Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In My House, Money is a Four Letter Word...And So Is Budget.

First, apologies for the unscheduled break in posting. Turns out, writing this post was really difficult and made a break from all things Mother Chick necessary. Strange, considering the incident which was the topic of said post happened 8 years ago, but I reserve the right to feel crappy about the fact that my daughter almost died. So anyway, sorry for the break and love and kisses and all that jazz.

A while back, there was a rather interesting discussion on Twitter on what qualities and traits everyone felt were necessary in order to finally consider yourself a grown up. Someone, I think it may have been Miss Britt, said that it was necessary to be able to make and also stick to a household budget. If that's the case, I'm totally not a grown up, at all. (Disclaimer - this post has nothing to do with Miss Britt's opinion, but is really about how I'm a slacker when it comes to all things finance related).

The thing is, I hate thinking about money, paying bills, savings accounts, 401k, IRA, CDs, the stock market...blah blah blah. Seriously...HATE. Online bill paying has been one of the best things to ever happen to me because I can just set everything up to be paid automatically and I am required to put zero thought into the process. We are fortunate enough to be in a situation where we always have the money to pay our bills, with plenty of discretionary income left over. And, we have a savings account that sometimes has a lot of money in it and sometimes has a little. We save for retirement through various options with our employers, although we could both be doing more in that area, I'm sure.

I just hate dealing with it all and I also hate feeling deprived of the things I want. When I think about putting together an actual household budget, I get all antsy because what if I budget a certain amount for say, going out to eat, and then I want to go out to eat and it's not in the budget? That would piss me off. I know, spoiled bitch, right? Whatever, I own being a spoiled bitch. Even so, the truth of the matter is, I like doing things and doing things costs money. I don't foresee myself ever being the type of person who is like 'Oooh, sitting here at home and playing a game together was SOOO much better than taking the kids to Busch Gardens.' Yes, I know that playing a game together can be fun and economical but is it better than Busch Gardens? No, I don't think it is.

Lately though, Mr. Chick and I have been discussing the fact that we really do need to budget and come up with some financial goals. I've done some research though and the whole thing just seems so damn complicated and like a lot of hard work. While reviewing the advice of some personal finance gurus it seems that everyone recommends that you have a million separate accounts for things like an emergency fund, and a savings fund, and a vacation fund, and a car fund, and this fund and that fund. Thinking about the work involved with actually setting all that up and then separating money into those accounts makes me want to open a 'Just Kill Me Now' fund.

So the other day, I was perusing some personal finance blogs and one PF blogger with a fairly significant following wrote an entire post that was probably 500+ words, complete with charts and cost breakdown analysis on the virtues of using dried beans as opposed to canned beans to save what amounted to like, a dollar. To each his own and all that, and bless that blogger's little heart for having the strength to write 500+ words about beans. That said, if I ever find myself in a position where I'm writing a long meandering post about beans just...kill me now. Seriously.

I really need to get started on that fund.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Things I Thought While Getting a Deep Tissue Massage

1) Am I supposed to get like naked naked?

2) Oooh, this massage table has an electric warmer. Toasty.

3) You know, I popped a breath mint before we started, why didn't she?

4) Is that muscle supposed to crunch like that?

5) Why does every massage therapist play the same music they play in Chinese restaurants? How is that relaxing?

6) I'm really glad she finds the music and dim lights relaxing but if she yawns in my face on more time, I might involuntarily punch her.

7) I really don't think that muscle is supposed to crunch like that.

8) She really should get a pedicure. She works in a salon/spa, how hard could it be to keep your toes polished?

9) If she runs into the corner to cough into her arm one more time, I'm leaving.

10) This hurts like hell. I'm paying this woman a hundred bucks to beat the shit out of me. Clearly, I'm an idiot.
Saturday, July 2, 2011

8 Years Later

You always remember the day your child almost died. Even now, eight years later, it makes me physically ill to type those words. To even think those words. It doesn't change the fact that they are true. On the evening of July 2, 2003, our Lily almost died after nearly drowning in a swimming pool. She was two years old.

The day began like any other, work for my husband and I, 4th of July crafts at daycare for the girls. When I picked Violet and Lily up, her daycare provider handed me the red, white and blue t-shirts and windcatchers they made that day, along with a picture of all the kids wearing their new shirts, proudly holding up their craft projects. I quickly glanced at the picture, smiled, and went about getting the girls buckled in their car seats.

My phone rang on the drive home and it was my aunt. Would I watch my cousin the next night while she and my uncle went on a date night? Sure, no problem. And hey, why didn't we bring the girls to her to watch tonight so Mr. Chick and I could go furniture shopping without kids in tow. They were having a cookout at their house that night, so the girls could swim with their cousins. Sounded like a plan to me.

When we dropped the girls off, I put Lily's water wings on her little arms and watched her toddle off with my uncle in her little green Elmo bathing suit. "Bye Mommy!" Lily said, as she grabbed my uncle's hand. "You really have to watch her around the pool. She will jump right in because she's not afraid." I said to my aunt. My aunt had raised four kids so I knew that the reminder was more to make me feel better, than me being worried that something would actually happen. I kissed Violet and off we went to furniture shop without kids in tow, which felt like a luxury. When Mr. Chick asked if I wanted to go out to eat after finishing at the furniture store, I thought for a second and decided we would go back and get something to eat at the cookout and watch the girls swim. I had no idea at the time what the implications of that decision would end up being. It would end up saving our child's life.

As we pulled up to the house and got out of the car, I noticed my dad running out the front door with the phone in his hand. "That's weird," I remember thinking. As I got out of the car, I heard him yelling. "If you know CPR, get in there!" We still didn't know what had happened or who was in trouble, but with Mr. Chick's first responder training as a deputy sheriff, we knew we had to hurry. We ran through the house and my world stopped. It was my baby that needed help. I saw Lily's little legs hanging over the edge of the pool while my husband performed CPR, trying to get her to breathe. I remember squeezing my grandmother's arm, screaming for my baby, trying to get anyone to tell me what had happened to her. There were no less than 15 adults around that pool and not one person could tell me how long she had been under the water.

After what seemed like an hour, but was really only minutes, my husband picked up Lily and held her to his chest. She was breathing, but was clearly dazed and having trouble. By that time, paramedics had arrived and they grabbed my little girl and loaded her into an ambulance. For some reason, they would not let me in with her, so we were going to have to follow in our car. I remember that after the ambulance tore off, I saw my aunt in the driveway, watching the scene unfold. I let out a scream unlike anything I've ever heard before which I can only describe as unadulterated RAGE. I was beyond furious. As I ran toward my aunt, I screamed "I'm going to FUCKING kill you!" and at the time, I meant it. My husband grabbed me around the waist and threw me in our car, so my anger was going to have to wait.

In the car, I rocked back and forth, unable to sit still. The best way that I can describe it is that my fear and anger physically hurt. When we got to the hospital, I walked up to the triage desk in the emergency room and I remember the nurse behind the counter ignoring me as she took someone's blood pressure. I stood there for crying for a minute or two, before interrupting to say that my baby had just been brought in by ambulance so that person's blood pressure was just going to have to wait. Another nurse popped out from behind a curtain, grabbed me by the arm and whisked me behind the double doors.

A trauma nurse met me me behind the doors and I was hysterical, asking everyone who would listen if my baby was going to be okay. I have no idea where my husband was during all of this. The trauma nurse was a total bitch, telling me that I was not helping my daughter any by being hysterical and I should just calm down. I was too out of it to respond how I would under normal circumstances, which would be a solid 'Fuck off, bitch.' She steered me to the registration area and said the best thing I could do would be to get Lily's registration completed. Right, because heaven forbid the fucking registration doesn't get done. I still get pissed thinking about that nurse.

Around this time, my mom finally got to the hospital. (Editors note for clarification: My parenst are divorced, so my mom was not there when the accident happened). They brought her to meet me in the registration area and I just collapsed in to her, saying 'Mommy, mommy, baby, my baby, my baby' over and over again. I still couldn't sit still so I paced back and forth in the hallway, waiting for the doctor to come out and give me something, anything, any piece of information that I could hold on to.

As I waited, a detective walked up to take my statement about what had happened. They were confused on how this could have happened, with so many adults right there. Understatement of the fucking century. The one thing he said at that time that sticks with me to this day is "Nobody watches your kids as closely as you do." That one statement would end up meaning that nobody would be trusted to babysit our kids for years and years after that.

As I spoke with the detective, I stuck my hand in my back pocket and felt a piece of paper. I pulled out the picture that Lily's babysitter had given me earlier. There in the picture, wearing her homemade red, white and blue flag T-shirt and a beaming smile was my perfect little girl. Getting that picture earlier in the day already seemed like a lifetime away. I prayed for the opportunity to take more pictures like that.

Finally, the doctor came out to speak with my husband and I and his beside manner was about as good as the bitch nurse from earlier. In a matter of fact tone, he said "Well, he's stable for now but she does have water in her lungs and if a kid her age is going to die, it's going to be from a lung injury, so I really can't tell you what's going to happen." I collapsed all over again. My baby. My beautiful perfect baby. We had broken her.

When I finally calmed down, the doctor explained that they were transferring Lily to the children's hospital across town as she would need to be on oxygen in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and doctors there should be able to tell us more. The bitch nurse handed me a bag and I looked inside, finding Lily's swim diaper and her little green Elmo bathing suit. I remembered her happily saying "Bye Mommy!" earlier that day and I held her wet bathing suit to my face and cried all over again.

The detective from earlier came over and I figured he wanted to ask more questions. He led my away from the doctors and nurses and said "I'm not supposed to tell you this, but they told me she'll probably be fine." I remember clinging to those words like a life raft in the stormy sea that my life had become. I definitely understand that doctors and nurses have to maintain a professional distance, but I felt like the doctors and nurses in the ER took it to the extreme. I didn't need sympathy, but a little empathy would have been nice. I was actually glad to transfer to another hospital.

When we arrived at the children's hospital, we followed the paramedics in and waited while they got her set up in the PICU. Once she was settled in a room, we were finally able to see her. I approached her bed, which was one of those big metal cribs and I rubbed her arm through the bars. She had tubes and wires connected everywhere and she seemed to be dazed, staring into space. Finally, the pediatrician arrived and evaluated Lily's chest X-ray and examined her vitals. As he finished his assessment, he let us know that the next 24 hours were important in determining Lily's prognosis. Things could go either way because she had a lot of water in her lungs, which can cause infection, complicating the situation.

For the next 24 hours, I refused to leave the hospital. Luckily, the doctors and nurses at the children's hospital were amazing. After about 12 hours, they let me pick her up and hold her in a reclining chair. I held her close to my skin, so that she would know that I was there for her. During this time, Lily was subdued and quiet and we had no idea what damage her accident may have caused. After another 12 hours had passed, they took her from my arms to update her chest X-ray and assess her progress.

While we waited, Mr. Chick held my hand and I cried, praying that the test results would show that she was improving. After a short while, they brought her back and placed her back in my arms, saying that the doctor would be in soon. Their faces gave nothing away, even as I searched for clues. When the doctor finally arrived, the first thing he did was give us a thumbs up. Her condition was improving with no signs of infection in her lungs. She still needed the oxygen that was being pumped up her nose as her lungs cleared, but all indications were that we would be headed home in a day or two. With that, I breathed for the first time in 24 hours.

Given her prognosis, we were given the okay to transfer out of the PICU to the 'regular' hospital floor, where the nurses were just as amazing as the PICU team. Lily would still need to be assessed for brain damage the next day, but just then, the fact that she was going to live was good enough for me. As it turned out, we would have our answer on the brain damage later that day when a nurse rolled a TV/VCR with some Barney videos into the room. As Lily watched, she spoke for the first time since before her accident. "I love you, you love me...." She remembered the Barney song. My baby remembered and could sing along! I had never been so happy to hear that horribly annoying tune. To no one's surprise, she passed her tests the following day with flying colors.

Three days after Lily's near drowning accident, we prepared to take her home from the hospital. We packed up the flowers, balloons and toys that had poured in from family and friends and said goodbye to the doctors and nurses who had cared for our daughter, just like she was their own. As I carried her through the hospital lobby, she looked over and saw the bubbling stream that runs through the center atrium of the hospital and looked back at me. "I go fimming?" she asked. Yes baby, you go swimming.

My precious baby girl was going to be just fine.

At the time of Lily's accident, I did not know how to perform CPR. Lucky for me, my husband was able to use his training to save our daughter's life. As a result of our experience, I quickly got CPR and First Aid certified through my local Red Cross chapter. Parents - please please please get this life saving training...your child's life could depend on it. Visit to find a class near you.
Friday, July 1, 2011

Random Friday Thoughts

1) Do you think we've become an inconsiderate society? I do. Example: Today I went to Subway to pick up a quick sandwich for lunch. How much time do you expect to spend in Subway when you're getting a 'To Go' order? Five, maybe ten minutes if they are busy, right? Right. Today I was in Subway for TWENTY FIVE minutes and there was exactly ONE person in front of me in line. This man was the epitome of inconsiderate. First, he ordered three sandwiches with ridiculously complicated instructions for each. Cut that one in half, keep this one whole, toast this one and not that one, put everything on this one and nothing on that one...ridiculous. While he was giving his ridiculous instructions, he then got on his cell phone so he had two conversations going at once, one with the sandwich artist (WHY did they stop calling themselves that?) and one with the cell phone caller. Obviously, this slowed down the entire process even more. As the people behind the counter were trying to make their way through the sandwich order, and he's talking on his cell, issuing orders, etc. he realizes that he knows one of the owners of the Subway and proceeds to start a THIRD conversation with that person, complete with an introduction to the other guy that was standing with him, the whole nine. After this whole exchange, they finally finished making his sandwiches and he proceeded to the register. One would think that this ridiculous transaction was almost over, right? One would think wrong. He made the cashier ring up the three sandwiches as three SEPARATE transactions, then proceeded to argue when they wouldn't give him the $5 footlong price on the sandwich he made them cut in half, which was prepared two different ways. After they relented and gave him the price he wanted, he finally took his damn sandwiches and left. Sometimes people make me want to beat them about the head with blunt objects. That is 25 minutes of my life that I will never get back.

2) Lily amazes me on a daily basis. She is such a free spirited individual who doesn't give a care as to what others think of her. If the crowd goes right, you can bet your ass that Lily is going to go left to see what happens on the road less traveled. She always keeps me guessing and you just never know what she's going to come up with next. I love that about her. I also think that these traits are going to give me gray hair when she's a teenager. Even so, I hope as she gets older she continues to embrace her individuality.

3) This weekend, the girls are going out of town with my mom and won't be home until Monday. This all happened rather unexpectedly as she only called me last night to say she wanted to take them with her on her trip. I packed them up and they shipped out this morning. So, this kid free weekend stretches out in front of us and I have no idea what we're going to do with it. It's kind of nice to not have a plan and see how the weekend unfolds. I'm thinking some nice dinners out, maybe hit the beach for some relaxation...and I'm not sure what else. What would you do with an unexpected kid free weekend?

4) Mr. Chick (who's a detective) was on call last night and got called out for a burglary at 2:00 AM. This is how it usually goes when he's on call...90% of the time the call out comes in the middle of the night. You know, I just can't think of anything worth stealing that's worth being awake at 2:00 in the morning. I get the whole 'cover of darkness' thing but one would think more houses would be burglarized during the day when most people are at work. Actually, now that I think about it, our house was burglarized during the day several years ago and the thieves were caught when a deputy sheriff saw said burglars walking down the street with garbage bags full of our stuff. Also, the burglars knew that a cop lived at our house and still broke in. Criminals really aren't that smart sometimes.

5) On Monday, our nation turns 235 years old. We have no big plans for the 4th because Mr. Chick will be working from 8 AM to 2 AM (yes, that's 18 hours straight), so our holiday will be low key. Actually, it will be closer to no key because the girls won't be back until Monday night so I'll be partying like it's 1776 with me, myself and I. It's a good thing I like me.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July weekend!