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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Number One Thing About Irony (also, Number Two)

Fair warning, people: There is going to be more bathroom talk in this post than you're probably going to give a crap about (ha!), and that's okay. It's mostly to follow up on the entry from a couple of days ago, and for posterity's sake.

Short version: After the hand-wringing from literally two days ago, Mal used the toilet about eight times today.

Extended version: This morning, Mal was in our bedroom (more succinctly James's bedroom at the moment) watching Peppa Pig and not wearing a diaper. Not because of anything, but just sometimes, he runs around naked. You know. Kids.

At some point, he started to pee in the floor, and I said, "Don't pee in the floor! Go sit on the potty!" He ran into the bathroom, sat on the training potty, and peed. There have been a couple of times lately that I've found some dried up dribble in there, but this was a full-on pee. He even said, "This is really fun!" while he was going. I personally think he was overselling it, but whatev.

A bit later, he was sitting on his dragonfly tricycle and looked down to see a few drops. I reminded him, "Go to the bathroom!" And he did!

We'd moved into his room, and he was kind of climbing on his bookshelves, which is hugely dangerous because it's really just four benches piled on top of each other (that's the design, but they're not attached by anything other than some curves and gravity). I told him not to, and he kind of hung in a way that I interpreted as crouching.

"Don't poop on the couch! Go use the toilet!"

He ran into the guest bathroom, where there is a training toilet exactly like the one in our back bathroom, except that it's turquoise instead of red. And it has a bit of cat litter because I guess the cats jump on it as they're leaving the bathroom.

That was apparently a deal-breaker, as Mal ran into the back bathroom, I thought to use it... but, no. He got the training seat you put on a big toilet, ran BACK into the front bathroom, and put it into place. I could see that he had a mess around his bum, but he did climb up in time to pee in the big toilet.

As I was cleaning up the subsequent turd I found in the middle of his bedroom floor (how did I miss that happening?! I was behind him the whole time!), I realized that he had, at some point, also used the red toilet AGAIN without my knowledge!

Crazy!

So then, when I was talking on the phone to my sister and in a totally different room from Mal, I saw him tear into the front bathroom with a look of simultaneous excitement and panic. He climbed up onto the big toilet, no booster seat, and seriously took a freaking dump all by himself. He actually watched it, and giggled. "Poop down there!"

And he peed about two more times later, too.

Oh my gosh.

We need to get out in the morning (to buy underwear, for one thing! I gotta strike this whilst the proverbial iron is hot), and that means wearing a Pull-Up for a bit longer. But if he takes to it like he did today, we're probably going to hang out at home for a week or so and see how awesome he gets at it.

So so weird and very, obviously, unexpected. I skid you not.

What a big boy.

Monday, May 29, 2017

No Forward Motion

We had a pretty, um, full day.

First thing this morning, I got the yard mowed. It wasn't super high, but some recent rains encouraged some pretty thick weeds that grew up practically overnight. I can't complain; it'd been almost a month since I mowed last.

As I was doing this, I was thinking-- well, more wallowing. I was wallowing in these thoughts: Our son will never use the toilet, sleep through the night, or wean.

I know, I know. He will. Probably. I also know that lots of boys don't potty train until 3 or 4. And that many kids don't sleep through the night until 5 or 6 or 7. And that most children, absent a pregnancy or encouragement by parents, will naturally wean about the time they lose their milk teeth. Realistically, I know all of that.

But truthfully, I had thought that, at this point, we'd be making some motion toward in maybe at least one or two of these areas. But no.

Is Mal breastfeeding less now than when he was a year old? During the day, yes. During the night, not at all. Is he breastfeeding less now than he was four months ago. Nope. We have days when we're busy and he nurses less. But at night, it's literally the only way he can go to sleep. Or back to sleep. Except that fluke two nights ago when he nodded off in the car while James ran in to get him clothes. But I digress.

There were a couple of encouraging weeks (or a month? I don't track it very well) when Mal was only waking up 2-3 times many nights. But we're back to 6 times or even, this week, a dozen times or more, which equals basically all night. And I'm spent before we ever even get out of bed in the morning.

Regarding the toilet, it's a big no on that one. We ask him if he wants to go, and he says, "NO!" Heck, he's even getting pissy (pun intended) about having his diaper changed, stating, "Mal wants to keep the dirty one!" It doesn't help that I read a thing that said to try to sit your kid on the toilet at least once a day at this age, because once they approach three years, they are apt to start believing that a diaper is where poop goes. Ay yi yi.

I'm not forcing him to sit on the toilet. I HAVE started being less territorial about the bathroom (even when it's that time of the month, and I'd REALLY love privacy) just to invite him to join me in sitting (we have training toilets in both bathrooms), and that's usually when he decides he doesn't really want to hang out with me in there, anyway, and leaves.

Just one thing? Some encouraging momentum on just one of those things? Please, universe??

Now.

After I mowed, I came in and was eating everything in the house to stave off a hypoglycemia attack (note to self: Two Pop Tarts are not adequate for 4 hours of yard work) and chatting with James. He jokingly said, "Is it too late just to lock Mal in his room after bedtime and let him figure it out for himself?"

And, of course, it made my stomach knot. Even knowing James wasn't serious.

Sometime in the past two weeks, we lost the receiver to our "baby" monitor. It likely fell into the recycling bin. I need to order a replacement. We didn't have to close Mal's door before we got a dog. But, once again, I digress.

Anyhoo, because I can't hear him when he first stirs, I haven't been going into his room as fast when he wakes at night. There have been a couple of times that, by the time I get in there, he is sitting up on the bed, quietly sobbing, shaking and covered in tears. No way I'd leave him to tire out in that state, so I know we're doing the right thing.

But I feel like we're in this holding pattern, no end in sight, circling, circling, ever circling.

For instance, I'm ready for a stinking family vacation, and we'd love to go on a cruise. But until Mal can sit through a meal (he cannot) or is potty trained so he can go to the kids club while we leisurely enjoy a meal, that's a no-go. And I'd love to sleep with my husband (except for the snoring) in an actual bed made for human grown-ups.

That sort of thing.

Thinking about it makes me tired, even though, as James so annoyingly illustrated, I am confident that keeping the course is the right thing for us to do.

On a happier note...


When I picked Mal up from childcare at church yesterday, a lady told me, "At first, when he was offered a snack, he said, 'No, thank you.' That is so great! You just don't hear that much anymore."

I think I said, "Oh, nice," or something equally awkward, because I'm never sure how to respond to that. "You're right! Other kids are jerks, but my kid is a perfect angel!"

But here's the truth: I have never encouraged Mal by telling him, "Say 'thank you,'" or "Tell him you're sorry," etc. And you know what? He says it, anyway. Because he sees people being polite, and he imitates them. He also watches Peppa Pig, and she answers, "Yes, please" to errythang.

He's a sweet kid, and I'm so glad (if exhausted) to be his mom. And I just ordered the replacement monitor, so should have it midweek.

After I mowed this morning, I came in and Mal said, "Mommy, dirty! Take a shower!" So I did. We hung out a while and I realized that our air conditioner wasn't working. Well, the compressor was, but the fan was out. That was a first, even though the a/c has gone out a few times since we moved in... but that was always the compressor, and it was always a breaker issue.

We turned everything off, in case we had a freezing situation, and ran out to the grocery store and to pick up some dinner. As we sat in the drive-through waiting, I realized two things: 1) That our air conditioner in the car is going out, and that I needed to turn off the car because, independent of that, the vehicle sounds like it's about to shake apart. 2) I had left my phone in the shopping cart at HEB.

I drove back to the store and ran inside, where my phone was, thankfully, waiting at customer service. I appreciate that whomever found it didn't decide to keep it and call my mom (who is in Alaska, anyway, and probably doesn't have service) to tell her they had my phone, and then take it home with them more than an hour from where I live, as happened a couple of years ago.

When we came back home, the a/c still wasn't working, so I called our home warranty to file a claim. After working on it for a bit longer, messing with breakers, including the "heat" one, and accidentally throwing the main breaker, too, the fan came back on! About an hour later, though, I went outside to take the garbage to the street -- today's high was supposed to be 81, but it was actually 86 and more than 70% humidity, so blehh. Glad I hadn't waited for the sun to come out and dry up the rain and dew before I mowed!

I came back inside from that sauna-fest and realized that our house was still icky, and in fact, worse. As it turns out, the compressor was out, so the unit was blowing blergh air around. I reset the breaker and, voila! Four hours later, it was tolerable in our house again.

So I'm ready for a laid-back day tomorrow. I'll bet James is, too. Too bad he has to lean back into that grindstone again... As they were saying on NPR today: A thoughtful Memorial Day to you all!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Is It Going to Hurt?

I've signed up for the membership class at the church we've been attending since the beginning of the year (literally; we went the first time on New Year's Day). This is a big deal. I have been invited to leave the last two churches to which I belonged (and left the one before that because of a big split down the middle that was a fight in which I was not involved and did not want to participate).

What does one have to do to be invited to leave a church? In my specific situation(s): carry on with an "unscriptural divorce," and marry an "unbeliever." The situations were vastly different, with the first being "you have to do XYZ and if you do any other letters, you have to go" and the second being, "if you can't trust leadership on this issue, I'm not sure what else we have to offer you." But both hurt.

Am I more rebellious than the average church-goer? Do I not value the guidance of the Lord and wish to obey him? Actually, that second one is a question with which I have wrestled most of my life, and most intensely in the past seven years or so.

I realize that the Bible mentions specifically only one reason, sexual infidelity, for divorce (so when my church offered "physical abuse" as another out, they were being every bit as "unscriptural" as I was, in my view). It also says not to be "unequally yoked" to an unbeliever. It (the New Testament, specifically) also tells women to cover their heads when they pray; and not to braid their hair or wear gold; and not to speak in church, but to ask their husbands questions at home. It talks about how all Cretans are liars and gluttons. And that we should keep the Passover festival. And many people take those literally and observe the commands, while many people are of the opinion that there are things, even in the New Testament (because I'm speaking to Christians, who largely see the Old Testament as Judaic law and history, which does not apply to them/us), that are not literal but illustrative; that are cultural notes not intended to apply widely to all people in all times; or that were included as a personal note from the writer and not a command from God.

So a lot of times, when people who genuinely love Jesus and want to bring God's kingdom to earth, say or do things that they feel justified in doing without compromising their faith, a common question is: If you're going to pick and choose what to believe, where do you stop? And that's a valid question. For everyone. Because we all do it. Every single one of us. I can't tell you which parts of the Bible you should literally apply to your life because I'm not the Holy Spirit. And if there were only one "right" answer to that for everyone, I don't think there'd be a need for the Holy Spirit. Because we'd all just "get" what the Bible meant, and we'd all agree.

But I digress.

My point is that joining a church is an invitation to be hurt, honestly. Yes, it's an invitation to join with others to do some good in this world. I looked carefully before choosing a congregation, and am confident that this is one where I can help make a difference here and now. (Or in a few months/years when Mal will let me do stuff.)

And I don't think the Christian faith should be "easy." But there is "difficult" and there is "something is wrong here."

For instance, when you go hiking, it's not easy. You have to work. You have to push yourself. You have to make adjustments. Sometimes, you think, "Blehh; it's too hard." But you persevere. It's different if you're wearing ill-fitting shoes on the hike, and every step is painful and damaging.

Basically, I want to be somewhere that I can appropriately submit to the church authorities while still being able to make some decisions that might cause tension, without being seen as "in rebellion."

And, heck, in the first instance, my "rebellion" was largely just acting out of a horrible place where I wasn't sure how to proceed. The second time... well, it was just the right thing to do, no two ways about that. I'm more "equally yoked" to my current husband than I ever was to the Christian one... And maybe that *does* say a lot about me. But I'd rather be tethered to someone who has empathy and extends love without judgment than not. *shrug*

Wish us all luck, I suppose?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Since there aren't enough blogs about the health care/insurance debate

I was winding down for bed, and I ran across Republicans like Obamacare. I think it makes a lot of sense and is worth reading and considering.

But here's the thing.

I believe the entire premise is wrong.

Medical insurance is this delusion that got injected into the equation shortly after the Depression (-ish) when employers had to come up with extra benefits to work around government-mandated payroll caps.

Back then, hospitals were these awful places where people went to die. They wanted to update their image. So they set up this deal (if memory serves correctly, it started with Blue Cross/Blue Shield) where employers could set up plans that allowed people who felt sick to go to the doctor a few times every year.

The government got involved (well, it was never really out of the picture, since we're talking about corporations), and voila. Here we are.

Now the conversation is all about whether states can relax the requirement that insurance companies cover pre-existing conditions.

I ran across a bunch of people at work earlier today arguing about this. They seemed to agree that the obvious solution is

  1. set up a plan where the federal government pays insurance premiums, with an option for rich people to get Cadillac plans
  2. let the insurance companies set their own rates and exclude people with expensive pre-existing conditions
Everybody involved agreed that I make enough money that I should pay huge amounts to cover the poor.

And that that money has to go to the insurance companies.

Maybe someday I'll write about my dad's "Cadillac insurance plan" some other time. He probably had the sweetest labor union health insurance deal ever, until it ran out.

 I've been on a lot of sides of this. I've seen the "my wife is sick, and I'm too broke to do anything" version. Along with the "Crap, now I'm sick...I wish our insurance was as good as it was when my wife was sick" version. Add lots of variants for in-law problems.

One angle I've missed has been the actual doctors' perspective. The closest I've gotten there has been my conversations with Khrys. As a health-care provider, he thinks the government-provided options work great.

I also haven't run across the "Sorry, we've hit your limit. You'll have to figure out how to pay the rest" point.

In a lot of ways, that seems like the worst. That's the entire point behind paying for insurance in the first place. Something goes wrong, medical expenses go through the roof, and you're just trying to keep someone you love alive.

But, hey. You're starting to cost them money now. So you're done.

And we're back to my original point (I know, finally).

This isn't (or, at least, shouldn't) be about insurance.

As far as insurace goes, Medicare is pretty bottom-of-the-barrel. I like having access to a doctor, and an MRI machine, and good drugs, on a pretty reasonable basis. I *like* living in a first world country.

My knee did something terribly wrong last Monday (-ish).

Thanks to Laura (and my company's insurance plan), I got to talk to a doctor the next day. And then I had an MRI by the end of the week.

Canada generally gets much higher props for having much better health-care than the U.S.

According to http://www.ottawasun.com/2016/05/26/mri-wait-times-rise-again, in Canada I would have needed to wait 5.5 months to get an MRI for the problems I'm having with my knee.

Maybe their doctors are better?

Thanks to the magic of modern computers, I have a follow-up appointment tomorrow afternoon.

You know what isn't important to this point?

Insurance.







Hashtag Retirement Suggestions

If I were any good at clickbait, I would have titled this more grabbingly, but I didn't want to be rude.

Anyhoo...

I did not come early to the Facebook game, joining sometime, I believe, in 2008. However, once I hit it, I hit it hard, and it quickly became my go-to for socialization in a life that was otherwise pretty lonely at the time (yes, please, let's all pour out some diet Coke for that past incarnation of Laura's World).

The one thing I never got behind, though, was the use of hashtags (our "pound signs" for those of you my age and older who also don't appreciate the dang hashbrown thingies). I eschewed other forms of social media, most notably Twitter and Instagram, for a long time... until the political landscape in mid- to late-2016 was so toxic, I took a couple of months' break from scrolling through the Facebook sludge and went to those two outlets to post and interact.

I loved how Instagram was mostly devoid of ranting, and quickly unfollowed people who only posted "infographics." It was bliss.



It was also this time that I started to appreciate the hashtag, in terms of ease of searching for related items. When we were thinking about moving to Spokane, I found #spokanedoesntsuck to offer some of the most fun and real slices of the city (as opposed to just looking for pictures tagged in Spokane).

Going down the rabbit trail of someone who "liked" one of my protein toddler concoctions, I found #macros that fascinated me for days. You have to wade through pictures of people weight-lifting and posing and whatnot, but there is so much food porn that's just incredible. These people who do extreme workouts get to the end of the day and often need to make up a bunch of fat and calories and protein to get their required macronutrients for the day (thus the hashtag). What they can get away with eating is incredible. Not worth working out, you know, but I like the pictures.

Which is to say, I "get" hashtags now, and appreciate their utility.

However, there are some hashtags that irritate me to the point that I think they just need to go away. You are welcome to disagree, but this is my blog, so I'm going to tell you what they are:

1) #nofilterneeded
It's probably a sign of the times we live in when I assume every image I view has been altered in some way. That's fine; a lot of times, I take a picture and what's in the view screen is not what my eyes interpreted. Punching these shots up to make up for your camera's white balance being off or your phone camera's inadequacy is cool. If someone takes an amazing picture and uses the hashtag #nofilter, I can more fully appreciate the magnificence of the capture as well as the subject. So I dig that one.

But the "no filter needed" hashtag is condescending. "This is one of God's beautifulest creations, and if you think that it requires altering through some basic pixel manipulation, then I will see you in hell, good sir." Thanks for the sermon.

2) #thestruggleisreal
This one, I get. There are lots of things that we can agree are common issues we butt up against every day. My problem is that, like "love," this gets applied all over the place. We can talk about the struggle for racial equality, or the struggle to lose that last 5 pounds. It can't mean everything, so it means nothing. Basically, it's suffering from overuse.

What if the Bible had been written in modern day? "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. #thestruggleisreal"

Thank goodness, it wasn't. Still, we're left with posts like this: "I need to put on pants to go to the store, but, ugh. Pants. #thestruggleisreal"

3) #blessed
The only acceptable use of this hashtag is ironically. For example: "This year, my husband celebrates being married to me for four years. #blessed" Or "Because I fractured my ankle, I get a temporary handicapped parking placard. #blessed"

When people say stuff like, "The MRI was clear! #blessed" or "Just got a raise! #blessed," they don't mean "blessed." In the first case, they mean maybe "fortunate." In the second, "hard work rewarded" or "lucky they're not paying attention."

4) When a hashtag actually just means you're adding another thought. Or many many thoughts.
Like I said, for searching's sake, or for grouping's sake, the hashtag is awesome. But often, people will write something like: "Just got home from vacation. #laundryfordays #realitysucks #ualostmybras #whereisthehamsterandwhydoesthesnakelooksohappy" or "Best day ever. #mysonborrowedmycarandlostmykeys #agarbagetruckhitmycat #poopedtwodifferentpairofpantscauseibs"

Just write it out. It takes so long to decipher the long hashtag with no spaces that I don't ever read that stuff. I'm just going to assume you really had the best day ever, and good for you. Besides, the odds are very small that you're ever going to remember that hashtag later, if you want to recall what you posted. "Was it #mykidborrowedmycarandlostthekeys or #sonborrowedcarlostleys or... oh, dang it."

In fact, in that second example it'd be better to write out what happened and use the #bestdayever. In the first, write out everything and use the hashtag #realitysucks. Oh, and goodness, can we stop using "vacay" or, worse, "vaca" (which is Spanish for cow, right?) in place of "vacation"? Sorry; it's not hashtag related, but it's a personal pet peeve.

My point is that those hashtagged items aren't incidental or searchable. They're part of what you want people to understand. So just write it out.

5) *sigh* Wedding hashtags?
Okay, okay. I'm waffling on this one just a bit. Admittedly, my first eye-roll reaction to this is likely my age, because "back in my day, we didn't have to come up with some clever classification just for the internets" or something like that.

But this is a lot of pressure if you're talking about a not-very-creative couple. You have to come up with something general enough to be easily remembered (even though you write it on your invitations, a rustic chalk board at the sign-in table, and probably have it on a piece of paper at your reception centerpieces) but also distinct enough that you can easily find YOUR stuff online.

For instance, if we'd used "jamesandlauraswedding," that might be like 5000 people and counting. We didn't do a wedding hashtag; though if we had, it might have been #junkmywedding. Because we got married at the Cathedral of Junk. My guess is #thisisajoke would have returned too many results (we got married on April 1). And #againreallylauraatsomepointyoumightwanttoadmitthatyouaretheproblem doesn't even fit nicely on one line in this blog, much less on people's phone screens.

I don't know. I can see how it's an inexpensive (free) way to gather pictures from your wedding on Instagram and save them for yourself. And I'm sure this phenomenon isn't going away, so... I don't hate it as much as I used to. I only half-roll my eyes.

6) #truthbomb
The visual of someone saying something so profound that all that's left is a devastating silence when they walk away was super powerful. Or it was when you first heard it. Now, like #thestruggle, it's just... whatever. "Poop stinks. #truthbomb" "His new girlfriend just isn't that pretty. #truthbomb" Nope. Let's stop it.

Related: #micdrop.

"I am #theway, the #truthbomb, and the #light. No one blows up the Father but by me. #micdrop" Some people are just understanding this passage for the first time.

That's it for now. As you might be able to tell from this entry, I'm going to be closer to 90 than birth pretty soon, so you can probably expect more of this type of opinion. OH NO. WAIT. THERE IS ONE MORE, on that note.

7) #hatersgonnahate
Who are we, that we have so many denigrators and detractors? Is it possible that there are largely imagined?

In addition to the fact that I don't think most people have genuine "haters," the redundancy of this is irritating: Haters are going to hate. Well, by definition, yeah.

Guess what else? Bakers gonna bake. Loafers gonna loaf. Children gonna chill. No, actually, they're not. I wish that ere true. But crackers gonna crack. I've seen it.

Stop fooling yourself that anyone thinks enough of what you're doing to summon up hate for it. Most of us have our own stuff going on and don't have the excess emotional energy to hate the fact that you ate an ice ream sundae for breakfast three days in a row. In fact, if I saw you, I'd give you a high five.

Okay. That's it. Fin.