9.17.2014

Moody

You ever have one of those week where you're in a bad mood but can't explain why?

There's no full moon.
No PMS.

In fact there isn't a valid reason to be a bad mood.
The mood is just here.

It's as if I woke up on the wrong side of the bed Monday morning and haven't recovered.

And now it's Wednesday.

People are annoying me.

I have come THISCLOSE to correcting grammar mistakes on Facebook this week. As in - I wanted to leave many, many comments like this: "Your is not the same as you're. Please learn the difference."

Or this:


However, I have restrained myself.
A lot.

Maybe it IS all the bad grammar that has put me in this craptastic mood.

I saw a comment on a friend's post today that had so many misspelled words and abbreviations that my brain actually HURT when I read it. It wasn't English, it was even "text speak"....it was just horrible.

And all I can wonder is - WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU WANT TO SOUND LIKE THAT? Even if it IS Facebook?

I'm not trying to be mean but seriously...if my fifth grader knows the difference between their, there, and they're....then it should be safe to assume that adults would know the difference too.

I would like to blame my mood on something - but since the moon and my hormones are out of the question I'm just going to blame it on people.

Not all people. But some people.
Apparently this week I am NOT a people person.
Maybe next week will be better.

Until then I'm going to eat a lot of chocolate.
That might help. 

9.13.2014

Random Weekend Musings

For the first time in forever I have the house all to myself on a weekend.

Sure, I work from home which means I'm here all by myself Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. But to be home, all alone on a weekend? It's kind of nice.

Of course I am sitting at my computer getting ready to write some stories for work but at least I have a few hours of silence where I can actually get work done.

But as I'm sitting here attempting to work through the writer's block that has me stuck on a headline (I can't start writing the story until I have a headline and I'm stuck), I figured it was as good a time as any to get a few thoughts out here on the ol' blog.

The Fishbowl celebrated its 9th birthday this week. Yep, that's right I've been doing this thing called blogging for nine years. Woot.

The weather has turned much, much colder around here in the past couple of days. Last week it was HOT and even at the beginning of this past week I had the A/C running. And now? It's 67 degrees INSIDE my house (and a mere 59 degrees outside) and I'm TOTALLY FREEZING.

But I refuse to turn on the heat. It's only September 13. The heat is NOT being turned on until at least October. I hope.

Speaking of fall...all things pumpkin spice are back. I had my first PSL from Starbucks this week and it was heavenly. I can't say the same about the Pumpkin Spice M&Ms. Those are just weird. I want to like them but I can bring myself to eat more than a few at a time. I think I'll stick to the peanut M&Ms.

I'm also discovering that I'm a lot less tolerant of people lately. I'm so completely done with people being rude online that it's making me crazy. I have seen so many nasty, negative, mean-spirited Facebook comments and/or tweets lately that it makes me want to do a massive social media cleanse.

Now this isn't to say that these are people I'm friends with...most of the time it's friends of friends and I just shake my head and wonder what gives those people the right to act that way.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all about sarcasm and snark and I have no problem throwing out a sarcastic post but I don't do it to be mean. And I've seen more than my fair share of mean online lately. Think before you post people - would you say it to that person in real life? If not, then perhaps you shouldn't post it online. Use your brains.

Also, someone said there are only 18 Fridays until Christmas. Just stop the madness. Let's get through Halloween before we start any kind of countdown to Christmas. One holiday at a time people. One at a time.

8.31.2014

Go Ahead. Unfriend Me.

I find social media to be so very amusing lately.

Everyone takes everything so freaking seriously. Everyone is so offended. Everyone needs to get a freaking grip.

Honestly. The funniest thing about Facebook is when someone (namely a "family" member who was more of a "Christmas card family member" than a "hey let's hang out sometime" family member) unfriends you.

It really makes me laugh.

Like I mean I literally LAUGHED OUT LOUD about it tonight. For at least 15 minutes.

Oh don't get me wrong. I've unfriended several people over the years - former friends, former cousins, former co-workers. They all deserved to be unfriended for various reasons. And I don't miss them.

But tonight I just found it totally and completely hilarious when I discovered that a particular person unfriended me. Funny because there was NO reason for me to be unfriended ... I mean other than the fact that....yeah, there was no reason.

So OH MY GOD my friend list went from 607 to 606. Ouch that hurts.

Not really.

Just means I have to buy one less stamp at Christmas time.

8.25.2014

True Dud - Otherwise Known as My Thoughts on the Less-Than-Stellar Series Finale of 'True Blood'


SPOILER ALERT. 

If you have not yet watched the season finale (or any episode of this season's True Blood) you need to stop reading. Right. Freaking. Now. You have been warned. 

I'm a very fickle television watcher and it's a rare thing when a show can hold my interest for more than a season or two.

I used to watch Grey's Anatomy. Then I stopped and never really went back. I was a HUGE fan of LOST when it started and then it sort of jumped the shark and I quit. But then I went back and it sort of redeemed itself with a not-too-bad finale.

The Sopranos? Watched it all. Hated the finale. Seriously a fade-to-black ending. Not OK..even with a kick ass song playing. Sex and the City? Great ending. And two movies to really wrap it up (one was WAY better than the other).

Other shows I have stuck with - Breaking Bad (binge watched...GREAT finale), The Walking Dead, Bones, and well that's about it. Like I said...I'm fickle.

But there is ONE show that kept me interested for SEVEN YEARS.

True Blood.

I read the books first, then binge watched the first season on DVD before "binge watching" was cool. And...I. Was. Hooked.

Vampire Bill. Eric the Viking. Sookie. Pam. Lafayette. They were my people for the last seven years even through a couple really, really horrid seasons. I had high hopes for the series finale after the last few episodes this season.

I initially wanted Sookie to end up with Bill because that's how it should be.

(In retrospect I now think she should have ended up with Alcide in the end but since they killed him off midway through the season that wasn't happening. Stupid writers.)

What I didn't want was the train wreck, feel good, everyone-but-Bill gets a happy ending nonsense that we were served last night.

What the hell were the writer's thinking? We had maybe FIVE MINUTES of Eric and Pam in the whole finale. Five freaking minutes for the Norse vampire god? Not acceptable. (Although the scene of him in the car was priceless). And maybe 20 seconds of Lafayette? Hello? He was the best thing in every episode he was part of ... he deserved more than a passing glance at the end.

And that brings us to Sookie and Bill. ("Sookeh is MINE"...still my favorite line).

I get (sort of) that giving them a happily ever after might not have worked. But they could have ended it in several ways: (1) Let Sookie use her "fairy light" but instead of killing Bill it humanizes him. Not so far-fetched if you look at the history of weirdness that is True Blood. Or, (2) Have Sookie kill Bill. But, instead of offing Alcide a few episodes ago they could have kept him (since the vampire and the fairy weren't ending up together!) and he could have come back to Sookie and they could have ended up together having werewolf/fae babies, living happily ever after.

Anything would have been better than the stake-Bill-in-his-coffin-flashforward-three-years-stupidity that we were served up last night.

It was as satisfying as a warm bottle of New Blood would be.

ICK.

In the history of series finales last night's True Blood debacle ranks at the top of the crap pile. I demand a re-write. Or at least a movie so we can figure out who the nameless, faceless dude is that Sookie ends up marrying.

RIP Vampire Bill.

8.21.2014

Back to School

Today is the day.
Back to school.

Somehow I have a second grader and a fifth grader. Not sure how that happened...other than the fact that time flies when you're having fun.

The house is strangely quiet this morning. As a work-at-home mom I get used to having the kids at home all summer...watching Disney Channel, playing in their rooms, building forts in the basement.

This summer was full of fun and adventure and was the busiest summer we've had. And now it's back to the daily grind of wake up early, pack lunches, wait for the bus, and homework.

But the kids are excited to head back to school ... and I have to admit it'll be nice to get back to my "school year work from home" routine.

Here's to a great school year!

8.19.2014

Wrapping Up Summer

Well here we are ... nearing the end of summer.

It's kind of hard to believe that summer break is over in just two days and the kids are heading back to school. I think that summer feels as if it flew by because, well, it did.

Emma says it feels like it went really fast because it was winter FOREVER this year and summer was way too short. I think she's right.

We had a summer bookended by vacations. We started the summer with a week-long trip to a beach house in the Outer Banks. And we spent last week at Walt Disney World.

I have to say that beginning and ending summer with a vacation is the way to do it. Although in all honesty I'd rather still be at Disney World.

The past couple of months have gone by quickly and it seems like July was a blur of activity. Once the OBX vacation was over the kids had two weeks of summer religious education, and the had golf lessons every Friday. The Olivia had a week of basketball camp. And there was more golf. And then it was mid-July and there was no stopping summer.

And then POOF! It was August and the girls finished their golf lessons with a tournament (Emma placed 2nd for her age group; Olivia placed 3rd for hers). And then the car was packed and we were off to Disney World.

Now we're home and trying to get back into the swing of post-Disney reality. Tonight is open house at school. And Thursday is the first day of school.

Liv is starting the 5th grade which seems impossible. This is her last year of elementary school - next year she moves to the "middle school" - or as we called it when I was a kid, junior high (GULP!). Emma is in the 2nd grade. Again, this seems impossible.

So here's hoping everyone has a lovely end of the summer and a great start to the school year. Also, here's hoping we don't have a repeat of the winter of 2014 this winter. I know I can't handle that and will be packing up and moving to Florida if it happens again.

8.03.2014

Empty Glass City

In case you haven't seen the national news this weekend my hometown - Toledo, Ohio - has been in the middle of a toxic water crisis since about 2 a.m. on August 2.

The city awoke to "don't drink the water" warnings on Saturday morning. At first the warnings were don't drink the water, don't boil the water, don't even TOUCH the water. A couple hours later that was amended to "you CAN bathe in the water" (and that was later amended to only healthy adults can bathe in the water provided it's not hot water and they don't get it in the eyes, nose, or mouth).

Kids can't bathe in the water. We can't cook with the water. We can wash our hands in cold water (as if that's going to happen). We can do laundry with the knowledge that trace amounts of the toxin from the water will remain in the clothes.

This whole #watercrisis stems from an algal bloom in the western basin of Lake Erie - the water source for the city of Toledo and surrounding areas. Apparently - according to the news because the mayor is basically saying nothing at all - when the water treatment plant tested a sample late Friday night the readings were THREE TIMES higher than the recommended level for this particular toxin in drinking water.

So the alarms were sounded and we entered #EmptyGlassCity phase.

And since Saturday morning 400,000 residents of Toledo and Lucas County have stockpiled bottled water, sat in line to receive free water, and been glued to the nearly non-stop local news coverage of the #watercrisis just hoping that we will FINALLY HEAR SOME TEST RESULTS.

According to the news and city leaders many water samples have been sent to a lab in Cincinnati, another lab in northern Michigan, and a lab in Columbus so that they could get "independent" results.

First they said we'd hear something Saturday afternoon. Then it was Saturday evening. Then Saturday night. Then maybe Sunday morning. Then maybe Sunday afternoon. Then 10 p.m. Sunday night. And now, as of 11 p.m. Sunday night they MIGHT have test results by 1 a.m.

And as a resident of Lucas County who has spent (so far) more than $60 on bottled water, I say that is unacceptable. The local government is NOT giving us any answers. We know nothing more tonight than we did at 6 a.m. Saturday morning when the city woke to a total water ban.

And we deserve to know something - at this point I don't care if it's good news or bad news or a mix of both. But to be kept in the dark for the last two days and to continually be told that "results are coming" is completely unacceptable.

Don't feed us the political bullshit lines that we've been fed for two days about patience and this will take time. The governor showed up today for some reason. It looked a lot like a campaign stop to me. He didn't say anything worthwhile. A whole lot of useless crap poured out of his mouth and that was about it.

To the city leaders I say this: Do something. Say something. Stop feeding us bullshit and patting us on the head telling us how great it is that we're being patient. Because I'm pretty certain that patience is about to fly out the window in this city if we don't get answers soon.

7.16.2014

The One Where I Give Lame Excuses for Not Blogging


You know what? It's summer. So I guess that means I'm on summer break from my blog?

No?

OK. In all honesty I think about writing here a lot. Most of it happens just as I'm about to fall asleep and I have these great ideas for a post and then BAM! The "Simply Sleep" pills kick in and I'm out like a light. And then the next morning I have no recollection of any of those great ideas.

It's summer. Which means the kids have been sitting on their butts for weeks eating bon-bons and watching repeats of 'Jessie' on the Disney Channel all day long.

OK. Not really.

Summer has looked a lot like this: leave for OBX vacation on the last day of school, get back a week later, kids start two weeks of summer religion classes (yes, I am THAT Catholic mom) in addition to starting their Friday morning golf lessons, then it's the Fourth of July week and nothing gets done around here, and then Olivia has a week of basketball camp. And now it's July 16 (Happy Birthday to my husband!) and school starts up again in a little more than a month.

The kids have been busy. I've been busy - you know, working and driving them all over town. Anyone who thinks working from home is a piece of cake should try it in the summer when the kids are home EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Don't get me wrong - I LOVE MY JOB. A lot. And I LOVE MY KIDS. A lot. But I won't be sad when August 21 comes along and they get on the bus and head to school all day, five days a week.

Speaking of work...I'm coming up on the three year anniversary of when I escaped from hell the grasp of the Green Polyester Trolls and let me tell you how much happier I am. I love what I'm doing now. And that's what matters.

And as we head into the last month of summer ... I need to take some time for myself every day and blog more. I miss my blog. (Although, it is somewhat unlikely that anyone else misses it. Is there anyone out there reading this? Hello?)

Anyway...here's to a wonderful last month of summer break!

6.23.2014

The Post Where I Vent About Food Allergies and Insensitive Jerks


There are many things in life that annoy me.

Bad grammar. Overuse of exclamation points. Tailgating drivers. Slow drivers. Brown M&Ms.

And, people who refuse to understand the seriousness of food allergies.

It's been almost three years since Olivia was diagnosed with allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame.

In those three years I have become a food allergy advocate for Olivia (and for all the other kids out there who were dealt this very unfair hand). I read all the labels. I do all the research. I warn the waitresses about Liv's allergies. I demand that they tell the kitchen about the allergies. I worry that something might get past the defenses and I'll have to EpiPen my 10 year old in the middle of a restaurant (or my kitchen).

I hope for a cure and know that one might never come.

And I shake my head in total disbelief every time I hear someone say "what's the big deal?" or "it can't be that serious" or "how can YOU still eat peanut butter if Olivia is allergic?"

Let me explain it all again....

The "big deal" is that Olivia has three very serious food allergies. Has she ever experience anaphylaxis? No. Does that mean she'll never go into anaphylaxis? No. She could eat something tomorrow that she's eaten before and JUST LIKE THAT I could be grabbing my EpiPens and calling 911 at the same time.

We do our best to avoid all the known allergens - peanuts, tree nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, coconut, and many many more), and sesame. We avoid restaurants that aren't safe. We avoid ice cream shops where there's a risk of cross contact or cross contamination. We have to tell Olivia "no" and then comfort her when she cries because she can't eat the same dessert everyone else is eating.

We think back to all the times pre-diagnosis when she would eat peanut butter and then wake up vomiting in the middle of the night. We think about how lucky we were that she never had anaphylaxis after eating peanut butter pre-diagnosis. I think about the time we took her to a hibachi restaurant for her 7th birthday and how sick she felt that night (presumably from the sesame seeds that we didn't know were dangerous). We think about how many times she could have had an allergic reaction at school with NO EpiPens in sight. We always think about the "what if" moments.

We don't allow Olivia to eat anything made with peanuts, tree nuts, or sesame. Nor do we let her eat anything that is processed in a facility where those allergens are present. We ask questions at the bakery, we order "nut free" cakes knowing in the back of our mind that there is always a small risk that something got through the "nut free barrier."

There is never a guarantee that something that says it is "nut free" is truly nut free. Mistakes will be made. It's often a matter of putting our faith in the labels and trusting that they're accurate.

Do Olivia's allergies mean we don't keep peanut butter in our house? No. We have a jar of it in our pantry, within Olivia's reach. She doesn't touch it and we do our best to not eat it when she's home. We don't keep nuts of any kind in the house, but there are items in our pantry and freezer that she can't eat. And we make sure that she avoids those items. And (OHMYGOD) yes, sometimes I eat peanut butter. When Olivia is home. And I make it a point to not touch her or anything she is using in the kitchen.

And it's not just peanuts and tree nuts that are an issue. We also have to deal with sesame which is a sneaky bastard. I can only buy Panko bread crumbs because there is a sesame risk in most other bread crumbs. We don't order from certain pizza places in town because they use sesame seeds on their crust.  Sesame doesn't have to be listed as an allergen according to the FDA because it's not one of the "big 8"...so there's a big guessing game involved with sesame.

I read the label of every food item I'm buying at the store that I know Olivia will be eating and do a small victory dance when I find something "safe" that I know she loves (like powdered sugar doughnuts).

It's all about the labels and avoidance. It's how the world of food allergies work. If you eat pecan pie on Thanksgiving, Olivia will not give you a kiss. If you eat a peanut butter sandwich you can't play with Olivia until you wash your hands. If we have almond chicken with our Chinese take out, keep it away from Olivia's food.

We all have jobs to do to keep our food allergy kids safe.

And this includes dining establishments. There are restaurants where I am 100 percent comfortable taking Olivia because we know they are safe and take food allergies seriously. There are also restaurants where we won't dine (Five Guys, Chick-Fil-A) because they are not safe for Olivia's allergies.

When I can visit a restaurant (or other dining location) and have a conversation with the wait staff and/or kitchen staff about Olivia's allergies and receive an intelligent answer in return, then I know we will come back to that establishment.

When I question a dining establishment about their food safety and possible cross contact issues and I'm told that food labels are essentially "fake" and only exist because the LAWYERS MADE THEM DO IT...well, let's just say I go into my Mama Bear mode and I will do whatever it takes to protect my daughter. Including bringing safe food into that establishment until they change their policies and procedures.

Also, I want to punch them in the face.
Hard.

I don't expect a 'peanut free zone' everywhere we go with Olivia. Hell, our own house isn't 100 percent peanut free. But what I do expect is respect and civility and understanding and compassion.

To anyone who thinks food allergies aren't a big deal and that my requests for food labeling and a reduction in cross contact in the kitchen is stupid, imagine you have a food allergy.

Put yourself in Olivia's shoes for just one day - and make it a day when you're at a friend's birthday party and everyone else is eating cake and ice cream and you can't eat it because the cake is from an "unsafe" bakery and the ice cream has a "processed in the same facility as" warning. Imagine how you would feel. Left out. Singled out. Different. Now multiply that by EVERY SINGLE DAY. Then maybe you'll understand what it's like to have a potentially life-threatening food allergy.

Don't tell me that my child should eat somewhere else. Don't tell me that food labels aren't real. Get educated and start working to protect kids with food allergies. Otherwise, you're just a big jerk.