19 October 2011

Making an Impact

Recently I was reading articles on people who had made a difference in the world.  They had created organizations that helped thousands of people, led revolutions of women calling for an end to violence, sold most of their belongings to in-need people and then traveled around the country helping others, etc.  Their stories touched me.  But they didn't touch me in the way you'd expect.  While I was in awe of their ability to make such an impact on their world I was more left wondering what my legacy would be.  Statues are erected, scholarships and buildings are named, forests are dedicated to people who make large contributions to the betterment of society, the environment, even just for excelling at what they do (how many statues to athletes and artists are there?).  I will not short-change myself and say that I have no talents, nothing to contribute.  I may not have been a Tony award or Pulitzer prize winner, but I think I could have inspired and touched people more than I do now.

All that got me thinking about what I can do.  What impact can I have at this point in my life?  I thought all of this as I sat at Kara's bedside reading to her.  I realized that the impact I can have shouldn't be so selfish.  Wanting to touch all those people is selfish.  Wanting to be recognized for my accomplishments is selfish.  What's most important is upstairs in her bed "reading" the books I just read.  It's in her crib sleeping peacefully after a day filled with play and new discoveries.  My mom touched MANY people's lives and hearts simply by being herself.  She reached out to others and taught them valuable lessons just by showing them her own kindness.  No statues have been erected to her (unless you count her headstone).  There are no scholarships, buildings or forests bearing her name.  But she taught so many people simple but enduring lessons about love, compassion and acceptance.  She raised me to care and respect the earth and humanity.  She gave everything she could to her children and then gave some more.  So maybe that should be my legacy, my impact too.  To carry on those lessons and to bring them to my children and their friends.  To just be myself.  My own light, my own personality, can touch people.  As a mom I have the chance to make a huge difference in two lives, my children's.  I can teach them things to raise them up and show them all the possibilities of the world.  That is a power, a legacy that no one should take lightly or think little of.  Somewhere along the way all those great thinkers and doers had to have someone who taught them valuable lessons that helped them reach their great heights.  I'm slowly realizing that it isn't the height you reach that matters.  It's the work you do to lift others up to new ones.

19 August 2011

Scheduling Time

We all go through it, how the hell do we fit everything into our days?  How do we meet the needs and wants of our children, our partner, our home and ourselves?  No, I'm not about to give you the golden ticket to figuring it out. 

I've recently been struggling with figuring out how to make every little thing fit into the few hours we have each day, the few days we have each week, and the few weeks we have each month.  The year can go fuck itself.  Some of the demands I'm navigating:
Kara
School (now 3 days a week)
Dance lessons (enrolling in this fall)
Playdates (she's very social and wants to know who we're seeing and where we're going each day)
Homeschooling (she's very intelligent and we want to have her tested next Spring for early entrance to Kindergarten)
One-on-one time with Adam and I (when we do this, she behaves better)

Rowan
FunFit classes (enrolled in for the fall once a week)
Playdates (all of her friends are Kara's friends.  She needs more babies and toddlers closer to her age around)
Naps (she doesn't nap so well out and about and is a horrid night time sleeper without them)
One-on-one time with Adam and/or I (she often has to share us with Kara or other household chores)

Adam
Some sort of athletic activity
One-on-one time with me
Time to himself
Socialization
Work and conference time

Household
Cleaning (as in, all of it.  I don't want to admit how much of this gets negelcted.  But if you're a dirt or germaphobe, don't come over)
Cooking (I want to be sure what we're eating is healthy and a wide variety of styles)

Self
Projects (I can't count how many I have half started somewhere)
Organizing (since I can't use my organizational skills in an office setting I go nuts at home and organize and label everything.  But it never stays that way)
Artistic expression (I miss theater and writing.  I just signed up for a once a week for four week writing boot camp)
Socialization
Time to myself
Time with Adam

So yeah, it's a lot.  It's hard to fit all of that into the time that we have.  Our general weekly schedule fits in the basics and the hard scheduled items (like school and classes).  But then on the weekends it gets tricky.  We have to go grocery shopping (and that includes the meal planning, which can take over an hour).  We have naps to get in.  We try to pick up and clean around the house the things we don't do daily (toy pick up, bits of laundry- although one load can take over a day to go from getting it to the washer to put away, dishwasher unloaded/reload, kitchen picked up).  We also fit in a lot of our socialization with other families, errands we want to do together and then time at home, doing nothing.  Ahhhhh nothing.

Often things get pushed aside.  Like, I don't give Kara much attention when she works on her workbooks because I'm trying to play with Rowan.  Or both girls get ignored while I try to cook dinner.  Often Adam and I don't get time together so we can get things picked up.

I've started to remove things from my to-do list and social calendar.  I used to have a planned playdate once a month on Saturday for babies and toddlers.  I've sinced decided that no one was coming anyway to not waste time on it.  I had to cut back what work I do with my mom's group because it was taking away from time with Adam or to work on my projects.  I've scheduled activities that will fit what each person needs and then set up weekends and near schedule free times.  We try to have at least one "unplanned" weekend a month.  That means we turn down ALL invitations for that weekend.  If we really want to do something, we rearrange so that we have one free weekend. 

I don't know if this need for uber scheduling or the need to ignore half your house is part of being a parent or just part of life in general.  But I do know that each month I look at my calendar and wonder how the hell I got so booked up so fast.  And when will life slow down? The answer?  Never.

01 August 2011

An open letter to my mom

Dear Mom;

I know it's been a while since I last sat down to write to you.  I'm sure you understand how busy I've been though.  The girls certainly do take up a lot of my time.  Add to it that I try to keep some semblance of a social life going, tend to my marriage and that wonderful relationship, and help other moms out and well, there isn't much time left for writing to you.  Not that you really need me to write, you know what's going on in my life just as well as I do.  With your vantage point you probably understand it more than I do.  Which kind of brings me to the point of this letter. 

It's been 12 years since I last got to actually talk to you.  I'm really sad for those last words too. They weren't very kind or loving at all.  I'm sure you understand that I was angry and hurt.  But it doesn't change the fact that my last words to you had nothing to do with how much I love and value you.  I know I've mentioned it before here and there how much I appreciate all the long listening sessions you've given me.  Adam's about the only other person who just knows to sit and listen and to respond quietly and gently.  I remember how in college I'd call you almost every day just to talk.  I'd babble for ever about this that and the other thing, half the time it was rambling and I probably never finished half my thoughts.  But you'd listen and respond where you thought it was valued or important.  You taught me many lessons in those conversations even with a simple and quiet word here and there.  I remember one time you told me that you disagreed with me and explained why.  I can't remember the exact reason or topic, but I remember the calm way you talked to me.  You didn't judge me for my opinion or my view.  You just simply told me where you were coming from.  That one time, believe it or not, has really shaped how I talk with people when we disagree.  I try to stay calm and follow your example of never judging.  The biggest lesson you ever taught me, in all my life has been to accept and welcome everyone.  No matter who they are, they are valid people.  It's been rough sometimes. There are times I want to brush people off, but even when I get into arguments and think that I completely clash with someone, I still care about them.  I still want to be sure they're ok.  Remember when you accepted the guy I was engaged to and everyone else didn't?  The way you welcomed D into our home and our lives helped me feel secure in my choices and let me know that they were my choices to make.  I have always wondered what you thought of Adam.  The notes and letters I've gotten from you haven't really told me anything about how you see him.  But you only got to meet him what, 3 or 4 times before we parted ways?  There's so much I want to say and tell you.  12 years is a long time to go without talking to one's best friend.  Huh, I don't suppose I ever told you that either?  Yeah, the times that you were around and really with it I counted you as my best friend.  You've always known me better than anyone else.  Dad once told me that I knew you better that just about anyone.  I always wondered how it was that you and I got to be so close when my personality is so much more like Dad's?  I suppose it's because you and I were together a fair bit when I was younger.  I can't go to a mall or a garage sale without thinking of you.  And even though we spent so much time going to malls or garage sales together, you still taught me that it's not about the having or the buying.  The material things are nice and all, but they don't take the place of the personal interactions.  Not to mention the impact it all has on the earth.  Yup, I know, I'm your little hippie child.  You should see it when I put on the Peter, Paul & Mary 10 Years Together album (on vinyl even!).  I start dancing and singing and the girls get into it too.  There's hope for them yet Mom!  I bet I drove you nuts sometimes with how much I'd play that album.  Over and over and over again.  Usually skipping right to "If I had a hammer".  I remember I'd go find a bell to ring.  At least I never went to get a hammer to bang. 

Oh mum, so much time has passed.  When Rowan was born I wished more than ever that you were there to see her.  My first look at her and I thought "she looks like Mom!".  She still does too.  Her face reminds me so much of you.  It's funny, but Kara's named for you but Rowan looks like you.  I guess that way both my girls have a part of you to them.  Their hair even reminds me of you.  It's sort of that all in one in between color.  Not quite brown or blonde or red.  Speaking of which, did you ever notice my eyes changing to more of a hazel?  Since you've been away I've noticed them changing.  Again, it reminds me of you.  I remember you saying your eyes were changing color as you got older.  There's so much about getting older and the changes I'm going through I wish I could talk to you about.  I remember when I was younger and I'd be in your room while you got dressed.  I remember asking what those marks were on your belly and you told me stretch marks from having had us 3 kids.  I remember watching the way you put on a bra.  Now that I'm older I'd love to talk to you about how my body has changed and how I see it differently since I've had 2 kids.  It's one thing to talk to my other mom friends, but to talk to the woman who bore me and raised me would be really helpful and nice.  Heck, even the simpler things like the fact that my hands are starting to ache more from simple tasks.  And my one knee hurts a lot lately.  Did you ever go through all that?  Is this part of being your daughter or is it just what every woman goes through?  I hear my friends talking about how they talked to their mom lately. Or their mom was over and comparing their kids to them as kids.  I wish you would come do that too.  I wonder just how spoiled you'd make all your grandkids.  I imagine very. 

How have you been by the way?  Do you not worry about all the issues that were bothering you before?  Have you gotten to see the people you wanted and the places you always dreamed of?  What was it like when you left?  Did you notice us at all?  Sorry I wasn't there when you left.  I couldn't stay to watch, I just had to get out and away.  I sometimes wonder if I had stayed there would you have left?  If I had gone to talk to you like I had thought, would it have made any difference or was it already too late?  I guess these are things we'll never know.

Well, it's a little late.  The girls are finally asleep and Adam and I need to spend some time together.  Kara's been asking about you lately.  If you have a bit, I'm sure she'd like get to know you.  But I understand if you're not free.  I've been thinking of making the drive to see you the next time we're back home.  It's quite a drive from Dad's though so we may wait until the girls are older.  I hope this letter finds you well.  I'll try to write again soon.  In the mean time, rest in peace and know you are well loved and missed.

Love always,
your babe

30 July 2011

Rescued

When I was younger I always loved fairy tales.  The stately ladies, kind peasant girls, wise wizards enchanted me.  I was enthralled with the idea of a prince, king or sweet peasant boy rescuing me from some garden, enchantment, or helping me solve some labyrinth.  I often would sit on swings and imagine I was a beautiful girl swinging in her luscious garden in beautiful flowing clothes.  My hair often was imagined away to be a golden blonde or dark chestnut brown instead of its normal bright flaming red.  I'd pretend that some handsome and brave guy would see me as I swung above the stone walls.  He'd be so taken with my beauty and my singing voice or kindness to the animals around me that he'd fight to find a way in.  Eventually we'd go off and live happily ever after in a stately home, not always a palace, but a place with more lovely gardens.

When I got older I found myself with no support at home because of my mom's drinking.  I didn't feel like I had a father figure, or any parent really (sorry dad, but I didn't).  I often dreamed that I would be taken away from my misery of being a preteen and having such a rough home life.  I realized then that fairy tales weren't going to do me a damn bit of good.  I didn't believe in anything religious and had no escape that I trusted.  It was about that time that I developed a lot of issues with self-harm and suicide.  I found that to get attention from adults I had to be as dramatic as possible.  That's not saying that my self-hurting or mild suicide attempts were an attempt to get attention.  The two are not always connected and in my case they were not.  I just found that if I dramatized things more I would get more attention.  At about that time I started to make my self-harm attempts hidden, at least from the adults.  I started to have even more suicide issues turned real and started to hate life and actually want to die.  I know in many ways I still wanted to be rescued but I also took time to try and rescue my friends.  I wanted to be that smart beautiful girl in some imagined world.  But I realized that in this one I would never be what I wanted. 

At about that time a male figure came into my life who was loving, saw me as beautiful and told me that I was smart and talented.  He loved to hear me sing and said I was the kindest person he had known.  This boyfriend became a father figure to me and a lover.  Sadly he was also somewhat manipulative even if he didn't realize he was doing it.  He didn't like some of my friends, so I stopped associating with them.  He thought some of what I did was childish so I stopped it.  He listened to certain music and didn't like some of what I listened to so I changed it.  I was searching for approval and for acceptance by anyone.  Later he would even cut down my looks and my talents.  Even with some of the emotional abuse and manipulation I stuck it out.  The way I saw it, my knight in shining armor was better than nothing.  I got love, attention and some respect from him when I felt none from own family or my peers.  He had come into my garden, fallen in love, and rescued me.

Later when that relationship finally died and ended I swore off relationships for a time.  Only a few months later another man entered my life who I latched onto to save me.  This time mostly from myself.  I was so self-destructive by this time that I was hardly functioning in "normal" society.  Drugs, avoidance of responsibilities, even avoiding friends and family were my main methods.  I had been cutting myself for years but it really escalated at this time.  In part due to the loss of the relationship that had gotten me through my teen years.  I fantasized about taking a leap off of what had been known as "suicide bridge".  I had a great view of it from my window and it seemed to call to me.  I avoided walking on it at all costs because I knew I would be tempted.  So here enters yet another rescuer to save me.

It seems to me that I have always turned to others to rescue me.  I've asked others to save me from my own brink of destroying myself.  I've known that I have strength and have tried to get through life solo but people have encouraged me to seek and accept help.  As we went through the family counseling for my mom's addiction I always heard them saying "you can't do it alone, get help."  It felt so wrong to me but they always said "you are helpless, you need others to do it for you".  I know they were talking about addiction, but to a young girl all you hear is that when you get in a rough spot in life get someone else to save you because you're powerless.  So now I often feel I can't do anything without help.  I swung from an extreme of saving myself when no one was around and being alone to needing someone.  Where's the balance? 

I have always loved two of Ani Difranco's songs.  In "Not a Pretty Girl" the lines
"I am no damsel in distess
and I don't need to be rescued
so put me down punk
maybe you'd prefer a maiden fair?"
Have rung true for quite some time.  I don't feel like a maiden fair.  But I also don't want to feel like a damsel in distress.  I love the song because it is what I feel I am not.  I may not be a pretty girl in the sense of looks, but I always feel I need saving.  The other song that means a lot to me is "Superhero"
"I used to be a superhero
no one could touch me
not even myself
you are like a phone booth
I somehow stumbled into
and now look at me
I am just like everybody else"
I often feel that at one point I was a superhero taking so much burdens on my own back and then I found these phone booths that were others and walked in.  Then I became powerless.  I had to have that person to save me.
 
I often wonder if that first rescuer felt the need to rescue me way back when (we'll call him D).   Did he always think he had to be my savior?  His little brother once told me that D said he was only dating me because he didn't want me to kill myself. D denied it but I always sort of felt it was there, under the surface.  If it was true then what would have helped me more I think was if instead he had been a good friend and told me my value.  But we were young teens and didn't know any better.  I do not fault D for that or for trying to save what he saw as a damsel in distress.  It is quite natural for a teen boy to want to seem so strong and powerful by rescuing and helping a girl.  Now with my husband I sometimes feel he too came on as a rescuer.  I was pretty down and out when we met and I ended up even lower and worse a few months later when my mom died.  So again, I needed rescuing/saving.  When he goes on conferences I often wonder how I'll get by with 2 kids.  So I turn to others to help when they can.  But I still feel often like I'm floundering.  I get through fine, but it's still there in my mind that I need to be rescued from doing this solo.

I have wondered a lot lately if I do have the strength to survive on my own.  With no kids I'm sure I could do it, and it might be good for me.  But with kids, I just don't quite feel the strength.  I don't really remember many times I was fully on my own in my life.  Just me having to rely on myself.  A job, an apartment to pay for and maintain, make friends and be entertained on my own. The closest I think I ever got was during college but then I had others to turn to and rely on.  I sometimes want to do an experiment and go off to a city I know no one in, get a job somewhere and sign a month to month lease.  Then see how long I can survive, see how I do totally on my own.  In college I was too messed up half the time to really get an idea of if I had the strength to do it.

But I've always had someone, some guy or some gal to rescue me.  I love to rescue my friends and help them out.  And my family.  But can I rescue myself?  Can I be the smart princess who manages to solve the riddles and help free the kingdom from the enchantment?  Or am I just the girl in the garden waiting for someone to come and show her something more?

07 July 2011

Sorry....

Sorry for the long hiatus.  After the chaos of my surgery and then the move I have added more tasks to my plate and haven't had a chance to get back to this blog.  It's a nice respite for me though.  A bit of a journal, a bit of a soap box, a bit of a way to keep in touch with everyone.  It's very exhibitionist of me and very self-centered I admit.  I want the whole world to know about the things I experience and the things I go through.  It's not very well written either. 

The past few days though have made me realize how much I need to come back to this.  I've been stressed out, worn out, strung out and ready to be hung out to dry.  Part of it is how busy we have been lately.  My social calendar reminds me too much of the Berenstain Bears book "Too Much Pressure".
I am almost always on the go; during the week, on the weekends, it doesn't matter.  It's gotten to the point where I have to schedule days at home.  Part of this is my fault. I am a social creature and so is Kara.  We both want to know what we're doing that day and who we're seeing.  If Kara gets told that we aren't going anywhere or doing anything she gets disappointed.  We still often have a good day at home, which is something I have to remember.  On weekends I figure I have Adam here to help me with the girls so larger outings are easier.  And we want to do things fun as a family.  But it means the house gets neglected and the "honey do" list gets put off for the week. 


We've had a fair number of house guests, more than we often do in such a short span of time.  My sister and her family came to visit.  We hadn't seen them in 3 years.  I missed them so much and was ecstatic that they came out!  It was a long haul for them coming from California.  We had a blast!  But it was also tiring to be on the go a lot and to be trying to wrangle Kara and her cousin (they are 2 months apart).  Now we have my in-laws visiting.  I like it when they come because my house is cleaner than ever, my laundry gets done, the girls are entertained and I can escape now and then.  But company, no matter how wonderful and no matter how helpful, is still company and can still get stressful.


Rowan turns one this month.  So I am also busy planning and organizing her birthday party.  I am working out the small details like what food to get and how much.  Who is going to help me prepare the food I'm making, stuff the goody bags, entertain the girls so I can work?  Who will help us stake our claim to the shelter (which I recently found out we can't reserve but is on a first come first serve basis)?

On top of all of that I have had to get my things together for a local consignment sale, price what didn't sell and what I couldn't sell there for a friend's garage sale, make sure Adam is doing ok after his procedure, do Promotions work for the mom's group I'm part of, and help the national mom's group with some projects.  I don't regret all of that.  I don't resent it either.  It's just a lot of stuff piled up on top of other things.

But there's something else looming on the horizon that makes me depressed this month.  It hit me today while I stood cooking.  I was wondering what my mom would have thought of my cooking skills.  She was a fantastic cook, my friends eagerly accepted invitations to eat with us.  One friend once told me that if I ever got to be as good of a cook as my mom I had to invite him over, even if we weren't on speaking terms.  I had gotten a new blender and was wondering what she would have thought of it.  I imagined her smile as she would whip up tons of new concoctions in a short amount of time.  That's when I realized what's been bugging me.  July fills me with dread, it always will in some ways I suspect (sorry Rowan).  But July leads into August 1st.  And every year I will always relive August 1, 1999.  Mom died that day, I was there.  I sat on the hood of a car while the EMT's worked on her inside the house with my dad nearby.  Adam comforted me as I awaited the news.   My mom had been an alcoholic, she had been in and out of my life for years.  But I was really close to her and we had healed some of the past issues.  I don't miss the drunk mom.  I miss the mom that never taught me how to peel and seed a tomato.  I miss the mom that never told me how she got through all those sleepless nights with babies.  I miss the mom that never saw me get married, set up my own kitchen, or even have the lead in a college play.  I miss the big things and the little things like phone calls every day (I used to call her almost every.single.day from college). 

So yeah.  Today's a day I'm just popping back in to say I'll try to be here more.  Because I sometimes like to think all these writings are making their way to Mom.  And maybe, just maybe, by writing all of this I can help some other person.

01 April 2011

FOOD!


Come out and get a great meal and support a great organization too.

*I know, where have I been and why haven't I done a real post in a while. I've been moving!

08 March 2011

When Mommy needs a tantrum

I've read and been told that tantrums can be important developmentally as they give a child the chance to express very strong emotions that they don't otherwise know how to.  It is up to parents to teach appropriate emotional release.  Instead of hitting or kicking and screaming when angry teach a child to say "I'm angry!" and then ask for help with resolving what made them angry, maybe find a pillow to hit or kick.  When sad about something instead of laying on the floor flailing and crying go to someone or something comforting and cry.  Then take a moment to talk about what made them sad.  When frustrated with a task instead of throwing it and screaming, ask someone for help.  But sometimes, even in all of the tools and outlets you give a child they still need the release of a tantrum.  Think about it.  Even when you're being an adult and handling your strong emotions in a mature way there comes a point where you just need to have a good scream, find something safe to hit or throw and go off to pout.

I'm there now.  I have lost count of the number of shoes that have dropped for us.  I can no longer remember what a stress and drama free month is like.  The concept of not being on pins & needles because I don't know what is coming next is foreign to me now.  Today we added the excitement of someone using random number generators to use my account to buy iTunes and World of Warcraft stuff.  Thankfully it was caught quickly and we should be able to recover the money in a few weeks.  But it just added to the stress we already have.  It just made me stop and wonder if I really did do something to piss of the Universe.  I told Adam that I am just barely keeping it together.  I have often felt the edge, that tip, of my breakdown and have managed to push it away and set it aside until later.  I would love to be able to just let go and get the emotion out.  But the question is always "When?".  I could have tonight while cooking dinner, but Kara skipped her nap today and we had to eat so we could avoid her tired meltdown.  Besides, then dinner would have burned. Ok, not a good time.  I could have while curled up in bed with Adam.  But Rowan was starting to fuss and sound like she was waking up.  I don't want to be alone when I finally let all this pent up emotion out. Since one of us would have had to get up with her that was out too.  Not a day goes by where I don't feel the emotions getting ready to explode.  But not a single day offers me any time or space for it.   

I know it's not healthy to keep the emotions in.  But as I must teach my daughters appropriate emotional displays, so I must show them as well.  Somehow me falling to the floor in a full out tantrum and breakdown in the middle of making dinner or playing with them doesn't seem right.  I have no problems with them seeing the release and explaining what's going on.  But I at least want to show that there are appropriate times and places to do so.  Maybe then I will set a good example of how to handle those strong emotions.

05 March 2011

Hand me my armor

I admit it, I don't feel confident enough, able enough, or strong enough.  Adam was at a conference all this week and his dad was nice enough to come out and help me with the girls.  I was flustered, frustrated and at my wits end.  I wasn't able to cook a meal without someone watching the girls, despite the fact that I've done it before and do it often during the week.  I wasn't able to get them to bed despite the fact that I did it before.  When Adam returned he told me that he may have to go on a trip for business again in April.  I was devastated, especially when I found out my father-in-law wouldn't be able to come help me again.  It was if I was a damsel in all those fairy tales that needs rescuing.  I didn't used to be that way. 

At one point in my life I was a very strong girl who felt she could rely on herself and mostly herself alone.  While I craved the approval and attention from others, especially from boys, I could stand on my own and was independent.  Somewhere along the way that changed.  I met and dated someone who made me feel, and told me I was, weak, powerless and in need of saving.  I believed him.  I lost my sense of self.  When I finally ended that relationship 6 1/2 years later the damage had been done.  I felt part of myself being strong and independent.  I was no longer always a kitten in a tree.  But I still needed rescuing.  I met Adam and he helped me to regain some of my strength.  But at the same time, I saw him as a knight in shining armor come to help me from my peril.  I have seen him in that light a lot and leaned on him heavily.  He does work to help me be that strong warrior woman I used to be. 

My family had a nickname for me when my temper started to flare "Mighty Battle Maiden".  I would become this great warrior who would swing her mighty sword and strike down anyone in her way.  I have embraced that image many times, but always felt sort of sheepish about it.  Like I wasn't supposed to be that strong character.  I've always been drawn to strong female characters, especially ones who can hold their own (or more) in battle.  The ones who rarely need a superhero to come save them from the falling building because they have enough sense to not stand there and scream.  Instead they run and get the person who is standing there screaming to safety.  Somewhere along the way I have let myself rely on others too much.  I have no confidence in my ability to be a parent on my own.  I don't know if I've accepted too much help and have decided that clearly I must need others to do things for me, or if I've simply lost sight of Battle Maiden. 

When Adam and I lived in Madison we used to do a sort of LARP called Belegarth.  We had foam weapons and did battle against others.  I loved the feel of the sword and shield.  I loved arching and dreamed of all sorts of fun equipment.  But I was never confident in it.  I wanted to do more and become better.  But got pregnant and had no time.  We moved out to Maryland and learned there weren't Belegarth groups near.  And with a small child we didn't think it feasible to continue.  I still have my bow and my shield.  But we never did make our swords.  I miss it.  I miss the chance to be the Battle Maiden.  My name at Belegarth was Phoenix.  I wanted to be that bird who rises from her own ashes to soar again.  It was a reminder to myself that even though I was a damsel in distress I didn't need rescuing anymore.  I could save my own damn self.

Now with the possibility of Adam being gone for a week and no help coming I realize that I need to find that Phoenix, that Battle Maiden again.  I need to remember that both are still a part of me and I can do things on my own.  I may need help from time to time, but I don't need to be rescued.

20 February 2011

Pick up the Phone

First off: sorry for the delay in updating.  Between recovering from my surgery ("I got better!"), hunting for a new place to live (#$&^@% bad housing market and overpriced rentals!), trying to be the Promotions Manager for my local mommies group (I feel like an overworked Stage Manager who was just told they're also the Producer but have no money), and taking care of house and family I'm swamped!

But I wanted to tell everyone about a really important event coming up.  Pick Up the Phone is an awareness event by the 1-800-Suicide/Hope Line organization.  It works to raise awareness about Postpartum Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder and Depression.  These issues are very near and dear to me.  I struggled with both BPD and depression for many years.  I also have had bouts of PPD.  My mom also had issues with depression and BPD.  I will not deny that at many times I felt at that edge of suicide.  Thankfully I had people I could turn to or ways to keep going. But many people do not.  People still see these as things to be ashamed of, to not talk about.  Honestly- that is why suicide keeps happening.  If people were able to TALK about what was going on.  If they felt they could turn to people close to them and get the support they need then the rate of suicide would drop.  I wish there wasn't a need for hotlines to help people come down from that ledge.  But there is, because people don't always feel they can turn to their families, their friends.

So, this Friday, February 25th Pick Up the Phone 2011 tour kicks off in DC.  I will be there to speak for 5 minutes before the show about The Mommies Network, a national organization with local chapters that helps and supports all moms through all aspects of life.  Each chapter has their own PPD forums where women can talk about and get support with their PPD, depression, etc.  If you want to find a chapter near you please check here.  I'm sure I'll even talk about my own struggles.

For more information about the tour please check here.

And remember- depression, bi-polar, any thoughts of suicide are not things to be ashamed of.  If you, or someone you know is struggling, please get help.  Give a caring ear or even just be present for them.

06 February 2011

Shoe #3

Ok, the good news: my surgery on Thursday went well.  I am less one gallbladder with the only complication being that it was hard for me to wake-up from the anesthesia.  Apparently red heads are more susceptible to anesthesia and have a harder time coming around from it.  There's something in our genetic code is what I've been told.  Yay for being a mutant!  Now, can I get some cool powers?  Whenever I dozed off my oxygen levels kept dropping (not alarmingly so, just lower than they should have).  So I stayed in the first phase of recovery a bit longer than is normal.   I got home and was able to climb the stairs to my bedroom and climb into bed ok.  I've spent the past few days sleeping and resting as much as I can.  So far I've managed to get up and down stairs, in and out of a higher bed, walk down to get the mail, and keep down everything I've eaten.  We're going to work on me being able to stand up and sit down unassisted, carry Rowan around a bit more, and see how long I can stretch going without my pain medication.  My father-in-law was kind enough to come out and help us, but he leaves on Wednesday so I need to be at least partially able to help at bedtimes and during the night. 

So now the "fun" part. Shoe #3 Friday, the day after my surgery, Adam got a registered letter from the agency we rent our home from.  The owners are returning.  You know what that means?  Yup, we've got to move.  Thankfully they were nice and gave us 2 months notice instead of the 1 month required by our lease.  Our first thoughts were to look at the 2 homes for sale in our little neighborhood.  See, we really love the community we've grown and become a part of.  People shovel each others walks, help with cars, kids, pets.  We have impromptu dinner picnics and play parking lot soccer.  Adam is the neighborhood bike guy.  The kids are constantly bringing their bikes over to be worked on.  But our finances are so tight right now and we have no down payment.  So sadly, after 2 years of being in this fantastic neighborhood and wonderful home we have to move.  Now we are hunting out rentals that fit our budget and household.  That is NOT easy in this area.  This is further complicated by the fact that we aren't looking to rent right this week or even next.  We could do the start of March and pay rent on 2 places at the same time. That we might be able to eek out of the stone that is our finances.  In the DC area/region though people don't want to rent to you "soon", they want it right away.  So if we hunt now they may pass us up to get someone in sooner.  So do we look and pay the extra money on a home we see that's available now and we like?  Or do we wait and hope something else comes along and not have to spend as much?  Our option is the former.  We'd prefer to have something set and not worry about having a place to go come the end of March.

We had so enjoyed the break from moving.  I guess the housing deities didn't see it fit to grant us much of a reprieve.

You may wonder why we don't stop renting and buy?  Aside from the fact that we don't have much saved we don't know if Adam's job is going to become permanent.  He's on a contract working for the government.  The contract can be renewed endlessly, terminated by budget cuts, or he could get lucky and get hired on permanently.  The only case where we'd feel secure buying is if he got hired on.  We won't know that information until... well... who knows.  So to avoid buying a home only to have to sell and all the "joys" with that we're going to keep renting.  For now.

Sorry for the rambling.  I blame the pain meds with the added stress!

28 January 2011

Remember

When I was a teenager I once got the idea into my head to type up and post words around my room and bathroom.  17 big bold words that I printed and used packing tape to affix where I thought they'd be most visible.  They were to be reminders of things, ideas and ideals.  My then boyfriend dismissed them as being childish, dumb and inane.  But to me they had meaning and purpose.  I taped "Look" onto my mirror to remind myself to really look at myself, not just at the surface but deeper.  "Hear" went over my phone to remind me to always give the person I was talking to my full attention. To not just listen to them but to really hear what they were saying.  Other words "Hope, Trust, Seek, Kind" were scattered around.  They were aspects of me that I wanted to remind myself were good.  Things I wanted to achieve more of.  As teens we often only see the bad in our lives and selves.  These were my own personal affirmations if you will.  Each one with many possible meanings.  I valued each word.  They made me stronger, more confident but also helped me to grow and stretch myself.

Now I feel my idea of self slipping again.  I added wife to my titles, then mom, now mom of two.  Each time I have had to reconfigure part of me.  Not because it was necessarily hard or that I had to change my core self.  But because as we evolve in our lives, as we take on new things we must change and adapt.  It's not bad, but we can sometimes become so focused on those few changes that we lose sight of the whole.  We never stop being who we were before the new titles and roles were added.  But that self can get lost in the shuffle and mayhem, especially when it comes to kids. When you have children you must change your focus to someone who can, in no way, fend for themselves.  You have to be their world and they yours.  Even in all of that you cannot lose sight of your own personal world.  To do so could mean that years later risk looking back and having no idea of who you are or were.  You may come to resent having taken on so much with little given back.

With kids around you often forget what to work on in your life and self.  You are so focused on working on these small people, to help them reach their goals.  Your own ideas of who and what you want to be can get pushed away.  While you are there to remind your children of their own words who is there to remind you of yours?

So I find myself revisiting these words.  Seeing if they all fit to the me I have evolved to.  Are there new words I should put in? Are "Honor, Think, Hope, Grow" really where I'm at now or a path I must follow?  Do I still embody "Friend, Care, Truth"?  Is "Find" still something I must do?  I think I would add a few.  "Relax, Wait, Patience" should find their way to my walls.  Sometimes I think if I could just "Stop" or "Slow" down things would be a bit calmer.  I'm sure many think "Close" should be on my laptop.  Should I put "Notice" in the playroom?  Of all the words on my list the last is, was and always will be the most important.  It is one I intend on passing down to my children and letting them chose its meaning, place and value.  "Believe".

27 January 2011

The other shoe went THUNK!!

And just like that- things change.  After my  last post you'd think everything would be sunshine and roses right?  Yeah, not so much.

I touched on helping kids have healthy emotions before (see Healthy Emotions Oct. '10).  But this time, it's a bit different.  How do I help Kara understand why I'm so scared and worried?

First some back story.  Ever since Rowan was born I've been having some serious pain.  Every month or so I'd get a shooting stabbing pain in my chest that would radiate out like a bra band around my chest and just squeeze.  Each time I would get sick and throw up then feel better.  I did the wise thing and (eventually) went to my doctor who thought it was heartburn.  I got a medication and the name of a gastrointestinal doctor in case the medication didn't help.  Well, it didn't.  So off I went to see what else this could be.  His thought?  Gallstones.  Oh goody.  He ordered a sonogram and blood work. The latter to be done after another attack. Well lucky me the night before the sonogram was scheduled I had an attack.  So first thing in the morning I got blood drawn and the sonogram.  I called the doctor to let him know about the new attack and how much worse it was.  His response?  "have you gone to the ER already?".  Um.... what?  No.... should I have?  Turns out the answer is Yes.  Aurgh!  He was 90% sure my gallbladder needs to come out.  So 2 days later I got to meet with a surgeon who pretty much only does this sort of thing.  When you meet with a surgeon it's rarely and "if you need surgery" and usually a "when you need surgery".  Oh goody again.

I would like to state here and now that I do not like the idea of surgery.  I've had it before and just don't like it.  Think about it- a bunch of people get together and put you in clothes you would never pick out on your own.  They stick all sorts of monitoring devices on you, insert needles, put masks on you all to pump chemicals you've never even heard of into your system.  All for the purpose of making you unconscious to the point you won't even dream or preventing you from feeling pain.  Then a bunch of people you really don't know put holes in your body, scope around inside it and remove something you were still using!  I'm sorry but I was using that organ just a few minutes ago.  Now comes the really fun part- recovery!  Now if you like to be tended to and not able to do anything for yourself for a few days if not a week great! Enjoy the pampering.  Me?  nope, uh-uh, no way.  Pampering and enjoying it to me is a day (or more) at a spa with quiet music, nice smells, and lots of massages.  At home I want to be able to go to the kitchen, the basement, get the mail, go to the store, etc all on my very own.  I don't want help getting in and out of a bed or shuffling my way to the bathroom.  I really don't want someone to feel they need to sit outside the bathroom while I shower just in case I'm still groggy from all those chemicals they pumped into me.  I don't like not knowing my own body as everything tries to shift and resettle.

Now add kids.

Yeah.  That just got a whole lot more interesting didn't it?  "but mommy, why can't I go with you?"  "hey mom look at this!" as they try to bounce on your chest. "mom, since you can't move can I have a cookie?  How about I go get them myself."  "mommy I think the baby is hungry".  Oh it just goes on and on.  Especially with my ever so inquisitive, investigative and involved 3 yr old.  And do you want to try and explain to the 6 month old why she doesn't get to be cuddled as much by mommy?

Add to all of this the lead up.  The not knowing what will exactly happen. The emotional impact it has on me leaks to everyone else.  Kara sees that I'm upset and I've tried to explain to her that something in my body isn't working right and needs to be removed.  But how to do that without making her afraid of surgery, hospitals and the like?  How to explain she can't watch, she can't be there when I go in?  I'll be leaving for the hospital before she's even awake.  I think even harder for her will be once I get home and she's not able to play with me for awhile.  I won't be able to put her to bed or have her cuddle for too long (she kicks).  Then Adam will be distracted with taking care of me and Rowan too.  Sure, we have some help coming and I know that friends will be willing to assist.  But it will still be hard for her.  All the special visits and playdates don't make up for mommy.


THUNK THUNK THUNK.  Yup, there go more shoes dropping.  Sigh.  I guess I'll go pick them up and see where I can put them.

20 January 2011

Sometimes it just goes right

So often all we hear about are the times things go wrong.  It's like we can't focus on the good, we just see the negative in our lives.  An entirely good day is overshadowed by the one bad thing that happens.  It could be something really simple and minor, but often we focus on that one thing.  I am guilty of this, I admit that.  At the end of the day I'll tell Adam about everything that happened.  I'll say that the day was meh and detail everything.  I'll talk about the chores I got done, the good playdate we had and then say but Kara had a tantrum at nap time.  And it was that one little thing that sent my day into a downward spiral.  But come on, that ONE thing?  A tantrum at an expected time? She was tired, she was having fun and didn't want to stop, she's a kid, of course she's going to be upset when I say it's time for a nap!

Yesterday though- for whatever reason.  I didn't let those little things make my day bad. And I got A LOT done!  Let's see: I folded and put away 4 loads of laundry.  Only 2 of them had already been washed, I washed 3 loads of laundry (yes, that means I have a load of laundry to fold and put away).  I kept the kitchen clean even after making banana bread and dinner.  I had dinner almost done when Adam got home from work and it was a healthy one! The girls were entertained all day and not with videos but here at home.  The girls got their naps at appropriate times (and yes, Kara wasn't happy about having to go up for her nap).  I made us a good lunch that included veggies (which Kara did eat). Unloaded, reloaded and ran the dishwasher.  I even made a doctors appointment for myself, updated  my computer calendar, and helped cheer up a friend (behold the power of baby laughter!).  At the end of the day we played DDR as a family, I cleaned the cat litters, bathed myself and the girls and we all went to bed at a decent time.

We had our bumps along the way.  Kara didn't want to take a nap, Rowan was awake during Kara's nap book reading so I wasn't able to lay with Kara like she prefers.  Kara made a bit of a mess when helping with the banana bread, I had to leave some laundry unfolded, Kara fell off the bed (she's ok).  A phone conversation I really wanted to have got interrupted and had to be stopped.  The list of things that went wrong could have been as long as the list of things that went right. But I told myself that these things would not ruin our day.  I was not going to let them get to me. And for at least one day, it worked! 

Maybe sometimes it is just about a mindset.  Maybe if we remind ourselves that we have done a lot, that a lot has gone right, we won't see only the negative.  If we notice the good maybe we'll stop thinking the world is going to end and our lives are shitty when all that happened was a minor glitch.  My mom used to tell me that I could turn an anthill into Mt. Everest.  If I don't want my girls to do the same and think everything is falling to pieces at the slightest obstacle, maybe it's time for me to see the anthills as just that.  An anthill to be dealt with appropriately and in its own time.

Now to see if I can keep some of this momentum going.  Because today I want to do more baking, more exercise and get that last load of laundry put away.

16 January 2011

Favorite time wasting sites

We've all done it. When up at night with a child, said "not now, mommy is busy", ignored the house during nap time and surfed the net.  Eventually we tire of the same ol' sites we use to waste our time.  I thought I'd fess up and share some of my all time favorites.


Facebook- duh!  Although I no longer allow myself to play games on there.  I will take the occasional silly quiz, but not too often.

http://www.gamesforthebrain.com/ Some of these are so mind numbingly simple that I really don't feel like my brain is getting a work out.  Others I actually have to think on.  Not so good at 3 am with 1 hour of sleep.

www.northmetrodcmommies.com/forum  Ok, so this one is more for the local people.  It's a forum for moms and I LOVE it!  We can share info, tips, sob stories, gripes about family (not that I'd do that) and plan the next events.

http://www.jigsawdoku.com/  My favorite is to do the shapes, 9x9 medium. Then I race to get a better score.  Laptop users take note: get an external mouse, you go much faster with one!

Wikipedia - seriously.  If you ever wanted to know about anything jump on here.  If you want to check the facts, look at the source info and investigate.

www.cuteoverload.com It is just as the name says it is.  An overload of adorable cute critters.  Awwwwww.  Diabetics beware, it can send you into sugar shock.

http://jimspages.com/States.htm A game to see just how quickly and accurately you can place the US states.  You may be surprised at how bad you really are.

http://www.rotten.com/library/ These are quick, simple articles on a ton of stuff.  You can actually, for a brief moment, understand Quantum Physics with these.  Don't believe me?  Read http://www.rotten.com/library/religion/quantum-physics/

http://projectfree.tv/  Grab some headphones and find a whole ton of shows you didn't think you'd get a chance to watch.  Same goes for the free part of http://www.hulu.com/ and www.tvduck.com

Google- check out the maps, and see how close you can get to different things on the satellite or even street views.  Search for family and friends.

Webcomics and graphic novels.  These things are addicting!  I started reading one and noticed ads for other ones.  So I started reading those.  Each time I start a new one I go back to the first comic and catch up.  A few favorites for you to check out: Girl Genius, Girls with slingshots, Devil's Panties (it's not satanic porn), PhD comics (especially good if you've ever dealt with a grad student), Weregeek, Red String, and just recently I discovered Doug Lefler.

StumbleUpon- if you haven't encountered this yet then you are really missing out!  You chose different categories of interest and then click "start stumbling" you are then transported to a new page based on your interests.  You can then click on a thumbs up or down and SU will remember that for both you to reference to to decide if they'll keep it to show others.  Click on Stumble again and away to go to a whole new world of sites.  Warning: you will become addicted to both Stumbling and some of the sites you stumble to.  To me, this is the ultimate of time wasters.  You will stumble onto a site, explore it and possibly click through it for some time, then stumble again.  I have been led to so many game sites with SU.

Travel and house hunting sites.  When you're sleep deprived and already delirious, why not indulge a fantasy or 10?  Look into different trips you could take or houses you could buy if you only had the time and money.  My latest was a 10 day cruise to Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  Tickets started at over $14,000.  I'm sure I could raise that much leisure money in another lifetime.

What are some sites you love to waste time on?

13 January 2011

Motherless mom

Since I have had Kara I have learned just how valuable having a mom is.  No one can replace the ability to talk about parenting with the woman who raised you.  You can surround yourself with other moms, you can have a great mother-in-law, but it doesn't replace or make up for not having the woman who parented you there.   Sometimes she left your life early, sometimes later.  You may have known her really well or not at all, but you still feel her absence. 

I often have mini conversations with my mom.  I will ask her "how did you do this?  how did you get through everything?"  In my head I will hear a reply of "I just did."  But I know that her real reply would have been much longer, much more thought out and caring.  I'm sure it would have included at least one "oh, babe" or a gentle knowing smile.  Sure I can ask my dad how things went, but the answer is not the same as it would be from her. 

Not everything with mom was sunshine and rainbows.  I don't want readers to think that she was always a great mom.  Hell is putting it mildly some of the things she put us through.  Mom drank, a lot, frequently.  Starting in about 5th grade or so she was absent from my life more than not.  She had some amazing clear moments and times. And then life was so wonderful!  Not because she wasn't drunk but because she, genuinely, was a fantastic woman.  I even remember my entire senior year of high school with great fondness in part because she was sober for almost the entire year!  But past that and she was drunk.  Drinking is what killed her.  She was drunk, she fell and got a concussion.  I am glad I no longer have to deal with the drunk.  But I miss the woman, and especially the mom, she really was.

So back to being a motherless mother.  When you don't have that one person to turn to how do you cope?  Why is it that getting advice from people who aren't Mom just isn't as true, real or important?  Is it the title or the fact that this woman grew you, raised you, and then left?  Does it make it any more painful if she left early in your life?  or later?  I don't think the duration of her presence is that important, you still feel the loss.  You still notice the gaping hole that, no matter how hard you try, you cannot fill, patch over or ignore.

I sometimes wonder if my children are anything like I was.  Did my mom often watch me and see her behaviors reflected back? How did she try to adjust her own behavior to help me erase the bad ones and keep the good ones?  Did she ever struggle to figure out my own sleep behavior and get it to match what she needed from me?  I know my dad can fill in some of the gaps, but somehow it isn't the same as hearing it from her. 

I have a large collection of my mom's writing.  Some of it was creative, some was journals.  In the 11 and a half years she's been gone I have read through some of it maybe 7 times.  I keep hoping that when I do get a chance to look through it I'll find some piece that mentions me, her struggles, her choices. A guide almost to how she parented.  But I also fear what I may find in all those pages.  I don't know if it's content or lack thereof that I fear the most.

I look at my girls and I feel a strong resolve to make sure I'm healthy and around as long as possible.  I want to be here for them when/if they go through their own mothering crisis.  I don't want them to have to imagine me saying "I just did" or "oh, babe".  I want them to be able to use whatever new technologies exist then to contact me and hear me say "I struggled through it.  I had some really rough times.  But then you'd turn to me and smile or hug me and I knew then that all the rough times must surely be worth it".

As a resource for others going through this.  Please check out Hope Edelman's books "Motherless Daughters" and "Motherless Mothers".  While I have not had the funds or chance to read the latter the former was of great benefit to me. You can find out more about her on her site  http://www.hopeedelman.com/

10 January 2011

I'm only just pretending

I remember when I was younger and I'd babysit.  I didn't do it because I particularly liked kids.  I did it because I wanted to have money to do things with and had been told that was how girls my age got it when they didn't get allowances.  I remember how sometimes (probably more than I care to admit) I'd look at my watch and wonder "when will your parents be home?".  I find myself thinking that sometimes now that I'm the parent.  I'll look at my watch or the calendar and think "when will the parents be home?".  But I'm the parent.  At least, that's what people keep telling me.

I swear sometimes that I'm just pretending at this adult/parent thing.  I may be turning 33 but I often feel like I have the answers of an 18 year old.  Ok, not what an 18 year old will tell you, because well, they're invincible and have all the right answers.  But the answers and 18 year old actually has.  That is, none and the wrong ones.  Somewhere down the line I thought that someone would have the answer key, the solution or even just the operators manual to being an adult.  It seemed like my parents knew what they were doing, even when they disfunctionally did not.  So if my parents could figure all this out even with all the hell we went through, why couldn't I?  To my youthful eyes it always appeared that they somehow found the money to buy food, pay the bills, keep us clothed and in a functioning house.  All with a decent pile of gifts at the required times.  Sure I remember being told "we don't have the money/time for that" but as a kid you expect to hear that because well, that's just something adults say to get kids to leave them alone.  I saw the struggles my parents went through, but for some reason, it never clicked that that was what life was really like.  Probably because I knew our situation was far far from normal (for those who do not know, my mother was an alcoholic).

We all are told to get through high school so we can go to college.  But then what?  We get a degree and are supposed to get a job right?  But what about everything else that comes in life?  When are we supposed to learn about investing for a future that no one can predict?  What if what your passion doesn't make money (come on people, do you really expect me to make a living working in theater)?  Has anyone ever been offered a class on how to build a healthy, functioning social network (not Facebook style, in PERSON)?  How do we learn when to decide to take the car in to fix the gas gauge versus using those funds to do the repairs your house needs?  Who teaches us how to adjust to being a spouse, a parent, or a parent of more than one child?  In this ever global world we live in we rarely stay close to family, the people that used to teach us and mentor us in those lessons.  Now we must struggle on and forge our own way.  Hoping that we are not taking wrong turns or about to encounter the Minotaur. 

In middle school I was in a play called "It's all Greek to me".  The entire premise was to show different Greek myths.  I got to play both Persephone who sits in hell crying for her mommy and Ariadne who gave Theseus the ball of thread to lead him safely out of the Labyrinth and away from the Minotaur her father had created.  Lately in my parenting I feel as if I am Persephone more than Ariadne.  But then again, I could just be the actor and only pretending until the real parents come home.

06 January 2011

The demonic holiday

We have declared our holiday of 2010 the Demonic Holiday.  This is all from the time we got back from Minnesota to the time we had to leave for Wisconsin.  So over a span of 3 weeks.  It was one crazed event after another.  Here's the short-short version in no particular order:

When we went to finally get our Yule tree it was to a new farm we hadn't been to.  It was cold, very windy, and farther away than last year's farm.  Adam and I hadn't been communicating well and it continued to the day.  Everyone was cranky and the tramping around in bad weather and an unfamiliar place with no guidance didn't help.  I ended up sending Adam and Kara to the car while I found and tried to cut down the tree on my own, with Rowan strapped to me.  Someone else had to finish cutting it down.  Then I had to haul it to the car on my own.  At least Adam managed to get it on the car.  When we got home, Adam was sick.  And I mean sick.  After everyone but I took naps I went to get the tree off the car and inside.  Adam tried to help me get it up but while he was holding it and I was on the floor tightening the stand he had to let go and throw up.  So while I held the tree up while I sat on the floor I managed to call a friend to come help get the tree up.  Before you ask- if I had let go of the tree it would have fallen on Kara and Rowan (who, by the way, were not happy and crying).


Kara had just gotten over being stomach sick and now Adam had it.  Then Kara was sick right away again, this time with an ear infection, then Adam got sick again (just a basic cold, but a doozy of one), then Rowan got it, then I got it. Then we were ALL sick, at the same time. Right before Yule and our trip to Wisconsin.  Kara managed to get all of her energy back when the rest of us were totally laid up.

We almost didn't get the tree decorated or anything done and ready for our Wisconsin trip.  Adam barely got done shopping for gifts for me.  As it was, I think he went shopping the day before Yule. And yes, we had to have the tree. We were home for Yule and it meant a lot to me.  It would have made me even sadder to not have it at all. We got most of the ornaments up, not all, but most.

The car got a flat tire twice, it was the same tire both times too. The turn signal on the car also had to be repaired twice.

One night we decided to make pizza for dinner. As Adam went to get it out of the over it flipped upside down while part way in the oven.  There was cheese everywhere inside the oven!  Then Kara didn't want to eat it because it was all wrong.

I made cookies for a cookie swap that didn't turn out all fluffy like they should have been, and the peppermint was so strong that it gave me heartburn.  The exchange then got canceled.  Anyone want a bunch of flat really strong peppermint meringue cookies?

Adam almost had to return a day early for a meeting.  He would have had to buy a round trip ticket the day before we were to return, then get back to me in order to get all our bags and all of us home.  No way in hell was I going to try and fly with a connection in O'Hare with 2 kids.  Not yet anyway. Thankfully the meeting got rescheduled.

2 of the gifts we ordered for each other hadn't arrived by the time we left for Wisconsin. Note to self- check on the one that STILL isn't here.


I ordered 3 items on-line from a marketplace for my sister-in-law.  I was then told that one of them was no longer available, didn't get responses on how much to send for two other attempts to get things, and one of the things I ordered was not the same as it was listed.  Thankfully I did manage to get her 2 of the 3 items we wanted.  Note to self- order the 3rd item and get it sent to her.

I planned on getting the gutters cleaned before we left.  They had to reschedule it because they messed up on their schedules.  Of course it snowed before they came out and the gutters were then clogged with ice.  Thankfully they did still get them cleaned.

We had a 6 am flight out of Baltimore to O'Hare with an hour and a half to make our connection.  That actually wasn't too bad. We got a hotel room in Baltimore the night before, we all managed to get decent amounts of sleep (I slept in a bed with Kara, Adam in a bed with Rowan or she would have been trying to nurse all night).   We got through security fine. As we were getting all of our things back together a guy who was high on something (and not life) looked at us, pulled a beat up $20 out of his wallet and said "get something for the kid".  He threw it at the car seat and walked off talking to himself and anyone else he could.  Kara cringed every time he talked, and that's saying a lot! Making the connection wasn't too bad, we did have to walk quickly.  Returning was a different story.  Our first flight was late, then landed at O'Hare at the furthest runway.  We then had about 20 minutes to get to the other side of the airport before the next flight was supposed to depart.  We were told to take a shuttle. After waiting in line for the shuttle for 5 minutes they told us it was a 15 minute walk to our gate and the shuttle was packed so walk it.  We RAN and almost didn't make it.  Adam got there before I did and the door was closed. THANKFULLY they were still loading bags and waiting on more (from our flight I suspect) so they let us and 2 others on. We then sat there for another 10-15 minutes as they loaded bags.  And yes, our bags did all make it back with us (phew!).

In the time we had been back from Minnesota Kara had gone to school only 1 day.  So I was about ready to lose any sanity left.

Adam & I had been "fighting" for quite a few days.  In our world "fighting" is really not communicating well and then getting frustrated with each other, not talking outside of "did you get this done?  Well, why not?" and not touching.  We thankfully took some time to go over things before the stress of the flight.

While in Wisconsin Adam had the chance to play casual soccer games with the current high school soccer team.  It was a benefit for a former teacher and principal that had an accident and broke his back (he's now partially paralyzed).  Adam was the oldest person there, none of the other alumni showed up, so he was playing against kids about half his age (15-18 year olds).  He managed to hold his own, but in all that he got a foot to the ankle.  No, it's not broken.  But it swelled up and he got a massive bleeder bruise.  His foot, ankle, up his calf have been purple, black, and red for a week and a half.  He went into the doctor today.  But it meant he wasn't very mobile for most of the trip.

Neither girl slept well the entire vacation.  So neither Adam nor I slept well either.

When Adam and I went to go out for a date the movie we wanted to see, Tron Legacy, was canceled due to technical difficulties.  So we went to a restaurant where they had cheese curds Adam really liked.  Only to find out they were out of them.  Neither of us was very impressed with our meal that night.  Date night dud!

Yup.  Demonic holiday.  I'm sure I'm forgetting something in all of that.