Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Archive for March, 2012

Megamillions… what would you do?

Okay, maybe the jackpot isn't this high...

So the MegaMillions jackpot is up to a bazillion dollars. Okay, not that high. But it is, it’s a lot of money. I think I saw something that said that even after taxes if you take the lump sum, it’s still $250 million.

We bought a ticket.

Yesterday, a friend (Ry) tweeted that at his work everyone was figuring out what they do with all the money. I answered plainly. I’d hire a nanny so that I could write and finally finish my novels and projects. Sounds simple, but I’m driven to write. It’d make me happy.

I’d buy a smallish house, something that we’d have to fix up- big enough that the boys would each have their own room and have a guest room/office to write out of. I’d set aside money for my children’s college (to get their bachelor’s) and set up funds for them so that they’d have a head start when looking for a house. But still have to find their own way. Isn’t the journey what defines us?

I’d probably invest in my friend’s business ventures to help them find their dreams and put the rest into foundations to help other kids get to college. That’s my thought.

That much money seems terrifying to me. What a giant responsibility.

But I still have a ticket.

So… for the other hopefuls out there, what would you do? You don’t have to be responsible like me. I’d just love to hear how you’d handle a jackpot like that.

How did I mess that up?

Yesterday, a friend of mine mentioned on Twitter that he had no intention of going to see Titanic in 3D. I agreed. As a 17 year old, I went to see it in theaters with a group of friends. The girls I knew had been gushing about how amazing this movie was. It was so romantic.

I was appalled.

90% of the movie’s dialogue was either “Jack” or “Rose.”

Keep in mind, I wasn’t writing regularly yet. But I read. Dozens of books a year. As a matter of fact, it bothered me so much that when I write now, I’m terrified of overusing someone’s name.

So when I replied to him on Twitter about how tired I had been as a teen of hearing Jack and Rose over and over again… I discovered that in my tweet I’d typed Jake.

I corrected myself, and was completely mortified.

My friend? He slyly replied that maybe if they’d used his name a few more times, I might have gotten it right. Well played, sir.

I’m not the only one who noticed…

I also laughed when the ship was capsizing and it went vertical, and one of the passengers fell and bounced off a few things on his way down. I still do. I… yeah, despite how much I love Kate Winslet I am just not a fan of the movie.

Have you ever made a similar gaffe on Twitter? Or is there a movie whose dialogue drives you bonkers?

Are we taking things too far?

Yesterday, when I picked up the Oldest Kidlet from school, he started begging me to bring Easter Eggs for their class egg-hunt “tomorrow” (or, today). As I was panicking about trying to figure out how to get the boys in and out of Target in a timely manner in the afternoon, I realized that I hadn’t heard anything about the egg hunt yet. Looking in his backpack, I found a slip announcing that it was this Friday.

Phew.

On the slip, it asked for parents to bring “pre-packaged Easter Eggs” in unopened bags. Or an unopened bag of candy and unopened Easter Egg packages that a parent volunteer will fill. Which reminded me of the note for the Valentine’s Day party that asked for store-bought cookies or snack-size packages of snacks.

I understand that they’re trying to make sure that these things are safe for kids… but isn’t this taking it too far? I was annoyed during the Valentine’s Day party because my son came home with all sorts of preservative filled treats that I wouldn’t feed him normally (in addition to the candy from his valentines that I was expecting). He had been so full of candy that he didn’t touch the food provided at the party, and brought it home with him- Cheez-its, a Capri Sun and granola bars that were made with HFCS. I’m not a health nut. I don’t ban my kids from having sweets or chips, since I love those things, too. I just try to balance things out. They get the chips with some healthy food. Or actual fruit juice instead of sugar water.

I understand the why. They wanted the convenience of individual packages and knowledge that these snacks were “safe,” but traded off any sort of nutrition for that. I couldn’t even supply actual fruit unless they were in convenience packs.

Is it so hard to ask that the Easter Eggs be filled with PACKAGES of easter candy? Why must I buy prefilled ones?

Sorry, I just miss the days when a class birthday party meant that occasionally you’d get sloppily frosted cupcakes made by a kids’ mom. (We’re asked not to bring in treats at his school for birthdays)

The preschool at the private school has sign up lists. Parents can bring in a jug of real fruit juice. There’s always a request for a fruit or vegetable. Something that makes me feel like there’s an attempt to have the parties be nutritious too.

Part of my annoyance is the nutrition factor. I guess the other is that I feel as though I’m being forced into a square peg. Two issues that really get under my skin.

Am I over-reacting, or is the school overreacting? Let me know in the comments!

The Day of Um

Today, the first episode of Imagination Situation went live! You should go check it out. Right now. I’ll wait.

If you don’t have kids yourself, please send the video to your friends and family that do- Imagination Situation is a family webseries for parents and kids, using imagination to solve some life’s sticky situations. I’ve been so excited to share this with you- from the first time that Roby asked me what I thought of the concept, to the behind the scenes footage that was shot, and the first time I saw this episode with green screen. I honestly have been wishing that all of you could have been watching it with me.

Being so excited about this, my brain has been all over the place. So much so that when I was talking to my mom, I kept saying um. To the point where she said, “If you were a drinking game, I’d be plastered.” I’ve caught myself umming everyone, too. I’m usually not this bad.

I blame the giddiness. But I’ll gladly overuse um. I think this show’s worth it.

3 months!

It’s basically been three months since my hospitalization. In that time, my blood has almost gotten back to the normal iron range (1.0 more for my hemoglobin and I am there). My cells are still tinier than they should be… but bigger than they were when I was hospitalized.

And I don’t have to go back for a few months!

Which is a relief, because his office is so disorganized. It took two attempts for this appointment. Two weeks ago, I showed up for my appointment and left after waiting for an hour without being seen. This time, I was taken back promptly, but it still took 40 minutes of sitting in the room before he talked to me.

The kicker was that the door was open slightly, so I could see into his personal office and see that yes, if he wasn’t with a patient he was doing the paperwork for their case… and also talking to a pharmaceutical rep.

As badly as his office is run, he’s a good doctor. He’s one of the few people to actually accept that I am the size I am, and that underweight for some people isn’t necessarily a major health problem for me. So for that, I’ll try to get as early an appointment I can and expect to wait.

In related news, as I was telling the Oldest Kidlet about my day today, he started in on how he had to write a personal narrative about his day. As he loves to tell anyone and everyone, a personal narrative is a true story about your day. He looked at me and asked me to tell my personal narrative.

He interrupted with this rhyming version.

“I went to the doctor. I had to wait. I was sad sad sad.
But then he said I was better, I am glad glad glad.”

I told him I might write about that. Then he looked at me. “You mean, you write personal narratives? That’s what you write? I’m going to tell my teacher on Monday that you write personal narratives for a living.”

I was so happy that he understood the concept of my blog, that it didn’t even occur to me that he’d tacked on “for a living.” Guess he has big dreams for me, too.

“I’m mad at you.”

There’s so much going on in my life. I could write for days about my frustration with potty training. My advice: even if your child isn’t talking, if they show an interest in going… start potty training then. Now I have a stubborn four year old who has to do this on his terms. And I’m doing laundry daily.

But that’s all I’m going to say about it. Instead, I figured I’d share a different sort of problem I’ve had.

The Oldest Kidlet started waking up a lot in his sleep. We used to indulge his requests for milk, etc. But after it became a regular thing, I put my foot down. I put a glass in our bathroom and told him he could drink water from the tap.

Last night, he burst into my room around 3 am. “Mooooooom. I want juice.”

“Go get some water,” I said as I confirmed that it really was 3 am.

“I don’t like water.”

“Tough. You know the rules.”

“Fine. But I’m mad at you.” He stomped off (sorry to the in-laws below), and got water and went back to bed. And I, quite happily went to sleep.

Morning came. I got dressed, and went to wake up the boys for school. I flipped on their light and started pulling out clothes from their dresser.

The Oldest Kidlet blearily sat up. “I’m mad at you.”

“Is this still about the juice?” I picked out the shirt he wears on Thursdays (it’s College Day at his school).

“No,” he grumbled. “You were right about the juice. This is for turning on the light.”

“Oh. I can live with that.” I kissed him on top of the head, holding their clothes. “Come on, you two. It’s breakfast time.”

Forced Vaginal Ultrasounds: An open letter.

Dear Politicans of the United States (and the People Who Vote for Them)

There have been a lot of bills going around trying to find ways to undermine abortion. Except in trying to find legal ways to get rid of it- they’ve been creating laws to treat women as second class citizens.

One of the more popular laws being proposed and passing, are laws that require a woman seeking an abortion to undergo a vaginal ultrasound and having the fetus be described in detail. A lot of women’s rights groups are likening this to assault, since it’s a forced medical procedure.

Let’s leave abortion out of this discussion. What I’m here to write about today has nothing to do with where I stand on the issue, it’s about being a woman and standing up to protect other women.

To anyone who doesn’t know why this is a big deal, ask women what they think of going for their annual exams at a gynecologist. Why it’s important to find a gyno they feel comfortable with. It’s because as part of the exam a speculum is inserted into the vagina- and if you’re the slightest bit uncomfortable, your body will try to fight that. It’s an uncomfortable experience, enough that many women skip important health screenings.

Vaginal ultrasounds involve a probe wand being inserted into the vaginal canal to get a better look at the area.

I can speak to their discomfort. I’ve had two in my adult life, and can remember them with vivid detail. Both were procedures I consented to. The first was when I was 18 and in the ER with severe abdominal pains. They were concerned that it was my appendix, and suggested that an ultrasound would be the easiest and safest way to diagnose the problem.

Into the curtained area rolled an ultrasound tech with the machine. A man. Who looked like George Lucas. (TheBoy can verify that part, though they made him wait outside the curtained area) I asked if there were any female ultrasound techs, and after he checked, he verified that all of them were currently busy- and that if it was my appendix, that there might not be time enough for me to wait. No matter how I tried to relax, I couldn’t. So when he used the wand. It hurt. A lot. (It turned out not to be my appendix, btw. Just insanely bad cramps that needed more than over the counter ibuprofen to go away)

The second and last time was my hospital stay last year. I kept having recurring stomach pain and when I was hospitalized for a blood transfusion, the gastroenterologist I was referred to ran a ton of tests to take advantage of where I was. And yes, I needed an ultrasound to try to look at portions of my intestines. This time the ultrasound tech was a woman who spoke very kindly and calmly. It was still uncomfortable and painful.

Not to get into too much detail about my personal life, but I don’t have issues with pain during sex. So I feel like the discomfort (emotionally and physically) I experienced is probably pretty typical for the procedure. And those were two times that I knew they were needed to diagnose what was wrong with me- and I’m the sort of person who will happily endure 6 blood draws over the span of 36 hours and IVs inserted awkwardly at my wrist and elbow if it means I’ll get a diagnosis.

I do have an excellent memory. I can remember the best moments of my life in vivid detail- but the worst as well. The moments that were middling… I don’t remember in that much detail. Considering that I can remember everything about the two ultrasounds, I hope that helps you understand that it isn’t an experience I want to revisit.

Forcing women to have vaginal ultrasounds is nothing more than an attempt to scare and shame women into changing their minds. It is wrong- especially since there haven’t been any provisions to exclude women who were victims of sexual assault. That’s right. Violating a woman who was already violated.

Please, no matter where you stand on the issue of abortion, please stand up for women. If you live in a state where these bills are being proposed and being passed- please call your representatives. Tell them that you do not feel that this is an appropriate way to address abortion. It treats women as second class citizens, forcing them to undergo an invasive procedure- the legal definition of assault.

In a few states, it’s recently come out that they had forced sterilization of people that various states deemed feeble minded, due to mental health, poverty level and race. And it’s been met with outrage across the board. Yet allowing forced procedures like vaginal ultrasounds just begins to take us back down that slippery slope into allowing the government to decide that other invasible medical procedures are necessary.

Please. Don’t let the politicians wage war on women. Don’t let the government listen to a vocal minority and assume that’s how we all feel.

Whitney

If you’re not sure who your representatives are at any level, check out http://www.votesmart.org/ and input your address. It’ll spit out who represents you from the Presidential level all the way down to your local government. Then just click on their portaits and you’ll get their phone numbers and emails. If you’re truly upset, actually call and speak to someone. Emails don’t seem to weigh as heavily as a physical letter or a phone call.

Despite planning, things still go wrong.

As I mention frequently, the Little Kidlet has food allergies. A lot of them. Not in any particular order, he’s allergic to: Dairy, Soy, Peanuts, Eggs and Wheat.

Today at his school, they were having “Green Eggs and Ham” day. After they read the book, they were going to make Green Eggs and Ham. Supervised, they would get to crack eggs, whisk them with the food coloring and the teachers would scramble them on a griddle. It’d be served with ham (cooked on a separate griddle).

His teacher is awesome. On normal days, he simply eats the snack I provide. But prior to class parties, she makes sure to talk to me so that he can have something comparable to everyone else, and see what of the provided foods he can have. She even keeps some ham lunchmeat in the fridge just in case I’m running late or they’re having their lunch early – so that he can have something to eat.

We had talked about today at length. She told me how the project would go, asked me if he’d be able to be in the room while they made them. Our best case scenario was that Reed watch. But, if he insisted he crack the eggs, he could do it, if someone took him to wash his hands right away. (Hey, he’s four. He knows he can’t have certain foods, but he doesn’t always get how sick they can make him)

So when I got a phone call from them, I was worried. As it turned out, in the split second his teacher turned to get his ham, he took some egg off of someone else’s plate before the other teacher could reach him. They gave him Benadryl, but wanted to see if I wanted them to use his epi-pen. Since he was breathing normally and didn’t seem to be breaking out in hives (his typical reaction to egg), I said no.

I admit, I’m scared to death of what might happen with my son’s allergies. But I trust his teacher, and it seems that I need to spend some more time talking with him about why he can’t eat eggs.

I do hope he outgrows this egg allergy. Just because there really isn’t a substitute for scrambled eggs.

Nerd Day.

Things have gotten awfully geeky in this house. In a way that has made me unbelievably excited. Right now, the boys are reenacting the duel from Empire Strikes Back (except that LK wants to win). The Oldest Kidlet, wearing the Vader mask, is doing his best to sound like Vader. “No, I am your father.” pause. “Now you say No. Say NO, [LK]!!!”

Not from the adventure I mentioned, but you get the idea.

At least he actually knows the line.

They also got to watch The Phantom Menace. The Oldest Kidlet asks me to tell him when they get back to Naboo for the lightsaber duel. The Little Kidlet will watch the whole thing. And get this, neither of them find Jar Jar funny. At all. Instead, both of them are enthralled by Anakin and pretend that they’re “kids in Star Wars” too. So there, George.

The unexpected side-effect of all of this is that my Star Wars geekiness is rubbing off on my in-laws. My mother-in-law (who usually prefers chick flicks) watched The Phantom Menace with me and asked me right away when we were going to watch Episodes II and III. When I explained that those two were darker than the other movies, so we were going to wait, she asked if she could borrow the DVDs.

This week is “Spirit Week” at the Little Kidlet’s preschool. Today was Pajama Day (and the K-8 students were treated to a visit by the In-n-Out truck. Pajamas and In-n-Out? WOW), and tomorrow is “Nerd” Day – which doesn’t exactly sit well with me. I was (and am) a geek/nerd. I was fortunate enough to go to schools with substantial gifted/Honors/AP tracks, and because there were so many of us in the tracks… I wasn’t seen as too much of an outsider. But I wasn’t cool by any means. I was in choir in middle school, and found my home as a drama nerd in high school. Everyone knew me, but I wasn’t popular. I was just the girl you went to for help with science and math homework. Even after ditching my glasses for contacts, I wasn’t exactly dateable.

After consulting Twitter about what to do (I was leaning towards putting LK in a Star Wars tee and calling it a day), I got these wonderful tweets:

So I responded:

Which makes me want to run out right now and have the boys dress up like Edison and Tesla with awesome old timey hair and mustaches. I know. I’m weird.

When I mentioned Nerd Day to my oldest son, he looked at me. “But you’re a nerd. He should just dress like you do in a cool shirt and jeans.” Awesomely put, kiddo.

I’m sure I’m overreacting. But honestly, why pick a day for kids dress jokingly as a group that’s already being mocked?

Update: While dropping LK off at school, I saw a lot of kids dressed as stereotypical nerds. We went with a Star Wars shirt- and LK proudly told his teacher that he was dressed like his dad who knows everything about computers. (TheBoy works in data management, which involves a lot of scripting. And he wears geeky tees with jeans every day to work)

I was a bit miffed, but on the way home I passed the school’s athletic field. It’s a K-8 school, and the older kids have a walking club that meets before school. I saw lots of nerds. Then I saw two kids in Hogwarts robes (Gryffindor) and a boy chasing someone with what appeared to be a sonic screwdriver. He was dressed as Eleven, who let’s face it, is fairly nerdy.

While sharing about it on Twitter, Misa (@ILiveWith3Cats) wondered if maybe it was a Nerd Pride day. And for the nerdy kids at the school, it seems as though that’s the way they took it. And that? That I can live with.

Whitney vs The Stupid Day

Did I just title this as though it were a Chuck episode? Yes I did.

Yesterday was The Stupid Day. I originally called it a Bad Day, but at the end, I realized that there were a lot of annoyances, but nothing really bad.

It began the way that all days begin. With me trying to drag my ass out of bed while the kids picked out their clothes and went downstairs. Or more specifically, with me trying to put on my bra when my son threw my door open to announce that he was going to use our microwave all by himself.

I said no, he needed an adult. He went to my mother-in-law who said the exact same thing. She got there first.

We got to school on time, and on the way to the preschool I noticed that traffic on the freeway route was backed up. I’ll take streets, I thought, patting myself on the back for being so clever.

Except they were doing construction on one of the big intersections in town and the street route was backed up even worse than the freeway. I was so hungry, that I pulled off at a Jack in the Box and bought a Spicy Chicken Sandwich (I love that I can buy anything on their menu anytime of day). The traffic was so bad that I was able to eat the entire sandwich in the span of one and a half blocks. I do not eat quickly.

I swung by the house to pick up my Nook and headed off to a doctor’s office. I had a blood draw (my doctor is concerned my hummingbird metabolism is a thyroid issue- which I tried to tell him was what 5 other doctors have thought and have been proven wrong) and was supposed to hear the results. I went there early.

At the office, I learned that they had just changed their office policy and no longer accept credit cards or debit cards for payment. Only checks or cash. I do not carry much cash or a checkbook with me, since this is the 21st century and every other doctor I visit doesn’t accept personal checks anymore.

The very helpful receptionist said that I could go next door to the hospital to use their ATM. Which isn’t actually a 5 minute walk. It’s more like a 15 minute walk each way. Then she smiled and said, “Oh, it looks like you have a balance due because your insurance didn’t cover all of blah blah blah.” I could feel the white hot flames shoot from the side of my face, and asked for a printout so that I could send them a check for that balance, and asked if I could drop off a check later in the day for the copay. The office manager was listening and realizing that I’m a long term patient of this specialist, said that I could just add on the copay to the balance due.

I sat down, pulled out my Nook… and the batteries were dead. So I popped on Twitter. 10 minutes passed. 20 minutes passed (from my appointment time). Finally, when I passed the 40 minute mark I realized that even if they took me back right away, I wouldn’t have enough time to make it back to the Little Kidlet’s preschool- who would charge me on the spot for being late.

So I rescheduled. Despite some communication issues, like the girl continually asking if I could come in at odd times in the morning after I’d told her the earliest I was available was 9 am, that was worked out. The office manager apologized, telling me that he’d had some emergency patients earlier in the day. I asked her why nobody told me that when I signed in- because frankly, I’d appreciate knowing right away that he’s running over a half an hour behind. These things happen, but they can’t assume everyone can sit and wait the entire day.

I picked up The Boy Who Will Not Use The Potty from preschool. He’d had an accident at school and was in a comedically large t-shirt. Apparently I’d forgotten to pack him an extra shirt. Oops. We walked all the way across the school parking lot (while I was still trying to talk myself down from my seething rage at how inefficiently the doctor’s office was run) and had just gotten Little Kidlet bucked in when he realized he’d left his jacket on the playground. So we walked all the way back (no real option of leaving the jacket there until the next day), picked up the jacket and walked back to the car.

On the way home, it occurred to me that I felt really warm, even though the air conditioner was going full blast. So I took my temperature at home and discovered I had a fever of 100.9. Which explains why I was bitchy and not just exasperated.

Then TheBoy came downstairs and announced that Hell Was Freezing Over (aka he was calling in sick). TheBoy is a hard worker. A measly cold is not enough to keep him from his job. But he sounded horrible and looked even worse. So it was probably a good call. I don’t believe he’s going in today either, for that matter.

Do I think I have what he has? Nope. My condition came with weird fevers that last a couple days and go away with medicine. The only issue I have is a fever, so I’m guessing it’s just a flare up and not illness. Still, I’m glad that it was only a Stupid Day, and not a Bad Day- which usually ends in a traffic ticket or car accident.

Have you had a day like that? Commiserate in the comments!

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