28 January 2011


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.