Monday, April 29, 2013

Baby Tiger Face

Today, I want to share the story of a former colleague. His daughter was born about a month ago with a rare genetic deformity called Goldenhar Syndrome.

The family has posted their daughter's story on YouTube.

Before Kristin is even 6 months old, she will require her first surgery. Over the next 18 years, she will require dozens of reconstructive surgeries in order to perform basic functions like hearing, eating, and breathing.

Their insurance will cover a great deal of of the costs for these surgeries, but the family must still pay a great deal out of pocket. They are hoping to raise money through donations.

If you are interested in helping them, please, check out their website at: They will be able to accept donations for the next 120 days.

If you can't donate, but would be willing to leave them a note of encouragement or to pass their story on, they have a Facebook group called Tigerbabyface at:

Thank you for reading this post.

Friday, April 26, 2013

My Inner Control Freak is Freaking

Last week, I wrote about a sprained ankle. It turns out that I was completely wrong. On Monday, I suspected something was amiss because my foot was still swollen, numb, and painfully cold. A quick trip to our local walk-in clinic confirmed I was right. I had fractured my fibula. (Sigh...) Sometimes, I hate being right.

Wednesday, my orthopedist assured me that it was "a good break to have. At least it was good for [me], but bad for [him]." (Hmmm... I'm glad he went into medicine and not comedy.) In any case, I won't require surgery, and I should even be able to drive again in a couple of weeks. He gave me a boot because every girl wants new shoes and some Vicodin for the pain before letting me hobble on my merry way. (Note: I've been taking only half a tablet before bedtime because I'm not sure being stoned with a toddler at home is a great idea. Plus, they're not nearly as much fun as Dr. House makes them seem.)

Altogether, the prognosis is really good, but my inner control freak is still freaking out a little bit. Tomorrow, we're having a party at our house, and lots of things I would normally have done -- like cleaning windows and light fixtures, shampooing rugs and couches, wiping shutters, cleaning moss off the patio, etc. --  just aren't happening. I simply can't do them with my bum leg.

(BTW -- lest one jump to the wrong conclusion and think that I'm a neat freak -- I'm not. By nature, I'm a slob. But I'm also detail-oriented. How one person can be both is a conundrum, I know.)

I'm also frustrated by having to rely on my kids and husband for all kinds of chores like taking laundry up and downstairs, shopping, emptying the dishwasher, and so on. I'm grateful for their help, but sometimes it's frustrating having to wait for them. Also, my inner control gets a little cuckoo when things aren't done my usual way, aka "the right way." For instance, I have this thing about my knives. I like them to be washed by hand, towel dried, and then placed into their own special slots in the knife block. Serrated knives on the left. Non-serrated on the right. In order of widest blades on top to narrowest blades at the bottom. See what I mean? It's a sickness. I have to consciously just let it go and be grateful they're put away at all when I see knives sticking out of any wacky slot.

Maybe that's the lesson I have to learn from this experience. I need to just relax and let go of stuff. In fact, that's kind of been the question of the week -- Is this really important? Will there be gossip if I don't shine every crystal on every light? Will the couch stop working if it doesn't get shampooed? Will anyone spend the entire party inspecting shutters? Will people be licking food off the patio floor?

And the first question has led to a second one. Why are so many of these things important to me in the first place? It's obvious that Mr. Clean doesn't live here, but nobody is going to pick up some weird bacteria either. So I have to conclude that the health, safety, and comfort of my company aren't the issue.

I love to blame what I've dubbed "the Martha Stewart phenomenon." There are all these media sites that tell you how to have the perfect gathering. They have some great ideas, but sometimes they create impossible standards for hosts and unrealistic expectations for guests. However, in this case, I'm not sure that media is entirely at fault. I've come to realize that I'm a control freak because 1) I get to wield a kind of power over my environment and 2) it's a way to control other people's perceptions of me. I suppose the first reason is ok. I mean, having the knives in place really does save time by making it easier to grab the right one. But I'm not so sure I like the second reason. I'm not even close to having my stuff together. I have bad days. If I'm worried about what people think, I can't enjoy them nearly as much as I should. ;-)

So it's not easy, but I'm learning to control my inner control freak. This past week, I've been gimping around in pajamas all day long,  shoving stuff into closets without bothering about where they should really go, taking naps when I should be scrubbing toilets... I've been a perfect hedonist!

As for tomorrow, my plan is to make sure that the main rooms on the main floor of our house are relatively tidy and just close the door on everything else. Then I will breathe deeply while counting to ten and welcome my guests with a smile. Cool. Collected. Controlled. Sort of.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

My Early Bit of Heaven

Sometimes I write because I'm inspired. Sometimes I write because I'm bored. Today is a "bored" day because my doctor-husband says I'm not supposed to move from the couch.

Two days ago, I was carrying a chair to the backyard when I tripped and badly sprained my ankle. If I could've reached my cell phone, I'd have taken a photo of it because it was at least the size of a small grapefruit. However, this post shall remain photo-less because I didn't want to trouble my family about doing yet another thing for me. You'll just have to take my word for it that it was impressive.

Normally, I'd be delighted to get out of housework, but not so much today. Because of the crutches, I've discovered muscles that haven't worked in a decade, and they're staging a revolt against the sudden abuse they've received. My DH asked me what I wanted for breakfast today, and truly, my dearest wish was for two ibuprofen and a glass of wine.

The really touching thing about being laid up, though, is how wonderful my family has been. My husband has taken over most of the things I normally do. To cheer me up, he even brought me the world's best falafel and spicy gigantes from my favorite Lebanese place. My kids are picking up messes, covering me with blankets, and chastising me every time I stand up. My oldest did a load of wash this morning. Even the littlest one did me a huge service. She saved me from being stranded out in the backyard when I had my original spill. She ran to the house for help, and when none was forthcoming (because they couldn't hear her knocking), she lugged a shovel back for me to lean on.

I have a crazy number of things going on this week (kids' activities, work, big birthday bash, company, etc.), so I can't think of a worse time to be crippled by a swollen foot. However, it's a great time to have a heart swollen with thankfulness for my fantastic family that has been taking such good care of me. One of my favorite writers, George Bernard Shaw said "A happy family is an earlier heaven." So is a loving one. I love them dearly. Even more than painkillers.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Getting the Nursery Ready

The daffodils have barely
come up, but here is some
sunshine for the winter weary!
The weather is warming up, and I actually found dandelions! in the yard last week! The sunny days make me feel like a pregnant woman in her last trimester. Every day until my bees arrive feels like it's both taking forever and whizzing by.

Like any expectant mother, I'm busy preparing the nursery. Specifically, I've started working on getting the garden ready for my 20,000 (give or take a thousand) babies.

I sense that the previous owners of our house weren't really plant people, and we have very little in the way of forage for our anticipated arrivals. Can bees fly and find nectar? Yes, they can, but I still want them to have some snacks close to home.

A few weeks ago, I had enormous plans to put in three new beds in the front yard and two new beds in the back. Since then, though, I've come to my senses and will instead focus on the existing garden beds and put in only one (maybe two) new gardens in the backyard.

Since time (and my back) are of the essence, I'm going to try something different this year in creating a raised bed. I saw a brilliant idea online that used straw bales in order to create a garden border. The interior of the garden border is then filled in (kind of like a lasagna garden) with the layers of:
  1. Cardboard or newspaper to kill the grass
  2. Organic matter (table scraps, lawn clippings, leaves, cut brush, paper, eggshells, etc.)
  3. Compost
  4. Soil
  5. Mulch
As stuff decomposes, the garden will sink, but I'll just keep topping it up.

Additionally, I thought I'd use Joel Karsten's straw bale gardening approach to claim the space the bales are taking up as well. (You can hear Mr. Karsten explain straw bale gardening in the video below. His segment starts around 0:55.)

So the straw bales arrived at my house on Friday. They smelled so wonderful -- I became giddy and started laying them out immediately.

It was beautiful how quickly I could create a garden space. Waaaaaaay better than digging. (Digging is for chumps!) However, what Mr. Karsten failed to mention is that messing about with straw is itchy, scratchy work. Also, the straw wants to go everywhere. It was in my hair, my shirt, my pant legs, even in my undergarments. Also, I quickly discovered something new about me; in the last two years, I've developed a serious allergy to straw. I broke out in a fiery, stinging rash in every conceivable place. And I have 20 bales sitting right there in the backyard. Oh, the irony.

Still all things considered, if this works, I may consider ordering more bales this fall because it was fast and easy. I'll probably have to slather on the Benedryl like sunscreen. Or maybe I'll just take a bottle of it out there and pop a sports cap on it. Ah, diphenhydramine -- the new thirst-quencher!

The bales are soaking, and I'm still working on layer 2 -- filling up the bed with organic matter, but I figure I'll be done in a week or so, and then I can finish up and plant! Just in time for my new babies.

Layer #2 in progress

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