Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cobra Kai!

My husband just changed jobs, so we are in a bit of an insurance no-fly zone. To cover the basics until his benefits kick in, we are on COBRA. While we will eventually get reimbursed for all of our prescriptions and whatnot, the sticker shock at having to pay full price for them is enough to make me hope I don’t get really sick before May.

Let’s take, for example, my birth control pills. I have polycystic ovary syndrome, so getting pregnant required a team of experts, precision timing, and lots of poking with things that were not a penis. While not getting a period is actually a fine problem to have the rest of the time, it isn’t actually healthy. Plus, the price of a monthly pill pack against a monthly pregnancy test “just in case” is well worth it. That is until I actually paid full price for the pills. They cost $85 for 28 pills, seven of which could be replaced with Skittles for all their health benefits. Breaking out my rusty calculator, that equals roughly $4 per day for the 21 days of actual medicinal content.

Or as my husband put it, “Well honey, we might as well get our money’s worth.” No shit! No spin class for me this month, I’ll be too busy riding other equipment, thanks.

At least the pharmacist was willing to let me pay out of pocket for them. It took a week of back and forth to get the local drugstore chain to relinquish my blood pressure medication. (Taken because not only does my body not want to get pregnant, it didn’t want to stay pregnant and is still holding a grudge.) No insurance, no pills! I was so stunned that they didn’t hand the bag over that I just walked right out of the store. I’m sure the week I went without my scrip had a fantastic effect on my health. Eventually my husband took matters into his own hands and paid a grand total of $15 for them. Why does it cost more to stop me from making babies than it does to stop my heart from exploding? Does the need of the one outweigh the need of not making many? Who knows? What I do know is that my beta blocker container is almost empty and I shudder to think how much that is going to cost me to refill.

So, in light of the recent foray into actually paying full price for medicine, I am making my kids wash their hands twice as often and may just start bathing them in Purell. If they so much as sniffle or cough, I’ll start pumping them with every holistic remedy I can find on the Internet. That should work, right?

Friday, March 18, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Green

When I was a child, St. Patrick’s Day meant wearing green and eating corned beef and cabbage, a meal I hated intensely and survived consuming only through a liberal application of mustard. My dad is Irish Catholic, a former New York Port Authority cop (pre-9/11 when no one knew what that was) and at one time, long before he had children, he even had red hair. His only flaw in the stereotype is this – he is a terrible drinker. Not that he has a drinking problem, but that he is actually terrible at drinking. Considering his heritage, occupation, and choice of spouse, one would assume the man would be an alcoholic. However, excluding one memorable incident concerning a neighbor with homemade grappa, I have never seen my father drunk. I have never seen my father order more than one cocktail with dinner (either a martini or a White Russian), and he buys one case of beer per summer (Coors Light). There was no alcohol served at family gathering save what other’s brought.

When I was in college, St. Patrick’s Day meant drinking green beer. The less I remember of that, the better. Remember kids, it doesn’t taste any better coming up than it did going down.

Now that I am a parent, St. Patrick’s Day means making sure the kid’s wear green to school and teaching them that a little wee man with a red beard and a green top hat sneaks around their home and school and wrecks havoc when they aren’t looking. I didn’t know it would be so much fun to mess with them, but pouring white milk into a glass that is pre-laced with a few drops of green food coloring is the most fun I’ve had with clothes on in a long time. I even went into their rooms and dropped a few fake coins along with one teeny tiny green hat. Why? Because apparently, teaching children that invisible, mythical creatures can sneak into their homes silently and stealthy without even their parents knowing is a good idea! Stranger danger be damned.

Think about it – Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy are all guilty of a little breaking and entering. Their entire existence is predicated on the fact that they are never seen. Yet we teach kids that ghosts are make-believe! Go figure. Dead people coming back from the grave to give a final wave is wrong (except if you are Christian because we just call him Jesus), but a little imp with wings coming to take your teeth and leave you money is right. What the hell does the fairy do with all the teeth anyway? Isn’t that a bit morbid? Can she be a he? Would that make him the Fairy Tooth Person?

The Easter Bunny is just as bad. Am I the only one who finds the little chocolate candies he leaves behind suspicious? Am I to believe that the Easter Bunny is made of chocolate and is simply pooping out candy? Or is he made of sugar and that’s why you get jelly beans? Plus, at least the fat man and the fairy have hands. What does the bunny use to carry things? I can’t imagine those short stubby little front legs are good for much hard labor. Who does all of the work packaging the candy? Santa has elves to make the toys and wrap them. I imagine the Tooth Fairy can manage on her own, one sack for the cash, another for the teeth. But the bunny, it’s a mystery.

Leprechauns are just an odd byproduct of St. Patrick’s Day. I guess they are just the muscle. A good overlord needs lots of henchmen if he is going to constantly chase the big payoff – or in his case, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Probably not a bad gig if you can get it – you get to hang out in mostly tropical locations, staying nice and dry from the rain until just that exact moment when the sun comes out. If you don’t get the gold, at least you can work on your tan.

Yes, I know all of these traditions come from the bastardization of ancient religions and rituals. And I know that in a very few precious years, my children will not believe a word of them, yet will still expect the toys, candy, and money. I mock in good fun because I know one day, I’ll have gone round the circle and will be left with either forcing my kids to eat nasty Irish food (that no good Irishman actually enjoys) or downing some green beer. Shudder.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Taste Testing

I’m a big fan of the website Newser. My father-in-law introduced me to it and he’s a man who knows his way around news sites. Each article is a maximum of two paragraphs long and gives you just enough information that you can successfully answer the questions on NPR’s Wait! Wait!, but probably won’t help you win any future games of Trivial Pursuit.

Today, I have a problem with it. In this era of celebrity news being more important than world news, I know that celebrities sell. Their opinions, for whatever reason, get to be heard, whereas the leaders of the free world get largely ignored. The only reason Ghaddafi (there are so many spellings, I have no idea which one is correct) is getting press at all is because his drunken ramblings mirror those of Charlie Sheen, arguably the bigger “name” in this day and age. However, this story in particular seems to go above and beyond celebrity interest and straight into celebrity insanity.

To wit, “Breast Milk Ice Cream OK’d – Lady Gaga isn’t happy.”

So, where to begin with this little nugget of stupidity?

  • Breast milk ice cream is a thing now? Really? Beyond going the Tony Bourdain route and eating it just to say you have, who actually would want to eat it on a regular basis? How tasty can it possibly be? Isn’t ice cream milk-based anyway? How is adding milk to milk making it yummier? Unless you are making the donor boobs (in both meanings) ingest lots of flavoring for a better final product, I just don’t see the point. Is the breast milk pasteurized? Is it from free-range women? Are they grass-fed? Is the grass legal? It also must be prohibitively expensive! Women aren’t really cows. They don’t produce quarts of the stuff at a time. How large can each batch be? A cup? Can you order a double DD with sprinkles?

  • We care what Lady Gaga thinks? Really? About anything? About ice cream? I barely let my husband choose my Ben & Jerry’s, let alone some chick I’ve never met. Plus, when I look for suggestions on fatty desserts, the last person I am going to ask is the too skinny size-zero who hasn’t even inhaled a carb in years.

  • Since when did Lady Gaga shy away from free publicity? Is it because she isn’t getting a cut of the profits?

  • Gaga is a word used to express the sounds a baby makes. Babies have been making those sounds long before Lady Gaga has been making music. By about, oh several centuries. By calling the ice cream Baby Gaga, they may be riffing on her name, but really, even if she weren’t a thing (and I really can’t wait til she isn’t), the ice cream name would still make sense. You don’t need to know who Lady Gaga is to understand the naming of Baby Gaga breast milk ice cream. So please, shut it crazy lady.

  • Who thought of this? Who was sitting around one day watching a woman pump, or nurse, or leak, or anything breast milk related and thought, man, if only I could freeze that, put it in a bowl, and put a cherry on top? Most men I know are great admirers of boobs, so that part makes sense. But most women I know have pretty firm ideas of what boobs are supposed to be used for and creaming and sugaring is not one of them.

  • And my final and most important question is this – why is this news? One tiny shop is probably selling very tiny portions of ice cream and suddenly it’s a story? I’m sure they obtained the breast milk legally. It may be gross, but my brother-in-law brought my kids scorpion lollipops for Christmas. What’s more disgusting? Only you can decide.

    Newser is still my go-to news source since CNN failed me over and over again, but I do wish they would drop the dumber stories, or at least put them in a “stupid people” section.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

National Lampoons Vacation

My husband just switched jobs and for the first time ever, actually gave himself a week off in between. This is the man who didn’t even take time off when our children were born. Not counting the pre-baby hospital stay where he never left my side, he was back in his office 24 hours after our daughter entered the world. A few complications brought him back to the hospital with us for a few days, but once we were both home safe and sound, he spent the next 48 hours pacing the house like a trapped animal before I finally broke down and sent him back to work. So, call it a stay-cation, call it a bye week, call it what you will, but for one miraculous ten-day period, he was home.

The week did not start off auspiciously. In fact, the day after he turned in all the paraphernalia of the modern working man, I found him taking a conference call. To his credit, he didn’t try to hide it. He just packed up the kids in the car, loading the trunk, turning on the DVD player, preparing for our weekend away while he chatted. I drove, he used the royal “we” to discuss a project he no longer worked on, for a company he no longer worked for, with people he no longer worked with, while I drove down I-95. Twenty minutes later, call complete, he turned to answer a question from our son only to realize, and I quote, “Holy shit honey, he’s not buckled!”

You know in cartoons when a car pulls over so suddenly that it actually makes a little “rreeerrrrttt sound? Well, when you are going 80 mph on a major highway and you very suddenly swerve into the left shoulder at top speed kicking up a cloud of asphalt before you come to a complete stop, it turns out that the sound the car makes is much, much quieter. Deadly quiet, in fact. I jumped out, locked the boy’s five-point harness into place, and shot my husband a look that would have made Medusa proud. It is entirely possible that my ponytail hissed at him. Luckily, no children were actually harmed in the making of his phone call.

After that, he did pretty well. While he did keep checking his e-mail, which had not yet been de-activated, he was able to keep himself from answering it. By the time he was well and truly cut off from his former employer, he seemed at peace with the silence.

Or so I thought. I very quickly came to realize that my husband is addicted to his phone. But what do you call an iPhone addict? His CrackBerry habit was easy to explain. Even the Commander-in-Chief has a BarackBerry. An iCrack sounds like a plumbing problem. A crackPhone sounds like something a Batman villain would use. An App Addict just sounds ridiculous. But what else could it be? He spent the remainder of his vacation playing Scrabble on his phone just so he would have a reason to hold it in his hands. Never was he so relieved as when he started his first day of work and found himself with over five thousand e-mails in his in-box.

To give credit where it is due, he did spent most of his time with the children (and the phone.) He still got up every morning to take my daughter to school and he put both kids to bed almost every night. In between, he cooked family meals, played lots of games, took them on lots of walks, and made them the absolute focus of his attention (minus trying to figure out how to use six consonants and only one vowel). I got to leave the boy at home a lot (instead of bringing him everywhere like a piece of very active luggage), got to spend quality time with the girl, and read three books in one week.

Would I like him home all the time? Oh my God in heaven, no. The man is a routine-killer. I was so thrown off by him being home that I barely knew what day it was. The kids thought every day was Saturday. Due to our new Apple TV, I feel asleep more often to the sound of explosions and screaming than is usual (does anyone on Battlestar Galactica ever catch a break?) and woke up more often to the sound of someone snoring from one floor below than I would have liked.

So, while I am glad he enjoyed his time home I think we were both ready for him to walk out the door on Monday morning. And while I am sure it won’t take long for him to resume his grueling work schedule and I won’t get to see him during daylight hours, at least we’ll both be content. He will be in a job he enjoys, and I will get the remote to myself again.