Wednesday, April 22, 2009

For The (un)Love Of Black Fashions

TwitterMoms has posted yet another contest, this one on children's fashions:
To participate, simply write a post on your own blog that shows us your kid’s style! Feel free to upload photos, videos, etc. of your kids showing off their style in their favorite outfits. The only requirement we ask is that your post includes at least one link to so your readers can see their colorful new summer collection. Then return to this discussion page, post a comment below summarizing your blog post, and include an active link to your qualifying blog entry.
I've recently written about Destiny and her obsession with black clothing -- again, not "goth" but "rocker style" -- and I'd love to get her into something less, well, obsessive. I don't so much mind such dress as I do the "black is a requirement" dealio McBob. See how cute she is as The Fonz!? Adorable!

Summer is about the only time I can get her to consider other colors. I remind her of how hot black is in the sun and she considers a few pieces that aren't black. If I actually won a gift certificate, I could probably steer her towards this monkey tee, maybe some solid color bermuda shorts... The trick with a tween is to not suggest it -- unless it's at a "this or nothing" point. (They always take something rather than nothing!)

But the only way I'm likely to get a gift certificate, is if y'all leave lots of comments (and comments about your kids' fashion style or your troubles about how your kid dresses); so consider it, will ya?

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Life Lessions In Lesions (Or, The Gross But Necessary Breast Post)

On Easter Sunday I had to take myself to the emergency room. It took me an hour & a half to convince myself it was necessary, even if I wasn't bleeding or otherwise looking like my life was in peril... Bad things had gone on long enough.

A few weeks ago, I was charmed (not!) to discover that I had a zit on the underside of my left breast. I know; what a complete "Eeeiiiwww!" But ladies, especially those ladies with large breasts, know that break-out on the bosom happens -- especially on the underside of the breast because, between bra cups & underwires, and, when you dare to go braless, the underside rests against your chest. The skin cannot breathe, and is often moist, perfect for bacteria etc.

Typically I slap a bit of Wayne's Whoop-Ass Healing Balm on the offending zit. (Seriously, that stuff is awesome!) Every now and then, when the zit is behaving stubbornly (and is twice as ugly), I apply the old hot water compress. Even in the worst case scenario, things come to a head and heal within a few days.

But not this sucker.

This zit was not your usual zit.

After sticking around over a week -- despite all my TLC -- it was only becoming more angry. After two weeks, on the Saturday before Easter, it was not only a zit with no head, but there was a hot, angry, red patch of skin surrounding it, working it's way towards my nipple...

I did just have my mammogram around the new year, and all was fine; surely if there was anything that was gonna burst out of my breast they would have seen it coming. But naturally such rational thinking did little when faced with such ugliness. So I probed, gently (which still pissed-off the zit and made 1/4 of my size E breast ache), lifting the skin to grab it to see if it was attached to my breast tissue. It felt like it was all "in my skin" only... There was a lumpier pocket where the zit was... But the red area wasn't just hot and sore -- the skin was thicker... Like a stale pancake or the hard top layer of Jello; bendable, but thick and sorta rigid too.

I gently washed it, applied a hot compress, then dried it and put on some of the healing balm before heading to bed.

The next morning I awoke to discover that nearly 1/2 of my breast was now red-hot angry. It hurt just awful. It was so bad, I refused sex with my husband.

"Let me see it," he says.

"No, you'll never want to have sex with me again -- at least not in the missionary position," I say.

But he does look at it; pronounces it an infection, as if that was "all" it was, and gave me the "let's continue" look. Uh, no, thanks.

Before dressing for Easter Sunday with family I applied more balm, popped some aspirin, and hoped it would just heal already.

When I returned home that evening, I was sore and tired. More washing & balm (was it bigger or was I imagining that?), more aspirin -- and a nap. I woke up feeling a bit better, but by the time dinner was over, I began thinking...

What if overnight it again doubled itself? Clearly this was no ordinary zit... What was it? The heat told me it was an infection, but what was that thing that, originally anyway, looked like a zit? With no other terminology, I called it a boil. Wasn't the treatment for a boil rather like a zit? But then it wasn't working and there was clearly an infection... But does one really go to the hospital for an emergency room boil lancing procedure? Not that I really wanted one. But it hurt. And it was ugly. Oh, gawd, if I went, not only would I be "the woman with the boil on her breast," but I'd have to say it out loud. In public. Oh ick. But after my son was hospitalized for three days because of an infection from a dog bite, I don't like to underestimate infections. In just a few hours, you couldn't find the nose on Hunter's face... What could this infection do, engulf my boob? Sounds funny, but it wasn't. Round & round I went with myself for 90 minutes until I decided that pride be damned, infections could be serious, and if it was worth an hour & a half of thinking, I should shut up and drive to the hospital.

There was the humiliating experience of announcing my problem to the registration staff person. There was the added humiliation of having to repeat it two more times -- to the intake nurse and then the doctor.

I used humor to diffuse my embarrassment. I was cracking jokes my whole time there. See, I have an anxiety condition (PTSD from domestic violence) and the whole thing made me nervous as hell. Which not only means I'm seconds away from crying, but my blood pressure goes up and then I have to explain that it's just nervousness & have them take it again... Which reminds me that the new-fangled automatic computerized blood pressure cuffs hurt -- actually leaves me bruised. And so I hate having to have them take it again -- nearly as much as I hate to tell people I'm an emotional mess. So it's make jokes and have a (possible) reason to cackle, or risk having them consider admitting me to the psych ward for emitting too much maniacal laughter -- while tears stream down my face.

But I digress.

There was the nearly comical reaction of the doctor's assistant who had to touch my breast and the affected area -- twice. Each time with a sourpuss look on her face followed by a dash to the wall dispenser of hand sanitizer and a furious scrubbing of her hands.

I know it's gross, lady, but I bet at some point in your career you've been wrist-deep in a cadaver and experienced human excrement; how's a breast boil so much worse?

(Note: The doctor wasn't so reactionary, but I guess that's 'cuz he doesn't have a breast to imagine that on.)

Anyway, after a brief Q & A (how long have you had it, me describing my treatment of it, assurance that I just had a mammogram, etc.) and several words ending in "itis" etc., the determination was "an infection." Antibiotics would be the remedy. (Initial relief at no lancing; but then, "Oh, joy, a yeast infection will be here soon!") But because the doc couldn't feel a "puss sack" he wanted an ultrasound just to be sure...

Sure of what? My nervous brain wanted to know. Looking for a "puss sack" was the answer. Oh, so if chapter one was "The Breast Boil Lady", chapter two was "Looking For A Puss Sack". What an utterly charming story this was becoming.

While awaiting escort to the ultrasound, a very cool nurse tried to get an iv with an antibiotic started. I politely warned her that I'm a hard stick & that my veins blow too; she shouldn't take it personally. Of good cheer, she proceeded, confident in her ability -- greatly underestimating my non-cooperative blood vessels. Bless her, she both tried and was kind.

While she waited, gently slapping my arms to get a vessel to sit up & take notice, I regaled her with amusing stories of other iv experiences. Like when I was giving birth to my son, how the young nurse couldn't stick me either. And I told her that it was because I was royalty; that's where the expression "blue bloods" came from, our delicate thin, blue veins. It was a joke -- but she didn't get it. She was amazed -- on her way out she repeated it to another nurse, in all seriousness. *eyeball roll*

(Whenever I tell that story, I have to include the part about how during very painful labor I rhythmically chanted, "I would not, could not, in a boat..." To which the amazed & impressionable young nurse cooed in reply, "Oh, how beautiful, I've never had a laboring mom quote poetry before!" Dr. Seuss is poetry? I mean come on. That's when I ordered my mom to get that girl away from me.)

But I digress. Again.

While I babbled on the emergency room nurse laughed -- which probably helped her mood as she grappled with my non-compliant arm veins. But even she of positive attitude had to give up on my arms. I suggested my wrists; the veins are very visible there. "Oh no, that's really really painful," she warned. She gave my hand a try -- very painfully in, & then the damn disrespectful vein blew.

I asked what would happen next... Since I was going to get a script for antibiotics, couldn't they just increase them & skip the iv antibiotic? She looked at me and seriously shook her head and then quickly said, "Oh don't worry, I've only got two tries and then I pass you onto another nurse." To which I blurted, "But what if she can't either?" She continued on, "There are only 9 of us working tonight," oblivious to my horror. "So I'm looking at 18 stab-sticks before we move onto option B?!"

She went to get another nurse. A not so nice nurse. A gruff by comparison nurse. Ah, but the ultrasound tech is here and I have to go!

A momentary reprieve before I remember we're looking for a "puss sack" and start to sweat away at least the bottom half of the magic marker dotted lines Nurse Sourpuss-Wash-My-Hands-Too-Vigorously had made to monitor the size of the infection area.

Embarrassed & literally sweating out what was to happen next, I ask her -- to ease my tension, you know -- if my boil was a boy or a girl. Ba-dum-dum!

"'Cuz maybe after all this fuss, I should name it..." I babble on.

Inside to myself I'm screaming, "Shut up already!" but it's babble jokingly or cry, so I say, "I suppose I shouldn't say that; you'll admit me to a different floor..."

"No, we don't do that here. We'd kick you to the curb," she says. Images of homeless mentally ill people flood my mind. It's a sobering thought & mercifully I shut up for a bit.

Then I ask, "What are we looking for here..." I don't expect her to reply with anything other than, "The doctor will tell you that," but the tech shows me the infected area, the skin line, that the infection was not in my breast tissue, and that there was no abscess to drain (back to that lancing option, were we?).

Just as I started to relax she told me she had been called from home to come in and do my ultrasound. I didn't have any jokes for that. I apologized and just thought to myself... Umm, what didn't I know about me, my boob, and my boil sorry, my infection that required a person to get out of bed at night on a holiday? I've seen that on ER, and that's not ever good.

Oh, but the gruff nurse was waiting for me; I had more attacks at sticking me to distract me for the time being.

She tied that rubber thing on my arm so tight that all but the tails of the knot disappeared in the flesh of my arm. I complained and got the gruff tough love explanation of how a tourniquet works. Uh, yeah, I know that; but sheesh when I came in here tonight my pain was a 2 or a 3 and now it was at a 5... Could we be a little nicer?

Oh, and can't we just give me a larger script for oral antibiotics and skip this iv mess?

"Oh, no then you'd need the shot."

"Fine, the shot can't be any worse than all this painful sticking."

"No, this shot hurts."

I don't think she understood the pain I was experiencing.

Anyway, this nurse fares no better -- in fact, she doesn't even try to stab me but instead, after minutes of none-to-gently slapping my arms, she says she's going to go get this lady EMT who "can stick anyone in a vehicle bouncing down the road." Awesome, I'll go anywhere to get this stabbing over with -- take me to the bouncing rescue vehicle!

But I didn't have to leave; she came to me.

She assess my multiple stab wounds & frowns; suggests my wrist.

"That's what I said, but the first nurse said it hurts a lot."

"I think it hurts worse on the hand than the wrist," she says matter-of-factly.

What the hell, let's try it.

It worked. It hurt a lot (about the same as the hand, I'd say), but it was done.

Now for the iv antibiotic. Twenty minutes of sitting and reading from the book I'd brought for the waiting area. But then, in calling hubby (so he doesn't worry about how long this is all taking), it occurs to me that I've never had this much fuss ever. Forget about the problems sticking me (I'm trying to), emergency room ultrasounds from staff that had to be called from home? Intravenous antibiotics? In addition to multiple scripts for simultaneous antibiotics? And I have to return to the urgent care center tomorrow to have it looked at again? Just what the hell did I have?

Well, as it turns out, the check-out slip says I have cellulitis. So it was a good thing I went in. Even if it was all so bizarre.

I went home and have followed all instructions -- except the "keep the area raised on pillows" because the whole area is a pillow. The directive to "rest until healed" is easy to do because cellulitis knocks you on your ass.

Days later, I've still got an ugly breast. See?

I'd apologize for this photo's grossness, but felt it was important to show women what it looks like -- so that those who recognize something like this on their own breast know to get medical attention. Got this thing or one like it? Get thee to a doctor.

I apologize for the photo's blurriness. I had to take it myself because hubby now doesn't want to see my icky boob. When I hinted at sex he was looking at my (fully covered) breast with that "Eeeiwww" expression.

"What, now that it's getting better, you don't want to see it?"

"I didn't know how gross it was; now that I do, no thank you."


But I can wait him out. *wink*

Oh, and should you ever need to know, I was told by the doctor who gave me my follow-up exam the next day, that increased redness at the infection site for the 36 hours following antibiotics is normal. It seems contrary, but give it a few days and it will start to clear up.

And that concludes today's life lessons in lesions.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Whenever I hear Jenny McCarthy (and now Jim Carrey) cheer, "Autism is Preventable and Reversible!" I feel ill. I've seen the celeb-duo on TV, but become so nauseated & angry that I refuse to read the books. Why? Because these treatments are far more costly than the average family can afford, leaving parents with additional guilt & stress -- and that's if the treatments did work. But they don't.

Primarily, what the "prevent & reverse" Autism folks present is inconclusive. While McCarthy's son may have been helped by such things as diet & other alternative treatments, these results have not been consistently replicated with other children (or adults). After years of determinedly jumping through such hoops of hope, I was just that much more exhausted -- emotionally & financially.

In fact, those are the typically replicated result of attempts to follow claims of "reversing" Autism. Such guilt & stress produces not only even more exhausted parents, but children who are, due to changes in schedules, even more upset -- and, feeling they have failed again, children with even more damaged self-esteem.

And don't get me started on the anti-vaccines cry. Aside from the fact that there is no proof of a connection between vaccines and autism, McCarthy herself has been quoted as saying, "When it comes to vaccines we are operating as if our kids have a universal tolerance for them. We are acting like ONE SIZE FITS ALL. That is, at the very least, a huge improbability."

I'm not sure if that "no one-size-fits-all mentality" is irony coming from a woman talking about her child; or if that's in defense of the inability to replicate results from McCarthy's touted treatments.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Who Will Guide The Light?

CBS has canceled the 72 year old soap Guiding Light, the longest-running scripted program in broadcasting history, because CBS didn't care to face the realities of today's audience and their media viewing habits.

They did try a few things to "save" the show, most notably reducing the quality by switching to hand-held digital cameras, lights and microphones (which was horrid), but they sure didn't give it the old Springfield try.

It's a shame too. Guiding Light wasn't just a show I grew up with, it had produced some quality actors including Kevin Bacon, James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson and Julianne Moore along the way -- a testament to the production quality it once had.

Sure, I'll admit I've stopped watching it. First I reduced to one or two times a week because I work at home (emphasis on work at home) and my day is not conducive to breaks scheduled around TV shows. Once the digital crap hit, I was less interested in making the effort. And the more time you spend away from soaps, the more effort you need to put into figuring them out. So you resist.

Some would argue that Guiding Light has a smaller audience because it's an older audience; I disagree. I bet the audience is older -- but that's the very reason why it should succeed! If only producers would work to serve the audience.

The number one thing that hurts the show is the time. Why not consider something that people can commit to? Put it on later, when I can sit and watch it -- and that's not right before milk & cookie time. I'm struggling to get my stuff done for when the kids come home. And five days a week? My sister who travels isn't going to come back from Hong Kong and watch 2 - 6 weeks of any TiVo'd shows. But prime time soaps thrive. So why not consider completely different scheduling based on the realities of working families? Hey, that Friday night death slot might just be the ticket... We're home. Nothing else is on... especially if Dollhouse and The Sarah Connor Chronicles will be leaving us.

According to The New York Times:
A spokeswoman for P.&G., Jeannie Tharrington, said the company would seek to place “Guiding Light” elsewhere. “We’re looking at all our options,” she said. “This show started as a 15-minute radio show, and then it was a half-hour television show, so it has adapted over the years.”
I hope P&G at least puts forth effort to really find ways to adopt and adapt the show to today's audiences. We're here; we're just not living the lives our moms or even we ourselves once did.

I'm available for consultation.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Controlling Children's Cell Phone & Media Use

I'll be honest, this post is prompted by a contest sponsored by (discovered via a RAMBO Alert from They wanted mom bloggers to give "5 tips for managing cell phone use by your kids."
How do you keep your kids safe from bullying, inappropriate content, and other hazards, and how do you maintain a budget for the use of the phone?
And it hit me that (1) I'd like a phone for my son so that his dad would stop being so cheap about phone calls, but (2) I have no clue as to the answers because (3) we've had horrible luck with Des, who is 4 years older, and her cell phone use to the extent that we've taken it away, and that (4) we are hard-core parental controllers of the media & technology our kids use (which brings me to point 5 which is that ages ago I promised to discuss how we limit our families use of "screens" and passive entertainment).

So this is not what Kajeet really wanted, but it's what I want to say.

I don't want to kiss a phone goodbye; as a mom who lost her son in an ugly custody battle to her abuser and now lives 10 hours away from him, it would be great to give him a phone (with the wallet system Kajeet has, it would be even cooler!) so that we could talk on my dime anytime.

Saying all that is really ugly. But it's a sad reality for countless numbers of moms in similar situations -- as well as other parents of divorce with children far away. So someone has to say it.

Destiny has not shown the maturity we as parents feel warrants her own personal phone; until she matures enough to handle the responsibility of a phone, she uses our phones. This makes perfect sense to us because responsibilities are earned, so no matter how many of her peers have them.

And her peers have them.

Cell phones, multiple game "stations", iPods, unmonitored internet usage, televisions & DVD players in their rooms...

Don't get me wrong, the kids have plenty of "things" -- including their own individual record players (because they all collect vinyl!), boom boxes, radios, disc-players... That's because music isn't as "dumbing" as visual entertainment. They can listen all they want. But when it comes to "screens," we limit the number of hours a day they may sit in front of them.

"Screens" (or "idiot boxes") are TVs (the programming and electronic devices which display on their screens, including movies and PlayStation or other video games) and computers (unless they are writing or otherwise creating on it; games and "surfing" time count as passive, mindless entertainment).

We limit them to two hours a day on school days; three hours on non-school days. Yes, that includes summer vacation.

And, they are monitored. They are never on the internet without us in the room or within eyesight of the monitor. They are not allowed to watch shows or movies which we have not screened & OK'd or are not present to watch with them.

We do this because we love them.

We do this to encourage their own creativity.

We do this to encourage them to move and play.

We do this to be sure that if/when questionable material arises, we are there to answer questions, point out the inaccuracies Vs facts, quell fears & anxieties, find out what excites & interests them, have conversations with them about what they are absorbing -- and just plain turn it off, if need be.

So I guess if I were try to conform to the contest rules, I would say that the best way to really manage kids' use of cell phones is to do the same thing: limit the amount of time they actually hold it. Or to use a feature like Kajeet's TimeManager, and limit the phone's use for text, pics & calls to times when we are present to monitor them &/or times when calls are warranted ("Come pick me up, please!")

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Bra Nazi: I Wish I Was Just Some Ultra-Conservative Worry-Wart, But I'm Not

It began with Des' mom and her grandma (hubby's mom) buying Des very short skirts and high-heeled black boots because they think it's a cool look (for her?!). When I met Des at age six, she had plenty of those outfits. But they made me cringe so badly (I've written before about how I feel about inappropriately dressing children), that I told hubby I would not appear in public with her dressed like that and by the 5th grade it was forbidden because it was inappropriate.

Des, now 12, is obsessed with wearing black. It's not quite the typical "goth" thing, more of a rock-n-roll-slash-biker rebellion dealio, a carry-over from those "cool" outfits, I suppose. (Those boots are still popular with her, but now she only wears them with pants or long skirts; and Des is now too prudish to wear short skirts unless her 80's leggings are underneath them.) But the fact is, Des will do just about anything to wear her black clothes, including picking them out of the dirty laundry pile. If she can't do that, she'll at least wear a black bra under a white t-shirt.

I've repeatedly told Destiny that she cannot wear her black bras under white or other light clothing; it shows thru. Each and every time I get a, "Oh, I didn't know." Which one might be inclined to believe if they weren't the one telling her once a week -- and if the kid weren't extremely weirded-out by anything remotely "risque". But after so many times, it's infuriating.

Now oddities about Des aside, and leaving out the "typical power struggles of the pre-teen in Western culture" conversation, we must first deal with the fact that I am step-mom.

As step-mom, it's only "natural" (and I say this because what we call "natural" and "normal" regarding the role of the step-parent in this culture is mainly out-of-whack because as a society we allow and perpetuate it), that she test me. Many times that I've pointed out Des' visible black bra her father has been present -- but said nothing. What's more, he's been the first to see her, send her off to school, without, apparently, noticing it. So understandably she might think that the lack of comment of disapproval on his part is approval by omission, and I, by comparison, am just noise she can ignore.

I needed to get hubby to support my statements.

Step one was to educate him about how serious this was. Not just giving Des the impression that she could divide and conquer, or ignore what I say, but because I see this "bra thing," like the short skirts and boots, to be a safety issue.

He doesn't get it because he's never had to live like a woman.

The fact is that as much as I wish it otherwise, girls and women are held responsible for the actions of boys and men.

I'm not (only) talking about date rape ("She went on a date with him, didn't she?" "Why else would she let him in her apartment?" "She was dating him for so long... it can't be rape."), or "real rape" ("What was she wearing?" "What was she doing in that parking lot?" "What is her job?") -- and don't even get me started talking about domestic violence!

And I'm not some alarmist prude either, imagining every boy, man-child and man as a sex predator or abuser. I'm just talking about the facts.

Ever since Allie was in middle school, continuing through high school and Des' start of middle school, I've been getting those notices about how girls should and shouldn't dress at school -- specifically stating things such as no visible bra straps protruding from or sliding out beneath the straps of tank tops. Girls with blossoming buds and young women with full breasts are monitored for the "snugness" of their t-shirts.


Because the boys in class could be distracted.

We can't have boys running around distracted! And we certainly can't teach them to control themselves. No,no, no. It would be much better if we taught the females, the tempting sinful devils that they are, to behave in ways which do not elicit problematic male responses.

So, like Muslim women who must pray at the back of the mosque so that their prostrated backsides won't distract men from their God, girls and young women here in the US must mind their place and their dress so that boys and young men will not have to be responsible for their own thoughts and actions.

I certainly don't think a young girl needs to display her thong or otherwise dress like a mature sexualized adult, but I am completely against this notion that females are the ones responsible for male thought and action. It makes me furious!


Knowing that this is the world we live in...

That the girl with the showing bra straps is the one who will be sent home -- not the leering boy.

That should some young man touch her, she will not only be the one abused but she will have to defend herself, her actions & her dress -- and, no matter the outcome, she will be the one with a ruined reputation.

Knowing all this, it would be damn-near criminal of me not to protect her from the fall-out of a visible bra.

It's not right, it's not fair; but it's what happens in our world.

And so Des cannot dress as she likes. She (and anyone else) can hate me for it for the rest of her life. But it will be a safer one.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

And What Did You Do During The Flood Of 2009?

Unless you've been living under a (dry) rock, you've probably heard about the flood situation here in Fargo; now we wait to see what the melting snow (so beautiful as it fell; see photos below) will mean for a second crest this month.

But what you don't know, is what that week was like for us.

Aside from the worries about the house & basement, the closed roads (oh, and the limited stock on grocery store shelves -- hello, expensive bread!), lost pay for hubby as non-essential businesses were closed , schools closed for about 10 days (which means momma isn't just home with kids who perform the usual work distractions, but are asking you all sorts of flood and science related questions -- yup, including "what causes global warming" and "will the earth crash into the sun) -- and then the additional struggle of snow-filled streets which would have to wait to be plowed because city workers were busy with the flood situation -- we had special troubles of our own.

The week before the historical crest of the Red River, we went to Wisconsin to get my son. His spring break does not line up with the local school break, so we took one of the days the girls were off school to drive to Milwaukee, spend a day with my parents, then drive back with Hunter who would then spend his week of vacation with us here in Fargo. That part went rather well, considering.

On Sunday, we all packed into "my van", named Plum Luck, and were to follow my parents in their van out of their driveway to a local restaurant for breakfast before we left for our 10 hour drive back to Fargo. Plum Luck backed up, but as hubby threw her into drive, she jerked three times and then refused to move. Not forwards, not backwards; no movement at all.

I got out, walked to the driver's side of my folks' van, shaking my head in that near-hysterical- sort of confidence that shock mixed with "this is my life" brings, and told my dad that we weren't moving. Dad & hubby played a bit with the van until my mom, hungry, said, "Let's all go get breakfast and talk about the options."

So we all piled into their van & went to eat.

But neither our van, nor our situation, was mentioned.

When we returned to my folks' house, there was more poking about in Plum Luck's engine etc., and then discussion of the options.

There were few of them. Mainly because we were down to one working van to begin with. Ookla, the big 70's porno conversion van, had been stuck for weeks with what was deemed to be a small repair -- but due to so much snow, cold temps, and no garage (let alone a heated one), hubby obviously could not get under it to see much of anything. So it sat while we operated our lives with one vehicle.

So while we could have taken a bus back to Fargo, or, as my folks' offered, have them drive us back, we would have been stuck once there. Hubby thought maybe we could borrow his dad's car and get Ookla fixed -- but I knew better. No disrespect to hubby's abilities, but "car repairs" are not in the easzy-peazy slam-dunk-fix category. Plus, if my life has taught me anything, it's that when it rains it pours. I wasn't going to bank on a repaired Ookla.

My parents loaned us my mom's van -- very nice of them. Especially as when, during the wacky week of flood-watching, hubby was able to get under Ookla, it (so far) has proved to be anything but an eazy-peazy diagnosis, let alone fix. So at least we had one reliable vehicle for the week and for the return to trip to Wisconsin to return Hunter.

Now Plum Luck, as it turns out, needed a new transmission; that price tag was way more than the van was worth. So while we had a van to get to Wisconsin, we would be stuck there. Or we'd have to make the trip by bus, have my folks drive us home, or get a rental. Once at home, we'd be without a vehicle.

Unless we drove two vehicles to Wisconsin. We thought about borrowing hubby's dad's car, but that would be a short term solution to a long(er) term problem. So we figured we'd need to buy a new (to us) vehicle.

So there we were, in the middle of both a flood and a blizzard, looking for a car -- make that a used van that would hack the road trips. And one that we can afford. And get financed post-bankruptcy.

Options were few, but the solution was Big Lot. We got a new-to-us van (dubbed "Star").

Because our drive was full (the not-moving Ookla and my mom's van) and due to the snow emergency (no parking on the street), we left the van there, intending to pick it up the next evening and park it at my father-in-law's house for 36 hours until we would leave for Wisconsin (Grandpa Dave watches our dogs at his house, so we'd be going there anyway).

But the evening we went to pick up the van was not only blizzard conditions, but due to the flood there were only two bridges open into Moorhead -- and few ways to get there. We sat in the van for over an hour and didn't even get to close to the bridge. So we called, said we'd be there the next morning.

Late that night hubby & decided that we'd leave to get the van -- and keep driving. We'd get the hell out of Dodge and go to Wisconsin a day early.

We got up early that still-snowing-morning. Each of us had less than six hours of sleep, but by 8:30 AM hubby had called Des' mom (to change her weekend visitation), I had updated my folks that four of us would be coming a day early, and we had dropped the dogs off at Grandpa's.

We magically got to and over the bridge quickly & easily and picked up "Star."

I was driving with Hunter and Des was with her father in grandma's van. I pulled out of the Big Lot lot, following hubby, and "ding" went the gas gage. I phoned hubby and we agreed to meet at the gas station a few blocks away.

We each filled our tanks, went inside to pay. I returned to Star and Hunter told me my cell had rung. I picked up the phone and looked at the missed call info. I didn't recognize the number, so I dialed it. While it rang, I looked out the front windshield. I saw hubby driving toward the road to I-94 -- and I saw a huge crack on the windshield.

Now when we test drove the van (something which excited both Des & Hunter to the point you'd think they never been on the 10-12 hour drives to and from Wisconsin), I noticed the "ding" on the windshield, on the passenger's side, near the center. I hadn't complained because prior to the test drive, we'd been informed of repairs they'd made on the van and among them was "filled windshield repair," so I just noted, "Ah, that's where it was."

But now, it had spread -- to this freakish long-horn, bicycle-handlebars, thing.

My jaw dropped just as the phone was answered.

It was Tammy, Allie's case manager for her apartment staff, would we pick her up? They were evacuating the apartment while they could control an evacuation -- and while the building was (likely) safe, there would be no staffing. I explained that we were leaving town, they could contact Grandpa Dave. But when I hung up...

Oh well, no time to reconsider, my phone was ringing again. It was hubby, where was I?

I babbled about a windshield and Tammy's call. He said to stay put, he'd drive back to meet me.

When he arrived back at the gas station, he took one look at the windshield and said, "What did you do?" ARG!

It was a normal enough question -- an automatic one, actually. The next thing out of his mouth was something about the fill not working. We stared at each other in silence for a second.

The he suggested he'd drive and get Allie while I went back to Big Lot and had them look at the windshield.

So off he went, back over one bridge (and then facing a potential problem getting back over again on the other) while I franticly called Allie, to have her be packed and ready. But Allie didn't answer. I called home & cell, repeatedly. Soon I was back at Big Lot, where upon being greeted at the door, I began to verbally vomit The Windshield Story in a rush of adrenaline.

"No problem," they said, they'd take care of it, replace the windshield when we returned.

I was stupefied. It couldn't be that simple; God was playing dodgeball with me -- the proof was on my windshield. But it was that simple.

Now Hunter & I just had to wait for the rest of the family to get here with Allie -- Allie! Oh my God, I had to get a hold of Allie! I called. I kept calling until I got her. She was barely awake and here I was barking her to pack her bags for a trip to Wisconsin. This Auspie doesn't do "unplanned" very well -- but she did very well.

Now the car salesman knocked at the window -- were we OK? So I had to tell him the story of the windshield and why we were waiting for hubby... Oh my God, hubby! I'd better tell him that Allie had just been told, that she likely wasn't going to be ready when he got there. But when I reached him, he was already there and things were going well because she was excited to see Grandma & Grandpa and tell them all about her trip to New York City. Oh my God, I had to tell my folks the latest plan -- there would be five of us now, and I'd call when we officially were on the road with an ETA.

Now it was just sit and wait.

Soon hubby & the girls met us back at Big Lot. Then, because I had the "new van," one with a magical space-age door that opens at the push of a button, all the kids piled into Star to ride with me.

And we drove off to Wisconsin. It was 10 AM and we had 10 hours of driving to do.