Did You Say An Inoperable Brain Tumor?

April 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Carol Rood, Same Sex Parent

By Carol Rood

BrainStem

You can never be exactly sure about what is going on inside your body.  Well, there are the obvious things, like hunger pains and gas…. but beyond that, it is impossible to really have a clear picture of how healthy our organs are, or how our blood looks, or exactly how things are functioning.  Of course we know when they STOP functioning, but what about when things are “okay”, but maybe not perfect?

For example, what if your lungs had some spots that were unhealthy because when you were younger you decided to cave to peer pressure and smoked cigarettes for 15+years? (I am talking about a friend here….duh.) Or if you decided to smoke marijuana a couple of times just to “check it out” (ummmm duh, a friend again)? Or maybe you even might have tried something harder once (FRIEND…OKAY?? Sheesh!).  We can’t look into our bodies and see what kind of damage these choices may have caused.

What about the people who have illnesses due to no fault of their own, but just because it is that way for them?  What about time bombs that are just ticking away, like cancer, or heart disease, high cholesterol, or a stroke.  Just waiting until your guard is down to strike and cause havoc in your life and those of your loved ones.  Too bad we can’t have some sort of see-through window that doctors can use to determine what might happen to us and our bodies, so we can prepare.

My point is  that we never know what is going on inside us.  Maybe that is a good thing, maybe not.

About four years ago Bluebell began having headaches.  Every day.  All day.  They were worse if she coughed, or sneezed, or bent over to tie her shoes.  I made her go to the Primary Care doctor.  They sent her to a neurologist.  He ordered an MRI.  We were called back to the Primary Care doctor.  She brought us in, and told us she did not know what was causing Bluebell’s headaches, but they had found a “tumor” in her brain while they were doing the MRI, and Bluebell would be sent to a Neurosurgeon for evaluation.

Then the Neurosurgery appointments began.  MRI’s, Cat Scans, discussions.  This was in December of 2009.  Bluebell was diagnosed with a Meningioma (benign tumor of the meninges), which was sitting right next to her brainstem in a very bad (inoperable) spot.  She had an amazing Neurosurgeon at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital: Dr. Piccarilli.  Dr. P. is a super smart lady, and told Bluebell that it was a very small (millimeters) tumor and we were simply going to watch it for a while.  Get MRI’s annually and see what it does.

I was shocked! Really??

A tumor?

In an inoperable spot right next to her brainstem?

Only Bluebell could have this kind of luck.  We often joke that when God created her, He mixed up lots of different kinds of health issues, and tossed them into her DNA, just to see how she could handle it.  We had already been through eye surgery, cervical cancer, a radical hysterectomy, benign thyroid tumor, lymphedema from the hysterectomy, a stapedectomy to correct her deteriorating ear bone…

I mean…really?

So we did what we assumed everyone does in that situation.

We named the tumor.

Calvin.

He became her scapegoat.  Any time she did something and we got into an argument she said “Oops, must be Calvin.”  If she forgot something she would say, “thanks a lot Calvin.”  Poor Calvin. Blamed for all Bluebell’s difficulties.  I almost felt bad for the poor little millimeter of tissue….except that he parked himself right next to Bluebell’s brainstem (which is, incidentally a VITAL organ).

Bluebell's looks like this only hers is a bit smaller.  Not encroaching on the brainstem
 

Time went on and Bluebell continued to see Dr P.  After a year, Dr P decided that Calvin had grown just a smidge, and it was time for Bluebell to see someone else about Calvin.  A neurosurgeon who specialized in a particular procedure that could help either reduce Calvin’s size, or stop him from growing.  So she sent us to see a doctor at Riverside Hospital in Newport News named Dr Lesnick.  He is a surgeon who specializes in a procedure called Gamma Knife Radiation. 

For the procedure, Bluebell was given a twilight anesthesia cocktail which means she wouldn’t feel anything but would be alert enough to answer questions and respond to directions.  However, she wouldn’t remember anything, so of course I took advantage of that!

They had to put a contraption on her head called a “halo”.  Then they buckle this helmet thing on in the machine and use a computer to pinpoint exactly where the radiation is to go.

 

Bluebell in hospital bed with halo on.
Bluebell in hospital bed with halo on.

To hold the halo in place so it won’t move they actually screw in into your skin in four  places.  Two on the forehead and two in the back of the scalp.  Hence the anesthesia.

left side of forehead
 

It was pretty much an all day procedure.  All went as well as expected, and she was scheduled for a follow up visit in 6 months to do another MRI to see if Calvin was affected by the Gamma Knife.

The follow up MRI showed that Calvin had not grown, but he had not gotten smaller either.  Still, Dr. Lesnick was very hopeful the procedure had worked.

So now Bluebell goes in every year to have an MRI done to see how her tumor is doing.  In May it will be time for her annual visit to check on Calvin.  Since she remains asymptomatic, I feel pretty confident the Gamma Knife stopped him in his tracks.

I will say that one of the most touching moments I had during this entire situation was during a visit with Dr Lesnick.  I told him how grateful I was that a doctor of his prominence made this procedure available to those of us who use government healthcare insurance (Tricare) because I know Tricare does not reimburse doctors very well.  He responded it was the least he could do to honor people who served in the military!  Brought tears to my eyes!

I guess the moral of the story is that you never know what life will throw your way, and in the big picture we just do the best we can and keep marching forward to face the challenges head on. Literally, in Bluebell’s case.

So, because he is in a place that no surgeon can get to, Calvin is here to stay.  He is a part of our life, and he is going to remain right where he is.

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My Attempt at Making Chocolate Lava Cakes

March 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Carol Rood, Same Sex Parent

By Carol Rood

Last week I wrote about my Culinary Bucket List which included a few things I would like to attempt to cook or bake.  Bluebell and I really wanted to try to make cannoli, but apparently in order to make it you need cannoli molds….who knew?  And they are difficult to find, only avaulable online.  Sheesh.

So it was on to Plan B – chocolate lava cakes. You know, those supremely chocolatey cakes with chocolate oozing from the center.

chocolaveacke

I found the recipe on the Ghiradelli web site.  I doubled the recipe because I wanted to use 6 oz ramekins instead of 4 oz ramekins.

Individual Chocolate Lava Cakes
Yield:
6 Servings

1 1/2 (6 oz)  60% Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bars   (I actually used 3 oz bittersweet and 3 oz semisweet)
2 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cake flour

Directions

To make centers, melt 2 ounces of chocolate (1/2 a baking bar) and cream in double boiler. Whisk gently to blend. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm. Form into 6 balls; refrigerate until needed.

To make cake, heat oven to 400°F. Spray six 4-ounce ramekins or custard cups with cooking spray. Melt 4 ounces of chocolate (1 baking bar) and butter in double boiler; whisk gently to blend. With an electric mixer, whisk eggs, yolks, sugar, and vanilla on high speed about 5 minutes or until thick and light. Fold melted chocolate mixture and flour into egg mixture just until combined. Spoon cake batter into ramekins. Place a chocolate ball in the middle of each ramekin.

Bake about 15 minutes or until cake is firm to the touch. Let it sit out of the oven for about 5 minutes. Run a small, sharp knife around inside of each ramekin, place a plate on top, invert and remove ramekin. Garnish with raspberries and a dollop of whipped cream.

Here is how it looked:

melting butter and chocolate in double boiler
melting butter and chocolate in double boiler
Melted butter and chocolate
Melted butter and chocolate
After sitting in fridge for 2 hours I divided into 6 equal (ish) pieces and
After sitting in fridge for 2 hours I divided into 6 equal (ish) pieces and
rolled each piece into a chocolate ball
rolled each piece into a chocolate ball
Choco balls going back into fridge while we make the cake batter
Choco balls going back into fridge while we make the cake batter
egg, sugar mixture after about 4 minutes on high in Kitchen Aid mixer
egg, sugar mixture after about 4 minutes on high in Kitchen Aid mixer
Pouring melted chocolate mixture into batter
Pouring melted chocolate mixture into batter
Folding in flour
Folding in flour
Ready to go in  ramekins
Ready to go in ramekins
spooning batter into ramekins
spooning batter into ramekins
dropping a choco ball into center of each ramekin
dropping a choco ball into center of each ramekin
Ready to go into the oven
Ready to go into the oven
out after about 20 minutes
out after about 20 minutes
Flipping out onto a plate
Flipping out onto a plate
It didn't come out as cleanly as I would have liked. (I did spray the ramekins)
It didn’t come out as cleanly as I would have liked. (I did spray the ramekins)
Not so cute, but
Not so cute, but
A little whipped cream can cover the hole.  *wink*
A little whipped cream can cover the hole. *wink*
NO chocolate lava coming out.
NO chocolate lava coming out.
A bit disappointing.
A bit disappointing.
we tried another with the same result.
we tried another with the same result.

So the bottom line is:  the cake was yummy, although it was definitely bittersweet.  The boys took a pass, as they said it was too bitter.  Although the Hunter took his, mixed in about a cup of whipped cream and pronounced it “ok”.

I would not make this again, as in my opinion the results did not live up to the effort of making them.

NOT a winner for my family.

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Even a “Good” Mom Can Make a Mistake

March 14, 2013 by  
Filed under Carol Rood, Same Sex Parent

By Carol Rood

 

I think I am a pretty good mom.  A responsible woman.  I didn’t have my first child until I was 31.  Not because I planned it that way, but because it just kind of worked out that way.  I had plenty of relationships, I just never envisioned myself having children with any of those people. Finally I met a man who I wanted to have children with.  That was when I was 28.  So, the first pregnancy occurred at 30 and Joe Cool was born was born when I was 31.  The Genius was my “surprise” bundle of joy.  I wanted to wait four years between my pregnancies, but a carefree birthday evening when I turned 33 brought me my sweet Genius.

Joe Cool and The Genius when they were 6 and 4
Joe Cool and The Genius when they were 6 and 4

I bought and read all of the “What to Expect” books: “….When You’re Expecting, “….the First Year”, “….the Second Year”, etc, etc.  I bought healthy baby food.  I didn’t let my babies have chocolate the first year.  I let my babies “cry it out” to self soothe and go to sleep.  I was never afraid to hold and cuddle them “too much”. They had their own rooms with consumer report-approved cribs and changing tables.  I had the best car seats, bedding and toys.

I took the boys to the doctor, dentist, played with them, read to them, had gender neutral toys (trucks as well as doll houses).  I was a “good” mom.  I introduced new foods, one at a time, bought them age appropriate toys. In short, everything the books told me to do, I did. They were happy, and well behaved (for the most part).  They loved each other, and all was well in the world.

ready to get some candy
ready to get some candy

But even the lofty can fall from their perch.

Fast forward about 9 years.  Joe Cool is now 14 and The Genius is 11. I am a very busy mom with three boys at home (Bluebell also has a teenaged son at home with us).  I work two part time jobs, I blog, and I am a part time college student.  My life is hectic and my brain is scattered at times.  One of my jobs is as a Youth Coordinator at the local Unitarian Universalist Church.  As part of that job every other year I coordinate a very large program for 13-year-olds that is a  “Coming of Age” program.  I look at it as the Unitarian Universalist version of catechism and Confirmation.

The day has come for our big church program to honor the kids in the program (of which Joe Cool is one), and we get through the service with success. Many tears of joy were shed by me that day.

Immediately after the Coming of Age service I stay at church to attend a semiannual church meeting, then I have to rush off to pick up a cake for the party to honor the kids that evening!  FULL schedule.

After the service Bluebell took Joe Cool and The Hunter home, and then came back to attend the Church meeting with me.  The Genius wanted to stay at church during the meeting because the kids were watching “Despicable Me” in the Sunday School classrooms while the adults attended the meeting.

Bluebell and I attended the meeting, which became just a tiny bit intense (budget discussions), and after the meeting ended I drove Bluebell to her vehicle in a nearby parking lot and jetted off to pick up the cake for the Coming of Age Celebration.  Meanwhile, Bluebell headed home to pick up Joe Cool to take him to the Coming of Age Party.

Okay, at this point in the story you need to remember what a responsible, caring mother I am.  How I pampered and cared for my babies.  The joyous pictures I shared.  How happy and healthy my boys look.  Do you have that planted in your brain??  Do you see what a great mother I am??  Good.  So now I can tell you that in my scattered brain, and my rush to go get the cake, and get to the party, I left the church…

without The Genius.

Yes. I left my kid behind.  I forgot him.

Bluebell realized we left The Genius when she was about 1/2 way home and immediately called me.  Well, friends, I didn’t answer my phone. “Why not?” you ask?  Well, because I left my phone at the church too.  I just got up and left my phone and my kid.  So when Bluebell called me, a nice lady at church (I shall call her “S”) answered my phone and after a few minutes of conversation, the two of them figured out it was my phone.  “S” asks Bluebell what she should do with my phone, and Bluebell tells  “S” to give my phone to The Genius, because not only did I leave my phone, I left our kid.

Before I get judged too harshly, at least I left our kid at church, where he was safe and dry and cozy.  With people who know him and love him.  Where he felt comfortable. Okay, I know, I know, I am just trying to make myself feel better.

I guess the moral of my story is that even “good” moms, can goof up at times.

Feel Free to visit me at Coffee, Clutter and Chaos

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The Search for MY God

March 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Carol Rood, Same Sex Parent

I love National Public Radio. Our local station is WHRV, and I listen to it most of the time. I especially love Morning Edition and BBC Newshour. In fact I also love the Cathy Lewis show, and Fresh Air. Okay, I love it all. There have been many times I have sat in my car in the driveway, or in the parking lot at work, and been late just so I can listen to a program. All the while thinking, “just a few more minutes”. I like listening to public radio because I feel smarter when I do. I feel like I learn something new, or hear a different perspective than I had in my own head. I don’t always agree with everything I hear on the radio, but I always listen.

This morning was one of those mornings where I stayed in my car to hear the last few minutes of a broadcast. It was very interesting, and I heard someone speaking about something I had thought many times but had not put voice to. I heard a story about Eric Weiner and a book he wrote called “Man Seeks God”.

He talked about how he went to the emergency room at a hospital with abdominal pains and a nurse whispered in his ear, “have you found your God yet?” Being a person who works in the medical field I do find it a bit odd that she would say such a thing to a patient, but it was a good thing because it caused Eric to embark upon a quest. A quest to find his God.

In his book he talks about his journey through Islam, and Buddhism, and Christianity, and Judaism. He talks about the things he found and what it meant to him. I will probably buy his book and read it, but the whole topic hit really close to home for me. I mean, I am 47 already.

Have I found my God? I spent some time thinking about it.  I  talked to my clients about it, and my co-workers and my partner Bluebell. I asked myself what my religion is and I thought about my own spiritual journey.

I was raised Jewish, but we were a family who did not attend Temple. I did not have a Bat Mitzvah and cannot speak or read Hebrew. I do know the prayers and my parents always did the “big” holidays. We had a Passover Seder every year, and ate apples dipped in honey on Rosh Hashanah. We fasted on Yom Kippur and had a dreidel box with presents in it at Hanukkah. It was next to the Christmas tree, but at least my parents taught me about my Jewish heritage.

When I grew up I had a roommate who was Mormon, and I married a man who was a Christian. I liked many of the things I learned in church, but could never quite wrap my head around the “only Christians get to Heaven” part. My parents were good people, but they did not believe in Jesus as their savior. Why did that make them unworthy? Why were only Christians the right ones? I never understood how they could be the only group that is “right”. To me it felt a bit elitist.

After I got divorced and fell in love with my partner I was looking for a church home for us and happened upon the Unitarian Universalist faith. That was a welcoming faith, and I love almost everything about it, but even there, I have some reservations about some aspects of it. I like some Buddhist beliefs, but can’t find my way to all of those either. I have studied some Wiccan beliefs and find those very interesting and comfortable also. When I came home today I asked my family what they believe their religion to be. My mother is an atheist, my lovely Bluebell says she was “raised Catholic”, but now says she “doesn’t know” what she “is”. The oldest son The Hunter also says he “doesn’t know”, the middle son Joe Cool says he is an atheist, and the youngest son The Genius says he is a “Jewnitarian”, (A Jewish Unitarian Universalist). So even my family is a hodge podge of religious beliefs.

So I guess there is no cookie cutter religion for me. I don’t think God is a man, yet I don’t think God is a woman either. I don’t think of gender when I think of God, I usually think of the universe, or an ethereal being of some kind without a body shape, just spirit. As Eric puts it I seem to have found an “IKEA God.” “Some assembly required,” he says. “[The] idea is that you can cobble together your sort of own personal religion, a sort of mixed tape of God.”

I liked that. It made sense to me, and somehow seemed to put the religious puzzle pieces in my brain into a cohesive unit. So I have decided that it is okay to be eclectic when dealing with religion. That you can take the pieces you like and that make sense to you and add it to the other things that make sense to you and stir it all together to make a wonderful spiritual soup that is palatable and I can live with on a daily basis!

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Apparently I Am a “Nuisance” Mom

March 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Carol Rood, Same Sex Parent

By Carol Rood

My-headphones-are-in-310x300The other day, on the way to Coffee Heaven (aka Starbucks) with my 16-year-old son (“Joe Cool”), I mentioned that I might use our coffee time to work on a blog post while we waited for his older brother to get off work.

He was all, “That’s cool mom.”

I said, “What should I write about?”

Now while we were driving to Starbucks and I was trying to talk to Joe Cool he was listening to music on his phone.  So I would tap his knee so he could remove his headphones and listen to me.  So when I asked what I should write about, he said (a little too quickly I might add), “Why don’t you write about what a nuisance you are when you keep trying to talk to me when I am listening to my music?”

I was a little annoyed at first, and then decided this could be an opportunity for me to find out what I do that annoys him, so I could either:

 

1) Not do it as much

or

2) Use it to push buttons. (Hey, you would not BELIEVE all the ways this kid pushes mine, it is good for me to teach him how to handle annoyances in a positive way -that is my story and I am sticking to it.)

So according to Joe Cool these are the ways I am a nuisance:

1) Bugging him when he is trying to listen to music by touching him or getting his attention in some other way and stopping him from his listening pleasure.

2) When he is playing Black Ops on the PS3 I will sometimes call him to come talk to me about “unimportant things” (his words).  Of course yesterday it was to talk about our vacation Spring Break, and to discuss school work.  But to him this is unimportant apparently.  He said I should come to him to talk instead of making him come to me.  HA HA he is a funny kid.

3) I am a nuisance when I talk to him about girls.  Saturday night the kid went to a movie with two girls.  One a sophomore and one a senior.  The senior drove him.  He was annoyed that I wanted to meet the girls.  Um Hello???  I need to meet and lay eyes upon the person who is driving him around. Oh, and I need to know her name also.  I do not think that is overboard.  Inviting myself along is overboard.  However, when I asked him if he was “talking” to either of these girls (the new term for liking someone), he became annoyed with me for asking.  I had never heard of either of these girls before, of course I am going to ask if he is “talking” to one of them.  ESPECIALLY since one is a senior and too old for my almost 16-year-old.  (Is that old fashioned???)

4) BIG problem for him: I won’t let him play PS3 during the school week.  That is a HUGE annoyance for him.  This is from the kid who has a D in Geometry due to low grades on quizzes and tests.  This is also coming from the kid who has missing assignments in almost every class.  DUH no PS3 during the week.  If he can’t manage to get good grades with NO distractions except TV and his guitar, how much worse will it get if he were jumping on the PS3 after school and getting lost in his Black Ops world?

5)  Making him clean his room annoys him. Let me remind you what his room usually looks like:

DSCF0684

Um, yes I want that cleaned.

That was all he was willing to tell me, because he really wanted to drink his drink and listen to his music.

zack drink1

So you tell me, am I really annoying, or just being a proper mom??

 

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How Sequestration Will Affect My Family

February 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Carol Rood, Same Sex Parent

By Carol Rood

sequester2

I tend to lean towards the left as to social issues, and tend to lean more towards the right with fiscal issues, but right now I am leaning towards disgust with both sides.

I am not extremely politically savvy.  I don’t understand all of the subtle nuances of the budget, debt ceiling, deficit reduction etc.  I read about it, but to be honest it seems to me there is a lack of nonpartisan articles out there.  Some have their viewpoint (Democrat) and say the Republicans suck.  Others have their viewpoint (Republican) and says President Obama and the Democrats suck.   The list of partisan websites goes on and on.  However, I have yet to read an article that blames them ALL.  THAT is what I want.  Something that gives me just the facts.  So after reading and reading I have come up with what seems to me to be the facts.

We are in terrible debt.  Our economy is a mess and we keep spending money.  We spend too much on Medicare and Social Security.  Medicare, Medicaid and entitlements are in bad need of reforms.  The rich get richer while the poor get poorer.  I was in favor of the richest of the rich paying higher taxes.  Not because I am jealous, but because if I were in their shoes, I would be okay with giving more to help those who have less.  I can only assume that others share the same ideals that I do.  I can’t be the only one.

I am also okay with getting rid of loopholes for oil companies and super wealthy Americans.  That is a revenue.  I suppose it is a “tax increase” as the Republicans tout it, but in my mind it really isn’t so much an increase as it is a “fairness meter” to level the playing field a bit.

Okay, so all of that being said, I understand that President Obama originally put the Sequester before Congress.  I believe he was using it as a bluff.  I don’t think he thought that the Congress would let it happen.  Quote from CBS News.com: “The $1.2 trillion sequester cuts, which were initially set to kick in on Jan. 1, emerged out of Congress’ 2011 budget negotiations. Congress agreed that if a congressional “supercommittee” couldn’t come up with an acceptable deficit reduction plan, Congress would just slash $1.2 trillion from the budget over 10 years — half coming from defense spending and half from non-defense. The cuts were designed to be so drastic that Republicans and Democrats would be compelled to craft an alternate, bipartisan agreement on deficit reduction.”

So that tells me the sequester was agreed on by EVERYONE.  Now we are 10 days out from the sequester happening and Congress is on a week vacation.  Seriously???  WTF???

If the Sequester happens thousands of Civil Service workers will be forced to take a 22-day furlough.  That is 22 days off without pay.  In order to make this forced pay cut more manageable for families instead of 22 days off in a row without pay, each worker will have one unpaid day off per week, or 4 unpaid days per month. My partner Bluebell is a Civil Service worker.

This is a BIG deal.  I know for my family that means a loss of over $600.00 per month in income. That is A LOT of money to remove from a family budget.

That basically equals 1.5 of my paychecks, so I am working for free for three weeks!

We recently had a family meeting and talked to the boys about what was going on and if the furlough happens what it will mean for our family.  It means No eating out.  No hot school lunches. They have to pack every day.  It means no more allowance, a timer for showers (10 minutes only) and a serious reduction in our grocery bill.  No more snacks, just basic necessities.  No more hair appointments for me, back to coloring my hair with a bottle. If the furlough extends for any length of time, it means no Boy Scout summer camp this year, no summer swim league, no family weekend camping trips and possibly no graduation celebration for our High School graduate. It means I have to work every Saturday to try and bring in extra income.  It also means we have to use our income tax refunds to pay bills.  No extras this year.  This may not seem like a big deal to y’all, but it is a big change for our family lifestyle. The total loss of income to my family will be over $4000.00.  That money has to be absorbed elsewhere in my budget because the mortgage needs to be paid.  We need water and electricity and heat.  There may be extremely limited air conditioning this summer. That is not pretty in Southeastern Virginia.

I have to say I was very proud of our boys, because when we had this meeting there was not ONE single complaint out of any of them.  In fact, they asked what they could do to help out the family.  That was a very proud mama moment for me.

Congress, and the President, could learn a lesson from my boys.  My boys could teach them that when times are tough we rally together and pitch in to make it work.  We compromise and reach a deal that everybody can settle on.  These are values Bluebell and I taught our boys when they were in Kindergarten.  Maybe Congress and the President need to spend some time in Kindergarten to relearn how to compromise and get along.

There are thousands of families that will be affected here in Virginia.  If every family has to tighten up the way we will, I wonder how long it will be before local businesses are affected??  The economy on this area will no longer be inching up, but will come to a screaming standstill.

I don’t lay all of the blame on the President’s doorstep.  Nor do I blame only Congress. I blame them all.  I have decided I am making it my personal mission to email and/or call EVERY Congressperson, Senator and the President to ask them why they feel it is okay to make American families suffer financial consequences such as these.  I am also going to ask them why THEY do not have to receive furlough.  They are Federal employees also.  Why are they above suffering along with their constituents?

I urge you all to join me in asking our Representatives these questions.  They need to know the American people are not happy.  Many people will agree with me, but I wonder how many will actually take the time to contact them.  If you are willing to put your money (pun intended) where your mouth is, here is a list of all the United States Congressional Representatives with phone numbers.  If you click on their name you go to their website where you can get their email addresses.  Here is a list of Senators.  And the White House.

I am starting my email campaign today.  Will you join me?

 

 

 

 

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Lesbian Mom: Wait What? Did You Say You Want to be a Marine?

February 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Carol Rood, Same Sex Parent

By Carol Rood

united-states-marine-corpsPoor Bluebell.  She cried.  She cried as her 17-year-old son The Hunter walked out the front door with a Marine Corps recruiter to go take a “practice” ASVAB test.

Let me back up a bit, that is actually the middle of the story.

Yesterday the phone rang.  The person on the other end asked to speak to The Hunter.  The Hunter is a high school senior, and has been receiving lots of phone calls and mailers from colleges.  He does not plan on going to college.  He has been going to technical school during his junior and senior years and has learned welding.  He wants to be a welder when he graduates.  He is looking into the welding apprenticeship programs at BAE and the Naval Shipyard.  So we were pretty sure he was going to do the apprenticeship program and start his life as an adult working and going to school.  Then THE phone call came…

He was on the phone for quite awhile.  Bluebell even picked up the extension so she could eavesdrop.  It didn’t work.  The Hunter walked down the stairs and shook his head at her.  It turns out the man who called was a Marine Corps recruiter. He was telling The Hunter all about the programs the Marines have to offer.  He talked to The Hunter about being a Marine reservist so he could continue to pursue an apprenticeship and ALSO be a Marine.

Bluebell was NOT happy when she was told about the phone call.  Apparently The Hunter told the recruiter he was willing to take a practice ASVAB test “just to see” how he would do.  He is still 17, and therefore cannot yet join without parental permission.  We did tell him that we wanted to meet the recruiter to speak with him. So The Hunter called him back and told him to come by the house and pick him up today at 5:00.

It was a long night for Bluebell and me.  I will tell you that the idea of any of the boys joining the military had never really entered our minds as a reality, so we had never discussed it.  We are both retired Navy, so we definitely value a military life, but the Marines?  They are the first ones in the thick of the action…

So the recruiter showed up today at 5:00.  I had my hands in a bowl of flour, making chicken and dumplings for dinner, and Bluebell was waiting and ready to pounce.  Of course it would have been easier for her to pounce on him if he had not been a young, polite, nice, clean cut kid, who was nothing but respectful. He said he understood our concerns, and he believed young people, even if they are old enough to join without parental consent, should listen to what their parents’ concerns were.

We were frank and honest about those concerns, and he answered each one with a thoughtful and detailed answer.  (He’s pretty good at recruiting.)  So once our questions were answered, what else could we do but let the recruiter take The Hunter for his test?

Poor Bluebell. She cried. She cried as her 17-year-old son The Hunter walked out the front door with a Marine Corps recruiter…

She smiled when he came home and said he would need to “study” more.  (But she didn’t let The Hunter see her smile.)

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Top 10 Reasons Men Sag Their Pants

February 13, 2013 by  
Filed under Carol Rood, Same Sex Parent

By Carol Rood

tumblr_lucfe2uBmo1r3fwweo1_500

 

I work with teenagers.

I live with teenagers.

I hang out with teenagers and young adults.

I actually pride myself on the fact that I can speak their language and tend to “get” them (for the most part).  I like hanging out with them.  In fact, I find myself thinking about my own teenage-hood when I am hanging out with them.

My kids don’t read my blog and for that I am often grateful.  After all, since they don’t read the blog I can bad mouth them, talk shit about them, generally smear their names, or I can tell things about myself that I don’t necessarily want them to know.

So, back to my original point, which is that I feel that I “get” them for the most part.  I have learned not to share too much about me, but am able to get them to open up about themselves.  They seem to trust me. Even my 15-year-old will admit that while I am a “Super nag” about his schoolwork, I have NEVER embarrassed him in front of his friends, or given him a hard time about his girlfriend.  I am one of those adults who believe that teens can experience true love, and have NEVER said to a teenager, “You don’t even know what love is”.  Of course they do.  They have the same feelings adults do, to the extreme in many cases.  They fall in love.  They care for each other.  The fastest way to stop your teen from listening to you is to tell them they don’t “really” love their girlfriend or boyfriend.

I do get young people, I do love hanging out with them, but I still sometimes think they are stupid.  Boys can be stupid.  ESPECIALLY the ones who wear their pants down low and show their boxers.  This is behavior I just don’t get.  I mean, really, I just don’t understand why they do that.  I can’t even tell you how many times I have wanted to walk up to the young guys I see on the campus where I attend college classes and say to them, “Listen, I know I am a middle-aged white lady who just really doesn’t get it, but could you please tell me what it is that goes through your head when you get dressed in the morning, and choose to put on your pants, and then belt them around your thighs?”

What is it that is attractive about this?:
sag pants

Is this sexy????

Ridiculous
Ridiculous

I am a gal who wears my pants at the appropriate place on her body.  Which for a plump, middle-aged woman, is waist high or therabouts.  No low riders for me……..no ma’am.  I have a hard enough time keeping the muffin top under control as it is.

But back to the matter at hand…which is why do young men wear their pants so low?

TOP 10 REASONS YOUNG DUDES WEAR THEIR PANTS SO LOW (“BUST A SAG”):
10:  They just have too much junk in their pants (i.e. well endowed) and they need more room for things to “spread out”, shall we say….

9. They have just spent lots of money on VERY cool boxers and want to share their amazing undies with the world.

8. They are working on their arm muscles, and having to reach down and hitch up their pants every two steps while they are walking is a mini workout.

7. They have a new amazing belt, and think if they belt their pants around their thighs, you will have more opportunity to see it.

6. There was a super clearance sale at the Big and Tall shop, and they just couldn’t pass up a good bargain, even if the pants are three sizes too big.

5. They received hand me downs from a much larger person, and just couldn’t refuse accepting and wearing them (possible beat down there).

4. They have recently lost LOTS of weight and therefore their pants don’t fit properly anymore, and constantly fall down.

3. They have decided they are taking a stand on running, they are just NOT going to do it, hence the low pants…you can’t run in those things even if you needed to. Criminals who need to get away fast do NOT wear saggy britches…….Just sayin’……

2. They have decided to boost the economy in their later years by ruining their hips now (have you seen the wide stance walk they have to use to move in their way too big pants), so they can spend money later on things like walkers, canes, etc to get around.

and the number 1 reason men wear their pants low:

1. They are overheated and just need the butt and nut air conditioning…….

air flow
air flow

I have to say that I did do some research on this topic, (so I could point out to my sons where it really started), and found that the explanation that this style started in prisons so men could show they were “available” for some “attention” is a myth.  However, the style is related to prison garb, which is usually too large for inmates and they are not allowed belts, so they have to constantly hitch up their pants.  Then some hip hop and rap artists took on the style as their own, and young men (particularly young urban men) started copying the rappers they admire so much. Some cities have banned the style, and at my son’s high school “sagging” is not allowed, and you can be sent home if you can’t conform to the dress code.

When I asked my young man (the newly minted 18-year-old) why he sags, he said it is so he can get a “breeze”.  Seriously???  How hot can it get in his britches????

Just sayin’…..

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What Do You Do When You Have An Evil Stepchild?

February 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Carol Rood, Same Sex Parent

By Carol Rood

evil

This is a subject I have wanted to write about for a very long time.  But couldn’t.  It is a very sensitive subject.  Calling my stepchild evil means I am disparaging the child of the person I love more than anything.  However, after many years of dealing with this issue, and the fact that things are getting worse and not better, I have decided it is important to talk about this topic.

The answer to the question: What do you do if you have an evil stepchild? is:  NOTHING!  If you truly love that child’s parent, there is NOTHING you can do. You are powerless.  You can’t become evil in return because then your partner will resent you.  You can’t kick the child out because it will cause your relationship to be ruined.  So, if you have an evil stepchild and that child’s parent does nothing to make it better and you love the parent, all you can do is what I do.  Cry.  A lot.  Then you just become numb.

I wish more than anything that when Bluebell and I blended our families, that the children would have the same love for us and each other that we had, but alas, that is a fantasy.  Children of re-coupling have their own emotions to deal with.  Possibly jealousy of the new partner or other children.  A sense of loss for the missing parent. Apprehension about moving in with people they don’t know very well. I get all of that, and Bluebell and I were very realistic about all of those issues.  We also understood that we would have to take it easy on “parenting” each other’s children at first, let them get to know us better.  We didn’t even stay in the same bedroom in the beginning to give the idea some time to grow on the children.

I read the books, and researched how to be a stepparent.  We felt as though we were doing things well.  I was prepared for the change, the anxiety, the apprehension, the “figuring things out” stage of our new family.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the brick wall of ice L in Bluebell’s daughter.  We realized rather quickly that L was not taking well to living with three boys, nor was she taking well to another parent in the house.  She was 13 at the time.  So I backed off and let Bluebell mostly deal with her.  However, it was impossible for me to never have to give L any directions or “parenting”.  Bluebell worked long hours, and I was home with the children more than she was.  There were times I would have to direct L to do chores, or pick up after herself, etc.  Not everything could wait until Mommy got home.  L rebelled in a BIG way.  Grew sullen at first then downright disrespectful and rude.  She never acknowledged me.  Never spoke to me. Treated me as if I were invisible.

It was awful!

The next few years of  L being in high school were very difficult.  She lived with us off and on, lived with  her father off and on.  Our relationship never improved much, and I just did the best I could to be kind and considerate towards L for the sake of the love I have for her mother.

L graduated and moved to Minnesota to live with her aunt.  She had a great job welding and making $10.00 an hour (which is good money for an 18-year-old kid).  She was safe, and happy.  Then came the call.  “I want to go to school to be a vet tech.  The schools here in Minnesota are too expensive.  I am moving back to Virginia.”  Of course her coming back had nothing to do with school and everything to do with being lonely and missing her friends and a particular boy.

So Bluebell told me the news and I braced for it.  L was coming home with no job and very little money.  She had bought a car, but that meant a car payment and no job meant we would have to “help” her out.  She came home, and after about a month of “staying with friends” she asked to move back home.  We had no room for her, but told her she could sleep on the couch and put her stuff in a corner in her brother’s room.  We said she could stay until she “got back on her feet.”

What transpired since then has been pure hell.  She did not want to look for a job.  She only wanted “certain” jobs. She refused to do anything around the house to help.  She got a part time job at Taco Bell, then quit.  She got a part time job at Mrs. Fields then got fired. She was pleasant for the first two weeks, then became sullen, moody, and disrespectful.  Mostly towards me.

This is where the crying comes in.  She is a horrible mean person, and I am STUCK!  She won’t even take out the trash!  I will say that in the six months she has lived with us she has voluntarily emptied the dishwasher three times, but to me that doesn’t really count.

I am stuck because of the fact that I am not her mother.  If that were MY kid, I would have put her out!  Made her figure out where to stay and how to get her act together.  She would NOT be allowed to live in my house, use my electricity, my water, eat my food, and be so disrespectful.

However, Bluebell is cut from a different cloth.  She feels as though it is her responsibility to “help” her daughter and take care of her.  She does fuss at her, and yell at her to be respectful and help out.  But the bottom line is that it all makes no difference to L.  She is almost 21 for goodness’ sake!! She knows that her mom won’t put her out so she just does as she pleases.  She doesn’t care if her mom yells at her. She takes it, and then just goes back to her normal routine.  She doesn’t even apologize.

Now, I suppose you may think I can tell Bluebell to make a choice, or force her to put her daughter out; and while those options are available to me, if I were to do either one of them, it would damage our relationship beyond repair.  Bluebell would never truly forgive me, and it would ruin the best relationship I have ever had.  I am not willing to do that, so I suck it up, and know that this will eventually end.

L did get a job recently.  A very good job making $16.00 an hour.  However, she won’t start for another three weeks.  Then of course it will take about a month for her to save up enough money to move out into her own place.    I do see a light at the end of the tunnel for THIS time, but the truth is this will never be over completely.

L recently told her mother, “I don’t like Carol. I don’t want to have a relationship with her.” So my life with Bluebell will consist of me doing the best I can to be cordial to a young lady who is cruel and unkind.  This is tolerable to me as long as L doesn’t live with us, and I only have to deal with her occasionally.

When we fall in love we don’t realize that if that person has children it is going to be an uphill battle, and sometimes you will never get to the top of the hill.  The walk up the hill can be heartbreaking, but for me I focus on the other side of the hill, when Bluebell and I are still hand in hand and L is on the other hill.

On a side note, the relationship I have with Bluebell’s son is awesome, and the one she has with my boys is amazing also.  The five of us have a family, and we laugh, and love each other.

L doesn’t want to be a part of that family, and after much talking, and shouting, and crying Bluebell and I have come to that conclusion.  Bluebell understands what L does, and how she treats me.  It makes her very sad, because she would never have expected her child to be so unkind and nasty. Especially to someone who has done so much for her.  Bluebell feels badly about it, but she just can’t bring herself to kick her daughter out of our house, so until the day comes that she moves out on her own, I am stuck living with an Evil Stepchild.

I know there are many other people who are going through what I am going through or something very similar but people just don’t want to talk about it.  It is time we stepparents of evil stepchildren come together to support each other!!

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A Wee Fight With Wii Fit

February 1, 2013 by  
Filed under Carol Rood, Same Sex Parent

By Carol Rood

Wii_Fit_is_mean_by_firebirdresistance

 

Today I had a conversation with my Wii Fit that had me saying WTF??

Let me set the scene for you:  I came downstairs to see the boys off to school. Once they left I decided to check my weight on the Wii Fit.  I get on the board…

Wii: “Well good morning Carol.  Are you feeling refreshed today?”

Me:  “Yes thank you.”

Wii:  “So, how is Bluebell doing?  I haven’t seen her lately.”

me: “She’s fine.”

Wii:”So how does Bluebell look to you?”
(4 options to choose from):
A. She looks the same
B. She looks skinnier
C. She looks bigger
D. I haven’t looked at her
I choose A because it is true.

Thinking it is a relationship counselor, Wii says: “Change is exciting don’t you agree? Maybe you should pay more attention to Bluebell.”

I was like, “Look here, I pay enough attention to Bluebell.  Watch, I am going to call her and ask her. You’ll see, Missy!”

So I did.  I called Bluebell.

I told her about the conversation I was having with the Wii and she laughed … and laughed. Really?  I expected her to take my side. But nope….she thought it was hilarious. She was still laughing as I hung up.

So I turn back to the TV, hit the “A” button on the controller to move on, and the Wii says to me:  “On a side note did you know that dogs become more motivated if their owners pay attention to them?”

Seriously? Now somehow it is MY fault that Bluebell looks the same??

I am NOT joking here people, I can’t even make this shit up.

Finally I weigh myself. And the Wii says, “Oh, you missed your goal.  Do you want to make a new one?  Maybe you need to work harder.”

me: “Listen bitch, I think I have had enough of your smack talk today!  I bought you, I own you, you are mine, and I don’t want any more sass from you!”

I was a tough bad-ass talker.  However, my actions were different.  After I yelled at the tv, I meekly and quietly entered a new goal.

And the saddest part is that I will do it again next week.

Carol Rood

You can also find me at:  Coffee, Clutter and Chaos

 

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