Screeching Halt

Oy! I’ve been working on a project for a while now and suddenly, my brain froze up. Seriously, froze. I have a bug to fix, and I can’t find it. I have fought for 2 days on this. I think I am going to take today to work on something else. Clear my brain for a bit. You know, let the problem stew in the background.

This past few months, I’ve been focussing on project relax. To be honest, it is actually working. I can now take in some deep breaths and stop stressing about a particular item. For example, last night I got stuck in traffic. It took my 1h 15 m to drive to the after school place. I called twice and they made sure someone stayed with the girls. I was annoyed, but when I was really stuck, I simply reminded myself that there was nothing I could do about it. And it helped.

I wish I had some totally deep post to write. I have thought about some pretty deep thoughts and I have some pretty deep ideas, but right now, I don’t have any in the top of my head. I have all of the little ones stuck in my head.

I really have a simple parenting question to ask y’all: Homework. WTF? This morning, Soleil worked on her homework during breakfast. It never occurred to me to ask her if she had extra and she didn’t remember about it. I hate homework. We have spelling (oops, we were supposed to work all week on it), and we should be reading (hell, Soleil reads to herself in bed. Luna likes to listen, so we do read almost everynight, but…) and Soleil often has other homework. Luna needs to draw out three sentances that end in q. I can think of Iraq. That’s it. What else ends in q?

Do you really embrace homework? Not? I want to help Soleil with her math facts over the summer. She doesn’t see the point to memorize things. Sigh. But I really hate homework. I find a lot of it is busy work. It is not terribly helpful and at most it teaches me how they are teaching the kids.

I wish we could make Alfie Kohn’s The Homework Myth required reading for all school administrators and teachers. We, as parents, should have a better way of expressing this, but instead, we all fall victim of the "too much to do" problem. I doubt I would ever go to the school board to fight homework.

oh well. Please: share your impressions on homework… I would love to hear it!

You’re just like everybody else….PRESSURE.*

* Thanks for letting me borrow, Billy Joel


Pressure. Stress. Tension. All normal parts of American life. But not for a 5 year old. Yesterday, Luna had her last skating lesson of this session. I have her signed up for the next one and I am supposed to get a form for the next competition from her coach. I was very upset with her coach. 

Some back story: Her first group coach, P, had to get a "real" job according to her husband, because the ice skating gig wasn’t bringing in enough money. So she got a job and had group coach 2, C, run the program for a few sessions. Luna soared with C. C was the right mix of hands on and helping to position Luna’s body, and goofy when Luna needed to goof. P is now back and she is so harsh on Luna. In fact, in one lesson, she told Luna that if she didn’t work harder, she wouldn’t let Luna do the competition. Now, understand two things: 1) Luna loves the skating. In no way, shape or form are we pushing her. Any competitions are her ideas. 2) She is still 5. Her birthday is in June, so she is the youngest in her class, the immature one, the little one (figuratively). You can’t tell a 5 year old something like that. She’s not cognitively ready for it.

There are 8 levels of Basic Skills in figure skating that one must complete to start freestyle. According to C, Luna has finished level 4, she needs work on one item, but is doing items in levels 5 & 6. According to P, she gave Luna her level 3 patch and refuses to give her level 4 until she has mastered the last element. Luna was upset. As was I!

She is 5. She loves this sport. I am not going to put undue pressure on her. To tell her she has to be absolutely perfect on everything at this stage is, well, too much. I am planning on calling the second coach, C today. I spoke to another mom at the rink yesterday. She has her 11 year old working with C. I will talk to C about semi-private lessons with the 2 girls and see what C thinks. I would rather do that, than have Luna’s spirit crushed.

Why do people put so much pressure on kids? Seriously. If you think she is Olympic material, fine, but don’t crush her soul in the process. I just love to see her have FUN out there.

And even if she isn’t Olympic material (which I seriously doubt she is), I want her to just do this for HER. Not me, not her coaches, HER.

Why the pressure?

The short cuts

As I previously stated, I need to lose weight. Who in America doesn’t? We are a nation of fast food, quick solutions and constant motion. Our morning radio station is a Clear Channel station. As far as I can tell, they own 90% of radio stations in the country. They have been pushing a product called "Healthe trim". Okay, normally I don’t worry about these things. Most increase your metabolism and that’s why we are modifying my thyroid for, my metabolism is off (hence, some of my weight gain). Yesterday, they had a company spokes person come on. I listened. I considered, I decided to research.

My research was unsatisfactory. First, this supplement contains large quantities of green tea. Like I want more caffeine? No, I would rather have my coffee, thanks! Secondly, they have you take the supplement and then not eat for 3 hours. In other words, you skip the first meal of the day. Then you "must" drink lots of water. Well, if you take lots of caffeine, and water, you will lower your appetite. Most people report that they do lose weight, but they also report that they end up just not eating all that much. From what most people describe, they are eating less than 1200 calories a day.

It is positively not healthy to eat that little. I know this, any diet out there worth its weight should know this.

I have mostly decided that I will stick to my current format to lose weight. I am tracking my intake and my outgoing energy (ie-workouts) and recording the results.Since I started last Monday, I have a downward trend in my weight and I have lost 1.6 lbs. My goal is close to 17lbs. Would I like to lose 10lbs in a month? Yes, but I would have to run right at that 1200 calorie line AND I would need my thyroid to be working properly (we are closer, but I still need a dose change. 2 more weeks until we get a number to make the change).

For now, I will stay the course. I am still taking in close to 1400-1500 calories a day. Last night’s Pizzeria Uno’s did not help (but DAMN they are so good). I would like to move closer to 1300 a day, but I need to be patient. I’ve done this before and I can do it again. Slow and steady. Slow and steady.

But, it would be nice to lose 10lbs in a month….

The night of the living phone calls

I am not the first person to deal with this, but I want to get this out there.

Allied Interstate Inc. is an evil debt collection service.

Whew! That feels better!

For the past week, we’ve been getting messages on our phone at home saying that we need to call this 877 number to resolve a debt. It’s a recorded message. It’s not clear that we would even get  human if we were home to get the message. Calling the 877 number had left us on hold, for one point up to an hour and 20 minutes (I forgot to hang up!) Finally, today at work, I got through.

First I was told by the very nice person who actually answered that our phone number was NOT in their system. I insisted that I wouldn’t be calling if I weren’t getting these messages. She did check "the other side of the office", whatever that means, and informed me that this was Region 8 out of Ohio that was calling our number. She then gave me the name associated with this number.

The name? I denied knowledge of this person, but it was one of Jay’s undergraduate housemates. They tracked down that Jay and Mr. X had the same number at one point and hunted Jay down to get us to call Mr. X to settle his debt. She asked a few times if I was sure if I didn’t know anyone with Mr. X’s name. I denied that we knew him. Which is sort of true since we haven’t seen him in about 10 years.

I was careful to NOT give my name. Or ANY information other than my telephone number. In fact, I was a little concerned to call from my office because then they have THAT number on file too. She did tell me that she cleared the record and we should not get anymore calls.

We shall see. Based on the track record of this company, I am not so sure. We are starting the process of putting an addition on our house and we will need a loan, and I don’t want this messing with my pretty darn good credit.

Spring in Boston

I’ve been in the Boston Metro area since June 1996. I still can’t get over spring here. Start with the first big holiday that is almost Spring. March 17. You know, that famous day, Evacuation Day? That is the day the British left Boston. Seriously. People in Suffolk County get the day off. The fact that is coincides with Saint Patrick’s Day and that there is a large majority of Irish living is Boston has no connection WHATSOEVER (heh).

Follow Evacuation Day (does that not sound like the day after a rather large dose of Ex-lax?), with Patriots’ Day. Wha??? I can hear you now. What the hell is Patriots’ Day. Silly, it’s the day that the Boston Marathon is run. Oh, and the Monday closest to April 19 when the Revolutionary War started in Lexington and Concord (pronounced "conquered") in Massachusetts. The week with Patriots’ Day is a school vacation week. Just to screw with us.

As I drove in this morning, I passed through Lexington center to see some houses have their patriotic buntting up. Other homes had their flags flying and electronic signed warned me of a busy Saturday in that town. Hell, even our town has "Pole Capping Day" (you can’t MAKE this shit up) where someone reinacts the climbing of a pole and putting a red knit hat on it and being arrested and taken away by the RedCoats. It happens 2 weeks before Patriots’ Day. Seriously? We have a large wooden pole in a grassy area in our town with a bright red cap on it that stays there until the week of the next Pole Capping Day.

Forget the trees, the pollen, the first robin of spring. In Boston? Once Evacuation Day hits? Yeah, Spring is right around the corner

An Open Letter: Re Work Stress

Dear D, P and myself,

 We need to address the stress I feel from work. The situation has become intolerable, and I have started to make changes.


First, I appreciate the times you let me be flexible with work.Really really really. The parenting landscape is so different than when I was growing up. I never had the image that mom and dad shared the work the way we do now. And having no family in the area is something that drags us down. We are the point people. 24/7, we back each other up. Without your flexibility, I would have to quit working. Period.

Secondly, I want to remind you both that I do work on my off time. Officially? yes, I don’t work Mondays. Reality? I read and reply to emails all Mondays. I take my computer to Luna’s ice skating and do fix issues there. I take sick leave every week to get my allergy shots, but I often work offline there. Weekends? Evenings? If needed, yes. I do find work is fluid.

Thirdly, I have been taking things too personally. Yes, we are flying a multi billion $ spacecraft. Yes, I know that we don’t want to mess up. But I have to remember that life is what it is. That snuggling with my girls and working are both parts of my life. That I will continue to work hard on things at work, but I really will start stepping back a little.

I got a chance to just sit and be while I was in NC. And it was nice. I want more of that.

And one way is to eliminate stresses in life.

So I will be working on that!



We are home from the hospital. 

It was a long day yesterday. Dad did well in the surgery. However, he lost his IV with a vengeance in recovery. It blew out and they had to try to  get a new one in as  he started waking. After several attempts, they got his foot. Sigh.

Then he started having claustrophobic attacks. Very scary. He would just start screaming to get out of bed and to get the neck brace off of him (yeah, don’t think so buddy. Keeping that neck brace on dude!). At least he got some anxiety meds for it. The evening was difficult and he had a very rough night. He really wanted to get out last night. So, being home is the best place…

Still worried, but I am glad he is home. Less chance of infections, less chance of a claustrophobia attack.

Another Day, Another Plane

Once again, I am writing this on a plane. I actually like travel, but
even I am starting to think "no mas". Since February 27, I am have been constant motion: Hawaii, Chicago, Cleveland and now North Carolina. This is tiring, and it has thrown off my entire system of everything. I suppose if I traveled for work on a regular basis, this wouldn’t be bad, but one of this was work, one was pleasure with friends, one was Passover and now today is for mom.

A few weeks ago, mom called me up. She was upset and could only tell me that dad needed surgery. Then she had to go and I said to call me back. Then dad called. He wanted to tell me. A few years ago, he had two vertebrae in his neck connected to cadaver bone and titanium plates. His natural bone has been thinned by time and was pressing nerves causing him severe pain in his legs.
The 2 year check up showed that one of the bones healed cleanly. The other was separated and kind of free floating around his spinal cord.

The surgery was scheduled for April 8th immediately. He had a second opinion that day since he was not in any pain. The second doctor clearly agreed. It wasn’t a problem unless something caused the bones fragments to move. Then, it could be bad.

This is the part that is more upsetting than anything else. Mom called back in tears. This has been a crazy year. Last May, she fell out of bed and broke her back. She still is in pain. In between, she has had a pulmonary embolism complete with an ICU stay, constant back pain to the point of needing heavy meds, and general stress. She wanted to know if I could come down to just be with her. I said yes right away. However, and I know this is selfish, I am sad. This is the start of taking care of my parents.
I am the youngest of two kids, but I am in a better place, emotionally, family and financially to help my parents. My sister and mom fight constantly. (side note- we’re going over the George Washington bridge! cool) She is also raising 3 kids (okay, N is 19, but he still lives at home), she and her husband are still trying to keep costs down and paying down debt like most Americans.

It is up to me to be my parents keeper. And I don’t wanna.
I know several bloggy friends, Omegamom, The Fixer Mamma, the blogger formerly known as Mrs. Figby, who have all had to shut up and grow up lately to be the adult for their parents. Now it is my turn and I don’t wanna. (insert foot stomp here).

I’m scared. They are only 67 (turning 68 this year). They are way too young for this. They have been retired for 10 years and are enjoying life when they aren’t sick. When I saw them last at Thanksgiving, mom looks so…old. Of course, a large part of that was her back hurting, so she couldn’t walk straight, but still.

How often will I need to make this flight? We already come down to NC once a year to visit them. Will I need to do this more often? I honestly don’t know.
I believe I have power of attorney for them. I know I am executrix for them. I want mom to start to give me some more information on their finances. They’ve already consulted me on some things since I am in charge of the will (and they are planning to deed their house over in the future).

I am just not ready to be the adult.

Less Stress (really!)

Did you know combing through a year’s worth of data takes a while? Fortunately, my computer is churning away at it, so I can post a quick blog post today!

Stress… The modern person has to fight it constantly. CONSTANTLY. I am working on lowering my stress. Last week I had 2 meetings with my supervisors. Supervisor number 1 gave me great ideas on how to talk to supervisor #2 (#2 is my leader supervisor). I find it hard to work with #2 sometimes and in a long hard look at myself, it is truly my own damn fault. I often read tone in emails that isn’t there. I take the blame for not being at "work" in the office 8 hours a day. In other words, if I am running a code (like now) and take a break to do something else, I feel the guilt. You know what? I never "feel the guilt" when I work at nights or on the weekends. 

I had a good mid-review with my #2. I asked for a schedule change over the summer and if it works, so make it permanent in the fall. I also expressed concerns about communication. I told him that I would try not to read tone and I would also walk down and talk to him. He agreed to try to keep things less terse.

I always have a full plate of things to do. My new goal is to not stress the work ones. What gets done, gets done. Period.

Now to start taking control of that damn 20lbs…..:)