Getting Unstuck

Originally published at blogger, here was my moment of moving on:

Eleven months ago when I was packing up my office after being laid off, I threw my box of business cards into stuff I was taking home with me. I sat the rolling case full of the detritus of my career in a corner of my home office and ignored it for close to a year. A good friend, former supervisor and mentor asked me for some material from a presentation I delivered at a conference a couple of years ago, so I went digging through it, finally. Found those business cards, stared at them for awhile, wondering for what purpose I had kept them, decided I kept them because, at that time, I had not yet let go, not processed that particular loss fully. I then surprised myself by realizing that it doesn’t hurt anymore to think about it. Threw them in the trash, it felt good, cathartic. It was at that very moment that I truly let the last of it go, the vestiges of outrage, pain and loss garnered from not just the loss of a job or even a career trajectory, but my sense of purpose in my work life and all the people who truly made up a second family to me, the coworkers, clients, community and contacts, the relationships forged in that time. It was a relief to feel the weight lift completely and realize that it had been getting lighter and lighter all along. Now I finally feel fully invested in my new job, no longer holding a piece of myself back from it for some vague reasons I couldn’t even articulate. At the same time I was not fully invested in the new job, I also did not let myself look for or think about other options, like graduate school or another job entirely. Probably for those same vague reasons. Now I feel like I can truly move forward again, after a year of feeling like I slid backwards then got stuck. It feels good to be unstuck!

Angela’s Rules for Cell Phone Ettiquette

We all get busy. With career, family, kids and other obligations going on , who has time for drama? With that in mind,  I present Angela’s rules for cell phone ettiquette:

  1. Don’t get upset when I don’t answer or return your call or text during work hours. It is unreasonable for you to expect I will. When I’m at work, I’m working and do not even check my personal cell phone until after work hours. I’m busy, it’s not personal.
  2. Please do not put me in the awkward position of telling you no by asking for my work number. My work phone is owned and paid for by the agency I work for and is for work calls. If there is a true emergency, please contact my husband or mother who have my work number (and no they won’t give it to you.)
  3. Please do not call and/or text me multiple times in a short time frame. This in no way increases the likelihood of me answering or returning your call/text during work hours. In fact, it decreases them as I get annoyed by it and am passive aggressive.
  4. I appreciate and love most of my family and friends so when I do not return your calls/texts in what YOU deem a timely manner, please do not go all drama queen on me, I am not mad at you, ignoring you or avoiding your calls. Unless you do any of the things on this list frequently, then I might be.
  5. Outside of work hours, there is a high probability that I am in class, doing homework, working on work stuff at home, writing an article for my column, shopping, paying bills, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, playing with my kids, bathing my kids, reading to my kids, feeding my kids, putting my kids to bed, fixing problems my kids come to me with, homeschooling my kids…(you get the idea), spending time with my husband, and occasionally eating and sleeping. Sometimes I even (gasp) leave the phone inside while I’m outside with the kids and/or animals. While these, and many more, are all valid reasons for not answering my phone (see number four, it’s not all about you), I don’t actual owe you an explanation of what I’m doing with my time or have to justify that it was important enough to ignore phone calls for. Please remember that YOUR priorities are not necessarily MY priorities.
  6. When you call me, if you would like a return call, please DO leave me a voice message or a text message that ACTUALLY STATES what you are calling about. I return calls and texts by priority so just saying or texting “call me” tells me nothing and I will assume it wasn’t important and move it to the bottom of the list.
  7. When you text me, please, please, please do NOT use all caps. I don’t know why you are screaming at me and it’s rude. When you consistently use all caps to convey urgency yet it turns out it was nothing urgent at all, using all caps ceases to get your call returned quicker and will in fact have the opposite effect because it annoys me.

 

Is Your Child Tongue Tied?

Ankloglossia, commonly known as tongue tied, is when the frenulum (the little piece of skin that connects your tongue to the bottom of your mouth) is too short. While it’s not wildly common, it’s not an uncommon childhood occurrence either. Ankloglossia is usually caught in the first few years of life.

Clipping it is called a frenulectomy and is very quick, outpatient procedure performed by an ENT. This procedure would only need to be done if the frenulum is short enough to be causing problems.

If it’s really short it can interfere not only with speech but with eating (because the tongue is used to move food around in the mouth). Another professional to consult on the subject would be a speech therapist; a speech therapist can tell if the tongue tie is affecting the ability to speak. The tongue moves around quite a bit in order to speak. Think about how to produce the “L” sound if the tongue can’t reach the roof of the mouth.

If parents suspect their child has a short frenulum, then the sooner they get to an ENT, the better. The longer it takes to address this issue, the more therapy the child will need because he or she is learning wrong ways of articulating.

A simple test to have the child stick his or her tongue out and attempt to move it up and down and from side to side as far as it will go.

The Early Childhood Intervention program of LifePath Systems provides free developmental assessments to children between birth and age 3 in Collin County. Be sure to let them know the issue when referring so that they can send out the appropriate professionals.

Here is a video sample of a tongue protrustion test, get your child to stick his tongue out and move it up, down and to each side. If verbal instructions don’t suffice, try putting some powdered candy on the outside of the mouth and have him lick it off.

Frozen In Texas

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Well, its winter in Texas and that always means at least one or two days of freezing weather. Read freezing weather as chaos and mass pandemonium.  Yes my friends, we in Texas are not prepared for the frozen tundra. I know our Northern neighbors poke fun at us for shutting down over a half inch of snow or panicking at the first snowflake but let me explain.

First of all, it’s true that we are not prepared to survive any extended amount of time in the snow and ice and that’s because we seldom have to. It just wouldn’t make sense to invest in things like snow tires and street plows when they would be used a handful of times over a several year span.

Secondly, let’s get one thing clear. We almost NEVER get snow. No, what we get is nasty, wet, freezing rain and sleet that melts into slushy, muddy, yucky crud. This is no picture of a winter wonderland with soft, fluffy snow for building snowmen and starting snow ball fights. No, you can’t throw ice balls at your neighbors. Well, you could, but it would likely result in an assault charge.

Have you ever seen Texas snowmen? When we do get a modicum of snow mixed with the ice, it takes your entire yard worth of snow to build one pitifully little snowman and it’s mixed with dirt and twigs and leaves. Think Frosty’s less fortunate, vagrant brother.

The reason we are locked in our homes for the duration of the ice, not snow, days is simple. We can’t drive on sheets of solid ice. Hell, we can’t even walk on them! I once fell 34 times traversing about 60 feet over a frozen solid parking lot. Seriously, do you think anyone in Texas, outside of hockey players, own ice skates?

So I know we may look silly freaking out over some freezing rain with a temperature dip to 31 degrees overnight,  but we also have not lost the wonder of waking up to find ourselves frozen inside a snow globe.

I have a screened in back porch, looking out my sliding glass door at the ice sheets clinging to that screen and seeing the icicles gracing everything in sight is an awe inspiring moment. Watching my dogs skid across the frozen backyard is hilarious. Hearing my children shriek with delight as their father pulls them in a big plastic tub across the frozen driveway is heartwarming. Most of all, the silence is amazing and being frozen in with my family with all obligations suspended, nowhere to go and nothing much to accomplish is a wonderful, unexpected gift, every time.

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Racial Profiling in the Death of Trayvon Martin

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Yes, I realize I’m not black. I know I’m white. Over twenty years ago I struggled with how to explain racism to my then only child because I didn’t want to introduce such a horrible thing to him. Then my best friend, who just happens to be black, gently explained to me that being white is the only reason I had the privilege of shielding him from racism. She had to explain it to her children early,because they were already victims of it. No, I may not be black, but I love people who are. My best friend, her children who call me “Aunt”, my own nephews who are biracial. Yes, I love people who are black and so I probably have a much closer seat than most of you. Yes, I’m talking to you white people. I’m talking about the things I’ve seen up close and personal, standing there beside the people I love. It’s the little things, a million tiny cuts over the course of a lifetime. A million insults and hurts. You get offended when black people point out your racism, many of you truly don’t see it in yourself, but I do. It’s there. I invite you to just imagine, for a moment, what it’s like. I understand that it may be hard for you to understand what it’s like to live with discrimination every day of your life when you haven’t had to. To be ignored by a waiter or thrown out of club because someone was selling drugs and it must be the black girl. To be the only kid in class, or in school, who is black and to get your fake baby in home ec and told that yours was born addicted to crack. To have people call you names for no reason. To have some stranger glare at your sweet, precious young child and declare they are getting out of the pool because it’s too dark in here for them. To have a cashier not want to touch your hand. To have women in grocery stores run from you. If these were facts of your daily life, you would see why it’s easy to think that Trayvon was judged for being black, because that was just a fact of his life, a normal everyday occurrence. Imagine someone looking at your newborn baby then exclaiming that “At least I have pure Aryan kids” then not understanding why you can’t take a joke. Imagine having to teach your child at age four why some people hate him. Just try to imagine.

What Do You Expect?

I’d like to say a word about expectations and how they influence our lives, probably more than you even realize.

Expectations. We all have them. Of ourselves, of others. Of our children, our friends, our coworkers, our jobs, our lives. And how those expectations are, or are not, fulfilled, affect our attitudes and our actions.

 

I often spend the better part of my work day talking to parents about expectations of their children and keeping them realistic. Certainly if you know your child can say “doll” then it’s ok to expect her to say it in order to obtain the desired object. However, if you child wants to see the fish and you have never heard her utter the word fish before, expecting her to say it in order to be lifted up to see them is not only unrealistic, it’s cruel. I certainly wouldn’t want someone to tell me to quickly solve an advanced math problem or I can’t have my lunch. It’s unreasonable, I couldn’t do it.
Unrealistic expectations play a large role in the occurrence of child abuse. If you truly believe that all children are able and ready to potty train at age one and your one and half year old isn’t doing it, frustration is going to occur. Only instead of understanding that your child can’t, you see that child as defiant, stubborn, bad. Having a clear and realistic view of what your child is and isn’t capable of is crucial for maintaining realistic expectations.
It’s not just children we need to have realistic expectations for. I am always amazed at the relationships that end over expectations that just aren’t achievable. If you haven’t read the book, “Real Love” by Dr. Greg Baer, you should. It took me awhile to get through it because I kept exclaiming, “oh this is ridiculous!” and throwing it down only to spend the next day or two thinking it through and realizing it was right, just difficult to put into practice. This would send me back to pick it up and resume reading until the next time I exclaimed over it’s ridiculousness and threw it down. In this halting manner I finally not only understood but embraced what it was telling me. That to love someone unconditionally is to have NO expectations of them. My first response to that was, well, that’s ridiculous! But it’s actually not.
Unconditional means no matter what, therefore, to love unconditionally means just that. No matter what. Any time you are angry with another person, it is because they have failed to meet your expectations. Think about it. You expected your son to wipe his feet before walking across your clean floor, you expected your friend to pay for lunch this time, you expected your spouse to remember your anniversary. You are angry because they failed to meet that expectation.
If you love someone unconditionally then you love them even when they fail to meet your expectations. Not having any expectations in the first place keeps you from feeling angry when they aren’t met. The book does a great job of teaching you how to get and give unconditional love. I’m not going to try and recreate it here, this was a very bare, barely scratching the surface summary and I know I have not done it justice. I highly recommend you read it for yourself. Meanwhile, I feel like I’m making a short story long here! Back to my point!
I’m not sure it’s possible to truly be expectation free but we can have realistic expectations of our significant others. Don’t date a doctor then be surprised after the wedding when you get left alone in the middle of your anniversary party for a medical emergency. Don’t marry a woman who hates to cook the be surprised that she doesn’t cook for you. And don’t sweat the small stuff.
People often comment that my husband and I just got lucky or they want to know what our secret is. The only trick is that we just accept each other the way we are, we don’t try to change each other. We also don’t expect the other person to be a mind reader. If I want to do something specific for our anniversary, I say so and well in advance. Likewise, if he’s cooking and feels like he needs help, he asks for it rather than hinting and feeling resentful that he isn’t getting any. These are just simple examples, but hopefully they illustrate my point.
I think you will find that you are much happier in life when you don’t have an overabundance of expectations. If you bring me some dinner, I’m happy you thought about me at all and I won’t complain if something isn’t to my liking. This way, I simply enjoy the dinner and the fact that you thought of me. On the other hand, I could react by being disappointed because I expected you to remember all my likes and dislikes. In one scenario I just ignore the part of the meal I don’t like and enjoy the rest. In the other I may sulk and dwell on how thoughtless you are. Really the difference between me being happy or unhappy in this scenario is what I choose to focus on. See there? Happiness really is a choice!

The Internet Ate My LIfe

Today I’m wondering why I haven’t fully embraced this blog yet. Why I seldom write, though writing is one of my great passions. I think I have an answer. I’m still grieving the loss of my last blog. The website was pulled down and if they gave me any notice, I sure missed it somehow. Which means the documentation of my life is just……..gone.

My entire pregnancy with Troy, my fourth child, was documented there, the initial announcement, the sonogram when we found out it was another boy, the ultrasound showing an echogenic spot on his brain, the fetal MRI, the worry, the relief when they said he was probably ok, the little nagging bit of worry that hung around until well after he was born. The story of his birth, how they ignored me and told me I wasn’t in labor until he was born with no one ready to catch him, landing instead on the bed. Of how he was born blue and still had the membrane intact over his face. The fear when he wasn’t moving, when he came out blue, the resuscitation. My refusal to pay the hospital for “labor and delivery” when no one delivered him or paid one bit of attention to me during my labor, the charges for the IV and fluids that I repeatedly declined that were forced on me anyway, complete with pitocin even though I had just gone from zero to pushing a baby out in an hour and a half and the pitocin seemed redundant and possible damaging to me. A copy of the letter I sent to the hospital informing them that the 90% paid my insurance and the 5% I paid up front were, in my opinion, more than what they deserved. His first days home. All the cuteness and ups and downs of his first year, including his fluctuating muscle tone and really odd and atypical reflexes that may or may not have been caused by birth trauma, we shall never really know. The million funny stories as he began to talk.

Katies experience with preschool, the time she busted out the plate glass window at Jump N Land. Brandon’s junior, then senior prom. His high school graduation and all my mixed emotions about my oldest growing up. The wonderful long post about Todd’s potential ADHD and the list of his ridiculous messes. The announcement that I, at 44, was going to have baby number five after all.

My entire masters degree program was documented there from deciding to do it through the excitement, the hard work, the long hours, the induction into several honor societies and the pride as I graduated with a 4.0.

My grandmothers death, the grief over the loss of a friends child. Me, eleven years later, processing grief over my fathers death as my uncle was dying of cancer.

The frustrations of the state sponsored budget cuts to ECI services and the ensuing loss of services to families and benefits to employees. Being laid off after ten years with the same program.

Vacations and family trips, the kids first visit to the zoo, the museum, etc. In short, my life! All of it, just gone.

I have always been a journal writer, the transition to blogging wasn’t easy for me. For one, I enjoy the physical feel of putting pen to paper. For two, an inherent distrust in the internet not to eat my posts and three, the publicness of it all. Putting myself out there for the world to see. I thought for sure I would edit myself more knowing it was for public consumption. The more I wrote, the less I edited. I figured no one really read it but me anyway. But issue number two was valid and I should have backed my writing up. A few of my posts were copied and pasted over to Facebook or into a word document, but most of it was just lost, never to be recreated. Sure, I can tell you about Troy’s birth, but I will never be able to recreate the feeling and depth of the original post coming immediately after experiencing it.

However, I think I’ve learned from my mistake! What I ought to be doing, in addition to creating word documents (because hard drives crash) is printing. Although, nothing lasts forever. Looking back at my old hand written journals, many of the twenty or thirty year old pages are already filled with ink that has begun to fade. I don’t examine that too closely, because I’m sure it says something about the fragility of human existence and how time erodes everything and that’s another post entirely!

At any rate, I shall try to be a more faithful and entertaining blogger for you, my three readers!

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