Tuesday, May 30, 2006

#134 - Move From Hades™ Update

RoboMom was here over the holiday.

RoboMom is my wife's mother. When RoboMom is on a mission, folks either get pressed into service, or get the heck out of the way. This weekend, RoboMom's mission was painting.

We've reached that portion of the MFH© where there is no more furniture to relocate. What remains now is turning the affected rooms into livable, comfortable refuges. This involves a lot of painting, for two reasons. First, the previous owners of our nearly new house did a gosh-awful job of painting it. One of the first things we did when we moved in was take a critical look at the paint scheme and decide it had to go. Eventually. Second, we're talking about two little girls here. When you're talking about boys, you toss them in whatever room seems to make the most sense and forget about painting until they're old enough to quit leaving their grimey fingerprints everywhere. "We'll paint his room while he's on his mission," is a common theme among parents in the church. But girls are different. Girls are all about matching socks and hair accessories. Girls are color coordinated, for goodness' sake. Especially if Mommy has anything to say about it. So we're painting the girls rooms. Jelly loves purple, and her room will be painted in "Potentially Purple," if I remember correctly. (I'm not sure what could possibly be "potential" about purple, but it's a nice color.) Doodle, on the other hand, is into pink. Her room is now painted (thanks to RoboMom) in something that reminded me of "cotton candy," although I know that wasn't it. Need to look at the paint can again.

Both girls' rooms have white and pine furniture, so their colors are "highlighted" (how complicated can ya get??) with white. And, um, pine. Very tasteful. And, of course, the girls are thrilled with their colors.

RoboMom ran out of both time and energy this weekend, so Daddy will have to finish Jelly's room for her. (Note: If Woody had one-tenth of RoboMom's energy, Woody would be one manly stud-muffin. Sheesh.) RoboMom gave it a good start, mind. But we certainly can't have Jelly living in a partially painted parlor. A partially painted Potentially Purple parlor, for that matter.

So Doodle's room is about 95% complete, lacking only some of the pinkish accessories that will turn her room into the kind of doll-house cuteness that Mrs. Woody originally envisioned. Jelly's room is only about 50% complete, but it shouldn't take too long to bring it up to snuff. Meanwhile, the School Room looks like the inside of a storage container parked at the harbor. I have no idea where all this stuff is going to go. Neither, I'm betting, does Mrs. Woody. I'm tempted to simply park a dumpster under one of the windows and begin pushing. Then we'll just replace whatever might be missing.

It would be cheaper in the long run, but I might get a little push-back from Mrs. Woody.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

#133 - Double Heh

The Keystone Marx Bros. strike again.

#132 - Passing the Stress Test

My dear sister Chris posted this comment regarding my "Ticker Trouble:"

I don't envy you the stress test, tho. Maybe they could just monitor a normal day at work instead?


It got me to thinking, though, about the stress I have in my life today, as opposed to what I used to have before I married Mrs. Woody.

It would be untruthful, of course, for me to state that I have less stress in my life than I did before. What I have now, though, is a different kind of stress. Let me try to illustrate:

I have led, basically, three different lives. The first was my childhood and youth. One might argue that this lasted approximately 45 years, but that defeats the purpose of categorizing my life in this manner. So for practical purposes, we will propose that my childhood/youth lasted until my first marriage at age 24. Stress during this period was measured in terms of wanting to already be grown up without having to deal with the responsibilities of being grown up. I have a son in this period of life right now. He ain't seen nothing yet.

Mrs. Woody likes to classify my first marriage as my "starter marriage." This is natural for second wives, I'm told, and I certainly have no argument with it. It is true, for example, that I learned a lot in that first marriage, and not just from the obvious mistakes, either. I have two children from that marriage, whom I love dearly, and each of whom have had their own trials and "issues" with which to deal over the years. We had experiences as foster parents that I would not trade for all the world, but that I have absolutely no desire to repeat in my life. Ever.

This period of life was stressful in ways that became somewhat destructive over time. We were married for nearly 12 years. In that amount of time I estimate I aged approximately 20 years based on the worries and physical challenges I endured in that timeframe. The physical stresses were primarily due to having to commute over 130 miles a day for 8 years, and not getting anywhere near enough sleep because my wife always wanted to have "deep" conversations precisely during those hours when I should have been dead to the world. Add to this mix the fact that my career was very nearly in the toilet during these years, and you have a recipe for a Molotov Stress Cocktail.

The actual reasons for our divorce are unimportant to this discussion, but suffice it to say that all those stresses contributed in one fashion or another to our demise.

The beginning of the third stage of my life, of course, is centered on getting reacquainted with my love and best friend, Mrs. Woody. (I don't ever call her this, by the way, but you are not allowed to know the mysterious yet deeply schlocky things that we use as endearments. Tough.) We are best friends in every sense of the term. We mesh so completely in our personalities that it sometimes is difficult to see where one ends and the other begins.

The stresses we have now are vastly different from the ones that nearly ruined me in my previous life.

The stresses of relationship are nearly non-existent. Whatever stress may arise is nearly always the result of my feeling a little selfish at some point. We just work too well together for that to ever be an issue. Neither is my career now the question mark that it once was. In fact, you might say I'm at the top of my game, career-wise. I certainly could stand to make more money, but in my current position one requires a formal degree from a reputable institution before one can ask for a promotion. I'm not sure if or when that might happen, even with company reimbursement available to me.

My new batch of children - the storied Woodyettes® - are still in their sweet ages and therefore the stress they cause is negligible.

So, what stresses does Woody deal with today?

Well, for one thing, even though I'm thriving in my career, the rules have changed. I work for a global company. I have internal customers that literally span the entire contiguous United States. They live and work in four time zones. I'm responsible for desktop applications that many of them use every day, and if anything goes wrong, I have to support. Last night was a good example; one of my programs had crashed (I actually fouled something up and had to fix it), and I was up until nearly 3:30 a.m. local time getting things back to normal. The beauty of the virtual office age. Even though I only work in the office for 8 or 9 hours a day, I work nearly that much at home now. So long as I have a wireless connection, I can work nearly anywhere. And, of course, my backlog automatically expands to fill my available time, whether in the office or at home.


At home the stress is less obvious, but there nonetheless. Mrs. Woody and I both have physical challenges of differing levels. Hers are more extreme, and make for required adjustments in our work-sharing arrangements. I do more physical things around the house, but Mrs. Woody makes up for it by doing the cerebral stuff so I don't have to. She takes care of the finances, manages our menu planning (I do most of the cooking and cleaning), and, most notably, teaches our girls every single day. Literally. She is a full-time teacher to our Woodyettes. Almost ironically, most of Mrs. Woody's stress is worrying that I have to do so much at home, while most of mine is worrying about Mrs. Woody's comfort levels, and burning my candle at both ends. Shades of O. Henry.


Oddly enough, it truly is one of those "hurts so good" things. Because we love each other so much, and because our perspectives are truly eternal in nature, we can endure whatever nonsense life chooses to throw our way. Sure we're stressed. Of course I don't get enough sleep. Who does these days? But every time I come home, even after running a short errand, I know I'm assured of a warm and loving reception from three special ladies in my life. I know that Mrs. Woody is truly as happy to see her "Bud" as she says she is. My small people make sure that "Daddy" knows just how much they love me by giving me great, big bear hugs as soon as I open the door.

Yep. It hurts. And it's a truly good kind of hurt.

Do I pass?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

#131 - Ticker Update

Okay, since folks are asking, here's the latest:


Seriously, I haven't had any episodes since one minor one on Saturday. This happened five years ago when I had this same symptom. I wore the halter monitor for the requisite 24 hours and they found nothing. The silly things went away on their own.

Since then, of course, I went through another bout of caffeinated sodas until about two and a half years ago. I've since quit, but they may have contributed to this latest round of palpitations. (It's also possible that having had to use so much Sudafed lately may have played a part. Stimulants are stimulants.)

I visited with the cardiologist on Monday, and he acknowledges that, while the episodes have stopped, the problem may still exist, whatever that may be. So he wants to pursue it. At the very least, he'd like to rule out any true heart disease that may require long term treatment.

So I have tests to look forward to. I've already visited the vampire. They're checking for cholesterol and thyroid levels. I'll have to do the monitor, of course. And then I get to do a stress test. After that I get to revisit with the cardiologist and see what may (or may not) be the next steps.

It's quite possible that the final diagnosis will be something like: "STAY OFF THE DOGGONED CAFFEINE, DUMMY!" You know, watch the diet, exercise more, that sort of thing. And I'll try to be a good boy and play along.

Monday, May 22, 2006

#130 - The Lost Decade

I sort of missed the Sixties. I was born at the tail end of the Fifties, so the whole Sixties experience for me was little more than watching a bunch of long-haired freaks who were incapable of stringing coherent thoughts together protest things by sitting down a lot. The more interesting ones included a lot of spit in their invective, which only served to make them look that much goofier.

I say this by way of explaining that I have no pharmaceutical reason for missing the last decade of my life.

I'm quite sure I lived it; my email files go back at least five or more years as partial proof. The most potent medication I've ever taken that wasn't prescribed for me is Aleve. I stopped dropping Afrin in the Eighties because I was getting perpetual nose-bleeds, so I know that can't be it. I kicked my caffeine addiction two and a half years ago. Further proof that I was alive and well during the past ten years.

So how is it that Mrs. Woody and I, who just got married yesterday, spent this past weekend celebrating 10 years of wedded bliss?

We have kids, for instance. When did they get here? I mean, they were just little pinkish blobs of drool yesterday, and suddenly today they both have grown at least as high as my armpits. So I guess that means that Mrs. Woody and I must have gotten married at least two days ago.

No. Wait... if I remember my high school biology correctly, kids take at least 10 months to gestate, and I have two of them, and one of them is clearly older than the other one, so that's 10 times 2, plus a little time off in between, so that would be, lessee, carry the 4 and divide by 2, at least two years ago that Mrs. Woody and I got married.

But that can't be right, either. Dagnabit, I have old anniversary cards that say schlocky things like "Fifth Anniversary" and "has it really been that long?" So apparently we've been married more than five years. So if we've been married five years, I guess it's not such a stretch to say we've been married for ten.

But if that's true, where did it all go? I'm looking at our wedding photo and I'm noticing a few differences. I'm rounder than I was in the picture, and I know that didn't get here overnight. Also, there's a lot more gray on my temples, and the beard I was sporting on our wedding day has disappeared. My skin just gets too sensitive anymore to support the facial hair, and that, too, can't be something that developed just yesterday.

The funny part, of course, is that Mrs. Woody looks just as pretty today as she does in the picture, so apparently we haven't been married for ten years. Either that, or Heavenly Father is having one of his little jokes, and keeping Mrs. Woody looking young and beautiful and turning me into the 2,000 Year Old Man.

Don't get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend we spent together. Having only one weekend a year that we can spend together, on our own, is a special treat for us until the girls grow up and move out and GET MARRIED AND HAVE KIDS OF THEIR OWN!! Buwahahahahaha!!!


What I mean is, Mrs. Woody and I find these anniversary weekends (so, okay, I guess we've had a few of them at least) to be wonderful retreats. We've even discovered, to our pleasant surprise, that it doesn't even matter where we go or what we do. Just being together and having no pressures on our time is refreshing and relaxing. It allows us to look back with fondness on our past, while enjoying the anticipation of a lifetime (and beyond!) together.

In the meantime, I've lost a decade. I know it's around here, somewhere. Maybe after we get the house settled down after the Move From Hades™, we'll find it. Mrs. Woody claims to have photographs of us over the past ten years, and is threatening to put them in tastefully done scrapbooks.

This is my life. I just can't remember where I put it.

Monday, May 15, 2006

#129 - Happy (??) Mothers Day! - Updated

Mothers Days should never be filled with extreme highs and lows in the same day, but that seems to happen all too frequently.

We actually began our Mothers Day last Friday evening. This was partly because we knew we were going to be travelling on Sunday, and partly because we just couldn't wait. "We" being "me." It was time to give Mommy something she really, really needed that wasn't also considered a major appliance ("But, Dear, it's a Kirby! You know how expensive those things are??").

For some time now we've been looking for a new digital camera. Our old Fuji Finepix 3800 had about run its course, and was starting to give us a real attitude about work. You know how it is with adolescents. The camera is not quite two years old, but that's nearly 20 in digital camera years, and it's been getting uppity in its old age. So it's time to retire it, and we've been thinking seriously about getting a digital SLR. (Read: Woody's been thinking seriously about it. Mrs. Woody likes the idea, but wishes we could wait until the prices drop lower. Woody, on the other hand, thinks prices have been falling like granite, and that this is the time to strike. Which of course means that tomorrow I'll find an ad for the same darn'd camera for about $200 less than I just paid.)

So, you may have guessed, we got Mommy a new digital SLR camera. And she was thrilled, even though she knows this has to cover Mothers Day, our tenth wedding anniversary, her next birthday, Christmas, and (just for good measure) Kwanzaa this year. She is also intimidated, because this thing has an owner's manual that is about the same thickness and coherency as the U.S. Tax Code. So, even though she got the camera Friday night, and the battery's been charged since early Saturday, the camera itself will probably not see service for about another week. She's alternating chapters of the owner's manual and "The Da Vinci Code" for her recreational reading right now.

We made her work for it, too. We presented her with an old parchment that was probably burned in the Chicago Fire, and which contained a hidden message that told her what she'd just won. ("What do we have for our contestant, Don Pardo?")

Saturday was a bye for Woody. We needed to get the house ready for Sunday, and we pushed it right up to bed time. Then, on Sunday, a most wonderful gift for Mommy came in the form of two small personages at Church. Our Woodyettes, perennial winners of the Most Timid on Stage award, vowed to Mommy that they were planning to not only get up with the rest of the Primary kids in Sacrament, they were planning to by golly SING with the rest of the kids. And they did! For awhile there we were concerned that Jelly - easily the more timid of the two - was going to just melt out of sight and not even make it up on the stand. Then we were concerned that she was going to pull her usual trick of standing there looking for all the world like someone who's just been singled out to listen to fingernails on a chalkboard for the rest of her life. But by the second verse (thank goodness they sang TWO verses!), Jelly was actually moving her mouth. She was singing! Jelly and Doodle both got lots of smoochies and hugs when they got back to their seats, and Jelly looked like she'd just won the Boston Marathon. Exhausted, but hurting that good kind of hurt. Mommy, of course, had suddenly acquired leaky plumbing.

So much for the highs.

Our intention had been to leave immediately following Church and drive up to visit Mrs. Woody's mom and siblings for a surprise Mothers Day present. Mrs. Woody's brother had flown down from Utah, and we were asked to drive up to make it a full set of kids.

Unfortunately, I began having heart palpitations during Church and was uncomfortable enough that Mrs. Woody insisted that we visit the emergency room. I finally agreed, and we spent the next four hours sitting in the busiest emergency room I have visited in my entire adult life. They had patients crowded into hallways for treatment, and I began to feel cocky about the fact that I was still ambulatory.

Of course, it goes without saying that for the entire four hours we were there, I experienced NOT ONE SINGLE EPISODE of palpitation. Go home, the doctor said, and have your usual doctor check you out first thing tomorrow. It also goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that the moment we got home - I'm talking, like, within half an hour - I was having the silly palpitations again.

My chest betrayed me.

Meanwhile, poor Mrs. Woody was nearly beside herself with worry. Heart trouble is nothing to sneer at, and when it's your loving spouse it can be nearly unbearable.

Two things ameliorated the fear factor yesterday: First, she was able to gently suggest (Mrs. Woody never nags. Really.) that I get a blessing before we left Church yesterday. We had tons of Priesthood handy, and any one of them would have been all too glad to assist. Then, she was able to get hold of her visiting teacher, a wonderful lady who was more than happy to take our Woodyettes for the afternoon. We knew they would be cared for, and Mrs. Woody could concentrate on her hubby.

Today, of course, my friendly physician was unable to detect any sign of palpitations, but has referred me to a cardiologist who will, I assume, put me on the monitor. Maybe even give me a stress test.

Gotta look forward to that.

UPDATE: So, I am, like, feeling reeeeeal good right now. The dude in the white jacket gave me Xanax, and, like, I am feeling cosmic right now. Dude, I could give Rush Limbaugh a run for his zionist capitalist infidel money! I should, like, go on Oprah or something, man.

Also, I should point out that, not unlike my memory of my childrens' ages, I totally understated the age of the old digital camera. Like, it's nearly THREE years old, man. That's nearly 30 in camera years. But then, I remember knowing everything when I was 30, too. Wasn't that, like, last year, man?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

#128 - Urgent Breaking MFH®™© Update!

Here at the official headquarters of the Move From Hades® we are pleased to announce that the Woodyettes spent their first night alone in their own rooms last night.

Daddy has very sore muscles and a huge grin on his face.

So, Primary Objective Number One has been successfully reached. All that remains now is a boat-load of painting, rearranging, tossing, and cleaning.

Piece of cake.

Monday, May 01, 2006

#127 - Major Family History News!

Ya just never know how, when, or where information is going to surface.

I believe I've mentioned that we found out about my Dad's adoption a couple of years after his death. We kinda, sorta knew about it, but it was fun to discover a legal document that proved it once and for all. That one document started a whole train of research and discovery that seemed to run into dead ends a year or so ago. I had communicated with a couple of cousins from Dad's birth family a while back, but that, too, ended after a little correspondence.

Last Friday night we were settling in for some Date Night relaxation. Mrs. Woody fielded a call from someone whose name sounded familiar. When she announced herself as one of Dad's half-sisters, Mrs. Woody hurriedly handed me the phone. I then launched into a half-hour conversation with a sweet lady who was about four years Dad's junior. Turns out Dad's birth mother had indeed shared her story with her kids, and they all had wondered what Dad was like. Knowing that Dad had passed away, and having two of her siblings already gone, the idea that she could have a conversation with her half-brother's son was exciting for her. And me.

It's hard to describe what it's like to begin to put these puzzle pieces into place. The adoption record showed nothing but a name of the birth mother. From that, we have discovered a whole new history with characters galore, plus another link to the Saints in Nauvoo. My discussions with this wonderful half-aunt (??) were all too brief, but yielded some neat information. We exchanged addresses and accepted a standing invitation to stop by for a visit whenever we pass through the area (they live in Pahrump, Nevada).

Tonight we heard from another half-sister. This one was even chattier than the older one, and gave me another set of leads to research for my family history. Addresses have been exchanged again, and we have another standing invite to visit in Seattle sometime soon.

Of course, there's no reason or responsibility on my part to research this line of my Dad's. Dad was lawfully adopted into a line of honorable people, and we are equally honored to bear their name. Also, the principle of adoption in the Church is itself an eternal one. We submit our family names to be sealed one with another in an unbreakable chain. If Dad's birth mother had to make a tough decision at such a tender age, it has no bearing on our ability to love the family that raised Dad and gave us our identity. We certainly can enjoy the revelations of where many of Dad's traits may have originated. Certainly there was some musical talent in that family, and I can't wait to see how similar their physical appearances may be. I'm sure we will grow to love this new extended family as well as our own adopted one. They surely are dying of curiosity about Dad's kids and grandkids.

There's one half-brother left that we haven't communicated with yet. I was told that he probably will call soon, although he is rather shy. But it is this brother I'm most anxious to see. If anyone may have a likeness of Dad, it may be this fellow. Or not.

One can never tell, with gene pools.

#126 - Move From Hades® Status

The Move has not gone away. Indeed, it's been sitting in the back of the house, festering like an untreated wound, waiting for some poor unsuspecting soul to blunder into its path.

I blundered.

Or, more accurately, my mother-in-law paid us a visit over the weekend. Now, first of all, I love my Mom-in-law. I really do. She's just a terrific lady who gave me the best thing that ever happened to me (Mrs. Woody!), and she's a real dynamo of a human being. She's been fighting cancer for the last six years, but still likes to roll up her sleeves and dive into whatever project is in front of her. So, except for those times when energy failed her, every time she's visited our home she's wanted to help us with our own projects. When Mrs. Woody informed me that a) Mom wanted to visit for the weekend (no problem!), and b) she wanted to "help," (code red!) I knew I was in for some sore muscles.

For those who've followed the MFH™ with any level of interest, let me catch you up:

We've moved all the furniture in four rooms so far. Our bedroom was first, followed closely by the living room, the dining room, and what has become our "school" room, which was our former family room. Still waiting in the wings, so to speak, are the two bedrooms, one of which is currently occupied by both Woodyettes. The other one, into which the older Woodyette will be injected, has served for the last several years as our "office." By "office" I mean "room which serves as the second storage shed we're not allowed to have on our property." The community of which we are part has some persnickety rule about only having one storage shed on our properties, and while the one we have is a beautiful size for our outdoor needs, we still have about a garage-size load of stuff that needs a home. The office currently serves as that home.

Unfortunately, our Jelly Woodyette needs that room now. The girls are finally old enough that they both need space. Their priorities are just different enough that one room cannot contain them anymore. The Doodle Woodyette loves to play with her dolls and/or watch videos and/or play with her games. The Jelly Woodyette, on the other hand, loves to sit quietly and read books. So, at any given moment of the day, one girl will be in the bedroom, playing, while the other one can be found in Mommy and Daddy's bedroom (the only quiet haven in the house), reading on our bed.

Thus, with Mom-in-law's incredible help, we managed to clear out enough of both rooms that we can actually begin the moving of major furniture from one room to another. We spent a fevered Saturday moving stuff from the office to the school room, where it resides on our school table (and under it, and around it, and even over it). This stuff requires either a new home or one massive trip to the donation bin. Either way, we're committed now. I'm even ready to entertain guests while this is in progress, just so we can sweep our arms dismissively in the direction of the mess and say, "Well, of course, this is just until we finish painting the girls' rooms."

So long as the floor stays vacuumed, I think even Mrs. Woody can live with that.