Did My Ultrasound Tech Just Squint?

Have you ever had one? An ultrasound, that is.

The test itself is a cinch, but interpreting gestures of the ultrasound technician who’s doing the test is another story…

She’s leaning in. Why is she leaning in? Does she see something unusual? That can’t be good. Did she just raise her brow? Her brow definitely raised. She’s pausing. A pause can’t be good. Now she’s squinting. Squinting and brow raising. Are you kidding me? What does this mean?!

As if that wasn’t terrifying enough, she then leaves the room. I’ll be right back, she said, suspiciously, if you ask me. It began to feel like I was in cardiology having a stress test. I was certain she went to get a radiologist to look at whatever horrible thing she found, along with arranging for my admission.

The screen was actually in full view so I took a look. Wait, is that shadow suppose to be there? That doesn’t look right. How about the jagged thing over there? I can’t imagine a jagged anything is normal.

She returns with the explanation of I had to refill the goop container. Sure, sure, nice cover-up. Oh, if you never had this test, they squirt goop on your skin to do an ultrasound. Anyway, she continued with deep breath, hooold it, breathe. Deep breath, hooold it, breathe.

In between a “hooold it and breathe” I asked how it’s going. My tech said, it’s against policy to tell you anything, the doctor will get in touch. What! She was looking right at the jagged thing and couldn’t even tell me if I needed emergency surgery?

More, click, click stare, click, squint, click, click brow crinkle and now a sigh. SIGH! No, no, no, there should be no sighing. Ultrasound Techs should never, ever, EVER sigh!

Finishing up she instructed me to get dressed, and exit out the door on the right. I was dumbfounded they were actually sending me home. Unbelievable in my condition. Does that mean it’s beyond hope? Do they need time to call in a specialist to review the results?

That began the wait for the doctor to “get in touch”. After a two year wait (ok, two day) he called.

With pen and paper in hand ready to write down every detail of his findings, it turned out I only wrote two words…everything’s normal. Gazing at the paper in disbelief, the realization that I’m actually fine slowly permeated my brain. After all the leaning, and squinting, brow raising and especially the sigh…I WAS FINE!

Hallelujah!!!

AND, I now see how this works. KEEP EYES CLOSED during ultrasounds. Got it!

Do You “Ugly Cry”??

You know, when your face crinkles up like an accordion, your lips quiver, your upper teeth protrude over your lower lip, which has simultaneously rolled over your lower teeth, and your body makes uncontrollable hick sounds. That’s the “Ugly Cry”, right?

Some people cry pretty, or handsome, now that men are finally allowed to cry. On the contrary, “Pretty Criers” have an ever so gentle stream of tears that trickle from the corner of their eyes, with a discrete downward turn of their mouth. A slight whimper followed by a deep sigh, and that’s it. The muscles of their face hardly move, and no matter how long they cry it never escalates to anything more.

I’m envious!

I come from a long line of Ugly Criers. It can be quite a scene at times. The thing is, people have no control over whether they Ugly Cry or Pretty Cry, none whatsoever. It’s part of their genetic makeup. Luckily, I don’t cry a lot…mostly for sad movies, and clear the shelters commercials.

Of course, who can deny there are times a good ol’ Ugly Cry can actually work for you?

For instance, think of all the traffic tickets that have been forgiven after a spectacular, display of Ugly Crying, broken things often become meaningless, spills matter less, and that vacation you’ve been desperate for, well, it gets booked. Also, anytime you want to get your way with a Pretty Crier it helps, because they’re terrified of the Ugly Cry.

In the instance of getting hurt and requiring medical attention, however, one should try very hard not to Ugly Cry. Really, you need to squash it. Otherwise, you end up with unnecessary x-rays and very strong pain meds.

I’ve always thought in my next life I’d like to come back as a “Pretty Crier”, but after thinking about it probably not.

I’m good!

Beach Vacation Bonding??? (book excerpt)

This Blog brings me full circle.

An excerpt from the chapter in my book about vacationing when our kids were little that now, ironically, relates to the vacation we just had with our son, daughter-in-law and their young family.

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Beach vacations are always suggested by propaganda advertisements as a great choice for a family, bonding vacation. I’m referring to the ads in all the parenting magazines we read when our kids are little. The ones that made us feel so guilty.

What those ads don’t tell you is the enormous amount of stuff needed in order to pull off the family beach experience. To get everything from the car to the beach takes everyone carrying as much as they possibly can, along with strangers picking up things you drop. Even the two year old gets a few things draped over them.

Those ads never mention how beach umbrellas refuse to stay up, or that rafts rarely stay inflated all day. How seagulls dive bomb your head while you eat, and that the ocean breeze blows your sandwich wrappers into the water, triggering complaints from your kids on protecting the environment. The bathrooms are a mile and a half away, and the kids refuse to pee in the ocean, again the environment.

They also leave out “sand issues”. For instance, how sand ends up in everything…really, everything! Drinks, sandwiches, cookies, chip bags, beach bags, along with every fiber of your towel. It buries car keys, cell phones and your six year old’s favorite Tweety sunglasses. By the end of the day it has even worked its way into certain orifices of your body.

The highlight, however, is when you lose sight of one of your kids and run frantically up and down the beach, heart pounding out of your chest, until you find them making a sand castle with another family…that’s right, bonding!

The propaganda ads make it seem un-American if parents don’t have beach experiences with their kids. Equivalent to not voting or flag burning.

On one excursion a woman excitedly asked me, while I was flushing sand out of my eyes at the beach shower, “Don’t you just love the incredible sand here?!” In other words, you’re a real knucklehead if you don’t. Just to be clear, it isn’t that I don’t appreciate the beauty of an ocean and a beach, for me it’s more about being immersed in them.

Due to the pressure of propaganda, as well as, my patriotism, I put my feelings aside, and our kids got their fair share of beach experiences. Although, I mostly remember my jubilance at getting back in the car to the comfort of vinyl seats and rubber floor mats.

God Bless America!

Empty Nesters…Lose the Guilt!

Available at :

Amazon.com/books

or

Lewis Farms 384 Belleview Ave. Southington, CT (signed copies)

and

Dragonfly Home and Gifts 1064 Farmington Ave. Berlin, CT (signed copies)

When’s My Day Off From Retirement?

Doing what I want, when I want, has resulted in my doing something all the time. Weekends are like every other day, so I just keep going. I need a day off from being a constantly busy retiree.

But how?

I feel like a kid in a candy store. It’s all there right in front of me, and I have to have it. All the things I love to do; putzing around the house, shopping on weekdays, getting to projects, walking the trail, kayaking, meeting up with friends, and watching the grandkids. Oh, how I love to snuggle the little ones, and try to keep up with the older ones.

I can do it all, anytime I want, now that I’m retired. And I do…

Plus there’s the full dishwasher, the laundry hamper, and that dusty end table over there. How do I walk past them? Is it even possible to have a relaxing, nothing day when my new workplace is now right under my nose?

But not having a scheduled day off can wear you out, even if you’re doing things you love.

So that’s it, I’m planning a day off. Planning, and scheduling.

This Tuesday I’m going to sit on the patio, under the umbrella, and read all day. I will close my eyes to anything else dangling in front of me. The grandkids will be home, and I won’t cook. Definitely, won’t cook.

Awwwww, what an indulgence it will be. A true break in the action, a total recharge.

Tuesday

With cushions arranged just so, a cold brew by my side, and the book I’ve been trying to get through all summer in hand, I begin my day off. A real day off!

Ah, wait a minute, don’t I need my jeans washed for tomorrow’s outlet shopping with the girls? I better throw them in. May as well gather all the darks while I’m at it. One load of laundry, that’s it, then back to the patio.

Two pages read.

Hold on, doesn’t that plant over there look like it’s wilting? Better hit it with some water. Oh geeze, I’ll just water them all. Quickly, then I’ll get back to the patio.

Another page read.

Shoot, I have to pay those two online bills today, or they’ll be late. I have no choice. It will only take a minute. I can refresh my cold brew while I’m inside, then back to the patio.

Geeze, what is that smell in the refrigerator?! Something spoiled. I need to find it before it overtakes the kitchen. I should wipe this spill while I’m in here, and throw out this moldy sour cream. There, now I’ll head back to the patio.

Half a page read.

Is that a text from my son? One of the kids has a rash and needs to see the doctor. Wants me to babysit the little one. I would never say no to that. He said it won’t take long, then I’ll come right back TO THE PATIO.

Okay, all’s good and I’m back. Awwwww, indulgence on the patio at last. WHAT?! It’s 5:00 0’clock!!

Well, that didn’t work…

SLEEP…Fuggedaboutit

I’ve noticed something…

We have become a society obsessed with sleep. In fact, people are terrified of feeling sleepy. Terrified I tell you! Most people wouldn’t dare start the day without caffeine to make sure they’re awake, even if they slept all night. It’s crazy, and all because our existence is plagued by preventing the yawn.

There’s a constant muttering throughout the day of…

“Boy, am I dragging”

“I’m wilting here”

“Grabbing another coffee”

“Geeze, I am pooped”

“I REALLY need to get some sleep!”

But do you now?

Maybe, instead, what we really need to do is just fuggedaboutit, and stop being a prisoner to the snooze devil. Put it out of our minds and relax.

Menopausal women do. They don’t sleep from the minute they turn 50 till somewhere in their late 60’s. All over the world there are women wandering around their houses all night long. Some reading, some crafting, some on the computer, others watch late night TV. I even have a friend that vacuums…why not?

There’s no fighting those hormonal changes. Menopausal women don’t sleep, they don’t expect to sleep, and I swear their bodies accept it, and find a way to function anyway.

People that work nights don’t worry about it either, or they’d never have a life. I used to work a night shift at the hospital, then go skiing the next day. I just shut sleep out of my mind. That’s extreme and only works when you’re in your twenties, but many 3rd shift people at least get some grocery shopping done.

Manufacturers have come up with some pretty amazing things for our sleep-focus generation. There are now products for new parents guaranteed to make babies sleep, hence allowing the parent to sleep. Guaranteed! Probably knowing an exhausted new parent could never follow-up, but what a great marketing strategy for the desperate.

They have sensors that rock, vibrate and make womb sounds, based on the baby’s breathing and movement to keep them asleep. It’s only after the device exhausts all programs that the parent has to wake up and get out of bed.

Very high tech.

I’ve also seen neuro-stimulating straps that wrap around the head to promote sleep. You’ve got a slew of natural supplements available, and if all that fails, there’s a coffee shop at every turn.

Our sleep hang-up is a retail money maker.

If only we could all have a little faith in the high tech make-up of our own inner being. Our bodies are actually quite adept at getting us through the day if we really are lacking shut eye.

For example; the momentary eye drifting closed at the red light…that’s a power nap. The head bobbing when we sit down to watch the nightly news…we’re snoozing there, too. Don’t underestimate the significance of that little pocket of drool on the corner of your lower lip when you’re doing menial chores during the day. You got some sleep, AND it all adds up!

You got this, or at least your inner being does. So just fuggedaboutit.

Why 9 Months Feels Like 90 for Grandma…

I’m, of course, talking about Gram awaiting the birth of a Grandchild.

From the moment it’s announced, which can now be moments after conception, Grandmas go bonkers waiting for that little bundle of joy to arrive.

Right off, they combine features of the two parents to determine what the baby will look like. Eyes, hair, length of fingers, everything is predicted with confidence using Gram’s scientific method of “I’m sure of it!”.

The gender prediction takes longer. After careful scrutinizing of mom’s growing bump, an absolute projection will surface. Sometimes there’s even a forecast on the baby’s disposition. Careful Gram, that one can get you in trouble.

If the pregnant mom is one that shares her every twinge, pull, stretch, ache, flutter, kick, and whatnot throughout her pregnancy, it can feel like Gram, herself, has carried the baby for 90, um, 9 months.

Understandably, this gives Grandma a feeling of ownership over it all. Understandably! As well-intentioned as it may be, this can also land good ol’ Gram in trouble.

When this occurs Grandma needs to conjure up some self-control. It’s hard for her not to show up at doctor appointments, “how are we, I mean is she doing?”; OR arrange the baby’s room,”this is how I did it”; OR make a suggestion for the baby’s name,”Oh, I’ve always loved that.”

The gender reveal is perfect for redirecting Grandma. These reveals now range from a phone call on the way home from work, to renting a venue, live band and exploding something pink or blue in the air.

Finding out the gender helps shift Grandma’s attention from taking over the pregnancy, to snatching up cute little outfits for upcoming special occasions. She can easily rationalize baby wearing a Fourth of July outfit only once, for an hour, for the adorable picture she envisions.

Finding out there’s been a false alarm start of labor, is another story. WHAT! Really, it’s not happening today?! I washed my hair, and put on my “first picture outfit”. I got a great parking spot in the lot, and took my Welcome Home casserole out of the freezer.

Now what?

Well…you wait. Sometimes you wait, and wait, and wait. And, when the baby actually does arrive there’s more exploding, but now it’s pure, unfathomable Joy!!!

Soooooo worth those 90, um, 9 months!

Blog Post was delayed a week due to the arrival of Grandbaby # 4. Unfathomable joy I tell you…

Grandparents Learning New Ropes

What the heck is that?!

A constant question from today’s Grandparents as they struggle to learn the “new ropes” for today’s babies. I certainly expected some things to change in 30 years time, but it now seems everything we did back then is considered ancient practice.

Take the swaddle; what used to be a small blanket turned to create a triangle at the top, is now a specially designed straight jacket-like contraption. There’s more areas of Velcro to connect than NASA’s space suits. Took me 15 exhaustive tries to apply it right. Once I got it on, if an arm popped out too bad, it stayed out.

Babies also now sleep with piped in white noise from a little noise making machine. We used to do this by running vacuum cleaners, just saying. Their sleeping environment must also be free of bumper pads, blankets, and the cute little teddy bear their Grandma bought. Not that I’m holding a grudge…

Of course, that’s after you cover the “Five S’s”, another new invention for putting babies to sleep. It means swaddle, side, shush, sway, suck. Clever, right? My husband shushhhed and held a bottle with a specially engineered nipple, while I maintained a swaying, side swaddle to get our grandson to sleep one night. We felt like a circus act. After 45 minutes we gave up, sat in the rocker, stuck a knuckle in his mouth, and tried the song from our camp counselor days that worked with our kids…he conked right out. Shushhhh, don’t tell.

Tummy Time is also new for those of us that had their babies in the 80’s. Since today’s little loves are not allowed to sleep on their stomachs, parents have to build time into the day to give the back of their head a break. It’s best if babies lay on something with educational pictures on it, this way if they catch a glimpse they can learn something.

Today’s babies are given an opportunity to learn something 24/7.

I’m not sure what the $25.00 rubber giraffe teaches them, but every baby must now have one. This giraffe is so popular that it’s widely recognized by just it’s first name, like Oprah or Ellen.

For diaper changes there’s a new device called the “Bum Brush”. I know, I know, what the heck is that?! Don’t worry, it’s not how it sounds. It’s a little, rubber spatula type gadget to apply the white, sticky diaper cream instead of using your fingers.

Being a team player I tried it, and it did indeed keep my fingers clean. But then the Bum Brush slipped out of my hand and fell to the floor smearing diaper cream down my shirt, pants and shoes on it’s way. Count this as my notice; I quit Team Bum Brush!

The walkers don’t walk, the cups don’t spill, and playpens are now big snap together squares with colorful, interactive activities on each one. It’s, of course, placed on top of something educational. When I laid inside it with my granddaughter and looked up, I imagined this is what Alice In Wonderland must feel like.

I will say, this generation has nailed the bootie falling off the foot issue. They’ve come up with one that wraps around the baby’s ankle, more Velcro, and it really does stay on. Genius! Kudos guys!

I was, however, able to share some wisdom that I’m confident will never be obsolete. Such as; the baby will stop crying eventually, and you’ll hardly ever know why they cried or why they stopped.

So there…

Cleaning FOR the Cleaning Lady?!

I can’t meet you for dinner tonight, Rosie comes tomorrow.

Rosie comes in once a month to whip our place into shape. She’s wonderful, however, the night before she comes I’m up to my elbows getting the house ready for her. Not really cleaning, that’s overstating it, more like touching-up.

Some people think that’s nuts. Why would you do that? The obvious answer is; I have to get things out of the way so she can reach the dirt. The harder to understand answer is; I don’t want her to think I’m a slob.

It’s a little like having company. I have a standard level of clean I strive for when I’m entertaining, and a standard level of dirty I aim for with Rosie.

For instance, when our toilets rival the condition of the porta potties on the Town Green during the Apple Harvest Festival, I must intervene. I touch them up to get them to a respectful level of dirty.

If the microwave looks like a science project gone wrong, I wipe it down…but just a little.

If it’s been a couple weeks since I de-haired the bathroom where I do my hair, a quick swipe makes it look like it’s only been a couple days.

I’m pretty sure Rosie expects me to touch-up between her visits.

When she first started I had to find a place to put everything, and I mean everything. What an operation that was! Even things I already had a place for got bumped to another place if something fit better there. This went on and on.

Things I use everyday I just hid.

I wonder if Rosie realizes how hard I work for her. Anyway, there was still the guilt of having someone clean my house. This I had to work through.

First I would organize closets and drawers, or do laundry while she cleaned. That way I looked like I was pitching in, although I seemed to keep getting in her way.

Then I tried writing. This way I looked much too busy with the Blog to clean my own house. Still she’d ask me to lift my feet to vacuum.

At last I got over the guilt, and now I go shopping. When I thought about all those years of cleaning the house, while raising three kids, it was an easy conclusion to come by. Also, turns out it’s awkward watching someone clean your house. So I leave it all to Rosie assured that I left the house at the perfect level of dirty.

It’s a real feeling of accomplishment…

Remodeling the Remodel…

Face it, it’s old…

Even though it feels like you just did it, you haven’t. When you’ve been in your house for 24 years like we have, things you remodeled early on are now shot.

Those 10-20 year warranties sounded like forever at the time. Like we’d never have to give it another thought. Well, we tossed them in the shred pile, because they’re shot, too. Now we’re looking at new 10-20 year warranties trying NOT to think how old we’ll be when they expire.

This year we’re attacking the three season porch, that used to be a screened porch. See, remodeling a remodel. These projects really are like waging a war on you house. Battling through the decision making process, multiple trips to the building supply store, and the “oops”…there’s always an “oops”. It takes a detailed combat plan to get through it all.

At least I don’t agonize over decisions for home projects like I used to. Simply because I’ve lost all tolerance for building supply stores. Every isle smells like wood, fertilizer or bolts, and I walk out feeling like someone sprinkled me with saw dust. They’re big, noisy, and I always end up in the path of the beeping, flashing cart guy.

I pick something, mull it over for 10 minutes, then head for the door. Unfortunately, my husband loves these stores, and has to do a comprehensive surveillance of every isle in case he needs something he didn’t realize. I kill time at the decorating magazine rack in the front of the store where the beeping, flashing cart guy hardly ever goes.

That is why it’s much better when I can talk my DIY husband into hiring someone to do the job. Not that it’s easy having workers running all over the house, creating a 2 inch layer of dust, and letting flies in. At least the inevitable “oops” is on them, along with the building supply store trips.

We’ve run the gamut on hired contractors. From the young carpet installers that blared loud music while they worked, to the old timer that was quiet, had rusty tools and insisted on drinking from our garden hose.

At first my husband would offer them a couple beers. Then one got too chatty and things came out crooked, so he stopped doing that. I then started making them cookies, but when one plopped down at my table and poured out his girlfriend problems, I stopped doing that.

We learned…

Did you know they don’t use tape measures anymore?

Nope, the last guy showed up with a digital laser measuring device and made jokes, bad jokes, while shooting his laser around. That would not have happened with a tape measure. He had no idea what-so-ever what it would cost, even though he spends all day, every day doing this job. He said a price will be calculated back at the office.

Evidently that’s where they house the Wizard of Contractor Oz.

It’s amazing how you can rationalize a quote higher than you expected when you’re sick and tired of thinking and talking about a project.

SOLD!!!

Face it, it’s old and been ages since you remodeled…remodel it!

Lets Get “Outta Here”!

How do we do that again?

My suitcases are sitting on the bed waiting to be packed. It’s been so long. Just think, being somewhere else for a whole week.

How will that feel?

Sleeping in a different bed without the flannel sheets that I’ve become so used to. Using an unfamiliar shower with who knows what kind of water pressure. It’s been nothing but my shower for over a year now with completely predictable water pressure, and controls I can set with my eyes closed.

How will I adjust?

Oh, and my couch. I’ve been in the same spot, on the same couch for over a year. In fact, I’ve been in the same family room, in the same spot, on the same couch. Wrapped in my favorite Sherpa blanket, I watch TV and write every night. I’m definitely packing my Sherpa.

How could I not?

Then there’s my routine. I haven’t missed the six o’clock nightly news in eons. I pop up my TV table, and Lester enlightens me on the happenings of the day during dinner. Will the lake house get it? Otherwise…

How will I keep up?

Anyway, we’re off…

What’s this I feel?

Anxiety? Euphoria? Both? There’s such a fine line. I might be possessed. I suddenly want to see and do everything! Look, the Maine Visitor’s Center, let’s stop. A scenic overlook, I want to look. A roadside vegetable stand, lets check it out. Oh, oh, oh, a little County Store, please, please, pleeease?

What has come over me?

Things I never cared about when traveling have become extraordinarily interesting to me. Even the Rest Stops seemed fun. I spent five minutes studying the vending machine.

What a crazy phenomenon.

By the time I got to the lake house, my year long quarantine habits were furthest from my mind. The six o’clock news…what’s news? My binge series…who cares?

The strange shower was exhilarating, and the couch was comfortable from every spot. Not that I sat on it long. Instead, I began to rejoin life. Kayaking, hiking, visiting small towns and most importantly, spending time with family.

What did I say to that?

I said, “leave my Sherpa blanket in the car”!

AND

What a miraculous gift to be able to get “Outta Here”.

Pic taken while kayaking on Hancock Pond, Maine with a view of the White Mountains.