Category Archives: Life

Inside the crazy mind of a woman attempting to get pregnant

Alex and I want to have another child.  We are actively trying to make this happen and it is making me crazy and oddly enough no one really seems to talk about this.  It seems to be discussed in hushed tones of “we are trying”  or “we would like to have another child, but it hasn’t happened yet” However, I need to talk about it in the hopes that it will make the  voices in my head SHUT UP!  The first couple of months of trying is fun.  I didn’t really expect it to happen right away and the sex life of parents with young children tends to be rather non-existent since the last thing you have energy for at the end of a long day is attempting to be sexy, so it was fun to focus on it again.  Then after a couple of months, my type A personality starts to kick in and I begin thinking, “What is going on? Why is this not happening?”  With Walter, that was about the time I actually got pregnant, so they craziness was minimal.  However, this time around, that has not happened so the craziness seems to get a wee bit worse every month.  I should say for about two weeks every month because that is the time between when you ovulate and the time when you get your period and find out whether you are pregnant or not.  I think for the first two weeks of my cycle, I am pretty normal.  I can drink, I eat sushi and I don’t worry if my bind in D is going to somehow cause me to miscarry.

This month has reached monumental craziness because of one single fact: with Walter, I missed my period, took a pregnancy test, it was negative, but lo and behold and I was still pregnant which I figured out about two months later.  Luckily the extra wine I drank during that time doesn’t seem to have affected Walter much!  I thought it was a fluke – somehow I did the pregnancy test wrong last time or something.  So this last month, Alex and I do a bang up job of having sex at all the right times.  Then around day 20, I start bleeding and do so for three days.  I scour the internet trying to figure out how to differentiate between an actual period and implantation bleeding which, as it turns out, not really much different.  So I am not sure what to think.  Then on day 24 I start feeling nauseated and just generally yucky.  I hit a wall in my practice when I hit floor poses and despite my attempts to just push through, I just don’t have enough energy.  The nauseousness disappears as I take the first bites of lunch and I realize that I am starving.  These are all similar signs of pregnancy to what happened to me when I was pregnant with Walter.  So I wait a couple more days until what would have been the first day of my period, and take a pregnancy test, it is negative.  Then I wait another three days, til this morning.  Take the pregnancy test at 2 a.m. cause I am awake and cannot sleep.  It is negative.  I give up on sleeping and just go work on my computer.  I finally fall back asleep only to have Walter decide it is time to get up.  Oh and I am still feeling nauseated today.  Do you see how this can make a person crazy?  Basically either I am just making all of this up or I am actually pregnant and the tests are lying.  So at 4 a.m. I emailed my ObGyn and asked if there was anyway I could get a blood test done with the hope that it will be more accurate and end all the craziness going around in my head.

Logically this is all ridiculous.  I have to laugh at myself because I spent a good part of my high school and college years (and honestly even into law school) having nightmares where I was pregnant and I hadn’t actually done anything to get pregnant!  I didn’t want children then and was pretty convinced that having one would ruin my career and my life.  I think I must have taken all that abstinence only sex education that our lovely Texas schools taught quite seriously!  Well it turns out that life changes and as it changes, I changed too.  Having a child at a reasonable age with a partner I love is a whole different idea than randomly getting pregnant at 19.  It also helps that as far as I am concerned, working doesn’t agree with me and I enjoy life much more when I am my own boss at home (weeeelll, Walter would disagree with that, but I need to hold onto some of my delusions!).  However, as it turns out having children has nothing to do with logic and everything to do with emotions, so if you see me just keep this in mind.  I can’t promise I will be more sane once I am actually pregnant, you can ask Alex what I was like last time.  Thank you very kindly for listening to my rant.

On going back to work from a Stay at Home Mom

I feel like there has been a lot of back and forth lately about women and their choices around when they go back to work after having kids.  I just read another article The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In by Judith Warner.  These women aren’t quite my peers, but are about 10 years ahead of myself.  Judith goes back and profiles 10 women who all dropped out of high powered jobs in order to be stay at home moms.  Now for varying reasons most of them are trying to re-enter the workplace and it doesn’t seem to be easy for them.  A good chunk of them are taking pay cuts, but working in fields that mean something more to them than their previous jobs did.

Continue reading On going back to work from a Stay at Home Mom

My continuing obsessions with food: both eating and not eating it

I have been trying to start a new way of eating.  The problem is that every time I try to change my eating patterns, it forces me to examine all my past choices and then deal with how I am going to go forward.  I have two parts of me: the part that wants to eat and cook every delicious thing out there to the point of being quite a larger person (it is very hard for me to moderate) and then there is the person that wants to stay healthy and active and likes to look good in a pair of skinny jeans.  I should add that there is a third food personality in there too: the Ashtangi.  I didn’t realize it when I started doing Ashtanga, but you can very easily become obsessed with food in Ashtanga.  There are all these rules as to how a proper yogi/Ahstangi behaves and they seem to involve a lot of “no.”  No meat, no booze, no eating after 5 p.m. or if you are really good, no dinner at all.  Yogis are supposed to eat lightly. There is a saying that goes something like this, “A yogi eats once a day, a bogi (non-yogi) eat twice a day, and if you eat three times a day you need to find yourself a cemetery plot.”  I make fun, but it is all in the quest for a better practice in the morning.  I have never really bought into the Ashtangi side of it too much, until we were in India and it was so hot that eating too much was just uncomfortable.  Not to mention that when it is 90°, the electricity goes out and your fan stops working eating just sounds like a bad idea.  I did notice by eating less the night before, my practice was better in the morning.  I just felt lighter and not as heavy.  This led to some of my favorite type of practices; the ones where it just feels all sparkly and magical.  Those practices are a bit of a drug and they lead you to want to create more of them.

I came back from Mysore with the idea that I would try to impliment some of the ways of eating, that had served us so well in India, here.  Did I mention Alex lost something ridiculous like 12 pounds while we were there? He was the thinest he had been since high school or something crazy like that.  The first main idea is that we would eat a larger lunch and start to scale back dinner.  This is significantly harder to do than I thought.  You see, this smaller lunch, larger dinner is rather ingrained in our culture and in my stomach.  My stomach is perfectly happy to eat that larger lunch, but then it is not happy when I attempt to give it a smoothie or salad for dinner.  It protests loudly that it would like some proper dinner thank you very much!

The second part is that when we were in Mysore, I went to a lovely woman named Angelika.  She is an intuitive nutritionist amongst other things.  She did a reading of sorts where she went through almost every food that she could think of and a couple of other things that I eat regularly and asked the universe if it was in my best interest to continue eating it. The large overarching themes were that I needed more protein (animal and vegetable), more raw or lightly cooked veggies, less fruit and then to cut out dairy, soy, white flour, sugar and avocado oil.  Oh and no chai, to drink coffee instead.  I came out of meeting with her a bit crushed.  It seemed like an impossible task to give up so many things that I really loved.  When we got back I tried to follow the instructions when I could, but didn’t work at it too hard.  I had my sister’s wedding coming up and the prep that went with that, then my parents were here for two wonderful weeks after that and my father loves to put tasty things in the fridge that I just don’t want to not eat.  Surprisingly, I was able to give up most of the dairy rather easily and I have felt a marked change with that.  So that brings us to last week when I had promised myself I would start and I did kinda, but I just got all cranky and was having a devil of a time getting myself to buckle down and behave.  Which led to my current state of trying to figure out if this is one of those things that I need to apply strong will to and DO or if perhaps I am just asking too much of myself right (for whatever reason).  I am fairly strong willed and have perfectionist tendencies.  This causes me often to push on something to the point where it blows up in my face and causes me a lot of anxiety and insecurity.  I am much more aware of this now, but I still don’t have a good idea generally what is good enough so I tend to push myself too much.  In this particular situation, I don’t have a good answer to it and so I think I will just have to sit with it over the next couple of days and see how things go.  Somehow I need to find the moderation.

Jetlag and daylight saving

Nothing quite like being up with a jetlagged toddler at 3 a.m. Alex has some ideas on that too…..

 

Being 12 hours jetlagged makes for a really mind-bending experience, and such experiences are very good subjects to describe!

For Walter, it’s actually pretty easy, because he has bi-phasic sleep. He sleeps twice a day, so his sleep schedule naturally allows for a 12-hour time change – his afternoon nap is longer and it’s dark outside, and his nighttime sleep is shorter and the sun is up. Not a big deal, actually, which is part of why Walter did fantastic in India and didn’t really get overly sleepy and cranky that first week.

For those of us with single-phase sleep, however, it’s a pretty massive jump. When we flew to India, the sun set on us twice during 12 hours. When we came back, it was in the sky for over 24 hours, which is even longer than the longest day on the north pole.

It so happens that we were in India during the US daylight saving time change, and the clocks don’t change in India. The stats: India is GMT +5:30. and Pacific is GMT -8:00 in the winter and GMT -7:00 in the spring. That means heading east, we stashed 13 hours and 30 minutes in the DST bank, and on our way home, they gave us back only 12 hours and 30 minutes. (I guess they charge some hidden fees!)

It doesn’t seem like you’d notice that one lost hour, if you were away when the clocks actually changed, and it was a week ago that it happened. Can we really tell the difference between a 12:30 mindwarp and a 13:30 one? I would have guessed we’d completely miss the usual DST-induced jetlag, just a bit of noise in the signal.

But here’s what Eva and I both felt this morning: the sun rose later than it should have. If you were here for the DST change, the clocks jumped ahead, so the clock also showed a late time when the sun rose. Are we actually feeling the daylight saving loss on top of the jetlag? Sunrise went from 6:30 in India to 7:20 here, so I think we’re confused by what the clock says, and the DST change actually matters. I guess you also feel the same way if you travel far east or west in China, where they have only one wide timezone.

It also was dark longer last night. We got up before dawn every day in Mysore and got used to how long it took to get light. In my case, I was always practicing at the yoga shala at dawn. Now that we’ve gone further North, the daylight time is 9 minutes less. That’s not much, and it’s hard to think that would have an effect, but maybe we’re feeling that too?

There are actually a lot of changes that contribute to the disorientation this morning. For one, we went back in time one season, from almost summer to almost spring. We forgot how to wear sweaters and Walter doesn’t seem to remember socks very clearly, not having seen them in a month. Life moves faster, everything looks perfect, everyone is white. There are no animals in the street except the ones on leashes, which means the cars are more dangerous when we cross the street (they go fast and expect no obstructions in the road).

Of course we really feel the day-became-night change. It’s just so unnatural to add an extra 1/2 rotation to the earth overnight. But there was so much travel (1am to 8pm yesterday plus 12:30 is 31.5 hours) that I was ready to sleep last night, and we slept a nearly normal amount. So I think we’ll make it up just as quickly as a return trip from London.

I guess my summary is: the culture change and the DST change seem just as disorienting this morning as losing a night and half of sleep and being on the opposite side of the Earth.

To add one more insight: even if you don’t ever travel, it was pretty strange for our bodies when they changed the start and end dates for DST. I want to think it’s spring now, because it used to be close to spring when the clocks changed. But it’s still not light for enough hours to be spring. So that’s one way the clock can mess you up.

PS: it was nice having the moon still behave the same in India. That and the same gravity was all that made it feel like we stayed on the same planet.

Bangalore

We had quite a weekend in Bangalore!  We went up to go a Alex, co-worker’s wedding.  We thought a full on India wedding was not to be missed!  Alex and I wanted to relay the experience in a bit more depth than we normally do so we split the writing up.  Alex wrote about the taxi ride (and took the pictures) and I wrote about the wedding so enjoy!

Taxi Ride to Bangalore*

The taxi driver arrived a bit early, and helpfully loaded our luggage and Walter’s pack-n-play into the trunk of his compact car. We left for Bangalore feeling good, and soon Walter napped on me in the backseat as we went through Mandya and smaller towns. We stopped in Channapatna for a wooden toy, which the town produces in huge numbers, and found a train with spinning letters. For whatever reason, the words are in Spanish and Walter proceeded to destroy it in about two days flat.  So much for good quality!

As we got into Bangalore, we followed a similar route as we had from the airport when we first arrived. I assumed the driver had picked a route, having gotten the address in advance from Ganesh (the taxi company guy/storage guy/owner of Anu’s cafe/other stuff). He probably studied it a bit, since Bangalore is a mish-mash of small streets, complex intersections, and big signs with traffic laws.

We opted to go local, and not take the air conditioning (which costs an extra ₹500). We were pretty warm by noon, and Walter was now awake and cranky and wanted to get out of the car. Eva felt a bit like she wanted to pass out.  We passed into denser parts of Bangalore, inching past buses that were inches away, and into downtown, near the Mahatma Gandhi road and train station, and packed markets.

Later, we learned those were not places on the way to our destination, which was lunch with friends of friends from Sunnyvale. Instead, the driver apparently started by going into the center of the city, then phoning for help, which he did a lot. Then he asked rikshaw drivers as we waited at traffic signals. They gave us quick answers, but I think that might have been to get rid of us. The driver started calling our host, speaking quickly in Kannada, and I could only hope this stranger on the other end of the phone was talented enough to help our driver get closer to the address rather than further. Sometimes he stopped and got out to seek help. I felt helpless as the data connection on our phones wasn’t working, and I couldn’t help.

We snaked through Bangalore’s crazy Indian streets for about an hour, and finally through the window comes a smile from our hosts as we arrived. Walter flew out of the car and we settled in to seat in the beautiful living room, with backs sweaty from the seat without air flow.

Lunch was fantastic. It was a brief rest on our journey to my co-worker’s wedding, in another part of town about 20 minutes away. They have a nice courtyard with a fish pond that Walter enjoyed, and fed us very tasty food from the Goa area.

Before leaving, I rebooted my phone and the data started working, so I opened Google Maps and also the map of the wedding location. That map was clearly meant for the old style of navigation: it wasn’t to scale and mostly hinted at the major roads and where the landmarks are to find turns. I imagine that’s how the locals think about navigation, but I couldn’t find the same place on Google Maps. With some help from our hosts I stuck a star on the map, and that was my lifeline as we called Nagaraj back from his lunch and got back in the car.

Now I sat in front, and fired up the navigation app in Google Maps. Nagaraj was amazed and asked “this dot is my car?” I held the phone for him; when I said “it’s getting low on battery” he quickly grabbed his charging cable. The phone was now his lifeline to avoid getting lost and he moved extraordinarily quickly to make sure he didn’t lose it! We followed the directions, winding through dusty streets and narrow alleys, and amazingly we arrived at the wedding hall in only 20 minutes.

I felt a little bad as we drove back to Mysore the next day. Nagaraj asked how much this phone costs, and we told him about ₹26,000. That’s about 9 times the amount he was paid to drive us for two days (including petrol). I imagine that’s several months earnings for him, so on his next taxi job, he’ll probably have to resort to rikshaw driver navigation.

The Wedding**

We arrived at the wedding hall which was in a local convention center of sorts.  The security guy stopped us at the gate with a very concerned look on his which basically said, “what exactly are YOU doing here?”  We told him that we were here for the Karthik and Harshihta wedding and went inside.  Luckily, Harshihta’s father came out and told the security guard that we were indeed their for his daughter’s wedding.  He offered us some delicious coffee and showed us to our room.  The room was positively luxurious!  The beds were soft and there was AIR CONDITIONING!!  We all plopped down on the bed and just lay there watching Super Why with Walter on his iPad.

The wedding was to be in two different parts (well there were a couple more, but we were going to do the two main parts): the reception in the evening and then the puja the next day at 11:15 a.m. which was an auspicious time for the couple.  So after we finished resting, I took a shower and started to get ready.  I had used the wedding as a fantastic excuse to buy myself a sari.  One of my favorite things about India is seeing all the beautiful saris that the women wear.  The colors are fantastic and the dressy ones tend to have lots and lots of sparkles on them.  Harshihta’s sari was just beautiful, but must have weighed a lot with all the sparkles!  I bought a beautiful turquoise one with gold and sliver sparkles on it.  I even got bangles to match (5 for each arm as instructed by our rickshaw driver, Appu)!

However, I had no idea how to put it on.  So I asked around and one of the women across the hall from our room volunteered to help.  As we quickly discovered, I am actually too tall for a normal sari, but with some expert pinning she managed to make it work and it didn’t fall off (which was the important part!).  She also had to have it sit rather low on my hips so I was quite glad that my mid-section had several weeks of hard core yoga and a reduced diet due to the Indian heat!

Alex put Walter in his cute outfit and we made our way downstairs.  Karthik and Harshihta were on stage with many, many flowers and it looked like a line was forming to take pictures with them.  The line was already getting long so we decided that we should get in it sooner than later.  This gave me a chance to check out the rest of the women’s saris; checking out the clothes is always a favorite part of any event.  They did not disappoint!  The color were just so rich and the saris seems to be made most of a heavy silk.  The patterns on the silk were lovely also.  The colors just popped.  Each of the women also had matching bangles and several heavy gold necklaces on that complemented the sari.  I so enjoyed watching all those women (well in between chasing Walter around, toddlers do not stand in lines well!).  My sari seemed to be in a different style than the rest – it was not silk, made of a much lighter chiffon type material with more sparkles.  As on of the women who helped me get dressed told me, “next time you buy silk sari, you are lean, you wear silk, your sari is for when you get fat.”  So now I know what to do next time! However, I love my sari and intend to try to find times to wear it at home too.

Once we gave our congratulations to the bride and groom, we made our way out to the food.  Ohmygoodness!  There were many buffet tables set up with all sorts of delicious looking things on them.  So I stood in line while Alex followed Walter around and sampled as much as I could.  It was quite tasty.  For the last couple of weeks, Alex and I have been eating less because it is so darn hot that you just don’t feel like eating and our practices are much better the next day if you don’t stuff yourself the day before.  So at a buffet, our initial inclination was to taste everything and eat lots, but we just couldn’t quite manage it.  I wasn’t quite sure what to think.  We wondered around a bit and let Walter explore some more.  We found the kids corner where the little ones ran around being chased by their dads.  Alex ran into another co-worker of his and chatted with him.  By then, we were pretty tired from the day and it was long past our normal bedtime of 7:30 p.m. So we headed upstairs to collapse into our very soft beds (for those of your not experienced with India, the beds here seem to all have very thin mattresses that aren’t particularly soft for those used to pillow top American mattresses).

We woke up the next morning, got dressed and made our way downstairs with the intent of going out to look for some breakfast.  However, we had no idea where to go.  Walter wanted to go exploring more so we followed him right into the dining hall and saw that breakfast was being served.  We weren’t really sure though if the breakfast was just for the wedding party or what exactly.  I often find myself attempting to navigate social customs on this trip that I just don’t have any idea what the ground rules are so I do a combination of feeling out the situation and just plain asking.  So in the breakfast situation, I started looking for one of the ladies that had helped me with my sari.  I saw one and then as I was working up the courage to go ask, a man came by and said, “You go sit there.”  So we sat, grateful that we were going to get some breakfast without trying to go find it!  Oh and what a breakfast it was. 🙂  Dosas, tasty dipping sauces, something like a savory donut and sorts of other things that I can’t name.  Then afterwards there was the tasty coffee and chai too.  It is possible that I was slightly more caffeinated than normal that morning….After breakfast we went back upstairs, got re-dressed and re-saried and then went back downstairs to see the pujas start.  I have been to one Indian wedding in Houston before so I knew that during this part you were welcome to watch, but most people would mill around and talk.  So we did, we watched for a bit, chased Walter for a bit and then even convinced him to sit in a chair and watch (well Alex let him play with the camera, but only if he was in the chair on his bum).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we learned (from one of my sari ladies), that once this puja ended the married couples were to make their way onstage to put rice on the couple to bless them.  So we watched for people to line up and then got in line with Walter.  Just as we got to the stage, Walter scratched a blood blister on his face and started bleeding profusely.  I freaked out and then three of us ran upstairs to our room to get cotton balls to try and stop the bleeding.  There is something about lots of blood coming out my child that just sets me into freakout and must protect my baby mode.  After about a half an hour of fighting with Walter to keep the cotton ball on his face to be able to apply pressure, it stopped bleeding.  We successfully applied a band-aid (Walter currently loves stickers so Alex told him it was a “special sticker” to go on his face and he actually left it alone – amazing dad skills!).  By this time, we were hungry for lunch and I was just wiped out emotionally.  We made out way downstairs and lunch was in full swing.  We sat back to watch and realized that people seemed to be eating in shifts.  So Alex went off to try and locate our taxi driver (we decided that after lunch it was time to go home, we were wiped) and I staked out a spot near what looked like the beginning of the tables to do the shift change.  Walter was exhausted from his bleeding ordeal and went to sleep while I held him.

Once one of the chairs opened up near me, I sat down with Walter and just waited and watched.  Once the table, where I was seated, was done, the server came along and rolled up the butcher paper, banana leaves and food remains into a neat ball.  Then the next person came by and laid down clean butcher paper, followed by clean banana leaves and a cup of water.  You are supposed to take the water and use your hands to sprinkle it on the banana leaves, clean it with your hands and then shake the banana leaf to remove the water.  Then the food procession began.  Each server had a steel bucket and put a dollop of something on our banana leaf.  At some point, I got hungry and started eating, but the food keep coming.  We weren’t quite sure when it would stop, but it was fascinating to see what would come next.  Alex chatted with the ladies next to us about the food and we ate until we were quite full.  Then we paid our respects to the bride and groom and found our taxi driver to take us home!  I have to say, I was quite glad to see Mysore again.  Mysore is still overwhelming at times, but Bangalore was even more overwhelming!

*by my wonderful husband, Alex.
** back to me doing the writing!

Ode to Stick and Third Gear

I drive stick.  It makes me feel all badass I am woman hear me roar.  Yes, it makes me feel this way even in my jetta sportwagen which is actually just a station wagon. There is just something about being able to control the gear that you are in when you are driving.  Granted, most of the time I just coast and don’t think about it much, but sometimes when you need that extra boost of power to get me going I love to be able to shift down into third gear.  I just love third gear.  It is most definitely my favorite gear.  It is fantastic for acceleration onto the highway, city streets or just random driving around.  In the days when I was driving our BMW convertible (oh the pre-baby days of yore!), one of my favorite parts of driving was to put the car in third and drive around the clover leaf onto the freeway as fast as possible hugging that curve all the way.  Or to head down south to Route 1 and put it in third and drive fast along the curves of Route 1 while the Pacific Ocean winked in and out of sight on my right.  Then get stuck behind a slow car, wait for the straight away, downshift and pass.

Oddly enough I was never one of those people that was really into cars.  I didn’t even drive stick until after I graduated from law school.  I kinda fell into it one evening when was out with friends and I was the only one sober enough to drive us home.  My friend’s car was stick, so I got to learn to drive stick from a car ful of drunk people.  That was an interesting night.  However, after that my friend became my roommate and was kind enough to let me drive her car, cause I was carless, from time to time.  Then Alex and I started dating and he had our first BMW convertible which was also stick.  Then I had to drive a long way to the courthouse in Maryland which cause me to get even better at driving stick.  Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with driving stick and now I really enjoy it.  Alex and I had to sell the convertible when Walter was born and trade it in for the more family friendly sportwagen.  However, we keep telling ourselves that when the last kid leaves for college we are hopping on a plane to Germany to by a brand BMW convertible (they do something called “European Delivery” where you pick the car up in Germany and you get to avoid US import taxes as long as you drive it around Europe a bit.  Oh twist my arm!) and bring it home with us.  I have visions of us being back to fun driving again!

Playfulness

I am feeling quite serious and responsible lately.  Granted, I have always been serious and having Walter seems to have made me even more serious about life in general.  However, I feel like things have reached new heights of responsibility and just general heaviness lately.  It started last year I think.  I won a financial planning session from Las Madres (my local playgroup) at their annual luncheon.  I was super psyched. I greatly enjoy making sure that all our money is in the correct pot and that the future is as planned for as possible.  I had wanted to do a financial plan for a bit, but with Walter and life, it just never quite made it to the top of my to do list.  But now, I had the perfect reason to do it and for free too!  By the way, if you need any financial assistance Mike at Co-Pilot Financial kinda rocks.  So we started in on the process, and let me tell you it is an interesting process of pulling all the parts of your financial life together and figuring out just exactly how much you are spending a month (printing 6 months of credit card bills is a lot!).  It turns out we spend a lot more a month than I would have ever guessed and despite the evidence being there in black and white on our credit card bills, I still feel that where it all goes is amorphous.  So we did some more figuring on what our financial goals were for the future and all that good stuff.

Continue reading Playfulness

Traveling with a Toddler

I am either brave or stupid, but we seem to do a lot of traveling with Walter.  I suspect it stems out of grandparents in Virginia (or Montana) and Texas with Aunts and Uncles in Southern Cal and Pennslyvannia.  Walter took his first cross country trip at 6 weeks (looking back this is the easiest time to travel with a little one!) and we have been steadily traveling with him ever since.  The most recent trip was our first big road trip with him to Montana (visit the in-laws) and Colorado (my mom’s family reunion).  We are gearing up for a trip back to Texas at the beginning of November before we begin the holiday travel too.  So I thought this was the perfect time to review my best practices when traveling with a toddler.  Here we go….

Continue reading Traveling with a Toddler

Form Contracts – How I hate them

I realize this has absolutely nothing to do with my blog theme, but I need to rant and this seems like a good place to do it.  I am practically shaking as I write this.  I worked in politics for a long time and am so jaded and frustrated with things that it is hard to piss me off, but somehow this did it.  My Grandpa Read would be so proud.

You know those contracts that you have to sign all the time?  The ones that accompany your car rental or your health insurance or the rafting trip you are about to take?  Those make me twitch.  I went to law school and I took my first year of contracts and it is all about how the consumer gets royally screwed over when the form contract he/she has signed goes horribly wrong.  As a young idealist, this stuck with me and I vowed to read all those form contracts in my life to at least know when I was getting screwed and possibly, if I had the guts to flout convention, cross certain parts out and write in my own terms.  I have kept this vow (with the exception of house buying paperwork signing extravaganza which was just impossible to read everything) mostly since then.  Rarely have I had the gumption to actually cross anything out, but sometimes I do.

Alex and I are in the process of buying life insurance at the suggestion of our financial advisor (who rocks by the way, if you need one please let me know!) and it has been an icky process.  The agents are pushy and downright obnoxious and one of them called me several times a day until I told him to knock it off.  We made it through the process of finding the best rate and getting an exam done and I began to fill out the paperwork….oh dear, my lawyer sense got all tingly and I became very anxious.  It was a mess and I could feel my indignation boiling up inside of me.  So I started crossing things out.  I decided to just do the one thing that really made my blood boil, the releases to give them access to my medical records for the next 2-2 ½ years.  Why the fuck do they need access to my medical records for the next 2 ½ years?  They are going to decide in the next month or so whether I am fit to give life insurance to and then do it.  Why the extra time?  So I thought about it and decided that a more than generous amount of time to give them access to my medical records was 6 months.  I felt quite pleased with myself and started going through and crossing things out and writing in “6 months.”  Then into the envelope the paperwork went and I sent them back to the agent.

Fast forward to this afternoon. I get a call from a woman who wanders if I want to proceed with my life insurance application.  I tell her I do and she asks why I have not responded to her e-mail.  We go back and forth over whether or not she has the correct address and then I ask what the problem is.  She informs me that some of my paperwork had been redacted and she needed me to sign fresh copies.  I told her that I had done on purpose and I didn’t want to sign fresh copies.  We went back and forth over that for a bit and she finally said she would have my agent call me.

I just got off the phone with my agent, who could learn some skills in dealing with a pissed off lawyer, who yells at me for awhile telling me that they aren’t going to change the contract just for one person and that ALL the contracts are this way, but refuses to tell me why in the world they need that clause.  She tells me to talk to my financial advisor and he will tell me this is standard (did she miss the part where I told her I don’t want them to have access to my medical records for the next 2 ½ years??)  I ask her to speak with someone who has the authorization to change the contract and she finally says she will do some research and call me back.  I thank her, as politely as possible, and hang up.

So here is the thing that gets to me….In all those cases I read so long ago, the consumer signs the contract and then something goes wrong and the corporate entity tends to get some sort of huge windfall and the consumer just gets screwed.  The court sides with the corporation almost every time saying that the consumer has the right to negotiate the contract and if they don’t, tough toots.  Ok, so I listened to you court, I try to negotiate my contract, and am not doing particularly well at it, even with a small item.  So what happens if I give in, buy the life insurance and then something goes horribly wrong.  Is some court going to tell Alex and Walter that I had the ability to negotiate and so I am stuck with whatever unjust outcome occurs?