Sunday, October 31, 2010
Throughout the year, we tell our children that too much candy will rot their teeth and make them fat. We assure them that the boogieman isn't real, and neither are ghosts or goblins or werewolves or witches. And we make sure to pound it into their brains that they should never, ever, ever take candy from strangers.
Except on Halloween night, when we actually allow them to dress up in costumes we accompany them to strangers' homes to not merely accept candy, but to actually solicit candy. From strangers.
Along the way, we encourage them not to be too frightened as they encounter vampires and axe murders.
At the end of the night, the children take home vast amounts of candy - the Halloween haul this year weighed in at 14 lbs. That, my friends, is the weight of about 2 newborn babies. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but wouldn't 14 lbs. of candy (or 3.5 lbs. of candy per child) qualify as "too much candy"?
I also have philosophical objections to Halloween. To be blunt, I think it glorifies evil. Perhaps you will find that too harsh, but at the very least, it does muddy the waters a bit, doesn't it? Little fairy princesses and little boys dressed up as Power Rangers are cute. But it's downright disturbing to see people with fake blood dripping from their severed heads and it's just a little bit disheartening to approach homes with screams and moans emanating from within.
Up until last year, we managed to avoid Halloween altogether. We went out for ice cream sundaes as a family when our children were small and naive. When they got a bit older and realized that they may be missing out on something, we participated in All Saints Day parties, where they played games with their friends and got loads of candy handed to them without having to brave the cold of Halloween night.
Don't get me wrong; we've had a bit of fun letting our kids dress up and cruise the neighborhood seeking sweets, but I'm starting to think, "OK, we've had our fun. Let's go back to being young and naive."
My daughter just said to me, "Let's just go back to the All Saints Day party next year." I think we could make a good case for it - no creepy werewolves, no dodging traffic, no freezing your buns off just to get a good stash of candy.
Remind me next year when Halloween comes around again.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I'm a school secretary. In the case of my particular place of employment, that also makes me the school nurse.
I like to think I'm pretty good at being compassionate. I can be very nurturing when Johnny comes in with a cut on his finger and needs a band-aid. I like to give hugs to crying little boys and girls and tell them it will be OK. I've taken numerous temperatures, doled out countless band-aids, and even cleaned up puke on the very first day of school. Vomit does not typically bother me, unless it's coming out of me - then it's rather unpleasant. But I truly don't mind helping little Susie clean the chunks off her dress.
I would say that I don't even mind blood. I mean I've seen lots of skinned knees and paper cuts, and even a few gruesome pencil lead stabbings. But I was still caught off guard by today's events.
Little Joey came into the office, escorted by the 4th grade teacher who was holding a wad of bloody paper towel on the boy's head. My co-worker started cleaning up the blood while I finished up a phone call. Then I threw on my gloves and dove right in. My partner said to me, "Take a look at this and see what you think." So, I gently removed the paper towel to reveal a nice clean gash right along the little guy's eyebrow. Surprisingly, there wasn't nearly as much blood as I would have expected, but the cut most likely would need stitches. I put the towel wad back on and held it there firmly. At this point, the little guy started to cry and say, "I want my mom." I don't know if it was the look on my face, but this was also the point where I was starting to feel a bit queasy. I told him to keep holding paper towel there and I went into the back room to the First Aid kit to retrieve a few butterfly bandages. That's when the sweating started. First the hot flash, and then the cold sweat. By the time I made it back into the office, I had to sit down right next to the boy because I could hear the ringing in my ears and everything was going a little dark. I put my head down on the table. I feared that I would faint right there in front of him and freak him out further, but I didn't dare walk back to the teacher's lounge for fear that I might pass out on the way. Luckily another teacher walked in and saw me and said, "Are you OK?" Then she said, "I can take over." (My partner was on the phone all this time, trying to contact Junior's mom.) So, I carefully made my way out to the teachers' lounge and laid down on the floor in a very careful fashion so as not to expose anyone to my undergarments.
I lay there for several minutes, hoping and praying to God that no one would walk in because I felt just a little foolish lying on the floor. Finally my co-worker came in to find me, and she was just a little surprised. "Are you OK???" She asked. I was making my way up off the floor and heading for a drink of water. I was fine but a little embarrassed that I had almost lost it in a moment of crisis.
I got the boy a drink of water as well and was able to go back and comfort him until his mom came.
What I am trying desperately to figure out is this: What exactly bothered me about that scenario? Blood, by itself, dripping out of a nose, or leaking from a scraped knee does NOT bother me at all. So, why did that little cut on the forehead set me swooning? Is it perhaps that I just don't like to see anything that is supposed to be on the inside of the body? Or is it just the excitement of the moment that gets to me? I actually find it a bit irritating that I couldn't keep it together, but I am extremely curious about why I found that situation so disturbing.
In any case, I'm fairly certain that being a nurse was not my calling.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Obviously, this was a man's job. So I herded the children inside and waited for my husband to return. I dragged the trash dumpster into the driveway so that he would stop before running over the squirrel, although in retrospect, that would have solved the problem of having to put the squirrel down.
He was not pleased to have to deal with an overgrown rodent before enjoying his Frosty. He and I stood there and pondered the squirrel for several minutes, trying to decide what to do, and debating about whether the squirrel was alive or dead.
“Look, his little chest is moving.”
“No, he's not moving.”
“Yes, Get a mirror and put it in front of his mouth.”
“No, if he was alive, he'd be struggling to get away.”
“He's alive! He's just stunned.”
My husband finally went and got the edger. The shovel was in the deep, dark back yard and my husband did not want to go that far for a dying squirrel. So he tried to pick it up with the edger and then he said, “Let's just bury it over there,” motioning to the neighboring yard, where there the house is being renovated by Habitat for Humanity, and it just so happened that they had started digging up the yard that very day. So, my hubby figured that they would never know the difference if we buried a rodent carcass in the yard. However, knowing a bit about landscaping myself, I pointed out that they may actually have to dig deeper to plant things like trees, or to pour cement for a sidewalk. My husband insisted that no one would notice.
Luckily, our friend Brad happened along just at that time. Brad was out walking his little dog, a shi tzu-yorkie mix, which by the way, is a little bit of a humorous scene. Brad is a Man's Man. Brad is meat-and-potatoes man who works hard at his job as
Anyway, I breathed a sigh of relief when Brad walked over and offered to help. I figured I would leave the men to it and told my children not to watch because I didn't know what they would actually do. However it got taken care of, the squirrel was removed from our driveway and moved on to a better place – I simply did not ask for details.
A few days later, I noticed a lovely little evergreen shrub had been planted in the neighboring yard. Yup! You guessed it - in the exact place that my husband had suggested we bury the squirrel. So, I had to take the opportunity to tell him that I was right. And that I hope he didn't actually bury the squirrel there after I went into the house.
Because nothing says, “Welcome to the neighborhood” like a dead, rotting animal buried in the front yard.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
But, wait, that sets me up for having to actually write something fabulous, inspirational, and tremendously entertaining.
So, yeah, I've been really busy, being a working mom and all. But today I will not regale you with tales from my adventures as a school secretary. Instead I will delight you with stories of a 5-year-old who seems to have a way with the ladies.
Ever since he started school, just a little over a year ago, my little guy has come home with tales of his "friendships" at school. . . mostly with little girls. I've shared this story before, but after the first day of Kindergarten, we were sitting at the dinner table, and Evan told us, "I like Amber. I like to be by her." My husband asked, "Is she cute?" To which he responded, "She's hot!" We then proceeded to shoot mashed potatoes out of our noses due to uncontrollable laughter.
Shortly thereafter, he moved on to Evelyn. He had a crush on Evelyn for quite some time. For at least a month, his morning prayer would be, "God, please let me marry Evelyn when I grow up." I made the mistake of telling Evelyn's father that my son had a crush on his daughter and I could see that he immediately began calculating how much a shotgun would cost.
Near the end of the year, Evan came home and told me that yet another little girl was always trying to kiss him. I asked him, "Why do you think she's doing that?" He thought for a minute and then he said, "Well, I always call her sweetie pie." (I think I'm going to have to give him lessons on how NOT to give a girl the wrong idea.)
So, now we begin First Grade, and it's a whole new playing field: a year of experience under his belt, and a whole slew of new girls to get to know. A few days ago, I was sitting with Evan while he was eating breakfast at school, and another little first grader came up to us - a female first grader. She asked me, "Is this your son?" I said yes, and then she said, "He's so cute!" I laughed at her precociousness and hinted that Evan should play with her at recess, since she's in a different classroom. I guess he took the hint because he came home from school on Friday and told me all about how he had played with Esmeralda during the whole recess and that they had made plans to meet under the slide on Monday. And the whole weekend, he did not stop talking about his upcoming rendezvous - he gives a whole new meaning to "play date!"
As you can tell, I'm really enjoying this phase of my son's life. Am I overlooking a potential problem? Is my son going to be a womanizer, or is he just getting it out of his system early on? Or do I just get to sit back and enjoy these sweet moments of my son's life?
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Well, I'm not gushing today. I'm actually considering finding a 12-gauge shotgun to rid my life of the prolific poopers who defiled my basement.
For several months, I've noticed the faint smell of cat litter - "and then some" - wafting throughout our house. Most people either didn't notice it or politely insisted that they didn't when they actually did and then decided to never visit our house again. No matter how often we scooped the cat box and replaced the litter and sprinkled it with deodorizer and sprayed liberal amounts of Lysol Neutra-Air, the smell lingered.
"Luckily" (I think), my daughter and her buddy recently discovered the gruesome truth: the cats had found an alternate outhouse under the basement stairs. This is in a small room that houses the furnace. However, there is a small piece of drywall cutaway for access to the furnace from the outside of the room - this is where the kitties found their entrance.
I asked my husband to address the mess while I started dinner - partly because I'm allergic to dust and pet dander, and partly because I didn't want the disgusting job of chipping up dried cat poo.
My poor, poor husband then faced a grisly mess that he could only describe as a "ball pit". We had conveniently forgotten (for a day or two) that the smell of such things embeds itself into anything and everything, even after the initial clean up. So, even though the visible mess is cleaned up, we now embark on the formidable task of erasing the cat odor. Since the incident (or many, many, many incidents, I should say) took place in the furnace room, the smell does indeed pervade the entire house.
Today's task is to clean the basement floor - repeatedly - the goal being to get enough ammonia out of the concrete so that we don't asphyxiate ourselves when we bleach the heck out of the floor.
Wish me luck. And remind me again why I love my cats so much.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Well, not me, apparently.
I mean, I know I'm not slim by any means. I know that I could stand to lose a good amount of weight (never mind how much). But I tend to think I carry it well.
Here is evidence to the contrary: when I put on this outfit for my nephew's graduation party, I thought it looked decent. I thought it looked light and summery and that it managed to cover up my flaws in a fairly efficient fashion.
Instead I look like the Great Pumpkin.
Unfortunately I didn't notice this until after the party and after all the pictures were taken. And I can't exactly delete the pictures of my awesome God-son's graduation bash.
But, dang. I thought I was going to be his cool, hip Auntie Jenny.
Instead, I'm his great aunt Marge in a muumuu.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Why the heck are they asking me this? For all my concerns about weight, exercise, and healthy eating, I don't think that I have uttered the phrase "on a diet" since high school. Or college, maybe.
I have tried - with some success - to change my family's eating habits for good. I set my feet squarely in the camp with people who say that there is no such thing as a diet - it has to be a lifestyle change. However, I sometimes still try to get that quick weight loss by following a more stringent diet plan. I usually end up going back to the Fat Resistance Diet, which is founded on a philosophy that I understand and agree with. But the truth is that I really don't like the food. So, why is it that, not only do I have to deny myself the stuff that I love (like Frosties from Wendy's, which I had just last night), and then force myself to eat stuff that I hate?
Here's a snapshot of the Fat Resistance Diet:
Breakfast: Smoked Salmon Frittata, Slim Chai Tea, decaf coffee with skim milk, fresh orange
Fish for breakfast? Not a chance. Not even when I was living in the Philippines was I forced to eat fish for breakfast!
Slim Chai Tea: This is green tea with cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves.
I hate tea.
I mean, I really despise tea. (Please don't tell my mother-in-law - she's British.) I have politely tried to like it, but to no avail. I am a coffee drinker, through and through. Forcing myself to drink tea is like forcing a hockey player to compete in a figure skating competition. (Yes, I know this was done in the movie "The Cutting Edge", but I'm talking reality here.)
And then, the coup de grace: decaf coffee with skim milk. Might as well substitute the swill from my garbage disposal for as much enjoyment as I'd get from that. It would be like going to my favorite restaurant, ordering Prime Rib, and being served a single McDonald's chicken nugget. Yeah, it's that bad.
But I don't want to be inflexible. I could probably cut my coffee intake a bit, and possibly switch to fat free 1/2 & 1/2. I can eat a frittata for breakfast with lots of veggies. And I've gleaned some great things from the Fat Resistance Diet - even my children like the smoothies made with plain yogurt, blueberries, protein powder and flax seed.
I think it's a matter of adding the foods we like (or at least foods we can tolerate and hopefully learn to love), and finding healthier alternatives to what we already eat. The best part is that my husband is finally on board - it was he who suggested that we have salads every night and vary them throughout the week.
But I will never learn to like tea.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
I'm following a program called Couch Potato to 5K. It is a fitting title since I certainly identify with "Couch Potato" far more than "5K". My goal isn't even to run in a 5K race or any other race for that matter - I just want to be able to run down the block without getting winded. I regularly see runners and it looks like such a free and fun form of exercise. They go faster and farther than I have ever dreamed of going, even with power walking. I aspire to be like them, running like a gazelle through the woods and valleys, without a care in the world. Never mind the fact that I will never have a runner's body since I am barely over 5 feet tall and weigh much more than a gazelle.
My daughters and I started this program while I was visiting my family in the Upper Peninsula. I figured it would be better to get started on gravel rather than pavement because gravel is a little "softer". That, and no one would see me. I have to give my body credit because it is bouncing back better than I thought it would. It was my knee, not my hip, that has been groaning this time, but I bought a knee brace, and I've used liberal amounts of ice.
Still, so far, I'm not feeling like a gazelle. It feels more like I'm hurling 50-lb. sacks of potatoes onto the pavement with each step. But I am slowly but surely increasing my endurance, as measured by the fact that I'm hyperventilating less and less.
However, I feel that something is different this time. I think (I hope, I pray) that I am absolutely determined to show myself that I can do it! I feel pretty good about it since I've made it a week and a half and I haven't quit yet.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
So, I am indeed enjoying the cause for my blogging backup - I'm still in the honeymoon phase of the job - where I actually can't wait to get to work in the morning (part of that is just the fun of escaping from the kids) and I am genuinely disappointed when the work day comes to an end.
I think I need to gradually work the roughage of life back into my blogging arena. It's usually the stressful situations that end up being the best fodder for a blog post written with wit and sarcasm.
Besides, I can't poke fun at my new job yet, since I'm still only a temporary employee.
Still likin' my job as a school secretary (yes, we're open all summer), and still not knowin' if I'll be hired permanently. But that's ok. Trustin' God to work it all to the good. And hopefully once this gets to be routine, I will be a more regular blogger again.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
I really enjoy my job at the school, and it's a nice break from home (hee hee - it's a guilty pleasure). However, I am still unsure of the permanency of the job, since Mr. Principal won't make a final decision until August. Until then, I'm trying to figure out how to balance home, work, and blogging life! Actually, the kids have been doing a fabulous job keeping up with house chores - with the babysitter's help, no doubt - so that hasn't been too stressful. But I have been fielding a variety of questions about when I have to work again and how long and will I be doing this forever? It's a bit of a challenge when I don't have regular work hours yet, so the kids are feeling a bit apprehensive about the whole situation.
So, just another quick check-in. In the meantime, I've been reading up on my favorite funny guy, Dave Barry, just to inspire myself to get back into the blogging groove - he's the one who makes me laugh more than anyone else on the planet. And I, in turn, want to make others laugh. Sorry I haven't been doing that much lately though.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Last night was my little guy's kindergarten graduation. In the flurry of activity involved between school and the ceremony, I didn't have much time to think about it. Even over the past few weeks, I haven't thought about much except what was right in front of me at the moment. But as we drove to the school last night, Mr. Grad pulled out a little diary that his teacher gave him, and she wrote a poem to him inside of it. One of the girls began to read it, and of course, it gave my heart a good tug. It was something along the lines of "don't grow up too fast and make sure to always do your best", so naturally the tears started flowing. My eyes clouded up while I was driving down 496 through rush-hour traffic. In a typically sentimental mom fashion, I yelled, "Quit reading that, dammit! I can't see the road!"
But as we arrived at school (in one piece, thankfully), I was still a weepy mess and had to head off to find some kleenex, stat. It hit me all at once: my baby was graduating from kindergarten. I no longer had a baby in the house. I hadn't had one for quite some time, but he was still my little guy, and now he was becoming my big, grown-up boy who knows how to read and write and has a bunch of new friends, and a whole new life ahead of him.
I navigated the ceremony with minimal tears. But I suspect that in the coming days, there will be more to come.
Monday, May 31, 2010
That being said, I'm going to poke a little fun at him in this post. I told him I was going to, and he laughed, so it's all in good fun.
Here is the scenario. I've wanted to buy a lawn edger for a long time, because I really like a neatly manicured lawn. We've never had one, (a neatly manicured lawn, that is) but by gosh, I decided this was the year I was going to make it happen, so I started by purchasing a manual edger and some "weed & feed".
I started using my edger on Mother's Day - what can I say? I was in the mood for gardening I guess. I managed to make it down one side of the front sidewalk and then practically collapsed in agony. I've also been nursing a sore shoulder for a few years now and that little gardening spree made it worse.
I mentioned to my husband that I needed his upper body strength to get the job done - yes, I used a little shameless flattery, but he is indeed quite strong in the upper body department, while my muscles resemble a limp rubber band.
One morning, I went off to a meeting and I came back to find this. I seriously thought that some neighborhood dog, or perhaps a rodent, had dug up our yard. Then it dawned on me. My husband had tried to do some edging. However, I made the natural assumption that he actually knew how to do it. I had made the mistake of thinking he had noticed many other nicely edged lawns, and was salivating to have his very own neatly trimmed yard. But I was wrong. I was so wrong.
I went inside and tried to casually ask my husband how the lawn had come to look this way. In my mind, I was wanting to yell, "What the hell did you do???" But I managed to maintain control and simply asked what was going on in the front yard. He flatly answered, "I started the edging". OK. . . .So, I waited for the rest of the explanation, perhaps something along the lines of, "but then aliens came and started to control me with their mind powers so that I ended up flinging dirt every which way". I would have understood then, but there was no further explanation. And he clearly expected some gratitude.
I responded, "Uh, thanks, honey. Do you want me to help you pick up the clumps of dirt lying all over the yard?" His response, "Nah, I'll just leave them there and let the mower chop them up when I mow the lawn again."
Naturally, I thought he was kidding, but when I asked him again (a little more impatiently, I might add), to pick up the dirt clumps when he went to mow the lawn the next day, he asked, "Why? The mower will get them." That's when I lost my temper, furiously went outside and picked up the stupid clumps myself, and ended up saying something a little snippy to him about how I know a little more about yard management and gardening than he does, so he should just do what I ask him to do.
Sadly, so sadly, those very words came back to haunt me. After the declumping and the mowing, I set out to apply the weed & feed. I carefully set the spreader according to the directions. However, I guess I didn't realize that I wasn't supposed to go back and forth over the same area 3 or 4 times. (I'm going to blame that on my 5-year-old helper, who really did insist on going over the same spots time and time again.)
Two weeks later, I have a nicely mown, nicely edged lawn, with nice big patches of burned, brown and dead grass. I was going to take a picture of that, too, but you get the idea. No reason to humiliate anyone else in our family.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
So, here's my list. If any of you join me in my bizarre or unusual behaviors, then I will consider myself among the "normals" of the world. If not, I will create a new normal.
1. Sometimes when I'm driving, I will crank up the music and pretend I'm in a music video. And then I'll strut into the grocery store, imagining that some guy is singing about how beautiful I am. And then I'll flip my hair provocatively while thumping melons.
2. I love sleep and I hate being inconvenienced by the call of nature. However, I do the civilized thing and drag myself to the bathroom. But sometimes I fall asleep on the toilet.
3. On a regular basis, everyday words will completely escape my mind. I realize that this is probably just a sign of aging, but my brain takes it one step further and substitutes an entirely different - and often unrelated - word into a sentence. For example, Child A may ask, "Mom have you seen my new shirt?" And I will answer, "Yes, dear, I just put it in the microwave." Of course, I actually put it in the dryer, so at least my brain was thinking of appliances. But what troubles me is that I don't even miss a beat when I say these things - the words tumble out as if I wasn't having any trouble thinking of the correct word at all.
4. I also forget people's names. Not the names of people I've met once or twice, but people I've known for years. I will say to my husband, "I talked to that lady across the street today; you know, the one with 8 kids." And he'll respond, "You mean Jane? Your dear friend whom you've known for 20 years, whose kids play with our kids, whose house you walk into without knocking, whose baby's birth you witnessed just because you asked to be there in the delivery room?" And I simply reply, "Yeah, that's the one."
5. I realize that a lot of people talk to themselves. I talk to myself incessantly. I guess I really like my own company. When I'm home alone, I talk to myself out loud all the time, and sometimes I will direct some of the conversation to the cats, just so it seems like I'm talking to someone else instead of myself. But when I'm in public, even, I will mumble to myself. People passing me in the bread aisle at Meijer will hear something like this, "So, if this one is 3 for $5, then it's $1.67 for one, but then the Meijer brand is cheaper and has more in the package, but my kids like this other brand better." I'm not at all trying to talk to someone else, I'm just babbling under my breath to try to figure out what I'm going to buy. It's like it's easier for me to think if it's not all jumbled up inside my head, so I have to say it out loud, but as quietly as possible.
That's enough craziness for one day. I'm sure I can create another post on this topic. But for now, I have to get ready for work.
I think I'll crank up the music.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Remember my post, Fragrant Memories? There were lots of "delicious" smells on the farm, too, that I still consider comforting, even though they may cause others to vomit.
I went shopping with my kids the other day. When they were little, they lived under the innocent delusion that beef, pork & chicken came from the Meat Fairy and not real animals, despite the fact that chicken doesn't have a nice euphemism for the meat that comes from the animal, like "pork" or "beef". But they gradually started asking questions, and I answered them as delicately as I could, so as not to force my children to become immediate vegetarians. (I could NOT support that habit, since I personally am a meat-a-holic.)
Anyway, when I took the kiddos shopping, I picked up a ham that was reduced in price. My children took no time in noticing that the ham came from the "butt portion". When they asked why it said, "butt", I'm sure they were hoping for a nice, reasonable explanation that didn't involve pig anatomy, but I bluntly told them, "because it's the butt of the pig." There was no more delicate way to explain it, so I left it at that.
A few days later, 5-year-old asked me, "Mom, when are you going to cook Pig Butt for dinner? Because I don't think I'm going to eat dinner that day."
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Well, I'm sure it will happen e-v-e-n-t-u-a-l-l-y. But I started walking this week, and I ain't feelin' no energy yet. All I'm feeling is *yawn* the struggle to stay awake. Literally. My son has the day off of school today and he has his friend over. I had dozed off on the couch and he came to me and said, "Mom, can we have some graham crackers and milk?" I mumbled something resembling "yes" and dozed off again. I finally woke enough to check on them and found out they had eaten a whole package of graham crackers (not a whole box, just a pack), half a jar of peanut butter, and they polished off the rest of the milk. And it's not even lunch time yet.
I'm glad they didn't ask me for the keys to the car.
You'd think maybe this has something to do with the fact that I'm taking a 30-minute power walk at 6 AM. But, I usually get up at 6:15 or 6:30 anyway, so what's the big deal? And I'm usually in bed by 9:30 or 10?
But yet, I ain't feelin' that fabulous energy you're supposed to get from exercise. I hope it happens soon or I might be sending some hate mail to Jillian Michaels.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
I live near the large and ever-growing Sparrow Hospital. I drive by it every day, at least twice a day, bringing my children to and from school. The hospital sprawls down an entire city block, and across Michigan Avenue is Sparrow Professional Building, another sizable institution. The two are connected by a skywalk. Behind Sparrow Hospital is Eastern High School which serves 1300 students. Michigan Avenue is a main street that ends at the Capitol building. It is a busy, 5-lane thoroughfare.
It is not unusual to encounter jaywalkers while driving down this particular stretch of Michigan Avenue. In other words, it would be unusual not to see jaywalkers, especially at the beginning and end of school hours, when hoards of kids are weaving in and out through stop-and-go traffic.
Once in a while, I wonder why people don't go the extra few feet to cross Michigan at a crosswalk, or why medical personnel don't just go up the 3 floors to the skywalk. They can even use an elevator, for heaven's sake.
But today, I felt downright indignant to see a mother, with her toddler in a stroller, edging out onto Michigan Avenue and then retreating until traffic cleared. Seriously. She could have easily walked the 20 or 30 yards to a crosswalk in order to much more safely traverse the bustling street.
I'm not a judgmental person. I try to mind my own business. But, twelve years ago, I had the unfortunate experience of seeing a pedestrian get hit by a car, on that very same stretch of Michigan Ave. In that case, it was a grown man who was trying to cross amidst stopped traffic. As he was waiting in the center lane, a car unexpectedly pulled into the center lane and hit him, sending him somersaulting over the top of car, which then sped off. (Luckily, someone else had the presence of mind to follow that car and get the license plate number. Meanwhile, I was sitting there, stunned and wondering what to do. I eventually pulled over to tell a police officer what I had seen, but the driver of the car that had followed came back to give him all the information he needed.) That man got up and hobbled over to the curb, most likely with a broken arm, since he was cradling it and whimpering as he made his way to the ER staff that was already rushing outside.
But I shudder to think what would have happened if it had been that baby in a stroller who had gotten struck. That is why I feel somewhat incensed at the carelessness of that woman crossing the street with her baby. That is all I have to say.
I got to thinking about the only song that comes to mind when I think of Monday: "Monday, Monday" by the Mamas and the Papas. (You know, I think my parents still have an old vinyl record of the Mamas and the Papas somewhere.) What's confusing is that the first line of the song is "Monday, Monday, so good to me."
But then it goes on to confuse us all:
Every other day, every other day,
Every other day of the week is fine, yeah
But whenever Monday comes, but whenever Monday comes
You can find me cryin' all of the time
Perhaps the lyrics of this timeless song are too sublime for my comprehension.
Whatever the case, most people agree that Monday generally stinks. Why is this? Of course, we all love the weekend, but do we fool ourselves into thinking that Monday won't come this time? Do we begin to think that, maybe, through some inexplicable temporal alteration, we may have finally entered the eternal weekend?
Wouldn't it be awesome if we could have a Venusian calendar? A Venus day is 243 Earth days. So, a weekend would be 486 days, with Friday night adding roughly another 60 days, so the weekend would be 546 days. I could handle that.
However, the work week of 1215 days would truly stink.
Monday, May 17, 2010
I had yelled to my husband, "Annabelle is on the roof!", so he had already run upstairs and to the window to try to coax her back inside. I grabbed a bag of cat treats and a can of cat food and ran up to give them to him for bait. He tried the cat treats, but had no luck. Then I opened the cat food and handed it to him, and she came right up to him. He dropped the food on the roof and grabbed the cat - Whew!
But then, since we didn't want an assortment of other critters midnight-snacking on our roof, my hubs had to go back out the window after the cat food can. He slid himself out almost to the point of hanging on to the windowsill with his feet. "Oh, man, this could be bad," I thought, but he snatched the can and came back inside in a flash.
With a bit of comforting, Annabelle and our human children were calmed down. How's that for a bit of bedtime excitement?
Sunday, May 16, 2010
I just love to write.
But when I write, it's kind of nice to have someone read it. So, I'm grateful for my small band of followers (of whom I lost a few since I've taken some extended blogging breaks. . . oh well.) But what's really cool is having people come up to me in real life and say, "I enjoy reading your blog." That always inspires me to keep writing when I wonder whether writing is worth it. I mean, it is worth it to me because I love writing, but is it worth stressing myself out about creating a blog post when no one is going to read it, or I could just be writing in a notebook? (naaahhh, typing is much easier).
So, thanks to those of you who follow me and comment, because I love to know if my blog is reaching anyone. And thanks to those who go out of their way to approach me and say, "Your blog is great." Because I enjoy writing, and I especially enjoy writing for you.
We have some dear family friends whom we've known since college. Their children are fabulous friends with our children - they are like family to us. Last week, the husband's mother passed away at the age of 66, after battling with cancer for 2 years. Grandma S. was too young to die, but her funeral was still a joyful celebration for two reasons. The first is that we know where she is now - rejoicing with Jesus in heaven! Second, it was an amazing reflection on her life to see St. Thomas the Apostle Church packed with people whose lives she had touched. The Scriptures gave perspective, the songs were jubilant, and the atmosphere was one of hope. For sure, there were many tears and much sadness, but yet there is comfort in the Lord, knowing He will hold those who grieve. And I walked away feeling inspired to emulate this godly woman who left a legacy of love, service and self-sacrifice.
And then, the wedding. I enjoy weddings, but I really love Christian weddings. (I'm kind of biased because I love Jesus Christ!) The couple united in Christ is such a beautiful reflection of Jesus' love for us. There is something especially precious about two people who have preserved their purity and come before the altar of the Lord to invite Him to be part of their union. Plus it's just great fun to celebrate with friends over a nice meal and dancing, and without children in tow, I might add!
As I said, both were joyful celebrations, but I do look forward to the next wedding much more than the next funeral.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
raw = dead
So, when I opened the oven to season the chicken and smelled "dead" chicken, I was just a little grossed out. How do I know what dead chicken smells like? It goes back to when I was maybe about 3 years old and we lived on a farm in Pulaski, Wisconsin. Our neighbors owned the farm and we rented a big old house from them. That's where the smell of dead chicken comes from: the neighbors' teenage sons were killing and gutting chickens and I was helping. I, in my little golden blond ponytails and frilly pinafore, was reaching down inside the necks of dead, headless chickens and pulling out their insides.
Isn't that a pleasant childhood memory?
But the memories didn't stop there. I started thinking about other things. Like the smells of cow manure and diesel exhaust. Believe it or not, I actually like those smells. Because, when I left the farm in Pulaski - after a brief stint in Krakow (are you sensing a Polish theme here?) - we moved back to my dad's hometown and his family farm. So, I grew up playing on tractors and making mud pies with "not mud" (ha ha, I'm just kidding. . . .sort of). And yes, I genuinely enjoy the smell of diesel exhaust.
Unleaded exhaust, however, brings back rather unpleasant memories of when my family had an old beat-up blue van with no rear seats. My grandpa had used it when he was doing carpentry work, so it was "functional". Not for carrying children, of course, but for carrying nails and 2x4's. This didn't stop my parents from forcing us to occasionally ride on the cold, unpadded metal floor of the old blue van, which had some kind of exhaust-disposal issue which resulted in the death of many, many brain cells, I'm sure. I remember one incident very clearly: we were on our way to go camping, and since Blue Bessie was the only vehicle that could tow our trailer, my little sister and I were forced to ride in the back with the exhaust. We stopped at a small store and my sister and I staggered from the van, gasping for air. As we walked into the store, my sister said, "Mom, I don't feel good. My ears are ringing." My mom hardly batted an eyelash and said to me, "Pick her up, she's going to faint." Um, so I did, and I brought her outside until she regained consciousness. Then we got back into the exhaust-infested van and continued on our merry way. I guess it's all part and parcel of owning a hand-me-down vehicle.
But that isn't even the worst story about that van. It always seemed to have exhaust issues, as I mentioned, and one particular time, we had been riding around town for weeks with the muffler hanging by a thread. So, then, not only were the fumes making us hallucinate, but the ensuing headaches were exacerbated by the roar of the unmuffled engine. One afternoon, on the way home from town, the muffler just fell off. Right in the middle of the highway. And what did my mother do? She told ME to go and get it. She was too embarrassed to be seen driving the van, let alone chasing spare parts down Highway 41. What she forgot to mention was that the muffler would be hot, and after I found out the hard way, I kicked the muffler to the side of the road. My mom had backed the van up by then and we both just sat there and waited until it cooled off so that we could hoist it into the back of the van and make a quick getaway.
Ahhh, the memories.
I have so many more to share, but alas, it's bedtime and I will share more scent-inspired memories in another post. Until then, fragrant dreams!
Monday, May 10, 2010
It's kind of hard to write anything funny about my Mother's Day, because it was a very nice day, and in my world, nice isn't funny. So, be prepared - this may be not funny.
My mother's day began with sleeping in until 9:30; in fact, my husband and I both slept in. It was around 9:30 that I began feeling the pangs of caffeine withdrawal, so I stumbled downstairs, only to be greeted by, "MOM! We were going to make you breakfast in bed!" (Weird, because I'm not usually in bed until 9:30, so I'm not sure what they were waiting for.) I quickly remedied the situation, saying, "I just want some coffee - I'll start the coffee and then you can bring it to me in bed." I went back upstairs, dropping helpful hints behind me, like, "I like my coffee with cream only. . .no sugar, ok?", and then, "and I like toast with butter and cinnamon & sugar". (So, maybe I am a control freak, but I wanted to make sure I didn't end up with Froot Loops for breakfast.)
Breakfast arrived - coffee with plenty of cream, eggs and toast. And a napkin. And a little white vase full of lilacs. And 2 kids lying on my feet, saying, "do you like it?" (I'm not sure where the other 2 were. They were playing Mario Kart, I think. Later, when I thanked the children for breakfast in bed, there were a few quizzical looks and one, "you had breakfast in bed???")
When I finally got around to dragging my rested and fed body out of bed, I came to the living room to find that my children had prepared a space for me to veg on the on the couch while they rubbed my feet. And then they rubbed my legs. And my hands. And my ears. And my hair. It was actually quite relaxing, but I had to stop them before they got to my nose. And then they rubbed my back. . . for as long as I wanted them to. And as if I wasn't pampered enough, I then proceeded to take a hot bath. No bubbles, just a hot, relaxing bath.
I sent my husband away for the afternoon, however, which was a small downside to an otherwise perfect day. I sent him to honor another mother - the mom of one of our close friends passed away and the visitation with her family was on Sunday afternoon. (I went to the funeral this morning - a wonderful, sorrowful, beautiful and blessed celebration of the life of a godly woman. But, that is a story for yet another post.)
When my husband returned from his trek to Ann Arbor (about an hour away), we hopped in the car and drove across town just in time (um, well not exactly) for 5 PM Mass, since I had spent the morning being appropriately lazy. We rushed in at 5:20, just as the priest was honoring mothers during his homily. I've come to realize, at my wise old age, that I have to let go of concern about being judged by others for walking in late to Mass, or having my children humiliate me during Mass, or whatever. Ten years ago, I would have been exceedingly self-conscious to walk into Mass 20 minutes late. Yesterday, I was only mildly self-conscious. Yay for me!
On the way home, we got my favorite food in the whole world - Nachos! - and Death by Chocolate ice cream from Quality Dairy (for which there is NO substitute).
So, a nice, relaxing, low-key Mother's Day. Sorry I couldn't come up with anything more witty or funny, but hey it was Mother's Day, and it takes a little work to conjure up some humor.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Yesterday, as I was checking out at the grocery store, there came the sound of crying - tantruming, really. A young girl was sobbing and whining loudly that she wanted something her mother was not going to give her. And her cries persisted. She went on until I left the store, which was at least 10 minutes from when I first heard her.
But as I stood there in line for that entire 10 minutes, I felt sick with anxiety for the mother of that child. Because when you're the mom in that situation, you are absolutely certain that every eye is on you, wondering why you can't control your child. People look with disdain and others mutter under their breath. I know this because I used to be one of those people thinking that mother must be doing something wrong because this isn't the way children should act in public. And I sincerely, humbly apologize to anyone I ever passed judgment on, because my erroneous thinking came from the fact that I had never fully understood a 3-year-old child, who, at the end of the day, is overwhelmed with busyness and is hungry and tired and just wants some quiet and comfort.
I've been in that situation, like that young mom in the grocery store yesterday. I was in that stage for what seemed like endless years, when I would be forced to drag many young children to the grocery store; young children who would undoubtedly start fighting, playing tag in the aisles, or try to hide from me just for fun (and not realize that it caused me to have a full-blown panic attack). Those were the days that I promised little treats at the checkout for good behavior, and I was fully prepared to withhold the treats if their behavior didn't measure up. I was also fully prepared to leave my cart - half full of all the items I had searched for and price-checked and found coupons for - in the middle of Meijer and just walk out because of my children's negative behavior (which I did exactly one time.)
But my children were never perfect. And there were many moments when I was on the receiving end of the disdainful looks and judgmental muttering. I remember one time that I had a 3-year-old, a 1 1/2 year-old, and either I was hugely pregnant or I was carrying a baby on my back (my memory is fuzzy, probably because of all the brain cells killed by stress). The second child, who has consistently been the best tantrum-thrower I've ever known, was having a screaming fit about something and I had to keep buckling her back into the cart so that she wouldn't run away. Another mom, a kind soul, walked up to me and kindly said, "You're doing a great job."
Now, THAT is what every mom needs when they are dealing with children who exhibit less-than-perfect behavior in public. She doesn't need to look around at all the people who are showing their annoyance at her obvious lack of parenting skill, she doesn't need to hear people whispering, "my child will never act like that". She needs someone to look her in the eye and say, "hang in there, you're doing great." If you've never fought the battles of parenthood, you won't understand how huge such small words of encouragement are.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
1. Assume that your children will do what you have asked them to do, the very first time you asked.
2. Clean the house. And fall into the delusion that "this time, kids, we're going to keep it clean!"
3. Smell the underwear lying on the floor to find out whether it's clean or dirty. (I mean, come on! One more pair of underwear in the washer is not going to destroy the planet. I have come to the conclusion that it's not worth it.)
4. Tell your kids not to use your entire bottle of shampoo as bubble bath and expect that they will obey.
5. Smell the blankets on your kids' bed to see if they need to get washed along with the sheets after your kid wet the bed. (OK, so blankets take up a whole washing machine and I would rather not have to wash them unless absolutely necessary.)
6. Make brownies "for your kids" and eat the whole pan, and then tell your kids that the brownies got burned so you had to throw them down the garbage disposal. (Don't say it's in the trash, because they will look there.)
7. Try to camouflage mashed cauliflower as mashed potatoes because you will not fool your kids. And your house will stink like cauliflower, which you personally hate, as well.
8. Accidentally reveal to your kids where you hid your private stash of chocolate.
9. Forget to lock your bedroom door at night.
10. Start the day without coffee.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
How about that? Sheri Jones and I have the same favorite coffee! If you know anything about me, you know that I have a passionate love affair with coffee, and anyone who enjoys coffee as much as I do is a kindred spirit.
OK, now back to my original question. (I admit that I have strayed a bit from my original topic, but that's because I'm working on my 3rd cup of Jamaican Me Crazy in my favorite oversized mug.)
How do you act when you see someone who is very recognizable? Do you a) pretend that you don't see them or that you don't know who they are? b) go over and excitedly say, "hi, I know who you are and you are so cool. Will you autograph my shopping list?" or c) Faint?
I wouldn't know. The closest I ever came to being a celebrity was when I did some campus ministry in several universities in the Philippines - I gave some talks and sang a few songs, but that's about it. And then, I think people mostly recognized me because I was white - kind of hard to miss that Michigan pallor amidst an equatorial people.
I told my husband about my interchange with Sheri Jones at Horrocks. He wasn't impressed. He wants to run into Lauren Thompson, the cute brunette anchor.
Monday, April 26, 2010
The reason I'm wondering about this? My girls all seem to have some kind of "oral fixation." One wants to eat all the time. One chews on wads of paper or anything else she can get her mouth on. One maims Barbie dolls and other toys because of her oral habit.
Exhibit B: Maimed Barbie
I've found Polly Pockets tied up to bed posts, lain across railroad tracks, and even dismembered.
Maybe I should get my kids into therapy.
Friday, April 23, 2010
I got a call on Wednesday saying that the office administrator position was indeed going to be vacant, but they were going to interview other people (i.e. not me) for the position, people who had more experience than me. Of course, this is certainly reasonable, since they don't want to train a new person from the ground up. But I really, really wanted it! (can you envision a 2-year-old tantrum here???) I did actually cry because I thought I wanted it so badly.
I let myself cry for a day, and then I moved on. Actually, my therapist helped me move on. Um, cliche, yes, but it's true.
But here's what I was REALLY going through: I had applied for the job, unsure if it was what I really wanted or whether I could really handle it, given my health battles for the past few years and the fact that I love my free time and my ability to play Sims 3 for hours on end (oops, did I say that out loud?) And I haven't even gotten my full year of relaxation in since I quit homeschooling. But I applied anyway, and in order to be prepared for the possibility of getting the job, I had to immerse myself in the role - I had to begin thinking like a working woman and ordering my life in such a way that would make things easier if and when I returned to work full-time. So, I guess you could say I immersed myself in it so much that I got my hopes up. I began to think in terms of "when" it happens, not "if" it happens.
When it didn't happen, I was extremely disappointed. But what surprised me was the depth of my emotion about it. I felt rejected. I talked myself through it because I know that I get along well with the people in the school office, and that they like me. However, I also know that I don't have much experience in an office setting and I haven't worked in 12 years. But somehow, I still had this wild emotional experience that reminded me of that incredibly deep hurt of being dumped by a boyfriend in high school.
So, in talking to my therapist, she helped me to see it this way: My emotional experience was indeed too large for the situation, but not to my fault. This is a very common response with me - what I do is that I have an emotional reaction to something and then I try to find a reason for it, and then tell myself how much my life stinks because of this intense feeling. I also link all of my past similar emotions to this experience and it makes the whole situation much larger than it has to be. So, it is exactly the right action to talk myself through it, realizing that this is nothing like being dumped by a guy in high school. It has nothing to do with me and my worth as a person.
I wonder, as I share this, if it seems bizarre to anyone else that I would have a reaction like this. But I think it's a big factor in my struggle with depression. I tend to have to find an answer for every emotional response, instead of just experiencing the emotion for what it is - a normal, healthy reaction. And I carry all the past responses I've had into every new situation. So, this is what I'm working through.
But after my day of crying, I was relieved. I wasn't sure that I had it in me to take on a full-time job, and I still wanted the freedom to do some things that would be much more difficult if I were working. I want to write, although I haven't blogged faithfully for some time. I really do love to write, and I want to devote more time to it in the form of blogging and trying to write a book. I've wanted to write a book for a l-o-n-g time, but I can't come up with a good topic. I don't want to write the "great American novel" because, frankly, I suck at fictional writing. But I love humor and I like to try to inspire - is there a way to combine the two into something new and fresh? Ultimately, I would like to make a living doing this, but I know it's a long shot. It's not easy to just "become" a writer. But I will continue to work on my skill and wait for God to open a door.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Somewhere between having mono for the first chunk of 2010, and then getting a very weird abdominal virus, and then spring cleaning, and then applying for a job, I've been kind of busy.
You heard me right: I applied for a job. ME. The one who, six months ago, never wanted to work outside the home again. But God must have been working on my heart when I wrote the What I Want to Be When I Grow Up series.
My kids go to an awesome school. I love the staff, I enjoy the kids, and I appreciate the educational philosophy. It wasn't long after my kids starting attending school there that I thought, "hey, this might be a nice place to work." Just in case, you haven't heard this before, I am a perfectionist. What this means, in terms of working, is that I want to do something that is meaningful and fulfilling. I realize that it is OK just to work to pay the bills, but I would like to "make a difference".
I started volunteering in my kids' classrooms after Christmas, and I've really enjoyed getting to know their classmates. During this time, I've had a deepening desire to reach out to these kids.
About two months ago, the school's registrar left. Her open seat sparked my curiosity, "Could I do this job?" I went online and looked at the listing. The responsibilities are quite extensive AND the job goes through the summer. No way. It would be too hard to work year-round with my kids at home for the summer. However, I decided to talk to the principal anyway, and he encouraged me to apply. He told me that the current office administrator would most likely move into the registrar position and then the office administrator position would be open. That job is not year-round and the duties would probably be a bit more manageable for me. And the principal told me that whomever fills the OA position would need to be incredibly organized. To which I responded, "I'm kind of obsessive about organization", which is way too true: yesterday, as I cleaned out my linen closet, not only did I label the shelves with twin, queen, bath towels, etc., but I also considered folding fitted sheets differently than the flat sheets so that I could tell them apart at first glance. (I will not admit whether or not I actually did that.) I purposely did not mention the fact that my house most often looks like it's in the midst of an earthquake, because that is only because I live with 5 other people who, let's just say, are NOT obsessively organized.
Sooooo, I applied and I've had a phone screening so far. Now I'm waiting (quite impatiently, I might add) for the next phase, if I make the cut.
Monday, March 29, 2010
So, once again, I'm not thinking a lot about blogging these days. I think I will give my doctor a call at home tomorrow - that's the beauty of your doc being a close personal friend - I know his unlisted number and I know where he lives (evil laugh. . . .).
Until then I will try not to let my imagination run wild.
I'm glad I have Xanax.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Two weeks ago, a woman that I knew died of cancer. She was in her 60's. Her daughter is a friend of mine and used to be in youth group when I was a yg leader. I knew this woman was dying, but her cancer had moved fast. I was expecting a sudden change or intervention - even a miracle - that would save her life. But none came. When I got news of her death, I was very much shaken.
I would say I knew her reasonably well. It wasn't like we would go shoe shopping together or anything, but she was a women's leader in the Christian fellowship that I belong to. I know that she loved the Lord and she is with Him now - Hallelujah! And I know that she was not afraid to die. And I know that her family is peaceful, although still in deep sorrow, for sure.
What is most upsetting to me is that it left me feeling so vulnerable. As in, "If it could happen to her, it could happen to me." Oddly enough, when my younger cousin passed away 6 years ago at the age of 27, that didn't shake me nearly as much as this. To be sure, my cousin's death was a great trauma for our family, and there is still grief that we're working through. But perhaps it was because I didn't identify with him as much. This woman who died - she was a mother. Sure, her kids are older than mine, but I doubt they were ready to lose their mom. The thing that scares me most about dying is the thought of leaving my children behind.
I don't know that I've ever had a full-blown panic attack before - I've had some panicky moments, but that's it. But on the day of this woman's funeral, I had a full-blown panic attack. I wasn't even able to attend her funeral because it was right during the time I had to pick up my kids and get my son to a doctor's appointment, and my husband can hardly ever get out of work for such things. I was simply going to go to the visitation for a few moments and give my condolences to her family.
But I could. not. do. it.
I called my husband at work and sobbed on the phone with him for an hour until he finally just said, "Don't go." So I didn't. I still cried the rest of the day, but my panic dissipated. However, I'm still analyzing that panic attack. I think I was just too afraid to face the sorrow that I would encounter. Or the reality of death. I've been to wakes and funerals before - it's never easy, but I've gone. For some reason, I just couldn't go to this one.
A spirit of fear seemed to remain with me for a long time. The following week, I started having some severe abdominal pain. At first, I thought it was a gall bladder attack, but then the pain settled into my right side. As soon as my husband got home from work, I asked him to call someone to watch the kids so he could take me to an urgent care. I thought for sure I had appendicitis. It was even painful when the doc pushed on it and she said, "yep, that seems like your appendix". However, the CT scan showed no problems with appendicitis, gall stones, kidney stones, or anything else unusual except that I had enlarged mesenteric (abdominal) lymph nodes. She told me to take meds for the pain and follow up with my doctor in few days.
Frustrating, but at least I knew that I did not need surgery - Whew! But then my mind started working. Abdominal lymph node swelling. . . .hmmm. Lymph nodes usually don't swell for no reason. What was going on? And I did what any rational human being would do - I looked it up online. And the first several hits came up with articles about cancer, of course. It seems there are many serious reasons for swollen lymph nodes, and few not-so-serious ones. I know, I know - it's generally not wise to try to diagnose oneself online, but even if I hadn't looked on the internet, I still would have been stricken with fear.
So, over the next 24 hours, I became absolutely 100% convinced that I was going to die. I just knew that whatever I had, it wasn't good and that I was going to leave my children motherless. I think there was still some fear and vulnerability lingering, what do you think?
Five days later, when I was finally able to get in to see my doctor, the first thing he did was assure me that it was most likely not serious. He did order blood tests to rule out cancer, and he also ordered a test checking for mononucleosis. I haven't gotten the results of those tests back yet, but I'm OK now. My doctor did say it was most likely viral. After several days of pain, nausea, and constipation, I am now almost back to normal.
So, there in a nutshell, is the reason that I didn't post for almost 2 weeks. Hopefully I won't take that long of a break again. Unless I have mono.
Monday, March 22, 2010
I tell my husband almost on a daily basis that I'm tired. I say it out loud to myself. I say it to my kids. I'm tired a lot. Usually when I say it to my husband, he replies, "You're always tired." To which I respond, "Not this kind of tired." See, what my husband doesn't get is that there are many kinds of tired. And he thinks I'm one kind of tired all the time, but this is SO not true.
The kind of tired that I am today is this: I did not get enough sleep last night. This is a very common kind of tired in our busy lives. I, for one, try to get 8-9 hours of sleep each night. But sometimes that is sabotaged my incessant need to check my email "just one more time" before bed, and then play a few video games. Last night, I went to bed at 10:30 - not terribly late. But this morning, my daughter climbed in bed with me just when Daddy was getting out of bed, and for whatever reason, I could not get back to sleep. Daddy wakes up at 5 AM. So, 6 1/2 hours of sleep for me means that I am sleep-deprived. And the feeling that I get can only be described as this: every bit of stimulation that I receive beyond merely opening my eyes is like a cheese grater going across my nerves. I call it the "cheese-grater" feeling, and understandably, no one knows what the heck I'm talking about. But you know what it feels like to be sleep-deprived (if you don't, then stop reading my blog because you are clearly an alien who is plotting some kind of hostile earth takeover and I will have no part of it), and maybe you can come up with your own analogy using a wire whisk, a blender, or what have you.
So, we all agree that this is only ONE kind of tired, right?
There is also something called "sleepy". I might possibly feel sleepy if I didn't have a good night's sleep. But, usually for me, sleepiness comes sometime mid-afternoon - like between 1 and 3 PM, when I just get that irresistible urge to take a siesta. My eyelids feel heavy, my head feels foggy. Sleepy isn't as severe as sleep-deprivation. Sleepy is like the tryptophan-induced stupor on Thanksgiving Day. Quite often, sleepy goes away with a brisk walk or a 20-minute nap.
And then there's fatigue. I believe that I am an expert on fatigue because I have experienced all kinds of fatigue, I'm sure. One kind of fatigue is a good fatigue, like after a good workout or a full day at the beach, or a day of shopping when you found everything for 1/2 off or less. I don't mind that kind of fatigue. It says that I've accomplished something.
Then there is bad fatigue: the kind that comes from being sick or compromised in some way. When you have the flu, you know fatigue like you've never known it before. There are times when I've experienced fatigue for no apparent reason, which is something I've written about quite a bit in other blog posts. My mind is ready to go, but my body is not moving. at. all. And I couldn't conceivably move unless the house was about to be blown over by a tornado. Then I could possibly drag myself off the couch and to the basement stairs and muster up just enough energy to roll myself down. This is not laziness. . . .I can usually talk myself out of laziness and get going on housework and the motivation follows. This is "I will need a nap if I walk to the kitchen to pour myself a cup of coffee."
There is also mental fatigue. I experience this after major cleaning, like spring cleaning, purging and organizing. I do what I call a "semi-annual clothing sort," during which I assess every single piece of clothing in my children's possession - should it get handed down to another sibling or to a friend, should it be repaired, should it go to Goodwill or straight to the trash can, and do they have enough of each kind of clothing item for the coming season? I have 4 children; multiply that by 87 billion pieces of clothing each, and you have one tired mom-brain at the end of the day.
And as any mom knows, mental fatigue can also come from talking children (I realize that phrase is somewhat redundant, but oh well). Children can talk, talk, talk, just to hear themselves talk. They can ask questions until you have no answers left. They can talk, bicker, snicker, tease, fight, and then some, until an otherwise-sane adult has to scream at the top of their lungs, "Stop talking!!!!!!!!!"
Mental fatigue can also come from just being a woman. Because we as women generally have a hard time separating things in our minds. A popular Christian marriage speaker, Mark Gungor says that men's brains are like waffles and women's brains are like spaghetti. Most women think about everything in their lives and how all things affect each other and how that affects everyone around them. A typical man has a compartment, or a box, for each area of his life. He has a box for work, a box for financial matters, a box for children, a box for his wife, a box for fun and relaxation, and he even has a "nothing" box. Yes, indeed, if a man is sitting on the couch, apparently doing nothing, he really is doing nothing and thinking about nothing. This concept is so foreign to me that I just don't get it. I cannot for the life of me stop my brain from thinking. about. everything. And once in a while, my brain just kind of shorts out and sputters to a stop. There are definite moments when I can just suddenly lose track of everything I was doing and have to start all over with basic questions such as "Who Am I?", "What day is it?", and "What was I doing?" After some mental rest, I can get the spaghetti factory working again and continue on as if nothing had happened.
And of course, last but not least, there is emotional fatigue. The kind of exhaustion that comes from emotional overload like the death of a loved one or several family crises occurring within a short period of time.
Today, for me, it's sleep-deprivation. Cheese-grater tiredness.
But if I tell my husband, he just won't understand.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
But, oh, no no no. You have no idea what I mean when I say "late". This morning, one darling child made us thirty-eight minutes late for school. Yes, you read that right - I pulled out of the driveway 38 minutes later than I normally do. "Livid" is the only way to describe my feelings.
This particular child is the one who always makes us late. Always. But never this late. This morning, it was, "My boots are wet". So, wear your shoes. "My shoes are wet, too." Then wear your church shoes. "My church shoes are too tight, and besides I have PE today." Too bad! Wear them anyway and bring your tennis shoes and hope they dry by the time you have PE. And yes, these were her only 3 options. She is the queen of picky when it comes to shoes (and most other clothing, for that matter). I can -without exaggeration - visit 10 shoe stores in an afternoon with her, and she will still walk away empty-handed because "this one's too tight" or "this one's too loose" or "this one is too low at the heel" or "this one pinches my toes", etc. etc. etc. (And believe me, I could go on with the etc.'s, but you get the point.)
So, for 38 minutes, she chose to simply NOT put on shoes or boots. I tried to put them on her feet for her, but she kicked them off. And she's too big for me to carry her out the door. So, I fought, struggled, bribed, argued, for 38 minutes. I finally called my husband and asked him to talk to her. He did. He told her she had to wear her boots. She hung up and still refused.
I'm not sure how I finally got her into the car, but I did. We usually pray together on the way to school, but I told everyone I was far too angry to pray so they had just better be quiet on the way to school. And pray that I don't purposely run into a telephone pole.
In all seriousness, I would appreciate input on how to deal with this kind of defiance. She is our toughest kid in terms of discipline because she is never a peaceful recipient. And I realize that most kids don't enjoy punishment and probably make some fuss about receiving it. But if your kids throws a tantrum, then my kid has a thermonuclear meltdown. Yes, it's really that bad. And it's not that we don't punish her, but we have yet to find something that actually works long-term AND that doesn't threaten our hearing because of the violent screaming that results.
What was worse about this AM was that I had been up for 2 hours in the night with extremely uncomfortable indigestion, and then the coffee I made this morning was weak: Double Whammy! (I never make weak coffee! What the heck???)
Anyway, after I dropped off the kids, I drove through Tim Horton's for medicinal purposes. It's a good thing that I had let my anger cool a little, though. The way I felt when I left the house - did I mention we were 38 minutes late!!! - I could have easily screeched into the drivethrough lane and yelled, "Give me some damn coffee and no one gets hurt!" However, I was settled enough to drive in like a sane human being, which is a very good thing, since there were 4 or 5 police cars in the parking lot. (My first thought was, "what the heck is going on here?", but then I quickly realized, "Ooohh, it's a donut shop.")
So, I got my strong coffee, the best breakfast sandwich in the world, a blueberry muffin, and some OJ.
That was 2 hours ago.
I think my blood pressure is finally starting to come back down.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Umm, yeah. My kids don't really need to eat.
I told my doc that I had stopped taking Singulair because it was too friggin' expensive, but he insisted that I need to take it at least 2x/week. Sounds more doable. Except when you do the math:
Effexor - $25/month
Wellbutrin - $10/month
Allegra - $10/month
Veramyst Nasal Spray - $25 / month
Singulair - $130 / month!!!!! (that's for daily dosage, but taking 2x/week, let's call it 1/3 of that price, which would be about $43 / month)
Optivite Vitamins (the absolute best on the market): $20 per bottle (one-month supply)
Omega Brite (high potency omega 3 supplement): $20 / month
Vitamin D3 (1000-2000 mg / day): $10 / month
And yes, these are ALL doctor prescribed and doctor "recommended" (i.e. my doctor said of the vitamins and supplements: "you have to find a way to afford these because your body is so depleted") My doctor is not a quack. He is a close family friend and he knows our situation: he would not ask me to spend more than I needed for my health.
In any case, we have no idea how to afford to get me healthy.
You do the math. I'm too depressed to do it.
Friday, March 5, 2010
But, here's my point: I spent many days of my life in that high school, which was later deemed to be unfit for human inhabitance. Makes me wonder what was inside the walls, eating away at the structure of the building. And it was definitely built during the asbestos glory days.
Remember these disturbing facts about dust? Think about the dust made from the decaying matter of a century-old building, not to mention walls dripping with teenage hormones, and formaldehyde-soaked frogs. Even more scary is the fact that I sat in an elementary school desk in an elementary school classroom where little kids wipe their boogers and pee their pants. And in my afternoon job, I was surrounded by dirty, filthy money.
I'm beginning to think I will never think about dust the same way again. I think I may become a bona-fide amathopobiac (Amathophobia: An abnormal and persistent fear of dust. Sufferers experience anxiety even though they realize dust poses no threat.) But that would mean that either I would live in terror in my own home OR I would become obsessed with cleaning, and that ain't gonna happen. So, I guess I'll just embrace my surroundings and maybe I'll build up a tolerance to the gunk in which I live.
I think I'll go lick an end table.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
As you may have read the other day, I'm not kidding about the therapy. However, it's probably not due to those descents into the basement of terror. It may be due, in part, to this: Yes, my new research has led me to believe that mold causes depression. Well, not directly. But I do think that allergies may have played a part in creating the basket-case that I am today. Thinking back to the days I lived in that house (the house my parents still reside in and I dearly love and if they ever sell it, I will cry myself to sleep every night for the rest of my life), I had frequent headaches and a chronic stuffy nose. Of course, that is pretty much true for my entire life, but I have to wonder if it started there. And I've never lived in a new-ish house so as to be able to test my theory. The house we live in now, as well as most of my other dwellings until now, have been built in the 1920's and no longer have Michigan basements, but their basement-building technology wasn't nearly what it is today, and many of the aforementioned creatures - including mold - still live and breed in these basements.
I am also allergic to:
Current research also suggests that there is a definite correlation - if not a causal relationship - between allergies and fatigue and depression.
I wish I had known that 20 years ago.