Saturday, November 19, 2011

First Snow!!


As a Chicagoan transplanted to dry Eastern Washington, this is the time of year where I get to laugh while people stress out about an inch or two of snow. It's happening today!!

The kids are thrilled to see snowflakes and play in the light dusting we received this morning.  They insisted I find their snow pants, boots, mittens and hats before they went outside. I tried to convince them they could go out without the snow pants (am I a great mom or what?), but they kept at me.

At least I got to check one more item off of my long, not-terribly-important-to-do list.  Organize walk-in hall closet. Check!

Thankfully, last year's snow boots (purchased after what even I would consider a "real" snow, and 2 sizes too big because they were expensive!) still fit!  Big Girl, who is wearing a 6/6X now, crammed herself into the 3T snowpants we crammed her into last year even though we have a pair of 5T snowpants that fit her perfectly.  For Little Man, I found a great outfit -- red coat and snowpants that look sort of like mechanics clothes or what a NASCAR driver would wear. And it fits!

Outside they went!!

Isn't it funny the way kids play? Little Man immediately went out and started "working" the way he always does. He gave himself a job. Big Girl chose slightly bossy storytelling play. She is so nice, she worked Little Man's chosen "job" into her story so they could play together!

The kids are outside playing and Little Man needs help with the buttons on his jacket.  So I pull him close to button him up.  See that little yellow patch on his front pocket? It says "Cutie Girls".  Yes, I dressed him in what is apparently a girls snow outfit. Luckily he can't read yet.  Maybe the patch is advertising that he is a 3T sized ladies man looking for love?


Full disclosure: there were actually a few snowflakes 2 days ago that probably count as the "first snow" of the year. But it was the "comes down as snow but becomes water immediately" kind and didn't last long. That didn't stop the 9 year old across the street from donning his snow gear and attempting to sled down his driveway, however!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's Official: I Destroy Books

Today's story actually begins with the book I have been reading recently, which I hate with the power of a thousand suns. I can't give up on a book, so have been forcing myself to read it for the better part of a month. Yesterday, with 40 pages to go, I had to renew it online because it's due date had come around. Again. 

I logged in to renew my book, succeeded in renewing it and then noticed there was a "block" on my account. (Why I can renew a book when my account is locked, I don't understand.) I learned the reason for the block was because I "destroyed" a book I checked out about 2 months ago and then returned. Really, if you actually destroyed a book would you bother returning it?  My penalty for book destruction is listed at $15 to replace the book. 

The destroyed book was called The Irresistible Henry House and was actually quite enjoyable. My sin? I put the book into the same bag as Big Girl's swimming suit. Yes, it got damp. 

When you think about a library book that is "destroyed" to the point that it can't be reshelved, what do you think of? Here's what I think of:

Is there significant damage to the cover? 
Is there damage to the binding?
Are there pages missing, torn or falling out?
Are any of the pages illegible?
Is the book partially burned, covered with paint or marker or otherwise marked? 

In this case, the answers are no, no, no, no and no. Yes, some of the pages towards the back got a little warped the way books do if they get wet. That is it. 

The news that I am a book destroyer came at a pretty bad time for me.  My week has been filled with insomnia, unforeseen stress, a notebook paper length list of not-super-important-but-necessary things to do that I'm worried about forgetting and probably some other things. You know, "If something could go wrong, it will"? One of those. So the $15 book fine thing really has been bugging me more than it probably would ordinarily. 

I am still denying that I destroyed the book or damaged it in a way that makes it unworthy of library shelf participation. 

After I raged out for awhile yesterday, I decided that I would go in today, demand to see the book (or, ideally, find it on the shelf and then do a "Ah-ha!" surprise reveal showing that I know they are scamming me), argue that the book wasn't damaged and the fine is undeserved, and then probably end up paying the fine anyway. But I would demand to take my destroyed book home, dammit! 

Eric counseled me yesterday at dinner about flying off the handle about little, insignificant stress like a "small library book fine". (First, he clearly missed the major injustice that has been put upon me. Second, I also fly off the handle when he assumes my stress is insignificant.) He was right, though after dinner he got his chance to stress out because we got a letter in the mail that he has been sent to collections over a $10 unpaid magazine subscription. Seriously, does that actually happen? 

So this morning I woke up and decided I have had enough stress this week and I would just go to the library, be nice and pay my fine, as unjust and slanderous as it is, so that I don't work myself up and carry around bad feelings all day.  

As Little Man and I walked into the library, there was an announcement on the intercom. (No, it was not signaling that a book destroyer with a blocked account entered the library. That would be cool though, right?) "Will the owner of a black lab with a tan collar please report to the circulation desk?"  And then guess what we saw! A young (maybe 1 or 2 years old) black lab having the time of it's life running around off leash in the library. There's the downside of those automatic sliding doors. (Do dogs ever run into the grocery store? I have never seen it, but I bet it happens.)  

The dog came and greeted us and then headed off to the children's section, because that's where the fun is.  The library worker made the intercom announcement again while I was searching the shelves to see whether my destroyed book was actually shelved and still in circulation. No luck.  

I approached the circulation desk as a random guy with his daughter brought up the dog, held by the collar, and tried to convince the workers to tie the dog to something so that it would not continue to run free in the library during library story time.  For those of you on my facebook who saw my post about the library book, what follows is one example of what I mean when I say that the library workers have been jerks and "really strict" when we've been there.  

The woman who seemed to be in charge honestly psychoed out while I was standing there. She was stomping around like a little kid, muttering about how "now people are going to call my administration and complain because there is a dog in the library". And she attacked the poor guy who brought the dog over and was like "If you want to tie the dog up, you tie the dog up. That's on you. I'm not going to have the dog's owner complaining because I tied it up." (If you are like me, you are thinking, Are you going to DO anything about the dog running around the library? Making an announcement and then letting the dog run loose doesn't seem like much of a solution. The dog was very friendly but still.) 

The dog in the library situation was amusing and reminded me to relax and not take myself or my $15 too seriously. Plus, the head library lady clearly has had a hard day and needed a Valium.  

So finally the guy dragged the dog outside (tying him up to a tree with some rope he had in his van) and it was my turn to approach the desk. I was actually nice! I basically said: I saw on my account I owe money for a damaged book. I already returned the book because I didn't think it was anything that would make the book unsuitable to be checked out. I will pay the fine, but I would like to have the book if I am going to be paying for it. 



I still don't really believe it. Nor do I believe that they can only accept cash. Luckily my credit union is right down the street because I only had $1.73 in my wallet. 

So now my record is clear, I own a copy of a book that I enjoyed and can recommend to others, and am out $15.  

A friend of mine was at library story time during this whole experience, so I showed her the book. For the record, she agrees with me that the damage was minimal and it is stupid that I had to pay for the book. And now she is living in fear because of a slight spill on a library book she still has at her house.  Honestly, I can think of at least a handful of books I've checked out over the past two years that were in much worse condition.  

For those of you who are doubters and don't believe all my no, no, no-ing above... I took pictures!! 

WARNING: The photographs below may contain images that some readers will find disturbing.

Cover -- the little bend on the edge happened when I put the book
in my purse after I destroyed it, then paid for it.

Back cover

I'm not saying the book didn't get damp on the corner, I'm just saying, is this a destroyed quality library book? I really don't think so. 

Happy reading, everybody! I'm off to take my chances on my next library book!

Friday, November 11, 2011

I've Got Moles

In the past 2 weeks, my Little Man turned 4, we costumed up multiple times for Halloween and it's non-satanic cousin "Trunk N Treat", and have been running all over the place for appointments and events. I was going to write about all that, but instead I am going to write about moles.

Apparently, I am the picture in the dictionary next to the phrase "high risk for skin cancer". Fair skin, pale eyes, light hair, excessive sun exposure as a teen, burn easily, +50 moles.  [Though, I still am not wholly sure whether some of my moles are freckles or freckles are moles.] I actually didn't even realize how many of the risk factors I had, but since we moved here two years ago, I have occasionally thought that I should probably see a dermatologist to get all my freckles and moles checked out.  Then in late August or so, Eric mentioned that the rather large mole on my back looked different to him.  I spent 3 days or so expecting to die at any moment from a melanoma.  A few more people looked at it for me (luckily it was bathing suit time - rest assured I have not  been going around town lifting up my shirt asking people to look at my back), and all seemed to think it didn't look scary.  

Then about a week ago I was messing around with another mole I can't actually see myself on the back of my neck under my hair, and I thought, Yes, I really should call and get them checked out. 

Even though there are like 250,000 people in the area where I live, I could only find 2 or 3 dermatologists here that actually do medical things and not just botox or whatever.  The one I decided to call has a very substantial website and one of the new patient information pieces said that most people are scheduled out about 6 weeks for a first visit. So I called Monday thinking maybe I could get an appointment before Christmas.  But they had an opening yesterday! That hardly even gave me time to worry about it! 

Yesterday was my appointment.  I particularly wanted to draw their attention to 3 moles: big back mole, under hair mole and 2 mole cluster on the side of my neck.  

The PA asked me why I called, and I told her that Eric thought the big back mole looked different recently and it made me think I should get checked over for baddies. (I didn't actually say "Baddies" but that is what I was thinking.)  So she started with my back and pretty much immediately told me that it was a normal mole, though a little large. 

Oh, but this other mole on your back (which of course I can't see and didn't even know was there) is suspicious.  So she left the room for a second and came back with a dermoscope.

This is the PA checking me out with a dermoscope if my PA was a man 
who looks sort of like Harold Ramis

Quick check of the big back mole and she said again that it is a normal mole, but good on Eric for paying attention to it.  Check of the other back mole, and apparently it is a baddie. 

To save some time: the rest of my many moles were looked over. She dermoscoped a few and none offended her.

So then we talked about the baddie. She decided to do a scratch biopsy to be examined by the dermatologist to determine whether it has "abnormal cells". She gave me a speech about how abnormal cells do not necessarily mean that I have melanoma. She never used the C-word. 

The scratch biopsy was kind of disgusting to think about. She numbed my skin and then seriously took a razor blade and cut off the top of my mole! And then she showed it to me! That was gross.

And now, we wait. Approximately 2 weeks, though 2 weeks from yesterday was Thanksgiving so I don't know how that will impact the timing.  If there is nothing shady happening in my mole, then I will get a little card in the mail and will go back annually for skin exams.  If I get a phone call from the office, then that means the results were not normal and I will go in to figure out what is going on.  

I'm thinking the odds that they are going to tell me the mole is normal, after her immediate reaction that it was suspicious and looking at it through the dermoscope and again thinking it was suspicious, are probably slim.  But I am am not obsessing over having melanoma either.  Instead I am thinking about the way God works - that I have had this big back mole for as long as I can remember and it isn't a baddie, but is weird enough that it encouraged me to go in to the doctor, where they could then discover the undercover baddie I didn't even know I had. And here I am getting myself all freaked out about these 3 intimidating moles and trying to control and plan and run the show, when all the time there is apparently something else going on that I don't even see or know about.  

I have a friend from college who is a missionary in a foreign country that persecutes Christians. She sends out emails every few months that have to be written in code, her situation is that dangerous.  A few months ago she emailed an update and in it included a quote from another missionary she knows where she is. I love it: 

“In my experience, when we go through times of great difficulty, delay, and uncertainty—when we are forced to wait and trust—God is doing 3 things:  He is providing what we need to endure, He is protecting us from dangers we can’t discern, and He is in the process of giving us something better than what we wanted in the first place.”

For the next 2 weeks or so, I will be waiting to hear if this is the situation God has placed me in for now.  I can, at least, identify with the "dangers we can't discern" part.