Thursday, April 28, 2011

The big day

Tomorrow is the big day, the day I’m going in for Botox injections for my migraines. Miracle of miracles, the insurance company approved the procedure, and there’s not even a co-pay for the Botox itself, which means I’ll have to pay the $50 office visit fee and not the $400 meds and visit fee that I had to last time.

I was so relieved when I got the call from the doctor’s office that I just about cried. My migraines have gotten worse since the last time I wrote. I’ve had them pretty much daily for the past two weeks, and it’s been hard to function some days.

Tomorrow’s procedure involves 31 injections into my forehead, scalp and back of the neck. I asked my sister, who’s had it done, how bad it was, and she said, “I’m not going to lie – it hurts a lot.” Great.

But I’m willing to undergo that many injections in the hopes of cutting back on the migraines even a little bit. Something has to change.

Of course, I may have to self medicate with wine or Xanax before going – probably Xanax given that my appointment is at 8:00 am. That’s a little too early for wine.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Don’t ask me, I just live here



Art installation?

Science experiment?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Looking for Houses

So way back last August, I wrote about how we need to move. In the intervening months, we have talked and talked and talked some more about moving. Whenever the subject comes up, I want to poke knitting needles in my ears just so I don’t have to listen any more. B set me up to receive e-mail notices every time a house meeting our criteria comes on the market and every time a house that’s already on the market has its price lowered. I get dozens of house-related e-mails each week, which I promptly delete without looking at them. I figure that B will let me know if something good comes up.

Mostly, though, the reason we haven’t moved yet is because we had to get a bunch of ducks in a row in terms of arranging finances and rental properties and such. Two weeks ago we got the first ducked kicked into line, which means that next month we’ll begin the hell of getting our house ready to sell. We’re going to gut our outdated kitchen and put down new flooring in several parts of the house and re-tile our bathroom. Plus we need to work on landscaping outside. I think that we should just repaint everything and sell the house as-is, but B, being the professional Realtor and all, insists that we need to do all the work to get the best possible price for our house.


Because we’re getting ready to go to market in the next six to eight weeks, we went out to look at houses this weekend. First, we started up in Wendi’s neighborhood, which is very nice and has excellent schools. I liked the house we looked at, which had great views and a pool, but B, the professional Realtor, found lots of flaws. So we moved on.

We headed out towards Hamilton Pool, which will mean something to Austinites, and looked at two houses out there. The first I would have moved into in a heartbeat. I liked the way it was laid out, plus it was on an acre of land and had a pool. But B, the professional Realtor, found flaws like drainage issues and wood rot. The second house was pure-d awful. Just awful. I can’t even describe how awful. So we left quickly. It’s a shame, because the lot was huge and it was two blocks from my cousin’s spread.

After that, we headed out to a development in Dripping Springs proper called Bellterra. It’s one of those massive subdivisions with so many houses that it now has its own elementary school. The house we looked at was huge and gorgeous – too huge and gorgeous for my taste. It was 4,000 sq/ft with five bedrooms, a play room and a separate office. It had two staircases and 4.5 baths. If we bought it, I’d spend all my time feeling like I was in someone else’s house, someone much fancier than I am.

From there we headed down to Driftwood, again, Austinites will know where that is, with me protesting the whole way that we were too far south. Then I saw the development B had in mind, and I fell in love with the area. The neighborhood is situated on a hilltop with gorgeous views of the surrounding areas. There’s lots of wild, untouched prairie areas. All the lots are a minimum of one acre, and the houses start at 3,000 sq/ft. We’ll be able to double the size of our house and triple the size of yard for roughly the cost of our house here in town. Most of all, it felt like a real neighborhood. There were people out riding bikes and talking in the street. I’d feel very safe turning the kids loose to explore. We could also have a dog (or two) if we lived out there. The area is technically in Dripping Springs, which has excellent schools. And the Salt Lick is five minutes down the road. Yum.

B was stunned that I liked the area. He said it’s the most surprised he’s been in 14 years of marriage. I don’t know why – I have always said I didn’t want to move to a cookie-cutter development. He’s just astonished that I’d be willing to live somewhere that the neighbors aren’t right next door.

So he’s going to start looking for houses in that area in earnest, and I’m going to reconcile myself to the changes in my lifestyle that moving to the country will bring. First off, while Driftwood SEEMS far away, it takes only 18 minutes to get there from Town Lake, which isn’t that far at all.  But there aren’t any grocery stores immediately close by, so no running out for a gallon of milk or eggs. However, the closest Costco and Target are only ten minutes away. There are other things I’ll miss, though, like being able to walk to the neighborhood school – the kids will have to ride the bus. And it won’t take me eight minutes to get to preschool. But it will take less time to drive Ella to climbing practice twice a week, and it will be an easy drive in for Lily’s ballet classes and Saturday running. And I’ll be in excellent hill running shape from training out there.

There’s a lot to consider and a lot to worry about. And I’m working on remembering the positive aspects of all this every time I start getting worked up. It’s a good thing I’ve already upped my anti-depressants and started therapy, because I’m going to need it all for this whole process. The good news is that we seem to be moving in the right direction, literally and figuratively.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Not dead yet

Campbell has a little friend, whom I’ll call Jake, and he has been begging to have a playdate with him for ages. I’m seriously horrible about setting up playdates for my kids. It’s like I’m missing some sort of chip in my mommy-circuitry. I just can’t manage to arrange for them. And then when another mom asks if my kids can visit, I always feel awful for not returning the favor. Of course, that guilt doesn’t translate into scheduling any playdates.

Anyway. . .

The other day in the car, out of the blue, Campbell and I had this chat.

C: Mom, is Jake dead?

H: Good heavens! No. He’s not dead. He’s just fine.

C: Can I have a playdate with him then?

As soon as I got home, I e-mailed Jake’s mom, who is all kinds of awesome, to see if he was available, telling her about Campbell’s question. She invited him over for some play time.

Yesterday was the big day. As soon as Campbell popped out of bed, his first words were, “Today is the day I’m going to Jake’s house.” Then he scampered off to get dressed. He returned to the living room holding his underpants and announced, “I’m wearing my Wall-E underpants because Jake loves Wall-E.” Except he still can’t pronounce his Ls, so it sounded extra cute.

I took him to Jake’s house after preschool, and I had barely parked the car before Campbell was pinging around the back of the car in excitement – picture a superball in boy form. As soon as I opened the door, Campbell and Jake were off and running.

He came home later in the day, already asking when his next playdate with Jake is going to be. I’d better schedule it before he becomes convinced Jake is dead again.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Why I’m running another marathon

This morning was the 115th running of the Boston Marathon – Happy Patriots’ Day to all my fellow Yankees. I watched the race online, and it was a great event. There were down-to-the-wire sprints for the men’s wheelchair, men’s and women’s races. When the women were racing for the finish, I was actually on my feet cheering Desiree Davilla as she tried to hold on for first.

Some of my non-running friends (and my husband) don’t understand how I can spend almost three hours glued to my laptop watching other people run, but I have always loved watching marathons. Watching the NYC marathon as a child is what spurred me to finally run it myself.

A few weeks ago I posted on Facebook my intention to run the 2012 Austin Marathon, and after watching today’s Boston, I’m ready to declare my goal more publically.

I have really been struggling with running for the past few months. My illness this winter, a month on steroids and ongoing depression have hindered my efforts to get back into running shape. I am at the lowest point I’ve been in years in terms of my love of running. Last week I even considered giving it up all together.

But watching this morning’s race reminded me of why I love running, and why I love marathons (if love is the right word). Seeing the runners lined up the start, smiling in anticipation, gave me goosebumps. Watching them leave everything they had on the course made me think about how finishing a marathon gives me a sense of accomplishment that no other race distance does.

Training for a marathon is a marathon in and of itself, as I rediscovered this past summer. It means long hours on the Trail before dawn. It means exhaustion and time away from my family. But during the months that I was training for New York, I felt stronger physically than I had in months. And the sense of strength lasted for weeks afterwards, not just because I had finished the race, but because I had survived the months and months of training that went into it.

Running is the only thing I do that is purely for me; the time I spend running is often the only time I spend on my own, without kids clinging to me and asking for something. I can forget about the vacuuming and laundry and dishes that need to be done and concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other.

I need to lace up my shoes and get myself back out there. The first few weeks will suck, but the end result is worth it.

Next February, look for me at the start of the Austin Marathon. I’ll be there. You can count on it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A letter to Hoover Vacuums

In the spirit of Lazlo Toth, I’m sending a letter out in hopes of getting a letter back.

Dear Hoover Vacuums -

Two summers ago, I visited my parents’ house and had the chance to use their Hoover Cordless LiNX vacuum. And I fell in love with it. Six months later, my mother came for a visit and bought me one of your vacuums.

At first, I was thrilled and raved about the vacuum to anyone who would listen. I could vacuum from one end of the house without having to mess with cords and plugs, and I could switch from carpet to floors with the flip of a switch.

But the more I used your vacuum, the more its little “quirks” began to bother me. Mainly, the thing jams constantly. I can’t vacuum for more than 10 minutes without having to unjam the hole between the base of the vacuum and the chute to the canister. I can’t vacuum even small things like Cheerios or goldfish crackers without having the vacuum get clogged. So now I either have to crush the Cheerios and goldfish into dust before vacuuming them or pick them all up before cleaning – which kind of defeats the purpose of having a vacuum. Don’t even get me started to what the little plastic sleeves from juice box straws do to it.

Lest you think I’m abusing the vacuum or asking it to do more than it was meant for – I live in a 1500 sq ft house with carpet in only one room, and we don’t have any pets. This place should be easy peasey for any vacuum. My 12-year-old Eureka vac gets along just fine.

For the 18 months that I’ve owned the thing, I’ve struggled along with it, dealing with the constant jams and messes that come from unjamming it. But last week was the final straw. The charger for the battery has taken on a life of its own. It refuses to charge the battery, and it blinks its cheerful blue light regardless of whether the battery is in its slot.

So now my vacuum sits idle and unloved, banished to the garage.

Why am I writing this letter? To let you know how disappointed I am in your product. I expect a cheap vacuum to function like yours has. Your vacuum, while not in the Dyson range, was far from cheap. It should be able to, at the very least, vacuum my house. And the battery charger shouldn’t break.

I am requesting a replacement vacuum that doesn’t jam every five minutes and a battery charger or a refund of the purchase price so that I can go buy a vacuum that actually works.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Redneck or Texan?

Ella’s fourth grade class recently finished its module on Texas history (what? your kids don’t do modules on state history?), and to wrap it up, she had to write a report on either the Battle of the Alamo (we lost) or the Battle of San Jacinto (we won) and then make a model or diorama of the scene. Ella chose the Battle of San Jacinto and then worked with one of her friends to build a model of the San Jacinto Monument. I never thought to get a picture of their model, but you can see a picture of the actual thing here. Proof that we do things bigger here in Texas – the Monument is taller than the Washington Monument.

The girls built their model out of hundreds of popsicle sticks and lots of hot glue. It was pretty impressive. But it was also big, very big.

When the model got sent home, the other mom asked me if we wanted to keep it. I immediately said “Hell NO!” We don’t have that kind of room in our house.

Neither girl would agree to throw it away, but the other dad came up with a brilliant plan that both girls agreed to immediately – they’d set it on fire.

This weekend was the bonfire, and the girls had a great time watching their hard work burn and roasting marshmallows in the flames. The other mom and I are now wondering how many other treasured school projects we can get away with burning.

When I was telling Liz about the bonfire, I said that setting a model of the San Jacinto Monument on fire seemed to be a very quintessentially Texas thing to do. She responded, “No, it’s not redneck at ALL!”

I’m not sure what she meant by that.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Bring on the Botox

Part of why I haven’t been writing much, part of what has me feeling particularly blue, is that I have been suffering from a particularly bad stretch of migraines. For the past few weeks, I’ve had migraines that have lasted for days on end. On a pain scale of 1-10, they rank at about a five: bad enough to make me feel miserable, but not bad enough to take a vicodin and go to bed. It’s gotten so bad that I wake up each day in fear of getting a migraine. And the slightest twinge over my right eye or pinch in the back of my neck makes me panic. I spend my days being careful not to do or eat any of the things that can trigger a migraine. It’s not a fun way to live.

A week ago, a four-day, middle-of-the-road migraine exploded into one where the pain went all the way to 11. It lasted for 36 hours and included bouts of vomiting and pain so bad that I considered having B take me to the ER in the middle of the night for stronger meds than what I had at the house. I spent two days in bed in a vicodin haze with an ice pack on my head. Once the migraine ended, I felt hung over for a full two days afterwards. It was awful.

I recently had an appointment with my very odd neurologist, and we discussed some preventative medications. Unfortunately, I’ve taken lots and have yet to find one that controls migraine without making me feel lousy in the process. There was the stuff that made me throw up lots. There was the stuff that lowered my blood pressure to the point that I couldn’t stand up without blacking out. There was the stuff that made me lose a dangerous amount of weight. There was the stuff that raised my heart rate so much that I couldn’t run. And then there was the stuff that made me gain tons of weight AND put me at risk for having babies with terrible birth defects.

So now I’m exploring having Botox injections again. Last year I went through two rounds of injections – one with four shots, one with six. Because using Botox for migraines was then considered an “off label” use of the stuff, my insurance wouldn’t pay for it. Each round of injections cost several hundred dollars, out of pocket. Unfortunately, I didn’t see enough of a benefit to justify the expense, and I didn’t go back for any more injections after the second round wore off.

Now, however, Botox for migraines has been approved by the FDA. They are for people who have at least 16 migraines a month lasting four hours or more. I can do that, easy peasy. The approved protocol calls for 31 injections to the forehead, scalp, back of the neck and jaw. You read that right – 31 shots.

It’s a sign of just how bad things have gotten, migraine-wise, that I am considering doing this, especially given my fear of needles.

My doctor’s office is in the process of confirming that insurance will cover the injections. And if they do (please dog, let them cover it), I will be making my appointment. With any luck, I’ll end up with a very smooth forehead and fewer migraines.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Nice Try

I posted about this on Facebook yesterday, but it’s so funny that I thought I’d share it with everyone.

I take a fairly hands’ off approach to my kids’ homework. I make sure they sit and do it every day, but I don’t stand over them checking their work. My reasoning is that if they don’t understand something in their homework, their teacher needs to know about it. And if they are slacking off on it and being careless or sloppy, then they need to suffer the consequences of their poor work.

Most days, but definitely not all, I’ll give their homework a quick scan, just to make sure that they have actually finished. And I will certainly answer any questions they have about it – to the best of my ability. Once they get above fractions and long division, I’m in trouble.

Yesterday, Lily brought me her homework with a question on one of the problems. I looked at it and knew that she could figure it out if she’d sit and look at it for more than 2 seconds. So I told Lily I didn’t know what she should do and suggested that she read the directions again.

Less than a minute later, she was cramming her homework in her backpack and claiming she was finished. I suspected shenanigans, so I asked to see her worksheet.

I was mortified to see that for the problem she had asked me about, Lily had written, “My mom couldn’t figure this out.”

While stifling laughter, I managed to gasp out that her response wasn’t a good one and that she needed to go back and actually do the problem instead of blaming me.

I am so glad that I decided to look at her homework. As awesome as Lily’s teacher is, and as good a sense of humor as he has, I would have died of embarrassment if she had turned in her homework with that written on it. I would have been the talk of the teachers’ lounge, I’m sure.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Reading Blog

I'm still not up for writing anything, but I have updated my reading blog - Plenty More Books Inside. Head on over and take a look at what I've been reading.