BONUS!

So today is the day.

It’s that day that only comes around every four years.

It’s the day that means it’s an election year.

It’s the day that completely screws up the rhyme “Thirty days hath September / April, June, and November…”

It’s the day on which, if you’re born on it, you could stay officially young your entire life.

It’s an extra day.

A bonus day.

So why the hell did they have to tack it on to the shortest month of the year during the coldest season of them all?

Leap day.

Big fucking deal!!!

It’s just one more day of winter to me.

Thanks a lot, calendar!

Anyway, happy Leap Day everyone.

Charles Barkley Speaks Out

Charles Barkley, former NBA star and current TV commentator spoke out on CNN about Gay Marriage, Women’s Rights, and gave his views on conservatives and Republicans. He may not be the most well-spoken guy, but at least he says what he feels, no holds barred. Needless to say, my respect for him just shot up 1,000%.

Winter hates me.

It’s far too easy to say that I hate winter. At this point, after the winter we’ve had around here, EVERYONE hates winter.

We’ve had more snow this winter than any in recent memory. It’s been bitterly cold, then warm, then cold, then warm and humid, and then cold again– over and over and over.

I’ve been sick three times with any given number of respiratory ailments, and no sooner than one leaves, another takes its place.

But through all of this insanity, I’m managed not to slip and fall on the icy sidewalks… Until today.

So instead of believing that I hate winter (which I do), I think it’s time to realize that something even bigger is afoot.  Winter hates ME.

I woke up a little late today so I begrudgingly decided to take my car in to work. I say begrudgingly because it meant I had to scrape yesterday’s ice and snow off the windows, and that’s never a fun job when you’re in a hurry. Also, since it had been there a couple days, it was bound to be glued to the windows and therefore a bitch to remove.  I was right.

I also decided to drive because the conditions were really icy and I didn’t feel it would be in my best interest to walk on everyone’s ice-packed sidewalks. See, in my neighborhood there are the responsible residents and the lazy residents. The responsible residents shovel, salt, and then shovel again after the salt breaks up the snow and ice a bit more. Their sidewalks clear up in a day or so and turn into safe walking surfaces for everyone. The lazy residents let everyone trample the snow until it’s smooshed into a thick glacier-like substance, and hope that maybe the temperature will rise so it will turn to slush and get brushed away by the constant traffic of people’s feet. This works fine in theory, except if the temperature decides to dive even lower the next day, which turns that solid glacier into solid ice. Not fun at all, folks.

So I chose to drive to avoid this. And it went great… until I got to the parking garage. I had to park on the roof, which never pleases me, but it’s better than nothing. I got out of the car and dodged the ice around me until I reached the doors to the elevator. I stepped up on the curb and then saw what eventually brought me down. A smooth, shiny sheet of ice.  I couldn’t avoid it.  There was no way around it.  So I stepped.

CRASH!

I hit the ground, directly on my right knee.

Now I should mention that I have pretty bad knees. Always have. My knees have always popped when I bend them, and once in a while I even tear a little cartilage if I’m not careful when getting jostled around on the El or while… um… horsing around. The tears last for weeks and are incredibly painful, and unfortunately the only thing I can do is wear a brace and wait for it to heal.

That’s how it feels right now.

I don’t know if I twisted it or just bashed it hard against the concrete. If it hurts worse tomorrow (which I suspect it will) I may have to visit the E.R. Great way to start off the new year!!!

So this winter has been very unkind to me. I’ve been its bitch, and I’ve submitted over and over again. It’s taking its toll on me something fierce…

But even still, it hasn’t beat me yet!

Hustle Halted

Help Me Hustle!Sometimes you have to do what’s best for yourself.

And sometimes that includes facing reality head-on.

I just don’t think it’s wise for me to “Hustle up the Hancock” this year.

As I’ve discussed here before, I have been battling all kinds of upper respiratory afflictions since the beginning of the year. With the weather as crazy as it’s been, I’ve been all over the board with severe colds or worse– from bronchitis to sinusitis to this-itis to that-itis… and I have yet to fully recover. Because of this, I haven’t been able to train as much as I’d have liked. I’m still coughing a lot and dealing with a sore throat and stuffy sinuses. It just doesn’t make for an ideal situation.

I’m not alone here. Half of the participants in my office have dropped for the same reason. I wouldn’t doubt that there are others outside of our bubble. It has just been that kind of a winter around here.

Some people are more susceptible than others to these kinds of ailments. I’m definitely one of them who is more susceptible than most.

So it’s with a heavy heart that I have decided to withdraw from climbing the stairs on Sunday. I simply can’t afford to put myself at any further risk. However, don’t think for a second that I regret the amazing response that you, my readers and friends, have shown to this cause. It is still an extremely important cause and one that I believe in completely. All of our contributions (remember that I contributed as well in order to participate in the first place) are worth every penny. And they will go toward important research and programs to help fight lung disease and the things that cause it. Here is a chart that the Respiratory Health Association sent us that outlines where the funds raised by Hustle up the Hancock will go. I think this explains things pretty clearly:

As of today you and I have raised $1,410.00. That is just outstanding. Thank you for believing in this cause as much as I do.

So will I try again next year? Absolutely. It was worth it to try and certainly worth it to train for the event. And if I make it to the event next year (and I hope I will), I will be happy to do it in the name of everyone who has been touched by lung disease. Whether or not I ever climb again, however — the support you have shown is amazing. It makes all of this worth it.

The twists of life

A few years ago, my sister and I came to blows.

I was very much down on my luck. I was despondent and feeling very sorry for myself. I backed out of plans to see my family over and over again, and they’d had enough. After backing out of yet another gathering– probably just for dinner at my parents’ house– my sister called me and read me the riot act.

In hindsight, I deserved it. I was being a total putz and I had it coming. But instead of taking my blows and apologizing, I fought back.

It was the only time (other than when we were kids) that I ever yelled at her like that.

“It’s easy for you to berate me,” I shouted. “You have the perfect house, the perfect husband, the perfect job, and the perfect life. I have none of that. I’m a loser compared to you, and you flaunt in front of me. So thank you for being my second mother, but I don’t need your advice!”

She hung up on me.

The words were awful. They were mean and terrible. I knew that then and I know that now. It took us a while to rebuild the bridge I had nearly burned, and we eventually patched things up. But I’ve regretted those words ever since I said them.

Lately, the tables have turned for my sister. While she has been blessed with two beautiful daughters, she has also been besieged by a terrible streak of bad luck. Starting with her Celiac Disease diagnosis, then dealing with infertility problems; including four rounds of IVF and three failures. Then, when she finally was pregnant, she faced ten weeks of bed rest so she could safely deliver her twin daughters.

Since delivering the twins, she has been in and out of the hospital with numerous complications– nothing serious, but each one a setback.

Then on Monday, they took Abby home. They were thrilled to finally get at least one of their babies home. Things were finally looking up.

Today, though, it all crashed again. Abby’s temperature dropped during the and they had to rush her back to the hospital. She’s doing fine, but it was another unnecessary scare.

But the worst wasn’t over. Later that day, a call came in from my sister’s boss. She works at the same hospital where she delivered the babies. She had been laid off.

I knew how hard all of this has been on her, but this constant barrage of bad news and setbacks has been slowly eating away at her. I can hear it in her voice on the phone. She seems distant and afraid. Usually she’s confident and sure. I think any strong-willed person would feel defeated after all she’s been through.

Mom and I are hopeful that things will work out for the best. We actually view this as a blessing in disguise for her. She’s been worried about this for some time now, and now that it’s over, she can concentrate on taking care of her girls.

She’ll be fine in the job arena, too. She’s got a lot of experience and a great education to back it all up. If someone gives her trouble for taking time off to have babies, it’s their loss.

In the meantime, however, she is very, very down. I spoke to her tonight and she sounded so incredibly depressed. I told her that we all loved her, and she will come out of this just fine. And whatever happens, she has a family that wants nothing but the best for her. And, of course, we will do anything we can to help out wherever she needs it.

Life goes in strange cycles sometimes. We have high points and we have low points. And though hitting rock bottom really sucks… the good thing about it is, the only way to go from there is up.

Please think of my sister if you can… send her some good wishes and good love. A great way to do that is by visiting her blog: The Road to Parenthood. Just leave her a comment and let her know things are going to be okay. She needs that more than ever right now.

I wanted this post to be about my mom and I visiting the babies on Saturday instead of this… but I thought this was too important not to touch on it. So, in closing, here are some pictures of my Mom, my sister and her husband with little Abby and Emily. I was lucky enough to go into the nursery to take these… and I love every one of them. (There are even more on my Flickr account.)
Abby's BIG YAWN!
Abby screams!

Grandma and Abby
Grandma with Abby

Emily is content after her feeding
A sweet smile from Emily.

Sweet love
Beth snuggling with Abby

Abby and Emily
Abby and Emily, head to head.

Grandma and Emily
Grandma with Emily

The whole family
Beth with Abby and Geoff with Emily