September 2008

'Cause that last post was a little heavy...

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I thought I would post some recent photos of Greta Bean. Here she is from one morning this weekend looking too cool for school in her Hello Kitty sunglasses.

I like this juxtaposition of Greta eating brie and water crackers while shirtless. What you can't tell from the photo is that we were blasting Guns N' Roses. We seem to have been ghost-free since then, so maybe we drove the ghost(s) out with loud '80s music.

And here is a self-style family portrait.

Finally, I made a great, easy recipe that was so easy and great that I had to share it: behold! The only modifications I made to the recipe were I grilled chicken tenderloins on the Foreman instead of broiling pork, and I added the marinated carrots others recommended in the Reviews. (I thinly sliced the carrots and then soaked them in rice vinegar and a little sugar.) Even Greta liked these.


Funny Face

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Okay, so you might remember that I was supposed to have a free laser treatment for acne scars a while back. You might also remember that the fine folks at the dermatologist’s office let me sit in a room for over an hour with topical anesthesia on my face before they came in to tell me that they ran out of tips for the laser they had on loan from another office. (I swear I am barely bitter about that.) They were nice enough to call me back a couple weeks ago and say that they bought their own laser and asked if I could come in an be their guinea pig for the doctor’s training session, in so many words. I said “sure thing,” because a free laser treatment at about a $1,000 value is nothing to sneeze at, and it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

So I had the laser treatment on Thursday evening, and I’m at day 4 now, which is the day that many people report that their skin starts being normal looking – well, better than normal if the laser was used properly – but right now I am very zitty and peely, but I am getting ahead of myself…

Day of Treatment

I got to the office nice and early on Thursday to get the topical anesthesia on and sit around and fret. I heard someone outside the room say, “Does anyone know where the Fraxel key is?” (There is apparently some special super secret, hidden key so people don’t use the laser willy nilly.) After about 15 minutes of the people in the office scrambling and me practicing my “You people need to get your sh1t together” speech, they found the key and I was good to go. I had heard that the pain caused by the laser was an unusual pain, but I really wasn’t worried and kept myself together with two things: I gave birth with no pain medication; and lots of wimps have this done, and if they can do it, I can too. In addition to the pain, which was very, very intense during the short 15 minute treatment, it was also an extremely overwhelming experience. There were two people in very close proximity to me, in addition to the handheld laser and also this cooling device, which is blown wherever the laser is zapping you at the time. It’s just a lot of stuff going on at once. I did okay with the pain when I was able to focus my thoughts on something else – in fact, I tried to think a lot about my labor with Greta, which was a huge help. However, the physician and the assistant would ask me how I was doing maybe every 30-60 seconds because I think they wanted to gauge my pain tolerance and basically make sure I hadn’t gone into shock. This was very distracting for me and didn’t allow me to really zone out like I wanted to. I no doubt made some pretty crazy faces during the actual treatment and I did tear up a bit, but once it was over I was fine. Immediately after the treatment, it just felt like I had a bad sunburn. I was pretty high on endorphins and actually felt quite dandy. I went home, ate dinner, iced my face a lot, and finally took the first picture. I was pleased with the results so far and couldn’t even see a trace of acne scars, although with the swelling it was hard to know what was what. The texture of my skin felt like sandpaper and it looked like I had hundreds of little blackheads.

This almost physically pains me to post these pictures, but I imagine if you’re still reading you will want to see before and after.

Here I am before. Some may argue that I have worse issues than acne scaring, but that’s my particular bugaboo.

Image temporarily removed due to author's vanity.

This is about 6 hours after the treatment. On the forehead, the spots in the before pictures are shadows from indents from scars, and the spots in the after pictures are splotches, for lack of a better term. The endorphins were gone and I was feelin' the burn.

Image temporarily removed due to author's vanity.

Oh yeah, and that giant zit on my lower lip happened a few days before the treatment because sometimes I swear that even thinking about acne makes me get acne.

Day 1

At the time, I also had a fairly nasty cold. To put things in perspective, I think the effects of the cold were worse than those of the laser. I was very swollen the next day, but there really wasn’t much pain. It felt like I had a sunburn, but it really wasn’t that bad. My appearance was compromised, as they say, and I definitely wouldn’t have gone out that day. I was super puffy and had some sweet-looking jowls. The texture still felt like sandpaper and I still had the blackheads.

Day 2

I woke up super swollen, but it went down throughout the day. My skin started looking very splotchy. Still sandpaper, still blackhead-looking things all over. My skin started itching like the dickens!

Day 3

I woke up a little swollen, but it quickly went down. I think my skin looked the worst on day 3. I basically started molting. I was very itchy and still splotchy, and skin around my nose started flaking off. Moisturizer doesn’t put a dent in the dryness. Also, I started breaking out with a bunch of small pimples on my forehead, nose, and chin. I expected to have an acne reaction, though, because this is my skin’s typical answer to anything. I am just happy that they’re small and not the cystic acne I used to have.

Day 4

I have a lot of acne today and my skin is peeling more. Thankfully, with the areas that are peeling off, the blackhead-looking things are going with it. The skin underneath looks good, aside from the acne. I am still blotchy, but I think that will probably slough off with the dead skin too. The most exciting things is that the swelling seems to be completely down, and I can’t see any trace of acne scaring on my face! This is amazing after only one Fraxel treatment. I can see my worst wrinkles still, but they are less pronounced than before. (And I think it's unfair that it is possible to have acne and wrikles at the same time. It's just not right.)

Here's a picture about 72 hours after the treatment. I took more pictures at smaller intervals, but honestly, you really can't see much difference, if any, so it seemed pointless to post them all. My giant zit now has many little friends.

Image temporarily removed due to author's vanity.

I am really shocked that the acne scars are gone. I thought they’d be better but not gone. I assume the texture of my face will improve as I peel and the acne clears up. I’m hoping this will be worth it! I know that so far I am having better results after one treatment than most people experience. Like I said, Fraxel treatment is about $1,000 per session, and most people need about 5-6 sessions to get the results they want, so I feel very lucky. Also, the doctor did my full face, which I thought was above and beyond what he needed to do, and he and the other folks there were so ridiculously nice and helpful. The doctor came in before the treatment and introduced himself and chatted with me more than I can remember any other doctor doing, and this was after normal hours AND he would normally be getting paid buckets of money but was getting nothing more than some experience and a firm handshake from me.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me via the Contact Us section or leave a comment. I don’t know if people will end up here via a Google search – I am guessing not since Fraxel laser therapy has a lot (I mean A LOT) of information on the Web – but feel free to contact me for any clarification. Also, I can give you information about where I had the treatment done in Rochester if you’re interested. I just didn’t want this to turn into a big advertisement. Also, I will hopefully have more a of a conclusion to give as things change and hopefully improve!


Reason #263 why I don't like our house and want to move

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I've always found our old house to be creepy, but last night was the worst. I was in the downstairs bathroom and I heard spooky, echo-y whispering. It was all "If you build it, they will come" style. I couldn't make out the words, but I didn't stick around to try to hear it again. I got out of there posthaste.

I kind of chalked it up to noise from outside of the house (even though it sounded like it was coming from the same room), but then when I was getting ready for bed in the upstairs bathroom, I heard a man's groan. A single, spooky groan. It sounded like it was coming from the next room: Pat's and my bedroom. I went in there and it was empty. [Shudders.]


PS - If I were a ghost, there's no way I'd hang out in the bathroom.

I'm nothing without a schedule

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I am home from work today for a reason that I will explain at a later time, and I thought to myself, Why do I feel tired and crappy and have a headache? Then I looked at the clock and realized I hadn't yet had a drop of coffee today. At 3:44 PM! (Don't believe the timestamp.) That is just silly.

In other news, I've been watching a lot of TV today, which is a sweet, sweet guity pleasure of mine.

Also, did Ralph Nader have a stroke in the last 4 years? He's on Dr. Phil today.

Yes, I'm watching Dr. Phil.

Okay, off to make coffee.


Where was I?

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At one point this weekend, my kitchen looked like this.

This also happens to be the messiest my kitchen has ever been. Pat installed our new dishwasher, and it was touch and go for a bit there, but, as always, Pat came through with flying colors. Just so you know, our dishwasher isn’t actually green; there was just a green layer of plastic that Pat gleefully peeled off after he finished installing it. I will give a real photo update once the kitchen is done-done, which should be pretty soon, because Pat is just putting the finishing touches on the edges of the flooring at this point. I am more excited about the new dishwasher than I’d like to admit. The dishes come out crystal clear now. It’s even better than I expected.

So, I’m sure you’re just dying to know how I won a rainbow maker. I am a regular at Parkleigh. I love to buy gifts for people there, and sometimes I just go to walk around and see what’s new, with no intention of buying anything. It’s just a fun place. I went there last week and signed up for their monthly drawing, which I do basically every time I’m there. Amazingly, I won! I seriously never win anything, so this was especially exciting and surprising. I went right there to claim my prize, which was awesome. It was packed up in a big Blue Q bag, and it was filled to the brim with goodies. Well, I will admit the contents looked a little like they were things that had been pulled off the shelves due to rude customers manhandling them, but inside the boxes, all was good in the hood. In addition to the nice bag and rainbow maker, I got a coin purse, this Papyrus journal, a takeout menu organizer (because everyone needs one of these?), this gnome air freshener, an ugly keychain that Greta loves, nice lotion, nice soap, a couple fun ice cube trays (this and this), and probably more that I’m forgetting. So exciting! I love my booty.

What else? Well, I would be remiss to not mention that I aced my first test. I'm not saying it was insanely hard, but I know at least one person had a grade in the 50s. Here's some proof.

I like the high school style "Perfect Work!" note. Ahhh, community college. Seriously though, the class is great so far, and I'm learning so much. I am so happy to be doing well, and I'm kicking myself for not doing better in science when I was younger. If I had half the confidence and interest then that I have now...well, let's just say I wouldn't have a Bachelor degree in studio art, and I'd probably be making a lot more money. Alas, I'm happy doing what I'm doing now, and I'm glad I found a nice hobby and being able to pronounce, define, and spell words like coccidioidomycosis.

Lastly, like everybody else seems to be right now, I'm sick. Boo.

OH WAIT! One more thing. In a fit of hunger this past Friday, I let Pat talk me into getting the "Fishmonger Plate" at Rochester's Lobster Trap. Or maybe it was even my idea. I was really hungry and suggestive at the time. Anyway, it was way, way, way bigger than I imagined, and it was quite tasty. I love these pictures, which really don't do justice to the size of this thing. Greta and Pat drooling over the bounty.

Greta picking out a scallop.

Chewing said scallop and no doubt contemplating its texture.

That is all.


Who has the time to blog?

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To this question I've always responded by saying, "I make the time to blog update my website because it's important to me and it's something I enjoy doing." But updating the site has been gnawing at me and feeling more like a nuisance than fun lately. Well, that and my laptop has taken a steep decline in its performance to the point where it wouldn't even run applications last night. Hmm. No Internetty. I took it as a sign from the medical terminology gods that I should study for my test on Wednesday.

I actually have some cute pictures from the weekend and some stories ranging from not incredibly stupid to mildly amusing, so hopefully I'll get around to posting them!

Until then, why don't you leave a comment letting me know what you would do with this thing if you won it as a prize in a drawing, like I did yesterday. It has Swarovski crystals. I'm so not even joking.


Happy 30 months to Greta!

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For those of you who are mathematically challenged, that means Greta is two and a half, as of today. The time really has flown by.

In celebration of this event, we had pizza for dinner, cupcakes for dessert (carrot cake cupcakes from Cheesy Eddie's, naturally), and went to hear some music in the park. It was a great evening.

Check out this cutie pizza face.

Extreme close-up.

Showing great restraint and posing before digging in to her cupcake and milk. (Amy, that's the hat your mom crocheted! It has seen much better days; she loves it.)

Here's a similar yet very different shot from last year: same type of dessert, same fake china, much less hair.

We went to listen to music in the park in the Swillburg neighborhood, which we all really enjoyed. Greta was enthralled.

Really, really enthralled.

After the music was done and everyone left, we stuck around a little longer to enjoy the stars and the mild weather.

In conclusion, it feels like tomorrow should be Friday, so I'm kind of sad it's not. However, the fact that tomorrow is the season 4 premiere of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia makes Thursday totally worth it.


You people are going to make me post again, aren't you?

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Blah, Monday. I'll try to keep this concise.

Saturday we went to the public market with our friend Chris, who was in town from Boston, and friends Dave W and Denise, who we never seem to see unless Chris is around. Greta warmed up to them instantly, and she even seemed to have a toddler version of a crush on Dave. So cute. I am super into prepared foods at the market, but I seem to have bad luck with buying produce there. It is just so big and I don't go often enough, so I don't have my "zucchini guy" and my "tomato lady" or whatever. This time the fruit gods were with me, and I got the best peaches and Italian plums ever. I made this with the plums, which turned out amazing if I do say so myself, and we enjoyed the peaches as nature intended them, straight up, juice dripping down our chins.

Also on Saturday we went mattress shopping for Greta, and we were rather shocked by the prices of mattresses. For some crazy reason I thought a full-size mattress and box spring would be about $200. Okay, so we did see one mattress that was less than $200, but it was hard as a rock and probably teeming with bedbugs. The highlight was when Greta called a snarky albino black salesman at Raymour and Flanigan "Dad."

Sunday was very unseasonably warm. It was also the day of the Rochester marathon. So many people were suffering from heat exaustion and heatstroke that area hospitals called race officials and said they couldn't take any more runners, and, thus, the race was called off around noon. Our good friend Mike, who we planned to root on at the finishline, ended up getting an ambulance ride to the finishline from around mile 18. (He's fine now.) Stupid heat.

I also didn't realize when I did my grocery shopping earlier in the week that we would be having a heatwave. Making and eating this and this in the heat was not the most pleasant experience. Oh wells.


On our way to building our family band and a small step toward pottyville

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I mentioned a while back that my wifely observation of Pat's 32nd birthday was mediocre at best. I spent the night before throwing up and didn't help at all to get ready for his party the next day. There was no cake, no gift, no card. I said I would make up for it, and I think I actually did.

We're a pretty musical family, and we have a piano, a handful of guitars (at one point I counted 7, but I think we've gotten rid of a few since then), a ukulele, a cello, and probably some other things I'm forgetting. In recent years, we've both grown to appreciate the sound of the banjo - not in a twangy country way, but in an indie rock-folk sort of way (think Wilco, Iron and Wine, Sufjan Stevens - especially Sufjan Stevens). The problem is that a traditional 5-string banjo, I hear, is pretty difficult to learn, and I've found they are pretty damn expensive. The exciting thing is that we found this 6-string banjo that is tuned like a guitar, but it sounds just like a banjo...because it is a banjo! No learning curve! And it was extremely reasonably priced and got great reviews. I got that for Pat's birthday, and it FINALLY came yesterday. I haven't seen Pat that excited in a while.

Pat always wants to jam with me, but I never learned to "jam" on the piano. I took lessons for 10 years but never really learned theory and never learned anything but sight-reading and pretty strict observation of classical music as it was intended to be played. So unless Pat is going to play a Chopin prelude on the guitar, we can't really play together. And I feel kind of like a jerk playing dueling guitars because he's so much better than I am. But last night we finally really jammed, with him on the banjo and me on the guitar, and it was great! The banjo sounds fantastic, and it's actually such a robust sound I had to play Pat's full-scale steel-string Taylor to compete. (When I do play I usually play a three-quarter-scale nylon-string classical guitar.)

Even better than jamming with Pat was listening to him play crazy guitar licks on the banjo. He almost never forgets a song, so he still remembers things he learned at 16 and plays them, to my amusement. Hearing Mötley Crüe and Poison on the banjo was nothing short of awesome. Now we've just got to teach Greta some chords on the uke, and our family band will be on its way to your town!

The reference to pottyville is that Greta finally tried on her big-girl underwear yesterday. Right before her bath, she let Pat put it on her, and she very proudly came running over to me. It probably doesn't sound like much, but it was a big step given our current record. I won't show you the full image, but check out her expression. She even looks more grown up here.

That's about it for now. I hope you have a salubrious weekend!


Slacker Files: updates from a busy slacker

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I've been taking my class pretty seriously and have been spending most of my free time trying to learn the proper Latin endings for plural medical terms, even opting to listen to my Exploring Medical Language audio CDs over my usual commute listening choice, Howard. Otherwise, we've been trying to hang on to what last shreds are left of summer. Here's the redux.

  • Saturday our friend Dr. Al escorted us to Doug's Fish Fry in Skaneateles. He has heard me talk about DFF for a good 7 or 8 years now, and a man can only hear about the best fish fry in the world and how it's a mere hour and 15 minutes away and not eventually make the day trip. He definitely liked it, but he didn't make as many yummy noises as I usually do when eating it, so I hope I didn't inadvertently raise his expectations too high. Mmm, just talking about it is making my hungry for more.
  • Saturday night we had more good food. Our neighbor invited us over, and one of our mutual friends made some very authentic Chinese noodles with multiple pickled things that were unidentifiable by all of us, including the friend who was making it, who kept saying, "I don't know, my grandma made it." I was very proud because Greta loved it and kept asking for more. The girl still won't eat a French fry, but she will eat crazy pickled vegetables and meats, so I guess that's cool.
  • Sunday we had another family photo shoot. Friends of friends who live in our neighborhood are trying to build their portfolios and offered to take some family portraits. The photo shoot basically involved chasing Greta around for and hour and a half while she would pose for two photos and then jump off our laps proclaiming, "All done!" It was pretty cute, if you ask me, and, if nothing else, was probably a good learning experience for these two young people who want to get into family portraiture. [Read: Maybe you should get into something that is easier and less stressful, like chasing tornadoes and photographing those.]

Other stuff in no particular order:

  • Greta is going to be a flower girl!! Greta got the most beautiful card in the mail from my cousin and his fiancé asking her to be the flower girl for their wedding next year. I read the card probably a dozen times and teared up every time. I can't wait to see my beautiful little girl in a flower girl dress! Look at this lovely card. I love details like this.

  • I had thought the fact that Greta hates diaper changes so much promising when she was younger, because I thought she would be eager to be potty trained. Such is not the case. A mixture of being very stubborn and hating loud noises (and deeming flushing toilets as "too youd") means we are still very much in diapers. I tried to at least switch to diapers that are much more responsible, but that was met with an equal amount of resistance. I recently bought some Elmo underwear and casually left it out for Greta to happen upon and no doubt fall in love with, and she did indeed find them and become smitten. She understands what the deal is, but she has beat the system: her favorite stuffed bunny is now "peeing and pooping on the potty" and gets to wear the Elmo underwear. The underwear also makes trips in her purse and almost always falls out in a very timely manner, like when we're in a restaurant. Sigh.

  • The last thing is that Greta says amazingly cute things on a daily basis these days, and I can't help but corner coworkers at the water cooler and tell them about her greatness while I have a smile from ear to ear. I realize these things don't usually translate well, but I can't help it. She's such a funny girl. I don't know where she gets it. ;-)