Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Medical Mystery Solved, but Not Resolved

So, if you have been following the medical situation from Wife's blog (scroll down to find link on left nav bar), you know that our worst-case fears did not pan out. Thank God/Goddess/everyone. She has a syrinx, which is fluid-filled cyst in her spine, almost certainly caused when she broke her back 11 years ago this month. It has been dormant, until the past 6 months, or so, when random medical symptoms started popping up. She went to various docs to have symptoms checked, and even though she tried to tell them she thought they were all connected to a problem in her back, she was dismissed. Gotta love Western medicine, right?

Perhaps they need to invest in some good business performance management software that could help them be more efficient and actually look at patients as a whole person, not isolated systems. Of course, they would still need training in actually LISTENING to their patients. She was told her isolated symptoms "could not be related." As it ends up, yes, they can. The cyst presses on nerves. This causes tingling, pain, random cold-feeling spots, headaches, and other symptoms.....totally randomly. This is most likely a flair up that may or may not subside, and may or may not come back if it does subside, and may or may not get bigger or cause worse symptoms, and may or may not need surgical intervention at some point. Lots of definites here! It was actually kind of nice that her neurologist admitted that medical science just doesn't know that much when it comes to these things. He does know it could cause all of her symptoms though. That is a relief....to no longer feel like her body is falling apart in several different ways and have no idea why. It is really just one "nerve thing" - a big thing she will have to live with, but still, just one thing, which on the grand scale of possibilities could be much worse. It could also be better. I don't mean to minimize this at all. Sometimes the back pain, headaches and other pains are severe, and the numbness is very draining, at the least. Still...we are both relieved it is not a tumor pressing on the nerves in her spine and that she does not need back surgery at this point.

Thanks to all who have written expressing your concern for our family. We really appreciate your support!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Never to Cold to Play on the Swings

Do you remember when you were a kid how much fun swing sets were? They still are.....I mean for kids. OK, for adults, too, but adults need to stick to the heavy-duty playground versions, not the backyard versions that are not made for us. No, I don't have a story about that.....but I probably would if Wife and I did not use discretion in this matter.

Anyway, the point I was getting to is that 30 degrees is not too cold to go outside and play on the swing set if you are our Little Princess. Several times in the past week, she has headed out to go play on the swing set, despite that Wife and I are freezing every time we step outside. Little Princess needs to be reminded to put on a coat and shoes. She will go out wearing very little, or nothing, actually.

NO! "You have to put on clothes...and a coat....and your boots.....some mittens and a hat would be good, too." Fortunately, she loves to play dress up, and a chance to get into the "winter bag" (where we keep all the scarves, gloves, hats and mittens) is big fun!

Silly, wonderful little girl!

How to Keep My Mind Busy?

I seem to be having a bit of trouble concentrating today. I need a really big, intense...or no.....maybe several small projects at work to keep me busy. I've had a few things to do, but not enough to keep my brain really occupied. This medical stuff we are going through, the uncertainty of it all, is pretty stressful. Still, it is going to all be OK. It has to be.

So, what can I think about instead? School work? Yes, that is a good one, but hard to concentrate on while I am at work. Food? I have snacked my way through the afternoon. Fortunately for my waistline, I do not have many good snacks at my desk, and did not really eat lunch. How about contemporary furniture? I'd love a good, new office chair. I seem to spend a good part of each day parked in it, so it needs to be comfy and ergonomically efficient. How about television? Did you know that I could sit here and watch each episode from the previous seasons of The L Word? YES!

NO! That would be a bad idea for work. Or school. Bad, bad, bad. Still....I could....I'm just saying...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Drama Queens

Don't people whose lives are always filled with drama kind of bug you? Don't you sometimes think somehow they must be bringing it on themselves, or maybe exaggerating a lot of it? Somehow, my life - my family's life all together - has become one of those places. I don't want to go into a lot of details, partly because I do not want to be a drama queen (drama queer?) and partly because I don't have a lot of details. I will briefly say that Wife has some odd and somewhat frightening medical stuff going on. A couple ER visits, complete with medical id bracelets and lots of tests have ruled out some very serious and scary stuff. Great! What we don't have is any answers. We have pending MRI results that may shed light. We are hoping, praying and mediating on a simple problem with a simple solution.

I Love Luggage - A Confession

I believe I have shared my passion for office products on this blog. If not, I should someday, because I know this passion is shared by many. I also love jackets and watches. I don't believe a person can have too many of either one. Something I've not blogged about is luggage. Isn't luggage fun, too? I love messenger bags, backpacks, briefcases, and suitcases, and not just because they hint that a trip may be forthcoming. There is something about finding a bag that feels just right on your shoulder, or in your hand, and has all the right pockets and zippers for everything you need. New luggage has that fresh smell, and all the pouches and zippers are so crisp and clean, and then, as it wears in, its like an old friend, you know just where everything fits and what its particular glitches are, and that's OK in a comforting sort of way. Canvas or leather? There is a place for it all! My new rolling computer case has great pockets that I am wishing I'd had all along. There is one called a "ticket pocket" - it is a not-too-deep pocket right at the top that is intended for airline tickets, but is also perfect for a few things you need handy all the time, like keys and ID badges. How did I live without this pocket for 2 1/2 years of law school?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Nostalgic for the Baby Days

Where does the time go? In only a couple short weeks our Baby Girl turns three years old. How did that happen? It doesn't seem very long ago we were looking at baby cribs and other baby furniture, setting up the room for our pending new arrival. What exciting times those were....all the dreaming and hoping, feeling the new baby kick, preparing our not-quite three-year-old Boy Wonder for his new baby sister. We look back now on the pictures taken around that time and see what a baby he still was himself. Now, "baby sister" is that age. Amazing. Wonderful....and yet, sad that our babies are getting so big.

There's nothing quite like holding a tiny baby, having her fall asleep in your arms, all warm and cuddly against you. New baby smell. Tiny baby clothes. *sigh*

On the other hand, our days of diapers are almost over (our Big Girl only wears a diaper at night, and rarely needs that), both of our kids are strong, healthy and independent. They can do so much for themselves now, and when they are feeling cooperative, are great helpers. We can have real conversations and do real projects with them now. We can play and interact on such totally different levels now, and really see the type of people they are becoming.

This whole parenthood thing is pretty amazing sometimes.

So Much to Do!

Wow it is going to be a busy semester for me and for Wife! I am wondering if I should start making lists:
- get up
- get showered, dressed, eat, take care of animals, interact with Boy if he wakes up
- go to work OR go to internship; work while there
- go to work if at internship
- do homework over lunch if not done and not an internship day
- work some more
- go to school
- eat dinner, call family, say goodnight to kids
- go to one or two classes, depending on the night
- drive home
- see Wife and try to reconnect as I wonder what I did all day
- possibly watch a short amount of tv to decompress
- fall asleep as quickly as possible because the alarm will be going off in about 6 hours

What else? Birthday invitations, communion invitations (well, not so much), call my mom, make dental appointments, pick up milk on the way home, order prescription dog food, send Wife cute ecard, go to kitchen to get MORE COFFEE!

Well, you get the idea. Wife's list is different from mine, but no shorter, in fact, it is amazing how much one can/must do in even one hour with two kids at home. Crazy!

So far, for me this semester is still new and mostly fun. In a few weeks, I am sure I will be ready for this semester to be over and summer fun to start!

Information in an Instant

Does anyone remember how we shopped for things before the internet?

Oh, right, stores.

But how did we learn about the things we wanted to buy? How did we research before we could have reviews and wiki articles at the press of a few buttons?

Oh, right, we talked to people.


If I slow down and think about it, I am amazed that within moments I can have information about books I might want to buy, recipes, parts for a car, stereo systems, cell phones, patch panels, sporting goods, airline tickets, movie reviews and a gazillion more things! I can do research and make informed decisions - or I can make a purchase without even thinking about it, have it sent to my home without ever seeing it and it could be in my living room tomorrow without me ever stepping foot out of my house. I guess all this consumer knowledge has increased our expectations. I wonder if it has made for more critical consumers. I doubt that it has created more quality products, because there will always be a full spectrum of quality. Still.....isn't the amount of info available in mere moments astounding?

(This is a drift beyond consumerism, but still related to the topic:)
I don't recall feeling deprived of information when I used to have to look things up in encyclopedias ( I LOVED my encyclopedias) and other books, but WOW, what a whole new world my kids are growing up in, and what a whole new world I've seen develop in my lifetime.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

...and We're Off!

The new semester has started off with a bang! (Where the heck did that phrase come from...maybe a racing term?) I started my internship yesterday, worked for about 4 hours at my regular job, and experienced two of my four new classes! Wow! What a busy day! So far - so good!

Even though it seems like I am doing a lot of running around, the reality is, I am at a computer most of my days and evenings. If only I had more time at home I could consider using some exercise equipment to work out my body and not just my mind. We have a great treadmill! I suppose walking to and from my car counts for a bit of exercise, but not enough. Perhaps as spring erupts (you know, in a few more months), I can get outside and walk during lunch. I can almost feel the sunshine on my face. Until then....well, I will be doing a lot of parking and walking. Guess that will have to do!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Honest Words for Prospective Law Students

I heard from quite a few people over the Holidays who apparently look at me as an inspiration - going back to school later in life, raising kids, doing the full-time job thing - and I wanted to say both "thank you" and "it's not as easy as I may make it seem." Some of you emailed me for advice about how much time it really takes and what I think about their specific situation. I've written back to those who wrote, but for others out there, let me be really honest for a moment.

OK - yes - I'm always honest, but I tend to focus on the fun stuff, because why get bogged down in the muck? There is muck. Believe me, there is muck.

For me, law school has been mostly fun and I hope it was a good choice. It was a very expensive choice that I will pay back for a good portion of the rest of my life. It has been a lot of sacrifice for me, and even more so for my family, because it was not entirely their choice to have me not at home more often than not. I am missing much more of seeing my kids grow up than if I was just working during the days. They would have me each evening and weekend. My wife has had to take on almost every household task there is - other than the grocery shopping that we do together, and a few minor things. (Thank you, Wife. You Rock!) The partner really gets the raw end of this deal, and I really recommend that anyone considering this crazy path talk it out extensively with their spouse, or anyone else in the family that will suddenly be fending for themselves, or for themselves and the younger members of the family - and the furry members of the family. I know everyone's situation is different, some will have to work full time, others part time, some not at all. Whatever your situation, figure out how often you will be in class, when you will study and how you will fit it into your schedule. If you will no longer have time for laundry or grocery shopping, figure out how it will get done.

Besides not having enough time, new law students are likely to face more academic stress than they ever have before. There is nothing quite like being graded based on one 3-hour final when you have no clue if you even understood anything during the semester. You may not have a single assignment, other than reading, by which you can test your knowledge. For some, after the first semester, it's not a huge deal, for others, it is always a huge deal.

What else? The law student will be meeting new people and learning new and interesting things that the partner likely knows nothing about, and probably does not care about. This can really create tension between people. The non-law student partner may be intimidated by the new career their spouse will take on, or may just be resentful of the time taken away from him or her. There are a lot of social dynamics at play, and they have to be dealt with on an ongoing basis. Law school is the end of several relationships. (Not our, Thank God, but we've had our rocky times, especially during the first year.)

What's the up side? Heck - you're going to law school! It's something many want to do, but a lot never get the opportunity to do. You will become a lawyer, or at least, get your JD, which if you are thinking of law school, is something you probably really want. It is a challenge. It is a great challenge and is fun, and many of us kind of get off on the stress, in a weird sort of way. You will increase your income potential (of course, I have also increased my debt proportionately). You will increase your social status, perhaps. People will either be impressed or mistrustful when they hear you want to be (or are) a lawyer. You will meet some really interesting people. You will learn some interesting things....and some really boring things, too. Some days you will love your classes, and others days, you are just counting the days until you get out.

If you really want to go to law school, and you have a family and a job - it is not going to be easy. It can be done, but it will be hard, and often, the hardest part will not be the academics, but the challenge of balancing the different areas of your life and not having enough time for any part of it. You will not be able to do as good of a job as you want in your school work, or spend enough time with your family. I have learned that good enough has to be good enough. I don't regret my decision - but I do regret certain things that have happened along the way....like missed bedtime stories, and not enough leisurely Saturday mornings with my family, and overburdening my wife with all the things I am not around to help accomplish. I have to believe it will be worth it for us. I hope for those of you taking the leap, you look carefully first.

Dreamin' of a Winter Escape

The winter weather has set in, cold, rainy, but no snow. So, all the "yuck" with none of the "yeah!" Wife wants to go to the beach, which is fun during a storm, but as there are snowy mountains between here and there, that is unlikely to happen until the weather warms up. Then, we were thinking, maybe a mountain retreat - play in the snow, enjoy a cozy fire and hot tub after the kids are asleep....but you still have to get there. Both of us HATE driving in even possibly icy conditions. So, there is not likely to be such an escape for us. Given all of that, it is hard not to start thinking about Condo Hotels someplace warm and tropical....or warm and Disney-ish :) For now, with the start of the new semester just three days away, it is just a dream, but it is a good one!

Ringing in the New Year

Ah, January 2008. A whole new year! Wait - that should be capitalized - A Whole New Year! Yes, that is better :) It is time to put the often sad and hard times of 2007 behind us and look to a bright, joyful future. We clean out old clothes and toys, making way for the fruits of Christmas and after-Christmas shopping. We look forward to our tax return, consider our finances, think about new home insurance quotes, and apply for financial aid for the upcoming (and final!) school year. We plot and plan new online businesses, vacations, and the fun family times ahead after a mere 4 months left of classes. We are hopeful that the New Year will be filled with love, laughter, prosperity and fun! We hope that for our family - and for yours!

Happy 2008!!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Bitten by the Shopping Bug

I am generally not a huge fan of shopping. I need to have something in mind and don't really enjoy browsing in hopes that something appeals to me. This weekend, WOW, did the shopping bug hit for both Wife and I! We ended up not only at two local malls, but spent the better part of a day at an outlet mall about 40 minutes from home. I was really looking for a blazer or two for my new internship. Most of my current work clothes are fairly casual (dockers and sweaters or a button-up shirt mostly), and I wanted to be sure that I had more than just my one good suit should I need to play dress-up. Some expected meetings will occur in our state's capital, so I figure I better look good. Well - wow - did we have fun!

Over the past two days I ended up with two pairs of shoes (one was a replacement for a Christmas present of a pair that didn't quite fit and had to be returned), a nice blazer (50% off), a good suit (60% off!), two blouses chosen by Wife who is better at this than I am - and she chose the blazer,too - and we both got new leather jackets at 70% off. Wife also got new boots, a blouse and a sweater. We spent a fair amount, but got a TON for the amount actually spent. (A good portion of it was Christmas present money - thanks, Mom!)

Seems I really enjoy dressing up in nice suits and quality shoes :)

Now, if only my internship was paid......!
(Did I mention they wanted to pay me, but it is against ABA rules to get paid for work for which you will receive credit? Almost killed the internship since their HR dept. had to figure out how to juggle the paperwork!)

Today, for me, it is back to the real world to earn some money for all those fancy clothes - and back to school for Boy Wonder. It sure has been a fun break for us all!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A Short Round of 5 Things...

OK - I accepted an unofficial tag from Patti. Seemed like a fun way to spend a bit of my lunch time:

5 Things I Never Pictured Myself Doing When I Was 25:

- Going to law school

- Going to law school while working full-time

- Going to law school while working full-time and raising two children with my wife of over 13 years

- Thinking 7 animals in our family is normal, and it feeling weird as the number has gone down

- Sitting with my pink-loving, princess-dress-wearing daughter having a tea party and helping her feed all of her various (mostly pink) babies and friends. (Sweet, right?)

5 Places I'd Like to Visit Before I Die:

-Disneyland (yes, again and again and again!)
-Machu Picchu

Toon Town Fun for Boy Wonder

Boy Wonder is having such fun playing Toon Town (online Disney game)! It is nice to see this is not just another present sitting on the floor, only to be played with for five minutes at a time. (He sometimes needs a playmate to help him stay occupied with anything other than computer games. One of the pitfalls of being a first child, I suspect.) Toon Town is so much fun - lots of different things to do, all with underlying tasks to accomplish, should you choose. The Boy often plays this game alone, but prefers one of the Moms to sit with him. Wife plays the game alone, when she gets a chance. She has been able to build up our character's abilities.

One of the games you can play is race car driving. The car, like all good toon gear, gets pulled out of your character's pocket, tossed on the floor, and magically become full-sized. The car you start with is nice, but as I recall you can earn jelly beans to customize it with spoilers, a fancy billet grille, chrome trim, or a nicer paint job. The race, over a country road, is kind of long though, so none of us races very often. If it were shorter, it would probably be more popular with us, because it is fun.

Much of our toon time is spent fishing (to earn jelly beans, which are like money) and fighting cogs, which are like evil robots which are taking over Toon Town. Fights consist of swapping gags like squirts from a seltzer bottle and pies thrown in the face. Lots of good, clean fun!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A Wonderful Holiday Season

Today I am reluctantly back at work, slogging through mountains of email (mostly junk) and wishing I was having fun with the family. Yeah! It is great that Wife, the kids and I just spent 12 days together without making each other crazy and we all still want more! The good part is that I will have two three-day weekends coming up before going back to school! Yippee!! (Wife, did you catch that? I can take Friday off!) I've sucked up all but 4 hours of my vacation time, but it was well worth it. We all needed some good family time, cozy nights by the fire and mornings to sleep-in. (For you non-parents, "sleeping in" means 7:30, on lucky days!)

Christmas was spectacular! Lots of wonderful gifts to and from all. (Yes, I did receive a great new rolling computer case for those who read about my Christmas present wish!) Kids received great presents for Mom to play with - with them, of course. (OK, well, one night, I did play with this one by myself and left a model for son to find in the morning.) I was thrilled that my Mom and her husband generously gifted our kids with Toobeez, which are similar to the Giant Tinkertoys I remember from when I was a kid. The kids and I have already had lots of fun building things - a fort/ volleyball net with Boy Wonder and a crib and swingset for the Little Princess. I would bet some photos will eventually make their way from Wife's blog.

So much fun was had, but really, most of it would probably not be that entertaining to read. So, let me leave you with this thought for the day:

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my loyal readers, those that drop by occasionally, and those that just stumbled upon my blog! May 2008 be a wonderful, interesting year with lots of happy surprises for us all!