Saturday, January 3, 2015

Death, Taxes, And Leftovers

I am feeling irritable. Sprawled out, amid piles of pay stubs, W-2 forms, and bank statements, I wistfully imagine that someone has thought of an easier way for the government to collect my money.

I have fumbled around for two days amassing the necessary documentation. I threw my back out trying to collect the mortgage interest statement that gleefully floated to the floor and hid with a fiendish grin behind our bed.While retrieving our pay stubs (that somehow marched themselves out of the house and into the garage), I stubbed, and nearly broke, one of my little toes. I severely banged my head while standing up after gathering the student loan paperwork that littered the floor. Let's face it. I'm not a spring chicken anymore. My body will never be the same.

And still I am optimistic as I drive off, bruised, broken, and bandaged, to see the tax man. Upon my arrival, I alert the receptionist of my presence. She's no spring chicken either and always has a look on her face as if she thinks something smells bad. Hopefully, it's not me. With a forced smile, she orders me to take a seat. I select an unassuming chair in a quiet corner of the waiting room. Bored, I take a look around. 

There's an elderly couple excitedly chit-chatting about William and Kate and not much else going on.

I settle into my plush chair and allow the soft elevator music to soothe and envelop me. As it does, I am overcome with a welcome feeling of calm. 

Then it happens. An upwardly-mobile looking couple bursts into the room. I am immediately thankful that I am seated as far from the door as possible. Of course, like heat-seeking missiles, they make their way across the room and sit far too close to me. Unfettered, my mind returns to my happy place. Then, they loudly start a conversation that I can't ignore.

He is an inappropriately compassionate psychoanalyst and she's some kind of overzealous salesperson. They endlessly voice their inane opinions on a myriad of mind-numbing topics, until their conversation comes around to politics. My grip tightens on the armrest of my chair as I clench my teeth. They precede to bang, clang, and burn bras over current events. 

Loudly vying for my attention, he explains the evils of Capitalism as she teaches all of us in waiting room that she doesn't believe in international borders. Cursing the fact that I left my cellphone in my car, I examine the back of my parking stub and pray for divine intervention.

It comes in the form of a pregnant silence between my new frenemies, as they frantically shuffle through their carefully organized briefcases evidently getting their tax documents ready. Relieved, I struggle to regain my composure and return to pretending that they don't exist. 

The silence is broken yet again when the man, in a venomous voice, informs the woman (and us unwilling witnesses trapped in the waiting room) how much money they had "raked in" last year. Stunned, I struggle to pick my jaw off my lap. I barely get my mouth closed when he begins to complain about how much of the piles of money they made would have to go to Uncle Sam.

They look disappointed to lose part of their audience when the pursed-mouthed receptionist announces that the tax man will see me now. 

The appointment is uneventful and predictable. Uneventful because no one was injured and predictable because the Missus and I owe about twice what we estimated. Again. 

Oh well. What is it they say? Death and taxes will always be with us? After Thanksgiving and Christmas, I'd say make that death, taxes, and leftovers.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Blueberry Sour Cream Pancakes

The other morning, the house was quiet and it was cold outside (well, "cold" by SoCal standards). I decided to make some Blueberry Sour Cream Pancakes for the fam to wake up to. This recipe is new for me and is inspired by Ina Garten  and her recipe for Banana Sour Cream Pancakes

First, you'll want to sift and whisk all the dry ingredients together. You'll need:
1 and a half cups of flour (I used all-purpose, but whole wheat pastry flour is great too, if you can find it)
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 and a half teaspoons of kosher salt

Next, in a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients:
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 overflowing teaspoon vanilla extract

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing just until combined.
Melt a tablespoon of butter over medium-low heat. 
If you like big pancakes like we do, use a 1/4 cup measure to ladle the batter into the pan. 
Sprinkle with fresh blueberries.

Cook pancakes for about 3 minutes until pancakes bubble and then flip! Cook on second side for another minute or until browned. Remove pancakes from pan and wipe out pan. Repeat process with another tablespoon of butter to cook the rest of the pancakes.

Dust with powdered sugar.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Making Halloween Memories With Chasing Fireflies

It was a really fun night around here last night! My son wants the two of us to dress up like pirates this year for Halloween and our costumes arrived from Chasing Fireflies! After having so much fun with our purchases from Chasing Fireflies last Christmas, we had high expectations and Chasing Fireflies did not disappoint!

My son had a hard time deciding between all the great pirate boy costumes (after mom vetoed the Ghost Ship Pirate Costume!), but in the end he picked the Pirate Captain Costume. It is awesome and my son is so excited!

The men's pirate costumes looked great and I ended up choosing the Captain Skullduggery. I looked pretty good, if I do say so myself. As an added bonus, the Missus thought I looked pretty good too! 

Chasing Fireflies is the place to get quality costumes sent right to your door. Ordering is easy! So was getting the right sizes for both of us (both costumes fit perfectly!).

Go check them out now!

Chasing Fireflies on Pinterest

Chasing Fireflies on Twitter

Chasing Fireflies on Facebook

Friday, October 3, 2014

Letter From Fat Camp # 1

Dear Reader,

I arrived at Fat Camp in one piece. One big, juicy, bloated, deep-fried piece. It's not exactly paradise here, but I'm keeping my spirits up. After the camp workshop I just attended called "Getting the Nutrients You Need from the Air Around You", that's easier said than done.

Since arriving here, I've had lots of time for reflection. But, still, I just don't get it. How did this happen? Did the dry cleaners shrink all my clothes? Am I waterlogged from the shower I just took? Maybe the pores in my skin have taken on 40 pounds of water. No? Is it because I'm 41 now? Is that it? Maybe getting a vasectomy made me fat? Is that even possible?

It's time to face the truth. The whole truth. Right after this donut... I mean right now. Okay, I'm fat. And tired. And sick of being fat and tired. It's time to go on a diet. Again.

Why do I do this to myself? Since getting married nearly 12 years ago, I've gone on 4 major diets. All of them have worked. Each time I lose the weight. I feel great and have more energy. The Missus likes what she sees. I vow that I will never let myself go again. But then it happens. After all that exercise and eating right, I feel I've been punished enough and  deserve a break from exercising and eating right. I should be rewarded after all that hard work, right? The problem is that my breaks turn into weeks of not exercising and eating takeout daily. Weeks turn into months, and, you get it, the pesky pounds pile back on.

It's not like there weren't warning signs along the way to Fat Camp. I go to Starbucks every morning and the lady behind the counter knows my name and asks, "the usual?". Then there's the tightness of what I call my "magic" waistband pants. You know the khakis with the waistband that ever-so-conveniently expands up to 3 inches? A few months back, they were roomy, but now even those are tight. Then there's the dread that consumes me when my jeans finally have to be washed and dried. They're so tight they're like skinny jeans and only teenage boys wear skinny jeans. Come to think of it, males should avoid skinny jeans all together, but that's a discussion for another time.

Excuses to put off starting a diet? Yeah, I have those too. Halloween is coming up and I'll want to eat some candy, so I better start after that. Oh, geez, then it's November and Thanksgiving will be here before you know it and I have so much to be thankful for. Better start after that. Oh, crap, then it's Christmas and it just isn't Christmas without eating enough Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins to leave me stuck on the sofa, too bloated to join in when the in-laws start singing and recording "The 12 Days of Christmas" for the second family Christmas CD. The first one was, mercifully, destroyed in a flood, but that story will have to weight, I mean wait.

Speaking of weight, I have to go to my first weigh-in since arriving here. The warden, I mean camp director, promised to be gentle. I'll let you know.

Your chubby, but lovable pal

Sunday, September 28, 2014

I Jogged Home From My Vasectomy

When we last left our fearful hero, he was just leaving his pre-vasectomy consultation, pamphlet in hand. Fast-forward a year or three, and we find him at his vasectomy appointment:

From my actual medical record:
"Procedure Note- Vasectomy:
Operative: Bilateral Vasectomy
Anesthesia: Lidocaine without epinephrine
The patient presented desiring permanent sterilization with bilateral vasectomy. The patient understands all risks and complications and wishes to proceed."

Now, at this point, I'd like to say that the "informed consent" part is a tad flimsy. One might even say "flaccid" since I doubt it would hold up very well in court. Had I but known what all was involved and all of the possibilities, I would have asked a lot more questions before proceeding. But, I digress…

The patient was prepped and draped in the usual sterile fashion. A testicular examination was performed revealing no abnormalities."

Okay, so prepped and draped, doesn't mean you're all covered up. In fact, it actually means you're stripped from the waist down with some of your man parts taped to your abdomen and the rest hangin' in the breeze. And I do mean "breeze" because as I was lying on the table, the nurse and doctor must have gone in and out of the room a half dozen times giving anyone passing by a clear view of me not-so "dressed" and far from "prepped".

"A 2% Lidocaine solution was used to anesthetize the scrotal sac after the left and right vas deferens were identified via palpation. The left vas was then anesthetized first. Ring clamp was used to grasp the left vas. Sharp dissecting forceps were used to puncture the skin and a towel clamp used to pull vas through aperture."

This is where it starts to get painful. The anesthetizing involves a needle piercing skin that should never be pierced. Several times. This is also where I start to realize that everything I have been told up to this point is an outright lie. This is also where we need to make sure we're comparing apples to apples. I didn't have any meds or anything for my nerves. I wasn't "out of it" and wasn't slurring my words. Some of the stories you've heard about getting a vasectomy being "easy" come from dudes who were so doped up they could hardly stand. I wasn't so lucky (or smart).

After the injections, which aren't fun, the doctor gets to the next part which involves puncturing the skin with "dissecting forceps". At this point, I'm supposed to be numb. So, how does Dr. Farsighted Sadist determine if I am numb or not? You guessed it! With the "dissecting forceps" of course.

Doctor: "Sharp or dull?"
Me: "SHARP!"
[Doctor waits another minute or two while my anxiety and heart rate increase exponentially. Then he tries it again.]
Doctor: "Sharp or dull?"
Me: "Sharp! Still Sharp!"
Doctor: "Really? Well, we'll put some more Lidocaine on you."

[Doctor opens the door to get nurse and gives everyone in hallway another view of me not-so-dressed and not-at-all prepped.]

Finally semi-numb, the procedure continues while, ironically, a Pandora comedy broadcast blares from the doctor's iPhone:

"The vas was then stripped of the surrounding tissue with cautery and dissection, and two curved clamps were then used to section out approximately a 0.5 to 1 cm sized portion of the left vas. The clamped portion was then cut with tissue scissors."

Just so you're aware, you feel and hear the cut. Both of them.

"The remaining crushed ends were tied with 3-0 chromic gut. The clamps were removed. LigaClips were applied and the vas lumen was cauterized on the proximal and distal ends." 

This is where you get to see smoke rising from your nether regions and inhale the smell of your own burning flesh. So grateful one of the male teachers I work with warned me about this part.

"The right vas was subsequently re-identified."

This involves a ton of excruciating pulling. 

"It was then anesthetized and brought through the aperture with the Allis clamp. The right vas was then treated in the exact same fashion as the left vas. There were no complications. There was minimal bleeding. The patient tolerated the procedure well and aftercare instructions including semen analysis in 8 weeks were explained and understood."

40 minutes later, not the 20 minutes advertised in the brochure, I was so euphoric about the procedure being done that I jumped up from the table and jogged home. 

Of course, I didn't really jog home from my vasectomy, but would you be surprised to hear someone tell you that? While I'm sure it wasn't as bad as childbirth (it also isn't a competition, ladies), it certainly wasn't a walk in the park either. Or a jog in the park for that matter.

Monday, July 28, 2014

My Son At Seven And A Half. I Like What I See.

I sit nervously fidgeting on the hard bleachers waiting for your very first basketball game to start. You have your brand-new jersey on. You're listening intently as the coach patiently talks to your team, grasping for some idea of what to do. I realize how incredibly proud I am of you, son. I get glimpses of the person you are becoming and I like what I see.

You are a participant my little man. Even now, and certainly while I was growing up, I never was. I shied away from things that were unfamiliar to me. You, on the other hand, are exuberant and want to do and try everything. I admire that about you.

I watched you at your first swim lesson. Once again, I was more nervous than you were, sitting wedged between two mommies on a slightly damp metal bench. As they tried unsuccessfully to wrangle their rambunctious offspring, I tried in vain to swallow the angry butterflies that were taking over my stomach. You were unsure as you got into the pool, but you soldiered on. You used a kick board to practice your kicks and I saw a determined, but happy look on your face. The butterflies in my tummy disappeared, waiting to reappear at your next lesson. When you finally clambered out of the pool, I braced myself for you to ask me to never bring you back there. Instead you excitedly asked me, "When do I get to come back here?" 

When Mommy bought you a boogie board, you couldn't wait to try it out. As we walked hand in hand with Mommy to the water's edge, I anxiously scanned the surface looking for sharks and jellyfish. I apprehensively assessed the size of the pounding surf which was beating the shore like Mike Tyson. I was a breath away from calling this whole ridiculousness off, when I saw you were already on your board. After a few good attempts and pushes from us, you fell off and swallowed a bunch of seawater. Undaunted, you got back on and tried it again. Amazing.

You are smart, son. And, even better, you are curious. Curiosity is quality that is woefully undervalued. You recently told me, "I'm like Sid the Science Kid because I want to know everything about everything!" You want to know why lightning is hot. We go to the beach and you want to know what the colors of the lifeguard flags mean. You ask what causes the sound thunder makes. You wonder aloud about waves and where they come from. If you hear a word you don't know, you ask what it means. When that happens, I know it won't be long before I hear you use the word and use it correctly. Oh, if only all of my students were as full of wonder. I'm so thankful for Google and Wikipedia so I can try to answer all of your questions!

You have a tenacity about you that I love. You once had a not-so-nice soccer coach. Undiscouraged, you wanted to play again the next season. As the new season progressed, it was clear that your new team wouldn't be winning any playoffs. In fact, the team only scored four goals all season. Two of them were scored by you and both of those goals were made while playing against your former coach's team. Life takes grit and you've got it.

You are so proud to be seven and a half years old and I don't blame you. I like what I see.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

10 Things You Should Know About The Missus

 1. She makes our house a home and the Boy and I would be lost without her.   

Here she is painting trucks on our son’s bedroom walls shortly after we moved into our new house.

2. She lets the Boy and I know we’re important and loved.

 The boy getting ready to enjoy some heart-shaped french toast courtesy of his Mommy.

3. She’s beautiful. Here she is with my other sexy lady, Poppy.

4. She makes sure that milestones and events don’t go unnoticed. Here’s what greeted the Boy when he came home after his first day of school a few years back.

5. She makes hot chocolate when we come home on a rainy day.

6. She never ever finishes a glass of anything.   

7. No matter what’s she nuking, she always leaves a few seconds on the microwave. 
Me: “If you want to microwave something for 30 seconds, why do you enter 45 seconds?”.
The Missus: “I thought it would need 45 seconds, but at 30 seconds, I could feel that it was done.” 
You can’t just make this stuff up. 

 8. She writes a blog

 9. She develops awesome curriculum for teachers.

10. See hooks us up before she goes on a trip. Read about it here: Mommy is leaving for a Girls’ Weekend! 5 Tips to Make it Fun for Everyone