Foto Friday – Let’s chat

As many of you readers are aware, I schedule these posts to go out as part of a series, which allows me to showcase each one and also buy myself some time to get new ones done for the next series. The problem with that deal with myself is that I have not been shooting new photos to fill in the rest, and I’m left with not much in the way of new material.

So, as I was contemplating what to do with this, I decided to go back through the ones I’ve done over the years. WordPress tells me I have over 16 pages worth of Foto Fridays since the blog’s inception. As I went through to see what might still be viable from my archives, I realized my 3rd party hosting has somehow malfunctioned, leaving most of the old posts with an error message, which I had no idea about. As far as I can tell, anyone looking at older posts will probably see this error as well.

So now I’m left with this seemingly impossible task of trying to remember what each image was and going back to rescue and upload each one seems overwhelming and honestly, not something I really have the time to do at the moment. The only thing I can commit to doing is to continue writing and produce text posts for Fridays to replace that content. (I honestly have been contemplating not writing at all, but I don’t want to go down the road emotionally at the moment.)

So I leave you with an apology, friends, and a note of appreciation. I’m sorry about the technical problems and lack of preparation on my part. Thank you all so much for your dedicated readership, and particularly, the support of this blog feature, which has been easily the most popular component of my site. Until I can get this all sorted out, there won’t be any new pictures. I’m not sure I can even salvage the old ones, but I’m hoping to try to work on that at least. As always, I appreciate everyone’s time and support as I put my brain’s musings out there into the world. Like most things, this blog evolves over time, as do I. Thanks for holding my hand as I grow. I love all of you for it.

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The Great Inflatable Race

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When I was pregnant, all I heard was from people around me were the limitations I had. I was well aware of all the things I couldn’t do because gestation of a fetus takes priority. But after the kids were born, I wanted to do something to take back my body from that process and get back to doing the things I wanted to.

Fitness was one way for me to do that. It was important to set an example for my children, so when I learned about the Great Inflatable Race, I knew I had to find a way to make it happen. It’s basically a race (but very casual one) that has a bunch of bouncy castles and inflatable obstacles. It was perfect! Luckily, my son was just old enough to participate, so I bought tickets for us both.

In the meantime, I got hurt and the hernia was on my mind throughout the summer. My surgeon cleared me to do the race after looking over my CT scan results so weather was my next concern. Obviously, rain would’ve meant a no go. But the forecast held, and off we went on our adventure.

The race itself was held on the grounds of a local YMCA outside York, PA. I must say it was a tremendously well organized event, with highly enthusiastic and helpful volunteers. They drove the race very well, and the DJ did a great job engaging the different groups as they waited for their turn to begin the race.

Overall, it was a hit, although we hit a few snags along the way, trying to explain for example that they race was done as a course and we had to go through each one before going onto the next. My son pitched a tantrum after the first one, thinking this was it. It took some cajoling (and some carrying) to get him going, and by the end, he was a pro.

Afterward, he met another boy who was kind and patient and wanted to teach him how to play tetherball. The older child, who was about the same height but like 4 years older, was able to keep his attention better than anyone, and I thanked him for it. I also let his mom know, who was watching from a safe distance how old my son was and how nice her child was being to mine.

At the end of the day, we left without much trouble, although he could have clearly bounced on the bouncy castles all day long. It was a wonderful experience for us both and I can’t wait to try it again next year.

Drama Llama

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Okay guys, grab your popcorn and settle in for a lovely tale of my garbage workplace and the nonsense that happened yesterday. If you’re averse to such discussions, maybe you might want to hold off reading this post and wait until the next fluffy Foto Friday. I feel petty and dumb for even writing this, but I need to put it somewhere and get it out of my busy brain.

I work for a large hospital in a department that oversees the research that’s done here. Every year, our department foots the bill for us to attend our annual industry conference, which is always a clusterfuck of assorted sundry nonsense, histrionics and awkward avoidance of the people I work with for like 4 days. Each year, it’s in a different city, and this year it’s far enough away that I was granted permission to dial in remotely to the web broadcast, rather than leave my husband and young ones behind and try to go to Texas. My colleague, the specialist snowflake to ever exist, however, is rabid at the opportunity to go, mostly because her homelife is less than satisfactory and getting out of town for a few days on her own gives everyone a much needed break.

In the past, we’d send our request for the fees associated with registration, travel, and lodging on a paper form to the Accounts Payable department. However, now that we’ve adopted an electronic system, the process for doing this has become less clear. Our Special Snowflake (SS) decided to wait until the last minute to register for the early bird rate, and was given specific instructions on how to go about getting the check cut for this cost. Our boss told her that since only one person in our office, his right hand (wo)man, the Executive Assistant (EA), has access to the new electronic reimbursement system, please fill out the paper form as we had done before, give it to her (EA) for entry into the system. Easy enough, right? No way that could go wrong, right? Ah, sweet summer child…no…not really…

Our EA had a terrible migraine the day this paperwork was due to her for entry into the system, which fell on the last day for early bird rates. So, rather than wait for her return, SS decided she was going to take it upon herself to find a way to circumvent the process. She began calling every single person in the Accounts Payable department to see if they could give her access to the electronic system, but unfortunately, those folks never answer their phones. SS was frustrated but not deterred. She then called a person in another department, who, while knowledgeable about the old system, wasn’t so much on the new one. This person gave her incorrect information, and helped her put a request into a different electronic system (reserved for corrections in one’s paycheck or getting reimbursed for things after the fact, not the proactive request for funds, dumb I know, but that’s the way it is).

One thing that was needed to do all this, was our department’s cost center. This number is held by our boss, and is only to be used with his permission. It’s like our department’s debit card. And, well, since SS didn’t have it, she just left it blank, which meant that it would either go nowhere or be assigned one from whomever is processing this request, and very likely not correct. The boss got wind of what was going on, and realized that this would now create a ton of work for him to personally correct because he would have to now override the error, and try to make sure his budgets are in line with what they should have been. What she did bordered on fraud, but without negative intent, it’s just stupidity.

So, naturally, the boss was upset, not only because she created this mess, but because he was going to have to spend a ridiculous amount of time to fix it, and it was all because she refused to listen to basic instruction. He went into her office yesterday (across from mine), closed the door, and then began to discuss it. His tone was stern, but soft. He wasn’t thrilled with her, but he was a lot calmer than I think I would have been. Our SS, however, was not calm. She began pitching a loud tantrum, audible through our paper thin office walls about how she’s “not as stupid as everyone thinks” as the boss tried to diffuse the situation. He asked her to “just please listen” and she started slamming her desk drawers and packing up her bag to leave, saying how “she didn’t want to listen” and then logged off her PC and stormed out.

This took place around 2:00 in the afternoon. I figured she took a walk to calm down and would come back. Nope. She didn’t come back for the rest of the day. Everyone was just like Wat. Tha. FUCK?! and that sentiment has carried over to today. As I type this, there’s no resolution. She hasn’t called out or emailed the rest of the office as to her whereabouts, although perhaps the boss has been in touch. He isn’t here yet (he’s got a lot of meetings today), but the office is so very tense and uncomfortable. I honestly am hoping she is either fired or quits with this walkoff nonsense but who knows?

It would be too much to dream that she would be gone. She’s a destructive, toxic presence, but those people are particularly difficult to extricate from one’s life. She’s also the kind of scorched earth, hell hath no fury, sort of outlook on life, so who knows what she’s got planned for the inevitable plotted revenge. It’s likely that she’ll at least file a complaint to Human Resources saying how she was bullied (you know by being corrected on a mistake is being bullied), but hopefully they’ll take it with a grain of salt. I just don’t know what’s going to happen next, but I definitely would rather be anywhere than here today.

Bad news

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In March, my phone rang and it was my brother. Given how often we call each other (we don’t really, unless it’s a holiday or birthday), I knew something had happened. Sure enough, my uncle (my mother’s brother) was gravely ill and entering hospice. He had a degenerative disorder eating away at his body, and the doctors were baffled. They’d never seen anything like it before, apparently. Three months later, the phone rang again, and he was gone.

It was very sad to lose him. He was a nice man, who never did anything but be kind to me. He stayed out of the conflict between me and his family as I disentangled myself from its toxicity. He’d actually stood up to my drunken mother on several occasions, and I really admired that about him. He raised two perfectly spoilt brat children however, who no doubt are counting the minutes before they can descend upon whatever assets he’s left them.

My mother, I would learn through my brother, was in a bad way. But not in the “my baby brother is dying and it’s just so awful” but the “how can God do this to me!” kind of way. My mother is a grief tourist, and this was like her Disney World. I did inquire about her though, seeing if this may have changed her ways, but no, sadly, not at all.

When people die, you get a chance to think about the impact they had on your life and what it will feel like in their absence. I am sad my uncle passed. He was a kind, decent man, who never wronged me (to my knowledge) and if he had a negative thing to say about me, he never did it to my face or to anyone who would repeat it back to me. In our family, sometimes that’s all you can hope for.

The news has me wondering what the fall out will be now, as my mother attempts to make a grab at what she feels is owed to her. (In her mind, she’s always owed something.) She may want to be in touch with me, which isn’t going to happen. She may alienate herself from my Aunt (wife of my deceased Uncle and her only friend), by making demands on his estate of some kind or another.

It’s moments like these when I’m glad I’m No Contact with that side of the family. The bitterness and underhandedness always left a nasty taste in my mouth. I’m sad that I won’t be able to attend the service honoring my Uncle, but there’s no one in that room I want to see among the living. I’m sad for their loss, but I’m not sacrificing my own mental health for some dog and pony show.

CT Scan

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In order to figure out how bad my newly acquired hernia was, my doctor recommended a CT scan of my abdomen. Luckily, there’s a place to get one right in my building, so I was able to schedule it without missing more than 15 minutes of work. There was a required drink to prep for the procedure, a thick orange flavored milkshake like thing, infused with barium or something, to provide contrast against the backdrop of my organs. I’d have to consume more there, I would learn, which was all I could have after lunch that day.

The procedure itself was painless, which entailed having to lay still on a table and periodically hold my breath while this machine whirred around me, taking detailed pictures of my inner minutiae. The next day, the doctor’s office called to tell me that the hernia was small, less than 3 centimeters in length and that, fortunately none of my organs were popping through, only a little subcutaneous fat. I was told that I could let it go unless it began to bother me, at which point, minor surgery would be needed to correct it.

I thought about it for a few days, then called to schedule the surgery. Although it didn’t hurt or bother me much, it was uncomfortable to push in the extruded fat back into my stomach cavity. I feared it would get worse, and not knowing how long that would take, I’d rather take my chances with a small scar and known risks than waiting. I met with a surgeon who I’d previously assisted with something in my professional life. He’d given me a small gift for my car obsessed son, and was incredibly kind and knowledgeable about what I wanted done. We discussed our timeline and put the procedure off until the fall, after our travel was done, so that I would be able to lift the boys as needed. At the time this post goes live, my surgery will be done in a week or so. Update will follow, as long as I don’t die.

Perfect square

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This has been a really tough year. We have been challenged in so many ways, and although we’re doing reasonably well (or so I’d like to think), there’s definitely been some ugly moments. It’s not easy balancing two kids and a job and a newly self-employed spouse, along with all the uncertainty in my job, my threadbare mental health and the precariousness of living in Donald Trump’s ‘Murica.

Most of my conversations with my friends involve a LOT of complaining from me, just because it’s often the only time I can complete a sentence without being interrupted by the chattiest 4 year old on the planet. I’m exhausted, as my kids are just terrible at sleeping through the night, and I’m cranky because I’m tired, and I can’t get anything done on my own time.

So, with all that in mind, it’s hard to stay present in the moment, and see these times for what they are. We’re done having children, so there won’t be many more of these sleepless nights after the kids get to be a certain age (or so I tell myself). We will only have our cuddly baby times for so long, because my boys grow big and fast, and soon they’ll outgrow it. What gets me through, always, is the feeling that we’re right where we should be, that two kids is perfect for us, and four makes us a great family unit. We’re adventuring more together, spending more time in each other’s faces, which isn’t always great, but it does bond us together.

The best part of my day is getting home from work and seeing my family. Even (or especially) if they’ve had a rough day. I get frustrated if my son doesn’t get his “green light” (the daycare’s indication of good behavior), but I know if he’s below that, it’s time for some quality time with mommy. It ALWAYS helps. Like, it’s almost scary. I also am grateful for my baby’s ability to be patient JUST long enough for me to do something, like go to the bathroom, before needing my attention. It’s moments like that where I find myself thanking a patient baby, which is weird and nonsensical, but I don’t care. He gets it, and I’m so lucky.

The best thing, though, is how much my boys love each other. I’m astounded at how easily my oldest looks after his baby brother. It’s so wonderful to see the baby’s face light up with attention from his big brother. My heart soars when they chill out together, playing not with, but near each other and more importantly not fighting with each other. It’s not always easy, but now that we’re a foursome, things feel right and I’m holding onto that with everything I can to get me through the rough days.

Hernia

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While I like having work done on the house, I didn’t appreciate the discovery that we’d be responsible for putting all the heavy items moved by the contractors back to where they were before. Most of the things in my home are moveable with little assistance. Although now everything was covered with a thin coat of brown dust from the new flooring. After we got that swept and dusted off, we had to move the heaviest item, the entertainment center with the faux fireplace, back into place.

This particular piece of furniture is a pretty hefty point of contention. I needed to slide it a few inches into place, but my husband insisted we lift it. I couldn’t get a grip on it and after several attempts, finally yanked it into place awkwardly. Then I looked down.

My belly button was inverted and some mushy ball like thing was pushing out in its place. Oh shit, I thought. I tore my incision from my tubal, and *that* is probably a hernia. I tried to put it back where it came from, but it kept plooping out again.

I declared that I was done moving things, and that no further activity could continue. I took it easy for the rest of the weekend, hoping it would resolve on its. I think it did, and as I was recounting this information to a coworker that Monday, she got very stern with me. She told me that these things just “don’t go away on their own” and that I would “absolutely need” surgery.

Freaked out, I called my doctor’s office to see if they could see me. The doctor wasn’t available, but I did get a chance to see the nurse practitioner. She didn’t feel any protruding from it, which was a good sign. She did recommend a CT scan, however, just to make sure. So, now I’ve got that to work on. Next week, I’ll have to drink this awful barium sulfate stuff and hopefully get some good news. If not, I guess it’s another round of surgery. I’m frustrated thinking that after two pregnancies, I didn’t manage a single stretch mark or injury, but moving damn furniture managed to rupture my abdomen like swiss cheese.