Saturday, July 28, 2007

Feelin' down-n-dirty, feeling kind of mean

Fill my eyes with that... double vision!

It hasn't gone away yet - and neither has the dizziness - even with prescription Atavert, Valium, and a motion-sickness patch behind my ear.

I can't read the letters on the computer screen to do a decent post, and it's making me kind of sick to even try.

This sucks ass.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


My hunky ENT doctor says that it's probably not ear rocks. Due to the severity of my attack, and the fact that similar things have been happening for several years, it looks to him like Meniere's Disease, a non-fatal but highly annoying pathology with no known cause or really good cure. (Though he did give me a Valium prescription. Score!)

A bit of internet research suggests that my best bet is to cut back on (or totally give up) salt, alcohol, and caffeine.

So, welcome to the rest of my know, the part in which there is no joy. Whatsoever.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Getting my rocks off

I've had to take time out from recanting stories about my older child, because...dudes! I have been so sick since I posted last!

I was SO sick. How sick was I?

  • I missed the Big BobNoxious Birthday Lake Bash on Saturday night;
  • I missed Toya's birthday/Karla's going-away bruncheon at Threadgill's on Sunday morning;
  • I could not sit up for approximately 24 hours; but instead had to lie on my back, in the dark, with my eyes closed;
and, to rub salt in the wound,
  • I was EVEN completely unable to read the new Harry Potter book, because the words swam around so much on the page that I had to go throw up every time I tried!
In a nutshell, I was totally fine until about three o'clock on Saturday. I was happily making seven-layer dip for the big party, and I was just about to get out the sour cream, when - BAM - double vision, nausea, and big-time vertigo just slapped me across the face. I crumpled to the couch, and then to the bed, where I stayed except for periodic trips to the bathroom to vomit, hold my swimming head, moan, and then vomit again.

And, what was it? Flu, maybe, or a bad bug? Perhaps an underdone bit of potato? No, silly, it was ear rocks, of course! Otherwise known as "Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo," - although I fail to see how something can at once be simultaneously "benign" and "paroxysmal" - this apparently common phenomenon occurs when these little bits of particulate matter, which normally float around in your inner ear, get dislodged from their proper floaty position, and start bumping up against the little hairs that help you stay balanced. The result, as my doctor told me, is like "being on a really really fast, intense, merry-go-round. Except it doesn't stop." (He's a really cheerful man. He then just as cheerfully told me that "It'll probably get better in a few days. If it doesn't, come back to see me so we can make sure it wasn't a stroke.")

So, to treat this - it hasn't gone away, mind you, although I'm not vomiting anymore - I take motion-sickness drugs, and have to do some sort of head-positioning exercises to move my little rocks back around where they should be.

The stupid crap that happens to your body as you get older, I tell you. (I also pulled a muscle the other my TONGUE. While YAWNING.)

Friday, July 20, 2007

A True Story, Part One

It all began when she was a baby, about two months old.

She was born healthy and strong. She nursed like a champ, and almost instantly had those gorgeous, enormous breast-milk thighs, like Virginia hams. From the get-go, she was as powerful as her red hair and her regal name would suggest. Her eyes, bright and clever, surveyed everything in the room, and all five senses were completely alive, so quickly, and so acutely.

One little, tiny thing, though; she couldn't sit still in a restaurant, like all those other babies, resting placidly by the side of the table in their little buckets. Even as a two-month-old, she cried and fussed if left sitting, unstimulated, even for a few minutes. When picked up, she wiggled and squirmed until one of us picked her up and carried her around the restaurant or outside, bouncing her on our shoulders, singing, and talking. We joked that Lee would never get to sit through a meal again, but figured, hey - that's what babies are.

As she grew, and learned to crawl, then walk, her need for movement was shifted, naturally, to her own motor skills. Not just in restaurants, now, but everywhere, it was noticeable that she was different from even other very young children in this respect. She demanded interaction with others at all times. She could not sit for more than a minute or two at a time without jumping up to run around. She was bigger, louder, and more forceful than most children, and as a result, began to sort of mow them down (unintentionally) when interacting with them. In a nutshell, she just moved more than they did.

And, with us, she demanded that we be there, always. Our bedtime ritual, for example, always resulted in our holding her, in a tight bear hug, until that rigid little body softened, finally, into relaxation. (Thankfully, that's never taken very long; something about racing at 60 mph all day long makes a body tired at night, apparently.)

Her clear intelligence was startling. As a barely two-year-old child, she walked around the world pointing out hexagons, pentagons, octagons, and quatrefoils. Also at two, she knew all of her letters on sight, after I showed them to her on her alphabet puzzle maybe twice. She wrote her name right after her third birthday (I still have it, with the date).

However, there was a significant downside to this combination of intelligence and freakish energy; the tantrums. When events did not work out to her expectations - no matter how well spelled-out beforehand - she would engage in the most violent meltdowns that you have ever seen. As a baby, her fists and feet would fly, to the point that I had to physically restrain her. (And, as a two-year-old, she was the height and weight of an average four or five-year-old, and a wall of sheer, aerobically-exercised muscle to boot.)

Thankfully, the physical part of her tantrums didn't last much past the age of two. The last time I restrained her - I've had multiple hours of training in how to do this safely; don't try it at home if you're not - I was murmuring, as I always did, "I'm only controlling your body until you can control it yourself." She then looked me dead in the eye and said, "Don't under control me anymore." I said "OK, then, we're done." She's never hit or kicked since.

But oh, though, she had hundreds of meltdowns. You could see them coming. That wild-eyed energy, building up until she was too loud or ran around or grabbed something or knocked a kid down, or whatever, until one of us decided to step in and remove her. Then, there was screaming and sobbing, resulting in carrying or dragging out (it's hard to carry or drag a forty-pound three-year-old when you're pregnant, as it turns out,) and then a lengthy battle of enforcing a "time-out" with an enormously strong banshee who is flinging herself at her bedroom door.

Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I know something about child development and behavioral intervention. I know a great deal about it, actually. However, putting the wealth of behavioral theory that I knew into actual action was proving more difficult than I would have expected. It was about that time, right before the birth of YG, when OG had just turned four, that I figured I needed to start finding out what we were doing wrong.

So, I started reading, and began talking to my then-incredible-pediatrician, who had been observing her behavior in his quiet, inimitable way, for quite some time. We suspected sensory integration disorder, perhaps high-functioning autism. But most of all, clearly, she had severe ADHD. And, oddly enough, she began complaining of violent itching in her genital and anal area, and she started squinting when she watched television or movies. Dermatalogical and opthamalogical exams revealed no physical or vision problems whatsoever. The opthamologist, however, took one look at her and said "She has tics."

The birth of the younger girl temporarily took precedence over the pursuit of diagnoses or solutions for my dear OG. But not for long.

The YG arrived - also healthy, also strong, not as big, also with red hair - in April of 2004. Almost immediately, she was worlds apart from her older sister. This one WAS one of those babies who sat placidly in their buckets at a restaurant! She COULD sit and play by herself, and for hours at a time! She sang to her toys, cuddled her dolls, and put herself to sleep at night. And - oddly enough - we weren't raising her any differently than the other child.

So, maybe, just maybe, it wasn't all our fault.

And maybe there was a pill, or combination of pills, that could fix this.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Summer Niii---hiiiights!

(What, you say? Tell you more, tell you more?)

Erm, actually, not much to tell. The Mags family gets themselves into quite the piggish summer vacation lazies every year. We stay up way too late watching old movies and various HBO programming*, and then all sleep in until 9:00 (me) and 10:00 (the children, and lately, the husband). And, thus, as OG is hard to get started on the best of days, we don't physically MOVE from the house until about noon, when, of course, it is already time for lunch.

Today, we JUST made it to the free Alamo Drafthouse kids' movie showing at 11:00 - and that was with a significant amount of cajoling and threatening. (It's "The Iron Giant" this week, which I had forgotten was really good. It was Brad Bird's first big animated feature, and it deserved way more press than it got. I also forgot that it made me cry when I first saw it, and thus will always make me cry, even in public movie theaters, much to the embarrassment of my oldest child.)

After that, there was...well, home time, more movies and computer games, and then a brief jaunt off to the neighborhood pool before dinner, which was thrown together hastily, as I had my eyes on the bigger prize - a HUGE vat of homemade salsa, from my garden tomato-and-jalapeno haul.

I hadn't ever made salsa before, really - no, wait, I have made tomatillo salsa several times, and lots of Hatch chile enchilada sauce, but every time I've tried making just straight-up red salsa, it hasn't come out very good. Usually, it's really watery, and not a lot of flavor compared to the bottled ones.

But, this time, I took the time to roast, peel, and seed the jalapenos beforehand, and I also blanched the tomatoes to get the skins off correctly. Since that seemed to work out well, I briefly parboiled the red onions and a serious mess o' garlic, too. Then I just threw it all into the food processor with some lime juice, salt, pepper, and oregano, and after it was nearly pureed, I threw in a bunch of cilantro.

And, children - it was GOOD this time. There are three largish ziplock bags in my freezer that I shall look forward to thawing for quite some time.

So, the sum total of activity for my day was: waking up, driving to and summarily watching a movie, idly picking random objects up around the house while my children played video games and/or watched another movie, walking to the pool and briefly standing around therein, and then making salsa. And now, I blog.

Goddamn, I love summer.
*So, is anyone else besides me really into "Big Love?" And, if you are, do you feel as conflicted as I do about liking it? Because you KNOW in your heart that it's a really unrealistic, sanitized view of polygamy, which is REALLY a horrible practice that victimizes and infantilizes women, and yet THIS SHOW makes you kinda, sorta, want a sister-wife or two to babysit the kids and cook dinner for you when you get home, and have kinky sex with your husband when you're just not in the mood?

Seriously. I'm half-shopping for one.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

This one goes to eleven!

Hey now, there, y'all, it's been almost a week since I've been here. I believe I have been actually, for reals, busy for several days.

Oddly, though, now that I'm sitting down at Ms. HotSexyNew iMac to write...suddenly, I cannot remember one thing that I've done recently. Age? Writer's block? Cheap Merlot? You decide.

I think I must list. Perhaps I will also cluster. It's my only hope. (Warning, I sense exclamation points ahead. I cannot summon the words to express myself tonight, so thus I shall rely upon punctuation marks to convey my meaning. OK!! Yeah!!)

1) Baby! Erin had her baby, three and a half weeks's a boy! His name is Dean, an homage to both Ben's middle name and the Rat Pack. (Had I known, I would have sent them lil' sippy martini cups.)

I have not seen photographic evidence of this baby thus far, but I see no reason to doubt her story. Mom and baby are reportedly well - no word on how Ben is doing; I'm suspecting either "giddy" or "stupefied" - and hopefully all are home by this evening.

2) Schlitterbahn! We went to Schlitterbahn on Sunday! Opened it and closed it, even; 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Both girls went with, as did our good friends Eric and Christie, who had never been.

A time was had, my friends, a time was had. It was the perfect day: coolish (for July in Texas,) slightly overcast, rainy early in the morning so many folks were scared off. During the day, it only rained lightly for about half an hour, and that was timed nicely right at the dinner hour. OG and Eric were their energetic selves and rode everything. Even YG, formerly assumed to be a complete pantywaist, rode some pretty hardcore slides. (She also proudly displayed her new "dunk her head underwater" skills, newly learned in swim lessons, about 50 times throughout the day, causing me to fear for her brain cells by a certain point.)

There are many things about Schlitterbahn that make it way cooler than other water parks, first and foremost being the use of real (and cold as fuck) Comal river water in the rides in the older section, and the several tube chutes that just dump your ass into the actual river. But, also great is the fact that they let you bring in coolers, so you aren't forced to spend scads of money on shitty hamburgers and funnel cakes.

But, this time, I finally got to do the coolest thing at Schlitterbahn...the Master Blaster! ('Cause, see, someone chose the perfect day to go, when the lines for it weren't four hours long! Wait, who was that brilliant person? Oh, yes, it was ME!) For those who have not tasted the joy, the Master Blaster is an uphill, water, roller coaster. It's fuckin' sweet. And, I'm glad I finally got to do it, because I am absolutely unwilling to wait in the ungodly lines for it on a typical day.

3) IKEA! I hate IKEA! Did I ever say that I loved IKEA? I don't! I absolutely fucking loathe them!

See, I bought this bookshelf there a few weeks ago. (Note: It is not actually a cheap piece of crap from IKEA, it is a reasonably expensive piece of crap from IKEA. This fact will come into importance later in the story.) I don't have a truck, so I got Cristen to watch the kids, took out the carseats, folded all the seats flat in the Pussy Wagon, and drove 20 minutes up the highway to get there.

It lay around my house tripping us, in its ginormous boxes, for about two weeks, but I finally got to work on it and finished it a few days ago. It was not mentally challenging - assembling IKEA furniture isn't, generally - but it was time-consuming, and did involve another slog back up there to get a missing bolty thing.

This thing, by the way, not being a cheap piece of crap from IKEA, is actually pretty solid, and pretty heavy. Though I put it together myself, I did some back hurting picking some of the pieces up, and it took two of us working substantially to lift it up to the wall after I was finished.

So, I'm up on the ladder, just about to fasten it to the wall - last step, you know - when The Man comes through, points to the side panel, and says, "Did you know this is cracked?"


No, goddamn it, I did NOT know it was cracked, splintered, right down the middle of the wood, with no relation to any screw or anything that I had done during the assembly. Fucking fuck.

But, you know, I can handle defective merchandise. What, as it turns out, I CANNOT handle, is IKEA's return policy. It spaketh thus: You may pick up this extremely heavy fucking thing and put it back on the ground, turn it back upside down, disassemble three quarters of the entire bloody thing so that you may bring in a SIDE PANEL TO A BOOKSHELF, and bring that one piece in to be replaced. Or, you may disassemble the ENTIRE THING and return it to us IN ITS ORIGINAL PACKAGING, to return it to us. (Which was already cut up in the recycling pile, because we are GOOD ANAL RETENTIVE LIBERALS.)

And do you know what they do to those folks who send bitchy e-mails about this policy? They send them auto replies! Several!

The upshot of all this is that I am in no way, shape, or form, disassembling this stupid thing. So, tonight, we lay it back on my floor, and I attempted to wood-glue the crack into stubborn submission...and of COURSE, I rubbed my index finger along the crack to schmear the glue in, and of COURSE I ripped an inch-long gash in it on the razor-sharp splinter.

I tell you, folks, I've decided IKEA is not worth the hassle. For a few dollars more, I could have driven two minutes away to about twenty good furniture places near to my neighborhood and had a nice bookshelf delivered and installed for me. AND, I'm guessing, if a big crack developed down the side of said bookshelf, someone might, just might, have said, oh, "Sorry?" Or, "Hey, you get a new one, since that one's broken! And we'll bring it out to you!"

For the moment, I'm swearing off IKEA, 59-cent stoneware bowls or not.

4) I saw the new Harry Potter movie at a sneak preview on Monday! It was...pretty good! The kids have all learned to act, and their real-life friendship is apparent. All the supporting cast is as fantastic as usual...god, I love Alan Rickman, as previously noted, and Imelda Staunton as Delores Umbridge was an inspired bit of casting. But, the plot of the movies is getting pretty familiar by now, and this one didn't have the wonderous imagery that Alfonso Cuaron put into the third one, or the character development that Mike Newell put into the last one. And, it seemed woefully abridged - that's probably to be expected, as it was an 800-page book - but some major plot points were left out.

However, I did enjoy it. I'm certain that you will, as well.
5) Give yourself over to absolute pleasure,'s your lucky bun day!

It's Spinal Tap, at Live Earth, and....the Army of Bass Players...O.M.F....G.
No words. No words at all. Can describe. How cool. THIS IS.

Stonehenge was pretty effing funny, too...

Yes. You're welcome.

6) Your Simpsons Self! You should, by all means, go to the Simpsons Movie Website and create your own Simpsons Avatar, like THIS ONE:

...and you should then thus post them on your blog. Or send them to me.*

Because they are awesome.

(As is John, yet again a source of all things cool.)

*I couldn't save mine to my computer, for some reason. I had to print it out and then scan it.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A sucky Fourth

Dang, the Fourth of July cake was kind of a bust. The icing was awesome and it looked very pretty, but the cake itself was dry. I don't know how that's possible, as it had half a pound of butter and a cup of sour cream in it, but dry it was.

Maybe a better baker than I has a suggestion on what may have happened, or how to improve it? Maybe I should have added some milk or buttermilk or something? The batter looked good, and it wasn't burned or anything like that.

All around, this is not turning out to be the holiday that I had planned. The cake was underwhelming, our planned annual trip to Schlitterbahn today is officially rained out, and - while not actually raining at present - it's just too damned gloomy outside to muster up the energy to do much else besides hoist the coffee cup to the lips and watch "Spongebob" with the kids.

Bleah. You?
The upside of the rain:

Look at my grass! And it's JULY!

And, the downside:

There are little fungi growing on my back porch.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Fourth of July Flag Cake!

Oh, my god, people, you need to go make this cake RIGHT. NOW.

Don't worry yourself about the four sticks of butter and the three boxes of cream cheese that goes into the icing! Or about the half-pound of butter and cup of sour cream that goes into the cake! That's not important! Because you'll burn calories just picking this fucker up after you're done with it, as it weighs about 50 pounds!

Mine doesn't look as good as the one on the recipe, of course, because I'm not all that patient, and raspberries were too expensive. But it's going to taste INCREDIBLE.

Monday, July 02, 2007

What Kind of Liberal are You?

I'm a hippie. Go figure.

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Peace Patroller, also known as an anti-war liberal or hippie. You believe in stopping American imperial conquest and supporting our troops by bringing them home.