I'm the other mother - or Momma Deb. Our family is pretty much like every other family in suburbia. The girls go to school, one mom is on the PTA boards of elementary and middle school. The other mom goes to work, paints, writes, and tries to just have a good time raising kids with her partner. This is my third attempt at blogging...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Doctor's Orders (Before and After)

On Thursday we took Katie back to UCSF for her knee injections.

(Side note - I've been writing "corticosteroid" injections because that's what the doc calls them, and others have said "cortisone" injections. Confused, I asked the doctor if they are the same thing - they are! That's good, cuz it's I like spelling smaller words...)

First thing they do is put a numbing cream on her knees and let is sit for 20 minutes. Then both of her doctors come in - Dr. Curran, a fellow in pediatric rheumatology and Dr. Milojevic, the attending. They prep Katie, telling her just what is going to happen, so there are no surprises. Katie hardly flinched - only when they first poked her. They had to move the needle around a bit to get the medicine well into the joints. After it was all over she said,

"It didn't hurt."

The doctors were amazed at her calmness. Well, for a kid that had a displaced fracture in her arm two years ago, this was nothing for her. She has a high pain tolerance. When she had to have surgery to pin her bones back together, she never took any pain medicine in recovery, because she said it "doesn't hurt."


Our expectations were that, after the injections, we would visit the Conservatory of Flowers at Golden Gate Park, since on our previous Monday visit it was closed. However, after the injections the doc says, "Katie, we don't want you to do much walking. We want the medicine to stay in the joint where we just put it, not leak out. That way it is most effective. So, veg out in front of the TV or something."

Poof!! There went our plans to wander the Conservatory that day.

Of course, Katie was pleased with Doctor's Orders, as this meant her sister would do her bidding - to a degree. Heh.

She still has to take twice daily doses of Naprosyn. But, the kid will not swallow a pill. Her little sister can take any kind of pill - and loves to rub that fact in with her big sister. No, Katie has to gag every time. So her Naprosyn comes in liquid form, and it gets flavored. We are encouraging her to practice pill-taking with Tic-Tacs. Lately she has not liked the liquid medicine so much, so she is getting a bit more motivated to take pills instead. It's only a matter of time...

Here's what her knees looked like before the injections, and after:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


It was about 9:30am as we made our way into the city across the Bay Bridge. We couldn't even see the city at first, due to the fog. As we passed Treasure Island, the city's buildings were finally visible – well most of the buildings were visible. The tippy-tops of the taller ones were obscured by the thick clouds which enveloped most of the western end of the city. We thought, "Oh great. It's going to be damp cold in the city today."

As quick as a shiver passes, we approached our exit into the city at Fell Street – and the sun
shown brightly and it seemed as if we had been transported into a wholly different place and time!

Ah, micro-climes, gotta love 'em!

So, we drove through Golden Gate Park to take a meandering route to the medical building, scoping out what we wanted to do after seeing the doctor. We decided it would be nice to wander the botanical gardens later on.

Our appointment was for 11am – the doctor didn't show until 11:45, and then rushed through the exam. (This was the attending rheumatoid pediatric physician; we saw the attending for immunological disease last time.) At the end of the exam, she said that Katie needed the corticosteroid injections, but that she couldn't do them as she had other patients booked and backed up. I was not amused – since this means we need to make another trip BACK to SF for the

On a positive note, she said the prognosis for Katie's RA condition is good. It could go away eventually – her Moms can only hope. Again the doctor expressed the most concern
regarding the uveitis link – that's where our vigilance is required. The one concern she expressed was that the arthritis usually presents much earlier in children - but that it is not unheard of to present at 12 years old.

So, that's where we're at right now.

We spent the rest of the day milling through the botanical gardens, taking pictures, watching turtles and birds, and watching hawks. The weather was perfect! And better than on any weekend when there are far too many people.

Next time we hope to go to the flower conservatory where they have a beautiful butterfly exhibit (yes live butterflies!) we want to see.

(Megs is in front of Katie)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring Break in SF

This year the family Spring Break excursion will be limited to the Bay Area. Generally, we like to go somewhere new for fun, kick up our heals, and have a few laughs.

Instead, on Monday we will be taking our 12 year old, Katie, to UCSF Medical Center for her first check-in since late January after being diagnosed with a form of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Specifically, her type is called Pauciarticular (paw-see-articular), which is the name given when it affect 4 or fewer joints. It is treatable and could "go away" in time. A mother can only hope.

She has been taking twice a day doses of Naprosyn. But, the swelling in one of her knees has not decreased much. They will probably be giving her corticosteroid injection.

The catch is that children with this form of arthritis are at the highest risk for
getting a chronic eye inflammation called uveitis (u-vee-eye-tis). So, in addition to seeing the pediatric rheumatolgist, Katie needs to be seen by an ophthalmologist every 3-4 months to catch any sign of it early on. It can be treated early, and if it isn't the disease could lead to blindness. After 3 yrs if there is no sign of the disease, then she can be seen every 6 mos until she's 21 yrs old.

This was a lot for us all to take in.

Subsequent blood tests determined that she doesn't have some of the more serious forms of the disease. That was a relief.
It scary stuff in a way - kids used to be crippled by RA - but the doctors explained that that is rarely the case today. And in Katie's case, she has a very treatable form of the condition that she may grow out of completely.
We'll just have to wait and see.

On the positive side - once the her knees are normal again, she can resume the running that she loves so much in PE! No limitations there at all. I am so grateful that we have access to a wonderful Medical Center.

When we're done at the hospital, it time to have fun! We may drive down the coast, or maybe go to Ocean Beach and build some sand sculptures. Or, maybe we'll go for a horseback ride on the beach.

The weather is supposed to be wonderful.

Friday, March 21, 2008


A few posts back I mentioned that the look of this blog would be changing. The first change is the name (although not the web address). I liked The Reluctant Blogger more than Techie American Girl (aka The Reluctant Blogger).

It's Shorter.

It's Catchier.

It pretty much says where my head has been at for the last six months.

Now, I'm off in search of a newer, lovelier template. Please - If you know of templates that play nice with Blogger, pu-leeeeese let me know.

I'm looking for something that I can manipulate elements on both the left and the right, as well as make the text area a little wider - easily. I could go into the code, but I'd rather not. That's too much like work.

That's when I start getting very reluctant...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thanks for the Germies

It's all her fault.

Megan came home from school last Thursday with a cold. Her left nostril and eye had the faucet turned on full-blast. The poor kid couldn't be more than a few paces away from a box of tissues. But, she was a trooper. Didn't moan or groan. No complaints, although her eye was as red as a summer tomato. Didn't complain as she grabbed tissues to stuff in her pocket when we went out to get her some new shoes.

Those germies came to roost in my nose. In my eye. I have Big Sneezes. I need a containment facility for the germs.

Now Katie's got it, too. Those germies? They're growing wildly in Katie's nose and her eyes.

Megan feels just fine today. I'm so happy for her!

Now I'm worried that we'll spread those little germies to some new friends. We've been invited to the home of the parents of Katie's
classmate, Mitchell. Kandy knows them through PTA, and says they are very nice people. They've never met me. Nothing like a good first impression, eh?

I am afraid that as soon as I walk in their door I'll sneeze a doozy, and they will never forgive us for darkening their doorway.

I wonder when the contagiousness goes away?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Little Girl and Her Dad

I was the youngest kid of my Mom & Dad's brood. Sort of an after-thought - or that's how they often put it. Think accident. My place in the birth order is one of serendipity and lack of birth control in the early fifties.

My Dad was a Captain in the Air Force when I was born. I was born in San Francisco at a hospital that was torn down recently - Letterman Army Medical Center - in the Presidio. By the time I was ten years old, he had retired from the Air Force as a Colonel.

Then the fun started.

He searched high and low and found a Ryan PT-22 for sale. It looked a little like this:

Instead of the military colors, he painted it white with red sun-burst striping on the top and bottom of the wings. It was a pretty thing. Notice the pilot sitting in the rear seat?

Guess where I sat?

You betcha! In the front cockpit - with leather helmet and goggles. My parachute seat-pack served as padding for my fanny. Every time we went up he said to me,

"Debbie. If we have any problems you have to jump. See this big handle? You pull real hard as soon as you're clear of the airplane.

"Got it?"

He was so stern, what else could I say?

"Sure Dad. Got it!"

And then we'd taxi out onto the run-way. This was always the scariest part for me. Revving up the engine, then starting out going faster and faster. I could see the pavement speeding by on each side of the cockpit. The Douglas Firs were a green blur. And then, finally, we lifted off the runway, clear and smooth as could be.

Mt. Rainier was to our right in all her majesty. We'd usually go up about 2000 feet and cruise around a while. Then Dad would jiggle the stick (there is no steering wheel in these old planes). It was his way of asking me if I was ready.

I jiggled the stick back at him in return.

The next thing I knew we were climbing straight up. UP - vertically until just when I thought the engine might quit he'd roll the plane over and then we'd come down the other side of the loop, curving downward but then coming back up again.

It was beyond exhilarating.

It was my DAD.

It was ME.

It was beautiful.

We'd do eight point rolls, and smooth rolls, and loops. We'd bank and roll and just have good times.

I have vivid memories of hanging upside down in my seat and seat-belt and seeing Mt. Rainier - upside down.

How many people can say that?

I miss my Ol' Dad. I really do.

He died two years ago today, eight days after his 84th birthday.

I Rock, You Rock, We All Rock!

We gave Guitar Hero II to the girls for Christmas last year. Ever since then they have been fighting us to play the game. We're bigger than them. Guess who wins? They often accuse us of really getting the game so that the Parental Units (that's us) can play old rocker tunes. Van Halen, Motley Crue, Kiss... you know, good rock.

I can't help it if we are Rockers In Our Own Minds.

We don't have no stinkin' wide-screen TV screen. Nope. Just a dinky 20" screen. But you know what? It is still Lots 'o Fun.

We have battles to see who can out-whammy, out-last, and kick royal booty.

We are The Queen Rockers. We kick them princesses crying to their bedrooms. No prisoners.

I can whammy with the best of 'em, I tell ya.

Kandy went out and bought a couple of wireless guitars for the game. With flames. Yeah - Makes all the difference. We live for those FIVE golden stars.

Rockin' Dude!

Chores and Motivations

The girls have two working parents this year. Until last year it was just me bringing home the bacon. But then Kandy decided she needed to work and bring in a little extra spending money. So she took a job as a "Crossing Guard" at a local elementary school. It just so happens that it isn't the same schools where the girls attend, but another one on the other side of the main drag not far from here. It's about half a mile from here.

She absolutely loves her job. She gets paid for 6 hours of works and works only 4 hours. She explained that that was the way they do it, because she ends up not working a full 3rd hour in the morning and the afternoon. It's a good job for her because she can still go over to the girls' schools (Katie is in middle school and Megs is still in elementary), if need be, and volunteer in classes during core school hours.

Then, she took another part-time job for the school district as Lunch Lady at yet another elementary school. So now she zips over to that school during the lunch hour and serves those yummy meals to the rugrats over there. She still volunteers in classes, but not so much now. And, she usually misses field trips, unless she takes a day off.

At home, the house has been suffering. It - the mess - has been kinda piling up
on us. I like a neat and tidy house. Cat puke and mold are not acceptable. Okay, there's no mold, but occasionally the cat hawks up a bad one. Not to mention the dust and fur mullets that scatter across the floors. So today we had a little pow-wow - Kandy and I, that is. The girls have really not been given consistent responsibilities outside of their rooms and the bathroom. But, they're old enough to take on a lot more responsibility.


And today they're going to learn what that will be. Once we figure that out, and how to manage it, I mean. Mostly I don't want to set down an edict with no motivation for them to complete their tasks. That's a good recipe for a nagging mom. I hate nagging. Although, if underlying all of this is an edict - this is something they will need to do whether there is allowance or privileges in the mix, or not.

Motivation. Hmmmm....

Still thinking about that one.

In the meantime, here's a picture of Meg taking out the trash. The sheer look of desperation and disgust is priceless.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Introduction to the Reluctant Blogger

Here it is. The New Blog.

Wow. I can't believe it.

This one is called Techie American Girl. Oh, you knew that? Oh, yeah. Of course you did. But. You might ask, "Why?" Or maybe not. I'll tell you anyway.

It seems that my only core competence and claim to fame is that I've worked with computers since you could walk inside of them. That's a fair amount of time. I'm old. Well, I'm getting there - all too quickly, I might add.

I am a conservative liberal lesbian who works at a nuclear test site, and everything around me glows.

Okay, that's a lie. Not everything glows.

This is my third blog. I am not going to tell you where my other ones are. It would give too much away. Those of you who already know me, well, you know me and there's nothing I can do about that. Sorry. I do hope you'll enjoy coming here and blowing off steam. I tend to be a-political until I get something in my craw, and then all bets are off.

Oh. You want to know more about me? Let's see. I have a partner. We have known each other since 1975. I know, that is so long ago I'm sure it pre-dates some of your birthdays. Tough. We lived through some marvelous decades. The sixties and seventies were awesome. I miss those times immensely.

Let's see? What else? Oh yeah, my partner and I have been together since 1993, we've had two children together by a "known" donor. (I still haven't figured out what that means or how to refer to him in polite conversations.) They are sisters who are twelve and ten years old. I haven't decided if I want to give my family pseudonyms or their real names. So, for now, pronouns will just have to suffice. HINT: Anyone who has read my other blog(s) already knows everyone's names.

It's actually more work for me not to name them here, so we'll see how this goes.

Slightly interesting note - my brother and niece have been clamoring for me to start a new blog. I really don't want to keep this one politically or family correct, so they're just not in on this little secret. Neener-neener!

Okay, more business - the look of this blog will most definitely be changing. It sucks right now. Big time. It may suck more later, but I hope not.

If you know of any good blogging templates out there that work good with blogger, please let me know! I'm trolling the Internet...

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you'll come back again Real Soon Now. (RSN)