Archive for August, 2010

  • The Circle of Life

    Date: 2010.08.31 | Category: Family, Life, Pregnancy, Travel | Response: 7

    Three days of a bad head cold + morning sickness = some kind of weird hybrid body takeover that is reminiscent of the flu.

    The past few days have been unpleasant to say the least. And with nary a drug allowed (except for prescribed phenegren, praise the doctor) I’ve had a tough go. The remedy? Laying in bed for 72 hours.

    What is one supposed to do when down for that long? Well thanks to medication, there was a lot of sleeping. But there was also a lot of scanning through instant Netflix, which led me to watching 4 of 6 parts of a documentary on Broadway.


    Oh, and lots of crying. Especially when they raise Simba up in the Lion King and sing “Circle of Life.” Oh baby.

    I’ve always had a deep connection with musicals. My dad had a thing for Julie Andrews and started me young. At night he would agree to stay and watch a movie with us if we chose from one of the following: Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or The Sound of Music (still my favorite movie to this day).

    I wasn’t actually introduced to musical theatre until 2000. Then I was fortunate enough to accompany my grandparents to New York who spoiled me absolutely rotten and took me on a tour of the Big Apple I’ll never forget. They took me to my first (and second) Broadway shows, which amazed me beyond anything I ever expected.

    We got tickets to see Lion King when it was impossible to get tickets to see Lion King. I remember a lady going up to the box office and buying her tickets a year in advance while we were on our way in. My grandfather was able to work some business connection, and we ended up near front and center. The costumes, the music and the whole Broadway atmosphere transformed me into a wide-eyed little kid.

    They had me hooked and took me to see Les Miserables the next night. Even though two audience members got in a physical, screaming fight right as the little Cosette was on stage singing alone (she kept going bless her heart), it was still an amazing experience.

    Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to see lots of musicals, both when they occasionally come to The Strand Theatre locally, or when I’ve decided to fork over the money and make a trip to Dallas out of it. When I studied abroad in England, I spent a small fortune frequenting the West End, and even hung out at Her Majesty’s Theatre one evening until right before the show started to score someone else’s canceled ticket to Phantom in its original theatre.

    When my youngest sister convinced me to go see RENT for the first time, it was truly an emotional experience that I will never forget. I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s true. Every show I’ve ever seen I can immediately trace back to where I was at that point in my life.

    So the documentary really laid it on me. And these hormones? Yea, they just made it that much worse.

    Mark periodically stuck his head in the room to make sure I was still just crying over musicals and not actually dying. Oh, and supplying me with cheese toast and crackers.

    Good man.

  • On Hamburger Grease

    Date: 2010.08.27 | Category: Life, Mark, Pregnancy, Weirdness | Response: 14

    *Note: I’ve been writing blog posts as things have been going along. This one was written on August 5, 2010 when I was still very newly pregnant.

    I’ve had a few run ins with pregnancy symptoms so far. But up to this point, they’ve been minor. A bad whiff of maple syrup here and few tears there, but nothing that has just screamed “PREGNANT!”

    Until last night.

    Last night I wanted hamburgers. So I pulled out our Cuisine Art Griddler and got to work. The burgers were delicious. After eating, I started feeling a little queasy. But I ignored it and made my way into the kitchen to clean up.

    I pulled off the griddler plates and started scrubbing.

    Then it hit me. The smell of hamburger grease mixed with dawn soap triggered something deep down in my stomach that left me sprinting for the bathroom and collapsing in front of the toilet in tears.

    Mark, hearing the frantic scrambling down the hall and the bathroom door slam, knocked gently. “Are you ok?” He asked.

    “NO,” I sobbed. “And I left the kitchen sink on.”

    Bless his heart, he went in the kitchen and not only did he turn the sink off, but he cleaned the whole kitchen up so I wouldn’t have to smell any more hamburger grease. He brought me a cool rag to put on my head. I grabbed it, put it on my head and instantly threw it back at him.

    “It stinks!” I said, “Did you get it from the kitchen?”

    Bewildered he went in search of another rag. That one smelled like applesauce, but it was tolerable.

    I could not, however, get the smell of hamburger grease out of my nose. Frustrated, I declared that my hair and clothes and eyelashes must smell like grease and climbed into the shower.

    So there I am in the shower, nauseous, trying to scrub hamburger grease off of me and I just start crying. I gave it about 30 seconds then I realize how absolutely hilarious and ridiculous the whole scenario was and immediately switched to hysterical screams of laughter.

    Mark wandered up to the bathroom door and asked, “Are you ok?” I assured him I was.

    And while I couldn’t see him, I’m sure he wandered off, muttering to himself all the while about his crazed wife.

  • Times are a Changin’

    Date: 2010.08.26 | Category: Baby, Family, Life, OMG YAY!, Pregnancy | Response: 24

    I’m sorry my blog entries have been sparse here lately, but life has been insane and I’m just now ready to share why.

    You see I started having this cramp behind my bellybutton. It was odd, nothing like the other problems I’ve had. Then there was the immense heartburn. My mind started to go through symptoms and I reflected back to all the ibproufen I’d been on during my ruptured cyst, and the answer came to my mind.

    “Ah ha!” I thought, “It’s a stomach ulcer.” Dang…

    But then other weird stuff started happening, stupid stuff like forgetting to put the coffee pot on the coffee maker after I started it.

    And then I was a day late.

    Shaking I got a pregnancy test. I took it, sat and waited…

    Two pink lines showed up.

    Shaking and whispering “oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh,” I went into the bedroom and yelled at sleeping Mark “Are you awake?!”

    To which I got an unhappy grumble.

    Then I said, “I think I’m pregnant!”

    He sat bolt upright and said, “Let me see that thing.”

    After scrutinizing it and declaring it “too faint to tell,” I took another one, and it came up positive immediately.

    He got a big grin on his face and said, “Wow, it’s like Christmas morning.”

    Then I cried. A happy happy cry.

    A lot of crazy things have happened already, all of which deserve posts on their own. But now the baby is safe and growing strong. We went in this morning for an ultrasound and saw that it had sprouted little arms and legs and has a health heartbeat of 167 beats per minutes.

    Mark asked if he could record the heartbeat on his phone, and after threatening him within inches of his life that he ONLY film the monitor and ONLY the monitor, he capitulated and agreed.

    So here it is world, our little 8 week old baby.

  • Thunder Monster

    Date: 2010.08.24 | Category: Bonnie Barrell | Response: 6

    Dear Bonnie,

    That loud noise you hear outside is thunder, not a giant T-Rex racing across the city to gobble you up.  It’s nothing like those scary roofer men who pound on the house a few doors down and scowl at you until you dig your way into the bushes.

    It’s simply a force of nature that cannot harm you, especially when you are inside hiding under Mark’s desk.

    That being said, you should take a deep breath, go find somewhere you can hide your scared little eyes and try to control the gallon-sized puddle of drool that comes out of your mouth.

    I know the noise is scary. That’s why the vet told us you could take A LOT of Benadryl prior to storms, though that doesn’t seem to prevent you from sticking your cold nose and tongue in my ear at 2 a.m. and whining when you’re upset.

    All I ask is that you try to remain calm and realize that mom and dad wouldn’t let the big thunder monster get you.

    And no, you can’t get under the covers with me… even when you make those sweet, sad eyes.



  • Lost in Translation

    Date: 2010.08.18 | Category: Friends, Travel, Weirdness | Response: 9

    After spending countless evenings flipping through all seven of our tv channels trying to find something interesting to listen to while I did graphic design, I decided to give audiobooks a whirl. I’ve quickly gotten hooked, allowing me to fly through the list of books I’ve been wanting to read for a long time.

    Most recently I listened to When You are Engulfed in Flames, written and read by David Sedaris. If you’re not familiar with him, Sedaris writes essays on true stories in his life, mostly in a self-deprecating, funny style.

    The last part of this book, David tells stories about his time in Japan. I found myself literally laughing out loud at the way people treated him, and comparing them to my own stories of my time there.

    I was fortunate enough to travel to Japan with my friend Becki in the summer of 2007. The trip was amazing and left a lasting impact on me. But some of the stories Sedaris told matched with mine so completely that I couldn’t help but laugh.

    One of my favorites Sedaris tells is that he had to figure out how to explain who his boyfriend was. Many people would ask if they were brothers, and he finally decided that “friends” seemed to be the best answer.

    Similarly, while we were traveling, people seemed fascinated by mine and Becki’s connection. Without fail, their first question would be, “Are you students?” When we said no, they would get a puzzled look on their face then say, “Oh! Sisters!” Proud that they had figured this out. When we again said no, puzzled, they would think some more, then smile and say knowingly “Oh you lesbian!”

    No, “Friends! Friends!” we would say. They would just smile and say, “Ok.”

    We were even labeled “Mr. & Mrs.” at one of our hotels!


    The funny thing was, that in every other situation, modesty seemed to be at the forefront. I got lectured for showing a hint of cleavage, Becki got tisked by an older Japanese woman for not crossing her legs correctly, and when I went to buy feminine hygiene products, they took them and wrapped them up in a paper bag and taped them before I could leave the store.

    Why relationships were an ok topic, I’m not sure. But despite that, “Mr. and Mrs. Rebecca Murphy” still had a smashing time in Japan.





  • A Dog Eat Dog World

    Date: 2010.08.15 | Category: Dogs, Weirdness | Response: 5

    This past week we dog sat a Weimerainer, Lola, and a Toy Manchester, Aria, for my friend Angela.

    Now we’ve watched these two in the past without any problems at all. But the 110 degree temperatures must have messed with everyone’s brains, because my dogs and her dogs were all out of sorts the entire time.

    From the time they arrived Lola started pacing the house, and didn’t stop pacing until Angela came back for her. I think the constant pacing set Bonnie on edge. Because shortly thereafter, she took to guarding all four food bowls, not letting Lola anywhere near them. I had to step in and pull her back. Meanwhile, Aria, all 2 pounds of her, had mine scared with her tiny little growls.

    Recap: 2 lb dog = terrifying; 95lb dog = viable fight option.

    Due to our backyard being roughly the temperature of the Gobi Desert, all four dogs flat refused to spend time out there longer than it took to do their business. Thus they were on top of each other the whole time too.

    The constant pacing, worry about Bonnie’s odd behavior, and inability to get the house temperature down to a reasonable level kept Mark and I both from sleeping that first night.

    The next morning I got up in a daze and on my way out the door to work, I noticed blood drops on the floor. I rubbed my  eyes and checked everyone’s feet, but there was nothing wrong. So I made my way out the door.

    At lunchtime, Mark called me and said that Lola had brushed up against his slacks and blood had come off her ear. But he too was in a hurry and she wouldn’t let him get near it.

    When I got home, I managed to distract her with a treat long enough to see that there seemed to be a hole in Lola’s ear. Groaning, I called Angela who directed me to her vet. They told me to bring her in, so I did.

    Note: Weimerainers don’t fit well in Honda Fits.  All the same, she seemed to enjoy staring at me as I drove.

    When we arrived, the vet and another girl held the 95lb dog down and examined her ear…

    It was SPLIT about half an inch from the end. They knocked all the gunk off of it and wiggled the two pieces around. Blood was going everywhere and my stomach started roll. Then the vet said, “Looks like a dog bite.”

    I groaned, imagining Bonnie guarding the food bowls and then going all Mike Tyson on Lola, ripping her ear.

    Turns out Lola had to stay overnight and get stitches. There was also the possibility that she could lose a piece of her ear.

    “Oh God,” I thought. “Angela is going to kill me.”

    But she didn’t. In fact, she was beyond sweet about the situation, and seemed to be more worried about me worrying about it than she was about what happened.

    When I went back for Lola the next day, all she cared about was getting as far away from the vet and his office as possible. Her ear was all sewn up and she was on medication.  The vet was very optimistic about her keeping the whole ear, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

    Fortunately both dogs are back home with Angela, and mine seem to have forgotten most of their madness.

  • Sister Acts

    Date: 2010.08.11 | Category: Friends, Life | Response: 13

    Yesterday I found myself in the middle of a convent, surrounded by several nuns in their 70s, all of whom were enthusiastically speaking Italian while a cage full of little finches cheered them on from the room next door.

    You see, I’ve gotten to be friends with a local sister. I met her when she showed up in my office one day, arms full of articles she had written on the beauty of getting older. She promptly introduced herself, and quickly became a regular columnist and fixture in my life.

    I am happy that she wiggled her way in so completely. As it turns out, she taught my husband when he was in elementary school. And once she discovered that, we were friends for life.

    On a number of occasions I have ventured out to the convent to visit her. After all, when she tells you to visit, you go visit.

    On one occasion, she somehow talked Mark and I both into getting in a golf cart with her while she drove it with a broken foot out to her garden behind the convent. She whipped around trees, slid through the mud, and gave the dogs that had attached themselves to her a good pat on the head.

    Then she began the grand tour. “These are my banana plants, and these over here are my squash, and this is over here is [insert name of some exotic plant she discovered while she worked in an orphanage in Bangladesh.]

    We survived that venture into the garden, and were even rewarded with some of her homemade watermelon jam.

    Over the past three years she has come into my office and told me amazing stories of picking up dying children off the streets in Bangladesh, to receiving an award and befriending Pope John Paul II, to learning to speak eight different languages.

    And now, at 74, her order is sending her to Rome for three years to translate some of their documents from Italian to English.

    When I told my mom this, she said, “She’s going to Rome to work when she’s 74? Are you sure she will be ok to do that?”

    I laughed, “Oh you don’t know Sr. Martinette. Not only will she do it, but she will probably be running that place in a couple of months.”

    In her preparation to leave the country, she asked Mark and I to come out to the convent and show her how to use her laptop properly. After a few quick lessons, she was pulling up her book she had written, and replying to Facebook posts.

    As we started to leave the convent, we met two smiling, Italian nuns, both of which were thrilled to discover Mark works on computers.

    “Young man,” said a sister in her Italian accent. “My computer, it is sick. You take a look and see if you can fix it?”

    Resigned and unable to turn down her request, Mark agreed. When he booted up their computer, immediately hundreds of virus messages began to pop up, sending the two Italian sisters into a frenzy.

    After consulting quickly in Italian while my nun friend translated, they started yelling,

    “It happened on a Wednesday, a Wednesday!” while flipping through their calendars. The finches joined them in their chorus, and the humor of the situation struck me so hard that I started giggling. They joined in with my laughter, even when, after a few attempts to seize some kind of control over the machine, Mark backed up their Quickbooks and declared the computer a dead soldier.

    They offered to go to chapel and pray for it.

    I am seriously going to miss my friend, but am thrilled to have an open invitation to visit Rome whenever I can afford it.

  • Sweet Success!

    Date: 2010.08.09 | Category: Mark, Travel | Response: 11

    We finally got the truck. The Truck. The truck that Mark has been talking about for-ev-er.

    Yes, we had to drive 3.5 hours one way to Little Rock. Yes we had to do the paper work while the dealership was pumping the strong, overwhelming smell of buttered popcorn through the hallways that nearly made me vomit. Yes, we had to navigate a complex number of freeways in Little Rock to even get to the dealership. Yes we had to drive another 3.5 hours to get back home in the same day.

    But, we did it.

    And he? Is happy. Now that’s a sweet success.

  • Chrysler Crisis

    Date: 2010.08.04 | Category: Life, Mark | Response: 5

    Mark drives a 2001 Chrysler Sebring. A Sebring that has had its transmission give out on a number of occasions, including on the side of an interstate (thank goodness there was a Dairy Queen in walking distance of that one where we could console ourselves with blizzards and steak fingers). A Sebring that can’t go over 50 mph or it’s wheels set the car off balance and the noise it generates could very possibly break all the windows in the car and surrounding cars.

    So we’ve been talking about replacing this car for well over a year. But life got in the way. We bought a house, we adopted another dog, we went on vacation, etc. etc. But it’s reached a crisis point.

    So we’ve been in negotiations for almost a month now to get Mark a new truck. During this process, I’ve learned several things.

    1. My husband will get the best and most fair price on a truck.

    He has systematically searched the entire internet to find out what people are paying for this truck, created a spreadsheet, and determined the average percentage off of MSRP people are getting, thus giving him the Truck Fair Price. He even has the spreadsheet set up so he can plug various numbers in and find out the percentage off the MSRP sellers are estimating.

    This whole thing totally boggles my non-math mind. It’s a good thing he’s doing the negotiating.

    2. Dealers in Shreveport do not believe coming off the sticker price.

    Like not at all. We ran into the same thing when we went to buy the Fit, and frankly we’re baffled by it. Maybe we’re too isolated? Maybe they bank on people to be too lazy to go out of town for a better deal? I don’t know, but it’s a huge pain.

    3. Dealers lie.

    We have been given prices, only to get the buyer’s order with hundreds of dollars in extra fees tacked on over the price we settled on.

    Weeks of this has lead to a very frustrated husband man. And when the Fit got banged up, the frustration crescendoed. After talking to two dealers yesterday, I thought Mark was going to abandon the truck all together.

    But finally, (FINALLY!) we found a dealer willing to work with us. A dealer that has been direct and easy to deal with. And it looks like we are going to get the truck this weekend!

    Yes, we have to drive three and half hours one way to get it, but we will have it!

    Now Bonnie can stop cowering in a corner every time Mark slams down the phone and screams.

    I think this is going to be a vast improvement.

  • Seriously?!

    Date: 2010.08.01 | Category: Life, Weirdness | Response: 12

    It has been a crazy week. One full of as many panic-inducing health problems as there have been of blindingly happy moments.

    I thought Friday was going to end well. The day had been good. We celebrated a co-worker’s birthday at one my favorite restaurants.

    On the commute home, I was feeling particularly happy, so when a car in the lane next to me asked if they could get in front of me in my lane, I obliged.

    Except they weren’t getting into my lane, they were turning at an awkward angle into the driveway on my right side. So when I let off my brake to follow them in the traffic line, it inched me forward just enough for their car to swipe mine.

    Thank goodness that A) they were nice people who B) had insurance and C) seemed more worried about me and my car than their own and D) apologized. It wasn’t tense and everyone agreed on what happened. It just sucked.

    The car was damaged, but it could have been worse.

    So while I was waiting on the cop to show up, I get a phone call from my doc’s office with the results of a test I had run this past week. Turns out my hormones are out of whack and I need to somehow make it to a compounding pharmacy across town in less than an hour and start medication immediately*.

    If that doesn’t freak someone out on top of apparent whacked out hormones, I don’t know what will. So I was stuck waiting for the cop, who showed and ended up being very nice as well. Scrambled to find my current insurance info, waited on the write up and then took off in a hurry to get to the pharmacy.

    Arriving just in time, I walked in and they went to get my prescription. Because it was a compounding pharmacy, they couldn’t run my insurance card. I’m still not really clear on why, so that meant paying full price. And then, this cute, young, male pharmacist comes out and has to show me how to, um, insert my female medication.  I about died of embarrassment.

    I got in the car with Mark and dissolved into a ball of tears.

    Not to be out done, this morning we got up to mow and weed eat the yard. I finished mowing, exhausted, only to look up and see Mark standing next to my car, mouth open, staring in shock.

    My back windshield was shattered. Like falling apart and out of the window shattered. We have no idea what happened, but guess that somehow when we were mowing / weed eating, something flew all the way from the yard, into the garage and pegged the back windshield, shattering it into a thousand tiny pieces. I just stood and stared at it.

    Fit break

    Sensing more hysteria coming his way, Mark ushered me inside and swept it up. Good man.

    So now we still don’t have Mark’s new truck and my car is out of commission. Looks like we are going to be sharing the wonky Chrysler this week until we get mine patched.

    * Guess what some researchers think one of main causes is for the hormone imbalance? That’s right, hormones  we get through our food and eating and drinking out of plastic containers. After finding that out, we made the commitment to go organic.