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.