Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chase ~ Making Me Smile for 13 Years

It seems like only yesterday I was ready to deliver my second child (with NO epidural and NO pain medication, by the way) when the nurse informed me that she wasn't feeling a head, unless the baby's head had a crack. Yup, my roller-coaster enthusiast loved to turn upside-down from the time he was in my belly! An emergency C-section later, I met my sweet baby boy (albeit with his leg stuck in a position that would make a contortionist envious). He has been bringing joy and laughter to my life ever since.

Chase has had the greatest sense of humor since he was really young. During my brief stint as a first-grade teacher in his school, his (second-grade) teacher would always come to my room after class and tell me her "Chasism"  of the day. She thought he was hilarious. Here are a couple of early "Chasisms" she shared with me:

1. Ms. B was teaching Calendar Math to her students, and she told Chase to pay attention because he was talking to his friend. He looked at her and gave her the "I'm watching you" sign. (Two fingers, pointed first at his eyes, then at her.) She said she nearly lost it. 

2. Her fiance (now husband), "Mr. Tony" would occasionally come to school to have lunch with her. Being the awesome teacher she is, she would have lunch outside with her students, so many of them, including Chase got to meet him. One day, she told me that Chase asked her, "How's Mr. Tony?" while moving his eyebrows up and down. I probably should have been mortified, but I got tickled too.

Chase always makes me laugh. A few recent "Chasisms":

1. One day, Chase was singing Stevie Nicks' "Seventeen" as "Just like the one wing bird, sings a song, sounds like she's singin'..." I said to him, "Chase, it's 'white-winged dove'." He replied, "Oooooooh, I wondered why she'd sing about a bird with only one wing!"

2. We were shopping in Pier One Imports and passed by the Clearance shelf. Chase says to me, "Mama, doesn't "A-S-I-S" mean "broken?" "Chase," I replied "A-S-I-S spells 'as is,' and yes, it usually means that it's broken." Even the tough-looking biker dude who was shopping near us (I know, in Pier One? right?) got tickled at that one.

3. Watching TV around Christmas time, a sitcom character made a comment about "nuts roasting on an open fire." Chase piped up and said - "How do you roast nuts over a fire anyway? How do you put them on a stick?" LOL! 

4. Chase tells me that he got a 92 on his BAT (Benchmark Achievement Test). I told him I was proud of him, and he responded, "Well, my scores weren't really that good, Mom. It just means that I did better than 92% of kids out there, and that's just sad!" You gotta love honesty!

And my personal favorite...

5. We were in the car when Adele's "Someone Like You" came on the radio. (Rob was obviously NOT in the car, or the station would have been changed within the first three notes!) Chase says, "Hey! Adele is ripping off the Scorpions!" I was a little confused at first, but then I realized where he was going with his thought process. "Chase," I said, "The Scorpions sing 'Noone Like You.' Adele sings 'Someone Like You'!" And we both got tickled.

Besides his awesome (slightly quirky) sense of humor (wonder where he gets it from? ;) ), Chase is a thoughtful, caring and very cool kid. He lives for going to theme parks and riding (in my opinion) the most terrifying roller coasters over and over again (he'd like to design them someday) and he's really into skateboarding now. Lucky for him, he's got a dad who can (and is willing to) build him cool ramps (like the half pipe that has muscled my car out of the garage). I thank God for blessing me such an awesome son. 

Happy 13th Birthday, Chase! Thank you for bringing so many smiles to my face and love and laughter to my heart!

With Love and Aloha ~ Mama

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dear Mike Rowe...

Dear Mike Rowe,

Have I got a "Dirty Job" for you! My 15-year-old daughter is a beautiful, brilliant girl, but she is also a total slob. Her standards of cleanliness are at the opposite end of the spectrum from mine. She has no problem living in a bedroom with clothes everywhere and an inch of dog fur covering the portions of nail polish-, tea- and soda-stained carpet not covered by clothes. Her dresser drawers contain piles of randomly rummaged-through clothes, empty gum packs, and other junk. But her bedroom is relatively neat compared to her bathroom. 

Alana's "Clean" Bathroom - Her response to, "In what universe
is this vanity 'clean'!?":  "You didn't see it before." 
The bathroom looks like a science experiment gone horribly wrong. Let's start with the vanity. Random bottles, tubes, bobby pins, used Q-tips and cotton balls (that haven't fallen on the floor or "missed" the garbage can) litter the lovely gray formica, along with random strands of long, John-Frieda-deep-cherry-brown hair that is semi-permanently stuck there. 

Moving on to the floor. More hair, more used Q-tips, cotton balls, and bobby pins. Normally piles of dirty towels, clothes and underwear, plus the random hanger. 

About the toilet, I won't go in to graphic detail. But, lets just say that the toilet in the Exxon station in Ludowici, Georgia LOOKED cleaner. (I'm sure it had a much larger (and scarier) colony of bacteria and viruses growing on it, but it was more inviting.)

Now to the shower. In a word - "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEW!" When I opened it this morning, I nearly vomited. It is incomprehensible that anyone other than someone who has absolutely no other options would shower here. I would feel dirtier AFTER my shower. I think I'd rather bathe in the canal. A stiff washcloth that has probably been there since summer hangs from the shower hose alongside a bath puff that I wouldn't use to clean the toilet, much less my body. Clumps of cherry-brown hair are stuck to the tile walls (I'm not kidding about this), and the bottom corners are black with mildew that I expect a creature to materialize from at any moment. The shower floor is littered with empty shampoo and conditioner bottles (the garbage can is literally 3 feet away), old, rusty razors, and more hair. Even the poor scrub brush, that has lived there for months, has become a science experiment. I almost feel sorry for it!

Guest bathroom vanity AFTER it had been cleaned,
then Alana got ready for her concert
She has taken to using her brother's (the guest) bathroom to do her hair and makeup, so I know that she's not completely comfortable using her own (of course, the guest bathroom has more room). HOWEVER, there is a downside to this. Once she started using the guest bathroom...guess what happened. It too started looking like it belongs in Oscar the Grouch's trash can. Just yesterday, I asked her to straighten it up (which, to her credit, she did). By the end of the day, however, she used the vanity again, and you can see what it looked like after she did. 

My mother always tells me that, as the mom, I should clean her room and bathroom (as she did mine growing up). Maybe she's right, maybe she's wrong. The big difference here is that my mom didn't have to work (and I wasn't a total slob either), and I work full-time (and my daughter is a total slob). There have been times that I just couldn't take it anymore, donned rubber gloves and a contractor-grade trash bag as a dress and scrubbed her bathroom until it was spotless. It stayed that way for maybe three days. After that, I generally try to avoid entering "the pen." When I do, it induces the old "fight or flight" response. I choose FLIGHT!

So, Mike, are you up to the challenge? Oh, by the way, if you are looking for a new "partner in grime," I'm your woman. ;)
Image courtesy of FanPop!

With Love and Aloha~Nancy

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Girl Panic~My Personal Struggle with Anxiety

Though I've borrowed my post title from a Duran Duran song title (which has nothing to do with the anxiety I'm referring to), panic disorder/anxiety does not discriminate. Millions of girls, boys, men and women suffer with it. If you have (or have ever had) a panic attack, you know how awful it is. If you haven't, you probably don't understand it - consider yourself blessed!

Full-blown panic disorder didn't hit me until I was in my 30s, but I've been a worrier pretty much all my life. When I was in First Grade, my mom was late picking me up from school one day and I completely freaked out. My teacher, Miss Finzel (trust me, her name suited her) yelled at me for getting upset (which made me even more terrified) and told me to stop being such a worry wart. (Way to comfort a hysterical child!)

In middle school, my anxiety manifested itself as (what is now known as) "School Phobia." As a little backstory, I was was not one of the pretty, skinny, popular girls in middle school. I was chubby, had buck teeth and greasy hair and I got teased at the bus stop (I stopped riding the bus) and at school (unfortunately, I couldn't stop going to school). Today it would be considered bullying. Back then, it was just "kids being kids." But it affected me. I absolutely did not want to go to all. When I had to go to school, I would get so upset, I would literally throw up. My parents thought I was faking so I didn't have to go to school. I don't really blame them, but it was real. My anxiety about school and getting teased had made me physically sick. It got better as middle school progressed. I made some really good friends (who are still some of my best friends today), the anxiety waned, and life got better.

Although I wasn't completely worry-free, I had never experienced an actual panic attack until I was 32 years old. I had heard people talk about panic attacks and anxiety, but I never fully understood the seriousness of the disorder. It all started when I landed in the hospital with a neck abscess. Doctors told me that I was very lucky to have gone to the ER when I did, or it could have killed me. I was scheduled for a CT scan on my fifth day in the hospital (they couldn't operate until they got the infection under control). As they injected the dye (or whatever it is they use for the scan), I started feeling funny, but figured it was normal. When I got back to my room, the Infectious Disease specialist (whom I liked to call "Dr. Doom") informed me that the abscess was sitting on my carotid artery and "some very bad things could happen" but he didn't want to go into detail and scare me. REALLY????! As soon as he left the room, my chest felt like it was on fire and I I couldn't breathe. I was sure that the "really bad things" Dr. Doom had spoken of were happening and that I was dying right then and there (reminded my of Fred Sanford - "Elizabeth! I'm coming!"). I buzzed for the nurse and he told me he was with another patient, but would get to me. It was probably only a few minutes, but it felt like HOURS! I called Rob and told him I felt like I was dying, but that I loved him.  When the nurse got to me, he took my pulse and it was 99. He told me I was having a panic attack. I argued with him that I couldn't breathe and that I was dying. I told him that my heart is NOT supposed to beat 100 times per minute! He gave me oxygen (and Xanax, I believe), and I calmed down. (By the way, Dr. Doom told me that he believed that the abscess in my neck was the result of an infection in a residual gill from when I was a fetus. Sooooo...I have a fish? Seriously?)

That panic attack CHANGED me. The next day, I had surgery and the following day, I finally got to go home (after a week in the hospital). I remember walking into my house feeling like a stranger in my own home. I was completely wiped out emotionally. For the next few months, I was a bundle of nerves most of the time, I became a complete hypochondriac, convinced that there was something seriously wrong with me and that I was going to die. I worried constantly. I didn't have another panic attack until (of all things) I was getting my hair highlighted at the salon. All of a sudden, my chest was on fire and I couldn't breathe. There was no trigger for the panic attack, it just came on! I remember my hands and my face going numb - I couldn't talk. I was terrified, and I think my hairdresser was too. The attack finally passed, but again, I was wiped out for at least a week after. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep. It was awful.

I finally decided to seek professional help, because I knew that I couldn't live in total fear of panic attacks. I ended up seeing a psychiatrist for about four sessions. I was convinced that she was far crazier than I was - she spent most of our sessions talking about her talking cockatoo. I felt like I was HER therapist, but she was the one getting paid. But she did do a good thing for me. She prescribed an antidepressant called Lexapro, and although it took several weeks to really work, it gave me my life back. 

Remedies for Anxiety
Exercise and Puppy Love
Since being on Lexapro, I have not had a full-blown panic attack. Yes, I have experienced a few (rare) periods of intense anxiety during particularly stressful times (my attempted return to teaching when I had to quit three weeks into the school year (something I am NOT proud of) because my anxiety had gotten so bad that my family doctor urged me to seek another career because teaching may very well kill me, and also the octopus incident). But, it hasn't gotten to the point where I'm completely overwhelmed and most days, I feel really, really good. I have weaned myself to a very low dose and I'm doing just fine. I would love to think that I could wean myself completely off of the drug, but honestly, I'm not convinced it's worth least not right now. I like feeling calm...I like being happy...I like being pleasant to live with. If Lexapro is what makes those things possible, then so be it! I have also found that cardio exercise and yoga/pilates help a lot too (as do the sweet puppies that I surround myself with).

My heart goes out to anyone who suffers from anxiety or panic disorder. I don't think that antidepressants are the answer for everyone. Plenty of people find other ways to deal with anxiety that work for them. One thing I do recommend to anyone suffering from it is to talk to someone that you really trust about it, because keeping it in can hurt you. 

WIth Love and Aloha ~ Nancy

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Celebrity Look-Alikes

It seems like I am forever watching something on television or meeting somebody and think "He/she looks just like someone, but I can't quite place just who it is!" I'll sit there for a few minutes (sometimes hours or days before finally reaching that point in my memory bank that reveals the answer). Here are a few that I've figured out:

Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson (Whale Wars) looks just like the Bumble from Rudolph! (I've said this to Rob for years and when I Googled it to prove it, I found that I was not alone coming to this conclusion).

Scary, isn't it? Now, I know that Capt. Paul works down by the SOUTH pole, but still, the resemblance is striking.

Now, on to reality TV...first up, Survivor.

Is it just me, or does this past season's winner, Sophie look an awful lot like Princess Fiona?

It's not that I think Sophie looks like an ogre, but don't you see it?

How about Russell Hantz's nephew Brandon? I think he looks just like a grown-up version of Brick from The Middle. See for yourself:

Moving on to American Idol (which I really don't watch anymore)...

I've always thought that Scotty McCreery looked like Rick Astley (but sounds just like Josh Turner).

Maybe someday kids will "Scotty Swipe" each other with his YouTube videos.

Bo Bice always reminded me of Neil from The Young Ones.

OK, maybe Bo looks a little better than Neil.

Moving right up to Jersey Shore (yes, I watch Jersey Shore...Sad, but true). 

I always knew that Snooki's boyfriend Jionni (yes, that's how you spell it - Why? I don't know.) reminded me of someone. This week, it hit me...Zach from Saved by the Bell (and no, I didn't really watch that).

And The Situation's friend "The Unit" (WHO would want to be called "The Unit"?) reminds me of a combination of Pauly D. (the only man who could possibly pull off that hairstyle) and Ernie  from Sesame Street (who should probably try).

But, my favorite celebrity look-alike at the moment is my very own husband Rob and Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney. ;)

My sister has said for years that Mitt looked like a Kniskern. I'm just now starting to see the resemblance and would love for Rob to at least have a back-up plan for work (Presidential look-alike) for 2013, just in case the boating industry fails. MITT 2012!!

I know...some of you are thinking "She has WAAAAAAAAAY too much time on her hands." Really, I don't. Did I make you laugh? I hope so! (And to my Democratic'd better not boycott my blog just because I'm married to a Mitt Romney look-alike, ya hear?!)

With Love and Aloha ~ Nancy :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Becoming an eReader

I love technology...really, I do. When I think back to doing research papers in high school - having to go to the library, search the card catalog, find a book, use the index to find the information I was looking for, take NOTES, write or type the report on an actual typewriter (no backspace, no delete, no CTRL+Z), it floors me how easy things are now with the Internet. I can find out just about ANYTHING with the click of a few keys. I've Googled myself into panic attacks. Facebook? My name is Nancy, and I am an addict. But reading a book on an electronic device? Hmmm...I'm not so sure.

Part of my resistance, no doubt, stems from the fact that the availability of information online is probably the number one reason I am no longer a reference book editor - a career that I loved that spanned more than half of my adult life. It was work I enjoyed - I loved researching cities around the U.S. and compiling information for people who were planning to visit and/or relocate to those cities.  I got to work full-time AT HOME from the time I had my babies and (this part really stings) made quite a bit more money than I do now (which, if you've ever worked in publishing, wasn't much by today's standards anyway). Don't get me wrong - I love what I do now (and that job wouldn't exist if it weren't for the Internet), but it's not quite the same as what I had. 

How did I gather all of this information? Well, in the beginning, I requested literature from convention and visitor's bureaus and chambers of commerce. Took an occasional trip to the Main Library on Broward Boulevard and hung out with some pretty unique individuals for a few hours each day. Did my research the old fashioned way! After nine to 12 months of research, writing, editing, proofreading, etc., I had something tangible to show for it. I have my own "page" on WorldCat Identities and! You can do a search for me on Amazon and the books I edited come up! Some guy named Charles McCool even gave Traveler's Sourcebook four stars! (Incidentally, he only gave What Sucks About South Florida: The Travel-To, Move-To Guide three stars!) I don't know who Mr. McCool is, but I sincerely appreciate his review! Rob always referred to my books as "doorstops," which I guess is pretty much all they are good for at this point, but they gave me a sense of accomplishment. As the years went on, the Internet exploded. My job got much easier, BUT it was a total Catch-22! The need for reference books dwindled as the "Information Superhighway" took over. 

So, you can see why I was not among the first to jump on the Kindle/Nook bandwagon. I have been an avid reader my entire life. When I have free time, there's a very good chance you can catch me curled up in a chair on my balcony reading. It's truly one of my favorite things to do. Rob has been asking me for a couple of years if I wanted a Kindle or Nook, since I read all the time. I always told him, "No. I like having an actual book in my hands. I don't think I can read the print on a tablet!" (I do tend to check out "Large Print" books from the library, prompting Bob to ask me on a recent flight, "HOW OLD are you?" LOL!) So, when a new book comes out that I want to read, I place a hold on the library website, and every few weeks, I go pick up a new book to read. It's a system that has worked well for me.

The week before Christmas, my kids started hinting that they got me something really cool that I was going to LOVE. I had told Rob (as I have for the past six years since the economy went down the toilet) that I didn't really want anything for Christmas, so I had no clue what it could be. I knew he and Chase had gone to Big Lots the weekend before (which scared me), and I mentioned this to Alana. She told me that they did buy me something at Big Lots (lucky, lucky me!), but that there was something else...

Christmas morning came. The kids, Makani and Rob opened their presents and then it was my turn. The gift that my kids were so excited about was an Amazon Kindle Fire. I had seen the ads on TV and thought it looked pretty cool. Maybe I commented on it at some point. In any case, it looked like I was going to have to step into the Digital Age and become an eReader like everyone else. 

It took me forever to figure out where to go to download free books (I was determined not to pay for a book that I'd read one time), and finally settled on a short story available for free download by one of my favorite fiction authors. I downloaded it. I fiddled with the settings and realized that I could adjust the screen color, the font and the type size. Heck, if I wanted, I could have the print so large, only three or four words fit on the screen! (My eyes are really not THAT bad. ;) ). I finally got everything so that it felt just right, and I sat outside on the balcony and read my eBook. It wasn't so bad after all. 

I have since discovered how to "check out" eBooks from the local library, so I've put a bunch on hold (which makes absolutely no sense to me, since it's all virtual anyway). I am currently reading the actual print version of The Help, because I had already placed a hold on it at the library (and I REALLY like reading an actual book!), but I promise that my next book will be read by "Fire" light. 

Between you and me though, I feel like I'm cheating on my doorstops (which, by the way, if you need one, you can buy one on Amazon for $1). ;)

With Love and Aloha ~ Nancy.