Playground Uprising

What A Headache
February 28, 2007, 12:40 pm
Filed under: Children, Family, headaches, Life

I GET migraines.

I use to say I GOT migraines. They went away when I became pregnant with Mac. I suppose the Lord knew he was just about to supply us with an 8lb 9oz, permanent headache and wanted us to have the strength to repress the strong urge to flee.

Enter baby Charlie.

And BANG, their back, the urge to flee as well as the throbbing head pain, and though not a MD, I am pretty sure that consuming large doses of Advil on a daily basis is not conducive to a healthy or lucid lifestyle.

So today I began the search for a neurologist. I used to have one of these folks on staff but he had the audacity to relocate to greater downtown Roanoke, a fine area, but not quite fine enough to make the trip in search of relief. Shortly after his departure, I found another doctor, but he decided to balance his successful neurological practice with political office and now is happy to fit you in “on say May 17, 2008” …. I think by then I will also need the help of a therapist … so today I began the search anew.

Step One:
Look at insurance company’s website and try to find a “doctor in my area.” The site does not work using Explorer or Netscape but HOTDOG …. we have a winner with Safari.

Step Two:
Enter your criteria.
Woman within 20 miles of my house.
BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP, no luck, try again.
Apparently women have left the headaches to the men, seems appropriate since they are certainly a primary cause.

Step Three:
Re-Enter criteria.
Someone with a medical degree; Internet degree perfectly acceptable.
Ding Ding Ding ….. we have some winners with only minor pending malpractice suits.

Step Four:
Call these winners.

Call #1 ….
“Oh yes, sorry, Dr. A is now a chiropractor.”

Call #2 …
”Hi this is the Sleep Disorder Clinic (I am of course thinking this is an omen from above), Dr. B has since gotten out of neurology.”
(as has Dr. Roanoke, Dr. Politics, and Dr. Chiropractor … I wonder if these guys meet for lunch)

Call #3 …
“Hi this is the Emergency Service Hotline, the office is now closed. How can I help you?”
“Well it is 1:30 in the afternoon, shouldn’t the office be open.”
“Yes, but they are closed.”
“Helpful” (they must be out to lunch with the above candidates).

Call # 4 …
“Are you aware that Dr. C is a neurosurgeon and does brain surgery and if you don’t need surgery why would you call him? You need a neurologist not a neurosurgeon. Aren’t you aware of this?”
“Apparently not. By the way where did you receive your impressive customer service training?”

Call # 5 …
“Well Dr. D only sees patients that have a referral.”
“My insurance company does not require referrals.”
“Well we do because we need to make sure you actually are in need of a neurologist.”
“Oh, I am a total head case ask any of my friends or family”
“Let me see what I can do and I will call you back” (promptly crumbling the phone message as she shoots for the trashcan)

And I await the call that I imagine will not come and go look for the Advil.


Yellow Overalls and Firetrucks
February 27, 2007, 5:29 pm
Filed under: Children, Family, parenting


He sat there on his granddad’s dock, in his yellow overalls and fireman Tee, leaning against the weathered wooden door, completely reliant on its support. A couple hours earlier he had been “dressed-up” by his mom with the excitement of a young girl receiving her first doll as she carefully tugged and toiled until he was ready for display. Today that boy can dress himself and he has no patience for such productions.

Yesterday, his overalls and fire trucks, since put away and replaced by Kaki pants and striped rugbies, resurfaced on a younger, red haired version of himself. Though now there is a bit of sadness hooked under the tags of this yellow get-up because his mom knows that there will be no more little fireman to grow into the small memories and that they will eventually be packed up and passed on to a family at church, who will appreciate their function but not fully understand their worth.

And mom, boy, and red-headed brother will have to turn their eyes to a bright future whose excitement is today a bit muffled by the loss of what will soon be left behind.

Best Dressed …
February 26, 2007, 4:51 pm
Filed under: Academy Awards, Life, Oscars

Best Dressed …

Disclaimer: I only watched the thirty-minute Academy Award Pre-show and did so while feeding a slightly agitated pipsqueak and drinking a sugar free, which is wrong on an Oscar level, hot chocolate. Greg refused to join in on the festivities, opting for a Steven Seagal movie, my personal fav nominee for the often forgotten awards of “Most Absent Plot” and “Best Comb Over.”

On to the important stuff: BEST DRESSED.

I am going to go with Cate Blanchett. Now I know my 10-week stint of sporting black yoga pants and a long sleeve white t-shirt may disqualify me from making such claims, but please don’t forget those four perhaps even five evenings I glammed up with a pair of jeans and once even broke out a mildly stylish pink sweater.

All I know is Cate (We are of course on a first name basis) looked comfortable with her pulled back hair and stunningly simple, fitted green (or was it brown) dress. There were no feathers (sorry Penelope), evidence of animal cruelty, or inappropriate body part sightings (though nobody does this better than JaLo), and I appreciate that in a girl and her dress.

And your nominees are …

An Electrical Hazard
February 23, 2007, 8:02 pm
Filed under: Family, Life, old houses


The electricians came today. The plural form of electricians is important here since we started with ONE and THREE anxiety attacks and SEVEN hours later another one appeared in an attempt to fend off future litigation.

Now this was a nice man (peculiar, large, furry hat and all), and the job was minimum, according to my initial and clearly ill-informed assessment.

And so the morning began like this …

We, meaning him (I am lucky to successfully screw in a light bulb) started with the busted socket in the Master of Disaster’s room (because we all know that electrical hazards are a healthy addition to any childhood barracks). The socket needed some handy work and a new brown plastic cover, you know the one that Greg inquired about on Tuesday and left a reminder about on Wednesday, the same one that peculiar hat man referred to as, “oh yeh we only have white ones on the truck but I can go by Lowes (when I am paying by the hour) to pick one up, yes that one. This monumental task was completed in 2 hours with no further fanfare and designated the success story of the day.

Then, we moved to the kitchen, the culminating hell.

The outside light, sitting defiantly by the kitchen door, burned bulbs with ominous regularity, until one day, it officially decided to switch to the dark side (a move I was seriously considering). This was the next task. So, peculiar hat man (for reasons yet to be determined) removed all of the switch pads inside the kitchen and cut an unknown number of wires (some which turned out to be fairly important) and TaDa the outside light worked and the kitchen lights now had the added feature of NOT TURNING OFF. Peculiar hat man then turned to me and asked, “Is this a problem?” “Well of course not … leaving the lights on 24/7 will certainly support our attempted green lifestyle and now I can formally adopt the catchy hotel slogan “Come on over, we’ll leave the lights on for you.”

After this triumph, he turned his attention to the light that is suppose to hang over the breakfast room table but instead is about 6 inches to the left, anticipating its head to head combat with unsuspecting guests and dazed family members. This endeavor started at 12pm and was still entertaining small children at 5pm, when I called Greg and suggested that his early return home from work just might keep his wife off of the America’s Most Wanted list for yet another day.

About this time, peculiar hat man informed me that his boss was coming over to assist him (and I am thinking by “assist” you must mean “fire your crazy self”) and I assured him (that since we now no longer had a choice) …. “that we would leave the light on for him.”

Old Houses
February 22, 2007, 2:17 pm
Filed under: Family, Life, old houses


Old houses are bit like children.

We love them; we take care of them; and we try to stay on top of their aches, pains, and bouts of disobedience.

Gloria, as in “glory, glory, glory halleluiah the old girl hasn’t fallen down yet,” went through a bit of a summer facelift. It was not on the scale of a raised roof or renovated bathroom, this was a step down from a tummy tuck and more in line with the Ashley Simpson nose job. But instead of thanking the surgeon for her enhancement, which in this case took the form of enough household paint to change the color scheme of a forgotten and outdated country, Gloria cracked up. And I don’t mean cracked up like various family members have over the years or me following one of those mornings of being peed, pooped, thrown-up on, and just generally disrespected but literally cracked up.

And these have been the gifts that keep on giving. Like they start graciously in the westward corner of the bedroom with just a bit of smile and before you know it they have giggled their way across the doorway into a full grimace that screams, “yeh … so what are you going to do about it now … sucker.”

So in an effort to reign in Gloria’s free wheeling spirit we elicited the advice of a structural engineer who offered helpful tidbits like, “Hmmm, quite a few houses in your neighborhood lean against each other and develop cracks as if sitting on a shifting fault line, but it is usually not a problem until it is.” And I am thinking, “STOP, right there, the palpitations are becoming noticeable and the twitches more frequent.”

So for this week, ignorance will hopefully prove bliss (with the help of a bottle of Advil) and we will allow Gloria to call on the support of neighbors and exert her independence through medieval noises and creative line drawings, and I will try to convince her other tenant to resist the urge to put our realtor’s number on speed dial.

February 21, 2007, 1:41 pm
Filed under: Family, Life, pets

 Last night I started to read John Grogan’s book Marley and Me.

If you have a dog, have had a dog, or have the slightest inclination that a four legged friend may bound into your home for a little redecorating, READ THIS BOOK.

Last night Marley was learning how to heal, and per the advice of a disobedient dog obedience trainer (do they have one of these for kids???), was doing it through friendly reminders doled out by a choke collar, and though the tightening brought about momentary lapses of compliance, the lessons were quickly forgotten as the reminder retracted.

We do not have a dog. But we did. Her name was Tigger. And she sat at the pinnacle of divine.

Tigger passed on at the age of fourteen, but not before she accompanied me through roommates and college, waited for us to return from our honeymoon in New York, and then served as support in both brawn and wagged encouragement for Mac as he learned to walk.

She is gone now, but her pictures are in my office, on our refrigerator, and in my memories, and each night as the boys say their prayers we ask God to look after her in heaven, and I have not doubt she is waiting for us to come home.

Fireman on Vacation
February 20, 2007, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Children, Education, parenting


I took the pipsqueak and the Dean of Destruction to the office today. “What were you thinking?” you must be asking yourselves about now… well I suppose the logical answer would go something like this …. “no thinking involved and in hindsight it might not have been a bad idea to call upon a brain cell or two.” Nonetheless, my colleagues and students had not met the little pipsqueak and Mac was outraged at the idea of being left out of the commotion (I meant to tell him that he is the commotion) and so before I knew it the three of us were heading up 95. As a professor one of my primary research areas is children’s writing and since maternity leave has slowed my endeavors, I have fixed on harassing my own child. Today’s misadventure prompted me to share an original by brother bear Mac (Mac has come to accept that his crazy mother races for a pen and paper every time he starts to spin a tale). So here’s the one from today.

Fireman on Vacation


Once upon a time me and Charlie were going to the hospital.

(Pauses to shove seven goldfish in mouth)

It was not for potty time. But once we got there …. there was a big fire inside and then it went away by itself.

(Pauses to ask for a cookie … takes approximately two bites of his grilled cheese, constructs the Leaning Tower of Pisa with banana slices, and polishes off the last goldfish …. Quite the healthy dinner I know).

The fire started because they had a big battle fight. Everyone didn’t die because they drunk the water from the fire hoses.

You need to look at the picture at the top now people.

I had Charlie in my hands and I rescued him and I threw the bad guy into the sea. You know the one that was standing there by the train tracks. Then I put him on the track and the train ran over him and he went SPLAT, splat like a pancake.

Now that is the end. It is a pretty long story.

And I was even nice to Charlie.

Now how many bananas do I need to eat to get one of daddy’s cookies.