Saturday, December 31, 2011

An inspiration

A few months ago, I started noticing Sweetheart jogging around the neighborhood while I was driving my girls to/from school. I haven't seen much of Sweetheart since her daughter and my Bumblebee graduated from 8th grade together.

I saw her in the grocery store this week and it was nice to catch up with her after a long time.
--Sweetheart, you look fantastic. What's your secret?
--I lost 90 pounds.
--Wow! Amazing! Wait, you didn't have 90 pounds to lose.
--You never saw me naked.

OK then.

Of course, maybe she got much bigger since I'd last seen her and before she lost the 90 pounds. I hadn't seen her really for 3 years at least, and she went through a divorce during that time.

Still, good for her.

Well, I have seen *me* naked, and it's not pretty. I'm carrying around 55 extra pounds. It's scary because the big 200 is getting closer and closer on the scales. I'm not there yet, but I also thought that at 150, and 160, and 170.

I've been doing Yoga twice a week for a while. But I haven't been consistent. I'm not going to lose 55 pounds just by doing Yoga. I've got to start sweating. Serious sweating. And I've got to figure out the how and why of that one.

Yet another doll conversation

Princess Imagination: She just went into the machine that makes you drop dead gorgeous.
Pink Ballerina: That was her identical twin.
Princess Imagination: Not any more.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Conversation

Firetruck Santa stopped by last night.
"Santa have you been working out? You've lost weight since last year!"
Yes, that would be our Princess Imagination.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dear Math Teacher: Do not make my daughter cry

Today Princess Imagination took her out reading book in your math class.

Yes, that was a mistake in judgment. She’s worried about a book report that’s due soon.

You probably forgot that impulsivity is a symptom of her ADHD.

You should have said, “Princess Imagination, this is math class, not language arts. Put your book away.” Princess Imagination would have said, “Oh, right.” That could have been the end of this whole mess.

Instead, you took the book and hid it in your desk drawer. And you upset her. A lot.

Then you forgot to give the book back at the end of class. That was your mistake, not hers.

Then you weren’t in your classroom at the end of day, when she went looking for you to give her the book back. Her book report book! Now the book is in your desk, in your locked classroom. You panicked her and made her cry. She met me outside sobbing and hysterical.

Then when my older daughter tracked you down in the office, you gave her attitude. You complained about having to walk “all the way down the hall and unlock your classroom.”

You were the one who took the book. You were the one to forget to return it. You were the one not in your classroom at the end of day.

You’re very lucky my older daughter found you and not me. Mama Bear is very angry with you.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pink Ballerina's dizziness update

After eight visits to five doctors (Pediatrician, Cardiologist, ENT/Otolaryngologist, Ophthalmologist, and Neurologist), several rounds of testing (blood, urine, sinus x-rays, EKG, echo-cardiogram, hearing, vision, VNG, and MRI), we still do not know the cause of Pink Ballerina's dizziness, headaches, and ringing in her ears.

The good news is that really bad causes have been eliminated. (I've decided not to speculate on what those really bad causes could have been.)

There are three theories (so far) for the cause of her dizziness:
  1. Dehydration. We have been keeping her hydrated and it seems to have helped. Or it may be co-incidental.
  2. Migraine-associated vertigo (MAV), which is vertigo associated with a migraine, either as a symptom of migraine or as a related but neurological disorder. Pink Ballerina has a history of migraines.
  3. We don’t (or won’t) know the cause, but with a “tincture of time” it will go away. Our Pediatrician, Cardiologist, Ophthalmologist, and ENT all related stories of several patients who had similar symptoms of dizziness; and although no specific cause was found (and thus no specific treatment prescribed) they all seemed to get better after a few months.
We do know that Pink Ballerina’s hearing has declined since last year, and her vision has declined since last year.
She has gotten glasses and is now getting used to them. Our Ophthalmologist suggested that her vision decline may explain the some of the dizziness and headaches, but certainly not the ringing in her ears.

Pink Ballerina wore hearing aids last fall, and has a miserable experience with them. She said they were very uncomfortable, made some sounds too soft and others too loud, made her ears like they were plugged, and also, the receiver part of the hearing aids broke frequently. She gave her hearing aids another trial last week. She hates them just as much, if not more, than last year. (Getting Pink Ballerina to wear her hearing aids is a battle that will have to wait.)

The Doctors do agree the best all of us can do is:
  1. continue the supports in school she already had in place for her hearing loss (preferential seating, making sure Pink Ballerina has your attention, etc.),
  2. be patient as she adjusts to her glasses and re-programmed hearing aids,
  3. continue to allow her to hydrate frequently,
  4. keep a journal of her dizziness attacks (how often, how long, what triggers them, what makes them worse, what makes them better), and
  5. ease her back into physical activity as her dizziness allows.
We had a follow-up the the Neurologist yesterday. Ballerina's MRI was normal. Yeah! Since the dizziness spells seem to be getting less severe, and/or Pink Ballerina seems to be learning to live with them, we are continuing with the stay hydrated and "tincture of time" treatments.

The Neurologist wants to schedule an EEG to rule out seizure disorders. Yikes! Wait, I'm not going to speculate on really bad causes.

Stay tuned,
The Mominator

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Teenager Audio Test, or What's the Buzz?

There's a test that's been circulating on the Internet: Teenager Audio Test. The Oatmeal describes it as a sound that is "generally only heard by people under the age of 25. It has been used as a deterrent device to keep teenagers from loitering in malls and shops, and sounds similar to a buzzing mosquito. The elderly and people with hearing damage often cannot hear the sound."

I can hear it. VERY clearly.

I have very sensitive ears. As Adrian Monk would say, "It is a blessing and a curse."

I found it to be mostly a blessing. I discovered at an early age that I loved music, especially really good music (e.g.,  Bach, Mozart) and I wanted to learn more.

I started playing the flute in 4th grade. I eventually learned not only the flute, but many of its relatives: piccolo, recorder, fife, traverso (a one-keyed, wooden flute) and Native American Flute. I really enjoyed playing up in the stratosphere, like the "trumpeters who'd improvise a full octave higher than the score" (from The Music Man).

When I was working on my Master's Degree in Music, I took a course in Electronic Music. This was in the mid-80's, so we were still working on reel-to-reel audio tape recording. Our compositions consisted of various recorded original music, sounds, and effects, spliced together. Compositions were judged on both artistic and technical merits. When reviewing a classmate's piece, I said the classmate's composition very nice, except for the clicks. (Clicks are heard where the splices are improperly made.) My instructor looked around the room. No one else heard the clicks. Then he had a brainstorm. He played the compostion back at half speed, which makes everything sound down an octave. Suddenly, everyone heard the clicks. It helped that I was the only female in the room (women  tend to hear higher frequencies than men).

Sometimes I suffer for my sensitive hearing. My eye doctor had a "rodent deterrent" in his office. Every year for my annual eye exam, I would ask him to turn if off. He thought I was crazy. "How can you hear that? I'm not even sure it's on." I replied, "I am a professional musician. Yes, it's ON, please turn it OFF." That's one of the reasons I found a new eye doctor.

Sometimes my sensitive hearing is a blessing. I KNOW what my children are doing every minute they are in the house. Or wait, sometimes that is a curse.

I realize that my sensitive ears have been a bit a luck, a bit of genetics, and a bit of lifestyle choices.
So even though I am now twice the age as the target audience, my ears still work, very well. Now please, go turn off that Mosquito!!

Mominator, where have you been?

This has been a tough month at Chez Mominator. As previously noted, we had not an auspicious start to the school year. Since then, Pink Ballerina has been having medical problems. She's been dizzy, all day long, almost every day. She also has been having headaches, and ringing in her ears.

We went to our pediatrician on 10/11. He said everything looked OK, and had the nurse run an EKG. The EKG showed an abnormal rhythm: First Degree AV Block. After our appointment at the pediatrician’s, we spent the rest of the day shuttling between blood tests and x-rays.

We got Pink Ballerina had an appointment with a cardiologist 10/12. After a moment studying the EKG from the pediatrician’s office, the cardiologist told us that the leads on the EKG were reversed. The cardiologist did her own EKG and echo-cardiogram on Pink Ballerina. Both tests showed Ballerina's heart is completely normal. The cardiologist has ruled out any heart issues, and recommends that Pink Ballerina gets more hydration throughout the day, and limit her activities until the dizziness issue has been resolved.

Pink Ballerina continued to be dizzy, all day, every day, and frequent ringing in her ears. 
Pink Ballerina had a follow-up appointment with her pediatrician Tuesday, 10/18. Although we are happy that her first round of tests all came up normal, we still do not know the cause of her dizziness. Her pediatrician and I are trying to keep her in school as much as possible while we will continue investigating. We sent Pink Ballerina back to school feeling dizzy.

Pink Ballerina had an appointment with the ENT on Friday, 10/21. Everything looked normal, although her hearing had declined. She will be giving her hearing aids another trial next week. Pink Ballerina wore hearing aids last fall, and has a miserable experience with them. She said they were very uncomfortable, made some sounds too soft and others too loud, made her ears feel like they were plugged, and also, the receiver part of the hearing aids broke frequently.

Pink Ballerina had an appointment with ophthalmologist on Tuesday, 11/1. Everything looked normal, although she is now more far-sighted than before. Most kids are one to two units far-sighted. She is now 3 1/2 units far-sighted. She has gotten glasses and is now getting used to them. Our Ophthalmologist suggested that her vision decline may explain the some of the dizziness and headaches, but certainly not the ringing in her ears.

Pink Ballerina had the VNG series of specialized testing with the ENT on Thursday, 11/3. These tests are designed to look for causes of dizziness, including tracking how the eyes register motion and how the mind responds. Everything looked normal.

Pink Ballerina had an appointment with the neurologist on Thursday, 11/10. Everything looked normal.

Pink Ballerina spent 11/15-11/17 home in bed with fever and chills.

Pink Ballerina spent three hours at the hospital on 11/17 for the MRI test. She read her Language Arts book while waiting. She tried some math, but found it hard to concentrate while she was dizzy and her ears were ringing. We told her that her teachers don't expect her to be up to date yet when has been so sick.

Pink Ballerina said she did not feeling well on Friday, 11/18. We sent her to school anyway because we feel she needs to catch up on her schoolwork. She is worried about how far behind she is, and she that has not been able to finish all her homework.

Pink Ballerina enjoyed the long Thanksgiving weekend. We spent some time as a family, and there was a lot of resting for her. We have a follow-up with the neurologist next week.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tae Kwon Do Test Promotion Results

Congratulations to the Pink Ballerina and Princess Imagination for earning their yellow belts today in Tae Kwon Do!! They have been taking Tae Kwon Do for less than two months. They both had perfect scores in form, kicking technique, braking technique, and in training attitude. Master said it is very rare that he awards perfect scores in all 4 areas.

The Pink Ballerina, due to her age, was required to break two boards at the same time for her breaking technique. She did on the first try.

Princess Imagination, being younger, had the option of breaking one or two boards. She elected to break two boards at the same time, per encouragement of her classmates. She also did it on the first try.

Master & I felt Bumblebee was not yet ready for the test. He will be tested at a later date.

Love our Dojo!!

P.S. Congratulations to Bumblebee for earning his yellow belt a day later in Tae Kwon Do!! Another boy, Jelly, who started two weeks after Bumblebee, also earned his yellow belt today. It was so nice that they earned their belts together.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Another conversation

Overheard while the girls playing with their Monster High dolls:
(similar in size to Barbies, but with spooky looks, names, and detachable body parts).
Princess Imagination: My doll has two left hands!
Pink Ballerina: My doll has two right hands! I know, you give me your right left hand and I'll give you my left right hand.
(Both girls remove a hand and exchange them.)
Imagination: Wait! Now my doll's hands are backwards!
Ballerina: That's because you put the right hand on the left arm. Silly girl!

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Like many musicians, I play many weddings every year, and we musicians are usually ignored by the photographers. The last time I was photographed was several years ago.

Today, I was photographed at TWO weddings, plus the videographer at the second wedding shot a couple scenes with me as well. Glad I wore my new pink dress! Feeling very photogenic today.

The sacristan told us that the bride of the first wedding was a 9/11 widow. He also said there were no altar servers for either wedding. So I volunteered my two girls for the second wedding. They looked so sweet when the Monsignor had them hold the bride's and maid of honor's bouquets. I hope my girls appear in the photos as well.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Conversation at Tae Kwon Do:
Another mom: So what are you making that baby blanket for?
Mominator: The Altar Sewing Guild's craft fair.
Another mom: my mom used to be a member of that. She retired. LadyBug
Mominator: yes, I've heard of her.
Another mom: I heard some nice, young lady is now running the Guild.
Mominator: I'm the new president.
Another mom: Oh how wonderful!

Conversation at dinner tonight:
Mominator: My flute student today liked my Reef sandals. She said they were cool.
Princess Imagination: Most moms are not cool. You are the exception.

Overheard while the girls playing with their dollhouse:
Pink Ballerina: They bought a house on the lake.
Princess Imagination: AT the lake, but not ON the lake, because that would be in a flood zone.
Pink Ballerina: Right. Smart girl.


Overheard while the girls were playing Wii Phineas and Ferb:
Pink Ballerina: Wait!! How did you get up there?
Princess Imagination: I have no idea.
(soon after)

Princess Imagination: Oh no! I'm out of ammo.
Pink Ballerina: Right. Don't worry. I'll cover you.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Not an auspicious start to the school year

Princess Imagination was absent on the first full day of school (Thursday 9/9), having vomited overnight.

Bumblebee had a yucky tummy and missed the following Monday and Tuesday (9/13 & 9/14). He was pale and clammy both days.

Pink Ballerina wasn’t feeling well that Friday (9/17).

This morning, Pink Ballerina had a yucky tummy AND Princess Imagination had a sore throat.

We’ve had just 9 full days of school, and 6 sick-days so far.

On the bright side, these have been very mild illnesses.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mommy's new friend Wendy

After I failed my sleep study, I did some thinking. I knew the dental appliance wouldn’t work in my case. I thought about the surgery, but again, that only works in about 50% of the cases. Plus I really didn’t like the idea of surgery on my AIRWAY. Would it change the way my speaking or singing voice sounds, or how I play my flute? What if something went wrong?

So I resolved that I was going to wear the CPAP, and make it work.

Fortunately, I only had to wait one more week for the Respiratory Therapist appointment, and, even better, the RT would meet me at my home. I showed her my mask from the study. I told her I really felt like I was suffocating during the sleep study.

She had a much smaller mask for me, and a smaller CPAP machine. Best of all, my CPAP machine has a “ramp” function: it starts at a lower pressure than needed for therapy, and gradually increases to the therapy pressure over several minutes. The lower pressure is much better for falling asleep.

I’ve been getting into a routine of putting on the mask, hitting the ON button, then the RAMP button very quickly. I found that the ramp button will not activate until the machine is on, which is unfortunate as I must endure about 1 second or so of full pressure before the ramp will engage. So I’ve been trying to time my breathing so that I put on the mask, take a breath, hit on, and then hit ramp before I need to take another breath.

These CPAP machines are very sophisticated. They record the pressure in the hose, thus recording when the patient breathes. They also want to be used. The other night, I put on the mask, but had some trouble adjusting it. I had taken 3 breaths but I still hadn’t hit the on button. The CPAP turned itself on at that point. Well, OK then.

I decided that my CPAP needs a name. I didn’t want it be a man, because I felt I would resent it. I felt a would resent a woman less, because a real Girlfriend would help me sleep safely. Since she blows a lot of air, her name is Wendy (Windy).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mommy fails a big test

Towards the end of June, I went to the doctor’s for a sinus infection. While the doctor was checking me over she inquired “Did you know you have an obstruction in your throat?” which led to other questions such as “Do you snore?” (“Yes, I’m famous for that in our family.”) and “Do you ever wake up gasping for breath?” (“No, but hubby says I do.”) and so on.

You see where this is going. I was given a script for antibiotics, and a referral for a sleep study.

It took a month from referral to actual appointment.

The big day night finally arrived. We were told to arrive between 8 and 8:30. There was a horrendous thunderstorm that night, so 3 of us (independently) erred on the side of caution and arrived at 7:50. I was signed in and brought to my room. I was in my PJ’s, snuggled under the covers with a book, and ready to go by 8:15. That was the last good thing to happen.

Some of the many things that annoyed me:
There was no indication of schedule.
I tried to read but the lights were too harsh and hurt my eyes.
I was afraid that I would fall asleep before the technician came to put on the wires.
The technician didn’t start putting on the wires until 9:30.
The technician didn’t finish putting on wires until 10:35.

Thus the phrase “hurry up and wait” was brought to a new and ultra-annoying meaning.

A couple of observations:
Sleeping with your head covered in wires s*cks big time.
Sleeping with your head covered in wires and people talking loudly in the very next room s*cks even more.

I practiced my yoga breathing. I tried to think happy thoughts. Eventually I dozed off.

After a mere 2 ½ hours of sleep, the technician came in and threw on the bright lights. I literally put my arm over my face to shield my eyes. He told me I needed to wear a mask because my oxygen level was too low. The mask was huge, covering my nose and mouth, and extending up to my forehead.

Sleeping with your head covered in wires and a big, hulking mask covering your nose and mouth, and feeling like you’re suffocating is almost impossible.

At that moment I realized that if he’s already putting a mask on me, than I must have sleep apnea, and that I would be sleeping every night for the rest of my life with this huge mask on my face. I tried not to cry.

I practiced some more yoga breathing. After an hour, I was still suffocating and the mask was leaking. I called him in to fix the mask. Again with the bright lights. He made some adjustments. I finally dozed off.

He came back in at 6:20 and put on the bright lights again.

It felt like I spent a night in a motel run by incompetents.

A friend argued how can they get an accurate reading when it’s impossible to sleep with wires. Well, there is a big difference between 1.) waking because of the monitor wires bothering you (you toss and turn, and your brain waves are still in waking state) and 2.) waking because you stops breathing (your brain waves are in REM or delta sleep, while you snore, gasp, and your breathing actually stops).

Two weeks after the sleep study I met with the Physician’s Assistant for the results. I stopped breathing an average of 77 times an hour. I have Very Severe Sleep Apnea. There are three treatments available for sleep apnea: 1.) dental appliances, which only work on mild cases, 2.) surgery, which works on about 50% of cases, and 3.) CPAP machines, which deliver Continuous Positive Air Pressure, which opens airways of 100% of cases.

I reluctantly made an appointment with their Respiratory Therapist.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Reflecting on 9/11 ten years ago

Being so close to NYC, it weighs very heavily here.

I was actually glad that it rained here on 9/11. I didn't want it to be that same beautifully blue cloudless sky on the 10th anniversary. That day was so perfect, until the carnage began.

Of the 2,996 victims from 9/11 itself, 1,763 were from NY, and 714 were from NJ.

Most of the towns in my area lost several people that day. Amoung our lost: Two dads from our school, who both worked at WTC. One dad was the then-president of the Board of Ed. The new gym, which he was instrumental in designing, was dedicated to his memory. [I see his widow all the time at PTA meetings and at church. Her children and my children are in successive grades.] A couple from our church was heading out on a mission on United Flight 175, which flew into the WTC South Tower. My friend, an usher at our church, lost his son at WTC. The landlords of the house we were renting while our house was being renovated, lost their nephew. A firefighter from our town, who had recently joined the NYFD, was off-duty and on the phone with his sister when the planes struck. His last words were that he was "going to help his brothers."

Everybody around here knows somebody who died that day. Many know several.

Some of the lesser-known victims include the many first-responders, and even office workers who are now suffering serious health problems. One friend's husband (WTC?) was affected by the toxins in the air. He started having health problems a several years ago. He has had some strokes that have weakened his heart and lungs. He is now is a long-care facility and she is raising their kids alone.

Gadget Guy was scheduled to fly out of Newark to San Franscico on 9/11/2001, the same flight as United Airlines Flight 93 (from Newark to San Francisco), just later in the day. I was so lucky that his company wanted a half-day of work out of him before he went to that trade show. Otherwise, I could have easily been one of the 9/11 widows. {shudder} Mominator

Friday, September 9, 2011

Yesterday was a good day

(which was surprising considering that Princess Imagination vomited overnight.)

Yesterday morning the Pink Ballerina was talking to me while getting dressed.
Ballerina: Mom, you know how you’re always driving my friends home from school, even when I don’t ask you ahead of time?
Me: Yes... (wondering where this was going)
Ballerina: well, I think that’s a good thing.

OK, then.

Yesterday evening, as Gadget Guy was walking in from a long day, Pink Ballerina greets him with a big smile and says “Mommy made Crockpot Chicken Chili for dinner.”

That’s so wonderful on so many levels!

Crockpot Chicken Chili
Put 1 lb boneless chicken breasts (or thighs) in crockpot
Pour over 1 jar (about 24 or 28 oz) of your favorite tomato sauce
Add 1 can corn
Add 1 can red beans and/or 1 can black beans (I add both)
Cover and cook on low setting 2 to 4 hours

My secret ingredient: when chicken is tender, add 1 can refried beans to thicken chili.

The Mominator

Thursday, September 8, 2011

And the award for the first missed day of school goes to...

Princess Imagination

Surprise! Usually it is the Pink Ballerina who is sick. Last year she missed 25 full days of school (and I gave up counting the days she was sent home sick).

I heard a soft little sound in the middle of the night. It was Princess Imagination, huddled over the toilet, staring at the remains of her supper.

Gadget Guy took over and everyone went back to sleep.

Princess Imagination feels much better this morning, and has had a little chicken noodle soup and some plain toast.

We should note here that today is just the 3rd day of school, and the first full day overall.

I am wondering how to juggle her and our first meeting of the Altar Sewing & Crafts Guild. I am the president.

It's always something. Mominator

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Always nice to know when I make the right decision

The plumber came Saturday afternoon (of Labor Day weekend) to check on a wobbly toilet. After he tried a few simple things he told me that the next step would be take the toilet out and check the flange. If he did that, and if the flange needed replacement (the supply store had already closed), we would be without the toilet until Tuesday.

I told him let’s wait ’til Tuesday.

The plumber is back here now, Tuesday, and he is replacing the flange.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Good night, Irene, I'll see you in my dreams...

Actually, Irene has been a nightmare.

Our town and our area were told to expect high winds, heavy rain, flooding, downed trees and power lines, and prolonged power outages. We live near the highest elevation in our town, plus we are 1.25 miles from the ocean and not near any of the many lakes, ponds, and streams of this region. Gadget Guy & I were expecting some minor flooding in our yard and possibly the basement, plus a few hours of no power. We were stocked up, we were prepared, and we were going to weather the storm.

It started raining.

Saturday, just an hour after my last post, we lost power at Chez Mominator. The children were excited. We read stories by flashlight and went to bed.

Sunday morning, we woke up to calmness. We were in the eye of Irene. The ground was already soaking up the puddles. The sump pump handled the leaking window. The sun started peaking out. We had Survived.

Although the power was still out, we discovered that the gas hot water heater was still working and the burners on the stove would work once lit by match. Showers and coffee were possible. Children were fed a nutritious breakfast. Life went on.

We decided to go to Church. We were ready to go to Mass by candlelight, just like Easter Vigil. We were prepared to serve (two Altar Servers and one Eucharistic Minister) if needed. We navigated around the down trees and flooding. We arrived at Church. We looked around. We were the only ones there. Perhaps the priests were afraid to venture across the street from the rectory?

We went home. I made tacos for lunch. We had a lovely day of board games and laughter.

Monday we were still without power. Police said it may be “a couple of days.” We were doing OK. But we were real careful with food in the fridge, as the fridge was not that cold any more. We got a call from the town Emergency Preparedness Office: ice and water were available at ShopRite. The Mominator jumped for joy. Gadget Guy was immediately dispatched to store. Gadget Guy found no ice, but received a look that said “how could you even imagine that we had ice?”

Tuesday morning we were still without power. Food was in serious danger. Batteries were running low on electronic devices. Mount Washmore was growing to massive proportions. Children were restless. We were getting Concerned.

On Tuesday afternoon, our next door neighbor and the across the street neighbor got power (and all the other neighbors east down the block). We all jumped for joy. Surely our half, the west side of the street, would be getting power soon? Gadget Guy called JCP&L and spoke with a very nice lady. She said that we would have power by 9. We weren’t sure if that was AM or PM, but it was Soon. Gadget Guy would be back to work at home by tomorrow. We all jumped for joy again. Relief was in sight.

Wednesday morning 9 AM came and went, and we were still without power.

Gadget Guy decided it was time to be Pro-active. He called JCP&L to report our outage, again. He spoke to Someone In Charge. He got a case number. He asked for a timetable. JCP&L could not assure us of power restoration until the weekend or early next week.

Gadget Guy needs power to work. He could no longer work from home. He could not get to the office. Trains are not running from Trenton, which he would take to Philly.

It was time to make a Decision. It was time to go to a Hotel. We grabbed our pre-packed suitcases. We fed the critters. We threw out a bunch of food. We were rejoining Civilization!!

We just checked into a hotel. Cha-ching!! Gadget Guy plugged in his gadgets. He was online, he was working, he was happy. I took the kiddos to the pool to keep them out of his hair for some relaxation.

The Lady across the street texted me that our front light was on. I called home and the answering machine picked up. Woo-hoo!! We were back on the grid.

The Gadget Guy wanted to head back home right away. We called the front desk and they said there would be no refunds or discounts.

The Mominator realized there would be Mount Washmore to tackle, loads of dishes to wash, and a fridge to be decontaminated. Who wants to rush home to that? Besides, the room rate included free breakfast in the morning, giving me one last chance to enjoy a meal without having to cook or do dishes. Plus, the kiddos were having fun.

It was time to make an Executive Decision. The Mominator decided (and over-ruled dear Gadget Guy) that we might as well enjoy our night out. We’ll take Bumblebee to school in the morning. Gadget Guy can go home early and get back to work at home. The Mominator will gather the girls (maybe sneak in one last swim) and come home a little later.

Once we got home, I cleaned out the fridge after 4 days without power. I may never eat again. Meanwhile, I just put the 10th load of laundry into the washer, 9th load in the dryer, and loads 1-8 are folded and put away. I’d rather do 20 more loads of laundry than deal with an icky fridge any day.

Gadget Guy reports: We alerted the authorities that our fridge may represent a new alien life form. The CDC has begun airlifting hazmat teams to begin sample collection, initial decon and perimeter demarc for evac. They’re even designing a new biohazard icon just for us.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Earthquakes and Hurricanes and Flooding, oh my!!

Its been quite the week here at Chez Mominator, and the worst is yet to come.

We had our little Earthquake, Hubby's building shook and they were sent home, and Hubby had a wait (just a little) while Amtrak fixed their schedule. No biggie for us.

We now have Hurricane Irene with her eye on us. Unfortunately, quite literally.

Were lucky our town has a very pro-active Office of Emergency Management which has been issuing regular updates on the web and on our phones. About 1/3 to 1/2 of our town is under official MANDATORY evacuation orders, including the low-lying streets near the rivers, the lake, and the pond, although not our street. We are 1.5 miles from the shore and close to the water tower, which is the highest elevation in town.

Still, were expecting high winds, heavy rain, flooding, downed trees and power lines, and prolonged power outages. Gadget Guy & I are expecting some flooding in our yard and possibly the basement, plus a few hours of loss of power. Lets hope the sump pump can keep pace with the water.

Were stocked up and hunkered down. We all have suitcases packed if we need to evac quickly. If the projection for power loss is for days, well head west.

We, of course, postponed Princess Imaginations sleepover birthday party, scheduled for tonight. She turns 10 tomorrow. There were many tears, but shes feeling better now.

Bumblebee is really wound up and having a tough time. Hes couped up in the house, his rountine is off and there is as much stress as humidity in the air. It’s going to be a looooooooooong night.

Water is already ponding (isnt that a stupid word?) in the backyard. Its about 9:45 now, and they are expecting the worst for us around 6:00 AM. Lord, please watch over the East Coast.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Spiders and showers

We try to live in harmony with Nature.

We think Ladybugs are lucky (especially for our plants). We enjoy watching fireflies and listening to crickets on summer evenings. We were awe-struck when a cicada emerged from its shell. We were very protective of the praying mantis that visited our porch for a week. Our favorite room at the Musuem was where real live butterflies landed on our children.

We are insects best advocates. We rescue earthworms from sidewalks where they could get squashed and move them to safer ground. Ants marching around outside are stepped over not on. Spiders visiting our house are gently captured and released back into the wild.

Yes, we are a very bug-tolerant family.

So imagine my remorse over the past several weeks, as I have unintentionally killed several spiders. These spiders have insisted on joining me in the shower. I close my eyes when I shower, because there is soap, shampoo, and conditioner involved. And there is water. Lots of water.

So Charlotte, please dont join me in the shower. You will be poisoned and drowned. I’m really sorry. I just can’t help it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Summer rewind

Today is the last day of camp for our last camper. School starts September 1 for Bumblebee, September 7 for the girls.

Bumblebee, the Pink Ballerina, and Princess Imagination have all enjoyed their camps. They had tons of fun swimming every day, playing sports, doing crafts, taking numerous field trips, and making new friends. Items left at home, such as swim stuff (Bumblebee, twice), or lunches (Princess Imagination, twice) were found and brought back to camp by Mom soon enough to prevent emotional trauma. Items left at camp (towels and lunch boxes, both) were recovered by campers and brought back home soon enough to prevent Mommy anger. We finished the camps with the full complement of swim suits, towels, lunch boxes, and even children, as when we started. There were no broken bones, no lacerations, no lost/misplaced children, only a few very mild sunburns (our Pink Ballerina turned red), and one sprained ankle (also the Pink Ballerina).

Along the way, the library and book store were visited and many books were read. The Pink Ballerina finished her required school reading the first week off from school. Princess Imagination just finished her book and her first draft of her report.

The Mominator even had a few precious hours to herself on camp days so she could do things like (grocery shopping and laundry) (watch TrueBlood on demand and White Collar on hulu) take Yoga classes and exercise, as well as teach crochet classes for the Guild.

Hubby recently changed jobs, so he had no vacation this summer. Instead, we have been having a staycation. We have been on some day trips together. My personal favorites were the trip to the Museum of National Sciences in Philly (where real live butterflies landed on our children), and canoeing on Shark River. We’ve gone to several movies, yes, In The Theaters$$ (Maude, forgive me), and bought other DVDs to enjoy at home. We've sat on the porch, watching the fireflies, getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, and listening to the crickets. Also, hubby feels that staycation includes going to restaurants. Frequently. Love that man!!

It was, indeed, a very good summer.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The earth moved, apparently

Yesterday was an average day at Chez Mominator:
Bumblebee was playing a Transformer game on his DS.
The Pink Ballerina was texting me that she was bored at camp.
Princess Imagination was looking up Karate classes on the computer.

My chair wobbled as I was working on the computer. Now that was odd. Did I just lose my balance? Silly me! I’m sitting in a chair, my feet on the floor, and my hands on the desk! How could I possibly lose my balance?

Moments later I seriously wobbled again. I felt tipsy, and wondered if I was getting drunk. Silly me again!! The strongest thing I had to drink all day was chocolate milk!

I looked around. All seemed fine, although the ribbon on my desk was moving gently.
My children were still wrapped up in their respective activities. Life went on.

About a half hour later Gadget Guy called. There was an earthquake. Are you all OK? His building in Philly shook and they were evacuated as a precaution. His co-workers could see neighboring building sway. They were allowed back in the building briefly to collect their belongings. They’re being sent home for the day while the building is inspected for damage. He’s been trying to call me for 30 minutes, but the cell lines were all tied up. He’s waiting at the train station, but the trains are delayed out of DC, and delaying all other lines as well. He’s fine, and he’ll get home when he can.

Later, I gathered up Bumblee and Princess Imagination to pick up the Pink Ballerina and Best Friend from camp. I told all four about the Earthquake. An Earthquake? We had an Earthquake and we totally missed it! Bummer.

Thank you, God. That was plenty enough of an earthquake for me.

In search of the perfect Dojo

Princess Imagination has decided that she wants to learn “Karate” (she doesn’t know the difference between the various martial arts, so we just call it Karate for now). We found 3 martial arts dojos that are within 10 miles of our home.

The first Dojo was Mixed Martial Arts school that featured Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. We happened to have walked in between classes. There were two instructors present, as well as lots of sweat and testosterone. The manager was nice and all, but we didn’t seem to belong. Plus, there were numerous tattoos where there should have been shirts.

The second Dojo was a Karate school. The owner was pleasant on the phone. When we arrived, he answered my questions about classes and pricing. He wasn’t as interested in answering Princess Imagination’s questions. At one point he asked her if she has an “off” switch. That was when I started thinking that his “polite” switch got turned off.

The third Dojo was a Tae Kwon Do school. The Master showed us around. We let the children play on the mat for a few minutes while we discussed classes, prices, and my children. The Master then spent some time with each of my children, having them kick and punch his special sparring gloves. He gently corrected their techniques, and was very encouraging. The children were all excited. “Did you see how high I kicked?” was the recurring refrain. He also taught them a few rules of the Dojo, including showing respect for teachers and parents.

Princess Imagination selected the third Dojo. That’s my girl!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Welcome to the Mominator Chronicles

Were just an average family, in a fairly small town. Were very active in our Church, in our school, and in the community.

Im the Mominator, although I dont remember how I earned that moniker. Maybe thats because I wear so many hats: the usual ones, wife and mom, plus those associated hats such as class mom and Girl Scout leader; plus a few unusual ones such as musician, Eucharistic Minister, Childrens Liturgy Leader, and president of the Guild. There may be a few more hats that Im forgetting.

My wonderful husband is a kind, gentle, sweet, modest man and a totally amazing father. He has a rich, deep faith which he shares by being a Childrens Liturgy Leader. Hes probably such a great father because hes still has a little kid inside him. His inner Kid is full of joy and innocence, not the bratty, immature man-kid we often see in sit-coms. But what people seem to notice the most is that he takes technology further. On any given day, he uses 2 computers (plus 2 virtual machines (I don’t understand that either)), 1 touchpad, 4 cell phones (including 1 Blackberry), and 5 email addresses. He could out-MacGyver MacGyver. He is our Gadget Guy.

Our eldest and only son is Bumblebee, who loves all things Transformers. He rides his bike all over town (and always wearing his helmet). He sees the world a little differently than most of us. Making friends is hard for him. He’s on the autistic spectrum.

Our older daughter is the Pink Ballerina. She is incredibly smart, a High Honors student, a member of the National Jr. Honor Society, as well as in Gifted & Talented classes. Shes strong, and fragile. Watching her grow up is like watching a mini-me, although she does all things dance, whereas I did all things music.

Our younger daughter, the tiebreaker, is Princess Imagination. She can make dolls out of facial tissue. Her dolls travel and have adventures, and have been to more places than most of us can dream about in a lifetime. This is all accomplished before she goes to school in the morning.