Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Explain this to me

After a rather serious allergic reaction, we have been urged by our pediatrician to show DS to an allergist. In addition, a blood test, for which many food items were chosen by us on a whim and in a rush to get out of pediatrician's office, showed to our great shock that DS was allergic to everything tested. We were told to withhold milk and soy and only give him rice milk. I have panicked (What am I going ot feed him? This kid lives on cheese and yogurt!?) and started looking around for an allergist. After several phone calls, we have found a pediatric allergist and made an appointment.

In the mean time, I have done some research on line and among knowledgeable and experienced friends, and they all say one thing and one thing only: the tests are often misleading and wrong. There are a lot of false positives and false negatives in all types of allergy testing. So if we have not seen a reaction to a food, then we could continue giving it to DS. Interesting...

Then we went to the allergist. I will not go on and on about waiting time or the fact the first appointment was a big waste of our time (Consultation, my behind! This is called taking medical history.) On the second visit, after submitting my child to the skin test, we have received even more unexpected results: DS showed allergies to barley, mustard, fish and some other odd items. But not to peaches. All of these unexpected items he had been consuming either extremely rarely or on a regular basis, without any allergic reactions. Peaches, on the other hand, have repeatedly caused him to break out in hives. Milk, to which blood test showed mild allergy, showed up negative on the skin test. Ditto for all the fruits and vegetables that showed strong allergies in blood.

"So what are we to do?" I asked the doc. "Should we avoid these foods, at least the ones he is showing strong allergic reactions?" To which the doctor replied, "If he has been tolerating them, keep giving them to him." Okay, at least the doctor is not trying to make our lives a living dietary restricted hell. But DS was tolerating several foods previously and eating them for months if not years, and then all of a sudden developed strong allergic reactions? "These foods are different," was doc's reply. So basically, if you know that something has caused an allergic reaction, don't give it to your child. And everything else, even if it appeared as allergic on the test, don't avoid. So we are back to square one. I am not gaining anything from this testing. I could have arrived at the same conclusion two 2 hour visits and $70 ago, without a degree in medicine.

So could someone please explain to me why we are doing this? Why the good ole doc scheduled yet another appointment for some additional testing, to figure out exactly what fish DS is allergic to? What will I gain from it? If he is allergic to shrimp or swordfish, I couldn't care less (neither are kosher). And if the test shows tuna, which we had been giving to DS for many months without any problems, then the doc will say to keep giving it to him. What's the point? To satisfy the doctor's natural curiosity? Or to put his proverbial son through medical school? Besides a $35 co-pay for every visit, seeing my poor 2-years old tackled by his dad and screaming from fear until hoarse is just too high a price for not getting anywhere.

I have half the mind to cancel our next appointment. Should I?

This is at least a mildly amusing post, right?

Every night I leave the office, there is a bunch of young volunteers trying to sign pedestrians up for the Save the Child Fund or something like that. Usually they approach you, and if you don’t seem interested or refuse to engage into a conversation, they stop harassing you. Last night I was rushing home to make it to DS’s allergist appointment when I witnessed one of those young people trying to talk to a very attractive pedestrian in a mini-skirt and a tank top. The guy simply refused to take no for an answer and kept on pursuing the woman for about half a block. It was quite obvious that the woman was singled out for her looks and not because of the volunteer’s burning desire (well, that also maybe true) to save the kids. I gleefully thought, “That serves you right, wearing a mini and looking all hot and slutty. That would never, ever happen to me, any more.” No man will ever chase me to engage into a conversation, ask for my phone number or beg to save a child in Africa. No man will ever chase me for any reason. Period. And that’s a good thing, right?

Well, that might not be entirely true. I know one man who would chase me to wash his dirty socks and another one, no quite man yet, to make him chocolate milk, but that’s about it. Eat this, you mini skirt clad model! I bet you don't get to wash anyone’s dirty socks! And that’s a bad thing, right?

Well, my suspicions were confirmed that same night when I was playing with the kids. I didn’t want to sit on the floor, so I took one of their little chairs and was about to sit on it when DD said indignantly, “Mommy, you have a bit butt!” To my, “What?” she replied, “I have a small butt, so I can sit on a kiddie chair, and you have a big butt, so you can’t.” I guess I found a reason why little girls would chase me: to prevent destruction of their little chairs. And that’s a funny thing, right?

Well,someone didn’t get her chocolate milk that night. And that’s not being petty or vindictive, right?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I'm a Superfreak

Last Monday we took DS to allergist. Turns out that he (DS, not allergist, though allergist might be too) is allergic to many things, including soy. So we got asked many questions on his food history, one of the questions revolving around the formula we gave to DS when he was young. Somehow "he was fully nursed and didn't get any formula" didn't sink in as fast as one would hope. So we got asked a few follow up questions," ProSobe? Isomil?" I repeated my previous answer that DS didn't get any formula, milk or soy based. Then I received the oh so dreaded by anyone nursing beyond the standard six months question: "When did you stop nursing?" To which I had to reply,"Um, last night, maybe?" "Oh," said the doc and the examination room suddenly felt even smaller than it was. But only for a short minute because I am so past caring about that.

Don't wreck your brains trying to figure out how old DS is. Next week he will be 28 months (that's two years and 4 months - calculation for those who are not mathematically gifted). Yes, I am still nursing, though not out of conviction, but mostly out of laziness to change things and because I am a pushover. But then again, why should I stop if neither I nor my spouse nor our pediatrician see a problem with it? And one would expect that I would get used to telling this to people of medical profession, who should, at least theoretically, applaud what I am doing. After all, it's only American Pediatric Association recommends nursing until one, European pediatricians insist on at least two years. But every time it is getting harder to admit to our shameful secret because with each time DS is older.

But there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Last time, about five months ago, I went through this confession at a different doctor. Afterwards, I was stopped by the nurse at the office. She said, "I've heard what you told the doctor." Unable to stop myself, I said, "Yes, I know, I am a freak." To which she replied, "When I have my kids, I would love to do what you are doing." Somehow her words embarrassed me even more than anything previously said. If a completely stranger is proud of your accomplishment (and accomplishment it is - I was working full time since DS was two months old), why can't I? So from that point on I refused to be embarrassed.

And now I wear (or at least try to wear) my badge with pride: I am a FREAK!!! I am a SUPERFREAK!!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Can you hear me now?

I know that many parents wonder whether their kids hear them. I think they do, and I even have proof. Whether they listen is another story.

We have an ongoing battle in our house, actually one of many. I am trying to enforce the rule that no food is allowed in bedrooms. If you are a parent or a faithful reader, you already know that pleading, bribing and threats simply don't work on kids. I tried to use consequences. Last time kids dropped dry cereal on the floor of their bedroom, I told them to pick it up. When they didn't, I said that I wasn't going to do it either. However, the much hated and feared water bugs and ants might end up coming to their room because they just LOVE cocoa puffs. It didn't make much difference. I ended up sweeping up the cereal when the kids didn't see me. (I know, not very education, but you see I love water bugs and ants just as much as my children.) I didn't win that one, what can I say...

That same night DD couldn't fall asleep, and I was wondering if another battle was brewing. I left her in her room when all of a sudden I heard her scream. I ran in, and she seemed fine. I asked her what was the matter, and she started pointing at something on the floor. "Bugs, bugs," was the only thing she could say. There weren't any. Then she finally said what she wanted to say for a while, "Cereal. Bugs love cereal." A-ha! She saw one cocoa puff on the floor that escaped cleaning earlier in the day and was scared that the ants and bugs will come to claim it.

Do do they hear you? Oh, yeah. Does it make a difference? Only time will tell...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Radio Days

Had a call this evening from a guy conducting a survey of my radio listening habits. I had him a bit stunned because turns out that my listening habits had been hard to enter into the pre-filled multiple choice options. I have turned from an avid listener to an almost non-listener. (Good thing he wasn't conducting TV watching habits, I probably would've left him speechless.) I listen to the radio on weekends only, and not even every Sunday.

Well, this is not the entire truth. I listen a lot more; actually, forced to listed to a lot more would be more accurate. For example, in the morning I listen to whatever station SubHub subjects me. I am not a morning person. My ideal morning, aside from sleeping in, should include dimmed lights, a quiet trip to the bathroom, a quiet shower, a quiet cup of coffee with a soft cookie (biting into a cracker would be too loud). After the coffee is sufficiently absorbed by the body, then and only then one should be able to talk me, gently whispering, and only if absolutely necessary. I was like this ever since I can remember myself (which used to drive my dear dad crazy). Listening to the radio early in the morning would not occur to me, ever. Let alone at high volume. Let alone in Hebrew, where I only understand proper nouns...

Or let's take work, where some people choose to have little radios in their cubicles. Many of these people are discreet in their listening habits, but the sounds are still easily heard by those who sit nearby. So at work I listen to Christmas songs and carols from October to December and Chinese news all year round. (I am trying not to think about this year's holiday season, which due to the economical slowdown might start in early August...)

Any surprise that l now associate listening to the radio with headaches and oppression and avoid it like a plague?

P.S. I am thinking of introducing my neighbors to a classical music station. During the years of taking music classes I have developed resistance to it, even some appreciation. Wonder what they will think of Carmina Burana and whether forced exposure to Carl Orff constitutes torture under the Geneva convention.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

To Catch a Thief - Movie SubReview

Expectations: This movie was rented for several reasons. Firstly, it was a classic I have never seen. Secondly, it was supposed to be clean (no nudity, etc.). Thirdly, I like a good romantic adventure. And lastly, it got pretty good reviews from the users of Netflix. So here's my experience.

Plot: A reformed jewel thief is accused of stealing again when several robberies, made with his MO, take place in France. He decides to clear his name by trying to find a thief. In the process he meets a rich heiress, and they fall in love.

My take: The plot is, unfortunately, very predictable. Where it is not predictable, it becomes hardly believable mainly because characters' actions and reasoning seem completely illogical and asinine. Character development is almost non-existent; the romance between the two main characters is hardly believable or understandable, especially given the fact that Grant is 27 years older than Kelley. Acting is very mediocre. On the other hand, with the material the actors were given, anyone could hardly act better. The fun and thrill of adventure are simply not there, and he movie doesn't captivate.

The weakest point: Besides what I have mentioned, Cary Grant's tan, instead of intended sex appeal, made me think of skin cancer for the entire duration of the movie.

Redeeming qualities: 1) Grace Kelley was very pretty. 2) The actress playing her mother was very good. 3) It was refreshing to see actresses, while still slim, not sickeningly anorexic. Made me think that one of the actresses, while very popular a few decades ago, would probably never find a job in Hollywood these days.

Objectionable materials: several scenes taking place at the beach.

Bottom line: If watching the movie to familiarize one with American classics, then go ahead. If searching for good entertainment - look elsewhere. It shouldn't be hard to find something entertaining even among the classics.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I am a mother, hear me complain...

I did not forget about my blog, at all. I have actually nursed a few topics in my head, and even written an entry, but I am currently considering whether it is appropriate for posting. As my intuition tells me, if I have doubts, then I should rule on the side of caution. But I will ponder a bit more before finally axing it, if only to torture myself with indecision. One other topic not written yet reviews an old movie I have seen, so I am also considering whether to write something unflattering about actors long dead is appropriate or not. I welcome your opinions.

So here was the safe topic I wanted to write yesterday, but didn't manage to find time. I have complained for a long time to anyone who would listen how exhausting it is to sleep with the kids. We had worked on getting DD to sleep on her own, endeavor which was not successful immediately. Over time staying in her own bed gained DD's acceptance, and with some exceptions she stays in her bed for the night on most nights. DS also warmed up to his crib over the past few months, and now on most nights he sleeps in his bed until around 3 a.m., and then he cries and gets transferred into mine. A dream come true, eh?

No so. I have caught myself, in the middle of a nice stretch, where neither one of my limbs was obstructed by someone else's body... missing the obstructions. I missed a cute face on the pillow next to mine, a chubby cheek to kiss before falling asleep, a warm little baby to cuddle up in the middle of the night. "I need help," I thought. I was complaining about not having monopoly over my bed for the past four years, and once I got it, I missed the cramped style I so resented. I even thought of complaining about NOT having kids in my bed...sick!

This was my supposed post that would've been written Sunday night. The help I sought arrived immediately, that same night. And people say that G-d doesn't listen to their prayers!

I was woken up by DS's cries a little before 4 a.m. I took him out, game him his usual three hundred kisses only to notice that the baby is unusually alert. Uh-oh. I could feel the trouble brewing. I wasn't wrong. The kid was tossing and turning in my bed, occasionally driving me insane with his requests for drink (twice), nursing (thrice), hugs (once) and attention (all the time). Sometimes I obliged, other times I grumbled; occasionally I had a chance to pass out for some indeterminable intervals of time. DS finally fell asleep around 6.30. I don't know what brought on this bout of insomnia, but it sure cured my nostalgia for a cramped bed. At least until tonight... And yeah, it also gave me something to complain about at work.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Peculiarities of parking in Brooklyn

We live on the block with primarily private houses. So common sense would suggest that finding parking there should not be an ordeal because every one of those private houses has a driveway that would easily fit two cars. Easily. Not so. Parking space any time of the day is hard to come by, and after 6 p.m. it is simply non-existent. Since we come home after 7 p.m., parking presents a particular challenge for us. On more than one occasion we circled around the neighborhood for close to 20 minutes, going as far as six blocks away from where we live, only to be unable to find a spot, any spot. And with $200 worth of groceries and two tired toddler in tow, this particular exercise seems even less fun. At the same time, all these driveways are completely empty most of the time, and G-d help you if you block them for more than 30 seconds.

One of our neighbors shows particular devotion to her husband. When she comes home from work around 2 or 3 p.m., she parks her car smack in the middle of two parking spots, so that her husband, who comes home around nine, doesn’t have to look for parking. She simply moves her car into the first spot, and he occupies the second. The idea that someone might desperately need that second spot during the 6-7 hours of her husband’s absence probably doesn’t cross their mind or simply doesn’t bother them. And the funniest thing of all? Their driveway is always empty. Her husband simply could pull into it at any time of the day. But why worry about anyone else?

These peculiar parking habits are unfortunately not unique to our block. The block where we used to live before had similar issues. Again, one of our neighbors could not tolerate anyone other than herself parking in front of her house, which was situated between two driveways. Once hubby had to use that spot because the spot in front of our house was taken (our landlord didn’t let us use the driveway, so we had no option but to park on the street.) The minute we got out of the car, our neighbor started yelling at hubby that he was blocking both her and her neighbor’s driveways. Hubby looked at this woman in complete bewilderment. He wasn’t blocking anything! Our car fit perfectly into that spot. Yet the lady continued to yell that we were blocking her driveway, causing her unimaginable discomfort and pain, and that she would call the cops. Hubby said, “Go ahead.” Of course she didn’t, and even if she did, we got no ticket that day. Again, the most peculiar thing about this exchange was that at the time of her yelling her car was parked at a curbside a few feet from ours. As a matter of fact, it was always parked at the curbside, which left the supposedly blocked driveway free pretty much all of the time. And all that pain and suffering? Probably self-inflicted.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Pilot

Ok, I obviously have too much time on my hands and have nothing else to occupy my mind. So here is the pilot of our show Subjugated! It has pretty much everything a normal show would have: setting, dialog, cultural references, unrealistic elements, product plugs and, of course, a theme song. I even took time out of my busy schedule to write the live audience's reactions.

So here it is.

Subjugated! - The Pilot

(Setting: Barb, Sally Hazel and Subjugated Wife are sitting in an unusually large for Brooklyn living room. They are enthusiastically discussing something among themselves when in comes:

Barb, Sally Hazel, Subjugated Wife (in unison): Moish!!!

Audience: (enthusiastic applause)

Subjugated Moish: Cheers! The entire gang is here. The three musketeeresses! The Three Amigos. The Three Witches of ... never mind.

Audience: (wild laughter)

Subjugated Moish (to the audience): My big mouth always gets me in trouble.

Audience: (laughter)

Subjugated Wife: So what brings you to our unusually large for Brooklyn SubCasa?

Subjugated Moish: Ladies, you are not going to believe what happened to me today. I was on the high...

Subjugated Wife, Barb, Sally Hazel (in unison): No confessions!

Audience: (laughter)

Subjugated Moish: Relax, ladies, not now! I was on the highway when SubHub called my (bleep)* phone and said that there is a potato kugel a-cooking here!

Audience: (applause)

Subjugated Wife: Yes, yes, that's true. SubHub requested that I make this tasteless oily potato mush (pause) AGAIN!!!

Audience: (wild laughter)

Subjugated Wife: He thinks that adding a pound of pepper makes ANY food Sephardi. (rolls eyes)

Audience: (wild laughter)

Subjugated Moish: So what were you doing before I came in?

Barb: Discussing things.

Sally Hazel: bickering really.

Subjugated Moish: A combination of bickering and potato kugel...

Sally Hazel: What is an Ashkenazi marriage? Jewish marriages for $400, Alex.

Audience: (wild roar and long applause)

Barb: That reminds me of a question I wanted to ask for the longest time.

Subjugated Moish: Shoot.

Barb: Don't tempt me. After all I am a Republican and strongly believe that the American people have a right to protect themselves with firearms.

Audience: (five minute applause interjected with the sounds of firing a gun. The show goes into an unplanned break due to the ongoing police investigation.)

(The show resumes.)

Barb: All political joking aside, Subjugated Wife and Subjugated Moish are not married or related to each other, yet you guys both have the same (pause) first names!

Audience: (laughter)

Moish: That's because, Barb, in this life we all are subjugated.

Audience: Awww.

Sally Hazel: That's deep.

Barb: Ditto.

Subjugated Wife: Plus one!

Audience: (laughter)

Subjugated Wife: I better bring out potato kugel before all this philosophizing leads to yet another Moish's confession.

Audience: (laughter and applause)

(Planned commercial break.)

Some Unknown Anorexic Model: You might not believe this, but only two years ago I looked like this. (Shows a picture of herself that looks a little less anorexic.) I felt big, bloated and totally un-hot and couldn't get a modeling job anywhere. Then I went on a low-carb diet and lost all that flab together with my menses, teeth and hair! How cool is that? I finally felt hot, and modeling contracts started lining up! But I still felt a big void in my life - I was missing potato kugel because potatoes are a big no-no on low-carb diets. I started feeling depressed again, and not because my diet lacked all the necessary vitamins and nutrients as some skeptics might suggest. Then I saw the ray of light! I discovered genetically engineered low carb potatoes, grown by our own farmers in Idaho! Now I can have all the potato kugel I want and still keep my figure and my job! Thank you genetically engineered potatoes! Thank you American farmers and scientists! And kids, remember, it's now how you look on the outside, it's how you feel inside that counts!

(We are now back in the unusually large for Brooklyn living room.)

Subjugated Moish: (pointing at the neon blue dish in the middle of the table) SubWife, that is a mighty good kugel.

Sally Hazel: Delicious, if I say so myself.

Barb: One would never suspect that it's made out of genetically engineered neon blue potatoes.

Audience: (laughter)

SubMoish: Audience, this is not funny.

Audience: (laughing louder)

SubMoish: (getting visibly angry) I really mean it. This isn't funny. Please don't upset our sponsors. (turning away from the audience) But really this kugel looks and tastes just like Mrs. Shimanovich's traditional potato kugel, which reminds me of the time when I almost seduced...

Subjugated Wife, Sally Hazel, Barb: (together, exasperated) Not another confession...

Audience: Ha-ha-ha!

Subjugated Moish: (with mischievous smile) Ladies, I just can't help myself.

Audience: (long applause)

(The camera slowly zooms out of the picture.)

(The episode ends in credits to the Subjugated and It Feels So Good tune.)

Note: *Apple refused their sponsorship, so we will be bleeping out the name until they change their mind.


Ok, I am now ready for networks to fight over this masterpiece. Any takers?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

My 10 reasons to blog.

I have been asked repeatedly be several people why I blog. Some people simply do not get it. As much as I hate this cliche, it really is this simple: if you must ask, then you probably won't understand, even if I spend a full day trying to explain. The best proof of this theory is that in the year that I have started reading blogs and writing my own, I almost never saw discussions among fellow bloggers dedicated to this topic. We blog because we must. It is just that simple. If there weren't blogs, we would be keeping diaries, have pen pals or look for some other outlet for this need. But thank G-d there are blogs because writing into the void is a bit depressing. At least with a blog there is a chance that someone will read it and maybe even like it enough to come back to read some more.

But just in case that there is somewhere a non-blogger who might appreciate our need if provided reasons, here are my top ten reasons to blog.

10. Love. I love writing. I always did, since I was about 11, maybe even earlier. There's something inexplicably satisfying in seeing my thoughts written down.

9. Vanity. As much as I love writing, I love it even more when someone reads it. And likes it. (At least I am honest...)

8. Frugality. Let's face it. There is a good chance that I need therapy. Writing provides this free of charge. So even if no one read it, I would probably still write, in my blog or elsewhere.

7. Delusions of Grandeur. Delusion Hope that my life is interesting enough to share with other people and my writing style is funny enough to brighten up their day.

6. Blowing off Steam. I can whine, complain, yell, scream, and express my anger and frustration. And no one gets hurt (emotionally, of course).

5. Efficiency. It seems that blogging is the most efficient way of keeping the most of amount of people updated about your day to day stuff and feelings - in the shortest possible time.

4. Support. Blogging is not only about writing a blog, but also about reading others'. There's something oddly comforting and supporting in knowing that other people go through similar things and feelings.

3. Procrastinating - what better excuse to not do housework?

2. Laughter. I haven't found so much clean good fun anywhere else. There are so many talented people out there writing side-splitting entries on a regular basis. And it's free! Catch them before they get book deals!

1. Hope. 1 in a million that maybe, just maybe this will take me away from accounting to more exciting and interesting things.

If you had to answer this question, what would you say?

Quote of the month - July

...has actually been up for about two weeks already when I came across this little gem. As of now I have decided to keep the June ("These candidates make me want to vomit in terror" by Homer Simpson) quote because it is still so relevant. For all I know, this quote might be there till November.

And now officially introducing the quote of the new month:

"Зачем, друзья, смеяться до упаду,
Ведь можно просто так упасть?"

Александр Пушной

Below is the source. (Again, my apologies to those not speaking Russian. For you - the original.) Enjoy!