Monday, July 31, 2006

To dream the impossible dream

Know, I'm refering to Richard Kiley in "The Man of La Mancha". Part of the Ultrametabolism plan involves getting eight hours of sleep a night. I would LOVE to get that much sleep. However, two things get in my way.

First, my chronic back pain often makes it difficult to get eight hours of restful sleep. I usually get up at least once during the night to change positions and, while I'm awake, I usually need to visit the bathroom.

The second thing is totally my own fault. I have a hard time dragging myself off to bed by 9 p.m. Since I get up at 5 a.m., that is when I need to go to bed to get the mythical eight hours of sleep. However, there's always just one more thing that I want to do before turning in. Tonight, I remembered that I needed to soak my foot in Epsom salts for twenty minutes (I have an infected hangnail). Then, I decided that I could take care of a few other little tasks at my desk while I soaked.

So, I'm going to be at least 30 minutes in the hole for the night, again.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Blogger's Paranoia

Some of you may have noticed that I've stopped using my name in my blog handle. Also, I'm referring to people I know by initials. (I plan to go back and edit older posts to swap initials for names historically as well.)

I am doing this for two reasons. One: I do not want anyone from my new job to be able to easily link my blog persona to the real me. And two: I do not want anyone to be able to pick up identifying information about my friends, my family, or myself, that could lead to real-world trouble (identity theft, stalking, or the next horrible thing).

Most people who read this blog know who writes this drivel. Those who don't know me personally, I will gladly divulge personal information to over time, as we build a virtual relationship.

It's sad that we live in a world where we have to worry about this kind of nonsense.

One cool thing to note. I decided to search for my full real name, and then just my last name, using blog search engines and google. My full real name appears on a few web sites maintained by others (who don't post to this blog or link to it directly from my real name). Also, when I searched my real last name, I couldn't find a thing about myself or my immediate family easily since there were hundreds and hundreds of pages linked to a distant relative of my husband. This person has had way too many children, and everyone loves to talk about it. If you are curious, drop me a line and I'll send you the info. Doing so here would give away my last name, no? :)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

I must be a prude

As I was leaving the gym locker room this afternoon, I noticed a woman adjusting her bra in the mirror. I didn't think anything of it until she passed me in the lobby and went outside wearing just the 'bra' and running shorts.

What's the difference between a bra that you wear under your clothes and a garment that you can wear in public as clothing? Here is what led me to believe that this woman's breast-covering attire was of the 'under your clothes' variety:

  1. The garment was white
  2. The garment had FLIMSY adjustable straps
  3. The front of the garment accentuated cup like shapes (unlike most sports bras which are typically one seamless piece of knit fabric across (and severely confinging) the breast area.

The only things that convinced me that the garment MIGHT have been intended as actual, publically wearable, clothing was that there was no rear or front hooking closure. That and the fact that the fabric was heavy enough in the front that you could not make out the outline of her areolas. Though, oddly enough, you could see the garment's tag through the fabric of the back of the item.

Admittedly, many women wear such items out in public all the time. Some wear even less substantial bikini tops. Even if I had the body for it, I could not imagine wearing something so revealing.

Later in the afternoon, I was in a department store and thought I would see if there were any sales in the women's clothing department that appealed to me. I have noticed a trend in women's fashions towards diaphanous fabrics and extremely short skirts. Again, I cannot imagine even in my wildest fancies EVER going out in public in such attire.

A few years ago, I bought a lovely red sweater which had a mingled pattern of opaque and slightly diaphanous material. I've worn it once. When we were going someplace that I knew would be dimly lit, and I had on a bra that was close in color to the fabric.

See. Prude!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Beginnings and endings

I have survived the first week at my new job. I am exhausted. I still feel like I have to prove myself. My boss wants me to do a ton of reading. Plus, I've been offering to jump in on a few of my office mate's projects since he's relatively new to the Unix/Linux world.

Midway through the week, I got word that my immediate supervisor at my last company had also resigned. His resignation made the sixth in a two week period, with mine being the first. I was very happy for him and very sad for those who remain.

I really need this weekend. It won't be as restful as I would like, but with good reason. My son is coming home tomorrow, after being away for four weeks with his grandparents. I know he had a great time, because we spoke to him nearly every evening. It's going to be tough for all three of us to get back into our old routines together.

I am glad that he was away while I worked through my job transition. But, it'll be good to have him around again. While it seems so cliche, they grow up so fast!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Smooth, if tiring, first day

My first day at my new job went pretty well. From here on out I will refer to it as the Center. I spent a good chunk of the day doing 'on boarding' bureaucratic stuff. I've got some more of that to do tomorrow, and a big dog and pony orientation one morning next week.

My boss, M, introduced me around to a lot of nice folks. I'll be sharing an office with a nice guy whose skills complement mine pretty well. I just need to convince him that florescent lights are bad. We have a big lovely window as a light source. If he can't be convinced, I can always disconnect the bulbs over my desk like I did at my last job. (grin)

After talking with M, I feel confident that I can handle what's expected of me. It really does sound like my experience and the role I now have will be a good fit. Still quite a challenge, but not an insurmountable one.

Our group went out to lunch. We invited along someone I knew from years ago who happens to be working at the new place. It was very odd. I heard he was working there. Then, I spied him across the way while I was doing some of my HR stuff. And then, he showed up in my group area to say 'hi'. Turns out, our old boss, C, called him and told him I would be starting today and that he should look me up. Wild.

I also know someone else in our division. I interviewed D for a position at my last company last summer. He is also friends with someone who is still there.

Then, someone else who knows C asked to meet me, because C mentioned to her that one of 'his people' would be starting at the new place today. She's been at the Center for over a decade. She met C when he worked there too back in the 90s. Her office is ten feet from mine.

So, small world, no?

The Cat Show

On Saturday, we decided to check out a cat show. Yes. A CAT SHOW. I'm sure many of you invision a dog show with the parading and posing and prodding by judges, and then try to imagine a cat putting up with any of that. Kindly get up off the floor and read on.

We were not sure what to expect either. We knew that there was no way that a cat show could be like a dog show. Hence our interest.

The exhibit hall was a sea of cages arranged on long rows of tables. Cats of like breeds were usually in the same area. At the edges of the hall, and out in an adjoining area, were 'rings'. These were "U" shaped areas of cages on tables with a show table in the center. Spectator chairs were arranged in front of the show table.

There were three distinct competition classes: kittens, unaltered adults, and altered adults. In each class, cats competed in breed groups (usually two or three similar breeds per group). Each group competition consisted of approximately six to twelve cats.

The judge would go to a cage and bring the next cat to the show table. He/she would examine the cats features and compare it to breed standards. Usually the judge would encourage the cat to look one way or another, or to stretch up on a scratching post situated at each show table, by taunting it playfully with a kitty toy of some sort. Then the judge would return the cat to its cage, and perhaps get it to play with the toy again to get a different view of it where it might be less apprehensive (away from the open show table so close to so many strangers). At this point the judge would then go to a ribbon box and pick out the appropriate grading ribbons. After looking at all cats of the same breed, within the group, he/she will award competitive standing ribbons (1st, 2nd, etc.). Once the entire group was examined, the judge would award a best in group ribbon.

It was fascinating to watch these cats put up with having strangers handle them and to see how relaxed most of them were with the crowds and numerous other cats. Our cats would never put up with such nonsense.

One of the judges wore long dangling earrings. I'm not sure if she did this on purpose, but one cat that she examined thought they were fascinating. The crowd laughed quite boisterously when the cat batted at her earrings instead of the toy she was taunting it with.

Another judge used a stick with some shiny ribbons on the end of it to get a cat's attention. He then put the shiny end in his shirt pocket so he could examine the cat without the distraction of the toy. The cat put its feet on the judge's chest and tried to get at the toy in his shirt pocket. The judge commented about how smart the cat was. He later awarded that cat the best in group award. Go figure.

We spoke to one participant who had two cats in her cat carrier. One was lounging about like a pampered king. The other was darting suspicious glances at the crowd as the passed. The owner said that the suspicious one wasn't there to be shown. He was there to keep his 'buddy' company. Apparently, the suspicious one would have nothing to do with the multiple strangers handling him, and he really disliked strange cats. See, a normal cat can go to a cat show. Just don't expect him to participate. :)

All in all, we really enjoyed the cat show. If you like cats it certainly is a way to see them in a different light. Many of the participants offered breeding services, and some even had kittens for sale. I can't imagine how much a show kitten would cost. If you like cats, and have never been to a cat show, go for it. If nothing else, you can buy your furry friends some really neat cat toys. We did. Caboose loved his souvenir!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Clerks 2: The Passion of the Clerks

I've been hearing a lot over the last few years that fewer people are going out to the movies. If that is the case, I'd hate to see our local Cinemagic Theater in a booming movie-viewing market on a Friday night. The normally cavernous lobby was literally wall-to-wall people last night. Maybe they're doing so well because of the stadium seating, and easy location right off a highway exit. Or, maybe the movie theater owners are conspiring with the news media people to make us all feel sorry for them and get our lazy butts off our couches and into their $8.50 a pop seats. Probably not, on the later. But this is a blog, so it doesn't hurt to have a conspiracy theory.

Last night, we braved the crowds for the 7p.m. show of "Clerks 2". We are huge fans of director Kevin Smith, also known on screen as Silent Bob. The viewing theater was less than a third full, but everyone there was like us in their appreciation of Kevin Smith. Meanwhile, "Lady in the Water" was sold out (we'll be seeing that on Sunday).

"Clerks 2" is not just a rehashing of "Clerks". It's ten years later and the main characters from the original film, Dante and Randall, are still working their minimum wage retail jobs at the convenience store(s). As the film opens, Dante arrives at the store and opens the metal shutters to discover that the store is engulfed in flames. Dante and Randall, attached at the hip, find new jobs at Mooby's, the mock chain fast-food joint in Smith's flicks. We begin to have hope that Dante is about to turn his loser life around when we find out that he's gotten engaged to a hot rich chick and is moving with her to Florida where he'll be managing one of her father's car washes. What is poor Randall to do without Dante to balance his ascerbic view of life?

Well, like the first "Clerks", there are two women in Dante's life, and he is again about to change his life for the wrong one. Also, like the first flick, there are lots of people for Randall to insult, including their fellow Mooby's inmate, born-again Xtian Elias. Elias actually turns into a very sympathetic, if wholy silly, character by the end. And, this wouldn't be a Smith film if a few well known actor friends of his didn't show up, even if briefly (say 'hi' to Ben Affleck and Jason Lee).

Jay and Silent Bob are still drug dealers, but they've been through rehab and found Jesus. Really!!! And, we are treated to a few disturbing images of Jay's anatomy and semi-erotic behavior. While Silent Bob, as usual, barely speaks, Kevin Smith's physical acting is fantastic. He says more with his expressions than Jay says with his incessant mouth. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy Jason Mewes as Jay. But, I've seen him just being Jason Mewes, and Jay isn't a real acting reach for him. (grin)

Overall, if you enjoy Kevin Smith's films, you will LOVE "Clerks 2". If you haven't seen the first one, you won't get the second one on the same level, and you'll probably find it a mediocre movie. The themes of friendship, love, and finding out who you really want to be are well executed, without being at all preachy. Everyone in our viewing theater had a blast. There was a lot of out loud laughing and spontaneous clapping. At the end the entire audience clapped boisterously. How often do you get that in a movie?

Oh, the alluded to subtitle "The Passion of the Clerks"? It was a working subtitle. I'm glad Smith didn't use it in his marketing campaigns for the film. However, I love it just the same. Very appropriate!

Update: See the trailer!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Back update, and the end of relaxation

The trigger point injections yesterday went well. I was EXTREMELY nervous about them, but I expected to be. They weren't too uncomfortable, and the process was over rather quickly. Dr Pho wants me to come back for a second series in two weeks. I want to as well, but I have to see how the bureaucracy of getting my new insurance set up plays out. He said to call as soon as I have it worked out.

During the meanwhile, I have been arguing with one of my old health benefit providers about some reimbursement issues. This has had a very negative impact on my recently acquired serenity. It took me three calls to them to find out that the reimbursement account credit card gets deactivated upon employment termination, even if you are transitioning to COBRA. They'll still process claim forms for you, but they deactivate the credit card. My Human Resources Director at my old job said that this sounds wrong. So, she is finally taking up the task of discussing the issue with them. Since four other people have left the company since my resignation, the issue is totally germane.

On Wednesday, I had lunch with some folks who are still with my old company. Nothing has changed. I didn't think it would. Part of the reason I wanted out is that I knew things would NEVER change, until the company gets bought by someone else or goes under completely. In any event, the stories they filled me in on just got me all fired up again. They laughed and reminded me that I shouldn't let it get to me, since it was all no longer my problem. While true, the issues there still irk me on a lot of levels.

So, today is my last week day of 'relaxation'. I start my new job on Monday. I have a few more items that I want to take care of today. Many are professional development items. Some are personal items (like getting my car's oil changed).

I didn't get as much professional development reading done as I would have liked. I really feel like I am not fully prepared for everything that I'll be responsible for at my new job. My fear is that they'll realize that they made a mistake and ask me to leave. I know its silly. It's a fear that I've had upon starting every job I've ever had. This is just the most challenging and exciting role I've ever taken on. I don't want to blow it, for both professional and financial reasons.

Just remember to breath. *sigh*

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The back pain remains

So, after dropping 45 pounds, I had hoped that I would experience some diminishment in my chronic back pain. Unfortunately, there has been absolutely NO improvement on that front.

Due to the change in jobs and health insurance, I decided to go see a different pain-management doctor, Dr Pho. He's with my current health plan, and will be with my new one when that kicks in at the end of the month. My former pain-management physician (an actual physiatrist) will not be on my new insurance.

Dr Pho suggested that I give trigger point injections a try. I've had cortisone shots before. I had one in my foot for a heel spur. I was supposed to have one in the other foot as well. However, I threatened the podiatrist with physical harm if he attempted to get near my other foot after what the first shot felt like. The physiatrist gave me cortisone shots in my hips to see if they would alleviate the referential pain I experience there as a result of my back issues. The shots improved things for a couple of weeks, but not so much so that I thought it would be worth doing them on a regular basis.

Dr Pho is actually going to inject my lower back in several places. And yes, I decided that I was game for another attempt. I figured this week was a good time to give it a try, since I don't need to be anywhere. And, who knows, maybe it'll help. Or maybe it'll help for a short time. It'd be nice to have several weeks of relief from that pain while I adjust to my new job.

I'll let everyone know how it turns out.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Side effect of detox diet

I have allergies. They don't bother me all the time. Some days are worse than others. However, this last week, I've been noticing that my eyes were becoming itchy later in the day, and I was sneezing more often than usual. Then, Saturday evening, I got really congested. It seemed more than just an allergic reaction. I felt like I was coming down with a cold.

Since being on the detox diet I have been avoiding any OTC meds unless they were really necessary (some Ibuprofen for my back pain, now and then). But, the congestion was bad enough Saturday night that I took some allergy meds before I went to bed, just in case it really was a bad allergic reaction.

I woke up Sunday morning to a relatively clear head, feeling quite well. I did some research, and detoxifying your system can definitely lead to allergic reactions as toxins leech from your tissues into your blood stream. Wow. Weird.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

So this is relaxation

I have been on virtual vacation for just over a week now. In the course of this week I have:

  1. Changed my diet, and lost five pounds.
  2. Bought jeans that fit my improved form.
  3. Bought a present for my hair stylist for her upcoming nuptuals.
  4. Got my hair cut.
  5. Spontaneously visited a friend, and chatted with her for nearly two hours.
  6. Filed a year's worth of mail and paperwork that was cluttering up my dining room and office.
  7. Filled out a lengthy set of forms related to my new job.
  8. Generally, straightened my house up a bit (though it certainly needs much more).
  9. Took a long drive with my husband to scout out a potential town to retire to.
  10. Watched several movies with my husband.
  11. Watched lots of silly shows that I TiVo'ed.
  12. Rode the exercise bike for 30 minute every day, but one.
  13. Experienced a thermal bed massage.
  14. Attended a professional development webcast.
  15. Read for professional development and recreation.

While the above makes it seem like I've accomplished a great deal, it's not nearly what I had hoped to accomplish during the last nine days. However, I find myself experiencing a strange sensation for me. I think this is what it feels like to be relaxed.

Seven more days of this before I report for my new job. Maybe I can learn a bit from this experience, so that I can relax in small replenishing doses without having to resign from a job. (grin)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A few pounds down, and no headache

So, I've lost about four pounds since Monday. And, I really haven't had any headache issues since I gave up the caffeine (as of Sunday). I only skipped exercising on Tuesday.

Except for a couple of egg whites on Wednesday night, I haven't had any animal products since Sunday either. I'm not really missing it. I thought I would. Then again, I spent about four years as a vegetarian in my early twenties. I don't think I'll be going fully vegetarian after this initial phase of UltraMetablolism. However, I'm pretty sure that pork and I won't be on very friendly terms, since it's very difficult to get a 'free range' 'grass fed' pig. And, all the curing and processing that most pork products go through also disqualify them from my new regime. Bummer. Bacon and ham, I knew you well!

Here's some of the things that I have been eating:

  • Brown rice cakes
  • Hummus
  • Salad greens (endive & spinach primarily)
  • Other raw veggies (cherry tomatoes, red peppers, carrots)
  • Ripe olives
  • Natural salad dressing (the oils congeal in the fridge!)
  • Fresh (mostly organic) fruits (citrus, plums, apples)
  • Raw sunflower seeds
  • Slivered almonds
  • Brocolli
  • Black beans
  • Lite soy milk
  • Organic fruit juices
  • Egg whites (Omega 3 enhanced)

Sounds boring when I list it out like that. However, I've actually been enjoying it. I think the trick was doing the full juice fast on Monday, and the modified juice fast on Tuesday. It made me appreciative of any solid food I got. When I go out, I make sure to take a piece of fruit with me along with some water. I've been very appreciative of both, even looking forward to them while in a store shopping (a few new clothing items, thank you).

What's going to be really tough is I have tentative lunch plans late next week with some former coworkers. I'm hoping I can order a relatively plan salad without any dressing. Maybe I can sneak in a baggie of almonds to toss on it. (grin)

I was thinking today that the last time I tried vegetarianism, is when I ballooned up to as large as I am now. But, I don't think it was the vegetarianism itself that bulked me up. I think that it was the food choices I made as a vegetarian that did it. As a vegetarian, I ate alot at the table of the 'white menace'. Tons of simple, processed, carbohydrates. Also, I was still able to do a fair amount of dairy since my lactose intolerance was just getting a foothold on me back then.

Time will tell, but I really think this one's going to work in my favor.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Detox Plan

Since my time is my own for the next two weeks, I decided that now would be the perfect time to try a detox regime to improve my health and jump start my weight loss. I picked up a seven day detox kit from GNC, which includes morning and evening supplements, pribiotics, and fiber. I had some issues with the diet included in the kit. Mostly, the glycemic load of some of the meals was too high, and it incorporated some foods that I had planned to swear off as part of my UltraMetabolism plan.

UltraMetabolism includes an initial detox phase. However, I found that plan to be a bit gentle to begin with. So, I've decided to do a 48 hour juice-fasting-based detox as outlined in Michael van Straten's Super Detox. If you are interested in detoxing, the book offers several approaches with a variety of goals (improved health, weight loss, increased energy, skin radiance). The book also contains an extensive repitoire of healthful recipes. I probably will be incorporating some of these into my overall UltaMetabolism plan.

Van Straten recommends avoiding strenuous exercise while on a detox. However, since today is day one, I did my 30 minutes on the exercise bike. I figured it would kick start my detox to sweat out some junk this morning. I probably won't do it tomorrow morning though. If I am feeling up to it, I may go to the YMCA tomorrow evening and do a stint in the sauna, followed by a cold shower, and then the hot tub. If I am feeling too lethargic, I may hold off until Wednesday or Thursday, at which point in time I will be eating some fresh wholesome foods again.

I found it kind of ironic this morning that I stumbled on an infomercial for a weight loss program that is VERY similar in philosophy to UltraMetabolism. The program is called Body Victory. The spokesperson (and perhaps the designer) of the program is actress Marilu Henner. In addition to the regular written guides that most weight loss programs include, her program package includes audio recordings that are supposed to encourage the participant. The initial program covers the first 21 days. Like UltraMetabolism, Body Victory focuses on a whole foods mind set, instead of a 'diet'. The program focuses on the first 21 days, since the designers believe it will take that long to get you to see results that will inspire you and to break yourself of long held poor eating habits, and cravings.

Mind you, I have no plans on purchasing the Body Victory program, though it is only $19.95 (not bad really, considering the materials you get - plus you get access to some online resources as well). However, if switching over to a whole foods lifestyle has an appeal to you, but you think you need some support in doing it, sounds like Body Victory might be a good choice.

Anyway, I need to finish my Ginger Tea (made with real ginger - spicy!) and get going with my day.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

And the verdict on my paper is ...

I just got my paper, Patient Autonomy for Minors, back from my instructor. I worked my butt off on the thing. However, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of material I digested. I ended up leaving a lot of points out that I wanted to make. Also, I really felt like my rhetoric skills were quite rusty.

No matter. My instructor gave me a solid "A" with the following overall commentary:

"Great Job. Very well presented, scholarly, and comprehensive."

I hope you all don't mind while I dance around and crow a bit. (Huge grin.)

OK. I'm done now.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Nearly six years later

If all goes as expected, tomorrow will be my last day as an employee of the company that I have been with for nearly six years. I certainly learned a great deal there. A lot of what I learned falls into the realm of "what not to do when ..." However, I know a lot more about networking and security than I did when I joined the company.

On the other hand, if the company had any sort of respect for its employees or the scalability of its service model, I would be a much more skilled professional than I am now and the company would be in better standing than it is. C'est la vie. Time to move on.

A lot of the people I have worked with over the last six years I respect and/or enjoy a great deal. I shall miss spending my days with some of them. Hopefully, I will warm up to people with my new employer in the coming months.

From a professional standpoint I am both excited and trepidatious about the new challanges I shall meet. It was definitely the logically next step in my career. I thank The Fates for again putting the right position in my path at the right time.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The "white menace"

Since I had such a hard time breaking my weight-loss plateau, I decided to explore new ways to manage my nutrition. Notice, I did not say "find a new diet". Diets are pointless. You have to be willing to change the way you are going to eat indefinitely. Changing the way you eat, temporarily, will (at best) only change your weight temporarily.

I stumbled on a write up for a relatively new book, UltraMetabolism by Dr Mark Hyman. So, I ordered a copy. I have read a TON of nutrition and weight loss books over the years. Dr Hyman really doesn't say much that I haven't heard other places, except that quantiy of food matters less than quality. He argues that if we eat wholesome food in a mindful way we would be healthier, happier, more slender people, without being hungry, without keeping track mathematically of what and how much of it we ate.

One of my favorite concepts is the avoidance of "the white menance". "The white menance" is basically white flour, white sugar, white rice, and white fat (shortening or trans fat). He states that these 'foods' offer little nutritional value and totally screw with your biochemistry, leading to a host of ailments including obesity. On the one hand he says you should read food labels to make sure you are avoiding "the white management". On the other hand he offers up a more intriguing idea. If food has a label, don't eat it! Foods with labels have been processed, at least to some degree. The more a food has been processed the harder it is on your biochemistry.

Dr Hyman also advocates reducing or eliminating animal products from your diet, except for wild fish. If you are going to eat animal products, he recommends going for free-range poultry and grass-fed beef.

And, like many of the other nutrition guidelines I have read, he recommends that you eliminate caffeine and artificial sweetners and reduce sodium. Argh!

While his recommendations mean I'll be spending more time planning and preparing meals, I am sure it will be worth while. I already do eat a lot of fresh vegetables at dinner time, either in stir fry or salad. I guess I'm going to be doing a lot more of that.

The hardest part will be weaning myself off the caffeine. I know better than to go cold turkey. I have already started substituting some of my regular diet soda intake with green tea. Green tea has some caffeine, but it has a lot less than a diet soda.

I plan on doing a seven day detox next week as I fully enter into this new nutritional life style. I'll be sure to record how it goes. I also am certain that I will be whining quite a bit next week. :)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Annual childlessness

For the past several years, we have packed our son off to bond with his paternal grandparents for the month of July. The first year it was just for two weeks. The next year it was for a month, and has been ever since. Tomorrow we drive him to Rhode Island for his annual adventure at Camp Grandma and Grandpa. This is actually the first year for the Rhode Island incarnation of the camp. All previous years have been in Maine.

For the first week or two we usually revel in our freedom from our typical parental duties. We each spend extra time indulging ourselves in our favorite activities, and also spend a bit more time together. By the end of the third week, we really start to miss having the child around.

We are all very fortunate to have this break each summer. My husband's parents love the time that they get to spend with their grandson. Our son loves having time away from us with people who are much quicker to forgive him his crimes and who are less motivated to mold his behavior in a responsible fashion. And, of course, we love our chance at freedom.

I wish that every parent, and child over the age of eight, had this opportunity.