iSmart and falling apart

I grew up thinking that, if I routinely took my car in to get the oil changed and tires rotated, my car could last forever. Or if not forever, for a very, very long time without any hassle.

It did not take too many years as a car owner to realize that WHOA! Mayhem and foolishness abound in cars! Factory-installed tires suck after 20,000 miles, check engine lights don’t go off when they’re supposed to, strange noises start, and, sadly, I even had the transmission fail in a legendary, all-hail-the-Subaru before its 5th birthday.

I should’ve known better, especially after catching a few broadcasts of Car Talk on the radio!

I don’t know why, then, I thought about my body in the same way:  get a flu shot, floss your teeth, go for check-ups, follow the doc’s orders (usually), eat (mostly) right (most of the time), and VOILA! My body will keep humming along for decades to come. No muss, no fuss.

Er, not so much. While nothing is seriously wrong, thankfully, I’ve spent the last six weeks juggling appointments for MRIs, X-rays, an overnight sleep study and PT with the rest of life.

Turns out 1) my wonky, wobbly knee issue, which cropped up 6 months ago, is due to “significant arthritic changes,” bone spurs, cartilage and such stuff that I imagined only was of concern to anyone over the age of 60.

And, 2) my home sleep study revealed I have mild, maybe mild to moderate, sleep apnea, which would explain why I don’t feel rested when I do get 7-8 hours of sleep. It isn’t good sleep; it’s bad!

I’m doing physical therapy for my knee, which has taken away the discomfort and is strengthening muscles that have gone kapooey in the last few years. I’m also lining up a CPAP to wear at night. Tres sexy! However, I’m excited – yes, excited – to start using any sleep appliance that may take the years off my face and bloodshot from my eyes.

I’ll stop before delving more into my aches and pains, which is only a step or two from graduating to the “death and dying report” that I get whenever I visit my 80+-year-old mother-in-law. Suffice it to say, I’m striving to be like my vehicles:  a little scratched and dinged on the outside, but generally working ok on the inside.

On a separate note, I graduated to a smartphone in October, months after writing about it. Hard to believe! However, I’ve only downloaded a solitaire and flashlight app. (I know, me so crazy.) What do you recommend for free fun?



Two weeks later…

Well. Here I am…again…after 2 weeks away. Sorry ’bout that. Between being knee-deep in a blur of damask, DJs, swirls, florists and other wedding planning, and then being out of commission for 4 days with a seasonal bug I’m way behind the eight ball. What’s hard about blogging again for the first time since a break is what the heck to write about.

Which is why I present to you

My Two Weeks in Review:

One Part Update; Two, Three, Four… Parts Nonsense


As I mentioned above, the wedding planning is going well and going whether I want it to or not. We’ve secured just about all of the “big” vendors for the big day (in December!), but have a few more to go. Seriously, I’m hitting the wall with all of it, but J. has been my partner in crime in all of this and is helping out a lot.

Two funny stories from the last two weeks:

1. J., my kids and I went to a local bridal show last Sunday. It was a bit like “one of these things doesn’t look like the other” because there we were — the 40+ old fogies and blended family — among all of these 20-something brides with their moms and BFFs. Drama Girl was totally digging the bridal store booth set up with gowns and models on display. At one of these booths the lady looked at us looking at some tiara/headpiece get-up and asked, “…And who is the bride here?”

Hmm. Let’s see. I think it’s illegal to marry off 9 year-olds, so that would be ME.

2. I told DG that I had made appointments at two different bridal salons, the first coming up this Sunday. I explained that, although I know she’s dying to get her junior bridesmaid dress, we may not have time to look at them at this appointment. Her response:

“Yeah, I figured we’d only have time to try on the elderly dresses when we go.”


Please. Pass me the Metamucil and remind me to pack some Depends when we go.


My kids are back to pleading for a dog. I can blame this partially on J., who LOVES dogs and is like the Dog Whisperer, and partly on my next-door neighbor, who has the most wonderful Rhodesian Ridgeback…all 5 months and nearly 60 pounds of him. (The dog, not the neighbor.) Anyway, we’ve gone over it before and we went over it again that we just aren’t getting a pet…just yet.

Coincidentally, The Ex happened to mention to me 2 weeks ago that he was bringing a pet snake home for the kids. He had originally intended to get them a garter snake, but then found out they’re indigenous to PA and therefore not sold in stores. So, what is the next best thing, you ask? I’ll tell you.

A ball python.

A ball FREAKIN’ python.

Holy crapoli, you might add. After reaching for a Depends, I certainly did.

Now, you have to understand this came as no surprise to me because a) The Ex is Mr. Wildlife/Outdoors/Circle of Life/Grew up with 2 brothers and snakes and snapping turtles and all sorts of other critters; and b) he just does these kinds of things. Like, for example, getting our kids a pet python.

I also must mention that, while being a dufus at times, he would do nothing to harm our children and is very safety conscious. After grilling him and then seeing the reptile palace in person I can see it’s bolted securely and designed to keep Brownie — yes, Brownie because he’s/she’s brown with caramel colored spots — inside. I will also admit that I touched the snake. Have you ever touched a snake? It’s surprisingly soft.

Now, now. I know you want comment something very inappropriate here, but let’s stay with the program, shall we?…

By the way, the snake is full grown at 4 years old and about 3 feet long, so it won’t get any bigger. The kids seem to dig it (although I don’t like the idea of it constricting some poor mice, even if it needs to eat, too), but Brownie seems to satisfy their need for a pet for now.

Thank God in Heaven we are dog people.


I go through times when I just can’t fall asleep without an internal struggle between my body and brain. This has happened a few times in the last 2 weeks. Despite my life being peppered with pythons and wedding plans out the wazoo, I don’t think it has as much to do with stress per se as it has to do with my pillows.

I love my pillows. I hate my pillows. They hurt my neck because they’re too high. Then the one is too low. Then, like last night, I get frustrated that J. falls asleep in about 3 nanoseconds, regardless of his pillow situation, while I begin practically hyperventilating at the idea that I’m losing sleep with each breath — and I’M the one who needs 8 hours, not him. I’m not frustrated at him; I’m frustrated at myself.

There are other things I do to try to fall asleep like getting up to read for a while, and sometimes just laying my head on the mattress without a pillow until I can fall asleep (which ends up hurting my neck, too), but has anyone tried one of those high-priced conform to your head pillows? Or anything else that’s worked? (I’m thinking having a supply of some anti-sleep anxiety meds might help in drastic situations.) I’ve gotten used to down pillows and I’m trying some other stress reduction techniques, but I’m all ears.


Parenting, Extreme Makeover

Finally, I’ll share that the last two weeks have been full of both fun/amusing and aggravating parenting stories. I won’t bore you with more except that my pillow talk reminded me that one technique to embrace sleep is to cut out the computer or TV before going to bed. Perhaps it was coincidence then (or subconscious cause and effect) that I banned my children from watching TV (at my house, anyway) for the month of April.



Effective in getting my kids to listen to me in the morning and get ready as I ask them?


It was one of those not-as-rare-as-you’d-like-to-admit ineffective parenting moments, this one involving Extreme, Sweeping Statements.

I had had it Monday morning trying to get us out the door fully clothed on time without one of us (i.e., me) having a nervous breakdown. So I banned TV.

And wouldn’t you know, that evening after some griping about it T-Rex and Drama Girl played together really, really nice while I made dinner? The next night we went for a walk.

I’ve watched a few shows in the last two nights, but Tuesday night I decided to forego another catfight fest on Real Housewives of NYC for a half hour of reading a new magazine.

You know what? I slept really, really well that night.

OK, that’s the recap.

Letter to the President

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to you today for one purpose and one purpose only: to implore you to go back to the former daylight saving time schedule. You see, while I admit I’m a night owl by nature and look positively smashing by candlelight, I need you to light up my mornings before November 4th. (Not my life, just the mornings, ‘kay?) I have to get up waaayyyyy too early to go to work (read: before 9 a.m.) and it’s not easy for me to do when it’s all gloomy and dark here in the Eastern Time zone like it was today. This whole Energy Policy Act /reduce fuel consumption / save the planet (or at least the tax breaks for the energyindustry) / yada yada is really throwing me off. And to add insult to injury, earlier this week I realized that Europe follows a different DST schedule — and will change one week earlier than the U.S. — leaving me to do serious math to figure out exactly when our meetings begin on those days! Don’t you think trying to help my second grader with homework is hard enough?

Look, I’m giving you a break here on all the other garbage you’ve spearheaded while in office (uh, say, something like a word that begins with a “w” and ends with “r”…) Mr. President, please don’t leave me in the dark – anymore than I already am.


Desperate to Fall Back

Is anyone else having trouble with this issue? (Yes, I know, another hard-hitting question from Susan…don’t worry, I’ll be back this weekend with more posts.)