Monday, December 26, 2011

Post Christmas Blues

I'm so very, very thankful that Christmas is done.  It was a good holiday, but the stress of the season and some surrounding events has become a heavy, crushing force and I'm teetering on the brink of exhaustion.  Christmas itself is stressful enough with shopping and juggling time between families, keeping up with old traditions, trying to establish some of our own traditions and so on.

The past twelve days, though...whew.  The hubs was in a car accident twelve days ago.  Not his fault, he was sitting at a red light in his Saturn Ion and got hit by a work truck with an attached trailer that was going about 40mph.  I'm very aware that he was incredibly fortunate and I have no doubt that some other-worldly forces were at work in allowing him to be able to physically walk away from that.  Our kiddo was not in the car, either, which is so much of a blessing.  Hearing a police officer say that the back third of the car was mostly gone and that the rear bumper was in the front seat was one of the most surreal things I've ever experienced.  When I got to the accident scene and saw it, I could barely breathe.  At first glance, it didn't look so bad, but when I saw my kiddo's booster seat flipped over and wedged into a narrow space (that she physically could not have fit in), that old heart condition I have started acting up and I could feel that flutter in my chest as the rhythm starting getting all out of whack.

I'd held onto some hope that somehow the insurance would pay for repairs.  In my heart, I knew it wasn't true, but I hoped anyway.  Financially, taking on a second car payment is not a good idea for us and I just kept that hope alive...hoping and hoping and hoping some more, but we got the news last week that there was no way the insurance company was repairing it and they declared it a total loss.  I agonized over what to do.  The payout isn't enough for a new car, not even close--that old Ion had almost 100k miles on it and since Saturn no longer exists, it wasn't worth much.  But, we were thankful to get anything for it and we went back and forth over whether to just buy something used and hope for the best or to make a long term investment and buy something new.  Thinking about it hurt my brain.  I have two years of payments left on my car and we hadn't planned on getting the hubs a new car until mine was paid off. 

Clearly, destiny had a different idea.

We really only had five days to make our decision.  That's how long the law gives us with a rental after a vehicle has been declared totaled.  I hated being rushed, but I went with my gut and after lots of careful consideration, the hubs and I became reluctant owners of a new vehicle today.  I mean, we'll figure it out and make it work, but it's just not a position I wanted to be in.  The salesman we worked with came highly recommended and with the end of the year incentives, rebates and our down payment, we're financing roughly half of the total cost and the payments will be somewhat manageable.  It comes with a pretty good warranty that we'll hopefully be able to extend later.  I would have liked to do it now, but it would have pushed the monthly payments out of our price range.  On a good note, the first payment isn't due for 60 days and the insurance company will reimburse us for the sales tax, transfer fees for the plates, etc.  With that refund, it will actually be about six months worth of car payments that we won't have to worry about right away.  I keep reminding myself that things will work out somehow.  They often do.  I'm working hard to keep the faith and believe that it'll be okay, but it's more of a struggle these days. 

As for the decision to go with a new car instead of used...after working with the numbers, we would have saved about $50 or so per month on a used vehicle, which is a good amount, but I couldn't help but wonder what it would cost us in the long run to take over a vehicle that's already a few years old with no warranty and who knows what kind of repair needs.  It's a gamble no matter what.  I feel good that we at least have a solid factory warranty in place. 

I'm off work today and just trying to breathe and relax.  I work through Friday and then actually took next week off.  My kiddo deserves some uninterrupted time with me to just have fun and put this December behind us.

Rather than making a New Year's resolution, I'm making an end-of-year resolution.  My sister asked me to complete a 5k with her in the spring and I've decided to do it.  I looked into the Couch Potato to 5K running program and I do believe I can do it.  I have to be careful with my knees, so I'll probably stretch the program into longer than 12 weeks so I don't hurt myself.  My resolution for the end of 2011 is to get a good pair of running shoes.  One teeny, tiny goal on the way to a bigger goal.  I did a 5k a few years back so I know I can do it again.  Just have to get this old body moving again.  I'm not much of a runner and I don't anticipate doing very well at the 5k, but just finishing it is going to be my goal.

Speaking of resolutions, I took a look back at what I resolved to do in 2011 and here are my results:

  • I planned on attending three concerts this year.  Pete Yorn, Matt Nathanson and Mat Kearney.  Goal completed!
  • Blogging weekly.  HAHAHAHA!  HOHOHOHO!  SNORT GIGGLE SNORT.  Yeah, not even close.
  • Referral to orthopedist.  Nope.  My knee still has the mystery bubble that appears and disappears.
  • Reading one book per month.  I do believe this was completed.  I didn't always update my Goodreads account, but I've done a lot of reading and really enjoyed it.
  • Taking more pictures.  Yes, I did take more, even though my good camera was broken.
  • Pay off one credit card.  Done.  Done twice actually.  They were small balances, but it felt so good to get those out of the way.
  • Spend more time outside.  I did good with this for a while, especially over the summer when I spent a crazy amount of time out on my bike every night.
That's about it.  And really, that's enough.  Here's to hoping for a quiet week and a relaxing end to 2011.  I'm so ready for 2012.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Look! It's Me!

Wow, December snuck up on me.  November zipped by as I made my first attempt at NaNo.  The semester is done, thank goodness.  It wasn't a great session, but it's over now and I'm looking forward to the next few weeks of no teaching before the new semester starts.  Christmas is two weeks away and I'm almost done shopping, which is good.  I did lots of shopping online this year, with only a few adventurous forays into the stores.  I just don't do well with crowds.  Years ago, I always had my shopping done by Thanksgiving, but these days, my schedule doesn't allow for that. 

Anyhoo, I've been busy, as always, juggling work and home and trying to squeeze in some time for myself here and there.  My kiddo's been having a really hard time lately.  She's so intense and so obsessive about things.  I'm doing what I can to teach her to lighten up a bit.  That's kind of ironic coming from me, considering my own personality.  I just want her to have fun and be a kid.  Kids these days have so much to do, so much to worry about, so much on their plates.  I refuse to make my kiddo grow up too soon.  She needs to be able to play and be goofy and silly, the way kids are supposed to do.  I always felt old, even when I was young--that whole "old soul" thing--and I find myself enjoying things as an adult that I think I should have enjoyed more when I was younger.  It's fine to enjoy stuff as an adult, but I don't ever want my kiddo looking back with a sigh of regret over all the things she didn't do.  I hope that's one lesson I can teach her.  Life is too short with too much uncertainty to let things slip by.

And that's my philosophical moment of the day.  For now, I've got laundry to fold and a house that needs cleaning.  Not that either of those are likely to get done tonight, because I'm really thinking about going to bed.  Sleep is the definite winner tonight.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Chirp, Chirp

That's the sound of crickets chirping.

Which is also the sound of how it's been on my blog.  Bad, bad blogger.

My life is so full and busy these days.  And this month, I decided to try my hand at NaNoWriMo, so all of my writing efforts have gone there.  I'm not going to hit my goal of 50,000 words, but I'm still glad I tried it out.  I think next year will be better.

I was thinking about how close it is to the end of the year.  Christmas is a little less than a month away and then POOF!  Another year gone.  I don't remember time going this fast when I was a kid, but now, I blink and whole months are gone.  Unbelievable.

I'm tired, so that's about it for tonight.  More nonsense later.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Adult Whining

I feel like most of my posts the past few months have lacked real substance.  I have plenty in my mind that I want to share, but just having a hard time getting it on paper...or on my blog.

It's funny how annoyed I get when people whine.  I also get annoyed with myself when I get whiny...and I've been pretty whiny this week.  Just sick and feeling icky.  It's been hard to concentrate on anything and get even the simplest tasks done.  There was a time in my life when being sick barely slowed me down.  Of course, back then it seemed like I was sick all the time, so it just sort of became a way of life.  Now that I'm healthier and only get really sick maybe twice a year, it has a bigger impact on me and leaves me drained.  I shouldn't even whisper a complaint, though.  My kiddo is sick, too.  You'd never guess it.  She's in a great mood and was just jumping on the couch.  Of course, that burst of energy could be from the steroids.  But she does have fluid in her lungs and she needs to rest.  My poor baby.

Anyway, even though it's been a not-great week, I've worked to keep up with my five things.  Not perfect, but at least okay.

1.  I was in bed before 10pm every night except last night.  I got home from teaching and ate dinner, then read a book for a while.  Got to bed around 11pm. 

2.  Exercise has not been a priority, especially when any exertion has been making me cough.  I have, however, snuck in a few short walks.

3.  Lunches have stayed consistently healthy and inexpensive.  Dinners have been pretty good.  I missed veggies last night.  Before that, though, I was going crazy eating Brussels sprouts.  SO GOOD.

4.  Laundry has been caught up.  In fact, I was even able to skip one day because there was no laundry to do.  Go me!

5.  I haven't taken my supplements daily, but I'm getting better.  I'm still working on making it part of my regular routine.  I find that I do best if I take the Vitamin D in the morning and the flaxseed in the afternoon. 

That's about it.  I'm hoping for a quiet, easy weekend.  We're pretty much housebound, not really smart to take the kiddo out when she's so sick.  I may let her go out in the yard later for some fresh air, but no public places.  Her poor immune system is taking a one-two punch between being sick and the immune system suppressing steroids.  We're going to have a coughing contest, wear ourselves out, eat some dessert (before dinner, tee hee!) and then go to sleep!  :)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

I usually enjoy Halloween, but I'm having flashbacks to last year when I was horribly sick.  I woke up around midnight burning up (but strangely freezing) with a hideous sore throat and stuffy nose.  I've been taking Zicam and drinking warm water with honey and lemon.  I even got desperate and threw a tablespoon of vinegar into a 12oz glass of water and chugged it.  It doesn't taste all that good, but for whatever reason, it seems to help.  I also caved in and bought some nighttime cold medicine--hopefully that'll ease my symptoms.  I need good rest tonight because I have an early meeting tomorrow.  Speaking of rest, that brings me to my update...

1.  I was in bed at 9:46pm last night.  GO ME!  I'm feeling sick enough that I'm actually aiming for 9:30pm tonight, whether or not housework is done.

2.  I didn't exercise last night.  I felt weirdly fatigued--which I now know is because I was getting sick--but I did walk a few blocks today when I took my kiddo trick-or-treating this evening.

3.  Was off work today, so I ate lunch and dinner at home.  Lunch was a sandwich, nothing fancy.  Dinner was pork chops and mashed potatoes.  And I heaped my potatoes with a pile of green onions.  My breath may be stinky, but I got a good dose of vitamins and it counts as my veggies for the day.

4.  Did some laundry today since I was home.  Washed, dried and folded 3 loads.  Just need to get them put away, which I'll be doing while my kiddo takes a bath tonight.

5.  Missed my flaxseed and Vitamin D today, but I think I balanced it out with my immune-system-supporting tablets. 

I'm kind of bummed that I'm not feeling well, because Halloween is my favorite time of year and it was hard to enjoy it.  That being said, though, I had a nice time with my kiddo, got to help out with her classroom party and spent a fun couple of hours with her.  We're chilling out for a little while longer and then it's off to bed for her. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Five Again

It occurs to me that accountability is probably the only thing that's going to keep me going with a healthier, taking-care-of-myself lifestyle.  That being said, it's back to the Five Things in Five Days.

1.  Bedtime.  10pm.  Last time, I got pretty close, but I really need to hit that 10pm mark for myself.

2.  Exercise.  I got lazy.  I'll do something each day to get moving and shaking.  Or at the very least, taking a stroll around the block.

3.  Lunches.  And dinners.  Keep bringing those lunches to work.  For this five day routine, I'm going to make a point of eating at least one vegetable each night at dinner.  Even if it's broccoli every single night.

4.  Laundry.  I will do at least one load of laundry each day.  I get so irritated when it's piled up and we go through enough clothes, towels and sheets that I can complete one load each day...and by "complete", I mean washed, dried, folded and hung up or put away in drawers.

5.  Supplements.  I should be taking flaxseed oil and vitamin D.  I'll make a point of getting my daily dose in this week.

That's about it.  And I'm cheating on laundry a little.  I already did 3 loads today so the rest of the week isn't so burdensome with mountains of stuff to be folded and put away.  :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Today...

...is a better day.

Hopefully tomorrow will be even better.

I have A LOT of cleaning to do.  I can't stand it when the house gets so cluttery and messy, so it's going to be a long evening.  I can't look at it anymore.  I've already gotten one bag of garbage together.  It's not anything nasty, but junk mail piles up, the kiddo's school papers pile up, hubs leaves his stuff all over the dining room, and unfortunately, the bedroom has become a catch-all for when there isn't a place for something.

I've had enough.  This happens a few times a year, where I just get kind of neglectful of the house, but the holidays are fast approaching and I don't want to have to worry about this nonsense later.  I'll tackle what I can in the next two days.  Part of what motivated me was last week's "Five Things In Five Days".  I did pretty good with cleaning/organizing one thing each day and it's just carrying over.  I'm glad about that.

I also told my kiddo that I'm throwing away all of her old crayons and markers.  She was horrified, but I explained that half of the markers are dried up, the crayons are a broken up disaster...so we'll start from scratch with a new box of markers and a new box of crayons.  Her face lit up like a ray of sunshine.

Speaking of sunshine, the days are getting way shorter.  I miss seeing the sunshine in the evenings.  Snow will be here before I know it...eeek.  Not quite ready for that yet.

What I am ready for is to tackle another load of laundry, so off I go!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On My Own



If I had known ten years ago that today would be ten years from now, I may have done a few things differently.  There's no way to un-do anything, and I maintain that I've learned lessons from everything that has happened, but...I'm feeling a little lonely and a lot sad tonight.  And kind of disappointed in myself.

I never thought that I'd be hitting my mid-30s, juggling two jobs, praying to keep the bills caught up, praying that my next cancer checkup goes okay, managing a home and family, quietly packaging up my hopes and dreams and storing them in a corner of my heart because it hurts too much to completely let go of them.

It never occurred to me that one day, I would cross the line from being a loner, to feeling alone, to feeling lonely.  Most days, I don't mind being alone.  As much as I can be a big, social, kooky spazz, I'm more quietly introspective and I like my own company.  I'm comfortable with it.  Lately though, as things have been catching up with me, I find myself longing for something different. 

I find that I long to be different, even if only for a little while.

Every so often, I feel like I've lost myself, that I've gone missing from my own life.  Like I'm an impostor in my own life.  And there isn't a milk carton in the world big enough to profile my missing self.  That's something I have to find on my own.

She's out there.  Or here inside me.  Somewhere.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Snap, Crackle, Pop

Nope, not Rice Krispies.

My knees.

Ouch.

A few days of high-impact workouts and my knees are paying the price.  The crunching sound is making me cringe.  I slathered on a bunch of Icy Hot and I'm taking it easy tonight.  It feels weird not to work out now that I'm back in the habit, but I'm going to be a good girl and listen to my body and just rest.  Hopefully tomorrow will be better and I'll do Pilates, maybe swimming depending on what time I wake up.  I miss swimming.  My schedule is so packed these days, the only time I can go is when the pool opens at 4:30am and truth is, I'm just not that motivated to get up so early.  I barely sleep as it is, so getting up that early is not particularly appealing.

I know it's only Monday, but I'm looking forward to the weekend.  It's going to be quiet, I'm going to work on finishing the kiddo's Halloween costume, finish a puzzle, do some cleaning.  I know it's nothing glamorous, but there's peace in the routine of simple tasks.  Ooohhh...and I think I'm going to take in the fun, haunted activities at the zoo Saturday night.  That should be a great time!

Until then, though, I have a bunch of stuff to take care of, including a stack of papers to grade.  Fooey.  More nonsense later...

Friday, October 21, 2011

5

Day Five...I have to give myself a little credit.  This round of Five Things in Five Days wasn't perfect, but if nothing else, it was kind of a catalyst to get me blogging again.  First, my summary...

1.  I cleaned and organized the top of my desk at work.  Mostly it came down to catching up on filing--I never realize how many papers I've collected until I need to get them in their proper places.  The only pile of papers left are all actual work that I have to do on Monday.

2.  I did Pilates last night.  I started a Firm workout tonight then got sidetracked when the kiddo was having trouble falling asleep.  I finally gave up, snuggled with her and read a book.  I'm going to make an effort to squeeze in a morning workout tomorrow.

3.  Simple lunch again: Sandwich, yogurt and apple.

4.  I got to bed at 10:36pm last night.  Definitely later than I would prefer, but I got my workout in and I felt really good, so it was okay.

5.  Update posted.  :)


This week made me realize how much I miss writing, even just small, little, inconsequential things.  I have so many things in my head on any given day and I always think I'm going to find some bucket of time somewhere--an extra hidden hour here or there--and I'll be able to write.  Clearly, life and time don't work like that, so I need to just write when I can. 

I mentioned recently that I've just been feeling blue.  I know it'll pass in time, but when it happens, things just look bleak and I feel miserable.  I'm kind of a worrier to begin with, but when I'm feeling down, that worry takes on a life of its own and I find myself anxious about the smallest things, then I get upset.  I know it's silly.  Like today, I started getting all upset because the flash on my camera isn't working and the cost of fixing it is almost the cost of a new camera.  I realize this isn't a big deal, but I got so irrationally upset over it.  And truly, the irrational part is that I ALREADY KNEW THE FLASH WASN'T WORKING.  It's not like it snuck up on me.  It hasn't worked for months!  Today, though, BAM!  Just got all bent out of shape over it.

The good thing is, it's the end of the day.  It's 9:45pm and I'm actually blogging in bed.  The sooner I go to sleep, the sooner I can start a new day and hopefully shake off this cloud hanging over my head.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

4...

I'm still doing my thing this week!

1.  I cleaned the dining room table.  It had become a "catch all" for school papers and arts and crafts.  All better!

2.  I'm getting ready to do my Pilates DVD as soon as I'm done posting this.

3.  Brought lunch to work and ate it.  Nothing fancy.  Sandwich, yogurt, apple.

4.  Was ASLEEP before 10:15pm last night.  AH-MAZING!  I won't get to bed by 10pm tonight.  When I created this list, I didn't take into account my late night teaching.  I'll be in bed by 10:30pm, though.  I just want to make sure I do Pilates first.

5.  Update posted.  :)

Tomorrow is Friday and I'm wearing jeans and my favorite green sweater to work.  I hardly ever get to wear jeans to work anymore, so this will be a nice change.  And I'm happy that it's chilly enough to wear that sweater--it's all comfy and warm.  Yay for Autumn!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

3...

The cool thing about the daily posting of my "five things" is that it typically makes me think of other things to write about.  That's a good thing, especially considering the long dry spells between posts this year!

So...

1.  I cleaned and dusted the top of my dresser last night.  And I found a few dollars worth of change.  Nice!  Tonight, I cleared off the kitchen table.  It's amazing how quickly the mail and school papers piled up.  All done!

2.  Missed Pilates last night...kiddo was having a hard time.  But I woke up at 5am (no alarm!), hung out in bed until 5:30am, then did Pilates this morning.  AND I did a Firm workout tonight.  Nice!

3.  I blew it at lunch.  I did pack a good, healthy lunch, but caved in when hubs asked if I wanted to meet him for lunch and let me pick.  We went for Mexican and it was yummy.  (It's probably good I did two workouts today.)

4.  Technically, I was in bed at 9:59pm last night, but it had been a long, difficult day and the hubs and I talked until about 11pm.  At least I was relaxed and fell asleep right away.

5.  Update posted.  :)

Aside from all that, I've been having a hard time with feeling kind of blue lately and can't seem to shake it.  I have no doubt that part of it is the fact that I've been sleep deprived for so long, but I don't know.  Something else feels a little off.  Not sick, but just something not quite right.  I've been under an unusual amount of stress at work so that's probably part of it, too.  I know it will pass, but it's hard to have a positive outlook when things are not just unpleasant, but flat out dangerous.  That's a story for another time.

I was supposed to finish grading midterms, but I think I'm going to play around on the internet for a while and zone out before bed.  Tomorrow will be a better day.  :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Truckin' Along

Okay, this whole accountability thing is good for me!

1.  Towels were folded and put away last night, sheets were washed and put back on the bed, my bookcase is clean and dusted.  Tonight, I'm tackling the top of my dresser.

2.  Did Pilates last night.  Depending on when the kiddo goes to bed tonight, I'll either do Pilates again or a Firm dance workout.

3.  Did not bring lunch to work today BUT instead of going the route of getting something unhealthy, I drove the extra 4 miles to go home and eat a bowl of cereal and some fruit.

4.  Got to bed at 10:16pm last night.  Not entirely my fault, the sheets weren't quite dry, so it put me a little behind.  Aiming for 10pm tonight.

5.  Update posted.  :)

My kiddo is having a really difficult evening.  Something happened at school today, some mixup on the library computer and she accidentally got access to an audio/e-book that was beyond her grade level and scared the daylights out of her.  She's been crying intermittently since I picked her up and can't seem to calm down.  It's so hard for me to see that she's so upset and nothing I'm doing or saying seems to be helping her feel better.  I know she's growing up, but she is and always will be my baby and it hurts to know that she's so scared.  I'm kind of mad at the school, but I guess the computer things wasn't really anybody's fault...but of course, I'm the one dealing with the fallout, not the school, so that accounts for the grumpiness on my part. 

We'll be doing lots of talking about guardian angels tonight and how they protect her from imaginary witches.  (Sigh)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Gittin' It Done

Well, day one of five is going okay...

1.  I folded some towels that were left on the couch and I'm going to straighten up my bookshelf.

2.  I have a workout DVD ready to go as soon as the kiddo is in bed.

3.  I ate leftover pulled pork chili for lunch, along with string cheese and some fruit.

4.  I was in bed by 10:06pm last night.  I'm hoping to shave off those six minutes tonight.

5.  I'm posting my update.  Go me!

Aside from that, though, I have been beyond frustrated at how cluttery my house has been.  Working long days, teaching and juggling the kiddo's school and homework is daunting and my house is suffering.  I finally told the hubby that I think we need to convert the spare bedroom into an office and get the living room cleared out.  The spare bedroom was supposed to be for another baby, but unfortunately, that's not happening anytime soon, if ever, and I think the space should be put to good use.  I honestly get angry at the clutter and it messes up my nights.  Not good. 

We're also desperately in need of new carpet and furniture.  Those are luxuries that we can't really afford right now, but on the other hand, I'm also tired of sinking almost to the floor when I sit on the couch.  We bought the couch and loveseat seven years ago--it was a floor display at a furniture store that was going out of business.  It was pretty abused, but we got a sweet deal on it and it's lasted far longer than we thought it would.  I've been flipping through furniture ads trying to figure out what we can afford and I was pleasantly surprised by some of the deals out there.  I think with the economy still suffering, stores are trying to lure customers in with good prices, plus with the holidays coming, there are some pretty good deals.  I wish we could afford all new flooring, but I think the furniture needs to come first.  We'll see.  I'm getting antsy and tired of waiting for a "good" time to take care of things.  I'm no longer convinced that there's ever a really good time to do anything. 

Anyhoodle, that's about it.  I have to go clean up from dinner, finish up some laundry and then get my workout in before bed.  More nonsense later...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Attempts to Keep My Sanity

The past few weeks have have proven, once again, that my failure to take care of myself and refill my tank with some "me" time, results in crabbiness, being quick-tempered and generally unhappy.  In an effort to start feeling better, I decided it was time to pull out my trusty "Five Things in Five Days" plan that I started a while back...five simple things to do in five days to make me feel better, make my life a little easier, whatever.  Here goes:

1.  I will clean or organize one thing each day.  Not necessarily a whole room, but maybe a cluttered spot.  Something easy to tackle that will make me feel good when I'm done.

2.  I will get some type of exercise.  In the crazy chaos of my days, I've stopped taking care of myself physically and that needs to change.  Even if it's a short walk or a Pilates DVD, I will do something each day to get my body moving.

3.  I will bring lunch to work each day this week. 

4.  I will make a conscious effort to be in bed by 10pm each night.

5.  I will make a conscious effort to blog each night about how I'm doing with this happy little list.

Let's hear it for accountability.  I've posted it, now I have to actually do it!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Time Eater

I don't know how other people refer to it, but when I'm scrambling to get things done or trying to find time for the things I actually want to do, I always say, "My time is just eaten up."

And yet, who/what is eating my time??


Yeah, that guy holding the fish is totally eating my time.

P.S.  I found this picture on the internet when I looked for ugly fish pictures.  Because I thought ugly fish were eating my time.  But nope, pretty sure it's the dude in the pic, not the beast with the scary teeth.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Wondering

Last Monday night, I was sitting on my bed, eating candy, icing my badly bruised wrist (whatever, don't ask) and contemplating the major questions in my life. Like...

 Would a career at Macy's as a perfume girl been a better option than what I've been doing?

 It's fall?  How? I thought it was still July!

 Why exactly did I ever think it was a good idea to work two jobs?

 What's holding me back from having a little more fun in my life?

 Am I going to look like Bea Arthur when I get old?

Who really put the bop in the bop-shoo-bop-shoo-bop? And who put the ram in the ramma-lamma-ding-dong?

What if the hokey pokey really IS what's it's all about? (This question bothers me a lot.)
 
Mostly, I wondered how and why I let myself get so tired that I think about such random stuff!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Menu Plan

I always do better with eating healthy when I plan my weekly menu...it saves money, too, because I know ahead of time what I need to get from the store and there's no last-minute despair if I haven't planned something and no associated guilt for then going out to eat.

Sunday (today)~ Beef tips and mushrooms in gravy, fresh steamed green beans, apple dumplings

Monday~ Baked potato soup with cauliflower puree

Tuesday~ Pork roast with barbecue mushroom sauce, peas, baked apples

Wednesday~ Baked chicken, rice, yellow squash, sauteed pears

Thursday~ Spinach and feta pierogis with peppers

Friday~ Chicken enchiladas

Saturday~ Pizza night!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Unedited

One last hurrah before Autumn takes away the last of the Summer flowers...

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Shoes!

Since the kiddo started school, I've been on a mission to find shoes for her.

This should not be a difficult task.  I love shopping for shoes.  However, I have two things working against me:

1.  My kiddo does not love shopping for shoes.
2.  There isn't much of a selection of wide width shoes in youth sizes.

The past few weeks have been a tremendous disappointment.  Over the past 3 years, the only shoes that ever seemed to fit her correctly came from Stride Rite.  I was pretty disappointed when the only Stride Rite near our home closed.  It's almost a 40 minute drive to the next closest one.  But that's not the issue.  The issue is that since she graduated from toddler-size shoes to youth sizes, Stride Rite has, at best, a limited and not particularly attractive selection of wide-width shoes.  When I took her shopping for shoes a few weeks ago, the young lady measured her feet and said she was a regular width.  I was surprised--is it possible for feet to suddenly get narrower?  I took her word for it, though, and we got the kiddo 2 pairs of shoes for school.  She said in the store that they didn't feel right, but me, thinking "Well, they're new and it's hot and crowded in here," just let it go. 

Not a good idea.

Her first day of school, she was in tears as she walked around the house in her new shoes, saying over and over that they were hurting her feet.  She slipped off the cute pair of little pewter flats she had on and sure enough, the shoes had CLEARLY been digging into the sides of her feet.  I felt horrible.

I also felt pretty ticked off.

We went back to Stride Rite that weekend to have her feet re-measured, and this time, a different young lady measured her feet.  And sure enough, the top part of her foot is clearly wide-width, even extra wide depending on the style of the shoe.  The rest of her foot is a regular width, which is where the previous sales person had measured.

So...

We spent an hour looking for shoes.  Other than gym shoes, they had one style of shoe available with a wide width.  And they were navy blue, kind of a standard-parochial-school-type of shoe.  In a pinch, it would be fine, I guess, but I wanted her to have more than just a clunky, unattractive pair of shoes.  There was NOTHING else available in the store.

We went to Kohl's.  They don't sell half-sizes or wide width in the stores.  The only wide width available online is another clunky, unattractive pair of shoes.

Payless has one style in wide width.

All the other major department stores have limited wide width.  Gym shoes, saddle shoes, and clunky, unattractive shoes.  No flats, no dress shoes.

I looked online at multiple sites.  Limited to no options.

Please understand that I'm a fan of comfort and function over fashion (and even a bigger fan when function/comfort meet fashion--thank you Aerosoles!), but when my kiddo wears brown slacks and a yellow shirt, I don't think she should have to be stuck with navy blue shoes.  When she wears a nice black skirt and a pink blouse, I don't think she should have to be stuck wearing lime green and white gym shoes.

None of the stores I mentioned here have any idea who I am or that I'm disgruntled over this, nor would they probably even care about my frustration, but I just keep thinking that I can't be alone.  Other parents must have young children with wide width shoe needs.  I understand that maybe it's not as big of a market, but couldn't a specialty shoe store for kids, like Stride Rite, make some cute flats, dress shoes and fashion boots in a wide width for school-age children?

I was doodling some designs for wide width shoes.  I have no idea how to make shoes, but I'm thinking I could learn...or maybe convince someone who knows how to make shoes hear me out on this?  Right now, my kiddo has to wear gym shoes every single day to school because that's all we have in wide width right now.  C'mon...wide width girls of the world unite!  Cute, stable, pewter (or black, brown, whatever) flats for everyone!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Trends

I've never been a fan of the word "trends".  To me, "trend" implies something temporary, something short-lived.  Like parachute pants.

On the other hand, if something occurs as part of a "trend" and it's bad, the temporary, short-lived thing can be good.

Case in point...

Last year, on the very first day of kindergarten, my kiddo complained of a tag in her shirt that was making her itch.  Dear old dad cut the tag out, accidentally cutting two holes in the shirt at the same time.  Immediately after, he accidentally hit her in the head with the scissors.  Lots of tears ensued and we made the short drive to school with her holding an ice pack on her head.

Now, one incident is NOT a trend.  But two?  Well, that could be the makings of a trend. 

See, today, the day before the first day of first grade, I was helping my kiddo pick out clothes for the week.  On a whim, I had her try on her pants--even though we just did this less than two weeks ago--and lo and behold, the pants are too small!  But the trend...she was complaining about a tag in a skirt that does fit.  I cut it out.  And cut a hole in the skirt.  Then as she was shimmying out of the too-small pair of pants, she cracked her head on the corner of the foot board on her bed.  Lots of tears ensued and she spent the afternoon holding an ice pack on her head. 

I think that's a trend.  It's only at this time of year that tags seem to be itchier and her head has mishaps.  Perhaps beginning a week before next school year, I will hide all scissors and design a bubble-wrap dress and hat for my kiddo.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Growing Up

My kiddo is growing up so fast. 

First grade starts in a little over a week.

And more than half of her clothes don't fit.

I spent the afternoon going through her dresser drawers and closet, making her try on things I wasn't sure about, folding piles of stuff that won't ever fit again...

It's a daunting task.  Not just because it's time consuming and tedious.

It's daunting because a year ago, I was doing the same thing in preparation for kindergarten.  And I've done it dozens of times over the years, as she's outgrown itty-bitty baby clothes, tiny toddler clothes and so on.  I thought it was hard then.  I'm finding that it's harder now. 

Where has the past year gone?

As I neatly folded the little blue and green shirt she wore on her first day of school last year, I wondered how it is that she has grown and matured so much in twelve short months.  She's my little girl and always will be, no matter her age or time or distance between us. 

But my little girl is a big girl and I can feel the fissure in my heart getting bigger as I move toward having to let her go and let her grow up.  Little by little, day by day, she needs me less. 

As we continued to go through her clothes, she chatted excitedly about riding the school bus, something she didn't do last year, as her dad was home and drove her to school and picked her up daily.  She talked about meeting new friends and having a new teacher and the wonder of starting school all over again.

Then she threw her arms around me and said, "I wish you didn't have to work.  I wish you could just stay home."  I swallowed over the lump in my throat and blinked back tears as I hugged her back, silently wishing the same thing.

When I could talk, I said, "You know, if I could stay home, I'd have so much fun getting you up in the mornings and driving you to school and picking you up."

She let go of me for a second, pressed her forehead to mine and said, "Yeah, except I'd still take the bus.  Because I'm a big girl."

I kissed her nose.  "But I'd like to drive you."

She kissed my nose.  "But not driving me and letting me take the bus is part of letting me grow up, Mommy.  And I have to grow up, even if you don't want me to."

She has to grow up.  Even if I don't want her to.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Happy Child

I know some parents have the mentality that it's not their job to make sure their children are happy.  If their children are too happy, they aren't doing their jobs as parents.  Some parents believe it's their job to make sure their kids are prepared for the big, bad disappointment of the real world.  Some parents take pleasure in deliberately making their children unhappy. 

I say, "Huh?"

I mean, I'm not a perfect parent and certainly my kiddo isn't happy all of the time...let alone happy with me all of the time.  Heck, a few minutes ago, she got all grumpy because I told her it was time to head upstairs for her bath.

But mostly, I want my child to be happy and it's my pleasure as her mother to say and do things that help her feel happy.  I don't say, "No" just for the sake of saying it and if I do refuse something she's requested of me and asks, "Why?", I try to help her understand without falling back on the lame-o, "Because I said so."

That's not to say she's the boss of the house.  She's not.  Not by a long shot.

I don't want my kiddo thinking that she doesn't have a voice.  Some parents think that kids shouldn't have any say in the house rules, that kids shouldn't be allowed to make decisions.

I say, "Fooey."  My kid isn't going to be the kind of person who has to figure out at age 18 how to navigate life.  I find it both entertaining and dismaying when parents just expect their 18-year-olds to be perfect adults when they haven't given their kids a chance to learn what it even means to be an adult.  I get the concept of learning through modeling, but kids need a chance to practice for themselves!

My kiddo understands our house rules and why they're in place.  We let her have some say in the development of our house rules.  Yelling is reserved for emergencies.  No hitting, no pinching, no biting, no kicking, no scratching, no screaming...unless someone is trying to kidnap or hurt you, and then that person is fair game for whatever you can dish out.  No lying.  No secrets.  If you're a guest and you think you can get away with saying a bad word or calling someone a not-nice name, you better watch out.  She'll be on you in a flash, lecturing you about manners and what is and what is not acceptable in our home.

Granted, it's based on what we as her parents are teaching her.  We're aware that she's always watching and listening and learning from us.  She's in elementary school, but that doesn't stop me from teaching her about what's acceptable and what isn't.  She's young, but it doesn't stop me from sharing some of the details of our financial situation and what we can and cannot reasonably afford.  And if there's something she wants that we can't afford, she helps with coming up with a plan to budget for it. 

I guess in our home, we try not to say, "No" too often and I'm finding now that when we do say, "No", she takes it seriously.  We believe in the power of, "Yes!" and "Sure!" and "Well, not yet, but let's see what we can do."  My hope is that by being more cheerful and optimistic than negative, it's teaching her realistic and positive ways to approach real-life problems and come up with solutions.  She's started small--for example, she wanted more time to read at night, but I wasn't willing to make her bedtime any later than it was.  She came up with the solution of skipping 20 minutes of television and swapping her leisurely baths for quicker showers.  Her solution, not mine.  I didn't even present her with options.  I just said, "Well, what do you think you can change to have more time for reading before bed?"  I never implied that she had to sacrifice anything.  She gave it some thought and came up with a solution that worked for her.  And some nights, when she wants to watch a little television or play in the bath, she knows she gets her regular amount of reading time.  She's learning about decisions and actions and consequences.

My hope is that these small decisions now help her make good decisions in the future.  Of course, I say that now, but we'll see what happens when she becomes a teenager.

Anyway.

I want my kiddo to be happy as much as possible.  Happiness is a state of mind, a feeling, an emotion.  Happiness is action.  Happiness is whatever we choose to be.  Some people think that happiness is random and fleeting and doesn't last.  To a degree, I agree with that--I can be happy because of things and events and yes, that's temporary.  Real joy, for me, comes from remembering that happiness and experiencing it all over again.  That's something I want to teach my daughter. 

I want her to know that she should be prepared for disappointment and then choose to be happy anyway.

I think the world has a lot of good and a lot of bad in it and I want her to feel like her parents and her home are where she can run to, no matter how old she is, when things get really hard or really painful.  The world and the people in it are going to hurt and disappoint her enough without me adding to it.  My kiddo has never flinched in fear or had to hide from me or her dad.  She trusts us to keep her safe and not hurt her and I want her to always feel that good about our relationship.  It's not to say that we can shield her from everything bad, I know we can't.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Un-Ringing the Bell

I've heard the saying, "You can't un-ring the bell."  Basically, there are some things you can't un-do, words you can't take back, decisions you can't un-make.  To me, it translates to regret.  I work hard to live my life with few regrets--regret is a time-waster in my world.

But if I could, what would I un-do?

Un-do my snarky comment to my 6-year-old this morning when she was being ill-mannered and too sassy, only my tone was too harsh and made her cry?  Un-do the long, arduous day I spent at the in-laws house yesterday?  Un-do the last 2 years of financial worries?

Decisions are a big deal in life and I know so many people who are stuck on one decision (or a few decisions) that snowballed into life-changing circumstances and they now bemoan their fate, going on about how if they could "just go back to that one moment and change what I did." 

Ummm...no.  And why?

Aren't all decisions life-changing, no matter how big or small they are?

I mean, in simple terms, the strawberry milkshake and cheese curds I ate yesterday could be the very things that start clogging my arteries, resulting in a heart attack in 27 years.  The blistering sunburn I got at 22 (because I thought I didn't need to re-apply my sunscreen after 7 hours outside at baseball games) could lead to skin cancer next month.  Ignoring the chronic UTI symptoms I had 2 years ago could have resulted in bladder cancer taking over my life instead of being caught early.

I believe in the concept of "the butterfly effect".  I don't remember the original quote or who it's attributed to (and I don't feel like looking it up right now), but the idea is that the flutter of a butterfly's wings could change the weather halfway around the world.  It's not just about the flutter of the butterfly's wings, but all of the circumstances surrounding that nanosecond.

We don't make decisions in a vacuum.

This is not to say that I don't have regrets--I have a few--nor does it mean that I wouldn't change things if I could.  But what else would I be un-doing if I went back and changed things?  How many lives would be affected by my life-changing decision to go back and change a decision?  Everything I do on any given day changes the course of someone else's life, in addition to my own.  That's a lot of responsibility to live with on any given day.

Oddly enough, I often give more thought to things I wish other people would un-do than I do to the things I wish I could un-do, and even then, it's usually because I've been hurt or angered by their decisions.  I recognize that they have their reasons for their decisions, but it's usually hard to see it in the moment.

I know I wouldn't un-do a friendship that has been way too much work.  I wouldn't un-do my beautiful daughter, no matter how sick she's been or how hard her first few years of life were or how scary it is to wait on so many medical test results.  I wouldn't un-do a first, hesitant kiss in the dark or awkward hand-holding afterward. 

I wouldn't un-do any tears or laughter or heartbreak or anger.

Even if I don't see how it's helpful to me, I can hold fast to the hope that somehow, somewhere, it is or will be helpful to someone.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Shopping

I've started taking couponing seriously.  Not seriously enough to end up on one of those extreme couponing TV shows, but enough that the cashiers at the stores flinch a little bit when I hand over the stack of little glossy papers for them to scan.  I've been saving an average of $22.00 per week.  I know that's not much in terms of my whole grocery budget, but it's still pretty good.  If I didn't have so much going on during the day, I'd spend more time going through sales papers and comparison shopping, but between two jobs and a busy home life, I just haven't made it a priority.

I've also been cautious about clothes and shoe shopping.  I was in desperate need of new shoes, and I admit that I spent more than I budgeted, but I was also happy that I got very good quality shoes on sale.  When I did my massive closet cleanout, I tried on all of my shoes and any that were too worn out or uncomfortable at all had to go.  That left me with no work shoes.  In the past few weeks, I bought 2 pairs of heels, 2 pairs of flats and 2 pairs of comfortable/everyday shoes, all Aerosoles.  My feet are happy, even though my wallet squeaked in fear when I took the money out. 

I also bought 2 blouses and 2 sweaters for work--a necessity since I now dress up almost every single day and I had to get rid of almost all of my blouses.  (I had to get rid of them because when I started swimming last year, my forearms bulked up a little with more muscle and the sleeves are too tight.)  I got a 30% off coupon and was lucky enough to find some nice blouses and sweaters on sale/clearance--I ended up spending about $30.00 total and saved $110.00.  Not too shabby, eh?

Now, if I could just figure out a way to further reduce my utility bills...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Single-Handedly Keeping My Garbage Man in Business

I haven't had much to say lately, hence, no blogging.  I've been in the worst funk for weeks.  My days just run into each other between working my regular job, teaching and managing everything that goes along with summer school, organizing the house in anticipation of having to move, and still making sure I'm available to my kiddo.  It's really no crazier or harder than anyone else's life, but I'm tired.

As for moving, it's not definite (yet...), but I know we can't stay here.  It's been a battle of wills with the spouse as to whether or not we keep the house, but his will is finally being overruled by the reality of our financial situation.  I've been cleaning like crazy for the past two weeks and have thrown out so much stuff that I'm stunned.  We don't have a particularly big house, but as I look at what I'm getting rid of, I can't believe it all fit in here.  Two weeks ago when I cleaned out my closet and my half of the bedroom, there were 6 bags of clothes, coats, shoes, etc., plus 5 bags of stuff to throw away.  I couldn't even tell you what all I got rid of, so it must have been pretty insignificant stuff--a heck of a lot of insignificant stuff!  It did feel good, though.  I'm approaching each room I clean with the mentality of:  When did it last get used?  Is it needed?  Will it fit if we take it to a smaller house?  Could someone else get use out of this?  Do I want to deal with the hassle of packing and then unpacking it?

While most of the things I'm getting rid of are minor, I'm shocked that I'm getting rid of things I thought I would keep forever!  As I look at them, though, I realize they are, after all, just things.  I'm allowing myself one storage bin for "sentimental items".  Things like a graduation card from my college best friend, a faded ultrasound picture, my first Mother's Day card--things like that I'm keeping.  Everything else has gotta go.

I'm not sure if that makes my garbage man happy or sad.  I do know that he works hard, but he's really been busting his you-know-what and earning his paycheck at my driveway in the past few weeks.  I'm hoping to get in another garage sale sometime in the next few weeks and then maybe we'll just rent a dumpster for a day and get rid of anything else in one swoop.

And I keep telling myself that even if the mister finds a full-time job in the next few months and we end up staying, my house will be cleaner and more organized and free of junk than it has been in years.  And that is a good thing.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Hevin Bech

Heaven Beach.
It was the title of a picture that my daughter made.  It was a simple picture, nothing fancy, a man and a little girl walking together with a dog.  I thought it was supposed to be her and her dad, taking the dog for a walk.  She was quick to correct me.

"No mommy.  Heaven Beach is a place where you can take a walk with God and ask Him questions.  You know, questions that you don't know the answers to."

I carefully explained that I thought it was a nice idea, but that I also thought it was okay to ask God questions anytime. 

She nodded and said, "I know.  But when you walk next to God, really walk with Him and pay attention, you'll be able to hear Him answer."

My kiddo often stuns me into silence with her casual but beautiful insights.  I'm pretty silent right now.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Age is Just a Number

One of my friends told me that I'm too young to enjoy Elvis, 60s music, 40s swing, etc. Apparently, I'm also too young to like Stevie Nicks. I disagree. I may be too young or too old for a few things, but not for good music. Never.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Today

It was an easy decision to skip my workout this evening and instead curl up in pajama pants and an old t-shirt and put this day to bed.  I'm sleepy today and looking forward to conking out for the night.

I've been working on getting things together for summer school and doing my best to keep up with housework and laundry.  I'm often convinced that laundry breeds when nobody is looking.  It's like the gremlins or something--get it wet and it multiplies, feed it after midnight and the evil takes over the household.  I'm pretty sure Stripe lives at the bottom of the dirty towel bin.

I decided today to take two weeks off work later this summer.  I believe I haven't taken more than a straight week off since I was on maternity leave and my kiddo is now six.  It occurred to me that I have almost 8 weeks of vacation hoarded and I need to take some of it.  Money is scarce, but I'm hoping to get in a real family vacation.  Nothing over the top or fancy, probably a distance that we can reasonably drive and no 5-star accommodations, but just to get away.  I'm hoping that putting some physical distance between me and everything here that I'm worrying about will be helpful.

Our hopes for selling the house are mostly dashed--it seems like the housing market is starting to recover in some areas, but not here.  There are homes in our neighborhood on the market for $50-70k less than what people paid for them 10 years ago.  So discouraging.  The only alternative is the for the hubs to find a full-time job.  After 23 months of not having a full-time job, something has to give.  He's got a lead on a job that would start with the new school year and we've got our fingers crossed.  It's so hard to understand how a well-educated academic professional can't find work, but competition is intense.  I've heard that there are often anywhere between 300-1500 applicants for a single position in a school district in this area. 

I'm keeping my hopes up that things will work out.  I tell myself that things DO work out and they WILL, one way or another--not always the way I want them to, but I'll make the most of whatever the outcome is and travel that road when I come to it.

I wouldn't mind if that road led to some lottery winnings or a big bag of money landing in my lap.  Just sayin'.  Of course, with my luck, the bag of money landing in my lap would be attached to cinder blocks and break my legs or something.  'Cause that's just how my luck usually rolls. 

But anyway, just for today, I'm going to push some of my worries aside and daydream about a vacation.  My kiddo has expressed interest in riding a roller coaster.  I haven't been on a roller coaster since I got married--the hubs is really afraid of heights and won't ride them with me.  At this point, I wonder if I'd get sick riding one?  I hope not.  I kind of like that adrenaline rush and would so enjoy sharing that with the kiddo.  Off to dream about roller coasters and the beach...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Well Then!

Can I post now??

Well, apparently, I can.  The hubs downloaded a new toolbar which lost Java which then meant that the previous blogger settings wouldn't allow me to post.

Anyway, I've lost several decent posts.  Just my luck that I was in a mood to write and couldn't.  And tonight, I kind of don't feel like writing. 

But I do have a picture...


Yay for birthday parties!  And yay for cake!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Hello?

Excuse me.

I'm trying to find myself.

Any idea where she is?

She's about this tall...brown hair...brown eyes...a deep wrinkle between the eyebrows...I know she's around here somewhere.

Ever get that feeling? Like you've gone missing, even though you're right there?

Normally, May is a good month for me--birthdays to celebrate, flowers blooming, a break between the spring semester and summer session, nice weather. The last few days, though, I've been in a sour mood. I thought it was because I was sick, but I'm feeling better and still crabby. Thankfully, it's early in the month, so if I'm going to have a few off days, better to have them now and get them out of the way.

On a happier note, I've been working out a design for my kiddo's birthday cake. It's a ladybug theme with sunflower accents.

That sounds funny, doesn't it?

But birthdays are serious business in this house, which means the birthday cake is serious business. I think I'm going to go with two tiers of yellow cake, light green tinted icing and a big ladybug on top, with tiny ladybugs and icing sunflowers on the sides. It should be fun! The party is next weekend, and by now, I usually would've done a trial run with the cake, but I can't seem to get caught up on anything these days, so I'll be winging it the day before.

The way I see it, people usually like cake, so even if doesn't look like I'm hoping it will, at least it will taste good. Yay for cake!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

A Brand New Day

A little Sunday morning pick-me-up:




I'm feeling better knowing that my kiddo is (mostly) okay.

The beast of a cold that I have is starting to ease up.

The sun is shining.

It's a brand new day...

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Enough

I've had enough health and financial concerns in the past few years...no more, please!

First and foremost, my kiddo does not have leukemia. There is no way to describe the relief I feel about that. It's scary how a range of symptoms can mean anything from life-changing to nothing. She was having abdominal pain for a while, but when she started running a low fever and having upper-left-side pain and leg pain, the symptoms pointed to leukemia. The one thing working in our favor was that she's kind of at an "in-between" age, and leukemia tends to hit earlier or later.

Which means nothing, of course. Just ask any parent whose child has cancer.

After all her tests and labs, this is what we know--iron, protein and potassium are low. She still has symptoms of an ulcer. And her allergies are bad. Her current course of treatment includes prescription-strength antacids and antihistamines, along with recommendations to increase her meat intake and making sure she gets vitamins everyday. All of it is manageable and we are very, very fortunate. We follow up in a month, at which time, we'll re-evaluate whether she needs an endoscopy. I hope not.

For now, though, we've dodged a pretty scary bullet and can get back to the business of worrying about everyday stuff. The hubs applied for 5 jobs last week...nothing so far, but we're hopeful. God has a funny way of providing when it seems like we're about to hit rock bottom and I have faith that one way or another, things will work out. They always do, even if it's not the way I want them to work out!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Unknown

When it comes to me and my health, I don't like the unknown, but I tolerate it. I haven't done much in the way of following up on the dizziness, etc. I'm not blowing it off, but putting it off to focus on whatever is going on with my kiddo.

Kids get tummy aches, I know they do. But kids should not have tummy aches that leave them doubled over in pain, gasping for breath and trying not to cry. I feel horrible because the first few times she complained about a tummy ache, I gave a rather typical mom-response..."Try to go to the bathroom." My kiddo looked up at me and growled, "It's not that kind of tummy ache." Blamed it on stress, blamed it on the school lunch, tried to ignore it, but after a few days, it became obvious that it wasn't any of those things, it wasn't fake and we had no idea what was going on.

Our pediatrician, who I love (and I mean that, I love him like family), saw her last week, gave us some suggestions and said he'd see her in a week. We saw him yesterday and he didn't like what he saw/heard. She's feeling worse and the pains are getting more intense and he can hear abnormal sounds in her abdomen. He can't feel anything when he examines her, so he decided it was time to start investigating further. He sent us over to the hospital for tests--and I felt so guilty in the waiting room, knowing that the tests are needed, but trying to squelch the worry about how we're going to pay the bill when it comes.

Our hope is that it's just a little dysfunctional part of her bowel, moving out of sync, which can cause quite a bit of pain. Nothing can really be done for it, but it's relatively harmless. Doc has no reason to believe there's an obstruction, but he's checking for it. Also checking for a range of infections and disorders through labs. His concern right now is whether there's an ulcer, ulcerative colitis, Chron's Disease, Heaven forbid a tumor or something equally insidious. He's hoping--we're all hoping--that it's nothing and all these tests are nothing more than a precaution.

But I don't know how to get rid of that nagging fear that something could be seriously wrong. I'm trying to give it over to God, but there's a part of me that would also like to kick God in the shin if He showed up in my living room right now.

This is not the worst thing that could ever happen and I know that. And mostly, things are fine. But it's amazing how fear can clamp down and take a stronghold when the future is so uncertain. I'm trying to find joy in small uncertainties in life (a challenge for me), but this is a little too uncertain. So, we wait and find certainty next week when the test results are in.

Looking forward to a quiet weekend and Easter. Hoping the same for everyone else, too.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Results Are In


First, when I typed "results", I had a fit of giggling, thinking about an e-mail where someone repeatedly typed "resluts" instead of "results"--when referring to a children's dance team. Cracked me up.


Anyway.


I got the results of the MRI of my brain. Here's what a normal brain MRI looks like:




Interesting, huh? You can see all kinds of stuff in there!


So...here's what mine looks like:



Haha! Before anyone gets upset about me making fun of the hubs, please refer to my earlier post where he said that with his luck, the MRI would show a picture of him as the cause of my dizziness/falling. I did pick an un-flattering picture--but it shows him for the goofball he is. Trust me. He is a goofball.


So...actually, the MRI came back normal, which was encouraging. Nothing scary like a tumor or MS. It didn't show any problem with my inner ear, either, which was surprising.


So, now we look at "minor" causes of the problems I'm having and it's pretty much narrowed down to three things. It could be a problem with my blood sugar, stress, exhaustion or any combination of those three. I'm inclined to think it's all three. I've had blood sugar problems for years--not diabetic or hypoglycemic, but other weird issues where it suddenly gets too high or too low. I've been under a lot of stress. And I barely sleep. Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that I've been dizzy and falling over. My fuzzy memory recently could also be directly related to any of this stuff, especially exhaustion, though I was cautioned that because I have severely low "good" cholesterol, that could also play a role in memory problems. See? You learn something new every single day.


To combat this, whatever it is, I'm vowing to get back the pool. I haven't gone in a month and I think I need to be good to myself--swimming is good for me physically and psychologically, so I should do more of it. I'll get my blood sugar tested again, too, just to be safe. And at least for tonight, I'm going to go to bed an hour earlier. Of course, one day of changes isn't enough, so I need to be more diligent.


Which brings me to...Five Things In Five Days!


1. Go to bed an hour earlier than "usual".


2. Go to the pool at least twice a week and take a walk at least 2-3 times a week.


3. Eat every 2 hours like I'm supposed to so I avoid highs and lows in blood sugar.


4. Eat almonds daily to help with my good cholesterol. Take my Omega supplements, too.


5. Not bring any work home with me this weekend.


I'll see how I do!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Impatient Patient

I'm (im)patiently awaiting the results of my MRI. I went last week and learned two things about having an MRI done on the brain:

1. If you are claustrophobic, you will either completely freak out when the techs immobilize your head and clamp the heavy grate over your face OR you will suddenly figure out how not to be claustrophobic anymore.

2. It is possible to fall asleep while having an MRI done.

In the first category, I had some anxiety. I don't like being restrained in any manner whatsoever AND I don't like small spaces. I had no idea what I was in for. I freaked out a little bit at first, but did some deep breathing--then that metal thing locked over my face and I thought I was going to cry. Instead, I made a freaky sound with my mouth and growled, "Hellllooo Clarice..." a la Hannibal Lecter. It made the techs laugh.

In the second category, yes, I did end up dozing off for a few minutes. I kept my eyes closed because I didn't want to see the thing over my face or how small the space was. Between that, the deep breathing and then the rhythmic hum of the machine, I fell asleep for a few minutes.

So, now the question is, is there anything wrong with my brain? I doubt it. I was hoping to get a call from the doctor's office today with results, but no luck. I'm thinking if it was bad news, they would have called me by now. I'll be really intrigued if it turns out to be nothing more than an inner ear problem. If it is, how do I fix that so I quit falling down? Maybe an ENT will have some answers? I'm trying not to get too far ahead of myself.

The hubs said with his luck, they'd complete the MRI and a picture of his face would pop up, indicating that he's the cause of my mental fogginess, dizziness and stumbling. :) Never mind the fact that I'm just tired. I wonder if that could be the diagnosis? I would write a check for another office visit co-pay to have the doctor write down, "Dx: Freakin' Exhausted." I wonder what the insurance would pay for that??

Monday, March 28, 2011

I Knew It!

I really get a kick out of making bad jokes about my job. My job is the most amazing, fulfilling and agonizing thing I've ever encountered--outside of parenthood, that is. Last year during a Knights of Columbus fundraiser, I was walking a radius around the office building outside carrying a container and asking strangers for spare change and giving them a Tootsie Roll in return. As I sweated out there in the afternoon sun, I thought, "I always knew if I worked in social services long enough, I'd end up on a street corner asking strangers for money." When I moved from my badly overheated and windowless office to a nicer, upstairs office with FOUR windows, I thought, "I always knew if I worked here long enough, I'd end up on the second floor." Today, as I sat in the doctor's office after work and he told me he needed to get an MRI of my head, I thought, "I always knew if I stayed in this line of work, I'd need to get my head checked." Funny! Well, the part about the MRI isn't so funny, I guess. I fell down at home yesterday and cracked my head on the wall. Even worse, I was holding my kiddo when I fell and she hit her head, too. We're both totally fine, but I went to the doctor and explained that I had a wave of dizziness right before I fell. He thinks it might be an inner ear problem, because he tried to get me to stand perfectly straight in the office and I almost fell again. Curse vertigo! I learn something new everyday, though. I had no idea that an MRI of my brain would show a problem with my inner ear. Fascinating!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Almost a Decade

Our ten-year wedding anniversary is creeping up on us. I'm stunned...amazed...maybe a little horrified. Okay, not horrified. :) Impressed might be the best word. Anyone who knows us would probably agree that us making it to ten years seemed highly improbably since the day we walked down the aisle. But that's us. Defying the odds since 2001.



Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Stress...Tastes Like Chicken

Old, gross chicken. Actually, I've never eaten old, gross chicken, so I guess I don't really know if that's what stress tastes like.

What I do know is that stress leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And that, my friends, is directly related to heartburn. Nothing seems to help it these days. I'm pretty sure the only thing that will eventually help is reducing my stress levels.

I don't know how people live with so much stress. I really don't. I've been working hard to take things in stride and not freak out (too much) about things that are not in my control. It ain't easy. My crusty, rusty armor is finally cracking. I know I'll cope with it and manage as best as I can, because that's what I always do, but...well, "but" what? I don't want to. I don't really feel like coping and managing. It would be pretty neat to just dump my worries and troubles on someone else and let that person fix it.

I've also learned that stress leaves me feeling incredibly tired. Or maybe I'm tired because I'm working 60+ hours a week. I suppose that might have something to do with it!

Hmm. Kind of a downer post. I need to lighten up a bit. This makes me smile...


Monday, March 07, 2011

Hardy Har Har

I'm going to start this post by saying something that I know is not true.

God is having a good laugh at my expense.

Okay, I don't really believe He's laughing at me, nor do I really believe that He's the cause of my recent troubles.

I do believe that my frustration is getting the better of me. I can get pretty emotional and irrational, just like anybody, but most of the time (whether it's because of my job, being a parent or whatever), I do a good job of being even-tempered. It's not always easy, mind you, but I manage fairly well.

Lately, though, I've been pretty testy, feeling down in the dumps and very anxious. My boss got snarky with me last week and I don't respond well to personal attacks. So, I've been letting myself stay irritated instead of getting over it. Not long after that, my husband found me crying on the couch at 4am. Crying? Yes, crying. I was crying because I was so exhausted and could not sleep. And I could not sleep because I hear the incessant noise in the pipes that right now, we really can't afford to fix. But we have to fix it, because very soon, we need to get this house sold (or the hubs needs to find a job ASAP). And who's going to buy a house with a noisy plumbing issue? Then I get all anxious about that, on top of everything else I'm anxious about--work, home, finances, gas prices, health insurance (you know, things that lots of Americans are facing on a daily basis). Anxiety is no fun, let me tell you. I walk around with a near-constant weight on my chest, that weird feeling in my head and a slightly foggy mind. Then I get mad at myself for being anxious. Mad at the economy. Mad at the hubs for not having found a job. Mad that the housing market stinks and even though we need to sell our house, finding a buyer is going to take a serious stroke of luck with so many homes right on our street in foreclosure.

Mad that my life isn't what I planned for or hoped for right now.

Mad that it seems like I have to accept that part of adulthood is trading in the dreams I had for the reality that is mine right now.

Mad that I can't seem to relax. Ever.

I get grumpy about it for a while and then just figure out how to move on. It's not like my circumstances are going to change overnight. Unless I win the lottery. Or a very, very wealthy relative (or random stranger??) decides to give me a bunch of money. Not likely!

On the bright side, spring is right around the corner and crocuses, daffodils and tulips will be blooming shortly. I typically have a nice floral display in the front yard. Maybe that'll be a good selling point in another month or so?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Here and There

Let's see...random stuff today:

My kiddo lost her first tooth last Friday night! Actually, let me re-phrase. My kiddo pulled out her first loose tooth last Friday night! It was barely hanging on and she was anxious about letting me or her dad tug it out. We each tried, but she started to panic. I suggested she grab hold of it with a paper towel and pull it forward--she did and it popped right out! She's so proud of herself and that missing-tooth-grin is adorable.

Last Wednesday, I enjoyed a night out with my sister watching Pete Yorn. That man can sing. And his instrument work--wow. The night was almost (almost!) ruined by a scary envelope I pulled out of the mailbox that afternoon.

I got home from work, opened the mailbox and froze. Inside was an envelope and the first thing I saw was the green triangle in the upper left corner. Hottie Doc's office label. I'd had my scope on the 9th, no reason to think anything was wrong. Except for the fact that they send out samples every time I go in for a procedure. I tried to calm my nerves, telling myself that if it was really bad news, they would have called and told me to set up an appointment. My hands were shaking so hard I could barely open the envelope. There was a note inside letting me know to call the office.

First I giggled, thinking about what I would have given a decade ago to get a note from a doctor with his number, asking me to call him. Then I felt the dread rise up. Was the cancer back? Did the lab find something new? What was it?

I picked up the phone and started dialing, then hung up. I was getting ready to go out and if it was bad news, I didn't want it to ruin the evening. So I went out, had a drink with my sister, waited through one "okay" and one "barely mediocre" opening act, then got down to the business of enjoying the really good music. Thank you, Pete Yorn, for taking my mind off the cancer fears.

Thursday morning, I did call the office and was relieved to find out that they did not find cancer cells. They found some abnormalities, which at this point, is almost routine for me, but they had some concerns that things were more unusual than usual, if that makes sense.

Cancer is a strange thing. Even when it's not there, it's always present. The worry and concern, the fears and "what ifs"...they linger. And not like the sweet flavor of wine on your tongue. More like the stench of a nasty dog fart. Cancer sparks a negative reaction--every twinge, every time I feel something funny, any pain or burning in my bladder, pressure or swelling, any ache in my flank or kidneys, my first thought is no longer about a pulled muscle or a UTI. It's always, "Is the cancer back?" I'm comforted to know that my feelings are not strange and thankfully, my doctors take me seriously when I say something doesn't feel right.

What else? Oh, a plumber is coming out to the house tomorrow. A few weeks ago, there was a faint hint of water hammer, but it's now becoming a major nuisance What started out as a quiet, intermittent tap in the pipes in the master bath is now a whole-house clanging whenever a toilet flushes or the water runs. Even worse is the incessant knocking in the wall behind the toilet, about every 4 seconds, which kept me up most of the night. There's no obvious leak (thank goodness!), but I'm worried about what's going on. I bled the pipes twice and the knocking actually stopped while the water was shut off, but then started up again shortly after putting the water back on. The water level in the toilet tank keeps dropping, too, which seems to indicate that we need a new ballcock (um...yeah...who thought up that name??), but I'm afraid there's something more going on. So, we'll see what the plumber says tomorrow. Of course, it's an expense that we can't afford right now, but I figure I'd rather pay for the service call and get a minor problem fixed than risk it turning into a major super-expensive repair down the road.

So, that's it. And that's probably enough for now.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Old Dog, New Tricks

I've decided it's time for me to learn a foreign language!

I took Spanish for 2 or 3 years in high school. I don't remember...it was a long time ago. I also took a year of Spanish in college and a year of conversational Spanish at work. After all of that, I can ask a few basic questions and give some simple answers. Things like, "Where is the bus?" "Where is the beer?" And the most important, "Where is the bathroom?" I can also ask, "Where is George?" I can give my name and age and I can say, "I'm sorry, I don't speak Spanish."

So no, I'm not going to go back and learn more Spanish. Truth is, I don't use it often enough and I tend to forget what I've learned.

I thought about sign language. That would be very beneficial in my line of work. But I don't have money to take the classes to be a certified translator.

The foreign language I'm learning? Well, it consists of one word and one phrase.

Word: "No." This is a very foreign word to me and I have a hard time pronouncing it, let alone saying it with any real conviction. This will take a lot of practice.

Phrase: "I love you." The only time I don't choke on it is when I say it to my daughter. But I mean it when I say it. I need to practice saying it out loud more often.

This should be an interesting endeavor.

Any new languages you're learning?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Different Kind of Education

In general, I'm pleased with the fact that I have a graduate degree. I worked hard to get it. But there are some things that my education did not prepare me for. Not even close.

My education did not prepare me for coping with the things I see and deal with on a daily basis. I manage them, because that's my job, and of course because I'm in a helping profession and I WANT to help people. Most days are pretty good. Difficult, but fulfilling. Other days, not so much.

Education does not prepare people for the emotions that rise up at the sight of a toddler with a battered, broken body. There's no way to prepare for the sensation of her hot, damp forehead under your fingertips, as you brush her hair aside, wishing you could also brush away the fever burning as her brain swells and bleeds through multiple skull fractures. Education doesn't prepare anyone to see broken ribs gently rising and falling as a ventilator pushes life-saving air, circulating blood through her weak body. Hazel eyes swollen shut. A gash across a tiny nose. Small hands curled into smaller fists. The rhythmic beeping and pulsing of machines that are doing the work for her.

The machines beep prayers in perfect cadence with the people in the room. "Please. Please. Please." The whooshing of air whispers, "Breathe baby. Breathe baby. Breathe baby."

No amount of education prepares you to see a child, broken at the hands of the people who are supposed to love and care for her the most.

There is love in that room. Love from people who don't know that child. There are prayers for healing. Prayers spilling in as word travels about the horror that brought her to that hospital bed. Education doesn't prepare you for the kindness of strangers.

Education doesn't prepare you for the moment of fluttering eyes or the struggle of cracked lips tugging upward into a tiny smile when she hears your voice. Education doesn't prepare you for the moment her fingers curl around yours, hanging on so tightly that it takes you by surprise.

No textbook, no exam, no pop quiz or project or presentation ever taught me anything about the resiliency of the human spirit or the miracle of healing. And yet, those experiences have been and continue to be the most important education of all.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Re-Post: The Things We Carry

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Things We Carry

I read a book over the summer that was titled The Things They Carried. It was written by Tim O’Brien and it’s not like a regular novel—like with a clear beginning, middle and end, an obvious protagonist and antagonist. It’s a collection of mini-stories as part of a bigger story, and it’s all about a platoon of American soldiers in Vietnam. I was sitting at my desk this morning, mulling over something my husband said to me last night that hurt my feelings, and for whatever reason, I started thinking about that book. It occurred to me that we all have things that we carry with us…some good things, some not-so-good things, some things that keep us going when the roads we travel are fraught with darkness and misery. Some of the things we carry are physical in nature—maybe a St. Christopher medallion for a safe journey, a piece of jewelry or a lucky penny. Some of the things we carry are more emotional—a kind word from a stranger, a hurtful comment from a loved one, a glowing memory that we cling to, in the hopes that someday we’ll feel that good again. And all those things—the things we carry—make us who we are.

I carry a lot of things with me—memories, both good and bad, old hurts (see my earlier post on the trouble I have with forgiving people), hopes for the future. All of those things affect who I am and I really believe that I’m okay with that. And yet, every now and then, there’s something that sticks with me, something that just won’t let go.

It started with a comment from my husband—not the one from last night, but from a long while ago—and it was something on the order of, “Your knees are always bruised.” And they are. I swear, my knees are forever black and blue or that funny brownish-yellow color that bruises become when they’re healing. My knees are always bruised. At the time, I laughed it off, but the words did sting. Why? Because he had no idea why my knees were bruised. He had no way to understand how the bruises got there or what they meant to me. At that time, he was working a job with crazy hours, which meant I was the one who always got the short end of the stick when it came to daily chores and responsibilities. Simply put, I was the one on my knees giving baths, on my knees cleaning up the floor from dinner, on my knees scrubbing barf out of the carpet when the baby didn’t like dinner, on my knees pulling toys from under the refrigerator and the couch, on my knees, on my knees, on my knees.

And during that same time, I was on my knees in church, praying to God to help me find the strength that I knew I had somewhere deep inside of myself to keep managing an unfortunate series of events that tainted the joy of my baby’s birth and was ultimately a very sad, very dark time in my life. What kept me going was the time I spent in prayer—the hours on my knees brought me back from what was the closest I had ever been to the “edge” as it’s called when someone feels like if one more thing goes wrong, the only option is to run away screaming.

I spent a long time carrying a heavy heart and a mind full of things that I would rather have forgotten. I spent even more time carrying around the agony of wondering what might have been, what could have been, what should have been, what will never be the same ever again…

Fortunately, I spent the most time carrying the knowledge that God wasn’t going to give me more than I could handle—and even if my knees were bruised from the crushing pressure of my world when I was balanced on them in prayer, they were still supporting me. God was still supporting me.

Looking back on it, I tell myself that the bruises on my knees are nothing more than God’s fingerprints. Like “Footprints in the Sand” when the man looked down and saw only one set of footprints and realized that God had been carrying him, I see my bruises as proof that God was (and is) cradling my knees in His hands. The bruises are proof that He’s leaving His mark.

I saw a sign a few weeks ago that I’ve modified into a prayer. I think God appreciates a little humor every now and then.

Lord, I pray that I always remember when things are not going as I would like, I remember that while You may not get in touch with me through e-mail, You always hear me when I send up a message via knee-mail. Amen.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

My House is a Portal to Hell

Okay, not really. Just feels like it sometimes.
  • Water in the house right after we moved in.
  • Frozen sump pump line (over and over and over again).
  • The time the smoke detectors went berserk.
  • Ghosts under the bed (long story on that one).
  • Appliances that randomly go crazy then go back to normal.
  • Field mice.

The field mice are a new addition. In the middle of the blizzard on Tuesday night, there was a loud pop from the basement, that turned out to be a seal around (I think) the electric meter. There was snow in the basement.

It never occurred to me that field mice would find their way in through that crack. It occurs to me now that they're IN MY HOUSE. I bought a bunch of traps last night and I'm pretty sure the cashier thought I was preparing for armageddon.

These mice are something else. Just hanging out, making themselves at home. I strongly suspect there was a nest outside--the dog had been going crazy trying to dig under the fence and deck for over a week and I'm wondering now if she could smell it. Anyway, I clobbered one with a shoe last night. I squealed like a little girl and made my husband take it outside. Caught another one in a trap shortly after that. There are a few more lurking in the basement. They will soon be caught, too. Hubs is going to try to seal the crack--hello steel wool and cement. If it looks like something more than just the crack or if we find a nest, then I'm calling for professional reinforcement. I have never used an exterminator before, but I'm thinking a professional will know better where to look and exactly what to look for and seal any other cracks or gaps that might be along the foundation.

This is the first time I ever wanted a cat. I'm seriously considering borrowing a cat from a friend and letting it stay overnight in the basement. Pretty sure that would take care of the problem!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

It's Like Being a Kid Again!

Snow days. I remember having them on exceptionally rare occasions as a kid. At work, typically if the weather is severe, day programs will close so the clients don't come in, but staff are still expected to report to work.

I did not have to report to work yesterday. Or today. Not one, but TWO snow days! This is unprecedented, never done before in the history of my agency.

When I got the news last night that we would be closed again today, it was because even though the main roads are mostly clear, the side roads are still terrible and our parking lots are inaccessible. Every time I look out my window at the 6-foot snow drifts, I'm very glad that I didn't have to go out and navigate the roads to work. We didn't even get a plow down our street until dinnertime yesterday. I will say, however, that I don't mind, because ambulance/hospital routes were a priority. I don't know if it's true, but I heard that plows were dispatched with any 911 calls so emergency personnel could get to homes/businesses as needed. If that's true, I think it's awesome.

So, I'm using my snow days to relax, unwind and catch up on some stuff around the house. I also think I might be fighting off some sort of bug, because I've been weridly tired--no, not tired, more like fatigued and exhausted--for the past few days. The extra rest is nice.

That being said, I think I'm going to go lay down on the couch.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Week So Far

I'm very happy tomorrow is Friday. So far this week, I've fallen in the garage, dealt with a rat issue at work, spilled peach yogurt on a white sweater, fell in the snow, fell on the ice, fell out of my office chair...

There seems to be a "falling" theme here.

Can't wait to see what the weekend brings!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Memory Keeping

Most of the time, I think I'm a pretty good friend. I'm there for the people I care about, genuinely want them to be happy and will give of myself unconditionally to help them reach their goals and be as content and happy as they can be. Historically, I have a very small group of friends. I'm not really a social butterfly--I prefer to surround myself with people I know very well and who know me very well in return. My inner circle of friends may not actually be friends with each other, but they are my friends, and I love them fiercely.

Which is why it hurts so much when someone decides not to be part of that circle anymore. Even worse when they take off with no explanation. I worry and internalize enough to wonder if I said or did something wrong.

Friends break up all of the time and certainly no explanations are necessary. I guess I just feel that after years of sharing hopes, dreams, laughs, tears, worries, fears about the future, regrets about the past, hope for what might still be, sharing hugs and high fives, using each others' shoulders for crying and ears for listening...when you connect on that deep level, it just seems like there should be something, even just a, "Hey, nice knowing you, but I'm outta here."

This happened to me once before with someone else and I was sad for a long time. I'm feeling that same old sadness as I silently bid farewell to someone who's obviously already long gone. I have lots of good memories of what, for a while, what I thought was a rock-solid friendship.

There's a poem somewhere about friends coming into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Looking back on it, the signs were there that it would not be a lifetime friendship. I suspect it was a reason for that person, a season for me...and I know that I will take those lessons of friendship and carry them with me for my lifetime.

And even if I don't feel like I'm okay with it now, I believe I'll be okay with it later.