Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Great Orange Crayon Meltdown Of 2012

Husband is out-of-town, so for the next three days it's just me and my girls.  We're going to stay up late watching chick-flicks and eating ice cream out of the container. We might also give each other make-overs and talk about boys we like.  I haven't worked out all the details yet.

And I really feel like I need this quality time with my kids.  I've been focusing so much on my studying lately, that I haven't been engaging with them one-on-one as much as I used to.  I have to push them aside to continue pouring over old notes and textbooks.  In a very small way, I already feel like I'm back at work.

All of this is probably what led up to the great orange crayon meltdown of 2012.

You see, around 8:30 last Friday morning I called out to my girls "Let's get our socks and shoes on! It's time to go to school!"  Preschooler bounds to the steps and eagerly jams her shoes on her feet.  Toddler is dawdling by some pictures they were drawing in crayon.

"Orange crayon," she says.

"Ok," I say, "Finish drawing with your orange crayon.  It's time to go."

She makes some marks with the crayon, and then says a little louder, "ORANGE CRAYON."

"Yes," I reason, "You've drawn with your orange crayon.  Now it's time to go."  She pitter-patters up to me and starts to wail, "Ooorrrange crayyyyyooonn."

"Come on, sweetie, we have to go."  I start putting her socks on, and she runs away screeching, "NO! NO! ORANGE CRAYON! ORANGE CRAYON!"

And as her wails reach a crescendo in my ears, I hear a second voice chime in, "NO! NO! STOP IT! AAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!"

Poor Preschooler is especially sensitive to her sister's feelings, and hearing so much angst emitting from her sibling's mouth was enough to send Preschooler into utter hysterics.

For five straight minutes, while I wrestled socks and shoes and coats on them, my girls screamed until they were both red in the face. The amount of unnecessary noise was staggering, and I would've cried too if the whole thing hadn't been so ludicrous.

Later that day, I did talk to Preschooler about some other coping strategies she has when Toddler cries. We talked about how she can cover her ears, or she can go to her room where it's nice and quiet.  I wasn't sure whether any of that would stick, but she seemed to take it to heart.  A couple days later, when Toddler started pitching a fit about something, Preschooler announced, "I HAVE TO GO TO MY ROOM!!!!"  She scampered upstairs and about 5 minutes later she came back down with a smile on her face.  "I feel better!" she said. "That's great!" I announced.  "See!  When Toddler cried you were able to go up to your room where it was nice and quiet." "Or the toy room!" she agreed.

So maybe there is a silver lining after all.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mentally Barred

As I mentioned before, I may be going back to work full time.

So, in an effort to open up as many doors as possible, I've decided to take the bar exam here in Wisconsin.   For those not in the know, the bar exam is an exam the state requires a lawyer to pass before they can legally practice law in that state.  It's a tough (and expensive) exam, spanning two full days, and covering every area of law imaginable.

So even though the exam isn't until the end of July, I've already started studying.  And my brain is fried.  Not that I've burned out or can't learn anything more.  Just fried in the sense that all my mental energy is focused on re-learning difficult concepts that I haven't utilized for as many as five years or so. All of which leaves me with little mental energy for blogging.

So forgive me if my posts are infrequent for a while. I'm still here.  I'm still going to read and comment on other blogs.  It's a nice distraction from studying.

But until I have all my brain cells back, I may not be posting more than a few times a month or so, when my mood and energy levels allow me to.

I love you all, and am still around.  But for a while, I'll be studying as I've never studied before. And coming from this overachiever, that's saying something.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Lesson Learned? Do Not Talk On The Phone While Driving. You'll Just Do Something Stupid.

As I headed home from the gym, I saw some one in the parking lot whose car battery had died.  The poor soul finagled around with some jumper cables with a mixture of confusion, dread, and anger on his face.  This reminded me of something I found out a couple years ago when I still lived in Ohio.

Your car battery can't die if you leave your keys in the car and the car running.  All night long.

Oh yes I did.

You see, I was on my way home from work when I got a call on my cell phone from an old friend I hadn't talked to in ages.  I was so excited to hear from her that I broke several safety rules by talking on my cell phone while driving.  I continued talking on the phone as I pulled into the parking lot. I got out of my car, and closed the door, still talking. Once I was in the house, I talked some more.  I think I talked for two hours, total.

What I didn't do?  Turn off my car and take the keys out of the ignition.

Yes, my car sat there running in my parking lot all night long.

So imagine Husband's surprise when he wakes up at the butt-crack of dawn (he had an hour-and-a-half commute back in those days), and hears a car running.  Who the hell else is up this early?  Huh, that sound is right by our apartment.  Wait a minute?  That's OUR car running!

Needless to say I never heard the end of this.  Which is fair.

Because it happened again.

Yes, not once, but twice, I have forgotten to take the keys out of the ignition and have left my car running in the parking lot all night long.  The second time (we were still living in Ohio), I was talking to my mom.  Who I talk to practically every day.

No excuses there.

So now I'm hyper-vigilant about making sure I turn the car off before leaving.  I've even turned it off, turned it on again and then turned it off again, just to make sure.

This is blurring into OCD territory, and I have enough neurosis, thank you very much.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Moms Always Know

It started when she was 18 months old.  She just had her 18-month-well-visit and was lagging behind a bit in her speech development.


Then she got an ear infection.  And then another. And then another

By twenty-one months she hadn’t gained any new words since that 18-month-well-visit.  Not one.

“Husband,” I said, “I think there’s something wrong with her hearing.”

“No there’s not, watch,” he said. “Toddler!  Come here!”

And Toddler toddled towards him.

“See? No problem.”


Three more months and three more ear infections, and Toddler and I find ourselves at the audiologist and ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor.)  The audiology test shows she is at the line between normal hearing and hearing loss.  The ENT notices she has had a series of reoccurring ear infections.  I notice that her speech is delayed enough that she now qualifies for speech-therapy, and explain it’s because she’s not hearing properly.  But, the test says she’s technically normal.

“Let’s wait on it,” recommends the ENT.  “Lots of times the ear infections die down during the spring and summer months.  Then, if she doesn’t get more of them in the fall, we may be in the clear.”


Fall comes, and following that, winter.  Toddler continues with speech-therapy, and while she progresses, she still struggles with beginning and ending sounds of words.  I have her in to the doctor’s office at least six times, suspecting ear infections.  Two were ear infections.  The others?  “Wow, there’s a lot of fluid behind her ears!” the doctor would exclaim. “But it’s not infected.”


Speech-therapy continues. About a month ago, the therapist asks, “Have you had her hearing tested?”

“Yeah, like a year ago.” I replied.

“Maybe you should have her retested,” she replies.  I set up an appointment.

Finally, I bring her back the pediatrician a couple weeks ago with yet another suspected ear infection.  And this time we see a different pediatrician.  “Woah!” she says. “There’s A LOT of fluid behind her ear.”  The pediatrician flips through her chart, noting she’s in speech therapy.  “There’s no way she is hearing properly,” the pediatrician said.  “She needs her hearing tested.” 

Good thing I have that appointment set up.

A week ago I take her back to the audiologist.  Again, she tests on the border line of normal hearing and hearing loss.  But the tests for a toddler are limited.  She responded to her name, and to white noise, but there’s no way to test what speech sounds she’s hearing and what she’s not.  You might test an older child or an adult by asking them to repeat what you say.  “Chair” you say, and then maybe they say “hair” or “where” if they’re not hearing the “ch” sound properly.  But you can’t perform such a test on a two-year-old.

I talk to the ENT.  “Woah!” he says.  “There’s A LOT of fluid back there!”

So I’ve heard.

So we start to talk about ear tubes.  We agree that, infection or no infection, she needs tubes in her ears to drain all that fluid.  It will probably help with her hearing, and hopefully her speech.

And then, almost as an afterthought, he adds, “What about her adenoids? I noticed she’s very congested.”

“Yes,” I reply, “She always has a stuffy nose, always has a bunch of dried-up boogers up there.”

“Does she snore?”

“Yup!  That’s how we know she’s really asleep, and not just up in bed biding her time.”

“I think we should take her adenoids out too, while we do the ear tubes.”

Apparently adenoids can also get in the way of ear fluid draining properly.  Or so I’m told. 

So we set up the procedure for today.  We’re to arrive at the hospital at 9:00 am for ear tubes and an adenoidectomy.  That means that when she wakes up there’s no sippy cup of milk.  And no breakfast.  And that means that the first hour of her day was one epic temper tantrum.  After that first hour, she seemed to be resigned to the fact that we weren’t feeding her this morning, but she was still pissed.

But once we got to the hospital, SHE. WAS. A. CHAMP.

She played with the toys in the waiting room.  When we were sent back to an exam room, she accepted the trade of her monkey jammies for the astronaut-themed hospital gown with no compunctions whatsoever.

She spent the next 45 minutes, while we waited for the anesthesiologist, playing peek-a-boo with the room’s curtain and generally entertaining herself.

She lets the nurses take her vital signs without blinking an eye.

The only time we had tears?  When we parted ways as they wheeled her towards the operating room and we went to the waiting room.  But were those her tears, or mine?  I’m still not sure.  Even though getting ear tubes put in is one of the most common surgical procedures in the country, no one likes to see their baby have surgery.

And what did we hear from the doctor when all was said and done?  “She had A LOT of fluid drain from both ears.  And her adenoids were HUGE.  She’ll definitely start hearing better after this.”

She wasn’t hearing properly?  WHO KNEW?

Lesson learned?  Trust your instincts. Moms always know.

Good job, my little trouper! Hope you’ll be talking up an (understandable) storm, soon!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

30 Million Day Blog Challenge #10: Some One or Something You're Proud Of

I don't write about him often, although he has given me explicit permission to write whatever I want about him, good or bad.

I'm going with good.

We were friends before we were a couple, and I admired him so much.  He was so easy-going, able to make friends with pretty much any one, outgoing, all things I was not.  I felt honored just to be able to tag along with him.

And then one day he felt rather honored just to be a part of my life.  And we started dating.

And for the first time in my life, I had a boyfriend who was respectful, who accepted me exactly as I was, who didn't abuse me.  He was nothing but wonderful.

And then one day, we got married.

He supported me through my grueling law school experience, never complaining when I had to ignore him while committing to my studies and giving me a shoulder to cry on when things just got too hard.

He nursed me after the birth of my first child, through a failed breastfeeding experience, a recovery that took weeks, mastitis, and postpartum depression.

In fact, he supported me through all my crazy, my bipolar depression, my anxiety, never once questioning a diagnosis, or my need for medication.  He was nothing but understanding and loving, and he was always there during my darkest days.

From the very beginning of our relationship I knew he'd be a wonderful father, and that proved to be true. He takes a fully equal role in raising our kids, and I couldn't ask for a better father to my children.

He worked his tail off to earn a PhD, something few people do.  And then he worked his tail off at his first job, so that I may stay at home with my kids, at least for a little while.

So this one's for you, Husband.  I love you with all my heart.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bad Blogger, Bad

It has come to my attention that I do not post as regularly as I used to.

I'm not leaving the blogging world.

I'm just distracted.

Husband's job search is taking longer than expected.  Although he's guaranteed to stay in his post-doc position for another year while he continues looking for permanent work, he won't make enough money to allow me to stay at home with the kids.  We've made it through the past two years relying on his income and our savings.  But it's gotten to the point where I have to get either a part-time or full-time job, lest our savings run out completely.

And I'm conflicted.

I have no doubt that the kids would love being in preschool for a full day if I went back to work full time.  In fact, it would probably be good for Toddler, who still refuses to use a "big girl" cup or use the potty.  She'll bring the cup to her mouth to drink, but won't actually swallow anything.  She loves sitting on her potty, but refuses to actually pee or poop in the potty.  Being in daycare/preschool and watching all the other kids do these activities may be the push she needs to start doing them herself. It would be an adjustment for Preschooler and Toddler, but once they got used to it they'd have so much fun they wouldn't think twice about missing me.

But I'd miss them.

When we lived in Ohio, I worked full time for three years.  Both my kids were placed in full time daycare when they were just infants.  And they thrived.  I had no doubt that they were receiving good care.  But I missed them with all my heart.  You know how some people love being with their kids all weekend, but secretly feel good come Monday when they get to return to work and the adult world?

I never felt like that.

For three years, I never felt like that.

And the activities we already do during daytime?  Speech therapy for Toddler?  Gymnastics for both girls?  Play-dates?  Not to mention that I wanted Preschooler to try out soccer and swimming lessons this summer? They'd all have to be moved to nights or weekends, or dropped all together.

And working part time?  It would mean working nights and weekends, and not earning that much. So I'd be at home with my kids during the day, but not with my family at night.  And it would make taking time off for long-weekend visits to my parents' or elsewhere a bit trickier.

So, it's complicated.

Add to that the conundrum of where I'd look for a job.  Husband is best off staying where we are in Wisconsin, completing the research he's been working on for the past two years.  But for me, there are few jobs here that would allow me to utilize the skills I earned in law school without actually practicing law, which I don't particularly want to do.  I worked crazy late hours while living in Ohio and have no wish to return to such an intense working schedule.  For me, the best place to be where I can find work related to my degree without actually practicing law lies in Minnesota.  But this would involve Husband leaving his research here in Wisconsin unfinished, and taking up a whole new post-doc position in Minnesota while he continued looking for more permanent work.

So what do I do?  Work part-time in retail or something similar?  Find a full time job in Wisconsin totally unrelated to my degree and my previous work?  Move my family to Minnesota?

It's really complicated.

Add to that the fact that the baby we've been trying for, for well over a year, hasn't happened.  I know that God is in charge of this and he's saying, "Not yet." And it's probably for the best, even though I don't fully understand why.  But it still hurts.

So with all this crap floating around in my brain on a daily basis, it makes it hard to be wry or witty, or to write about the funny things that happen in my day-to-day life.

So I'm not giving up on blogging.

I'm just distracted

Saturday, March 10, 2012

There's No Holding Hands In Zumba!

I don't like strangers touching me.  Therefore, I'm the only person in the world who doesn't like professional massages. And hands-on prayer weirds me out.  And don't even get me started on so-called "trust falls."


I've also started taking Zumba classes twice a week.  It harkens back to my days as a dancer, although with much more jiggling.

My normal Zumba instructor is a dude who kicks my butt with some fun routines for an hour.  But last Tuesday?  HE. WASN'T. THERE.

There was a substitute Zumba instructor.  And she had her heart set on bonding with me.

Every few minutes she would make eye-contact with a class member, head their way and give them a high-five or a pat on the back or simply jammed with them.  Ok.  She's friendly.  I'm sure that comes in handy sometimes.

I was one of the first people she singled out.  About 15 minutes into the class she headed my way and jammed with me.  Okaaaaaaaay.

But apparently our jam-session was so mind-blowing that about half an hour later she approached me once more and held my hand while we zumba-ed together. DOESN'T SHE KNOW I HAVE THE WORLD'S LARGEST PERSONAL BUBBLE?????

I was so weirded out that I immediately excused myself for a drink from the bubbler and then slunk to the very back of the room where she would hopefully leave me alone for the rest of the class.

It's called a bubbler.  Not a drinking fountain.  Not a water fountain.  Bubbler.

Fortunately I was able to get through the rest of the class without any touching or eye-contact or any other weirdness.

But dear-almighty-god-in-heaven let my normal Zumba instructor be there next Tuesday.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sisterly Love

My two girls get along like champs, at least at this young age.  There's way more playing together than fighting; they're each other's best friends.  And, like friends, they share.


Even gross things.

Case in point.  The other night my family went out to a local brewpub with my mom and dad for dinner.  The kids ate macaroni and cheese with a side of apples and mandrin oranges.  Near the end of the meal, Toddler starts choking and sputtering on a piece of orange.  After a moment or two, she coughs up the offending orange onto her plate.  She then places the spit-out orange into her sister's fruit bowl, and then Preschooler promptly eats that very same orange.


Still, I know this sisterly love will only last for so long.  Pretty soon they'll be old enough to annoy each other, and then it may not be until they're grown up that they can say they are best friends again.

But I bet by then they'll be over the whole "ABC gum" thing.  At least, I hope they will.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Hey y'all. Apparently, I'm temporarily southern.  If you haven't already guessed, I enjoy writing. In that vein, I've been challenging myself to write in genres outside of this blog.  Below is an example of something I've worked on.  It's non-fiction, based on real things that happened in my real life.  But instead of being all snarky about it, I've went in the opposite direction.  Law school forced me to write whatever I needed to write in as few words as possible.  In the following piece, I do my best to undo that habit.  It may come off as too lyrical, but again, I'm pushing boundaries.  I'll return to my usual snark next time. Enjoy!

*     *     *

The Venus de Milo sits poised in the Louvre.  Pale marble shoulders flow uninterrupted towards flawless breasts.  A sleek profile, with hair curling around a comely ear, exposes the delicate line of an unscathed neck.

A mask is placed over my nose and mouth, filling with a vaguely sweet fog. Just breath deeply.  Count backwards from ten. My eyes involuntarily close as the gas steals my consciousness with unwarranted impunity. 

An artistic rendering of Venus might be bereft of arms, legs, or a corporeal form.  But there is always a face, a head, and a neck.  If nothing else, these parts comprise a goddess turned human by the deft hand of a skillful artist. At age seven, I lay insensate and oblivious to the scalpel carving a new silhouette, a bloody mélange of Venus incarnate. If you cut and shape a child, hacking away at what is ugly and distorted, will you create a woman that is whole and divine?

I was born with a hemangioma on the side of my neck. 

It's a benign tumor of the blood vessels charmingly referred to as a strawberry birthmark.  At six months, the red, bulbous growth enveloped my left ear and obstructed my hearing. Maybe it will go away. My infant neck was powerless to support its magnitude, which wrecked my countenance and twisted my spine. Maybe she’ll outgrow it. A hemangioma can become ulcerated and infected, adding illness to disfigurement. Maybe it won’t go away.

These reasons were pleaded in hope that insurance would cover the desired series of treatments. A girl should not have to grow up looking so different. The insurance would not pay for cosmetic surgery. My doctor had a saying, a joke. “We’ll get you looking beautiful by your junior prom, I promise!” It became a mantra, really.  You don’t look pretty now, but you will someday.

Plastic surgery is not pretty.  Especially long term plastic surgery, which offers no immediate results and yields no instant gratification.  Did Venus suffer the hunger and thirst that precedes an operation? Would she be fitted with an IV and put under anesthetic, only to wake up in terrible pain, confused, bruised, swollen, and vomiting?   Is this what happens when a goddess impersonates a human?   Each procedure quilted skin to skin with stitches so small and numerous that my doctor could never keep count.  He always lost track after fifty.  Can you stitch a human to imitate a goddess? Despite the surgical procedures, I still did not look normal, so the entire process would be repeated the next year.  And the next. After all, a girl should not grow up looking so different.

For a while, youth shielded me from censure.  The natural curiosity of other children had not developed into full-fledged criticism, and for a while they accepted my hemangioma as just another anomalous encounter in their brief life.  But the year I was seven was the year, I had tissue expanders.  Two sausage-shaped balloons were inserted into my neck and filled with saline. Their purpose was to stretch out my skin, so there would not be a gaping hole in my neck after they severed the remnants of my hemangioma.  For two painful months the implants remained in my neck; two months spent not in the seclusion of a hospital, but at home exposed to the real world. It was for the best, though. After all, a girl should not have to grow up looking so different.

When I first came home from the hospital, something strange happened. Despite my best efforts to force my skull upright,  my head constantly cocked to the right,  My doctor explained my body was reacting to the foreign substance trapped inside the only way it could.  It turned away from what was painful and unnatural. I thought that was odd, that my body no longer recognized itself. 

The bulbous implants embedded in my neck sparked a catalyst that fractured the definition of human. Everybody stared.  Everybody asked questions. After the two months the implants were removed, but I still did not have that instant gratification I so longed for.  I still did not look like every one else.  I still wasn’t ready for the junior prom; and now the veil was lifted. 

Questions and stares ranged from curiosity to disgust. I purposely kept my hair long so it would hide my neck and ear. My family took pains to remind me that my unusual appearance did not make me a bad person.  I was kind, smart, and ambitious, but no one said beautiful.  If some one loved me, they refrained from mentioning my appearance. Should a child grapple with humanity? I knew nothing but an alien shell. 

My last operation was performed when I was fourteen.  What was once inspired by a desire to prevent disability, morphed into pure art and confused beauty with perfection.  This  procedure involved a skin graft.  A piece of skin was taken from my groin, and shaped into an earlobe. Trapped in the throes of puberty, just the mention of the word “groin” made me terribly uncomfortable.  I was mortified that my doctor had not only seen that secret part of my body, but that he had managed to turn it into an earlobe. When I returned to school the next year, with an earlobe where there previously was none, I could not explain to my friends how it was done.  I was too embarrassed.  But mortification aside, this surgery was the most memorable because it was my last.

I was tired of it all.  I was tired of pain, bruising, swelling, and stitches.  I was comfortable with my appearance. Beauty was subjective and fluid; I was never going to look perfect.  But that was okay.  Because I was smart, and kind, and a good friend.  Because I had a family and friends and a God who all loved me, despite my funny-looking ear and my scars. It’s ok to grow up looking different.
When the skin graft operation was over, my mother and doctor discussed options for future treatments.  But I was beautiful.  I did not need more surgery.  I owned my body.  I had my own voice.  

I declined any future treatments. 

My doctor was astounded.  My mother was worried.  But, I was free.   I wore my hair up again.  I no longer cared who saw my ear and my neck. The artist never completed the sculpture, but a human emerged anyways. 

Twenty-five years after that first operation, I gave birth to another hemangioma, a quarter-sized one attached to right leg of my youngest daughter.  I’m inordinately proud this hemangioma.  It’s a second chance to let nature, not the scalpel, take its course.  At two years old, her hemangioma has already lightened considerably.  

A girl can grow up looking different.

*     *     *

Close up of my left ear and neck, seventeen years after the last operation.

A picture of me at 9:00 pm on a Thursday night in my bathrobe.

Monday, February 20, 2012

30 Million Day Blog Challenge #9: Short term goals for this month and why.

The next prompt in my 30 (million) day blog challenge: Short term goals for this month and why.

I started this post back in January, but never finished.  So my first short term goal for the remaining nine days in February is to finish this post.

My second short term goal for what is left of February is to make it through the hellish month that is February.  The weather has been strangely cooperative.  February is easier to deal with when the daytime highs are in the low 40's (Fahrenheit).

My third short term goal for February is to go back to the gym.  The gym I've been paying for since November 2011 that I've neglected to frequent for the past eight or nine months.

You see, sometime early last spring I gave up on going to the gym.  My gym has free childcare, which I couldn't take advantage of because Toddler refused to be torn from my side.  I'd drop her off kicking and screaming, and 15 minutes later I'd hear my name called over the loudspeaker to come retrieve my inconsolable child.  "Don't worry," they said. "Just keep bringing her back, she'll get used to it."

I tried that.

They lied.

That meant I had to go to the gym at night, relinquishing the few hours of family time we have when Husband comes home and/or alone time I have with Husband after the kids are asleep.  But I'm tired of paying $45 a month to continue my inability to climb stairs without being winded. So I've decided to give the gym another try. Today, at exactly 9:13 am, I brought Toddler to the childcare room.  She walked in a bit confused, but soon made a bee line to some toy cars with nary a look back.  I got to work out for one glorious hour on my own terms, without having my name broadcast for all to hear.

My final short term goal for February is to finish a short story I've been writing.  I enjoy starting creative writing projects, but rarely finish them.  And by rarely, I mean never.   This also explains why I have a bevy of two-sentence blog posts waiting to be finished.

And to keep things realistic, here are some more goals for this month:  Eat. Breathe. Sleep. Wake.

Now those are some goals I can manage!  Basic existence for the win!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Valentine's Grinch

You may have noticed that Valentine’s Day came and went with nary a word from me on this blog.

That’s because Husband is a Valentine's Grinch.  And now, so am I.

Screw you, Hallmark!

From day one, Husband made it clear Valentine’s Day was not for him.  Too commercial.  Too contrived.  Too unnecessary. 

This used to piss me off mightily. What was wrong with gift-giving?  What was wrong with setting aside one day a year to celebrate love? I wanted to feel special.  Didn’t he want me to feel special?

Thus, Valentine’s Day drove a minor wedge between us.  And for me, at least, it became a point of stress, anger, and disappointment.  I couldn’t let go of the expectation of Valentine’s Day accolades, even when I knew he wouldn’t cooperate.

Flash-forward 10 years, and finally something clicked.  I do feel special.  I do feel loved.  Every single day.  

The funny thing is, I have nothing against Valentine’s Day.  It is nice to set aside a day to show some one you love them.  Lots of people use gift-giving as a way to show others that they love them, and that’s great.  Sometimes people need a special gift, even if it’s just a small token, to feel loved. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

It’s just that, Husband and I show love differently.

Gift giving between Husband and I is kind of stressful. Did I spend too little?  Too much?  Will he truly appreciate it?  

But the words he says, the things he does to help me out, and the time we share together every single day, outweigh any gift he could give me.  We also usually do something extra-special for our Anniversary, but even that involves going somewhere extra-fun or extra-special together, as opposed to gift-giving.  

And for what it’s worth, when you share a joint bank account, and check it regularly, it’s difficult NOT to learn where gifts came from and how much they cost, which sort of ruins the surprise.

Maybe things will change.  Maybe someday I’ll decide again that gifts are important, as a means to show you made an effort to think about something your significant other would like and acted accordingly.  

But between him and I, at least right now, ignoring Valentine’s Day makes both of us feel AWESOME.*

*Caveat: Husband, if at any time you change your mind, and feel like celebrating this, or any other holiday, with items such as flowers, chocolate, and coffee, I would welcome these efforts with open arms, and would love you even more, forever and ever, amen.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I'm A Real Hoot At Parties

My husband is in the middle of looking for a new job and seeing as I’m a stay-at-home mom, his ability to find paying work is a bit vital.  For two months now, I’ve been teetering on the edge of a panic attack, feeling like at any given moment I might cease being able to breath or move, and I’ll probably just feebly curl up into the fetal position behind the couch for the rest of my living days.

After working with my therapist on controlling this anxiety for nearly a month and a half, I broke down and went to my psychiatrist for medication.  And I’m surprised to find what a relief this is.

I take medication every single day for my bipolar depression, and will probably do so until the day I die.  This condition not necessarily situational, it just exists as an ever-present state of being.  I’m ok with taking my depression medication, never once have I questioned or lamented it.  It can and does keep me from dying.

But I was very anxious about the mere thought of taking medication to deal with my anxiety.

You see, my anxiety was so wrapped up in this job-hunt situation that I kept thinking I’d just get over it, or get used to it, or something.  That I’d be able to talk myself through it.  And though I just barely kept it all together, it was like putting a lid on a pot of boiling water.  The water is rolling beneath, there is steam coming out the sides and it won’t be long before it starts bubbling over.

So, I’ve turned to medication.  And an hour after popping that first pill I feel... clearer.  I’ve actually sat down and written this whole post from scratch, the first time I’ve been able to do so in months, and feel good about it.*

So, at least for a while, I’m on medication for depression AND anxiety.

I’m a real hoot at parties.

And I'm ok with this.

*Fun Fact: I have a plethora of half-written posts, so when I run into writer’s block I just flesh out one of them.  Dirty Secret: Four of the past eight posts I’ve published came from that well and now the well’s done gone dry.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Because of my bipolar depression, I’m careful to note changes to and patterns in my mental state.  This past November was rough, despite the fact that autumn and Thanksgiving are some of my favorite times of the year.  I love autumn.  Its cooling temperatures are a relief after a baking hot summer.  It heralds the start of school, and even though I’m not a student, it still fills me with optimism for the upcoming year, and feeds my hungry need to keep learning new things.

No, it’s February that’s supposed to be my worst month.

I first realized this when I was in college, even before I knew I was bipolar.  Like any good liberated woman on campus, I listened to my fair share of chick music; Ani DeFranco, Dar Williams, Indigo Girls, etc.  I was only a few steps away from dreadlocks and patchouli.  Fortunately, I liked washing my hair and smelling like flowers, albeit chemical flower odors manufactured by brand-name shampoos.  Don’t judge; this was before I knew about Aveda.

Anyhow, my senior year in college was marred by a rough February.  The thing is, nothing was really going wrong.  I was getting straight A’s in school.  I had an awesome group of friends.  I had a loving boyfriend who would later become my husband.  I had a part-time job in student leadership that was fulfilling enough that it would command a place on my resume for the next five years.  Everything was going right.

So why was I so depressed?  I wondered.

Walking to and from class and work, I’d listend to *OLD LADY ALERT* mixed-cd’s on my brand-new discman.  Every time this particular song came on I’d cry.  Despite the tears, I always seemed to listen to this song rather than skip it over.  I think, in a way, it was cathartic.

From “February” by Dar Williams:

First we forgot where wed planted those bulbs last year,
Then we forgot that wed planted at all,
Then we forgot what plants are altogether,
And I blamed you for my freezing and forgetting and
The nights were long and cold and scary,
Can we live through february? 

You know I think christmas was a long red glare,
Shot up like a warning, we gave presents without cards,
And then the snow,
And then the snow came, we were always out shoveling,
And we’d drop to sleep exhausted,
Then we’d wake up, and it’s snowing.

So... that's it.  February is here, and I'm on alert.  So far I'm doing ok.  I have a lot of anxiety about something that I can't discuss here right now.  The anxiety is bad, and I'm fighting to keep it at bay, lest it render me utterly catatonic.  But it's entirely situational and as time passes and life events unfold, it will hopefully ease up.  

Until then, I'll continue plowing through February, one day at a time.

Monday, January 30, 2012

[Insert Witty Title Rhyming "House" With "Mouse"]

We had mice in our house.  Yes, mice.  Plural.

I shouldn't be surprised. Our house backs up to a nature preserve, so we see an abundance of wildlife.  But somehow we managed to make it all through last winter with nary a mouse in sight.

I thought we had immunity from these devils.  

But a month ago I was cleaning out our pantry, when I noticed a couple of graham crackers have been nibbled at. 

Uh oh.

I knew it was a mouse, but I figured that since I could find hardly any mouse droppings, it was just the one.  We set out traps and, lo and behold, we caught a mouse.

Feel my rath!

But late one night my husband went into the kitchen for a nighttime snack, and what was standing in the middle of our kitchen?  Another mouse, mocking him, daring him to set up more traps.  So, that's just what we did, and the next morning?  There were two mice was in the traps.

Take that, [explative of your choosing here.]

We still didn't find any mouse droppings, so we figured the problem was solved.  But a few days later, what did Husband find in the basement? A small mouse nest containing a sizable pile of almonds.  We never eat almonds.  Where did they come from?!

So, we set the traps out one more time, just in case.

And when I woke up the next morning, what sight greeted me in the kitchen?  Three mice.  Three mice.  Three.  It was like some sort of mouse suicide pact.


So I'm fed up.  We keep the kitchen nearly spotless, and keep our food wrapped up tightly.  There's been no more indications of mice in our abode, but now I'm paranoid.  I know those buggers are out there biding their time.  And when I let my guard down, they'll reappear, wrecking havoc on my already jangled nerves.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Eyeballs Need Pajama Jeans

I clearly remember when I got my first pair of glasses.  I was in second grade.  When I put on those glasses and looked out the window, I was able to read the name of the elementary school across the street from the optometrist's office.  Actually, it was the first time I saw the words period.  Prior to, I had no idea there were words on the building at all.

Also, movies make a lot more sense when you can see what is going on.

So, wearing glasses is old hat to me, almost as old as I am.  At age 13 I got contact lenses. The contacts usually were not a problem.  I kept them clean, and had no problem putting them on or removing them.

Up until today.

I recently switched to a new contact-lens-cleaning process.  You put this hydrogen peroxide solution in a special case that has a bit of some metal in it. The hydrogen peroxide reacts with the metal in the case to create a lot of little bubbles that clean the lenses.  And while you wouldn't want to put hydrogen peroxide directly in your eyes, after an overnight soak, the hydrogen peroxide has used itself up, or rendered itself harmless or something.  SCIENCE!

Unlike regular saline solution, you don't want to get hydrogen peroxide in your eyes.  So the bottle is fitted with a red cap to remind you not to put it in your eye.  The cap is red per the understanding that the people using the hydrogen peroxide solution may not be able to read something that says "WARNING!  DO NOT PUT IN EYES" in anything less than 128 point font.

What the manufacturers didn't count on was my utter inability to register color or meaning in the depths of my morning fog.

Fumbling around for my saline solution to wet my lenses before putting them in, my hand came across the bottle of hydrogen peroxide solution.  I put a couple drops in my contact lens and then, plop!  Onto my eye it went.

To say it burned is an understatement.  It was as if my eyeball was engulfed in the smouldering flames of the furthermost chasms of Hell.  And once more, I was forced to ponder....

In my scramble to remove the offending lens from my eyeball, I succeeded in moving it, but not out of my eye.  To the back of my eyeball.  So I started poking myself in the eye in an effort to push the contact lens to the corner of my eye so I could get it out.   It went something like this:  Poke... AARRRGGHHH ... Poke poke ... AARRRGGHHH AARRRGGHHH ... Poke, poke, poke... AARRRGGHHH AARRRGGHHH AARRRGGHHH!!!!!!!

Finally, I resorted to rinsing my eye with water from the same cup we use to rinse after we brush our teeth.  Not the most sanitary eye rinse, but given that I just set my eyeball on fire and then proceeded to stab at it, germs were not really a fear of mine.  My fears centered around the very real possibility that my eyeball was going to burn a hole into my brain.

After several cold water rinses, I was able to rinse the lens out of my eye into the sink.  Huzzah!  I'll just pour this extra water out and.... oh crap!

I rinsed the contact lens down the drain.

So now I look like a victim of pink-eye or possibly some form of stigmata, or maybe I'm just high all the time, and I have to wear my glasses all day long until I can trek off to the optometrist for new lenses.  Seeing as usually wear my glasses only at night, it's the eyeball equivalent of staying in my pajamas all day long.

Is there a glasses-equivalent of Pajama Jeans?  Please say yes.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Day In The Life...

It’s come to my attention that my blog posts have been infrequent as of late.  This is because I am doing fewer stupid things.

I haven’t lost my van or broken my toe.  I haven’t fallen down an up escalator.  I haven’t picked up and discarded any new hobbies. I haven’t had any kitchen mishaps or baking failures.  In fact, I successfully baked several types of Christmas cookies this year.  Take that, former me!

In contrast, here is an average day in my life...

6:00 Alarm clock goes off.  I yell at it, turn it off, and go back to sleep

6:05 My kids wake up.  Who needs an alarm clock?

6:10 Drink three cups of coffee.  Now I’m able to see again.

7:30 Skip taking a shower. I’m not leaving the house today. You’re lucky I got dressed.

8:00 Toddler sits on the potty, albeit with her pants still on. I make a big fat deal about it anyways.

8:30 Clean kitchen. For every one dish I put in the dishwasher, Toddler takes two out.

9:00 Read Toddler and Preschooler the world’s dumbest Disney princess book. Three times. They cry for more, more, MORE. I go slightly insane.

9:30 Clean toy room.  For every one toy I put away, Toddler takes two out.  I’m sensing a pattern here.

10:00 Tell Toddler, “It’s time to sit on the potty!”  Toddler pitches a fit.  I just love potty training.

10:30 Get a bloody nose.  Stupid sinus infection.

11:00 Serve ravioli for lunch.  Preschooler complains she doesn’t like it, but cleans her plate anyways.  Hypocrite.

11:15 Toddler decides to eat ravioli using her face. 

11:25 Impromptu bath.  Preschooler cries because I filled the tub with too much water.  I drain some water.  Toddler cries because there is not enough water.  Go more insane.

11:35 Get Toddler out of the bath.  Realize I forgot to bring a clean diaper upstairs. Leave a dripping wet Toddler upstairs while I rush to get a diaper.  MOTHER OF THE YEAR.

11:40 Get another nosebleed.  Clearly I’ve developed nose cancer.

1:00 Finally get around to taking that shower while the kids nap.  The sound of the shower wakes them up.  Dammit!

2:00 Give Preschooler some grapes.

2:15 Give Preschooler some crackers

2:30 Give Preschooler some cheese.  That hollow leg of hers must be full by now.

3:00 Set Preschooler and Toddler up with an art project involving glue and sequins.

3:10 Vacuum approximately 19,403 sequins off of the floor.

3:15 Remove several sequins from Toddler’s nose.

4:30 Crazy time begins.  Kids start their daily whine-fest.  By this point in the day we’re all rather tired of looking at each other.  How much longer till Husband gets home?

5:00 Make dinner while two screaming children cling to my pants leg.  This should be some sort of olympic sport.  I deserve a medal.

5:30 Eat dinner.  Preschooler takes three bites and claims she’s done. Toddler decides she only needs to look at her food tonight, and take in all nutrition via telepathy.

6:00 Grocery shopping with children in tow.  They really like to “help.”

7:30 Bedtime for the wee ones.  

8:15 Workout time for Husband and I.  No that’s not a euphemism for sexy time.  We’re actually exercising.  It’s a far cry from my previous 8:15 routine of eating a bag of Fritos in front of the TV.

9:30 Sneak into my kids’ room to watch them sleep.  Best part of my day.

So, there you have it.  A day in my life.

Also, we have mice in our house.  More on that another time.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

30 Million Day Blog Challenge #8: Having Kids Changes Everything. Duh.

This next 30 (million) day blog challenge prompt is: A picture of someone or something that has the biggest impact on you.

Behold!  My kids.

Once upon  a time, I went to law school.  It was the first step in climbing the corporate ladder, and plugging away at my so-called "5-year-plan."

Then life happened.

Now I stay at home with my two children. I didn’t plan on this five years ago.  

Motherhood was to be put off until I was securely and comfortably established in a high-power career.  This would satisfy my unerring sense of drive and craving for self-worth. It would allow me to provide my children with the very best of everything tangible and impressive.

I thought it was the right thing to do.

It was the wrong thing to do.

My pregnancies were surprises, the most terrifying and extraordinary surprises of my life. I worked hard to be a big, important person; a high-stakes player in the legal world. Instead I became a big, important person to two small, impressionable, dependent human beings.  

After three years of trying to balance my family-life and work-life, it became clear that I had reached a cross-roads.  I couldn’t keep working at such a frantic pace, trying to do it all at once.  And my own self-image was slowly morphing. The so-called great, big, important career was no longer so great and big and important.  

I left my job when we moved back to Wisconsin.  It caused a significant hit to our household income.  It caused a significant set-back to my career.  But I could provide more for my children at home, than I could spending all my time at work bringing in the bacon for them to eat without me, as I burned the midnight oil.

The legal profession is often symbolized by a scale, weighing justice versus mercy. But there is no true way to know before starting a family how you will balance your career with your family time. When is it just to be at work? Or at home?  When can you show mercy, allowing your heart to rest at home with your family? Or do you allow your mind the mental break and space to build a career outside the home? It’s an ever-sliding scale, with the weights constantly moving from one end to the other.

I can’t always gauge whether my scale had balanced.  But I can listen to my heart.

It’s the right thing to do.

*     *     *

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It's Like Some Sort Of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Regarding Dodge Ball

Husband and I have started exercising, after a long period of too many sweets and too many trips to McDonald's.  As our jiggly guts can attest, it's hard to resist the siren's song that is McDonald's french fries.

Irresistible bastards.

Working out with him is actually enjoyable. We both motivate each other to get off our fat butts, and I can honestly say that if not for him, I'd still spend my nights sitting on the couch eating Fritos.  But every now and then I have flashbacks to my days of high school gym class.  It's like some sort of post traumatic stress disorder regarding dodge ball.

You're doomed. DOOMED!!!

I’ve made no bones about the fact that I hated gym class.  So you can imagine how thrilled I was junior year on the last day of mandatory gym class, EVER.

To celebrate the fact that most students wouldn’t take the optional senior year gym class, the teachers went old school and let us play dodge ball.

Displaying my usual athletic prowess, I spent the hour standing by the bleachers chatting to friends when WHAM a dodge ball smacked me right in the face, hard enough for me to see stars for several minutes.

The boy who threw the ball was more distraught than I.  He was a nice guy, and knew I wasn’t really playing the game.

But I still used the dodge-ball incident as an excuse to change out of my gym clothes, and spend the rest of the period sitting on the bleachers.

So really, it was one of the best gym classes ever.   

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Now With More Foot-Grating Action!

I’ll admit, I don’t take very good care of my feet.  I paint my toenails a couple of times during the summer months, and that’s about it.  The rest of the year I say, “Screw it! My feet are hiding in socks, so who cares?”

I’m also the world’s laziest leg-shaver, but that’s neither here nor there.

But maybe I should start giving myself more pedicures with the aid of... PedEgg!

Oh look! A foot grater!

I’ll need to tread carefully, though.  Although I’ll no longer need to use my cheese grater to soften my feet, as the commercial suggests, the PedEgg saves my foot shavings for me.  That could incur some serious voodoo, seeing as so much of my DNA will be contained in one place.  And unless that voodoo involves me losing ten pounds and/or gaining the power of flight, I want nothing to do with it.

This is not an asset.  It’s a liability.  A voodoo liability.  
These things should come with warnings.

But wait a minute.... if I order from this site, I can receive a SECOND PedEgg, paying only shipping and handling!  This will come in handy, for as this second infomercial on their official website shows, the PedEgg can also be used to skin a tomato. Or is that an orange?  Whatever. It can also be used on balloons, which would be great for parties.

Look!  It’s multi-tasking!

So I guess there’s no more excuse for my gnarly feet.  I’ll be sending them my $10 plus $6.99 shipping and handling post-haste.

Note: I do not actually own a Ped Egg, nor is this a solicited, official, company-sponsered review of the Ped Egg.  But maybe the Ped Egg people SHOULD pay me for this review.  If they do, I'll vlog myself using the Ped Egg on my very own feet.  Now THAT would be an persuasive infomercial.

UPDATE: I am not really going to waste $17 on a Ped Egg.  I already own a cheese grater.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year! Try To Fail Less, OK?

I've never been one to make a new year's resolution.  It would be setting myself up for failure, and I don't need yet another reason to be depressed.  Plus, change is disturbing and hard.  Status quo for the win!

Still, this year I feel compelled to resolve some things.  So here is a list of things I resolve to do, along with the reasons I'll fail to accomplish these lofty goals. Hey, I'm just keeping it real.

1) Lose weight.

Ummmm.... have you tasted food?  It's delicious!

2) Drink less coffee.

It would be like Night Of The Living Dead, but with less brains and more yelling.

3) Stop swearing.

Hell, no.

4) Blog more frequently.

Hey, I've been doing fewer stupid things to write about. I'm not about to buck that trend.

5) Yell less.


So there you have it.  Five new year's resolution that I'll fail to accomplish.  Now THAT's a resolution I can keep!