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My Incompetent/High Maintenance Eyeballs: Take 4, Part 2

Haha, apparently “soon” translates into “months later”. Did you really expect more from me? At least it’s not years later. And two months isn’t too bad, right? In my defense, we were just entering peak end-of-year Symphony craziness, and Camp NaNoWriMo started at the beginning of April. I have only recently come up for air and remembered I was still on a quest for new glasses. I also saw a new eye doctor recently. More on that later, though; let’s finish the story at hand.

Because I’m writing this gripe months after it happened — and trying to create some documentation so that I can have a more seamless, trouble-free glasses-buying experience in the future — I sat down and patched together the timeline of interactions with Pro-Optix. I wish I had done it the minute it happened, but alas that was Mistake #… What are we on now? 3? Sure, let’s go with 3. I am not a good records keeper until everything has turned into a gigantic cluster. But that’s another post for another time.

ANYway… I’m going to more accurately rehash the information from the last post, because, as I may have said before, I’m nothing if not tedious. 😉 But this one includes pictures! So you can FEEL MY PAIN.

8 January 2018:

I had an exam performed by the eye doctor at Pro-Optix. He was very nice and seemed to know what he was doing — but he has ridiculously horrible handwriting, which may or may not have contributed to the incorrect Rx in at least the first pair of glasses issued.

8 Jan Pro-Optix Exam

I mean, what even is this? Besides the fact that their copy machine/printer is terrible, how is any of this illegible handwriting useful to anyone?

Ms. C helped me pick out frames (while my eyes were dilated, heh — it’s a great time to pick something that will cost almost $200 before lenses, and be on my face for at least the next year). Then, after my exam, Ms. C and Mr. D (who I am going to henceforth call “Mr. J2”, because his name also starts with J and I have to keep looking up the arbitrary letter I gave him) attempted to navigate the complicated computer system to try to order what I needed within my budget. The receipt was supposed to say that I would receive a Trivex lens with a blue-block coating (the lens line contains a code I don’t recognize, but Ms. C had written “Trivex” next to it. The coating said “Anti-Reflective Oleophobic”, with “blue light” written next to it). The total would be $353.95 — and that included a $19.99 discount on the coating and no charge for sales tax.

However, I got a call that night to notify me that the girl who had helped me was new to the system, and the blue-light blocker would require a higher-index lens and another $250 in price — but they would change to standard polycarbonate with a standard AR coating for the same price. If I’m reading the following correctly, it took two more days to order them (I went in on a Monday):

In the language of the Old Ones...

I finally figured out this says “ordered”, but I’m afraid that if I stare at it too long I might lose sanity points.

Note: I did not know much about lens materials (and lens shapes — more on that later) other than what I had experienced in the past. I now know that I probably have a high-index lens in my Target glasses (because I didn’t know any better — but Target got them right on the second try and the lenses have held up well for the past three years, so I’m not really complaining). The glasses before that were a polycarb/plastic blend that Mr. J at Pro-Optix had ordered for me before they were making their own lenses. But, here’s the thing: I didn’t just make up the problems I’ve had in the past. I repeated things I was told by multiple people in multiple facilities, and it’s all I have to work on when glasses don’t work for me and I’m being treated like my eyesight through their lenses is my fault. On top of that, it’s very frustrating that opticians don’t offer more education about all the weird terms they use, and then work with you to explore all the options available when glasses are being a problem. I had to Google everything, and even then I can’t quite understand the numbers, especially when it comes to the mechanics of correcting for astigmatism.

Maybe I’m one of those people who knows just enough to get myself in trouble and be a PITA to customer service — but maybe communication would be facilitated if we were all on the same page, if I’m given the correct terminology to be able to articulate my problems.

(And before anyone is like, “Why didn’t you just ASK?” I could go on another rant about how I’m kind of gun shy where doctors and medical professionals are concerned, and then confess that I’m really not good at confrontation or pressing very busy doctors/nurses/technicians who give off the “we’re done here”, “I’m the expert and know more than you”, or “don’t question me” vibes. I always feel like I’m whining. I’m working on advocating and standing up for myself, but it’s hard. I’ve also only had about ten pairs of glasses (if that) in my life, with two or more years between each one. Lens technology is constantly changing, and I find the learning curve is still a little steep every time I go in.)

31 January 2018:

I went in to pick up the new glasses, which took about three weeks, and get my pressure checked (it was fine). At first the lenses seemed great. There was a little distortion around the edges, but I thought that was probably something I needed to get used to. Lights were really bright, but then maybe I was just being sensitive that day (and I had to have those weird numbing drops for the glaucoma test). I tried really hard to adjust to them for the next five days, but light was still too bright, I was getting headaches and feeling horribly fatigued by evening, and I had to keep blinking and concentrating on focus to see things that should have been clear. Then, sitting about seven or eight feet away from our 36” TV that we use more often as a computer monitor, I realized I was having trouble reading words on the screen. I closed one eye, then the other, and the right eye was blurry. I put on my old glasses, and could read clearly from the same distance.

That was a no-go. So I took them back.

(Now we’re caught up. I feel a little like George R. R. Martin releasing book five after six years of making his readers wait. “Most of this book takes place at the same time as events in the fourth book that you waited eight years for. You can finally move on when I catch up with myself!”)

5 February 2018:

The only person at the store when I had a chance to go in was Ms. C. This was a good and bad thing: If she couldn’t navigate their computer system even with help, it probably wasn’t likely I was going to get answers that day if she was working the shop alone. However, she was nice and the only person I’d talked to the most when I ordered my glasses originally, so it was likely to be an easier conversation.

I told her what was wrong, and that I honestly wasn’t 100% sure what exactly was ordered, since at least three people had a hand in ordering them, and I only had the old receipt. She nodded and said she told them I would be back, because I’d said I was non-adaptive to polycarbonate and (Red Flag #1) they had put in the wrong prescription, anyway.

Okay, you know how it’s a well-known joke that the more illegible someone’s handwriting, the more likely they are to be a doctor? And how a percentage of medical mistakes are caused by transcription errors? And how computers are now available to kind of take the guesswork out of a medical professional’s unreadable documentation? I’ve had it happen before with medicine prescriptions (like, a decade and a half ago, when doctors still wrote out prescriptions), and now it’s happened with vision correction — in an era when computer transcription is far more ubiquitous and actually saves lives and time by standardizing what everyone sees.

So let’s play a game. Which of these prescriptions is the correct one?

Pro-Optix Exam, Day One, left side of the page:

8 jan 2018 rx

“Is number one better?”

Pro-Optix Exam, Day ??, right side, in the notes section:

8 jan 2018 rx from notes column

“Or number two?”

Pro-Optix Printed Rx, Day One:

8 jan 2018 rx printout

Ignore the “ADD”. I think it was supposed to be a mild magnification at the bottom to combat fatigue, but the cost was prohibitive, so I canceled it.

Pro-Optix 3rd try, as written at the top of their copy of the receipt, and dated 3-3-18:

I just don't even know anymore

It’s ever so slightly sharper than this before I took a picture and then a screenshot. But only slightly.

Rx read by PNW Eye Associates, from 3rd set of lenses from Pro-Optix:

pro-optix 2018 rx read from final issue by PNW EA

“BC” is “Base Curve” — the actual key to this whole stupid issue. Also, the optical tech left out the decimals.

For contrast, here is what he wrote down for my three-year-old prescription in the glasses I was there to replace, at the top of the exam sheet:

2015 Target Rx

Ummm…wut?

And what the PNW Eye Assoc tech read:

target 2015 rx read from PNW EA

Well, now they don’t seem far off, do they? There must be some other way to read an eye. And that BC is just over half of what is in the distorted lenses. This is foreshadowing, but also the past coming around to bite me, because I didn’t remember the problems I had before, other than materials. But I get ahead of myself…

If I were to try to type out that old, handwritten Rx, it would look like this:

OD: -0.25 -1.00 x 096
OS: +0.25 -1.20 x 034
(First number is Spherical, second is Cylindrical, and third is Axis)

As written, it appears my old Rx was farsighted in my left eye, because there is a plus sign in front of the first OS value instead of a minus. That bottom axis value I’m pretty sure should be an 8, but looks an awful lot like a 3. Also, where are the ones in front of the decimals, which should have indicated just how nearsighted I was?

Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about the relationship between the Cylindrical and Axis measurements to know whether those negative Cylindrical numbers paired with larger Axis numbers (95, 85) translate into positive Cylindrical paired with smaller Axis (005, 006), just measured from a different side of the angle (and I had to do an extensive internet search just to figure that out). This makes reading results by the layman, who doesn’t have their instruments or the knowledge, nearly impossible. How can I tell if my prescription is wrong or mistranscribed? Especially if someone doesn’t explain it to me? I can’t.

UGH. 😡

****

This post took me nearly a week to write. Granted, it was a very busy week, and I don’t organize my time well. So I’m going to stop here, then finish the rest shortly. Yes, for real this time. More complications may be coming down the pipe as I try to order glasses from somewhere else, and have a Vision Field Test on 8 June. I don’t know what that is, but it should be interesting! Back soon…

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My Incompetent/High Maintenance Eyeballs: Take 4, Part 1

I’m breaking my inadvertent year-and-a-quarter radio silence to bring you this ongoing gripe I have, which I now expect will be a thorn in my side forever. But maybe I’ll learn something. Who knows.

I hope you weren’t expecting meaningful content. I don’t have the energy for meaningful content anymore — not that I ever really provided meaningful content in this blog. I try to provide all that over at Seeking Aleithia — which I haven’t updated in a long time. But I want to. Just like I say every time I write a new post after not posting in forever. I’m sure it’s what my readership has come to expect from me.

But it’s pretty obvious I don’t care about readership, so I’m just gonna go ahead with my gripefest, because I’m annoyed and devastated and angry. Not necessarily in that order.

Since having children, it seems my eyes have been getting worse and worse — though not as much my prescription as my sensitivity to materials. Well, I take that back: My prescription is getting stronger year by year (I just renewed my driver’s license after turning 40, and I couldn’t see the line of letters in the light box that determines whether I can drive without my glasses). But it’s getting harder to get corrective lenses to work with my stupid eyes. Or maybe it’s just hard to find a doctor+optical shop combo that a) saves me money, b) tries to find solutions to my vision problems, and c) doesn’t make me feel like an ignoramus because I can’t articulate the problems I’m having.

It doesn’t help that I have difficulty trusting the medical community, in general. But I just had the most disappointing experience I’ve ever had when dealing with an optical business, and am, once again, back at Square One.

If you’re just stumbling onto this blog by chance (apologies in advance; I’m nothing if not tedious), here are Take 1, Take 2, and Take 3.

There have been SOOOOOOOOOOO many (non-glasses-related) things that have happened that were blog- or gripe-worthy between the last post and now (which I might eventually get to in retrospect), but I feel the need to follow up with Take 3 — because what had been such a triumphant experience waaaaaay back in 2012 has just flipped backwards on me and become a massively disappointing experience I really wish I could have avoided by being more relentless and/or organized about information I was getting in the process of trying to find glasses that worked — or getting an optical referral from my doctor, shopping around more, or trying to find something within ten or fifteen miles of home.

I’ve thought about leaving a review on Yelp and/or Google, but I’ve seen this shop reply to poor reviews and turn it back on the customer. Maybe part of the problems I’ve had with them are my fault (am I just too prissy about my vision?), but I’m pretty sure their customer service is what I don’t want to deal with anymore.

After my great experience with Pro-Optix in 2012, the shop grew and moved to a different part of the mall. They now have a lab in the back and manufacture their own lenses. The guy who helped me originally (“Mr. J” for anonymity; I believe he is the business owner, at least) is there infrequently, but his dad (we’ll call him “Mr. G”) is there most of the time and and they have a few very young employees (two of whom we’ll call “Ms. C” and “Mr. D”).

My Target glasses were getting a little old (I guess it’s been three years since my eyes were last checked), and my distance vision just a tad blurry. However, the most immediate signs I cannot ignore for long are frequent headaches and eye fatigue from squinting. I really suck at being proactive about that sort of thing, but having had so much trouble in the past with doctors and optics, it takes a lot of psyching-up (and pain) to get me to finally see to it.

I decided that I would revisit Pro-Optix, because I’d had such a great experience with them before. I walked in one afternoon, got in to see the optometrist right away (I don’t remember his name), and had a pleasant experience with him and the gal (Ms. C) who helped me pick out frames and price lenses. I thought I was going to be able to get a blue-light coating (which I’d heard was quite useful, especially if you’re sensitive to light and in front of a computer a lot), but I wasn’t going to be able to afford the slight magnification at the bottom of the lens that I’d gotten when I went there in 2012.

I should probably just get used to the reality that my glasses will never again be less than $350. They cost at least that much at Target (not including the exam), and I couldn’t get it any lower at Pro-Optix, either (though the exam was free if I bought glasses there). But at least I was getting a little more bang for my buck, with Trivex lenses and a blue-light coating. Right?

Nope. I got a call from Pro-Optix while I was on my way home. Apparently, Ms. C messed up when ordering my lenses (quote: “She’s new and doesn’t know the system”), and the blue-light coating was only available on a higher-index lens, which would add another $250 to my cost (I think — or the total cost of the lens would go up and add whatever the difference was. Whatever it was, he didn’t explain it). But I could have plain polycarbonate with an anti-reflective (AR) coating for the same price as I’d already paid. Um, okay. It seemed steep, but I guessed that must have been the price of going to a larger, independently owned boutique.

This was Mistake #1: I did not fully research the added costs at Pro-Optix vs. what I normally got for free almost everywhere else. Mistake #2 was not keeping the guy on the phone and getting a full breakdown, and warning him thoroughly that I have had problems with polycarb in the past, and I will most likely be darkening their doorstep to let them know something is wrong shortly after receiving my glasses and trying them for at least a week.

Which I very well did.

They were done nearly three weeks later, and I picked them up whenever I managed to make it back there (Mistake #0.5 was going to an optical shop 30 miles away from home). I guess their lab was not functioning at the time, or they sent lenses out to get coated — I don’t remember, I just know they had sent out for a new left lens because there was a flaw in the AR coating. It wasn’t somewhere that obscured my vision, so I could still wear the glasses; they would just replace the lens when it came in. I believe sometime in that time-frame I went in for a pressure follow-up, because it was elevated in my first exam (probably due to sinus pressure that day; I’d had cluster headaches at near-migraine levels the day before, and was still fighting the tension in my neck). But the doctor did not recheck my prescription.

I wore the new glasses for several days. At first they seemed clear. There was a little distortion that threw off my depth perception, but not as much as problem lenses I’d had in the past. My right eye hurt some (that’s the diva eye, though I believe the astigmatism is actually worse in my left), and lights were extra bright with starbursts around them (which, if I’d recalled correctly, the AR coating should have reduced). But I didn’t have the wacky, looking-through-aquarium-glass rainbow effects I had the last time I’d dealt with polycarb, so maybe I just needed to adjust. I stuck it out for a few days, but soon had trouble focusing and was becoming fatigued much earlier than before the new lenses. I knew something had to be off. The clincher was when I was trying to read something I should have been able to see from about six feet away, and it was blurry. I took off the new glasses and put on my old ones, and could see clearly.

Sure enough, the new glasses were goin’ back — the first of several times.

* * * *

I’m trying a new thing, where I break up super-long posts into parts, so I don’t take days to write one, and you don’t have to take an hour to read it. I really need to go do something else now, so at least I can post something before I abandon yet another draft for a year or more. Blogging used to be so easy! But, then, I didn’t have kids or as much distraction as I do now. Since I was actively keeping up an online journal in 2004, blogging has become synonymous with meaningful content. I’ve already told you how I’m managing with meaningful content. So maybe I’ll just go back to my old blather, and not care what people think about it — but I have to cut it into chunks, or it will never get done.

Anyway.

Part 2 should be done soonish.

1

January 2017

Oh, look, it’s January! Time to make resolutions I probably won’t keep! Time to renew my commitment to a mental facility to do more writing, especially in my long-neglected blog!

This time, I have incentivized myself. I’ve purchased the domain “coffeeandlollipops.blog” AND made calling cards with that info, and the forwarding email “deltasierra47@coffeeandlollipops.blog”. (It’s clunky, but it’ll serve for now. Especially since I’ve already printed cards. But if you want to contact me, use that address!)

This is in anticipation of launching a big plan to, among other things, document my struggles, failures, and successes in helping my kids learn to eat. I’ve mentioned before that they have feeding issues, but it’s kind of long past “issues” now into “disorders”. As in, I feel safe diagnosing them both as having “SED” (Severe Eating Disorder), without the need of a medical professional to do it for me. Granted, SED is an umbrella term, but one that is becoming more widely known and accepted, as “SPD” (Sensory Processing Disorder) and “Autism Spectrum” have been.

Before anyone worries that I’m one of those WebMD parents who thinks they know better than doctors, I want to remind or inform you that my kids are not toddlers or speshul sneauxflaykes. They’re eight- and six-year-old boys who have been eating five foods or less since introducing solid foods, have been to a few years of OT and feeding therapy (with small progress), and who would rather starve themselves past the point of feeling hunger rather than try to learn to chew anything, including treats like Jell-O, ice-cream, or cookies.

If that doesn’t convince someone of the severity of this situation, nothing will.

They do love lollipops, though. I daresay it’s the only solid food my six-year-old eats. So there’s hope!

In addition to blogging here, I hope to start vlogging, as well, and might set up a separate blog the boys can contribute to in the far future, which will feature their own videos. I bought them an inexpensive action-camera set-up for Christmas so we can create cooking videos. I homeschool them, and realized that cooking classes would be a great way to learn all kinds of concepts, and my eight-year-old mentioned that it would be fun to put some of our cooking exploits up on a YouTube channel. (He’s been angling for a YouTube channel for months; this is one way I can cave to his request while also making it educational and limited in scope. If it were up to him, he would post videos of himself rambling on about everything and nothing, pacing back and forth in our cluttered living room, and I just can’t let him do that. I’m a mean mom for promoting meaningful web content. 😉 ) So watch this space for kitchen antics!

Before that can happen, though, I have to address another extremely severe issue in our house: Ridiculous Overabundance of Clutter (and dog hair). It has gotten so out of hand, I could ALMOST make it on the TLC “Hoarders” program. Yes, really. I am not exaggerating.

I’ve always been a messy person. I know now that it can likely be attributed to a level of ADD (and OCD, but not the clean kind) I’ve always had, but got out of hand after I had kids and lost my ability to keep up with it. Now, I fight fatigue and motivation every day, and can just manage to stay on top of most of my outside commitments, making the kids’ food (for home and travel), doing the dishes, and emptying the trash. This is compounded by the fact that my husband is on a nine-month deployment (Army, someplace that rhymes with “Little Beast”), and it’s winter, so depression and anxiety are at their highest, too. I admit I haven’t really done much school with the boys this year, even though it’s the first year I’ve had to declare to the school district that the eight-year-old is homeschooled.

I’m a hot mess, y’all.

Which is why I need to blog — or, rather, “document” — my journey back up the downward spiral I’ve been on for awhile. In about a week I’ll be leaving for the Feeding Matters Pediatric Feeding Conference, which I managed to talk myself into going to this year. I’m really looking forward to it, not only because it’s in Phoenix, AZ, in the middle of January. 😉 I’m hoping I’ll be able to network as well as learn some new things and gain more advocacy for our situation. I wasn’t happy with what I’ve had available to us in the past, but I’ll address that in a later post. For now, I need to go make lunch.

Here’s to a successful 2017! 🙂 Feel free to post your own resolutions, struggles, recommitments, etc., in the comments. Please refrain from advice at this point, however, though well-wishing is welcome. Soon I’m going to write a more comprehensive post about feeding disorders and the issues we’ve had to deal with, and why conventional advice for “picky” children just cannot work for us.

Thank you! See you again SOON!

Confessions

My kids don’t eat “food”. My oldest son has eaten oatmeal, with few variations, for every meal (for, not with) since he was a year old. He’s eight now. My youngest doesn’t chew; he drinks a nutrition shake for every meal. This presents all sorts of issues I will get into eventually, but that’s not what I’m actually going to post about this time, ’cause that’s just gonna get depressing.

No, what I’m confessing this time is my unabashed love of McDonald’s cheeseburgers and French fries. Apparently, I was a little picky as a toddler and went through a “crackers and French fries” phase, and I am still a very big fan of both. McDonald’s fries aren’t really all that special when compared to the flavor and cut of several other competing chains, but they’re always hot, extra-salty, and crispy — not to mention nostalgic and probably laced with crack, or something. The same goes for their cheeseburgers. They taste like childhood. And if that’s wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

Seriously, my kids don’t know what they’re missing.

So, you’d think that having two children who do not eat McDonald’s fare and cannot be bribed with food would keep me from falling into the temptation of using the Golden Arches as a reward or incentive — but you’d be wrong. 🙂 When I bribe my children with McDonald’s, it’s not because I’m going to fill them with junk food and let them act like monkeys in the Playland while I play on my phone and ignore them for half an hour. It’s because I’m going to fill me with junk food and let them act like monkeys in the Playland while I play on my phone and ignore them for half an hour.

I will have paid less per person to have access to a covered, air-conditioned play environment, compared to the age-limited, expensive indoor playgrounds we have around here. And I’ll get food I didn’t have to cook for myself. What’s not to love?

More importantly, I’m not having to buy them each a Happy Meal or something else they are not going to eat, that I would only end up eating in addition to my own meal — because one does not simply waste delicious McDonald’s food. I watch the other moms and dads in the Playland, coercing their child into eating just one more chicken McNugget, or take another bite of their cheeseburger before they can go play. (For the record, I was that kid, too. Mom would tell me I had to eat my whole burger and at least half my fries before I could go outside — there were no covered play areas when I was a kid — but I liked to eat all my fries first. And then I had no room for my whole burger.)

Now that I’m an adult with aliens for children, I’ve realized there’s not much point in begging them to just tryyyy a French fry. I simply feed them at home, then buy the Happy Meal for me. I get to satisfy my junk-food craving with very small portions of the yummy food I love there. I mean, have you seen those cute little fry boxes? It’s, like, half a small fries off the adult menu. It’s probably less than they served in Happy Meals when I was a kid. Instead of a small soda, though, I get a juice box and apple slices with it. Boy 2 gets the juice box, Boy 1 gets an order of small orange juice, and I order a medium drink for me. If the Happy Meal contains a kind of toy I might want (like My Little Pony) the toy is MINE (what? I’m a fan; don’t judge). But if it’s something they like, I’ll just buy an extra toy. I have, in the past, ordered two Happy Meals to avoid questions from the cashier, but eating two Happy Meals while my kids play seems a little too indulgent, even for me. An extra toy costs less (in money and calories) than another Happy Meal, so it just makes more sense, overall.

After that, they go play in a covered, air-conditioned (albeit ridiculously loud and germ-ridden) Playland while I eat and don’t do the things I brought with me to do…because phone.

Win-win, right? 🙂 Tell me you’re not jealous. And if you’re not, turn your thermostat up until it’s 85°F in your house and tell me how much you look forward to cooking for yourself, and how much you don’t wish you could get into your air-conditioned car and go to an air-conditioned place where your crazy children can get their energy out and you can sip iced-tea and not sweat. Because that is what summer is like in our house, and it is miserable.

Honestly — why suffer? McDonald’s has more seating than any of the playgrounds in our area, and it’s fully covered so I don’t have to bake in 85° sunshine because the postage stamp-sized covered area is packed with a bunch of moms who want to socialize. I do not go to the playground to socialize (with the exception of the few times I’m meeting a friend so our kids can play together, but none of my friends down here homeschool). Often, I’m taking my energy vampires to the playground for a break (from them — so they can feed off someone else for an hour or so). But if it’s 85° in my house and 85° outside, the playground is not a break — it is torture. I wrote an entire post that didn’t end up getting posted (I don’t know why, and it was stupid-long and I’m kind of glad it’s too out-of-date to post now) about adventures at a playground, including no seating anywhere and having to wait for the porta-potties to be washed out before Boy 2 could go pee (with help, because I have nightmares about my tiny boy falling into one of those) — and sometimes that hassle is just not worth it.

Besides, I don’t feel like I can be as readily judged by other McDonald’s parents. We all know we’re there for the junk food and leisure time. High-five, McDonald’s Moms! Now leave me alone.

BONUS:

I’ve been itching to blog more. (Yes, again. I know, I say it every time. I really do mean it this time! Probably.) I have more content that isn’t stupid day-to-day stuff, and a lot of crap to work through, especially where it concerns my children’s eating habits. We’re also staring Real Homeschool in the face this year, and as much as I’ve been looking forward to it, I’m terrified. McD’s might very well become my office and the boys’ recess some days.

Therefore, I’m embracing my new tagline in the banner: “I am the very model of a major modern-mother fail.” Not that I think I’m a failure, but I’m a failure at modern mothering. I love my kids and they’re great, but sometimes I love them more when I don’t have to pay attention to them. Anyone who thinks that’s bad parenting doesn’t have kids. Search your heart; you know this to be true.

Meanwhile, I’ll be at McDonald’s, ignoring my kids. 🙂

3

I Rule at Pizza

Not to toot my own horn, but I make a darn good pizza. (Okay, I totally am going to toot my own horn, but I don’t do it that often, so it’s okay right?) Even if it’s a cheapo cheese pie from Costco that I put the fixin’s on, myself, pizza is a subject at which I excel.

Homemade, from-scratch pizza is a labor of love, but no one has time for that every time a pizza craving rears its ugly head. So I’ll share a few pizza-making secrets, which can probably be found on the Food Network, either as Rachel Ray shortcuts or looked upon with disdain by Emeril Legasse. But pssh. Who cares? This isn’t a food blog!

The first suggestion is find a decent base. If you’re not picky, even a Totino’s cheese pizza will do (and, despite my quarter-Italian heritage, I’m so not picky). Costco’s cheese pizzas are great, and come in a four-pack. Hey, if D’Giorno can claim to be gourmet, so can your homemade concoctions. Just sayin’. You know what you like, so go with that. I make mini pizzas with Orowheat Oatnut bread, because it’s what I’ve got.

I can make my own crust — and I’ll post a recipe — but I do it in the bread maker, because I also don’t have the patience/attention span to do it by hand. 🙂 Unfortunately, I have not managed to develop my own sauce that tastes right, so to save myself time, I’ve used Contadina’s “Pizza Squeeze” and Kroger’s “Pizza Sauce” in a jar (the latter is my favorite so far; it has the fewest additives and tastes yummy). As for cheese, fresh mozzarella is tempting to use, because it’s SO delicious, but it is also labor intensive, because you have to drain all the moisture out of it or it will “weep” all over your pizza — and no one likes soggy pizza. Alternatives are block mozzarella and pre-shredded. I’ve used both and they’re fine. However, you have not lived until you’ve tried pepperjack on a pizza. Trust me and do it. You will wonder where it’s been all your life.

ANYway, back to the base… Regardless of how you do your crust, sauce, and cheese, the toppings are the most important part. I can make gourmet out of cheapo, with just the right toppings. And you can, too! So here is a list of toppings we have used to “decorate” our pizzas, with great success:

  • Canned chicken, browned in butter or oil (make sure it’s a very chunky variety. Kirkland is my favorite, and you’d do well to avoid Hormel)
  • Bacon (sliced and browned)
  • Garlic
  • Onions (I use Mayan Sweets and sauté or caramelize them in butter. Scallions work well, too)
  • Mushrooms (sautéed in lots of butter, with herbs and maybe a little wine)
  • Hamburger (browned — in a pinch, you can slice frozen meatballs in half)
  • Herbs, like sage, rosemary, basil, savory, chives, garlic powder, thyme
  • Sauces, like Smoked Chipotle Tabasco

Honestly, the best thing to do is to use your imagination. For instance, we usually do some chicken/bacon combination that includes onions and garlic. Tonight, I made bacon, onions, garlic, and sautéed mushroom (with sage, basil, thyme, and red wine), and put them on a cheapo Costco pizza, then sprinkled it with grated Asiago. It was excellente! If I’m feeling super-lazy, but also super-hungry, I’ll just cut frozen meatballs in half and place them evenly over the top.

I am by no means a gourmet cook, so don’t think I learned any of these techniques anywhere but the School of Hard Knocks. So when I say “caramelize”, I’m probably not doing it right. The onions are lightly browned and soft, and crazy delicious. Good enough for me! By the time they reach that stage, our mouths are watering and we couldn’t care less if they’re properly caramelized.

However, it has taken a bit of trial and error to get the crust just right. I have a basic recipe, which I have tweaked shamelessly until I got rid of the bitter taste and dense texture. Again, this is for a bread maker. I’m really not one to ask for tips on how to do it by hand, so that will have to be something to look up on your own, unless you already know how to do it. More power to you if you do!

BASIC 12″ Pizza Crust (with tweaks in parentheses):

* Put these ingredients in the bread pan in the order given, unless your bread maker says to do otherwise:

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (substitute with a dollop of yogurt)
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 & 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sugar (substitute with a dollop of honey, in a corner of the pan)
  • 1 tsp yeast (in a divot in the center of the flour)

* Set to the “pizza dough” setting and check once to make sure it’s wet or dry enough while mixing (I tend to eyeball the yogurt and honey, which add extra moisture content, so you might find you need a little more flour than just the 2 & 1/4 cups). It should take about 55 minutes, or so; about as long as it would take doing it by hand.
* When it’s done, dump it out on a floured surface (wet fingers will make this easier) and coat it in flour. Squish it a little, then ignore it for a minute (go pour a glass of wine — or another, if you’re like me 😉 ).
* I’ve discovered that rolling pins do not work well with fresh pizza dough. Lift the lump of dough and balance it on your fists, letting gravity stretch it while you kind of walk your fists around the edges (I should probably do a video on this…)

Now for the rest of the pizza!:

* Preheat the oven to 425°F
* Once the crust is the right size and even through the middle (don’t let it get too thin!), place it on your pizza pan or pizza stone, in a circle LARGER than the finished product will be.
* Brush sauce over the whole crust, and sprinkle cheese (pepperjack, I’m telling you!) over the entire circumference.
* Start rolling the outer edge of the crust inward, folding in the sauce and cheese. Gently pull the crust in the direction you are rolling (left or right), and it will stay rolled better than if you just roll it toward the center.
* Finish cooking or prepping your toppings and spread them evenly over the cheese.
* Brush the outer crust with a thin layer of sauce. Finely grate Asiago or Parmesan over it, or sprinkle with garlic powder or garlic salt.
* Depending on your oven, cook for 15 minutes or so, checking after 10, until crust is golden brown and cheese is thoroughly melted. Sometimes, I’ll start it on a low rack to make sure the crust is well done before transferring it to an upper rack to brown the rest of it.
* Take it out when it looks done and let it cool as long as you can possibly stand it.

There you have it! I hope you have success in your future pizza-making endeavors! If you have any interesting tips (especially on how to make sauce), post them in the comments! 🙂

My Incompetent (or should I just say “high maintenance”?) Eyeballs, Take 3

I had written about this before (Take 1 and Take 2), without ever completing the story. It did have a happy ending: I went to a place called “Pro-Optix” in the mall, and the guy not only helped me pick out a cute pair of glasses, but hooked me up with a polycarb/plastic blend that worked absolutely perfectly with my eyes, as well as added a slight magnification in the bottom of the lens to combat eye fatigue and the difficulty my eyes sometimes have adjusting from far to near. It was wonderful, and I don’t know why I didn’t just go back to him when it was time to get new glasses again, especially since the total for everything, even having to send the lenses to two different labs for all the optimization my prescription required, was only $145. (It did take two weeks for them to arrive, and then he had to send them back because they reversed the lenses – right was left and left was right – so it did take a total of four weeks for me to finally get them. But I did not have to send them back again!)

I’ve had these glasses I’m wearing now since late 2012, and, as much as I love them, I realized recently that I seem to be squinting more and getting more headaches when focusing for a long time. When it occurred to me that it had been almost three years since I’ve had an exam and new lenses, I looked up a new doctor (because we have different insurance now) and had an exam at our local Target Optical.

Problem #1: I did not get a referral from my doctor for this clinic, so even though it is listed as a partner, I only got a discount on the exam, and still had to pay $75 out of pocket. Not what I was expecting.

Problem #2: New glasses, even with $100 discounted through insurance, are INSANELY EXPENSIVE. I was kicking myself from here to the mall, where I happened to be going the very night I reluctantly purchased the frames and lenses from Target, which came to well over $300. I’m sure Pro-Optix could have fetched me a better price (and since then I’ve learned that they make the lenses onsite now, though I imagine my speshul snowflake eyes would probably require the same amount of exactitude and coddling they did last time).

Problem #3: Insanely expensive materials for lenses do not guarantee your eyes will adjust to them. I just went back for a re-exam today, because the new lenses weren’t quite as bad as my first experience back in 2012 with material incompatibility, but they were still pretty bad. At least this time, both the optician and the optometrist understood that it was my astigmatism that was making my eyes incompatible with even the most advanced lenses (my last eye doctor never came to that conclusion, or if he did he never told me). The frames – which are super cute, and totally not something I would have ever chosen for myself without help – are going back to the lab to have the lenses redone. Hopefully it will be done just as quickly as the last ones, which came a few days after we ordered them.

For $300+, they’d better!

(I just posted over in my other blog, Seeking Aleithia, if you are interested in taking a look: “Christian Feminism and the Modern Church“. God Bless!)

2

A.D.D.? Me? Why do you say th––hey SHINY!!

My husband was listening to a radio station the other day, and a woman was speaking about how ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) usually manifests differently in girls and women than it does boys. Female ADD tends to show itself through clutter (can’t concentrate long enough to finish a project), being late to everything (no real good concept of time), and traits that tend to characterize a person as flighty, lazy, undisciplined, and directionless. She also said that it’s extremely underdiagnosed in women, because usually one sees, say, a homemaker with the above traits and just thinks she’s a slob who never learned how to run a house. And the woman characterized as such believes that, and addresses the fallout (depression, anxiety, shame) instead of the root cause (inability to focus long enough to Get It All Done).

Now, I’m not advocating more medication for women (or anyone) with ADD. I still believe ADD is as overdiagnosed and overmedicated as autism. But just because it is overdiagnosed does not mean some people don’t struggle with it. Adult ADD has kind of become a thing in recent years, and I’ve joked about having it in the past (never taking seriously that this could be my problem, too), but I have to face something in my life: There is something about my brain that does not function like a normal human’s is supposed to function, and it is Making. Me. Crazy.

I’ve always been cluttered. AL.WAYS. I have always been a daydreamer, a people-watcher, more effective at night when it’s dark and quiet and I can pinpoint what I need to focus on. As an adult, I get overstimulated very easily, and I’m anxious, scattered, HORRIBLY cluttered, and exhausted by a busy day — especially a busy morning. I have always sabotaged myself and as much as I intend to finish some things, it just never happens.

When my husband told me about this woman who was basically describing me, he said he began to think that, maybe, ADD wasn’t some kind of throwaway diagnosis, after all. I did a little research on my own, and realized that, sure enough, I now had a name for my dragon! This beast I’ve been fighting for years, and that’s gotten worse with the chaos of having children (and subsequent hormonal and activity changes).

What I don’t want to do with it is use it as an excuse. It’s not that I was poorly disciplined as a child or never taught such-and-such — I’m an adult, and have access to anything I want to learn about how to conduct my life. It’s that I have only ever faced these problems as things to be ashamed of, reasons I am a lousy, unproductive individual — character issues, rather than issues of brain/hormone/emotional dysfunction. What I need are strategies to overcome it. To harness that dragon and make it MINE.

I’m reading a book now called “Your Life Can Be Better: Using Strategies for Adult ADD/ADHD”, written by a psychiatrist with ADD. It’s probably one of the most straightforward, ADD-friendly self-help books I’ve ever read, and I’m enjoying it so far. 🙂

I want to go on and on, but part of my problem is the inability to judge the flow of time. I have ten minutes before I have to leave, but I don’t know if I have ten minutes’ worth of tasks to do to get out the door. So I’ll wrap this up for now, and write something more later. See? Progress! 😀

2

Rebranding Time?

I’ve neglected my blog forever. There are many reasons (the biggest one because I’m lazy), but one of them might be because I created it with a niche mindset. “Oh, I’m a mommy now, I should blog about my life with kids!”

Bleh. Other people have kids, too. I spend all day with the kids, and they probably spend all day with theirs. I need a blog more oriented toward life in general. Absurd life. Ridiculous life. Stupid things that run through my head that don’t make sense to anyone but myself. Stories. Jokes.

So, welcome to Coffee and Lollipops — a place where stuff doesn’t have to make sense to be funny. I can observe the ridiculous that tickles my funny bone and it doesn’t have to have anything to do with my kids.

Except that they both like lollipops. It’s the only solid food my three-year-old will eat.

Oh, there will be kid-related stuff here, too, because they ARE part of my life — and they are ridiculous on a grand scale — but this isn’t a “mommy blog”. It’s a ME blog.

I always have big dreams for blogs. We’ll see how I do with this one. 😉

Testing!

Six months — wait, maybe seven — since I last blogged. Batting a thousand with this one!

I’ve been dying to do more blogging, but I’m blocked every time I start. I have also been ignoring my laptop more during the day, opting to check and reply to social media on my phone. I just got a new one, so typing isn’t even as big a hassle as it was on my old one, which didn’t have Swipe. However, I’m far more prone to typos when typing on my phone, so I haven’t even tried blogging from there at all.

I have a tablet, too (it’s gadget-tastic around here), which also has Swipe, but I guess I just kinda decided that blogging from something that doesn’t have a real keyboard attached to it is just too much of a pain.

The real problem is that I’m lazy and uncreative right now, so blogging is WAAAAAY down the to-do list, along with “dusting”.

However . . . my laptop is getting a little long in the tooth for traveling. The battery is wonky, and it requires a backpack with a padded pocket. It’s just not as great a travel companion as it used to be. It takes up a lot of space on the kitchen table (or anywhere, honestly), and I can’t go more than an hour or so without having to plug it in. This is not good for use on a plane, in a car, or anywhere else I might not be able to plug in for several hours.

Enter the Bluetooth Keyboard! I’d thought about picking one up a while ago, so I wouldn’t have to lug my computer everywhere if I felt like working on a story or blog post when I got a free minute. We went on a trip in April, and I really didn’t want to bring the computer along. I almost left it home, except that it played DVDs (which we didn’t watch, anyway). I realized later that it would have been MUCH more convenient to just have my tablet and a keyboard, which might just fit in my purse.

I’m about to go on a trip to Texas, which will require a couple of long flights. I decided it’s time to find a good keyboard to go with my tablet, so I could reduce the number of devices (and chargers and accoutrements) I’m bringing with me.

I went to Best Buy to see what they had, and out of, like, 25 choices, only two were Android compatible (it felt like some kind of gadgety Brady Bunch tagline: “iPad, iPad, IPAD!!”). They were good choices, but not great prices. So off to Amazon.com I went, to see if I could find the same thing or something similar for a better price. I found a bunch, but nothing quite struck my fancy until I saw the Sharkk Backlit Keyboard, which has a bunch of different backlight colors (it comes with all the colors, and you can change them with a button!) and great reviews. Even better, it was on sale and fulfilled by Amazon Prime.

I ordered one, and it came a day early. I plugged it in to charge while I was gone this evening, and it was ready to pair with my Google Nexus when I got home! 

It’s a sturdy little thing, but it will require a more robust carrying case. It came with a cloth pouch to store it in, but that won’t protect it from being jounced around in a bag. My husband is a leather worker, though, so I might be able to talk him into make me a cover. 🙂 There are tablet cases you can buy that have the keyboard already installed, but since I already have a great case for my tablet and don’t plan for my tablet to actually fully replace my laptop, I wanted something separate. However, this will be perfect for traveling! And the occasional blog post when I can’t sit in front of my computer. 🙂

2

Whippersnappers

Oh . . . hai der, Blog. Totally forgot about you for ages. How’s it going? 

I’ve been babysitting a couple of cute little kiddos for a friend of a friend since the beginning of December until the end of this week: A two-and-a-half-year-old girl and a (now) eight-week-old boy (he was six weeks when we started). They’re both awesome. The girl plays so well with my boys and naps as soon as you put her down (I MISS THOSE DAYS), and the baby is so tiny and pwecious and snuggly (I miss those days, too)! At first I wondered if I was a little insane by agreeing to take them on, but it’s been great. I love holding a baby all day, and four kids really are easier than two! In some ways. Only difference being that I do not have a car big enough to go out anywhere with all of them, so I don’t get the experience of taking a big brood to the supermarket, or anything.

Of course, kids are little germ factories, and these are no different. My own boys were getting over their colds at the beginning of December, and my new little charges came in with green boogers and coughs, which my boys shared immediately with them, even while resisting sharing their toys. Being around that much snot and bodily fluids, there could be no way that I would dodge the inevitable. Sure enough, it hit like a Peterbilt Dec 7th and 8th, idled for a day or two, then started to back up over me just before my choir concerts the following weekend (14th and 15th). Despite the ick, I had enough voice to sing out a bit in both performances — unlike our concert in October, when I had no voice at all. That was miserable, and I discovered I am very bad at lip synching.

My mom and dad had my kids Saturday night, since it was Sweetie’s drill weekend, and I had concert commitments that would probably go late. Saturday night we sang just before the Symphony, and then I stayed for most of the Symphony concert. I left at intermission, because it was getting to the point where I couldn’t breathe without coughing, and just wanted to go to bed. We had a concert the next day, too, so I knew I would need the rest. Sunday, I slept in (Sweetie had his Unit Christmas party, and my parents were taking the boys to church) and took my time getting ready for my concert. The concert didn’t go as late as I thought it might, so I went to my church Life Group afterward, where I thought Sweetie might meet me (he never showed up; too tired after drill). I talked too much, stayed there too late, and then finally went home to spend a little quiet, decompressing time with Sweetie before we both passed out from our exhausting weekend.

Monday I did not have my two little charges, because there was a scheduled eight-hour power outage for our street so the power company could replace some lines, and I knew it would be too cold to have little kids in the house. Since Mom still had the boys, Sweetie and I slept in a little (been getting up at 5-something in the morning lately, so 7am was late!), had some coffee, and left the house a little after 8:15, when they shut the power off for the day. We went out to breakfast and wandered around various stores until it was time to pick the boys up from my parents’ house to take them to their doctor appointments that afternoon. Then we went to Sweetie’s parents’ house so he and the kids could join them for dinner, but Sweetie had to take me to the mall a little while later so I could help out with a gift-wrapping fundraiser for my choir. I was supposed to be there from 4pm to 10pm, but was feeling pretty horrible by 5pm (the left side of my throat was becoming quite painful). It wasn’t too busy that evening, and there were enough hands without me, so I had my husband pick me up on his way home from his parents’ house instead of staying and riding home with my friend who was working till 10, too.

That brings us to yesterday (Tuesday)! It was a long, active weekend with no time to recuperate, followed by another day of babysitting (not hard, just not restful), and I didn’t get as much sleep Monday night as I should have. When I woke up, my throat didn’t hurt too badly, but as the morning progressed, I couldn’t chew, swallow, or open my mouth very wide because it hurt too much. It didn’t hurt talk, only to move my jaw and tongue. This bothered me enough that I figured it was finally time to go see a doctor. I do have a new-patient doctor appointment scheduled for the end of January, but we have Prompt Care! It’s a new and exciting development in civilian medicine! (Okay, it’s not, but it’s new to me after having to go to the Navy Hospital ER for everything not pre-scheduled). I made Sweetie come home early (he works late on Tuesdays) to watch the boys while I took myself to the Prompt Care, where up till yesterday I’d only been to for my kids.

Had to get the icky throat culture, but I kind of expected that. It’s not strep, thank goodness; probably just a mild throat infection and/or a touch of tonsillitis. I got out of there with an Rx for amoxicillin and Cepacol lozenges, which I needed to pick up at my pharmacy, on the other side of the highway. Oh, and I got my right ear irrigated, because it was too waxy to see its condition. I didn’t get dizzy, either. Go me. I’m just so glad they used water. The last time a doctor cleaned my ears out, he used a stick, which was the most horribly uncomfortable, icky thing I’ve ever had done to me and I never went back to have my ears cleaned. Strangely, the doctor I saw yesterday (who was quite young, probably her early- to mid-20s) seemed surprised when I told her how uncomfortable it was. My ear canals are sensitive, I guess.

I had a few other errands to run, since I was already out and about. First I got a Jamba Juice, because it was close to the doctor and I didn’t think I wanted to try to swallow anything harder than a smoothie for dinner. I’d totally forgotten about the crazy Christmas crowd, which made parking exciting and annoying. Despite that, I did manage to get some close parking spaces — which was helpful when I accidentally left my wallet in the car at Target and had to be That Person who has to suspend her purchase and run out to the car Just Real Quick. *sigh*

I’d also forgotten that I hadn’t put on any makeup (just some powder foundation) and probably looked a little harried and pale. Not my best face forward — but I didn’t care, because it had been a long day, and I was tired, sick, and just picking up a few things at some stores on my way home from the doctor. At least my hair was brushed. 🙂 So when I was at my last stop for the night, picking up some stuff at Costco, and I had to have the youngster (mid- to late-20s?) check my age for the case of beer I was picking up for my husband (mmm, winter beers . . . ) he did not choose to check my ID, but instead looked at my face and punched in — no lie — 01/01/1961.

NINETEEN SIXTY-ONE.

SIXTY. ONE.

I boggled for a second, but didn’t say anything. No, the thoughts going through my head were: Do I REALLY look that old? (I did the math later, and 1961 would make me 52 years old — eight years younger than my dad.) Is that guy just that bad at judging age? Could he not have had the decency of erring on the side of 1970? Might he have asked me, and given me the opportunity to lie (not that I would have), or just not risk it and asked for my ID? I know I have some grey hair and could stand to lose a few pounds, but SERIOUSLY? And why am I freaking out about this, anyway?

I know I’m only 35. I have as much grey in my hair as a 50-year-old, but I really didn’t think I could pass for anything older than 40. Maybe 45. I wasn’t insulted or offended — not really — just surprised. The guy couldn’t have been that much younger than me, but either he wasn’t good at math, he just picked the first year that popped into his head, or he really thought I looked like I was in my 50s. I mean, I remember when I was little and 35 was SO OLD, but I don’t think he can claim that excuse, since he didn’t look that far from it, himself.

Whippersnapper.

(Here’s my Gravatar photo — though I’m wearing makeup in it. How old would YOU say I am?)

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