited the vet for her vaccinations so we could board the dogs when we went on vacation. The vet looked at the tumor, said it was cancer, and agreed with us that Mollie was too old to do any sort of surgery.

So we agreed to just let things happen. We would watch her for any change in behavior, eating habits, etc. And if and when those changes happened we'd take action.

I've worked at home for six years. And in those six years Mollie was my constant companion, my shadow. She'd wait for me at the bottom of the steps each morning...waiting to "go to work" in my home office. She'd spend the day sleeping behind my chair, following me to the kitchen when it was time for more coffee or for lunch.


She was my furry co-worker.
And my office is much lonelier today.

Last week I started to notice that Mollie seemed a bit "off." One night she stood in front of me, just staring, almost as if to say "hey, I'm not doing so great." The other animals in the house - Jake the dog, and Quinn and Teddy the cats - each seemed to know something wasn't quite right either. They all spent one day last week in my office, surrounding Mollie.

On Monday of this week she refused to eat in the morning - which was so NOT like Mollie. She spent her 15 years eating like it was her full-time job. So we sort of knew something was going on.

Tuesday she had many, many accidents in the house. We called the vet. They said it could be the end.

Yesterday we took her to the vet to see what they thought might be going on. Unfortunately we got stuck with the one doctor we don't like and she was very cold and uncaring. We chose to treat what we thought might be wrong and we chose to bring Mollie home.

I'm glad we made that decision. If she had died this morning at the vet, alone in a cage, I'm not sure I could forgive myself.

As it was, she came home last night and got to hang out in the kitchen (her second favorite room in the house). She slept in the family room all night, next to the couch where I was sleeping. I heard her coughing several times during the night - but that was normal for her.

This morning she woke up at 5:45 a.m. and stumbled out to the backyard where she collapsed. I scooped her up from the yard and placed her on the deck next to me and rubbed her back, telling her it was OK to go. In less than 10 minutes she was gone.

I don't know if she was in pain when she died. I hope she wasn't, even though she seemed to struggle at the very end. I hope that she was aware that I was right there with her.

Mollie was the first member of our family 15 years ago and our house feels emptier today without her. While I still love our other fur babies - Jake, Quinn, and Teddy - I will freely admit that I loved Mollie just a little more. Her death is harder even than my beloved Daisy the Cat.


We love you Mollie. Thanks for being our good girl for 15 years. We hope you've found Daisy and Greta and Lucy and Dakota and Warren up there on the Rainbow Bridge and that you're running and barking and letting them know you're the boss.

We miss you.

6.15.2017

Oh hai....it's JUNE!

Yes. I'm still here.
Yes. I still blog.
Sometimes.
Most of the time I just THINK about blogging and then I get sidetracked and nothing happens.

Anyway...here we are...three weeks into summer "break" and I've been on the GO since the end of May.

We took vacation to the Outer Banks at the beginning of the month. Truth be told, I'd rather still be at the beach. I'm pretty sure I need to retire (someday...hahahahaha) to the beach. Specifically to the OBX.


For real. I'd never get tired of looking at the sunrise.

There's just something SO relaxing about the beach - and I have no problem waking up at 5:45 a.m. almost every day to see the sunrise.

Back to reality now....
This summer is going to be SO BUSY.

Between two weeks of religious education (yep, I'm THAT mom), golf lessons and PGA Junior golf matches (for Emma), ballet classes and two weeks of pre-intensives (for Olivia) there's not much "free" time. Our calendars are quite full.

But we're squeezing in a trip to CT and NYC and a trip to Orlando.
So it's not all work and no play this summer.

Times flies when you're having fun. ;-)

3.17.2017

Food Allergies. Again.

I really wanted to start this blog post with a loud sigh.
[SIGH]

Emma had her very first allergy test this week - I had made the appointment because as soon as things starting blooming (VERY early) around here she was a sniffling, sneezing mess. It seemed like a good time to figure out what kind of seasonal stuff we were dealing with.

As part of the test they tested 23 outdoor allergens (weeds, trees, dust, grasses, cats, dogs, guinea pigs, etc). The test also included 20 food items.

This is what her arms looked like:

The "seasonal" arm immediately reacted with redness, itching, and small weals (or welts). Emma said "I've never been this itchy in my whole life!" And she cried. A lot.

The food arm took slower to react and I honestly wasn't expecting it to react at all. Or maybe I was HOPING it wouldn't react. I mean, what are the odds that BOTH girls would have food allergies?

Um, pretty damn good apparently.

After about 5 minutes Emma's "food" arm started reacting.
This is what it looked like after the serum and pen were wiped off:

Those red weals are all reactions to certain foods. Specifically: peanuts, almonds, walnuts, soy, and sesame seeds. Now, Emma eats edamame (soy beans) all the time with no issues so we were instructed to keep eating that.

However, everything else on the list of allergens is OFF LIMITS. So...Emma and Olivia have the same food allergies. [insert loud sigh here].

Emma hasn't ever liked peanut butter - she never eats it. And we don't eat nuts because I don't keep them in the house. But she now has to avoid anything that might have a cross contact issue (M&Ms, other candy bars, etc).

[As an aside: Please don't lecture me about this. Maybe you feed your peanut and tree nut allergy kid M&Ms all the time. I don't. I'm very vigilant about avoiding any foods that have been processed in a plant/on a line that also processes foods containing the allergens. You do you. I'll do things my way].

And so, Emma now has EpiPens and we have to be careful about her foods too.

To say I'm sad about this might be an understatement. I'm really pissed off. And, I'm sad for Emma (who is also sad). I wouldn't wish food allergies (of any kind) on anyone and now both my kids have them.

I mean really.
Seriously universe?
Are you done yet?

Oddly enough, I can say that this was not a bombshell diagnosis like it was with Olivia. When she was diagnosed in 2011 I was floored. Like FLOORED. With Emma it was more a feeling of sadness and resignation. Like, "well, here we go again."

And I know a lot more about food allergies than I did six years ago. So...I keep on keeping on. I continue to be the strongest advocate I can be for my kids.

But really universe. If you could just give me a break ... for just a little bit, that would be awesome.

3.07.2017

A Top 10 List for Fibromyalgia

I'm coming up on my one year "anniversary" of being diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Thinking I'll buy myself a cupcake and a venti caramel machiato to celebrate. [Sarcasm font deployed].

The other night as I painfully crawled into bed I started thinking about this blog post - which in itself is a dangerous notion because I can't remember shit most of the time. That I remembered some of what I wanted to write is AH-mazing.

As I thought about my life PF (pre-fibro) and how I feel now....every single day....it's kind of sad. I honestly can't remember the last time I didn't have some level of pain in my body. I'm sure it was some time back in late 2015, but that "old" me is gone.

One of my boards on Pinterest is labeled 'Fibro Girl' and it is where I post all the fibro-related pins I find, whether they're snarky ecards or "do this to feel better" ideas. Several of the pins are "things I wish people understood about fibro" memes.

And so, I thought I'd share a few things with you (my seven loyal readers....lol) about what I wish people understood about my fibro (because MY fibro might be totally different than your best friend's sister's boyfriend's mom's fibro).

1. Most days my pain level is a 2 or 3. [Click on photo below to see what these numbers mean]. On a rare occasion it'll be a 4. I have had a few days where I made it to 5. That's when I sleep and avoid people at all costs. But on any given day - including today and probably tomorrow - I'm a 2 or 3. Today I'd say I'm a 2 but might be headed toward a 3. Last night I was a strong 3. I had pain radiating from my shoulder blades into my collar bones. This morning Emma hugged me and it hurt. Pain is a daily thing for me.That's why they call it CHRONIC PAIN. I cannot remember the last time I didn't have some level of pain. Chew on that for a second. Chronic. Pain.

2. I'm not kidding when I say I don't want you to hug me. Or touch my arm or shoulder. Or grab my arm because something really exciting happened. Or pat me on the arm. Or the back. It really does hurt when people touch me. I'm not being overly-dramatic if you grab my arm (like one person at Emma's school is prone to do during meetings) and I say "OUCH. That hurts." I am super sensitive to being touched and quite frankly I don't like it. If I go in for a hug that's my way of saying it's OK to hug me. Otherwise, hands off me people.

3. Noise bothers me. A lot. If the TV is too loud (as my kids and husband are prone to do) I turn it down. If the whole family (all 10 of us) are together and everything is talking loudly it is literally like nails on a chalkboard to me. I can't handle it. If we're in a restaurant and it's really loud I can't handle it. The only way I can explain it is this: I can't think straight when it is too loud and it feels like my brain is short circuiting. I think I'm going to need headphones just to get through my flight to Orlando this weekend.

4. If I say I'm "OK" when you ask how I'm feeling, that doesn't mean that I'm feeling great (see #1 above). It just means that I don't feel like talking about how I really feel. Probably because I think you won't understand it.

5. I might joke about my shitty memory but my "fibro memory" and brain fog are seriously awful. I hate that I can't remember things without writing stuff down on at least two lists. I literally have a "to-do list" and a "don't forget to do this list." Most days, I will think "OK, I must do [insert random task here]" and if I get distracted even for a minute or two, game over. I won't remember what I was supposed to do. Brain fog takes all of this to a whole new level. My day can be going great and out of nowhere my train of thought derails and that's it. The only way I can explain it is this: it feels like a swarm of bees buzzing about in my head (like I literally have a bee or 20 in my bonnet) and I can't focus. On anything. That's when I walk away and take a nap and hope my brain reboots. I hate this feeling more than anything else because I feel stupid.

6. I am super moody, and the pain makes it worse. Sure I have good days where my mood is fine and all but....no shit, that can change on a dime. When I don't feel good - when the pain is closer to a high 3 or low 4 - that's when I get really snappish and you should probably avoid me. I also have a low tolerance for people in general when I feel like shit. You've been warned. ;-) [Ask Kevin how I act when I'm snappish. That guy deserves a f*cking medal for putting up with me when I'm in a "fibro mood.']


7. I have to take a pill to help me sleep at night. That pill has made me gain weight and I can't lose that weight. Which makes me feel even shittier than normal. Like, I'd love to lose 70 lbs (for reals) but the mere thought of exercising is exhausting. Lately, I've had to take 2 of those pills each night to help me sleep. Why? Because I am prone to wake up in the middle of the night with horrible pain in my elbows and hips and collar bones and if I take two pills I fall back to sleep easier. Imagine for a minute that you wake up in the middle of the night not because you heard a noise or because your husband is snoring but because you hurt SO MUCH that the simple act of rolling over in bed is excruciating. Welcome to my world.

8. I hate having fibro. Like for the longest time last year I kept thinking "this will go away and I'll wake up tomorrow and I won't be in pain." That hasn't happened. Which means I've had to accept this. I hate that going to the grocery store is exhausting. I hate that usually the simple act of taking a shower (especially on a 3-4 pain level day) is exhausting to the point that I have to sit in bed for 20-30 minutes just to regroup enough to walk downstairs. (Yes. Really. Taking a shower makes me tired.) I hate that as I'm sitting there typing I have flames of pain radiating out of my shoulders and collar bones and down into my elbows. I hate that my kids feel like they need to ask if they can give me a "real hug" or an "air hug." I hate that I feel like people will think I'm just being a complainer when I talk about how crappy I really feel.


9. The only thing I can do is power through every day. Even if I'm in pain (which remember IS every day) I have shit to get done. I have a job. I have laundry to do. I have meals to cook. I have ballet classes to drive to and basketball games to attend. I can't let fibro hold me back. And I will power through it ever single day. I have no other choice. But on any given day there might be one thing that sets me off - the weather, hormones, stress, lack of sleep, change in temperature, change in routine. This week it has been a four-day-long headache that sent me to bed at 8:45 Tuesday night because the pain was THAT bad and I felt that if I didn't go to sleep I would be sick. Like vomiting sick. I just never know what is going to be that thing that knocks me on my ass. At the end of this week it'll be the temperature change - which I can already feel BTW.

...and finally....

10. This. And this

3.02.2017

Random Thursday Thoughts

I just ordered groceries online for the first time ever. This could actually be an amazing thing. If it goes well and they don't eff up my order (I requested "no substitutions" so as to limit the chance of effing it up), I might never leave my house again to go to the store.

We all know how I feel about people in general and if I don't have to leave home and participate in small talk with a checkout clerk things might be right in the world again.

So why am I finally hopping on the ClickList bandwagon? Because I'm really effing busy this week. Like I have Post-It notes for my Post-It notes. My desk looks like a tornado tore through the home office (and I'm fighting some wicked brain fog - I almost typed threw instead of through).

Basically I don't have time to shop for groceries. I can't go tonight because Kevin is at basketball practice with the kids and me going to the store without adult supervision after a long week is not a good idea. I don't have time to go tomorrow because my to-do list is birthing another to-do list.

It ain't pretty folks.
This week is kicking my ass.

I am trying to stay focused - which is why I have notes upon to-do lists upon bullet journal pages. I make lists for my lists.

Yesterday I sat down at my computer at 11:15 a.m. and didn't move until 3 p.m. No bathroom breaks, no snacks, nothing. Today was very similar.

I've been fighting brain fog and pain all week which just adds to the list making. I need to write everything down or I forget. For reals.

However, I am finding that making a "what's for dinner" page and a grocery list page in my BuJo (bullet journal people...keep up) has helped this week. Like I'll be sitting here and I'll think "oh! that sounds good for dinner" and I write down what I need.

And so...that is my week in a nutshell. There might not be enough Post-It notes to get me to the weekend. 

The only thing that could make the whole grocery shopping from home thing better? If they gave out Venti Vanilla Lattes from Starbucks when you pick up the groceries.

A girl can dream.

2.16.2017

This Week

OK, so yes it's ONLY Thursday but lately (as Chris Hayes says) every day feels like 20. And this has been a long week.

I celebrated my birthday last week and by Sunday I was starting to feel 'off.' Pretty sure it was my body's way of telling me I had been overdoing things.


Sunday night I took my sleeping pill like a good little fibro patient and I SLEPT FOR SHIT. You ever have one of those night where you think you're sleeping but your brain is on FULL OVERDRIVE and therefore you're really not asleep? (Sorry. That's the only way I can describe it).

That was Sunday night.

Monday morning I was in a fog.
I actually told my parents and sister at lunch that I was feeling "fuzzy."
My brain felt like it was full of buzzing bees.
Sounds pleasant right?
I managed to make it through the whole day without failing too hard.

That night I took TWO sleeping pills.
Don't worry, my rheumatologist says that's OK.
Holy shit was that some good sleep.

I made it through Tuesday without much effort.
I actually felt OK.

Tuesday night I took two pills again.
More good sleep.

Yesterday I was irritable and cranky.
I blame PMS + Fibro.
It makes me super bitchy.
I took a 90 minute nap. 

Wednesday night was not good.
Our dog crapped in our bedroom at 11 p.m.
I cannot handle smells like that (even before fibro I couldn't do it but now it's like a trillion times worse).
So...I "slept" on the couch.
In pain.

Today I struggled to stay focused on stuff.
I managed to keep my focus, barely.
But as the day went on I could feel it.

The aches and pains creeping into my hips, elbows, shoulders, back, and the tip of my left index finger. Yes, really. The tip of my left index finger hurts. A lot.

I'm doing my best to fight it right now but I think tomorrow might be a not-so-great day.
Here's hoping I'm wrong.

And that my friends has been this week in Fibroland. 

2.08.2017

Nevertheless, She Persisted

Oh Mitch McConnell. You weak, spineless, sniveling, man-child. You just cannot tolerate a woman in power. An intelligent, well-spoken, respected, outspoken woman in a position of power makes you feel week and inferior, doesn't she?

That's why last night you "warned" Senator Elizabeth Warren about the words she was speaking. And yet she persisted to speak. And you couldn't have that because HOW DARE SHE cross YOU. I mean, you're the guy in charge, right? How dare a woman speak her mind. That is unheard of.

And so ...


You mansplained it to her. You warned her.
And she persisted.

Good.

You see, I worked for men like you before. Weak, threatened by women who speak their mind (hell, men like you are threatened by women in every aspect of life). Men like you are the reason women still make less than men in the workforce. You're the reason we're STILL fighting for control over OUR OWN BODIES. You're the reason women are often treated as less than.

You are a weak, small-minded, sexist, mysognistic man-child. You wish women still stayed at home. But instead you're surrounded by intelligent, well-spoken, and outspoken women in Congress. And they aren't afraid of you. They know you're weak and malevolent and immature.

So you might have thought last night that you showed Elizabeth Warren who was "boss." You might have thought you put her in her rightful place.

But you're so wrong.

All you did was embolden a whole lot of strong, outspoken, intelligent women to stand up, speak out, and resist. Hell, we're even using your bullshit line ... "she was warned. she was given an explanation. nevertheless she persisted" - as a call to arms. We're posting it on our FB profiles. We're tweeting about it. We're hastagging the shit out of it. Oh, and as of right now about 8.5 MILLION people have watched that Facebook live video of Sen. Warren reading Coretta Scott King's letter.

Bet you weren't prepared for that, were you?
Of course you weren't.
You thought she (and we) would go silently into the night.

You were so wrong.

Also, I'm pretty sure "nevertheless, she persisted" WILL be part of Sen. Warren's 2020 presidential bid. So thanks for the tagline.

Now go crawl back into the hole from which you emerged you sexist, neanderthal pig.

2.05.2017

Basketball Diaries, Chapter 2

Because it's what I do, I posted on Facebook about yesterday's basketball game.

My post: "The point of recreation league basketball at the 4th grade level should be to have FUN. But when your kid ends the game in tears because a player from the opposing team shoved her to the ground .... it's not fun. Also, every team should be held to the same standards and rules [and there should also be a SET of rules to follow] otherwise what's the point? These girls on the other teams aren't learning the game, they're only being taught to win no matter the cost. I have a problem with that."

I had several responses that were supportive but something someone said left me scratching my head.

In response to a comment from a parent I said: "It just drives me crazy that these coaches are teaching the girls to be mean - like why is that a requirement for basketball? The screaming in other player's faces blows my mind. I mean, I know basketball can be rough but there's "playing hard" and then there's just playing stupid." 

And this was the response in part: "They have taught our girls to do that [scream in other player's faces] to distract. It's just a tactic most teams use."

Wait. 
Wot? 

Coaches are teaching players to SCREAM IN THEIR OPPONENT'S FACES as a distraction tactic? WTAF. 

This is not OK in any way. 
Do you see college players doing this? Do you see professional players doing this? 
Since when did it become acceptable to scream in another person's face to "distract" them? 

Another friend offered these gems: "A lot of parents and coaches are trying to re-live their youth through their kids. Shameful." ... and "Lord help our society. And now we have a terrible example in the white house. Ugh."

I just have to wonder when ti became OK to essentially teach our kids to bully other players on the court or the field. I get that there's smack talk in any sport but screaming in someone's face seems so .... pathetic.

If your players aren't capable of learning the proper rules of a game and playing defense (or offense) in the proper way perhaps they are better suited to something else. And if the "coaches" can't manage to teach their teams how to play by the rules then perhaps they need to do something else too. 

I'm trying to teach my kids to play by the rules and respect the game and other players. Emma plays hard on the court but she would never scream in another player's face just to "distract" them. That's just unacceptable behavior. 

2.04.2017

Basketball Diaries

Emma plays basketball for the local "recreational" league. See, our school district has no sports teams until 7th grade so all the kids in the district have to play for this league (or some other league).

On the league's website they state: "Our programs focus on the enjoyment of playing basketball in an organized setting, as well as fundamental training through the drills necessary to properly develop."

I call bullshit on this. 

We've been part of this program since Liv was in 4th grade and every year it gets worse. There is no "enjoyment" when it comes to the weekly games.

The majority of the coaches in this league - let's remember that this year I'm talking about FOURTH GRADE GIRLS - are only in it to win it. At any cost. 

The team we played today were rude, crass, and super physical. Like throwing elbows to the throat and shoving players to the ground. Which, in a normal game with REAL refs might actually be called as fouls. But not in today's game. 

Nope. Today the "ref" (I use that term really lightly) didn't call one single foul.

Now let's think about this for a sec. In basketball fouls are called on players for specific violations. It's a common and accepted part of the game. But in this league in grades K-4 fouls are only called IF the ref decides he feels like calling them. And then when the players get to 5th grade fouls MUST be called. But by this point the kids don't know why they are getting fouls called on behavior that was ACCEPTED SINCE KINDERGARTEN. 

See? Zero consistency. 

Oh and let's talk about the coaches. Last week we had the meathead who kept screaming "get your man!" to a group of 4th grade GIRLS. (And NO. I don't give two hoots that it's called man-on-man play. They're girls. Call them girls). This week? Oh, we had a real peach as the opposing team's coach - she was cheering as her girls threw elbows to the throats and SCREAMED in our player's faces. 

Being unable to control myself I actually yelled toward her (not at her...just in her general direction) "Seriously?!?" as the girls screamed in our players' faces, and she decided to yell at me "Stay on your side!" and something else that I can't recall. I'm pretty sure I responded in kind. I don't tolerate grownups mouthing off at me. 

At the end of the game a player on the opposing team shoved Emma to the ground so hard that she ended up in tears. This is not normal for Emma to cry in a game so I know it hurt. And....no whistle, no foul, no nothing.

Everything about this "league" is laughable from the management to the coaching to the "refs." I'm pretty sure this will be the last year we play in this "league." 

If their goal is to teach these kids the rules and regulations of the game they are failing in a spectacular manner.

1.31.2017

Farewell January

I've said this before and I'll keep saying it.
If it wasn't for the fact that BOTH OF MY KIDS were born in January I would despise this month.

But as it is, there are two really great days in January.
So I give the LONGEST MONTH EVER a pass.
For the most part.

However, this January has been a real bear (except for those two days).
The month has dragged on FOREVER.
Like for reals.
I thought it would never end.

I blame January 20 for the shit factor this month.
I mean, if we're being totally honest here, that day sucked.
A lot.

And it hasn't gotten better since.
In fact, it's getting worse every damn day.

I'm literally waiting for the day when we're all assigned districts a la The Hunger Games.
I just have one request - please give us Finnick Odair.
Kthanxbye.

Seriously though.
I think we're past the whole 'waiting for the other shoe to drop' part of this shit show.
Now we're just waiting for the impeachment.
I'll be popping popcorn for that. ;-)

So goodbye January.
Don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.

Also: #Resist