July 20, 2015

Ha, ha, surgery is so "last week"

Last Tuesday I had a minor laparoscopic procedure. I'm sure y'all remember my whole spinal surgery situation. That began with a left-side abdominal pain that eventually the doctors figured was "referred pain" from my back, hence the spinal fusion.

Shortly after back surgery, when I remarked the original pain was still there, they told me, "You've got to wait at least two years for your spine to fully fuse again." Well, I waited two years (that milestone was last summer) and then jumped into another round of "what is causing the pain?" It took another year of "let's try this!" before I insisted on the exploratory surgery. (They actually wanted to jump straight to a hysterectomy, despite no evidence that my uterus was actually causing the pain. "Let's just take a look," I told them, "If it is obvious the uterus is the problem, then we can discuss further measures.")

Admittedly, the things they tried prior to surgery were rather interesting. I'm sure many people don't realize there is such a thing as a gynecologic physical therapist: she actually sticks her hands up the places were the sun don't shine to manipulate various things, much like a traditional physical therapist might do outside your body with your arm or leg. Although this was an interesting approach, it caused a ton of lasting discomfort (manipulation could target the pain) but didn't solve the issue.

I won't post a huge spoiler alert, because it may not be true, but for now, the left-side pain is gone. (I'll whisper it again to not jinx it, the original pain is not currently happening, whereas right after spinal surgery it was happening.)

Plush ovary toy

During the surgery, they took pretty color photos of my insides. Sorry, I didn't post a pic of my gallbladder or liver on Instagram, although I was tempted. There was some endometriosis on my right ovary. It looked like mold. They removed it. But, it wasn't my right side that was hurting, so that isn't an obvious source of the original pain.

So why is my left side (temporarily? permanently?) no longer hurting? Well, maybe because they shifted some things around during surgery. Maybe because my body "re-taught" itself some pain signals because it wanted to direct pain to the actual areas of the incisions (which were belly-button and right-side, not left side.) Maybe my left side pain is actually GI tract pain, and my post-surgery diet hasn't yet caught up to my typical eating schedule and composition. Maybe it is because I'm sleeping in a different position to help heal my tummy, so am actually repositioning everything better to avoid pain. Of course, maybe my post-surgery pain killers are taking care of that particular sensation, although that would be a trick, since that didn't happen with much stronger pain killers after spinal surgery.

I don't know.

I can give a bazillion reasons for what might be going on, but for now I'm just going to focus on healing. If the original pain comes back once I'm fully healed, that's a bummer. But, for now I'm trying to rest up and trying to be optimistic!

And so, enjoy little snippets of excitement from my surgical adventure thus far:

- At my pre-surgical appointment, my surgeon remarked, "Well, since you tend to bleed more than most people..." (Me: "LALALALALA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!")

- The medical assistant put my bedside TV on the "C.A.R.E." channel. The music was annoyingly new age, but it was pictures of water buffalo and the like that had my husband rolling his eyes.

- The nurse who started my IV ended up splattering blood on the side of my bed, remarking, "OMG, it looks like a murder scene in here!" (Me: "LALALALALA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!")

- As I spoke to the anesthesiologist and his assistant, we had the following conversation:

her: As you enter the operating room, I'll give you "I don't care" medicine.

me: What kind of medicine?

her: "I don't care"

me:...

(what am I, three?)

- The anesthesiologist, talking to his assistant, "Well, this patient has a really wacky throat which can potentially cause complications, so we're going to use this really swag device with an awesome camera on it to successfully navigate the dangerous parts..." (Me: "LALALALALA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!")

- As my husband left for a meeting, he asked my sons if there was anything else that needed to be done, since Mommy is recovering from surgery so can't do anything. His car was only half-way out of the driveway when my eldest son approached me with a moan, "HUNGRY!"

- Although I told my clients I'd be out on Tuesday, and would be at limited capacity for awhile until I healed, three of them emailed me on Tuesday with requests, and continued to email me throughout the week with "Oh, just one simple thing I need you to do! You can go to bed right after, hahaha!" Last night and this morning, I was bombarded with requests. Seems that surgery is so "last week" and that the expectation is that I'm at 100%. I'm not.

Fingers crossed that I continue to heal, and that the original pain will not return.

July 8, 2015

Boxes: Free Advice to Moving Companies

I'm really sensitive about keeping things around that might be reused. As a result, I have a lot of things in storage. And, my home is much more cluttered than I'd like. I don't want to be wasteful.

Each of my moves from home to college to first job to grad school I kept the boxes, knowing I'd need them for the next move. When I moved from graduate school across the country with my husband and brand-new son, the moving company required specific-sized boxes. They allowed us to "borrow" some large closet boxes, but we had to purchase all the smaller boxes so that they were uniform. And so, I had to recycle all the boxes I had kept previously. (Had I recycled them earlier, I would have had so much storage space!)

Once we got to home #1, I kept a bunch of boxes, but not all of them, because I expected we might stay for awhile. Nope! Just two years later, we went to home #2, and then two years later, home #3! We've now been in home #4 for eight years, and yet I'm willing to bet that there are flattened boxes in one of our storage sheds, "just in case." (And let's be real: those boxes are probably moldy, no longer stable, and/or covered in spiders.)

It occurred to me how amazing it would be if moving companies had mid-sized reusable bins that could be rented for a move. If the mover doesn't return all the bins, or damages some, then the mover is charged appropriately. But, if the movers return the bins within 30 (maybe 60?) days of the move, then only the rental fee applies. (And hey, with a specific date by which the mover must return the bins, it would be a kick in the pants to actually move in instead of slowly unpacking.) I'd even propose that rental of reusable bins reduce the moving charge by a particular percentage to discourage the use of disposable boxes.

Frankly, I'd select even a slightly more expensive moving company if they offered a box-free move. I really hate cluttering up my home with flattened boxes to keep "just in case," but it pains me to recycle them, too, because I know recycling isn't as efficient as I wish it were.

So there you have it moving companies, free advice! I'm not planning a move anytime soon, but perhaps by the time I'm ready, there will be an environmentally-friendly way to do so!

P.S. Refrigerator manufacturers: I'm still awaiting a Lazy-Susan style fridge. Don't you think that would reduce food waste?

June 3, 2015

The Season of Many Endings

Last night I watched my older son perform in his final middle-school orchestra concert. I was able to maintain a calm face when the Music Director prompted the 8th graders to take their final bow, but as the parents and students started putting the music stands away, my eyes quickly became wet. Away from the crowd, my husband asked if someone had died. Nope, I'm just freakishly emotional.

Today I watched my final "Spirit Wednesday" presentation at the elementary school. To rub in the nostalgia, the kindergartners led the Pledge of Allegiance. I saw my son's former teacher readying her students, and felt my eyes moisten. That was my son not so long ago. Was he really that small? The custodian of 25 years is retiring after this school year. In gratitude, the parents, students, and staff did a series of presentations to honor him: speeches, songs, a dedicated garden on the campus, and a big check! As I walked back to the car, I caught the eye of another parent with wet cheeks. "There are many endings." she said simply. (She has adult children as well as some still in school. Her twins are fifth-graders like my son. And, for both of us, these are our final days of being parents to elementary-school-aged kids.)

Tomorrow, I'll watch my younger son in his final concert of elementary school.

Next Thursday, I'll be a puddle from sun-up to sun-down, as both my boys spend the final (half) day at their respective schools. That evening, I'll attend my older son's 8th grade promotion ceremony.

Of course the good thing about these particular special endings is the fantastic beginnings to come: My younger son will enter middle school and experience the same strings program that trained my older son. My older son will enter high school with its exciting electives, myriad of challenges, and an award-winning Orchestra. This autumn, I'll be excited for the rhythm of the new routines and to witness my sons continue to become more independent. Of course, I'll then blink and those things will end, with new opportunities to commence.

But for now, if you see my eyes red and my face puffy, just know that I'm not sad per se, it is just that it is a bittersweet season of many endings.

May 26, 2015

Beyond Josh Duggar

A friend wondered why many are so obsessed with the whole Josh Duggar situation.

I replied that it is deeply personal for so many people, but for varied reasons. This includes, but is not limited to: people who have been affected by religion, for the positive or for the negative; people who have been abused, whether sexually, emotionally, or other; and people who have been restricted in some way, whether by a narrow-minded religion, helicopter parents, or controlling spouse (or other!)

A seemingly simple story about a reality-TV family affects people in so many ways, and is a scary indication of some of the challenges we may have to face in the future. The news of late has shown us all sorts of injustice and restrictive or prejudiced ways of thought. We aren't as free as we think; and that realization hits us... hard.

Duggar Family in 2007

There is a mix of feelings involved because of the many different angles the story takes. For me, I'm angry at those who have done harm and feel sympathy for those who have been victimized. I defend the concept of religion, but distance myself from fundamentalism. I understand how and why those involved believe what they do, but wish they could open their eyes to the destruction involved.

And yet, I recognize that by my own desire for tolerance, I must respect at some level that they are staying true to their beliefs. They cannot understand how doing things another way might actually be kinder and more Jesus-like because of the extreme fear of the outside world and assumption that someone like me (who loves God, but doesn't take The Bible literally; who respects many other religions' teachings -- and knows amazing atheists -- for their morality and love, so does not believe Christianity is the only way to live a meaningful, helpful, generous, spiritual life) might be "tempting" them towards something they feel is wrong.

That said, there is a line, and they -- like other extremists in other religions -- have crossed it. Of course for some in this particular brand of fundamentalism, the idea is not a pure and faithful way of worship, but indeed a carefully-crafted way of exerting control over others knowingly. That's the scary part: someone can gain power by using "faithfulness" and "religion" as their motivations, and yet they definitely do not "practice what they preach," and in fact are more harmful than the Devil that their way of life is supposed to shun. Some people involved in extremist religions or cults are naively earnest and others are deviously "pious."

Some of the Duggars understand the hypocrisy in their actions. Others may not; or, believe they are somehow exempt. In the past, I've seen evidence of questioning from some of the Duggar girls. Will one or more of them break free? Or, is it too great a risk for them?

I understand how people can become "same" and complaint with those who they are around. My beliefs have definitely changed based on my environment. Things that seem reasonable in one situation suddenly don't feel right in another. I've witnessed how those who are very sheltered will believe things that make sense in their bubble of the universe. It isn't that they are "stupid," but rather, that they are uneducated. They haven't been shown the world outside their particular environment. These people can't understand the value of different perspectives. They don't understand that the "right" answer for one person may be wrong for another. Given the opportunity to be open-minded, such people may truly flourish. But, all too often, they are kept in their bubble and are afraid to come out. This is not an intelligence problem, it is a survival problem. (They don't want to lose the respect of those they love, even if those relationships are built on control. Add to this financial and basic needs that may not be met if they leave, and it is "smarter" to stay.) Outside of restrictive environments, these people might contribute to society in sophisticated ways that they cannot even fathom while under the control of their religious captors (and, in ways that those who think of themselves as educated may not appreciate until it happens.)

When I say "uneducated" I don't necessarily mean "ignorant," since the latter implies some sort of choice in the matter, whereas the former is a result of circumstance. (I freely admit that I have huge holes in my understanding of different cultures and experiences. But, I'm aware of this, and will listen to other perspectives in an effort to understand.) When I think of people like the Duggars, I sincerely believe that some of those kids are probably quite intelligent, but they haven't been given the opportunity to develop their potential. And then, some may be using their particular position strategically. I'm looking at the male-types in particular, who know how to manipulate the controlling environment to their advantage, even if they don't actually believe in the righteousness in what they are doing. After all, if I was told at a young age that the holy thing to do would be to grow up to become the unquestioned head of something where I could force a bunch of people to do my bidding, then... hey, that sounds like a good deal, why would I fight that hierarchy?

But the young ladies? Well, they could be amazing people if they could be valued. (And, while I'm not in a religious cult, I can empathize with the idea that I wish I were valued, since I've been discounted many times for being female. And I won't even start to list the ways in which I've been shamed for my body parts or otherwise harassed in public because I happen to be female.)

Yes, the way Josh Duggar's molestation of his sisters (and other victims) has been handled is indeed a situation that hits many of us in negative ways. This news has been a trigger for people who were trapped in religious cults. It has been a reminder for those abused that "justice" is frequently not served. It has been a criticism of religion in general, which hurts those who care deeply for their particular beliefs.

And then... this evidence of unfair justice also brings to mind other situations in which there is a tremendous amount of hypocrisy and/or unfairness in how people are treated. I have been shocked at the various pieces in the news, and outright cried when I saw a video in which a Black man is assumed to be disobedient when he was actually suffering a stroke. This in particular caught me because it highlights one of my big fears: that I will be assumed to be in the wrong when I actually need help. (This is relevant to the Duggar situation because of the ways in which their teachings emphasize that the female is always at fault, that they bring upon their own abuse.)

The Josh Duggar situation is scary because it preys upon people in so many ways, whether it is anger, defensiveness, or reopening a very painful wound. There are so many inappropriate ways that power is wielded and religion (and politics) is protecting evil-doers while punishing those who are just trying to survive. The Josh Duggar story highlights this, and so is an example that people want to share and discuss, in the hope that something can change for the better.

May 18, 2015

May those butterflies follow us forever

Eight years ago, we bought a house.

Since it was towards the end of the school year, I saw students in session when I visited the local elementary school to get the paperwork to enroll my oldest son for first grade to start that autumn.

I got happy little butterflies in my stomach when I parked in the school's lot and walked toward the office. I saw gleeful kids playing on the gorgeous playground. What a campus!

A few short months later, I got my son's first-grade teacher assignment, and the next day, I escorted him to his first day of school.

For a very long time, those happy butterflies found me each time I stepped on campus. We were so, so very lucky to have our son attend this amazing school.

Before I knew it, my oldest was in third grade, and my youngest began Kindergarten at the same school as his brother.

And then my oldest son graduated. And went off to middle school, where he was blessed with some amazing teachers.

And now, my youngest son is graduating from elementary school. Simultaneously, my oldest is graduating from middle school.

All of a sudden, both my boys will have new schools, and I won't have an elementary school kid anymore.

We relocated here specifically for the local elementary school. It is stunning that my boys are now moving on. On one hand, I feel the tears creeping into my eyes as I realize just how quickly time has slipped away. But on the other hand, I look at my quickly-growing-up boys and recognize that they are ready for new challenges. I am proud of the young men that they are, and are continuing to become.

Certainly they have plenty of growth still ahead of them, but it is astounding just how far they've come from the little kids they were back when we moved.

Eight years ago, I was eager and excited. I was nervous, but confident. I expected that relocating would be a good idea. But looking back now, I see that our decision to move exceeded my expectations. The questions I had back then... well, I wish the "me of today" could reassure the "me of 8 years ago." It is good. It is very good..

May 15, 2015

Failed Conservation

I got a new car back in February, and so I'm selling my minivan. Usually I sell the old car pretty quickly after obtaining a new one, but this winter/spring has been very busy with illnesses and obligations and the like. And so, the van has sat in my driveway. Of course I haven't wanted to use it, because I didn't want to add more miles on it before selling it.

I was going to be extra-productive this past Tuesday, so decided to take the van for its smog check. But... the battery was dead. So, I got a new battery!

Today I decided to take the van for its smog check. But... because it has a new battery, I must drive it at least 50 miles, and turn it on and off multiple times to reset the computer.

So much for conserving miles!

--

I live in California, where there is a drought. I am careful when using water, so give only a quick squirt of water while using the kitchen sink disposal. I don't run the water continuously while getting stuck-on food off the dishes before loading the washer.

The pipe became blocked. The plumber explained that I hadn't fully rinsed all the stuff down the drain, so food accumulated. He left the water running for close to an hour to finally clear everything away.

So much for conserving water!

May 14, 2015

Tides Change

I took a walk around my old neighborhood today.

Many of the houses were similar to what they were like when I was growing up, but updated subtly, to keep them current. Others had been expanded noticeably, either blending in nicely to the neighborhood's feel, or seeming a bit garish. Thankfully, most were in the first category. And then of course there were some houses that had fallen into disrepair.

I walked past the house where a man died of a heart attack, but his wife was put on trial for murder because the timing of his death seemed "off." Of course, we kids called it "The Murder House," and would race past it on our walk home.

I walked past homes of kids who I babysat. Of course, those kids and I are now considered essentially the same age, since a decade or two is nothing in adult years. What happened to the nice ones? What happened to the brats?

I walked past the former home of my Kindergarten teacher, who I know passed away a few years back. (I know my fifth, fourth, and third grade teachers have also all died.) I joke that since she taught me her final year before retiring, that it was probably me who drove her to retire. (Yup, I was a handful!)

I glanced quickly at two homes --next to each other-- pausing to note their respective significance, but I turned around before heading up The Big Hill:

For one house, I recalled how the occupants included an ex-Raider. He tried to impress me with his football prizes, but since my uncle also has Superbowl rings and the like, I wasn't all that starstruck. Still, I loved his house, which included an enormous wing just for the kids.

The house next to it --much more modest-- used to house a beautiful couple with their two kids. They were the perfect "yuppies" from the 80's/90's with various toys for both themselves and their kids. They were so kind, and attractive. Their daughter was so very sweet, precocious, and well-behaved. Their son cried a lot, because he was a tiny baby. Alas, the father randomly died of a heart attack. He was very, very young. He was otherwise in fabulous shape, so the news of his passing was a shock.

As I passed more homes, I remembered even more: that's where the masseuse lived, that's where the girl who had major brain surgery lived, and that's where that woman who didn't know what chicken pox was --so exposed her kids to me and my brother-- lived. (She later became a physician. Ha!) That's where that "good girl" lived that my mom always wanted me to be like. That's where the misbehaving boy lived. That's where the author lived. That's where the mechanic lived. That's where Ryan Reynolds lived*, that's where the girl who had the fake Cabbage Patch Kid doll lived, that's where the people we bought the swing set from lived, that's where the guy who later died of testicular cancer lived, that's where my first "boyfriend" lived.

As I approached one particular house, I got excited, because I wondered what it looked like now. Back then, it was the fanciest home of them all. My friend had a heated bubble that went over her swimming pool during nasty weather so that everyone could still swim. They had a big playroom, and in a separate entertainment suite, had walls of Atari games. My family didn't have an Atari, but my grandparents did. My friend had a two-story playhouse in the back yard. And some sections of the home were so fancy the kids weren't allowed in them.

My friend moved around third grade into an even bigger home. But I figured that the people who bought her home in my neighborhood had to have been well-off.

I was disappointed to see on my walk that the original home is now one of those in disrepair.

But I guess tides change.

*= I got in major trouble for pushing my brother off a (small) deck in Ryan Reynolds' back yard. I bet it is a different Ryan Reynolds than you are thinking of.

April 21, 2015

Jury Duty

There were 75 of us potential jurors.

One wore a "Vegan Outreach" shirt, and carried a large bag with vegan sayings on it. I ate my hard-boiled egg as far away from her as I could, since I already heard her exceptionally loud voice striking up conversations with other jurors. Even if this had been one of the eggs from my neighbor's chickens (it wasn't this time), I know the argument that obtaining the chicks in the first place is cruel. A bummer, since I'd love to have chickens in the backyard, both as pets and for yummy delicious eggs. Of course the same argument can be made for growing plants: the seeds we purchase, rather than obtaining from an actual "family" farm, are GMO already.

Another immediately recognized a fellow potential juror. There were several "career" jurors around, it seemed. The lottery is random, and yet it isn't: even the court website suggests "updating" voter registration or address to increase one's chances of being called. And so, was it my recent registration of a new-to-me automobile that flagged me? This potential juror remarked to his friend, "I'll get out of it like I usually do," suddenly switching to stereotypical broken English, "No me-talky de Ingles. No hablo. How-you-say?" He laughed and became fluent again, "I'm not worried. They won't want me." And yet, just minutes later, the judge informed us that the trial would be conducted in Spanish.

Two jurors were late after lunch break: one was present but asked to go to the restroom, seemingly disappearing thereafter. The other tiptoed into the courtroom at exactly the last moment, when the judge was already issuing an official reprimand for the guy in the bathroom. Tiptoe woman was late the next day as well, but fortunately the court was delayed enough to not get her in trouble.

I was juror #21, and then after Juror #8 had a meeting in the Judges Chambers, Juror #13 became #8, and I became #20.

But I wasn't interviewed, because the case was dismissed unexpectedly. "The issue has resolved."

Last time this happened, the judge point-blank told us, "The defendant has changed his plea to 'guilty'."

But between this week's service and the other time I was unexpectedly excused without being interviewed, I had Jury Duty on the same day that Sandy Hook occurred. That case was an alleged gang-related murder situation. I hated that the Defendant was watching me be interviewed. I hated that the Defendent's friends were in the audience, taking note of the potential juror's names. I hated that the victim's familiy was also in the audience, because via social media on our lunch break, I learned of Sandy Hook. That day was fragile. I was very wiped by many types of emotion. Seeing people -- both online and in front of me -- who lost loved ones was not fun.

Thankfully, this week's Jury Duty wasn't so delicate. My only problem was accidentally not putting my car in "P" and so freaking out a bit when it wouldn't start (until I realized my mistake.) And of course, I didn't go to the store, so my kids declared their hunger over and over again. But that's nothing remarkable.

March 30, 2015

Stonyfield OP organic high-protein smoothies save the day!

This entire school year has been filled with scratchy throats, upset stomachs, and exhaustion. We've had ER trips for breathing problems, and missed birthday parties. Both my sons have had more school absences than we'd like, and in general we haven't been able to do as much as we'd want because it seems as though someone is always sick.

My youngest son is a competitive gymnast. Unfortunately, his gymnastics season mirrors the prime sickness season. He trains all year to do a quick series of meets from December through March, with only those athletes who qualify attending Championship meets in April and May. The aim for gymnasts his level is to first qualify for the State Championship, and then subsequently qualify for the Regional Championship. (Once he gets to the more advanced levels, he'll have the chance to qualify for the National Championship; but for now, Regionals is the highest he can go.)

Keeping my family healthy is important in general, but is especially critical during the brief gymnastics season. It is so disappointing to not do well at a meet (or miss the competition completely) because of illness, since there are so few meets in any given season.

Meanwhile, Stonyfield asked if I might be interested in trying their OP Organic Protein smoothies. I'm a big fan of their yogurt, and adore smoothies, so it was a natural match. At the start of this month, I received samples of their vanilla and strawberry flavors. I put them in the fridge, and was planning to drink them myself as a quick breakfast-on-the-run.

Stonyfield Organic OP High-Protein Smoothie The OP smoothies pose in my back yard before being consumed.

Well, the very next day my gymnast son fell ill. He skipped school, but didn't skip workout (shhhh!) because he was gearing up for the State Championships. (Luckily, he qualified for States back in December, before the seemingly never-ending string of various bugs started marching around his school.)

Of course he was simultaneously hungry and not-hungry. He couldn't not eat right before a strenuous workout, but he also couldn't consume something that would irritate his stomach while he was already under the weather.

Nearly everything in the fridge was deemed too spicy, or too heavy, or too bland. I wanted him to have some yogurt since I figured the active cultures would be good for his queasy tummy, but he told me he wasn't in the mood for the flavors we had available. I asked if he wanted to try the Stonyfield OP vanilla smoothie and his eyes lit up. I explained it was essentially drinkable yogurt. He was thrilled, and --after a long, satisfying sip-- told me it was delicious.

He quickly depleted the stash that Stonyfield had sent.

"You got to get more of this!" he told me.

Fortunately, I found both the vanilla and strawberry flavors at my local Whole Foods, plus the chocolate OP! I was able to buy a bunch of smoothies, which meant I finally got a chance to try them myself. (Yum!) Although my son loves to just drink them straight, I've found it is fun to add things like strawberries to the strawberry flavor, or banana to the chocolate flavor. Of course they are perfect to just "grab and go," but I've enjoyed adding other ingredients to them as well. During the summer, I think I'll try blending them with a bunch of ice to create slushees - fun!

Stonyfield OP smoothies can be found at Whole Foods I was thrilled to find OP smoothies at my local Whole Foods

This past weekend, as we packed for State Championships, I asked my son what he wanted to bring to the hotel. "Vanilla yogurt smoothies!" was his quick answer. He told me his plan was to drink one before bed and another the next morning before competition. I was pretty thrilled that instead of craving junk food to calm his nerves, he wanted something healthful that could actually power his body in a positive way.

I'm sure you can guess the outcome of the meet: Yes, my son qualified for the Regional competition. (And, he earned 5th place on parallel bars and 6th on pommel.) Despite a very nervous stomach, he was able to digest something nutritious thanks to Stonyfield OP smoothies.

Stonyfield OP smoothies are gymnast-approved! Stonyfield OP smoothies are gymnast-approved!

(I'm guessing we'll have to find a Whole Foods near the Regionals site so he'll be ready for his final meet of the season!)

I've been a fan of Stonyfield for a long time, as you can tell by the YoGetter badge that's been in my sidebar for years. I love that Stonyfield is always inventing new products that meet their quality standards: organic, no pesticides, no hormones, no antibiotics, and no GMOs. (That's a lot of "no" that adds up to a big "YES.") OP is gluten-free, and is the first organic protein smoothie with 5 live active yogurt cultures and no artificial sweeteners. I love that OP is portable, filling, and tasty in addition to being healthful. Yum!

--
The products Stonyfield send me are free in exchange for my spreading the word about them. (In this case, Stonyfield sent me a few, and then I bought a whole bunch more on my own dime!) Likewise, I do receive a stipend for my work with them. But, as you readers know, I only mention products that I truly believe in.

March 17, 2015

The Minivan

Ten years ago, I bought a minivan.

While I was on the test drive, the dealer remarked how he and his wife had just gotten out of their minivan years. He seemed really excited, and I found it an interesting tactic to talk about how fabulous it is not to have to drive one, while trying to sell one.

At the time, I had a preschooler and an infant. The "post-minivan years" seemed very far away, indeed. I embraced the need for a minivan. I was excited by my new vehicle. It had all the bells and whistles, and smelled fabulous (of course!)

After time, the intoxicating new-car-leather smell was replaced by various kid smells, and the tan carpet attracted the dirt that I knew it was going to (but my mom insisted tan was the answer, since black would be too hot in the summer!) During the first year of getting a Christmas tree with the van, I stabbed the roof, ripping the fabric. I hit a mailbox. We had various spills of food and other stuff. Still, I loved my minivan. It was comfortable and sure hauled a lot of stuff. I could chaperone field trips and take a bundle of kids (and later basses and cellos for the Orchestra) with no problem. I transported rescued dogs to adoption fairs for awhile, too. (And yeah, that van saw the first-grade class rats, my now-deceased cat Becca, and my new kittens Ace and Echo.) The van took my oldest son to his first day of elementary school, and to his last. It took the family to Disneyland. It took us on other adventures, like to the beach or snow country.

My minivan has served me well.

gold minivan

But I have moved on to a new vehicle, one that fits my needs better, now that my sons are older.

It is time to sell the minivan. And so, I've been finding all the vitals such as the title (of course) and the extra third seat that I never did use.

But where did I store that third seat?

I spent the morning essentially cleaning / rearranging my shed. That's not to say that it is clean and newly-organized --it's not-- but it is in much better condition than when I started. After all, I couldn't tell if the darn seat was in there or not. (I thought maybe I was storing it at my parents' house, or maybe in one of the other sheds.)

Once I found the seat visually, I had to physically get to it.

I had to peel away layers of memorabilia, moving backwards ten years. For each year, I stored a large plastic Ziploc for each of my kids: their schoolwork, a couple pieces of "memory" clothing, ticket stubs, artwork galore, projects. In order to get at the minivan seat, I had to pick up each bag and move it out of the way.

I wasn't prepared to face those years.

I thought I was going out to the shed to yank the seat off a shelf and be done with it. I had no idea that I was jumping into a nostalgic vortex.

Sure, the waterworks will come in full force in a few months when my oldest attends his promotion ceremony from 8th grade to high school, and my youngest bids goodbye to elementary school. (Oh man, I'm going to lose it then: we moved to our current home specifically for that elementary school, and I'll have no kids left there?) But, just seeing the piles of their memories today was a gut punch.

What happened to those tiny kids? You know, those small creatures I had all strapped in their car seats in my minivan?

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