December 4th, 2011

I Can Get Over The Icky Fingers

Dear O.B. Tampons,

After this, all is forgiven. Even how icky you make me feel.


November 13th, 2011

Want to try something fresh? (Fruit and veg delivery!)

If you live in Colorado, New Jersey, Michigan, Chicago, or the greater Kansas City area and would like to try home-delivery of non-GMO, organic fruits and vegetables, I’ve got a 50%-off promo code for your first delivery.* Leave a comment below using a valid email address. I only have five (5) promo codes to share per month, so don’t delay!

*No, I don’t get diddly squat out of this.

November 10th, 2011

A Little Pre-Thanksgiving Unpleasantness

Have I ever told you that Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday of the year? It’s true, I love it even more than Christmas (sorry, baby Jesus) or my own birthday (which really ought to be a national holiday, don’t you think?) despite the lack of gifts associated with Thanksgiving. See, it’s all about the food. Or, rather, the lack of guilt over eating it. What other meal is it not only acceptable, but actually encouraged, to gorge one’s self to the point of pain and then, as soon as a bit of wiggle’s returned to the waistband of your pants, do it again and again? As someone who loves to cook — and to eat — it’s the perfect holiday!

Or, rather, it would be the best holiday of all if there wasn’t pressure to get together with far-away family members, particularly She Who Must Not Be Named, who begins her campaign of terror and manipulation hinting about getting together for the holidays sometime in March.

Last year, I was smart enough to pre-empt her visit by inviting my mother who waited until the last minute (at my request) to let me know she couldn’t make it. By then, it was too late for SWMNBN to make travel plans. Even the discount car rental places were all booked up. Pity.

This year, I really can’t get out of it. After all, I stayed home alone this summer when VH and the Big-Eyed Boy went to pay homage visit. Fortunately, she can only stay three days, and not the marathon week- or two-week visits of years past. Sure, it still means the same amount of vacuuming, scrubbing and dusting, and I’ll be making — and doing the dishes by myself after — three meals a day while she’s here. But it’s only three days and, best yet, she’s flying out ON Thanksgiving morning.

That’s right: I’ll be getting the holiday visit with her over before the actual holiday! If you ask me, that’s a good enough reason to have a second piece of pumpkin pie. Maybe even a third.

November 10th, 2011

Celebrity Breeders

From the moment Beyoncé announced her pregnancy at the VMA’s, the gossip mags have covered just about every aspect of it: what she’s wearing, whether her bump is real, and when she’s due. Considering how the papparazi swarm around her, flash bulbs clicking away the instant she steps outside, it’s a wonder we haven’t all been treated to photos of Beyonce getting a prenatal massage. Maybe she’s trying to lay low right now while we mere mortals recover from learning that her baby will be bathing in a $7,000 pink Swarovksi crystal baby tub. Really.

Fortunately, Jessica Simpson’s been more circumspect about her pregnancy. First, she kept mum on the matter, letting the gossip mags speculate on the cause of her growing girth. Then on Halloween she decided to be mum no more, showing off her bulging baby bump in a mummy costume. Get it? Get it? Yeah, it was pretty bad.

But it’s not just female celebrities breeding like rabbits right now. Nope, back in the news is perennial papa, Mel Gibson, who’s been slapped with a paternity suit by some reality TV bimbo. And just think: the ink isn’t even dry on the judge’s order in Mel’s last paternity/custody lawsuit!

Now, when you give it some thought, the real surprise isn’t that Beyoncé’s baby will be spoiled, that Jessica Simpson’s packing on pounds, or that Mel Gibson can’t keep it in his pants. No, the true surprise is that Kim Kardashian hasn’t jumped all over this celebrity breeding stuff. Then again, a baby requires a lot more than a 72-day commitment.

November 3rd, 2011

My Kitchen Renovation Is In Progress

The kitchen is really the center of our house, as it probably is in yours, too. Ours has a fireplace and one wall that’s almost entirely windows. You can’t enter the house without traipsing through or past the kitchen, and since I’m an avid home cook, most of our visitors wind up hanging out there. So I guess it’s not surprising that the kitchen is the room for which I have the biggest plans, and yet the room in which we’ve done the least.

Oh, we’ve rid the room of the hideous roosters and apple green paint. We repainted the wood cabinets and replaced their contractor-grade door- and drawer-pulls with tiny silver spoons and forks I bought at an antiques store. When our refrigerator died a couple of years ago we bought one that actually matches the other appliances. I felt like a real grown-up then.

One thing we haven’t fixed? The floor. The white porcelain tile floor that shows every drip, drab and crumb. The white floor that’s still shiny enough in most spots to make it obvious when I skip mopping for the day. The white tile floor that is cracked in at least a half-dozen places where we walk, while by the stove there’s an entire tile missing so I have to keep a mat there to cover the subfloor.

I hate that floor.

So why haven’t we replaced it? Well, like a lot of things in our lives, it still works. That is, we’re not walking on plywood, and spills are still easy enough to mop up. (Daily.) But the main reason is because ripping out a porcelain tile floor is a truly tedious, back-breaking job that involves spending hours on one’s knees wielding a hammer to crack the tile, then a chisel to get down to the subfloor, then a wheelbarrow to cart loads of broken tiles out to the garage where our trash company will not pick them up. That means, getting them out of the house doesn’t mean the work’s done: we still have to load them into the van and drive them to the city dump, one van load at a time. It’s work for young people, I tell you, which is probably why we should have made it our first project in the house since these last six years have been doozies.

Today, though, I decided I could stand it no more. I’d taken the kitchen rugs out to the deck so I could mop the floor (again), and forgot to bring them in before washing the breakfast dishes. One wrong move and — YOWZA — a cracked tile sliced a nice chunk off the bottom of my foot. Naturally, I bled everywhere.

Now, I could’ve cleaned up the carnage. That’s one nice thing about porcelain: blood splatters wipe up real well. But I’d already mopped the dang thing once today; I wasn’t about to do it again. So, after tying a kitchen towel to the bottom of my blood-soaked foot, I hobbled to my husband’s tool bench and found his hammer and chisel. By the time I needed to pick my son up from school, I’d only been able to crack up and haul out six tiles. SIX! And meanwhile I’ve worked so hard that my knees are locked up, my back is aching, and my hand has stiffened into something sore and claw-like.

So I’ve decided I was right: tearing out this tile really IS a young person’s job. As it happens, I know a young person with destructive tendencies and too much time on his hands. A young person whose adolescent hormones have lately led him to mouth off far too much for my liking. A young, smart-mouthed person who, when it comes down to it, is behind 99% of the drips, drabs and crumbs that made me hate this white porcelain tile floor in the first place.

Now, every time he mouths off, talks back, argues, rolls his eyes, calls me names or even breathes funny, he’s required to crack, remove and haul out one tile. At the rate he’s been at it this afternoon, we’ll be down to the subfloor in my 20′x26′ kitchen this weekend.

I love it when a plan comes together.

November 3rd, 2011

Amazon Announces A Kindle Lending Library!

Since VH and I have drastically different tastes in reading material (his sucks), keeping our Kindles stocked with new titles has been pretty pricey. Not anymore! Amazon has opened a Kindle lending library for Amazon Prime members.

Amazon Prime, if you aren’t already aware, is an $79 all-you-can-eat free 2-day shipping plan from Amazon. But you don’t just get free shipping with it — though in our house, the price of the membership is worth that alone. You also get free access to over 100,000 instant videos, so if you’re as ticked off at Netflix as we are, you can make the switch painlessly.

And did I mention the free Kindle Lending Library with thousands of books, including over 100 NY Times bestsellers like The Hunger Games???

UPDATE: To borrow books from the lending library, you MUST get them via your Kindle. Even though Amazon’s price page will tell you that it’s a free library book, you WILL be charged. (We learned this the hard way.) To borrow a book, turn on your wireless connection, go to the Kindle store and click “See All Categories”. You’ll see a link to the Kindle Owners Lending Library, and from there you can browse the thousands of titles available. Also note: there is a 1-book per calendar month limit.

November 3rd, 2011

Kim Kardashian: Poor Little Big-Butted Girl

When I was a kid, I’d stand in my bathroom using my hairbrush as a microphone and pretend to be a celebrity giving an interview. I actually think I’d make a very good celebrity: I love spending money, have a talent for saying stupid or offensive things off the cuff, and I could easily become accustomed to a life in which others handle my cooking, cleaning, clothing selection and personal grooming. Also, I could seriously get into being paid to party.

Of all the celebrities currently stinking up the headlines, I wouldn’t mind being Kim Kardashian right about now. Oh, sure, I know the Twitterverse is abuzz with outrage over the obvious sham of her 72-day marriage. But who else could turn a marriage that was shorter than the average Sea Monkey’s life into a topic more hotly discussed than the Herman Cain’s smarmy past, the Occupy Wherever protests, whether Conrad Murray killed Michael Jackson, and how Lindsay Lohan is going to get off easy yet again… combined?!

Thanks to Kim, we even have a new measurement of time: the “Kardashian”. Basically, it’s a unit of 72 days of marriage. As in, I’ve been married to VH for 67.67 Kardashians. How about you?

As for Kim’s side of the story, she’s blaming her divorce on “intuition”, saying that she’s just following her heart. Why the hell she didn’t do that before that $10 million wedding (roughly $133,000 per day of marriage) is unclear, but I suggest her intuition was buried the same place her head is.

October 25th, 2011

My Brush With Breast Cancer Awareness

As you no doubt know by now, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. If the store shelves full of products suddenly packaged in pink didn’t clue you in, then the endless headlines about breast cancer detection, the marathons and walks to raise funds for breast cancer research, and the little pink ribbon buttons worn by people who have had, or who’ve known someone with breast cancer, surely reminded you about the effort to stop this killer of both men and women alike.

Now it’s my turn to tell you my story.

Back in August, I woke up with an itchy right breast. At first, I thought a mosquito must’ve found a particularly tender spot. Lord knows, I’m a mosquito magnet. If there’s one in our house, it’ll fly right past the Big-Eyed Boy, past the Venomous Hubby and any guests we might have, and head for me, even if I’ve bathed myself in mosquito spray (my summer perfume, as we call it). So this itching? I figured it was nothing to worry about. The next day, I woke up to find the side of my breast was deep red. Had I scratched that mosquito bite like crazy in my sleep? I slapped some hydrocortisone on it and put it out of mind as best I could.

As it happened, the following day was my regularly-scheduled breast self-exam. I do mine in the shower. It’s easier, and it gives me something to do while my hair conditioner sinks does its thing. In other words, I’m usually thinking about other stuff while I do it, but this time was different. This time, I found a lump. In my right breast. The one that was now also slightly swollen, still itchy, and still incredibly red.

There’s really nothing that can prepare a woman for finding something like that. Oh, we’re all used to our breasts doing strange things around a certain time of the month: they get larger and tender. If you really want to scare the hell out of yourself you’ll do your self-exam at that point. All the hormone-filled ducts and lobules in there feel like a science project when you’re having your period. This lump felt nothing like that. But since it was nowhere near the red, itchy space, I decided to wait and see if it changed much.

Two weeks later, when it was large enough that even my husband noticed it, I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I made an appointment with my doctor for my annual womanly checkup for the following week and, again, put it out of my mind. Meanwhile, the itching never subsided, and the redness never quite went away. Darned those mosquitoes!

At the doctor’s office, I waited until she’d done a cursory breast exam before mentioning the lump that I’d found. After all, as well-endowed woman (though not so large-chested that I need to weigh the things on a platform scale of their own), I’m used to my breasts doing weird things. She hadn’t felt a lump, so maybe I’d just imagined it? I told her what I’d found, and she went back to probe further. Sure enough, she found the thing, too, right there at the base of my breast, buried quite deep, and almost like it was part of my rib. Except it was round, and it moved.

“Probably nothing to worry about,” she said. “Maybe a cyst. But just to be sure, let’s send you for a mammogram and an ultrasound.” So, off I went for my first-ever mammogram (yes, I should’ve had one a few years back but I’ve been lazy). The radiologist said it was perfectly clear — he didn’t even see the lump that we’d all felt — and cancelled the ultrasound. Back at my general physician’s office, she just about blew her lid. After all, a mammogram that doesn’t show you a clearly palpable lump isn’t an accurate mammogram, is it?

The following week — a month after I’d first felt the lump, for those who are counting — my doctor sent me to a different place for an ultrasound. There, they found the lump and, for good measure, they took screens of the red, swollen, itchy part, too. (By then even I realized that mosquito bites don’t last that long.) But, being a professional, neither the radiation tech nor the radiologist told me anything about it.

The following day my GP’s office called to tell me they were referring me to a surgeon. No, no reason to worry, they said. Breast cancer isn’t itchy, cancerous tumors aren’t smooth and round like mine, and, besides, nothing looked malignant on the mammogram or ultrasound. But it’s best to be safe than sorry, so off I went to the surgeon’s office the next day.

Only by that point, my right breast was incredibly painful. We’re talking shooting pains that felt like someone was stabbing me with an ice pick. And when those weren’t happening, it just ached. Then again, a lot more people had fiddled with my breast in the past day than in the past, oh, 15 years that I’ve been with my husband. So I did my best not to punch the surgeon as he, too, palpitated it, found the lump, declared that it’s probably not cancerous because it’s smooth and round and painful (apparently, breast cancer neither itches nor hurts). But, since the thing was right on my bra line and it hurt, we should probably take it out.

Last Monday, I went in for surgery. Honestly, I don’t remember much of it except that the anti-anxiety stuff they gave me before wheeling me into the operating room was good. So was whatever they gave me in there, because even though it was just supposed to sedate me, I don’t recall a damn thing. In fact, my next memory is of a flock of nurses descending on my bed as I came out of anesthesia, apparently screaming for my husband to come help me. Wisely, they bustled him to my side.

One hour later, I was home on the sofa in my pajamas with an ice pack clutched tenderly against the four-inch incision on my chest. And that’s how I’ve pretty much spent the past week: clutching either an ice pack or a heating pad to my chest, in my pajamas or something equally loose-fitting, doped up on pain meds at first but now just popping ibuprofen as needed. Since I hadn’t remembered any of the things they’d told me in post-op, I didn’t know at first that I’d need a sports bra two sizes larger than I usually wear (which, believe me, is NOT easy to find!) so I’d worn my regular bra. Big mistake. That caused a hematoma, which in turn led to more pain, which in turn led to slower healing. So slow that I’m frankly at the point where I don’t care what they pulled out of me. I’m just tired of this taking up space in my brain.

So, what did they find? I still have no idea. Although my one-week follow-up with the surgeon had been scheduled this past Monday, he’d been called in to a surgery that ran much longer than expected so they called to reschedule. The next date that worked with his schedule, my husband’s and mine was this Friday.

Yes, I’d like to have had the results earlier, but as everyone’s pointed out: if it was cancer they’d probably have dragged me down there ASAP. Besides, as I’ve been told by my doctor, the initial radiologist, the surgeon, and the pre-op nurse, breast cancer isn’t painful or itchy, and cancerous lumps aren’t smooth and round, so we’re all certain there’s nothing to worry about.

That makes me lucky, I know, and so many women who go through this same experience aren’t. Having been through this, I’ll never be able to look at the color pink without thinking of those women who’ve lost their lives to breast cancer, and the women who’ve yet to be diagnosed. I’ll think of them not just this month, when it’s Breast Cancer Awareness, and not even just this year that I’ve gone through my own scare. When you’ve gone through something like this — even when you’ve been lucky — you can’t put it out of your mind.

I hope you don’t have to wait until you, or someone you know, goes through this kind of scare before you start wondering why there isn’t more being done to stop this killer. Why insurance companies and even our government are trying to discourage regular mammograms. Why, when we know certain chemicals in our food supply feed cancers like this, we aren’t doing more to eliminate those lethal concoctions. Why, even with all the headlines about how 1 in every 8 women will be diagnosed with this, so many women skip their monthly self-exams and annual mammograms. Because, trust me, not knowing doesn’t spare you from a damn thing.