Sunday, April 05, 2009

A farewell pose

I should have left a note at the door or something.

I stopped blogging in September. My first service dog Hermione was on her way to retiring. I knew it and it loomed large and it was completely unbloggable mostly because I didn't want her puppyraisers to find about it other than the CCI approved way since I certainly didn't know what to say.

All is copasetic. Hermione's living with her puppyraisers as their pet and having a wonderful time. I have a successor service dog named Tovi who's just fab. I could have blogged this back in February when it all happened.

But I just didn't feel like it. I'd start a post and then never post it. I got an email from Blog Her ads that they were closing my account. I'm sad about it, because it represents a departure from the momblogger community if I ever belonged, but not sad enough to post.

But I held an Oscar at my daughter's school district fundraisers. Just briefly because it's really heavy. In our group photo, Tovi's gazing right at the Oscar like she knows she won it. She certainly has won the Oscar for Best Performance by an Assistance Dog.

Several months later...(I can be a slow thinker) and I realize what's happened. My daughter's learning to read precipitated the end of this blog. My daughter's extremely kind, but until I became a mother, I myself didn't understand how hard it is and how fiercely I love my children.

I don't regret anything I've written, because it was my truth at the time. I do regret hurting anyone's feelings, because that was never my intention. A blog also has the unique capacity to capture one's feeling and thoughts at moment in time, but freeze them as if they were forever.

And so I say farewell to you on this blog. Thank you for all your comments. Most of you have been very sweet. Of course I'll be elsewhere on the Internet. I've been online since the mid 80's and am too stuck in my ways to stop now.

You can also read my essays "Gimp Geek" in the anthology She's Such a Geek and "Popeye" in My Baby Rides the Short Bus appearing this winter.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pokemon resolves my daughter's gender issues

My daughter started first grade three weeks ago. She now has a female classmate who also loves Pokemon. Since that time I've heard not one peep about her being uncomfortable about being a girl.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Political commentary from my six year daughter

My daughter watches political ads with me and hears us talk and here's her political commentary. I find it both amusing and insightful.

"Obama is too famous." (she says this one over and over) "I don't want to vote for a president who's too famous."

"I want a president who will protect the environment. Why do you say that McCain won't protect the environment He says he cares about the environment?"

"McCain wants to reduce spending."

As you might be able to tell from these remarks, she's a McCain supporter. She's disappointed she can't vote. McCain had some appeal as a moderate Republican (particularly in his trade policy) for me until he brought on Palin ("I can see Russia from my window".)

I feel perhaps weird saying this as feminist, but I can't get over how strange and artificial her appearance is which is matched by her lies about her records. She supported the bridge to nowhere until she didn't. As apparently, she did a decent job of reducing earmarks in Alaska. Why lie about her record unless it's a cheap ploy to get folks to attack her and then she can say that she's being attacked for being a woman?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My daughter wants to be a boy

My 6 year-old daughter says "I want to be a boy. She says "I don't fit in the gender" for the following reasons:

  • Doesn't like pink and purple and likes black
  • Likes rock
  • Doesn't like Barbie
  • Likes Pokemon
  • Likes video games
  • Hates princesses
Please give her examples of girls like her. Thanks! LOL

She forgets all the sterotypical girl thing she likes such as art, writing notes, gymnastics, flowers, and reading books about fairies and pound puppies.
I know there are some kids who are genuinely questioning their gender. I think my daughter is more stuck in gender stereotypes which is fairly typical for a six-year old.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

TV my drug of choice

I confess tv is my drug of choice when life is stressful. When things are bad with Little T, I watch a lot of tv. In the hospital, at home holding him being human pillow, I watched a lot of tv. When life gets too overwhelming and talking about it just won't help, I watch tv. Being a Silicon Valley mom, I have a Tivo, so I only watch tv of my choice. The tv my kids watch is always educational.

As drugs go, tv is wonderful, the best. It lets you forget about life for a while. It relaxes you. It produces a trance like state similar to that found in a good narcotic. Then you can turn the thing off,and except for perhaps wasting some time, there are no side effects. And you might even learn something.

The righteous parents who decry how tv rots children's brains must have forgotten how much tv they watched as kids. The studies that show kids IQs dropping or speech delays with a few hours of tv a week seem extremely flawed to me. They are often based on self-reported data. Sure if you sit your child in front of the tv all damn day, their brain will rot. Not necessarily because of the tv watching, but because kids need stimulation besides tv.

Or maybe the parents of kids with problems sit them in front of tv because they don't know what else to do with them. These parents will probably not admit in a survey that their child watches tv all day. Instead they'll respond 'a few hours a week' like the rest of us.

Both my children watch tv as part of a balanced diet of activities. Special K also eats treats as part of a balanced diet of food. I feel sorry for those kids who never get to watch tv. I regard them the same as the child who never got to eat anything sweet growing up. She was always sneaking candy, because it was this forbidden treat. Once your kids go to school, you can not escape tv or sweet things, so you may as well teach your kids to be responsible consumers.

We don't watch commercials, though sometimes we zip by them. I've told my daughter how ads make things frequently look better than they are and people are trying to sell things. She notices ads all the time anyway. Ads are not restricted to the tv. Step outside and billboards are everywhere. Another silly argument for avoiding tv, shot down.

The Tivo saved my breastfeeding. Sure breastfeeding is magical for five minutes, but then your baby breastfeeds for another fifteen to twenty minutes. I had limits to how long I could stare at my baby's guzzling mouth and the back of my baby's head.

The Baby Einstein video or any video has allowed me to regain my sanity during the midafternoon crazies when the kids are getting way too punchy and I'm too tired to wind them down myself. The alternative is me yelling at them or putting them screaming in their crib or bed. Instant calm. We all relax.

I'm not saying hand over the remote control to your toddler and let her watch hours of tv unsupervised, but this parent is really tired of reading about how tv or any technology is the cause of a host of ills and therefore should be avoided. Cars accidents are a leading cause of death for children. Nonetheless I drive my children in cars everyday. No one suggests banning children from cars.

I believe my job as a parent is to use technology responsibly. I use tv like any other parenting tool I have. I have no problems with tv rating systems. I do have a problem with parents who expect the rating system to supervise their children when they use tv instead of themselves and then make it harder for me to have access to tv. Unlike a movie on the big screen, it costs nothing but time to watch a tv show.

I personally have watched every show my kids have watched, not every episode, but every show. I plan to do this until my kids are old enough to be saavy media consumers. I don't think any rating system can tell me what my child finds scary or disturbing. My daughter doesn't find hospitals at all scary, so any medical drama is fine. However arguing is scary to her, so Cinderella is scary.

If I had to do slogans for tv education, it would go like this: "TV's a powerful and useful drug, so please watch it responsibly."

A healthy birth is not a US birthright

I read a post that made me cry. It was about a child that died. But what stunned me and made me feel both sad and angry was the fact the post implied that babies are safe in the US. Unfortunately according to a CNN headline, the The U.S. has second worst newborn death rate in modern world.

My baby was almost one of the newborns that died. It took three hours to stabilize him, then he was whisked away to another hospital. My husband frantically followed the ambulance in our car. As I sat bereft in my maternity room, a doctor called and told me "We have to operate on him to save his life." and "He probably won't make it."

My son has faced death several times since then and survived. I'm very thankful and I feel I must whisper this lest I jinx anything. --I start 2007 for the first time not worried he might die.

Like many newborns, a contributing cause of his problems was inadequate prenatal health care. A simple prenatal ultrasound done at any point in the second trimester would have shown there was a problem. And a vaginal birth was nearly impossible. His left arm had a massive tumor of 24 cm. Larger than the usual cervix dilation of 10cm. No one knew until his arm got stuck as he was born, and he was deprived of oxgyen for three minutes. In addition the strain of being squeezed during birth exacerbated his condition of low platelets and red blood cells. He was completely depleted of clotting factors by the time he emerged and almost died at birth.

For a time I was very angry about this but at least in my case I realised that no one would have expected me to carry this child to term. He with a blood tumor and me with a blood condition where half of my blood cells are smaller than others. It's a miracle. So much of pregnancy is still unknown.

But when I tell women from other industrialized countries about the lack of ultrasound, they're horrified. Most routinely offer two ultrasounds - one at about 13 weeks, and another at 20 weeks to look for physical abnormalities. At 13 weeks, my son's tumor was too small. At 20 weeks, his left arm would have been visibly deformed.

We have good insurance. My husband is a software engineer. If my family was like millions of Americans, and my husband had the typical 80-20 insurance or no insurance, the costs of our son's medical care would have bankrupted our family, even with my husband's relatively high income. The billed costs (not the costs the insurance paid) for my son's medical care are over a million dollars and are still ongoing. He visits a specialist about once a month (down from 5-6 a month). Billed cost:$300-500. The insurance pays about $60 a visit.

However the insurance company pays for very little of his care, because a dirty little secret is that while HMOs whine about the high cost of health care, they don't actually pay for their most expensive patients. For very expensive patients like my son, the HMO has secondary insurance that pays for all of his care.

But we're the lucky ones. The number one reason for bankruptcy is medical bills. The Washington Post states,"Most of the medically bankrupt were middle-class homeowners who had been to college and had responsible jobs -- until illness struck."

Before my daughter was born, I had this naive idea that "babies don't die anymore". Unexamined, but I suppose due to our advanced health care. Now I know several children who died as newborns. In fact two babies died while my son was in the NICU.

In all these cases, except one, there was a failure of our medical system. In all the cases I know about, the mom desperately tried and failed to get the help she needed. But due to bureaucratic problems designed to "save hospitals money" or lack of insurance, the mother didn't get the medical help she needed in time. I dunno if getting help earlier would have prevented the baby's death. I'm not a doctor. I do know it caused the mom a great deal of unnecessary anguish.

In my darkest moments I can imagine what it feels like to experience the loss of a child. But my experience was like gazing down at a huge abyss versus falling into it.

But I can't imagine what life is like for the millions of expectant mothers who don't have insurance and literally can't afford to get adequate prenatal care. I can't imagine what it must be like to have a child born with serious health problems and have to worry about money to pay for it all. I can't imagine the anguish of wondering if my child would be healthier if only I had scraped enough money to go to the doctor earlier. I can't imagine having to go into bankruptcy to pay for my family's medical bills.

We have the latest and greatest neonatal intensive care, but do so little for most pregnant mothers.

I'm thankful for the good birth, the healthy birth I had with my older daughter. My daughter had jaundice, a common problem. For most babies, jaundice is resolved easily if treated quickly. In this country getting quick treatment for jaundice is a privilege I have due to my relative wealth, the fact that our family has health insurance unlike 13.4 of pregnant women. Furthermore, this March of Dimes article says the income thresholds for infants are often higher than for moms, so moms are denied health insurance as soon as their babies are born.

Our health system is the most expensive in the world and it is the worst in providing basic health coverage. It ends up costing a lot more, because an ounce of prevention often costs a lot less than treating something after the fact. The US spends billions of dollars treating NICU babies. I wonder how many are there simply because the mom wasn't treated adequately during her pregnancy. It all makes me cry when I think about that. It also makes me very angry.

I'm definitely not a socialist. I believe in the free market. However I also believe a few things are public goods. For example most people accept the idea that everyone is entitled to a free education through high school, because it's a public good. Everyone is worse off if education isn't provided to everyone. I don't understand why unlike the rest of the industrialized world, people in the US don't feel that health care is also a public good. This country does accept health care is good for senior citizens and children in very low income families.

I originally wrote "Will it take a national health crisis before the country wakes up?" Then sadly I realized we already have one. The rate of premature births is rapidly rising. 1 in 8 babies are born prematurely. No one knows why. Based on my experience, I'd have to say a contributing cause is inadequate prenatal care, even for women who have insurance.

I read recently that Assemblywoman Sally Lieber (sadly a representative of my town) and a Democrat wants to ban spanking. Meanwhile our Republican governator is proposing state health insurance. I will not vote for Sally Lieber ever again although I have voted for her every single time she ran for office and I could cast a vote. Before this proposal I would never have voted for Arnie. However I will if he gets this though.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The NY Times and Bittman meets cutting back meat

Jed blogged about cutting back on meat. Like him I don't eat red meat. Unfortunately I didn't find Mark Bittman's article "Putting Meat back in its place" to be at all helpful for my needs though others may find it useful. Unlike Jed, I have seen plenty of articles that address cutting back on meat or becoming more vegetarian while on briefly touching on the reasons. Jed says the reasons aren't addressed, but they are briefly mentioned. The vegetarian and sustainable and slow food movements are quite diverse. What is relatively rare about this article is it's in the NY Times. We have arrived.

I don't remember if Jed was a vegetarian, but I was actually an ovo vegetarian and a little pesco for four years. I gave it up because some of my red blood cells are smaller than others, a Burmese variation of Thalassemia (I tested negative for the known Thalassemia genes, but my blood cells are clinically different) and I became anemic. It is possible to get all one's protein and iron from a vegetarian meal, but it's harder and frankly I didn't always have time.

One of the ways Bittman's article didn't help is that living in Mountain View, I do eat out at a lot of Asian restaurants. I dunno where he eats where the food doesn't revolve around meat. It's not in any down home Asian restaurant I know. I can't help but think he only eats in fusion Asian restaurants.

Also his tips are based on the premise how to stop eating a meal that revolves around meat. Because I was a vegetarian, my life doesn't revolve around meat. I feel satisfied with a meal that contains entirely vegetarian ingredients. For example one of my favorite lunches is Trader Joe's Eggplant Parmesan. I also typically eat a vegetarian breakfast, though more for convenience. However at some point I need to eat a meal with a complete protein source and iron. I find most types of beans difficult to digest, except for soy. I really like soy if prepared properly but so many people can't cook tofu properly and it tests rubbery and horrid. So that leaves chicken and pork for me.

I focus more on I buy food on buying from the farmers' market if I can and organic. I have not done the calculations of the amount of waste and pollution the pork we buy from the farmers' market generates versus a factory farmed vegetable from Safeway. I do also eat out and the food probably comes from sources I would not buy from. But as Bittman says it's about creating a lifestyle you can maintain.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My daughter's first long summer and she doesn't want to go to camp

My daughter is "graduating" from Kindergarten on Wednesday and so will begin her first official summer. Sure she's had summer breaks in preschool, but I always signed her up for summer preschool. Before any type of school, she simply grew as the seasons passed and I needed to put her in slightly different clothes. For the first time, she has three months of no school aka summer.

My daughter has opted only to sign up for swim lessons half an hour a week for the entire summer, three days of camp at Happy Hollow and one week of gym camp. So far she's refused repeated offers of other camps and classes and the bay area offers a ton. I'm not sure whether to be pleased that she recognizes that acres of free time shrink smaller and smaller as one ages until they're reduced to a precious commodity, or that she simply can't comprehend how long a (relatively) hot summer can be. Her younger brother will be attending summer preschool part of the time, so it will be just me and her for some of the day.

On the other hand, my parents didn't provide me, the eldest of three with much summer activities except for Rainbow Summer, a camp held in the blazing hot 100 degree heat of the park. I fainted once from heat exhaustion and went back again the next day. At the time, I didn't appreciate it. And I'm sure from my mom's point of view, she heard constant cries of "I'm bored" But I did learn how to entertain myself for hours at a time. I played countless board games with my brother and read a lot.

The kids have a library within walking distance. Plus we have a Wii, a Tivo and a bookshelf of DVDs. I swore I wouldn't be one of those parents who bought a ton of DVDs and games for their kids, but somehow each slowly acreted. Okay Costco only sells them in bundles, but otherwise I'm not sure where all they came from.

Despite their wealth of toys, I still see the kids play the same games I used to like crawling around in boxes and making forts from blankets. And whoever claimed that kids are nature deprived hasn't seen my kids' rock and leaf collections that track dirt over the house.

Still, I wonder if this summer, I'll hear "I'm bored" whined just once too often and become one of those parents desperate to sign their kid up for a summer camp, any summer camp. I hope not, but I'll let you know.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Wi Fit party helps dystonia?

Frankly before I went to the Wi Fit party, I regarded Wii Fit as a bit of joke.  My husband showed me the Wii Fit parody.   "Wii Fit...a little plastic thing you stand on" "Don't want to invest $3.19 for a hula hoop,  why not pick up a Wii for just $300, and enjoy the same fun.. without that annoying plastic hoop?"

But hey, if Nintendo and City Mama offers me free food and drinks and a moms night out, I'm game..literally.   I bought a Wii from going to her last Nintendo Wii party. 

The party started out a bit nervously as the Nintendo folks demonstrated the body check.  Okay they picked the skinniest mom in the room whose BMI was listed as underweight, but looking around, I thought few would volunteer for that part. 

Then it was on to various "Balance Games" We started with the ball game.  It sounds simple enough.  You shift your weight around to tilt a surface and move a ball into a hole.  Then you get more balls and more holes.  I could see it would improve my balance, because I was concentrating on moving the ball rather than on what I was doing with my body.  I did quite well in that game.  Okay not greatest game ever, but considering that I was improving my balance, it was not a bad way to do it.

The Wii Fit also liked how I performed a yoga position. Now that was a joke, because due to my disability, dystonia, I kept jerking and the little bubble that showed your center of balance kept shifting.  Still I got 3 out of 4 stars.  I don't do much yoga in real life due to my jerking, and I don't think I'll be doing Wii Fit Yoga again. 

I enjoyed more a silly game where you're a Mii (a Wii version of a person) dressed in a penguin suit and you're on a iceberg and balance from side to side and catch fish.

I also enjoyed Slalom where like in real life you have to shift your weight from side to side to move your skiis. I was atrocious and big red FAILED showed on the screen.  For the ski long jump if you fail your Mii tumbles over and over in a big snowball.

I pondered whether the decision to keep the decidedly Japanese culture of winners and losers was a thought-out marketing decision, or simply a direct translation of the game from Japan as I watched women down Odwalla shots.  Now Odwalla makes you feel good.

I decided to play a "Fitness game." or "Step on the white thing"
according to the parody.  I know some geeks who use Dance Dance Revolution as exercise.  As the parody suggests, it was far slower which is good for a klutz like me, but also far less interesting.  The characters were all Miis and the music unvarying Ninetozak.  If you've played Donkey Kong or any Mario game, you've heard this music a thousand times.  I doubt I'd get up off the couch to step on the white thing.

I also glimpsed at the jogging game with its atrocious graphics, but I couldn't watch it for long.  According to Beth, it takes your heartbeat, but so does a cheap heart monitor.  Another mom commented "I hate annoying guy waving at you" [when you jog]

I still didn't like the hula hoop.  I never could hula as a kid and the
game mechanics proved even more awkward than doing it with a real hoop.

Proper body balance improves health and longevity and I used to literally lose my balance and fall down.  I now have a service dog who helps me with balance. 

I got home and talked it over with my husband.  He said the Wii Fi will be about $90.  That's cheaper than a physical therapy appointment or a course at the chiropractor.  If the Wii Fit does improve my balance, it will be worth it. 

In terms of cardiovascular exercise, the Wii Fit pales in comparison to the shiny metal of standard gym equipment, but then so many Americans need to just move every day.  Maybe moving on a white plastic thing as part of a game will help.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My Hermione matching story

They didn't bring Hermione out to our class until the end of the second day which is the last day before prematches when they give you a dog they think you might graduate with. When they gave me her leash, I felt the calmest I had felt the entire Team Training. I'm not normally a nervous person, but Team Training was hard with no family the first week.

I also felt she was smart and like she could also be really sweet, although she was being her serious public self. I thought all the dogs had special qualities. But I was all worried about prematches. I hadn't seen Hermone's goofy playful side, so I was worried.

There were 3 folks coming back for successor dogs and they all seemed content to wait for their matches. I should have taken their cue.

The night before prematches I tossed and turned until 3am. Then I remembered how one of the trainers commented she liked how she said Hermione. I went to sleep and slept soundly the rest of the night.

The next day I walked in our class and snuck a peek at the crates that were there. Hermione's crate was there and I got a little excited.

The Skilled Companions went first. As some of the kids were matched their total joy made me cry. I laughed when they gave one mom the CCI cat dressed in a vest, because she had petted the cat the whole time.

Then it was my class' turn. I saw a black dog being brought out. Was that my dog? The trainer brought the dog down the hall and someone else in my service class was announced. The person looked thrilled. Another black dog that I thought was a great dog went to someone else. An enormous yellow dog went to someone. I thought he was a wonderful dog, but too big for my kids. Then I saw petite Hermione being led down the hall. I held my breath. There were still some folks left. They started leading Hermione over to me and announced Hermione's name and my name and I cried all over Hermione. Hermione wagged her tail. I was thrilled.

Knowing what I know now, Hermione was giving me her polite tail wag, not the entire wiggle butt I get every morning, but it was enough for me that day.

Hermione seemed polite but somewhat aloof that first day. Then on Valentine's day, we had our first night with the dogs. As soon as we got to our room, Hermione's tail started wagging. Then when I leaned down to turn on the tv, she rolled on her back exposing her tummy. I petted her and she thumped her tail.

However I still wasn't sure if Hermione really wanted to be with me. Final matches hadn't been announced yet and I took it a personal thing about my bonding with Hermione. My family was coming and I fretted about whether to kennel her for 36 hours while my family settled in or not. I decided to kennel her.

On Monday morning, I walked into the classroom and heard this loud thumping from Hermione's crate. We were supposed to have a lecture and then do command practice with the dogs. The thumping continued louder and louder. Finally the trainers said "Okay we'll let the dogs out first." Hermione wiggled out and wiggled her entire butt. I put her on her leash and she walked calmly over to the table and did a UNDER with this long satisfied sigh and settled down for a nap by my feet. Finally the clueless human got a clue bone.

As soon as we got home, she bounced around in excitement. My kids call her "maniac dog", because she can run like the wind. She is also still "chill dog" and "snooze dog"

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Involution of mom

C says he didn't give Little T aspirin on Sunday. One frigging day. It comforts him and makes me feel things are balanced by a hair.

I hope that he's bigger and stronger and won't need steroids this time and certainly not chemo.

Last night Special K was talking about Pokemon "involution" meaning evolution. Involution is the mysterious process by which the tumor starts shrinking again. I hope involution has started and its brief evolution or growth was just a day. That's never how it's worked. But then this tumor has never worked the way "it's supposed to". I've heard "it's not supposed to do that" so many times. Can't it work the way it's not supposed to and suddenly start involuting again with just going back to aspirin. You don't need steroids.

Little T understands much more this time. Far more than I probably know. He was extra snuggly this morning.

I just have to dump my fears and worries here and live in the present.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Red monster returns

This morning Little T's teacher called and said that Little T's left arm was red swollen and felt hot. This teacher is always matter of fact and patient and delivered this news calmly but she called first thing.

I called Hematology and told his doctor the news. I said I'd bring him in if the teacher's description was correct. I hoped anyway that somehow it was Opposite day and the teacher was exaggerating. But no Little T had hot sausage arm. And was fussy in that way he has when arm hurts.

The Hemo doctor wanted to rule out a fracture and so his arm was x-rayed. I have never hoped for a fracture before but I did and knew it was futile. Bone structure is fine. Swelling looks like blood vessels. A pause as the doctor tries to hope too.

The swelling and redness looks all too horribly familiar. The start of Kasabach Merritt Syndrome again. It's too early to say for sure and nothing is being done. Well okay another MRA which means another round of anesthesia. Seeing him go under is a terror that never dulls.

But back to the Hemo clinic where now Little T can play the Ninetendo. Kinda. Hermione was there and was helpful. I want to whine that Hermione was supposed to make things better. My magical companion.

I said at the Hemo clinic "I have a bad feeling about this." I still do. I want desperately to be wrong...for once.

We take photos of his left arm. Another familiar thing which we will go back to doing everyday. New twist is now Little T hates it and protests.

I want to shout "Can't the kid grow and not have this red monster grow too?" I want to cry but I don't because that would confirm my worst fears.

So let's have it be Opposite Day where I'm wrong and everything will be just fine. I hold on to that hope.

And new thing. We will now all go for walk with Hermione. Maybe that will be the spell that will break the red monster's hold. His arm grows slightly cooler and I hope and then heats up again. Walk to cool down. A walking spell. A walking meditation. It's all I have new. That and cod liver oil imported from Norway which he asked for yesterday. It must be new and different. Not the same.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My new life with Hermione, my service dog

Sorry I've not updated in so long. My whole life changed the day before Valentine's Day when I received my new partner service dog Hermione. She brings magic into my life everyday. We go out everyday by ourselves and I walk faster, because I don't have two kids in tow and because Hermione matches my steps, so if I stumble I have an area where I know to go.

I hadn't realized how much subconsciously I avoided going out without my adorable kids. But now I have a pretty dog. People smile at me and open doors for me and Hermione instead of getting impatient with me for being slow or dropping things or worse make rude remarks as if I can't hear. Hermione also opens my fridge door, pushes push plates and picks things up for me.

I thought I was getting a dog to help me. The organization I got her from is called Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). I've also thought of myself as an independent person and spent the first few days I was at CCI wondering if I belonged there with folks in wheelchairs. Then I got really discouraged as my spatial issues became profoundly clear. Then I actually worked on them instead of spending that time kicking myself for not for example understanding how a door opens without actually seeing it open.

One of my LJ friends put it best I've spent most of my life trying to "pretend I was a defective normal person instead of a "ok person with a disability." As one of my classmates said to me "I embrace my limitations rather than fighting them so I can do more." I am still exhausted from my training and my increased physical activity of exercising a dog and walking more. But my whole outlook has changed. I don't fight to get by. I try to figure out how to adapt conditions to improve my life with my disability. Already I'm doing more. I can't wait to see what future brings.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

My votes for Super Tuesday

I'm pleased California actually counts in the primary. My two top issues are health care and the environment. Clinton and Obama are similar on environment. Clinton favors health care for all which makes sense but I'm not sure will pass politically. Obama favors health care for all kids. It means adults are left out in the cold but who can vote against kids. Congress already has some healthcare for kids. So I'll vote for Obama.

I think America is more ready to elect a man whose father was from Kenya and mom from America than the wife of a former president. The Clintons have made a lot of enemies as well as friends. I am also impressed that Obama has lined up some key endorsements like Ted Kennedy and several unions. Clinton is very detail oriented a good thing. Unfortunately attention to detail doesn't make a president electable as Reagan and Bush Jr have shown. It's the ability to surround yourself with good people. Obama appears to have that trait. Since turnout is usually low I think if Barack can get out the vote on presidental election day he will win.

On state propositions:
I'm voting yes on reform to term limits. I think term limits are undemocratic and don't allow congresspeople to build up enough experience and longevity to allow them more free reign to make deals and not be so tied to lobbyists. And the same folks run over and over just in different jobs so it doesn't stop the politicians from coming back anyway.

I'm voting no on everything else. I think the Indian gaming agreements need to happen in Congress and not via propositions. I don't have time to figure out all the ramifications of the agreement. That's why I elect politicians. I have seen countless ads on tv and via US mail so clearly a lot of money is riding on this.

I don't like earmarking funds for specific things in the budget. The state Congress needs the flexibility to create budgets in good times and bad. If you don't like your Congresspeople then vote for better folks.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

$30,373 medical bill $0 paid

We get bills like this all the time. This one was a relatively small one. Little T pulled his g-tube out and we weren't able to put it back in time. We had to go the Emergency Room and then Little T had an minor operation to widen the hole to put another g-tube back in.

The total billed costs which is what an uninsured person would pay are $30,773.50

Medical Inpatient $ 21,921.00
Outpatient charge $ 91.50
Diagnostic Testing$ 8,361.00

Our insurance actually paid $3,900 of the inpatient rate which is their contracted rate. They paid nothing for the other two charges "payment for this service is included in the per diem rate or per case rate fee paid to your provider."

We paid nothing as our insurance pays for all hospitalizations and ER visits that result in admittance to the hospital.

Moral of the story:
1. Uninsured folks get really soaked.
2. Get the best health care insurance you can afford
3. We really need health care reform in this country, because it's a crappy system where folks who are either too poor or too unable to plan to get health insurance pay the most.
4. I bet Medical/Mediaid also gets soaked as they probably have a higher negotiated rate than insurance.

Laptop cured, but I'm sick and nervous about leaving the kids

I have a cold virus.

I am putting together my packing list for Team Training for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) which is just 10 days away.

Yesterday I photocopied the schedule for the entire 2 weeks, my dorm assignments and all the directions to various places around the CCI campus.

Don't get me wrong. C's a wonderful father, but he's a WAW (Work at Work) dad. But WOW is how folks often view dads that do anything with their kids. I'm nervous, because I'm basically leaving the kids under his care for 13 days and I feel he has NO idea about what it's like to look after the kids full-time. He's gone camping with them and several other families for a couple weekends, but the village helps out.

Ironically I would feel better if he was a bit more nervous. Instead he says things "I think we'll be fine." I hope he is nervous, but just doesn't want me to worry.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I have never been so thrilled to receive diapers

Little T's preschool just sent home his diapers and wipes today. I've never been so thrilled to receive diapers in my entire life. It means he's now totally potty trained at preschool.

Potty training at home remains literally a balancing act. Unfortunately my dystonia and his one-handedness clash. He needs support to stand up and lean forward which is extremely hard on my hands and arms, so at the moment he can only go with my husband. Plus my jerking unsettles him. So right now he just goes when my husband is here.

HP Hero

My husband's HP recovery disks just arrived via Fedex priority overnight for FREE.

Maybe they can help save my laptop. But I'll need to wait to find out. Little T just got home and I have even bigger news.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Shame on you, Sony!

Dear Sony,
Yes it's true I broke my hard disk. Yes, it's true I didn't make recovery disks as you instructed me to do.

However I broke my hard disk because I thwacked it due to my disability. I don't expect you to pay for that. However I don't understand why you place your hard disk right on the top right edge. You could have placed your tiny hard disk in a location a lot less likely to be damaged. I've had 4 laptops in my time and hit each one of them and never broke a hard disk before including the first one ever invented.

But your worst sin is charging me almost $50 for recovery disks that cost you less than $5 to make and ship to me. It is usurious. If you charged me a reasonable price, I would not complain. And you have me up a creek. It's either cough up $50 or buy another laptop.

Shame on you Sony for taking advantage of me in my time of need.

Shame, shame Sony!

Your rival HP sent my husband recovery DVDs for free. It's true that the recovery program didn't work and HP only allows you to make one copy. Even so, it illustrates how little recovery disks cost.

I was a big fan of your VAIO laptops, but after this experience I will probably NEVER buy another Sony laptop.

Sony, you have gained $50, and lost thousands and thousands of dollars from me. I purchase laptops every few years for the rest of my life, which I hope will last for several more decades.

Your practice of charging insane amounts for recovery disks is not only shameful, but also bad business.

Stupid and shameful Sony!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Stay-at-home server not appropriate for kids

Microsoft has hit back at the funny Mac/PC ads with its own web site

The ads are funny, but also touch on a few more important Mom issues like the decision to stay at home being wimpy.  I am a stay-at-home mother. Ironically we have a Microsoft work server at home.  My husband works one day a week at home.

However the ads and the website mention little about security, my chief concern.  Due to my concerns about my children's safety, the Microsoft Media Server sits in our bedroom.  This is not my place of choice.  It's rather noisy.  It turns on at random times in the night.  My husband talks about tuffing it out to the study where our other servers live, but I refuse.  Microsoft has always had a poor record of security and in its line of media it's awful. 

I have no idea about the server's "parental controls" which I don't believe in anyway since that depends on others to tag videos. Worse, there's little control over what appears on the screen. Take the video section. It displays random videos from the Internet. That's fine except for this "feature" C and I will watch a funny video of a baby or a kitten. Okay the humor comes from bad behavior, but it's a baby or kitten. Unless we're very quick to stop it, the Media Center then randomly shows us another humor video. As you can imagine humor on the Internet varies a great deal in taste and appropriateness for children. The next video may be an adult farting, because the previous video was about a baby making silly noises. Sorry Microsoft, NOT the same thing. My daughter just turns away and says "Ewww gross!!!" No harm done. But we have not ventured forth into more potentially more dangerous areas.

My daughter loves to watch YouTube Videos. But I can preview the video ahead of time and it never plays a video unless I specifically tell it to. Yes the world of YouTube is filled with videos not appropriate for a 5 year old, but it's also filled with touching videos of puppies and kittens and assistance dogs. As I prepare to bring an assistance dog into my own life, I want to show her what these amazing animals do. I recently and wrongly used the word "comfort dog" to describe dogs that bring comfort to those who are ill or suffering. My friend snickered loudly. I can only imagine what would happen if my daughter unsuspectingly typed in those words into Microsoft's server. So the server is staying in our bedroom. A work server at home and unfortunately not appropriate for kids.

Crossposted to Silicon Valley Moms Blog