Category Archives: Non-geekery

Almost all packed…

We’re heading to New York City in the morning. Very very EARLY in the morning, in fact. The suitcases are almost all packed, just waiting on a few things to dry, Mar is cleaning out the car, the boys are playing video games so they don’t make a mess, the neighbor has a key to feed the cats, and I am very tired of laundry. Six loads today, although with my tiny washing machine, that’s about 30 pieces of clothing, and probably four or more loads yesterday, and everything has to air-dry because I don’t have a dryer. We have clothes EVERYWHERE. Or we did, until some of them dried enough to fold and pack.

Ben will be wearing his jammies so we can just carry him to the car and hopefully he’ll sleep for a while. Probably Alex will wear his jammies, too, and I plan to as well. I don’t know what Mar’s planning.

Anyway, we’re almost on the road. Woohoo!

Oh, and Ben never finished his scavenger hunt, so I’ll post the pictures he did take later on.

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Ebooks and an anniversary.

I decided the other day to gather up all the ebooks I have and organize them. I use Calibre because it’s pretty much the best, and I’ve used it before, so I know how it works. Unfortunately for me, it can get kind of tedious initially. I don’t have much RAM on my computer (I’d love another 2 gigs or more), so importing them took probably half an hour. Then I realized that I didn’t have blurbs and covers for a lot of the ebooks I have, so I tried to have Calibre automatically get metadata for me. That took a while, but it was helpful; about 75% of my books got metadata. The other 25%, however, I have to do manually, for a variety of reasons including reversed author/title, random titles or authors that weren’t right, and instances where neither the author nor the title were even close to being correct. If correct was the North Pole, these would be hanging out around the equator or possibly in the Southern Hemisphere.

I don’t think I’m even a quarter done with those. I’m going through by author, and I’m currently on “E”. The task is further complicated by the books that got the wrong metadata. It’ll be awesome when I’m done! It’s just that “done” looks like it’s about a week away. I’m so bored that I’m making stupid comments about Lego Marvel Superheroes as Alex plays; not snarky, just dumb. Ben’s “talking” for the characters, though, and Alex is also making silly comments, so I guess it might be genetic.

Yesterday was me and Mar’s 10th anniversary. (That is an awkward sentence to write in a grammatically correct manner. I don’t think I managed it. “Marco and I had our 10th anniversary yesterday.” That’s better.) We didn’t do anything, though; money was tight. He said we’ll go out for steak when he gets paid, so that will be nice.

Just about two weeks until we go to New York City to visit Mar’s family. Lots of planning to do, and packing, and I HAVE to do something about my hair. I got haircolor remover, but I can’t do it myself, so I have to wait until Mar is done with his nap. We both stayed up way later than we should have, so he set his alarm and got up fairly early to get Ben, who had his very first non-family sleepover last night. It went pretty well, except that Ben went magpie and took some Polish coins from one of his friends, so he’s not allowed to use the PS3 or play with his toys until he finds them. It’s the principle of the thing.

Well, off to get metadata for more ebooks and do more laundry. I have the most fun, don’t I? ;P

We have an Alex!!

Today was an adventure! We left later than we planned to get up to Union Station to get Alex. Ben was out of meds, so he required more supervision, and we had to stop to pick up his meds, which took more time. And nobody had thought to clean out the car so Alex had somewhere to sit that wasn’t a booster seat, so that had to be done.

Once we got on the road, traffic wasn’t too bad until we reached the 22nd Street exit, but we managed to avoid it because we got off on 22nd to get to Canal and ride that all the way down. Ben and I hustled to get to the station while Mar parked the car, but we really didn’t need to rush; Alex’s train was delayed.

I should have expected it, though. Passenger trains have to give way to freight trains, and the closer a train gets to Chicago, the more freight trains there are. So Alex’s train ended up being almost an hour late. Meanwhile, we met up with J and C and their little dude, N, and tried to figure out what we were doing. The initial plan was to have a picnic, but we hadn’t worked out the details, one of which was parking. Fortunately, I have an app called ParkWhiz, which I found because of The Color Run, and I found parking for 3 hours for $6. It was a little out of the way, but not too badly so, and for that price, I was really happy. (I had used the app earlier to get parking for the run, and I got 11 hours for $8. I was impressed.)

Alex arrived, I did the paperwork to get him released because he’s still an unaccompanied minor, and we met up with Mar before he took off. Alex put his luggage in the car, and we decided that Mar would go park, and Ben, Alex, J, C, N and I would take the bus to the Creepy Headless Guys in Grant Park (also referred to as The Legs, but the actual name is Agora). Grant Park is huge, by the way, and is where The Color Run will be on Saturday, although I’m not sure if the route takes us by the Creepy Headless Guys. I have to admit that they’re growing on me, though, and creeping me out less.

We stopped at a store along the way and got some fresh veggie and fruit trays, as well as sandwiches and salads and drinks. We were all starving, so we got a little more than anyone actually ate, but some of the food found its way home with us; I’m currently eating an Asian-type salad between typing.

We got to the CHG (ha, I didn’t notice that that could stand for Chicago as well as Creepy Headless Guys!) and found a nice spot to settle down. As soon as we did, I swear we tore into the food! For a while, there were a few seagulls and some smaller birds, sparrow-like, that were hanging around in hopes of a handout, but I guess they figured out that it wasn’t going to happen, because they eventually wandered off. After Alex and Ben were done eating, they ran around some, including a random “Hi!” as Alex rolled by through the grass, and Ben “forcibly” rolling Alex along.

Eventually, though, it was time to leave, and we had to hustle a bit; ParkWhiz gives people a little leeway as far as getting in or out, but we didn’t want to push it. We managed to grab a bus after a bit of walking. It was very crowded, and there was an older black man who made an amusing comment to Mar that implied that Mar looks like Jesus. At least, that’s how Mar explained it to me; he was speaking very symbolically, and I have trouble interpreting things like that.

We got to the car and drove home, which included the usual pre-Rush Hour traffic and some heart-stopping stupidity, including a semi truck cutting us off, but we ended up home, yay! The neighborhood kids were very excited to meet Alex, and they offered to go with us door to door to look for Scrumpy, who escaped two days ago, after they get back from the grocery store. I figure that when it started raining, Scrumpy ran for the nearest shelter, and someone let him in but now has no idea where he lives, because we stupidly didn’t put a tag on him. It’s obvious that he’s well-cared-for, because he’s not skinny or mangy-looking, and he has a harness and claw caps on. I don’t think he had a run-in with a vehicle, because he’s smart enough to run from them, and I know that if he was at liberty to roam around, he’d find his way back, because he’s done so before. I’ve also told all our nice neighbors that he’s missing so they can keep an eye out for him, and nobody’s seen him, which also points to Scrumpy being in someone’s house. My clever plan is for us to walk around the neighborhood and have the kids go up and ring doorbells and knock on doors with a picture of Scrumpy that I printed out. Nobody can resist a kid looking for their lost pet; if it was me doing it, I figure I’d get weird looks and less help. Scrump is a friendly, sweet cat, so I really hope that we don’t have someone who wants to keep him and gives us a problem because of that.

As of right now, though, the boys are upstairs playing quietly (shockingly!) and Mar’s talking swords and martial arts with one of his friends on Skype. Things are pretty cool here.

Almost Human Again.

I’m feeling almost human again, which is a really good thing, because I have a lot I have to do.

Today we’re going to straighten out my financial aid so I can maybe take a class this summer and definitely start in the fall. Then we’re going to stop at Target to get white shirts and sneakers for Mar because we have the Color Run on Saturday. Hopefully we’ll still have enough money to get hair color remover, because I want to change the color of my hair, but if not, I’ll live until we do have the money. Oh, and I want to get a bandanna for me and one for Ben so we don’t breathe in the powder at the Color Run. Honestly, I don’t know how much I’ll be running; I’m still finding it difficult to breathe sometimes. But it should be fun anyway.

I’m tired.

I’m not sure why I’m so tired, except that there is a lot going on at home. Ben got sent home from school yesterday because he wasn’t controlling himself, so we picked him up and ran errands. We took him to the running store, and he was awful,arguing over everything and wandering around and touching everything. We didn’t end up spending $70 on shoes, because that’s ridiculous for kids’ shoes. For adult running shoes, it’s a little different, because they’re going to be used correctly and the runner won’t outgrow them.

We got bedding for Alex, who will be here a week from Thursday, if all goes well. That was a good thing, especially since it wasn’t too expensive. It’s purple, but the choice was between that and pink. I think he’ll be happy that we also got some laser tag kits on clearance.

When we got home from all of our running around, I noticed that my left ear felt weird, inside my head. It’s still feeling weird, dry and painful, but less so now that I’ve drunk half a gallon of iced tea. I’m hoping it’s just allergies and it’ll go away, because I didn’t sleep well with the pain.

Nothing profound going on here, just life. The weather’s been nice, but temperatures have bounced around over a 40 degree range, so my joints are unhappy and letting me know it.

An Assortment of Things.

This post is kind of random, so it’ll be all over the place.

Ben got his teeth taken out.

My gap-toothed, curly-headed boy.

Ben’s new smile

He said it didn’t hurt, and he was so very relaxed afterward. Nitrous is wonderful. If you care to, you can see his “big” tooth behind the vacated spots, off to the right. I’m personally kind of squeamish about teeth, as I’ve discussed before, so this is the most I’ve looked at the whole thing. I guess I’m ok as long as it’s on a screen.

He got to take his teeth home, and the dentist’s office even had a little holder for the teeth, and packaged that up with some gauze if he needs or wants it. I haven’t been brave enough to look at the actual teeth yet, and I probably won’t for a while.

He was so cute as we were driving. He asked, “Mom, do you know what the Tooth Fairy looks like?” I told him I didn’t, since I’d never seen her, just talked to her on the phone. “Oh. When you see her, will you ask her where she lives?” He comes up with the most interesting questions!

I dislocated my thumb last night, so I’m wearing a brace, which makes typing a challenge. It’s a very frustrating thing; I can shoot a shotgun without dislocating my shoulder, but sleeping will do it. I dislocated my thumb from the extended pressure of holding my tablet. Mar said when he gets paid, I can get this tablet cover:

It has a strap to make holding the tablet easier. I love my tablet, but its big drawback is that it’s fairly heavy, at almost a pound. I tried to make my own cover, but I got something wrong and it doesn’t hold my tablet in. I’ll probably revise it and figure out the details at some point, though. My current project is making myself a new bag. I can’t find one that fits all my specifications, like “big enough to carry my tablet” and “with a long enough strap that it falls comfortably by my hip”. (I  have a long torso, not that anyone could tell with all the padding.) The best part is that I have all the supplies; J gave me a bunch of fabric remnants she’d picked up, and there are two big pieces I’m going to use for the inside and the outside, and two long pieces I’m going to use for the strap. I do wish I had some way to make the strap adjustable, but I don’t, so I’ll make do.

Ben is hungry, so I’m going to go make veggie mac’n’cheese with crushed meatballs. The meatballs are done already, and they smell great! Aldi’s is a great place to shop.

The Dark Side of Mother’s Day.

I hope everyone had a good day. I know for some of you, this can be a painful day; for some, it’s a reminder of the mother you miss, while for others it’s a reminder of what you never had. For some, it’s also a reminder of what they can’t have, that they’ll never be mothers. My heart goes out to all of you hurting on this Mother’s Day. Nobody talks about that, though. It’s all “mothers are the best, you should be thankful and tell her what a great job she’s doing and how much you appreciate her!”

But what if she’s not the beat, not doing a great or even mediocre job? Should you still be grateful? Or what if you want so badly to be a mother, so much that it’s a physical ache, but you just can’t for whatever reason? This is the dark side of Mother’s Day, the side nobody talks about.

For some, this day is a reminder that their beloved mother is no longer with them. I know that at least one of my friends is still mourning her mother’s passing, so today is probably very difficult for her. I imagine it’s even worse if a person had a complicated relationship with their mother; today can dredge up a myriad of emotions, including guilt, anger, shame, and frustration, even if one’s mother hasn’t passed.

Many people have extremely complicated relationships with their mothers. While it’s nice that there’s a day set aside to appreciate the hard work that mothers do, it’s also a painful day for many. I think acknowledging that is important. A dark side only festers if it is not exposed to the light.

Doctor Day

As in “Day of Doctors”, not an actual doctor named Day.

We went to the pediatrician this morning, and got a referral to a rheumatologist to get a definitive diagnosis for Ben. I’m not sure why EDS falls to rheumatologists to diagnose, but it does, so within the week we should get a call to schedule an appointment.

I really like Ben’s pediatrician. She’s really good, knowledgeable, friendly but professional, and she’s not afraid to acknowledge that she doesn’t know something. We waited in the exam room for a bit, though not excessively long, and when she came in, she explained that she’d been looking up EDS because she didn’t know much about it.

We came back and hung around the house a little until the dental appointment. Mar took a nap, because neither of us slept much or well last night, and Ben snuggled with me while I edited and tested a radio mod for Fallout 3 called iPip. I finally got it working, so that was nice.

The dentist appointment was much easier than I was worried it would be, mostly because they took Ben back by himself and I didn’t have to be in the room. I gave the nurse/hygenist the EDS information I’d printed out, and she actually read it, which was nice. They used nitrous, and she said it worked really well; they put the mask on him and he asked, “What’s that funny smell?” and then just went boneless, for the most part. She mentioned the adult tooth that’s taken up residence, and explained how the process of them coming in works. Apparently, the adult teeth somehow “saw” through the roots of the baby teeth, and that’s how the baby teeth fall out. That makes sense to me, because the adult tooth Ben has is lightly serrated, but actual adult front teeth aren’t.

Anyway, he has an appointment to get both bottom front teeth pulled next week, to make room for that rather large adult tooth. I am somewhat optimistic about his tooth moving into place well, because EDS lends itself well to teeth moving, and even if he does need braces, they should work fairly quickly, though he’ll have to wear a retainer for longer than usual. Six of one, half dozen of the other, I suppose, although it sounds like it will be less painful this way, with a shorter amount of time needed to actually move the teeth. They just require more persuasion to stay where they’re put.

By the way, if anyone is curious about EDS and the things I printed out, I can do an entry about it and about my experiences with it. Google can tell you the clinical information; how it actually impacts day-to-day living is a bit harder to understand.

In geekery news, I ordered my tablet! We came into a windfall and I ordered an off-brand tablet (Latte, for the inquiring minds) as my Mother’s Day present. It came in and it was pretty good for what I wanted, which was internet and e-book reading, although it was a little slow. Still, no big deal; I could work with it, and it was a lot easier to type on than my phone. I got up the next day and things seemed fine, but I glanced over and the screen was flashing. I unplugged it from the charger and tried to turn it on, then plugged it in and tried to turn it on, and… nope. So I returned it. I sent it back Monday and got my refund from Amazon today, which is pretty impressive to me.

One of my online friends had sent me a link for a Lenovo ThinkTab, refurbished by Lenovo, that was $9 more than the no-name tablet, with free shipping (from nomorerack.com, who I’d never ordered from before, but I trust the friend that recommended it). Even better, it’s a bigger screen, a quad core, and double the memory. The website said “we ask that you allow 10-14 working days for shipment. Although, often times, items ship much faster than this.” I certainly hope so; I’m excited to get it! Once I have it, I might attempt making a cover for it. I remember seeing a tutorial somewhere online, and it didn’t seem outside my skill level. Yes, I know, I have other projects in various stages, but this is something I can do when the weather isn’t conducive to painting. I think I have enough fabric remnants to make something nice, but I’ll have to figure out how to get some thin but sturdy flat plastic. Maybe plastic canvas? Something to think about.

Please, follow this link, read this story.

The following is not my story. But it needs to be heard. It might make you cry, or it might make you angry. It’s important, though.

“Please go to http://www.gofundme.com/WheelchairPrincess to donate, or click on the link at the bottom.

I’m going to tell you a story that just might make you cry. It’s made me cry many times. In fact I couldn’t stop crying just now as I proof read it.

It will also make you laugh, smile, and cheer.

It will almost certainly make you thankful.

I pray that you will keep reading.

I pray that when the story is finished that you will have been changed.
I pray that you will have knowledge and perspective that you will share with others.
I pray that you will act on that knowledge to prevent this story from happening to anyone else.

I’ve never told her story to an audience in this manner. As a nurse, and child-abuse prevention advocate, I’ve presented her “case” in a clinical way as a teaching tool, but I’ve never really just told her story.

Let’s begin.

Once Upon a Time,
A beautiful baby girl was born. They named her Michelle which means “Near to the heart of God.”
She arrived in this world, unplanned, and mostly unwanted.” Read the rest at http://blendedfamilychaos.com/2014/03/24/the-wheelchair-princess-michelles-story/