In Which I Likely Garner the Hatred of Many Anti-Vaxxers (sigh)

I have a few anti-vax friends.  A few.  It’s one of those “differences of opinion” I try to be tolerant of because it doesn’t really affect either my friendship with these people, or the goodness in their hearts.

That said, the anti-vax stance does annoy the piss out of me.  Especially when proponents of the movement assert that we who do vaccinate our kids are “harming them.”  The beautiful thing about science is you don’t actually have to agree with a given scientific fact or body of data for it to be true.  And the science behind vaccines and how the immune system works to build immunity is sound.

In addition to the host of groups on Facebook that have cropped up “against vaccination,” there is now a group specifically for refuting their claims.  Today, a post that’s probably at least two to four years old is once again circulating Facebook, the main claim being that the Supreme Court has held that vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe.”

This may sound damning at first glance, but used in a legal context, it does not mean what many people think it does.

In legal beagle:

“An unavoidably unsafe product isn’t necessarily by its nature dangerous. Rather, it’s a product that is incapable of being made safe for its intended and ordinary use. Courts generally look at 4 criteria to determine if a product is unavoidably unsafe: how the product was prepared, how it was marketed, the utility of the product compared to its risk, and whether there are any alternatives available. ” (source)

One of the four main criteria for determining whether or not a given substance is “unavoidably unsafe” involve whether or not the benefits outweigh the risks (which has been deemed so in the case of vaccines.)

Another big one, likely where the term “unavoidably” comes from, is the absense of other options to achieve the same ends.

“There must not be any other way to fully achieve the intended purpose of the product. If there’s an alternative product that would be as effective in accomplishing the purpose of the product then the product may not be unavoidably unsafe. In determining if there’s an alternative, courts have considered the risk avoided by the alternative and the cost, benefits, and relative safety of the alternative.” (source)

Now, as I mentioned, the majority of the scientific community have already refuted, based on intensive studies, the idea that vaccines cause autism.  The supreme court has ruled vaccines “unavoidably unsafe,” barring incidences where there were there was actual evidence that the manufacturer of a given vaccine had a “reasonable” expectation of maleffects versus the benefits.  (source)

A commenter on one of the FB page articles mentioned that there is no refuting the science behind vaccines (although many anti-vaxxers do just that), it’s just specific stablizing ingredients for the vaccines that might be called into question. That said, I am still for vaccinating.  When people talk about “vax injured kids,” I can’t help but ask myself a bunch of questions.

Namely, what evidence do they have that it was the vaccine that injured their kid and not something else?   Only their own belief based solely on personal anecdotal “evidence?” (In other words, they “saw” a change in their kid right after a vaccine was administered.)  Was this the same type of potential reaction that any drug cold have for any person, or was this specific to some questionable ingredient in the vaccine? Why do vaccines that millions safely receive allegedly “injure” a relatively small percentage of the population?  And like any other drugs, which carries risk of side effects, why do people choose to ignore the real risk that comes from non-vaccination in favor of the idea, now debunked, (whether they believe it or not is irrelevant in this case because the scientific community has largely debunked this idea) that vaccines could cause injury? Would they rather have a child with polio than autism? If their child got a routine illness, would they also be reticent to give them “unavoidably unsafe” medicine that could help cure them?  Are vaccines only under attack because they prevent horrible diseases instead of curing a disease that the parent can see with their own eyes?

My experience with some of these anti-vaxxers leads me to the opinion that they live in a society that has greatly benefitted from vaccines in terms of how many people no longer get common diseases, but they refuse to credit vaccines with any of that. Their denial is a luxury they have I guess since they don’t live a poor, disease ravaged area.

These people like to cite the increase in autism in recent years. To me it seems that facts indicate more the changing definition of autism and autism spectrum than they do an “increase” in autism.   I have no doubt that in years past, many children and adults were on the spectrum before there was a spectrum, or before the word “autism” became known.

I have argued with many an aggressive anti-vaxxer (those people not content to simply forego vaccination for their own kids, they want everyone to know about it) and when presented with the scientific sources I furnish, they inevitable fall to criticizing the sources, claiming them corrupt and part of some big pharma and government conspiracy to obfuscate the truth.  They don’t trust the CDC.  My question to them is why should I trust their “crunchy mom” statistics and sources more than my own scientific sources? (source)

They believe it is their right to not vaccinate their own children, but believe their children should not be denied access to public resources due to their non-vaccinated status.  They do not “believe” in herd immunity   and have their own “sources” to refute it, sources that usually lead directly back to anti-vax groups and relying on the idea that diseases have cycles which naturally result in the eventual strengthening of the population.   Gee, that sounds nice…unless you are one of the many generations that must suffer catastrophic complications or death while the population “strengthens over time.” (Click here for a study on what happens in a country when the confidence in vaccines breaks down.)  Parents of children too young to be fully vaccinated or whose children have contracted diseases from voluntarily unvaccinated people disagree with your assertion that herd immunity is not a fact. (source)  (source 2)

Again, I ask, what makes the anti-vaxxer sources any more reliable than the myriad of governmental and scientific community sources.

For the purposes of answering the claim that the push for vaccination is more about money and government “conspiracy” than public health and safety, I leave you links to a list of non-government affiliated science related resources on vaccination information.



Finally, I’d like to state that as a mother, I feel for the parents of injured children whether or not a vaccine was the cause, and I totally understand the desire to find a reason and make sense your child’s injury or affliction.  I also recognize the fact that many conditions that either do not make themselves apparent or are not diagnosed until early childhood correspond with the timing of many childhood vaccines.  Neither am I negating the idea that some children are sensitive to vaccines.  But being sensitive to a drug is not the same as being “injured” by its alleged inherent dangerousness.

Also, as always, feel free to comment, but owing to the often sensitive nature of the discussion involving the health of our children, our most precious and treasured blessings, I will reiterate my comment policy.  If you are rude or flame either myself or other commenters, your comment will not make it past moderation.  Call it censorship or whatever you want, but I prefer my blog to be a safe haven for discussion.

Some more resources:


US Dept Health and Human Services

Ah, me…

Hi, guys! Sorry I haven’t posted much lately.  Thought I’d stop by and just sorta explain myself to any of my regular readers (bless you guys!) I haven’t been feeling really well lately.  What started as just really bad allergies (super-reactive skin, eyes so dry and itchy I couldn’t wear my contacts, and mild asthmatic episodes) blossomed into hives and swollen ankles, foot pain, and using my inhaler multiple times a day.  I was already taking everything under the sun to control the allergy symptoms- multiple OTC antihistamines, eye drops, NSAIDs .  I finally went to the ER, mostly out of concern that maybe there was a vascular component (I had my reasons.)  They checked my blood and did a chest x-ray, gave me a lot of steroids, a breathing treatment, and a RX antihistamine, and sent me on my way. That week, I had an unrelated doctor appointment, and my blood pressure was high.  Like, really high.  170/120.  It had been high at the ER too, but I don’t know what exactly, just that it set their monitor off.  *blush*.  Some of it may have had to do with the meds I was on.  Apparently, several of them have the side effects of elevated BP, including steroids.  But the situation still needed to be addressed.  I went to my family doc at the end of the week about the breathing issues, (which was the only one of the symptoms I had in the ER that still lingered,) and my BP was bad again, so bad ,my doctor made me take a pill in the office and lay down for a bit.  She put me on three new meds, two for BP and one for what she termed RAD (Reactive Airway Disease) (1, 2.)  Saturday was rough.  I felt crappy.  I chalked it up to getting used to the blood pressure meds.  I also had what I think is acid reflux, and I am wondering which of my meds is the likely culprit.  Sunday, my headache and general shittiness was feeling better but my throat felt like I had swallowed a handful of razor blades…around a lump in my throat. Anyway, I have a call into the doctor to see which med needs adjusting to eliminate the acid reflux, and I no longer have that headachy, drag-ass feeling I had on Saturday.  I feel better knowing my BP is getting under control.  My birthday is this weekend, and I’m only turning 34…so why am I such a hot mess?  All this “sick” and “gross” is interrupting my campaign to be the best (healthiest) me I can be, as I don’t feel much like exercising and am sort of afraid to let my BP go too high until it’s more controlled. I’ve been a bit emotional due to stress and feeling so bad, but I hate how whiny I sound when I talk about all of this…like one of those weird, middle-aged women you sometimes come across in a Walmart or someplace, who, apropos of nothing, regales you with all of their many health issues, all because you had the bad luck to look in their direction or offer a friendly greeting while you both stood in line for your prescriptions. images (2) But…   But.   I keep looking forward.  I will get this situation under control.  I will feel better, and I will get into the best shape of my life.  All this summer!  But for now, I will give myself a little break.

FML: The Inciting Incident

This morning was…awful.  I’m not often very free with the whole “FML” thing that gets so much play on Facebook, mostly because it’s usually said apropos of some self-indulgent, first world problem.  As in:

“On noez!  Didn’t sleep a wink last night and my cat drank the last of the coffee this morning! FML!”  … Or…whatever.

But I swear, yesterday and its transition into this morning definitely made me feel like busting out the “fuck my life,” for realz.

Let’s start with around Monday morning when I woke up with a pretty decent sore throat, worse than any I usually get.  So I plied it with Lipton Noodle soup, ice water, and popsicles.  My sodium Monday night was probably in the stratosphere from all the packaged soup.  I took an Ambien to try to get some sleep, and ended up eating ten Ricola cough drops at some point in the night…and some peanut butter I don’t remember.  Between my slightly clogged nose, and having to pee from all the water and soup I drank, and my throat of course, I didn’t sleep very well.

I had some mild sinus issues, sinus pressure, clogged nose, an occasional sneeze– really less severe than any cold I ever had– but that sore throat was kicking my ass!  Felt like I swallowed razor blades.  Long story short (at least this part,) I was worried about strep so I went to the clinic at Walmart (because I didn’t feel like wasting gas and driving 20 miles out to see my NP.)  “Quick Strep” test was negative.  Diagnosis:  Still could be strep, or maybe develop into tonsillitis, so “Here’s a script for Amox to hold onto in case it doesn’t clear up in a couple days.”  Diagnosis: prob some allergy/viral thing.

After I left the clinic, throughout the afternoon, I developed this unproductive, hacking cough.  My throat just got worse and worse.  I tried everything I could think of.  Gargling with Listerine and salt water and peroxide, drinking hot soup, eating popsicles, drinking icy smoothies; I plied it with hot and cold all day long again.  Benadryl, benzocaine cough drops, Musinex, Aleve, Tylenol-3…   Nothing helped, and I’m sure some things made it worse.  I was in so much pain, and couldn’t sleep.  Kept feeling compelled to cough, which just irritated- no, destroyed– my throat even more.  Basically between the extreme pain and the coughing, my throat started to swell.  This kept the coughing going worse.  Do you know how impossible it is to deny a cough reflex?  I started to wheeze and have problems breathing.

At about 12:30 am (Wednesday) we dragged my little girl out of her peaceful slumber and headed to the ER.


This is where “shit got real.”

The trip from my apartment to the hospital is like 4 minutes.  I shit you not.   Nevertheless, disaster managed to strike.  A beautiful young buck running in the grassy area on my side of the road.  I won’t say the rest was slow motion, per se, but I remember it in pretty vivid detail.

“Deer, deer!” I said to my husband.

The deer kept running, doing his dodgy little hops to where you can never tell precisely which was they are going to break and run in the end.  But of course, of all the ways he could run, he chose the road.  Hubby had slowed some, but he was actually looking across at the other side of the road for the deer.  We hit it, not too hard, but hard enough, and it seemed to roll/ slide across the road as we went by.  We slowed to a stop and pulled over, and my eye was out the rear window at the deer, which had come to rest directly in the middle of the road.  We asked J* if she was okay; we all seemed to be fine.  I was really upset, upset that we had hit the deer, upset that my child saw it happen…  I had forgotten my phone so I told hubby to keep going to the hospital and we’d call the police from there to report it…

And then the deer sat up, and started flopping its back end in a spasmodic effort to get up.  And I lost it.  It was still alive, but too injured to get up.   I was crying, but without tears, and trying to keep a hold of myself for my kid’s sake.  She would ask “Mommy, ‘kay?   ‘S wrong, Mommy?”  And I just said, “Mommy doesn’t feel good..”  Meanwhile I’m also thinking, oh, this is great for my breathing, this is all I need… and

What do we do?  It’s still alive.  We don’t have any way to put it out of its misery, and even if we did…   and, perhaps somewhat improbably

If this feels this horrible, what do people that hit other people feel like???

It wasn’t catastrophic.  It could have been a lot worse.  But at the time, it felt catastrophic.

Someone had stopped to ask if we were okay and hubby had waved them off.  But they had turned around and sat about 100 feet back behind us, where the deer lay.  I guess they were maybe sitting there so no one unsuspectingly came along the animal and wrecked, or maybe they were waiting to see what we’d do (or waiting so we’d leave and they could take it home to eat???)

When we got to the hospital, I rasped out what happened (by this time my voice was mostly gone, and talking above a whisper was very painful.)  The nurse called the security guard and as they were discussing the exact location of our unfortunate accident, she said, it had come over the scanner; someone else had called it in.

So back to my original problem… I sat in the ER and waited…. miserable.  Miserable for my husband, who had no sleep and a budding migraine and had to work at 8am.  Miserable for my little girl, who was nonetheless extremely pleasant and peppy for being woken in the middle of the night.  Miserable for that deer.  The moment the deer impacted the grill of our truck (which is demolished, btw) I felt it in my heart.  How to explain.  There’s no logic except for that strange sort of self-flagellating logic– “this is my fault, if only I hadn’t made him take me to the hospital, I’m a shitty navigator, I should have told him where the deer was, he’s gotten no sleep and now he has a migraine too and …if only we had killed it outright, I hope someone put it out of its misery soon, it didn’t die but it will and we killed it, nothing should die on the road like that…”

Ironically, when I mentioned to the doc we had hit a deer on the way over, he basically congratulated us.  I think he asked us if we took it home, so he must not have realized that we had literally just hit it.  I guess that’s Kentucky for you.

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So… you wanna know what happened to me?  Thanks for asking.  Real quick– x-rays of soft tissues in my neck, nebulizer breathing treatment, steroids to also help the reduce massive swelling in my throat.  Ativan after the nebulizer treatment made me jittery/shaky/anxious wonky (it’s a mega stimulant, and you guys know I’m already a bundle of nerves.)  600 mg ibuprofen for the pain (THAT didn’t do squat, ya know, but at least I could breathe again.)

Being able to breathe, all the aches and pains from coughing all day, my chest, back, and neck, surfaced.  And I was soooo tired.  Physically, mentally, emotionally.  I dunno if you’ve even felt it, the way that sustained pain and anxiety can take a toll on your body.

My throat is still extremely raw and sensitive, and now that the “inciting incident,” as the doctor so aptly put it, is over, the aftermath.  Trying to forget the look of the deer trying in vain to gain its feet.  The worry about how hubby is doing at work on four hours sleep and a migraine, the hospital bills that will come in the mail (just add it to the rest of the hospital bills.)


at least I can breathe…

365: The Journey to “Less”

I wish I could remember where I saw it, so I could give some credit to the author…  Even if she didn’t come up with the idea herself, she certainly inspired me.

Well, that, and the fact that I have been feeling increasingly overwhelmed, burdened if you will, by all my possessions.   As I once told my husband, albeit a little less eloquently, “We’ve got too much shit.”  Not only is this probably the case with most people, it never becomes more evident than when you are packing to move…or unpacking after a move…still…   Two and a half years later…  And yet, often times I have a hard time letting go.  My internal dialogue is usually a variation of one of three themes;

1) I may need it at a later date (we all know this one)

2) It was a gift from so-and-so (Guilt is such a useless feeling, and yet so persuasive…)

or  3)  Well, just throwing it out would be a waste; I should find someone who can use it

So as I lay curled in a semi-face down fetal position last night, riding the thankfully ebbing waves of a migraine and trying not to puke, I began to think, once again, of all the shit  I have.  Not necessarily talking “hoarder” level here, just a lot of knickknacks and long unworn clothing and, well, just stuff we really don’t need.

Especially in this tiny apartment, I sometimes feel buried by stuff, tied down by stuff.  If you wanna leave a place, you have to figure out the hows and wheres and whys and how-much of moving all your stuff  too.

So I decided to give this unnamed writer’s ide

a a try.  The concept is simple.  Get rid of/throw away at least one item a day.  At the end of a year, you have gradually, and in a non-overwhelming and non-invasive way, whittled down your collection of useless stuff.  I don’t know if she has any rules.  I’m just going to start easy.  Today, I got rid of a couple of bottles of toiletries I don’t really need.  Like, I said, you only need to do one a day, but I figured any extras I can get rid of on any given day would just be a bonus.  After all, why hold onto it if I know I don’t need it?

Anyone else have difficulties letting things go and wanna do this with me?  (Moral support, people and baby steps.)

Today is "get rid of cat that pisses on bed" day. Just kidding...maybe.

Today is “get rid of cat that pisses on bed” day.
Just kidding…maybe.

“Dogs are not kids.”

Becoming a mom has definitely changed me.  I’ve never been a kid person.   But my kid is fucking awesome!  

And now I am noticing something I hadn’t really noticed until I started posting on social media and reading comments on articles online; when the topic of kids comes up, it’s amazing how many people are hateful about children!

This morning, I saw this article on things parents shouldn’t say to non-parents.  If you don’t wanna read the whole thing, I’ll just outline the points.

1) “Dogs are not Kids”- based on the premise that the people that always compare their pets to our kids actually do know this.

2) “You think you’re [insert anything here]? Try having kids!”  Okay, I get what they’re saying about playing down others’ feelings, but if I’m exhausted from being up with my sick child, I don’t wanna hear about your post bar-hopping hangover woes.

3. “Don’t worry, when you have kids you’ll…”  Firstly, the author is insulted that parents assume everyone wants kids.  I definitely agree that’s not the case, and it does sound a bit condescending…

4. “Is the party kid-friendly?”  I don’t see what the big deal is with this one.  The author posits that unless you and your friend have a tacit understanding that your kids are always welcomed, you should assume they’re not.  I personally think it should be the other way around.  You call yourself my friend?  Then you’ll know chances are that I prefer to do things with my husband and child rather than without.  Common sense.  At any rate, why should even asking this question be discouraged?  By being insulted by the mere question, you’re just opening the door for miscommunication.

5. “My life didn’t have meaning before I had kids!”  The author seems to assume this statement of personal feeling implies something about their life without children.  To which I say, if that’s how you feel, the problem is with you, not me!  I have not ever personally uttered this phrase because I don’t feel my life was meaningless before, just that it has more meaning now.  But if I was to say it to a non-parent, it would not be to infer that I think their life is consequently meaningless, it would just be a statement of how I felt.

A couple of weeks ago I ran across a question on Yahoo! Answers asking people what they thought of a restaurant that banned kids under 18 (not a bar, a restaurant.)  Almost without exception, the “answerers” were either under eighteens who felt this was insulting and discriminatory, and responses like “This is a great idea!,” full of inferences that if a person had an upset toddler they couldn’t possibly  be a good parent.  Let me tell you guys a secret…

I used to feel this way. 

But– and you may not want to hear it– this IS one thing you can not know until you have your own kid… no matter what you think you’d do, or how you “plan” to be with your kids (should you wish to have them,) it is subject to change; you never really know what you’ll feel comfortable doing until you have to do it.  I always thought if my kid acted up, I’d just bust her ass the way my mom did my sis and I when we were kids.  We aren’t “emotionally scarred” (not much  But now that I have a daughter, I find myself loath to lay a hand on her in anger.  It’s just not how I want our relationship to be.  I’m not the same disdainful towards kids person I was before.  

And the fact is that some people seem to forget that children are people too.  They have feelings and thoughts and needs, and often not the maturity to frame them properly.  And yet, by the way some adults behave, that sometimes never changes.  Some people forget that they were kids once too.

At any rate, where’s the list of things that childless people shouldn’t say to parents, like telling us how to raise/discipline our kids, and or (#1) comparing their dog to our kids?  My cats and dogs have always been like family to me, my furry kids.  But…they do not require the same time, attention, or responsibility as a real child.  Deal with it.


Ha! Joke’s on you! My kid already knows how to swear!

  • Parents (

Everything You (N)ever Wanted to Know About Chiggers

Mosquitoes are a big problem for a good portion of the year, from when it begins to regularly warm up, until it frosts over in the fall.  And if you live in certain parts of the country, chiggers can be a big nuisance as well.  And there is a lot of misinformation and wives tales about chiggers, so I’ve compiled a short list of points of which I wanted clarification or verification.

Chiggers do not burrow under your skin, as many people believe, nor do they feed on animal blood. They actually feed on the fluids in skin cells. To get the fluids, they attach themselves to a skin pore or hair follicle and inject a digestive enzyme that ruptures the cells. The enzyme also hardens the surrounding skin tissue, forming a sort of straw for sucking the skin cell fluids. The whole process irritates the skin, causing an itchy red bump that continues to cause discomfort for several days. Chiggers are only about 1/50th of an inch (0.5 mm) in diameter and so are too small to be seen with the naked eye. This invisibility is the reason so many people believe chiggers burrow under the skin.

One commonly known remedy for chigger bites is to apply nail polish to reduce itchiness. This does not kill the chigger or treat the bite in any way. It simply seals the area off from the air, which keeps the sore from itching so badly. If you want to apply something to relieve itching, it’s much better to use a salve or cream that contains antihistamines.  (source)

 For humans, itching usually occurs after the larvae detach from the skin. (Wikipedia)

This summer I received a frantic call from a customer who thought his steps and sidewalk were being invaded by chiggers (sometimes called red bugs).  After listening to some more details I was able to diagnose over the phone that it was not chiggers but clover mites.  (source)

Feeling crawly?  There are a few reasons that could be, ranging from allergies, reactions to products, and, of course, biting insects or arthropods.

“Well, my bites don’t look like chigger bites,” you may say.  Sometimes chigger bites may look as innocuous as mosquito bites.


Or…. they may look like a porcupine exploded on your ankles and you spent the better part of a day pulling out quills.


Generally, the adult chiggers eat vegetation; it’s the nymphs that tear some people up.

 They crawl onto people and move upward until they encounter a point of constriction between skin and clothing, such as around the ankles, behind the knee, or at the waistline. Chigger bites produce a hardened, red welt which begins to itch intensely within 24-48 hours after exposure to the mite. Consequently, people may not associate the irritation with the fact that they were bitten while walking outdoors a day or two before. Delayed irritation following a “bug” bite is also common with such pests as mosquitoes and ticks, as well as with the contact dermatitis which results from exposure to poison ivy/poison oak.

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Let me just reiterate…in case it wasn’t clear the first time, chiggers do not burrow under your skin.  For some reason, that is a myth a lot of people are loath to let go of.  For my part, I’d rather NOT think of bugs under my skin.

Chiggers can’t burrow. If left undisturbed, they’ll keep eating for several days. Even when attached, however, they’re easy to brush off — especially when taking a warm, soapy shower

People typically don’t feel chiggers, even when the mites insert their mouthparts. Humans’ first clue that chiggers are around usually comes 6 to 8 hours later, when the bites finally start to itch.

So, anyhoo…you’re very welcome for that grody public service announcement.  Hope it helped clear up any nagging arthropod questions you may be having.   Til next time…

Peace out.

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This time last year…

This time last year was a bad time for me.  I lost my grandmother and my cat in the same week.  I didn’t make it back to my home state for my grandmother’s funeral…and I buried my cat, my longtime buddy, in a blanket in the park.  My grandma died in a hospital after succumbing to injuries from a fall.  My beloved Neeners died in my lap on the way to the vet’s office for what was to be a second opinion.

I still have a strange feeling of unreality when it comes to my grandma’s passing; maybe it’s from lack of closure because of not being able to be at her funeral.  Most of the time, my grief is sort of a dull sadness that resides in the back of my mind.  The other day, I happened on a photo of her holding my daughter when J* was about three months old, and I suddenly felt the grief rear up, along with the familiar disbelief– denial– I’m really never going to see her again?

With Neeners, my grief is tainted by an unshakable guilt– why did I not do something for her sooner?  Even if I couldn’t save her, maybe I could have at least spared her pain.  What must she have thought of me when I had to give her the medicine that made her sick to her stomach?  Did she think I was torturing her and she didn’t know why?  I feel like I failed her somehow, even when I try to tell myself I did the best I could.  If we had had the money to get the tests she needed for a more accurate diagnosis, sooner…

It’s too late for me to do anything about any of this.  I could try to end this post with some wise thought or platitude about how time marches on and we all die sometime.  Really, my only point with this post was to sort of remember my lost loved ones on this sort of anniversary week of their passing… and hoping that “honoring” them somehow keeps them from being forgotten.

Saturday Morning First World Problems

Nothing to improve a Saturday morning like stepping in a steaming pile of cat puke.

This after virtually a whole night spent feeling like Donald Duck in one of those old Merry Melody cartoons.  You know, the one where Donald is trying in vain to sleep but one thing after another seems to confound his efforts?

My first mistake was eating a snack too late.  I’ve discovered, much to my dismay, that if I eat much later than 8:30 or nine at night, I will invariably wake in the middle of the night even hungrier.  It must kick-start my metabolism, kind of like a second wind for my appetite.  And in case you’re not a regular reader, I have a very low tolerance for being hungry.  It makes me cranky and miserable, especially when I’m trying to sleep.  So then I eat a little “mid-night” snack, which is really nothing more than me grabbing something as I make a small circuit from the bedroom, to the kitchen, to the bathroom to pee, and then back to the bedroom.  And since I usually wake up multiple times a night, catalyzing this routine usually results in several repetitions of this routine, as the more I eat in the middle of the night, the hungrier I am each time I wake up.  I’m usually okay if I can fall right back to sleep; I can take a sip or two of juice and be fine. I try to drink juice or milk or even water in place of eating, but sometimes that just aggravates my bladder and then I can’t sleep because I keep having to pee…  And then when I get up for good in the morning, I already have five hundred calories under my belt (pardon the pun) to try to work off for the day.

And then the damn cats– Methos, specifically.  He’s always doing irritating shit, like butting into the black out curtains and letting in light from the lamp outside my window.  He’s learned that he doesn’t have to run away unless I actually get out of the bed, so after like the fifth time he opened my blinds, I finally got up to lock him in the laundry room.  Chloe hears the door shut, knew she was next (cuz that’s where the litter boxes are), so she led me a merry chase around the coffee table trying to evade capture.

It sounds ridiculous even as I type it.

So, last night was spent in a semi-comatose swirl of eating, drinking, peeing, tossing, and turning.  All of J*’s stirrings made me anxious, as I dreaded her waking early and me having to get up and stay up.

Hubby had a headache this morning, but I managed to beg him into getting up with J* so I could at least get a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep.

So I get up around ten AM and, as I make my coffee in the kitchen…squish…

Things Not To Say to A Grieving Person (Me, At Least)

Obviously, when it comes to death, everyone handles it differently.  Though the stages of grief may be similar, every person’s individual experience with grief is unique.  Differerent people find comfort in different things.

Death can be a touchy subject for many, myself included, and that means finding the right thing to say to a grieving person can be hard.  In the wake of losing another acquaintence from high school, I have been reflecting once again on society, people, and the role of social media in the grieving process.  Many people are clueless when it comes to tact, even in their everyday life, but especially in times of other people’s sorrow. Often, even well meaning people unwittingly say the wrong things.

My personal policy is ‘when in doubt, keep your mouth shut.’

Unfortunately, a lot of these people don’t have any doubts about the stupid things that may come out of their mouths.

As I said before, everyone finds comfort in different things, so to say that all grieving people would be annoyed or insulted by these things would be presumptuous of me.  But I will say, when I’m grieving, I do sometimes want to smack people who say certain things.

So here are a few things I try to make it a point not to say to someone who has lost someone else.

1) Who died? – Especially with the emergence of social media sites and “smart phones”, people seem to have forgotten some very basic manners.  If you must look in on your friends’ grief when they post about losing someone, there are waaaay more tactful ways to ask about their loss then “who died?” (Yes, I actually saw someone say this, this morning.)

2) They’re in a better place-  Oh, really?  That’s nice.  Personally, I prefer being above ground to below ground.  Oh, you meant Heaven?  Well, that’s sweet of you to say.  Really a nice thought… except, I’m an atheist, so…yeah, that doesn’t comfort me a bit.

3) At least they’re not suffering- Yeah, you may be right.   Maybe their long battle with cancer is over, or they no longer have to fight their addiction…  Or maybe they were just out with friends last week, having a grand old time, smiling and laughing, enjoying their life until it ended, perhaps suddenly and unexpectedly.  You know… not suffering.  

4) She/He’s lived a good long life-  Yup.  In fact, their life was maybe so awesome and good that they (and the people who loved them) will probably miss them like crazy, and wouldn’t have minded them sticking around for a bit longer.

5) Heaven has another angel- Um… like I said…atheist.  But even if I wasn’t, humans don’t become angels when they die, do they?  I thought angels were created by God before humans ever existed.  Maybe I’m being ungracious, and people are just saying things like this to find comfort in what is likely a very confused and upsetting time. But, again, to me at least, these types of sentiments ring a little false.  They offer me no comfort, and in some cases, not a little bit of annoyance.

6) The good die young- Yep.  But, then again, so do pimps, drug dealers, and, often, rock stars.  Chances are, the deceased was none of the above.  We all have light and dark.  The fact that there seems to be no rhyme or reason to who lives and who dies is part of what makes death so hard to accept.  And please, don’t say

7) It was part of God’s plan

Not to me, anyway.  I might not be able to restrain myself from smacking you and then telling you it was in God’s plan.

I have also heard some people say that they hate it when people say “If you need to talk…”

I personally don’t think that would bother me, unless the person saying it never seemed to notice my existence before my grief.  Some people just thrive on other people’s drama.  And maybe grieving people get tired of talking.  If you feel you must say something else, asking your grieving friend or relative “what can I do (for you/ to help)?” may be reasonably safe, and then leave them the option of what telling you what it is specfically they need (and it may not be someone to talk to…)

Basically, unless your grieving friend opens one of these avenues of conversation (for example: indicating they believe in Heaven, or mentioning that they are glad their loved one’s suffering is done) the best bet when addressing someone who is in mourning is to just say, “I’m sorry” and not much else.


                              In Memory Of Greg Knapstein (1981-2013)

Kardio Karaoke?

I love to sing.  I have a special relationship with my music and love to sing along with my favorite songs…and even some not-so-favorite songs.  If I know the words, any song may be fair game.  It’s almost a compulsive thing; when in the car, I often feel compelled to sing along with the radio– not necessarily every song, but, you know, enough to annoy anyone who may not enjoy my singing.  For my part, I have sung in a couple of bands and while I’m no Grace Slick or Amy Lee, I’ve been told I can carry a tune, so hubby tells me it’s not too awfully painful when I sing along.  My kid seems to like it when I sing her favorite songs, if that “mom’s gone batshit” look she gives me is any indication.  For a while, hubby and I would always sing along with that 5 Hour Energy commercial on Hulu.  You know, the one with the guy recording…

“his de-but al-bum…”  

It got to the point where when that commercial came on and that part came up, my daughter would look at us in anticipation of our goofiness.

I generally don’t sing in the shower; in fact, I rarely sing in the absence of accompanying music unless a song is really stuck in my head.  But I’ve been known to sing ~gulp~ Karaoke.

And I sometimes sing while I exercise…which is no mean feat if you’re working at all hard.   So I got curious…   Are there any health benefits to singing while you exercise?  I mean, obviously, your timing has to be pretty good to run (or other cardio), breath, and sing at the same time, right.  Like walking and chewing gum?  Okay, maybe not like that.  According to

During 20 minutes of singing, a person who weighs 150 lbs. burns about 34 calories if sitting down, or 45 calories if singing while standing up, according to

However, while singing alone will not burn beaucoup calories, it is beneficial to your health in other ways.

As you may have found out for yourself, if you’re a fellow beltway belter or karaoke night killer, singing can help to relieve stress, improve your mood, and lower your heart rate and blood pressure.  Singing also gives your lungs and diaphragm a workout because it involves respiratory muscle exertion and deep and open breathing. (source)

According to an ezine article by Judy Rodman, physical exercise is vital to vocal stamina, and conversely, people who sing correctly will notice they become physically tired, because singing correctly uses the big muscles of your core and minimizes incorrect over-use of the little muscles of your throat.However, according to Enliven Magazine, singing while you workout you may be hurting your weight loss efforts.  According to this article, if you can belt it out while you’re exercising, you may not be working out hard enough (reaching your target heart rate.)  I have heard it similarly said that if you can talk while you workout, you’re not doing it right.  FOr me personally, I don’t sing continuously while I exercise, rather I belt out a few favorite lines sporadically, and usually not during my high intensity intervals. What do you think, gentle readers?And, no…that’s not me.