TODAY IS ONE OF THOSE DAYS – no, weeks – that makes you realize how delicate the balance is of work vs. family… and also humbles you into remembering that sometimes, despite elaborate plans and optimistic intentions, it isn't always possible to do it all. At least not on your own terms.  And for someone like me, with control-freak tendencies, that's hard.

(Lest you think I'm left to deal with this on my own, please know I'm feeling grateful to have a spouse who is more than willing to share the load. His week has been blown up, too. But today it was my turn.)

I'm lucky to have a job where I can flex my hours and arrange my schedule to accommodate the frequent personal crises that come up. I can often telecommute if I need to. But as great as that sounds to someone who doesn't have that option, it's not without cost. Especially if you have a sick or needy kid in the house. Or two! Working at home is one thing when you're alone, but quite another if you're not.

Peezer decided that he had a wicked headache last night, and said he still had it this morning. I'm almost 100% sure he isn't capable of the theatrics that would be necessary to trick this experienced mom into believing he had a malady was anything but legitimate. And let's face it, as much as grown-ups need the occasional mental health day, you have to believe kids do, too. So whatever it was, he wanted his mom, and I said okay.

Seth is still home, and needing extra help (ice, pain medication, waitress services). Yesterday, he got a hard, removable boot, instead of an actual cast, but we're still waiting on approval for an alternative to crutches, which, owing to his left-side weakness, won't work. So today, I set about begging and pleading trying to obtain the blessing  act of Congress Royal Decree approval for Seth to get one of those knee-scooter thingies so he can maneuver at school next week. This involved two calls to the orthopedic doctor's office to request a letter of medical necessity, several calls with the medical supply store, and two calls to the insurance company, which I had to make because apparently the provider's line shuts down at 11:30 a.m. on Fridays. Because I guess people don't have medical needs on weekends. (WTF, Carefirst?)

So much for my mammogram, which I'd finally scheduled for this morning. I've been carrying around the prescription since my annual exam in August and delaying it because… well, I don't know why, it's like there's never a good time to do these things, but I finally did schedule it, largely because of her, and because I know it's ridiculous to postpone these things. Only you can't take a headachey seven year old and prop him in the waiting room with a Nintendo DS and tell him to just hang out till Mommy's done.

Meanwhile, I'm supposed to be telecommuting. Remember that? And that is the other hidden challenge in what may seem on the surface to be a pretty sweet gig: I don't get sick days. I can take off, but I don't get paid. My clients still expect their projects to be completed. But try telling that to the seven year old who's like, "Mama, can I watch that funny video of the preschooler?" when I'm trying to crunch spreadsheets and – ironically – assist an employee whose kid was not properly enrolled for coverage.

And yes, I do understand the irony of blogging instead of finishing that spreadsheet, but my concentration is elsewhere now and my heart just isn't in it. Because two of my kids need me today. And so that is where I need to focus.

That doesn't stop me from fantasizing about martinis and manicures and sneaking away to warm, tropical locations… but unless the Money Fairy drops a big bag o'cash on my front step, I'm going to have to finish my work. But probably not till tomorrow. Because today, I gotta be Mom.



YOU KNOW HOW SOME DAYS, everything that happens to you is tied together with a common theme, a leitmotif if you will? Yesterday's theme was BROKEN. 

And yes, I realize these are first-world problems, but still, they are my problems and this is my blog and so I am going to tell you about them.

I took the 'Burb back to the body shop that fixed it in December because the right-side headlights – the ones they had replaced – were noticeably dimmer than the ones on the left.  We waited, thinking it would be an quick 'n' easy swap of defective headlights for new.


Peezer was very patient. Here, he is lobbying me for an E5, after consuming an A6. I spent $2.25 on a junk-food breakfast for him while we cooled our heels.

Alas, as these things often go, it wasn't a quick fix, so they finally put me into a rental car and sent us on our merry way.

Meanwhile, yesterday was a Federal Holiday so the boys were off school. After a morning of quiet reflection on the importance of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s contributions to the advancement of racial equality in the United States of America sleeping in and playing video games, Seth decided to go longboarding on a sunny, cold Monday. As I was fetching Peezer from an afternoon playdate, Seth called me, the distress in his voice evident: "WHERE ARE YOU?"

Me: "I'm on my way home, where are YOU?"

Him: "In the 'hood. Can you come pick me up?"

Me: "Why, what happened?"

Him: "I think I broke my foot."

Thank goodness he was wearing his helmet. If only he'd worn it on his FOOT.

It wasn't dramatic, but the swelling was evident and he was in pain, so Curt hustled him out for a fun evening at the ER where they confirmed our suspicions, wrapped his foot, gave him a Vicodin and sent him home with instructions to get a cast in the next day or two.



Honestly, we're taking this in stride. This was our first ER visit since February 2006! And it's the first broken bone for any of our kids.  Of course, this is going to put a big damper on that whole learning-to-drive thing. You see, last Friday, Seth obtained his learner's permit (he aced the exam!). I don't want to say I'm relieved, but… well, part of me isn't upset about having to wait a little while longer on that.

While they were at the ER, I got on the phone with Maneesh, a nice man at Verizon DSL who walked me through countless ipconfigs and pings and restarts, all in the name of restoring wireless internet and, consequently, calm to this increasingly wired family. The DSL quit working on Friday, right after I'd spent almost three hours at the MVA with Seth, and I just didn't have the energy to call India then.  We were away for the weekend, but the minute we returned, the boys were all MOM, CAN YOU PLEEEEEASE FIX THE INTERNET??? (Well, no, I can't fix the Internet, but I can try to restore connectivity to our home, would that work?)

Never mind the fact that I can't Facebook  play Words with Friends  Blog  work if I don't have internet access. It was as if they were afraid I would forget!

The sillies!

After 90 minutes of "Yes, ma'am, okay ma'am, would you please try one thing for me, ma'am?", Maneesh determined that while he had successfully restored DSL connectivity, I was on my own with the wireless router. Maneesh helpfully offered to connect me with their "Expert Care" service, where, for $14.99 for a "six month subscription" they would help me get it up and running. I said no thanks, Maneesh, give me a tracking number and I'll try it myself. 

 And guess what?  I GOT IT WORKING AGAIN!

I'm trying hard not to be smug, Maneesh, but I've got your Expert Care right here, buddy

So, to recap: The internet is fixed, the patient is resting comfortably, and I'm about to go take one of Seth's Vicodin return the rental car and pick up my beloved Burb.  You see? We have problems and we address them head-on and we FIX. THEM.

Now, who wants to come help me assemble a coffee table that's been in its box since it arrived almost two weeks ago? Anyone? Bueller?? 


A New Year

2012 HAS ARRIVED and poof! – just like that! – 2011 is but a shrinking speck in our collective rear-view mirror. The first morning of the year dawned with mild temperatures and sunny skies, and so while everyone else in my family was snoring away the first morning of the year, I decided to take my personal color commentator almost-seven-year-old son and Mac the Dog for a Long Explore.

We live within spitting distance of all the Starbucks, grocery stores, McDonalds and 7-Elevens anyone could possibly need, and yet we don't have to venture too far beyond our back gate to find this:

2012-01-01 the woods

 We hiked up the Pepco power line right-of-way to Seneca Creek. Along the way, Peezer was all

2012-01-01 Peezer

…and all

2012-01-01 Peezer on tree

 …because you can't take a boy into the woods and expect him NOT to climb a tree, right?

So we're hiking along and we realize that we're close to a new bike trail that's opened within Seneca Creek State Park.  We hop on the trail and follow it in the direction I imagine will eventually bring us out to the main road that goes by the entrance to our neighborhood. We walk and we walk and we walk and we're not exactly lost, but it seems to be taking a Very Long Time to get to where I think we'll end up. We finally spied a clearing, so we hiked up the hill and found this:

2012-01-01 skeet trap shoot

 There was a paved path and several wooden structures, all of which appeared to be defunct, and piles and piles of blue-dotted tree trunks:

2012-01-01 logs path

The blue dots reminded me of when our friends at Pepco came by our home recently. They were concerned that several of our larger trees might, if they were to fall, be at risk of tumbling into their power lines, and would we allow them to take these trees down? We said Have at it, because they were ones we, too, were concerned about falling (though thinking they'd be more likely to crash into our bedroom versus the power lines) and it ain't cheap to take down a tree.  Meanwhile, Pepco has been on a mighty PR campaign, talking about how they're Hard At Work, in Our Community, clearing branches away from power lines which will, they say, improve reliability. However, you need only drive down some of the roads in our community to see the significant removal of numerous big old trees along the road to wonder if perhaps our power company hasn't gone a wee bit overkill on their campaign. But hey, they sure do look Busy! Busy! Busy! And it dovetails nicely with their latest media blitz.

So apparently, my kid and I stumbled upon Pepco's tree trunk graveyard, which, it turns out, is on the defunct National Capital Skeet and Trap Club, just up the road from where we live, that closed five or six years ago. (Interesting reading here about the as-yet unsuccessful campaign to petition Maryland to reopen the Club.)

By this time, we could hear traffic, which was a reassuring sign that we were close to the road. Before we got there, we poked around the old structure that's at the entrance to the club lands:

2012-01-01 abandoned bldg

…and a closer view of the window:

2012-01-01 window

We ventured home from there, Peezer happy in having completed a first-day adventure and Mama content in having earned her Holiday Nap.