Thursday, November 17, 2011

Realization and Acceptance

I've come to realize that a daily blog update isn't going to happen. I would love to have that blog with the daily anecdotal bit that is funny and engaging with a weekly topic or a sometimes when-did-she-get-so-smart piece that makes everyone stop and think. But in reality I'm a mom with 5 kids, a part-time job and a full time household. I don't think I'm doing the people that read this thing any favors by trying to crank out posts that don't have any energy behind them.  I can't sit down and in five minutes rock out something that I'm happy with.  Well, not daily anyway.  
I mentioned here about working on a vision for what I want the blog to be and how I want to benefit myself, my family and both my readers.  I'm still working on that. But what I am learning about it in this process is what I don't want.  I don't want mindless dribble.  Now while I recognize that most of the point of this blog IS mindless dribble, it is my specific mindless dribble. What I am not happy with what happens when I try to crank out something I don't feel.  
This blog is about my life. It's about being a wife, a mother, and a woman and hopefully finding balance in it all. It's about what's crazy when you have five daughters. It's holding a marriage together, keeping my house from falling down around our ears and just living this one life that we have been given to the fullest.  Some days my cup runneth over. Some days the cup is just too damn small and now there's a big friggin' mess and oh-wait-of-course-don't-all-jump-up-at-once-mom-will-get-it-don't-strain-yourself.
I will keep this as updated as I can. It is something that I would like to be able to be a little more on top of. It's one of my current goals (I really should write those down) and something I'm working on. We'll see how it goes!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Exhausted But Happy

Yesterday we spent the entire day at the high school working at the tournament hosted by Allie's marching band. I was at the school Friday until almost 11 and then we were back at 7am.  Doug, Allie, Jane and I finally made it home at about 11 again.  We were exhausted. Emotionally and physically exhausted. 
I worked the concession stand while Doug was put in charge of directing traffic and routing the buses as the bands came in.  The other volunteers and I shut down the concession stand to watch the kids perform.  It was amazing!  Because of all the time we've spent with the band we've seen their different performances and how they've placed at the different competitions.  After a particularly disappointing performance at the last competition Mr. Gould reminded the kids that they were getting the scores they deserved and had earned.  I don't know what else he had said to them over the week but whatever it was, it made an impact.  The performance we were lucky enough to see on Saturday was a culmination of the hard work the kids put into it.  Their dedication and pride in their performance was apparent. I think Mr. Gould knew what to expect from "his" kids.  He walked on that field with a rooster's strut you could see across the field. 
With only one small SNAFU (no hot water for hot cocoa or noodles) we finished the day. We left so exhausted I was ready to cry. 
The best part of the day came when Allie told us that because of their scores they were going to Championships in Huntington Beach!  When you host the tournament you don't "place" and so your scores and ratings aren't made known to you until the end of the tournament.  Allie told us that if they had been able to place they would have been in 2nd place!
I'm so damn proud of that kid and her accomplishments with the marching band I could just BURST! She didn't want to stay in band last year and we pushed her. She was hesitant at the beginning of the year and has flourished in this environment. I really couldn't be happier.  This is one of those rare parenting moments when you get to sit back and be proud, let your kid be proud of herself, and you get to say "I told you so"! That doesn't happen very often.  I'm basking to say the least.  Although, currently basking means sitting my happy ass on the couch with my computer barely able to move because I'm sore and exhausted from a day at the snack bar. 
I can't wait to do it again next year! Well, I can, but it's easier if I don't think about it.
Holy crap I need a nap! Good job San G! We're proud of you, Allie - now get Mommy an ice pack.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Trying to Behave

I got an update email from one of my favorite blogs, Money Saving Mom, about a great deal on a new ebook called Blogger Behave.  It's all about balancing your life and your blog and staying true to yourself without sacrificing the reason you started in the first place.  I'm not quite done with it but I really love what it has to say.  One of the first points was having a Vision Statement for your blog.  I'm working on that. And one day - hopefully soon- I'll have one of those tabs at the top that says Vision Statement. For now I just have to try to think about what that means.  
What do I want this blog to be? What am I trying to get out of it? How does it benefit my life and my family?  Am I taking time away from my family and other responsibilities to work on the site?  Does this cause me joy? These are really important questions and things I am looking at and working on.
While they seem like easy enough answers I'm really putting some thought behind them and working on making this blog be everything I want it to be... and figuring out exactly what that is. 
Stay tuned and we'll see what that means.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sterilization... Easier Done Than Said

I have made the decision to have my "tubes tied". The hospital and doctor's office call it Voluntary Sterilization.  Doug and I went to a class on Monday where they talked all about the different options and gave us all the information for Informed Consent.  I had to fill out paperwork and then waived my 30 day waiting period.  I don't need 30 days to think about it. I've been thinking about it before I got pregnant with Georgiana, and it was something Doug and I have talked about already.  One more, we said.
  The nurse giving the lecture said that we need to be 100% sure of what I am doing and repeatedly stressed that this decision is mine and that no one should be making it for me.  No one is making this decision for me. In fact, Doug would prefer to go under the knife instead of me (bless his heart).  I have made my decision and I have decided that since I am done getting pregnant and having babies that I am the one that needs to go in and do the sterilization.  Am I 100% sure as the nurse said? No. But I never will be.  Making babies and giving birth has been the most amazing things I have ever accomplished. I can MAKE PEOPLE! I don't care what stupid-human-trick you have, you can't top that one. It is an amazing thing that women can do. If I was 10 years younger I'd have half a dozen more. But I'm not. And we'd like to retire one day.  I have five happy, healthy daughters and I am blessed. Can I say with 100% certainty that I don't want any more babies? No. What I can say is that my family is complete.  I have an amazing husband that is the best father any woman could ask a man to be to her children and who loves me more than I deserve.  My girls are my light and my world. 
When the scheduling office from the hospital called and scheduled the procedure for next week I had to sit for a minute and process.  I am anxious. I am changing a fundamental process in my body. I am altering the way my body functions as a woman.  I will no longer be able to create and sustain a life with my womb. There is a sadness in that.  While all women come to a point in their reproductive lives where this happens, I am forcing the issue. This will not slowly happen over a long period of time as I get older, instead it will be over a couple months after a visit to my doctor. 
Even now, after the decisions and the appointment have been made there is doubt. As it stands I would be on birth control for rest of my reproductive life trying to prevent a pregnancy.  I have no intention or desire to have another baby.  However, if I was told tomorrow I was pregnant I would be happy and would celebrate. Being a mother and having the ability to be a mother has been the greatest gift I have been given. 
There will be sadness as well as relief. There will a bit of grief as I, with intention and forethought, close a chapter of my life.  There will also be celebration as I wait for the new beginning that it will bring, although I'm not yet sure what that will mean.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Fear

We have felt The Fear.  Tuesday we sat in a hospital and held a frightened little hand and tried to ward off The Fear. Not only in ourselves, but in Fiona. 
The Fear is not only the fear of what is happening but of the unknown. It's not knowing but having to survive it anyway. It's the time as a parent when you are helpless to stop whatever is happening to your baby - regardless of the age.  It's when your driving teen leaves the house and then gets in an accident. It's when your tween falls on the soccer field and doesn't jump right back up. It's when your toddler is stuck in a hospital bed screaming about spiders and you just don't know why.
Finally Sleeping
Fiona woke up in the wee hours Tuesday morning screaming about spiders. It was the scream that has you half way down the hallway before your body even realizes you're awake. She's screaming about spider and trying to claw out of her jammies.  Doug was close behind and we did everything we could to calm her down from what we thought was a really bad nightmare.  
We shook out her bed, fixed her sheets,  brushed her off. We turned on the lights and showed her there were no spiders.  All to no avail. She was NOT going to get back in her bed, and keeping her calm was proving to be a challenge.  We decided that we would try to get her in our bed to try to catch that last half hour of sleep before the day started.  No good.  It was the same thing. Terrified screams coming from my normally happy girl.  Maybe it's the blankets touching her. Maybe she's just so tired that she's getting the tinglies right as she falls asleep. Maybe she was bit by something and so I checked her.  Top to bottom I checked her.  Nothing.
There is a special kind of helplessness reserved for parents.  When your child is sick or injured or scared and there is nothing you can do but watch it happen and it sucks.  That's why it is The Fear, because it is every parent's worst fear.  You have to lay down your superhero cape and admit that you just can't fix it.  

Little toddler butt peaking out!
Three hours into it I knew there was something wrong and she needed more than what we could give her at home. I called and made an appointment with the doctor and off we went.  Of course we get there and she is all sweetness and light. The doctor told me it was night terrors (which I was sure it was not) and sent us home with instructions to come back if it happened again. Which it did. As soon as we got all the way out of the building and on to the freeway. Of course. So back we went. This time, mid freak-out, the doctor took me seriously and not like a freaking-out-over-nothing mom.  They decided to admit her for overnight observation.
I'll save you the details of my 24 hours of hell.  No, they never did figure out what caused it. All of her tests came back clean (Amen!). She is, as one doctor told me (one of the few I could talk to without wanting to spork in the eye) that she was a 100% healthy 2 year old... that happened to be seeing spiders that weren't there.  There was nothing they could find. CT scans, blood work, neuro exams - all healthy.  They don't know why or what caused it or how to fix it. Hopefully it just stops.
I will say that I am OK with that diagnosis. The big things that cause The Fear are not there.  There is no sickness to beat, there are no further tests or hospitals in our future because of this.  I will not have to hold down my terrified little girl while she is poked and prodded by hospital staff, trying to calm her while I bawl and pray. 
Thank you to the friends and family that prayed for and with us.  Thank you to the doctors, nurses and various other hospital staff that did all you could to make facing The Fear a little easier.  Thank you to my husband, who did the hardest thing a parent will ever have to do - leave the hospital while your baby is in it - so that I didn't have to.

Update: The spiders are gone now and have been for a couple weeks.  Every now and again she will startle and say something about spiders but nothing like the wild-eyed panic that we saw that day. 


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Boyfriend's Back

I was talking with a good friend the other day who was asking how we were settling in.  I was telling her all about how great the girls were doing and how well they were adjusting. 
Then she asked about Doug and I specifically. You see, the last couple of years hasn't been the best for us.  We've both had a lot of job stress and bad communication. We don't communicate the same way. Not in the way that a man and a woman sometimes don't communicate.  More like the way cats and dogs don't communicate. Two different species speaking two different languages.  We went to a therapist in April and he asked us about our backgrounds and previous marriages.  When we were done he told us "To be honest I don't know how this works. It shouldn't. But it does.".  To be honest, we're not entirely sure how it works either. 
Doug and I - Orcas Island 2006
When Doug and I started dating he was going to school full time and I was working 50+ hour weeks with a 2 hour commute.  I was a single mom barely making ends meet. He was the calm to my chaos.  We were engaged after being together just shy of six months.  We had brought things to each others lives that were desperately missing.  We saw a happiness in each other that we had both been looking for.  So we made the leap.  We were veterans, we could do this!
Insert a wedding, honeymoon, pregnancy, job changes, layoffs, financial strain and life. Blend until smooth and serve chilled.  I don't know that either of us could pin-point the moment things got "hard". They just started getting harder. And harder. AND harder. Until it was getting to be too hard.
Then we moved 1200 miles.  Good Lord, whose bright idea was this?  And to the one place that I spent years trying to get away from surrounded by the chaos that I had worked so hard to separate myself from?  Apparently I drink. Or should. The opportunity was worth it.  The chance to take some of the stress and burden from my  husband. To give us some time and space to breathe.  Cut the workload but not the pay.  It had to be worth it. Right?
For the last few months we've struggled. We've fought. I mean really fought. In ways we never have before.  I was left questioning my sanity, my resolve and my marriage. 
Then something started to shift. Slowly but it was happening.  I didn't even see it, until one day it was just there.   I realized I had my husband back. No, that wasn't quite right. I had my boyfriend back! The man that made me smile and laugh. He never took himself or anything else too seriously. He has again been the calm to my chaos. My safety.  My serenity.  He is the one that has taught me that the worry and the stress only bring on more worry and stress and in the end all you can do is what you can do and anything else... it'll all fall into place. 
I don't know how it works, but it does. It shouldn't. But it does. I am reminded of why I married this man. I am given a glimpse of the man that whisked me away to an island where I was hit with sense of Knowing. He would always be there and we would always be together and I loved him.  I married him because that feeling never diminished.  Even when it did, when I was questioning it the most, it came back. I am reminded of the ebb and flow that is marriage - like the tides on that island. I have my safety and my serenity again.  I can breath. I can laugh. 
I love you, Doug. With all that I am and with all of my tomorrows. 

And now back to our regularly scheduled chaos...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Kiss My Brass

I never expected to be a Band Mom.  What I expected even less was LOVING it. So far we've had two football games and the Preview of Champions performance. These kids are awesome!  They work their butts off 3-4 days a week for 2+ hours at a time after school.  They show up on Saturdays, they are at school to practice before they leave for performances. They are running! I was surprised when Allie told me she was running the track during practice.  She comes home exhausted and sore.
I joined the boosters because I wanted to be involved. I attended the meetings, volunteered to coordinate volunteers and talked about fund raising. I volunteered Doug to drive the U-Haul.  I was definitely surprised by how difficult it was for me to get volunteers, but it has only increased my desire to do as much as I can to help these kids out.
I wasn't prepared for the Preview of Champions.  I had seen the band do their field show at the football games. There was another part that I hadn't seen before and I was so, so, SO proud of Allie and all the other kids. It brought me to tears! I felt like a giant dork and Allie laughed at me when I told her.  It's just such an amazing thing to see the hard work your kid has put into something come out so awesome.  After the performance we heard who messed up, who missed a step, Allie forgot where her starting point was... But to me it was beautiful. I was really impressed.  Now let's say for the record that the only instrument I play is my MP3 player. That's about as talented as I am.  I don't know that I even could play anything so this is some pretty cool stuff for me. 
I never knew anyone in band when I was in high school. Maybe that's why this is all so cool to me.  I feel like a kid with a new toy.
I'm finding that being a booster is going to be rather difficult. The fact that not all parents are as interested or involved as we are was a hard pill to swallow.  I don't understand why you wouldn't want to stand in the bleachers and cheer for your kid. How can you not want to be there for every step on that field? I just don't get it.  That means I'll have to work harder and it'll be more difficult to raise the money we need. It's worth it though.  Because these kids are awesome.  Maybe in a couple more years when Allie and I have become real Marching Band Veterans some of the sparkle and awesome will wear off. I sure hope not. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

To My Doula

Six months ago Georgiana Grace made her grand appearance in our lives.  She is an amazing little girl that fills the house with such joy. I am so blessed to  have such a happy baby.  She is all giggles and fat rolls.  I wanted to take some time to acknowledge my amazing doula, Jen. 
There is rarely a day when I don't think of her. Jen is an amazing woman that has such joy and love that it radiates from her.  I first met her at a VBAC support group run by the doula she was apprenticing with.   I had hired Patti and Jen to be with me for Georgiana's birth.  Patti had gone to a conference in Portland and was away the day I went into labor.  I called Jen and she spent the day with us. She gave me a support that was such a gift I can hardly put it into words.
Jen you were amazing. You gave me a gift during my labor that I will never be able to adequately say thank you for.  There isn't a day when I don't think of you when I play with Georgiana. You were such an important part of her birth! It is difficult for me to come to terms with not being closer and not being able to have you as a regular part of our lives.
I'm glad that we are able to stay connected through the wonderful power of the internet.  But I miss you, Lady! I miss your amazing face and smile.  I miss the love that just shines from you (and Patti, too).  I miss the wonderful community that I was able to be a part of with you.  I want you to know that you will forever be in a very special place in my heart. The world is a better place because you are in it. 
I love you, Friend.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thank You Facebook

Dear Facebook,
I wanted to write you and thank you for your recent formatting changes. I understand that you may not be receiving many letters of appreciation for the current changes and I wanted to take a moment to let you know how valuable the changes have been for me.  Thank you for making it harder for me to see the posts of the people I would really like to be able to see.  The new set up is slightly confusing and makes it difficult to see the "real-time" posts that we've all become accustomed to in the last couple of years.  For most people this poses a significant problem.  However, I am finding it more and more difficult to see the number of get-togethers, coffee dates, play groups and other interesting happenings that I am missing out on due to a recent move.  This not only saves my sanity but allows me to get more work done during the day. Because I am not able to spend such significant times refreshing my browser to see what I'm missing out on, I am actually getting the more time consuming parts of my job done in a timely manner.  My husband appreciates that I am not as easily able to lament on the most recent social opportunity that I missed.  Because of your newest changes I am not able to see the most up-to-date happenings of my friends and have found it frustrating (as well as heartbreaking) to find out what everyone is up to.  Thank you for your unintentional help in my irrational adjustment period.
Your Friend,

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Flowers for Mama

Sometimes all it takes to make the day what you needed it to be is a toddler with a few "unsupervised" minutes and a mason jar.
"Look Mama, I brought you a flower!"
"Look Mama, here's another flower! That's TWO!"
"Mama, you have to put it in the water"
"Here's another flower Mama. Put it in the water. How many are there? One. Two. Three. Four.  Aren't they beautiful?"

Yes, Fiona. They are beautiful flowers.
"They're ROSES Mama".
They are beautiful roses, Fiona.

Thank you for reminding me how something so simple and beautiful can make my whole day.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Jack of All Trades, Master of None

I've realized something. I have too much going on.  I know, take a minute to let that kind astonishing announcement sink in.  It's taken me a few days/weeks/months/years to come to that realization myself. 
Things have been difficult lately.  I've felt like I've been swimming in a mudslide.  Getting the house unpacked, taking care of the girls, figuring out my new schedule, work and desperately trying to find something kind of hobby or outlet has left me with a ton of unfinished projects, unpacked boxes and a disaster of a house. 
Through it all I'm not able to be the kind of wife/mother/friend I want to be. There's just not enough of me left.  There's not enough of me left for ME!  I'm struggling. And I'm all the more crazy for it.  I've been trying to figure out what I can do to make this clutter in my head disappear.  I'm not handling anything well and I need to. So I decided that I need to simplify my life. I need to just get back to basics and stop trying to be super-mom, super-wife, super-anything. I need to just be... simpler. 
It's not as easy as it sounds but I'm working on it a little every day. With multiple melt-downs under my belt the last few days I've been able to see what my triggers are and hopefully can figure out how to avoid them. Or at the very least recognize when I'm get swallowed up whole by my life. 
So I've given up on couponing. I've been able to cut the costs of our groceries, just by the costs associated with food here.  I don't know if it's just an ease of transport thing or what, but I'm finding groceries are much less expensive than I was anticipating.  I need to just let the coupons go for now and concentrate on making fresh meals from in-season produce.  It'll be cheaper and healthier in the long run.  Plus, I've found a Win Co close by and that will really help, too.  I'm going to be passing the coupon-torch to a good friend who can benefit and don't feel like it's going to waste.  My chaos is benefiting another family. Can't go wrong there!
I'm putting the craft mess away.  I toyed with the idea of starting a business with the beautiful fabric flowers I was making. I found them relaxing and just loved creating something.  But the pressure of making the hobby into something that might actually provide some kind of income (even as a little "extra") was becoming one more thing I had/wanted to do that I just didn't have time for and we were all suffering because of it. 
So now it's back to basics. It's crafting one thing at a time when I can. It's finding the best deals and finding a new way to save on meals and groceries. It's getting back on track with a budget and trying to save for a house. It's doing only what I can and letting the rest be.
I need to learn to let Doug help more. I need to accept that the kids don't do the job as well as I do but that they are  helping and it's that much less I have to do. 
I need to take a deep breath and learn to enjoy my family again.  I am truly and deeply blessed.  I know it, I just need to re-learn how to accept it. 
Be patient with me. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Choices in Bat Country

I've said this before and I'm sure I'll say it again. I come from some crazy people. It's part of who I am and I come by my own crazy very honestly.  You can look at 98% of my family and think "Oh yeah, that totally makes sense".  It's not like I come from some Norman Rockwell fantasy and everyone's confused on why I'm all bat-shit. That being said, I have managed to become a fully functioning adult with a family of my own.  I'm sure I'm doing a good job of keeping today's psychology students in tomorrows workforce (you're welcome) but I don't think I'm doing any lasting damage. No more than eventually living through five teenage daughters will do to me.  It seems to be a fair trade. 
What seems to be difficult for me to understand is how my parents seem to be unable to make the same basic functioning adult choices that the rest of us manage to make every single day. Like they couldn't make a good choice if it fell out of the sky and landed on their sister!
Good choices - Sister...
 I do appreciate that they are on some kind of rotation so one of them seems to be acting vaguely adult-ish at a time.  It's helpful since there's three of them and one of me (how do I keep getting myself outnumbered like this?).  When one of them decides to go haywire it seems that it's an example of Go Big or Go Home.
My father is an alcoholic. He has been sober for 15 years. Because of the alcoholism he was non-existent as a parent and there was something that clicked in my head at one point and I got it. I don't really have a lot of anger because he didn't actually do anything. He just wasn't there.  Over the last 15 years we've managed to carve out a relationship that has hinted at normalcy.  My grandmother had a great hand in that (missing you more than ever right now Grandma) and we managed to almost be functioning. Then dad got cancer.  He spent some time in April of 2009 and all that needed to be said was and I was at peace with things. 
Insert a lot that is merely details I'll skip and we ended up living within an hour drive of each other for the first time since I was in high school.  It took a couple months of us getting settled in here to be able to get there to visit but when we did it was fantastic.  Dad said it was the best day he's had in years. It was great for us, too.  Then, little by little, I started hearing about XYZ that was going on.  OK, bumps but nothing more.  I had decided that we needed to make this a monthly thing and was all-in-all happy with the whole thing. 
What I was not prepared for was the total shit-storm that I was about to be hit with. Usually when this kind of thing is coming you at least get some kind of foreboding music or something. To keep this already ridiculously long story to something more manageable I'll hit the highlights of this bad-decision laced road trip.

We can't stop here! This is bat country!

  1. Drinking again. 15 years of sobriety out the window. Awesome
  2. All for some woman. Really? One that you "never felt like this before" about but didn't k now was a raging alcoholic and drunk by noon? Got it. (here's a hint: you don't REMEMBER feeling like anything before because you were too drunk!)
  3. Running off on "One last adventure"  sounds all fun and shit, but isn't truly realistic. While you may be in remission you have CANCER, stupid. 
  4. Something about Colorado, motorcycles, getting married and diamond mines
It was all a conversation involving a lot of "but I have to's" and "I need's".  All wrapped in a "I want your blessing" blanket. Um, no. All of this is a choice. A total and absolute choice with little thought for the ramifications and consequences. 
Every single day we make choices. Hundreds of little and big choices that impact our lives, and those of the people we choose to share them with.  If it's what we have in our first morning coffee or what time we go to bed, it's a CHOICE. There is very little in this world we have to do. Our hearts have to beat, our bodies have to function and our brains have to make a choice. But that's where the have to's end. No, you don't have to abandon the one chance you have to see your daughter/granddaughters on a regular basis. You don't have to run off and not face the life that your choices has led you to. Life is not a series of adventures. It is a series of choices, some easy, some hard. Some lead to adventures, some don't. These are the things that make up our lives.  I am not lucky that I found such a great life. I worked at it. I busted my ass and made the choices that I sometimes didn't want to. 
So now I just wait. I wait for the phone call that the last choice was a bad one. That the
rest of the choices are mine. Now I have to make new choices. Just when I was getting happy with the old ones.

Update: Dad is moving in with the girlfriend but has "come to his senses" about the motorcycle/Colorado/riding into the sunset thing.  We shall see what comes to pass on this one. Fingers crossed.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Anonnimity Please

So I know that's not really something a blogger should really be looking for is it?  I mean the whole reason some of us do that is to get what we have to say heard and out there and for people to know who it was that said/thought/wrote it. But sometimes it'd be nice to be able to just word vomit it all out there without having to think and re-think how everything sounds and if it's going to hurt someone's feelings or should even be said at all. .
 There are times though... oh, but there are times... when what you have to say isn't for the masses. For me writing is therapeutic. It's how I process things. You would be amazed to know how much time I spend "writing" in my head. I work out problems. I make things that I'm struggling with in my own head by writing.  This is not only my website out to the world, it is what makes my world livable.  Like everyone I have my stuff to deal with. But unlike everyone, this is how I deal with it.  This is what puts my thoughts together.  While I'm sure there are people that read this and think there isn't a filter.  That's not true. There's actually a very heavy filter. I've asked Doug how open he's willing to have his life, since this can affect him, too. He says that "so far" there hasn't been too much. So far I've kept it mild to prevent putting too much of our private life on public display.  There have been things I've wanted to write about that I've left out because I don't want to have to have the conversation that the post was "too much" and I have to delete it.  Maybe that would be therapeutic, too but I don't want to have to get there.  Writing seems to be so much a part of my brain that I don't know how else to think.  I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings and so I am careful. But when my frustration with someone or some situation is reaching overload it's hard not to rant. And those are the times I wish I no one knew about this. That I could hide behind some kind of anonymity and word-vomit all over.
There are blogs that allow you to "take over" and has ghost posts. Maybe I should think about doing that the next time the urge takes me.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mama WIN!

Today I was the mom I always wished I could be. It was only for a little while but it was pretty fantastic. Even better was the fact that I didn't actually do  anything. I just let it happen. 
Fiona is beginning to be quite the little explorer. She's an amazing free spirit with a beautiful imagination.  I am always surprised by her. Her laugh and her smile is enough to change my whole day around.  Don't get me wrong. There are days when I'm wondering if  I have enough duct tape to attach her to the wall and exactly how much coordination it would take. She's two. Better yet, she's almost 3 - which is two with better verbal skills! She has my temper.
There was little surprise this morning when I went looking for her... again.  I've had to start locking the doors so she doesn't wander out.  Her Papa was out mowing the lawn and I figured she probably went to go "help".    This is what I found.
It's a Waterfall! It's DIRT!
Awesome.  In very un-Brandy fashion I just laughed. And then went and got Doug to see what his daughter was up to.
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This is how Fiona spent most of her day. Digging in the "Garden". Which is actually a small, unused flowerbed just outside the kitchen.  She was having so much fun I even sacrificed one of my kitchen spoons as a shovel.  Doug eventually took her in and showered her off so she could have lunch and a nap. 
Later in the afternoon she headed right back out.  She spent the rest of the afternoon and early into the evening playing in this four feet of space.  When it was still pretty hot out I thought it might be fun to turn on the sprinklers. 

 What we ended up with was a muddy mess.  And that's OK. This literally kept Fiona busy for HOURS! Every time I went out to check on her she had a different something to tell me about what she was doing - digging for treasure and dinosaurs or making a garden.  I realized as I'm tracking dirt and mud back through my kitchen - again - that I am having a pretty awesome Mama Win right now. She's dirty and happy and having a blast.  There was nowhere to go, nowhere to be and she was able to be out and just be a little kid. She's filthy and I'm OK with it. Letting my child just be happy doesn't seem like something that should be a big deal, but in my controlled chaos, sometimes it is.  I was not able to be happy or relaxed enough when the big girls were little. I wasn't happy or relaxed. They seem to be functioning well enough so I have to let it go and do what I can with the future.
I haven't been the best wife today. I don't think that all the kids would agree  that I'm pretty awesome (although I think I may have skipped Totally Sucks completely today) but that's just how some days go.  I know that tomorrow or the day after may be something I'd sooner forget - but for at least one of my babies today was fun. 
Dirty Toes
Happy Girl

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Here Comes the Sun (dodedodo)

Things are slowly starting to get better.  Sort of.
It's a process. A painfully slow process.  I want what I want and I want it NOW. I'm not good at waiting and have zero patience. Instant Gratification should be my middle name. 
The girls'  schedule is crazy. I'm running to the school a couple times a day sometimes. They are learning that driving to the school 300 times in a day makes Mom nuts and so have been very good about staying a little extra here and there.  Thankfully both of the older girls have after school activities. This way it's not always the same kid waiting for the other one to be done.  Jane has a great after-school program that she just loves so that's extra helpful, too. That way I don't have to worry about picking her up around the others' practice schedules. 
Fiona is on her second day care provider and about to be done there.  Both women have still been in jammies when I got there.  This is your job and I'm giving you money, put on a bra! Just sayin'. So I may have to just say screw it and figure out something else. I know I'm not paying much, but it's only 2 days a week. I remember having much better luck with in-home care when the bigger girls were little. The time she's been in day care has been great. I've actually gotten a lot done (I even have time to update the blog!). And it's been a great break for me. Georgie is still little and is rocking an awesome nap schedule so I can't really complain there. I made the tough decision to to stop nursing her (I'll discuss that later) and I haven't cried about it once today so I think that just might be OK, too. 
It'll get worked out.  It always does.
We're having new furniture delivered today and I'm pretty excited about that.  It seems to all be coming together just enough to keep me from a total breakdown.  Hopefully I haven't just jinxed it, but time will tell. 
I might actually get back to looking like I know what the heck I'm doing and feeling like I'm not going to implode.

Thanks everyone, for hanging on. It was getting a little dark around here, and that actually helped me pull myself out. I realized that I couldn't post another "This Sucks Because" blog or I was going to take this whole thing straight down the toilet. I hope you'll stick around to see what happens next.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Wow, it's been almost a month! I don't know where all my time is going. It sure doesn't seem like it's been that long.  Let's see if I can't get better at this.
Being back in California has been a bit surreal. What I've found most difficult is suddenly being surrounded by a lot of memories I would just a soon forget.  I keep looking for the Ghost of Christmas Past showing me all of the crap I did from about 14 on. Doug says "we all have things we've done that we're embarrassed about".  Embarrassed doesn't seem to cover it. I've been told "these are the things that have made you into the person you are today." Yeah, I get that. But it doesn't mean I want to be sitting next to Ebenezer, either! It's going to take some getting used to.  I don't have a lot of really fond memories growing up here.  There are some, but the strongest ones seem to be the awful ones that just jump right out at you.  We lived in the projects. I rarely had friends over because they weren't willing to come to my neighborhood to visit.  My parents had their own shit going on. While I've never forgotten, I've been faced with why I left every time I get in the car.  Doug doesn't get it.  But, I'm glad he doesn't and it's part of what I love about him. He doesn't have a lot of this shit he carries around.  I didn't think I was carrying it either but I think it just kind of popped out of where I stuffed it. 
I know that it'll get easier. Hell, it has to. And I will create memories here with my own family that will wash away the bad ones that seem to be creeping around every corner.  But that all takes time and I'm just not there yet.  But I will be. I know I have to.  Soon. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Well, we got our stuff. Or, as I’ve been thinking of it today – my Lord we have a lot of crap. It looks like someone is getting ready to film an episode of Hoarders! There are boxes EVERYWHERE! You can hardly walk in the kitchen and getting to the couches is tricky.  While we have more room in our bedroom than I had initially anticipated, I’m still not sure how everything is going to work out. 

When Doug and I moved in together we combined a cumulative 1600 square feet of apartment space into 2300 square feet of house with a two car garage.  We then lived there for four years and created a life and all of the crap that apparently goes with that.  Now we are squeezing five children and two adults into 1500 square feet that was built in 1948.  What that means to those that have never lived in an older home is that there is a ridiculously small number of outlets, tiny closets and very little kitchen cupboard space.  Where the hell am I going to put my stockpile!?!?!

Right now I am so overwhelmed I can’t even wrap my brain around it. I don’t know where to start. And so that’s why I’m sitting here talking to the world wide inter-webs.  Because anything else just seems too much.  I haven’t even worked today, although I have managed to dig my desktop out of a box. It’s a start, I suppose.  Hopefully I can get the desktop hooked up, the TV going and move enough boxes to cook the pizza I bought. Those are my less-than-lofty goals for today, Friends. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Today is Hard

We’re starting to get settled. I won’t say that things are going smoothly. They’re not. In the 7 days we’ve been here I’ve had multiple bouts of what-the-hell-am-I-doing-here’s just as many I-just-want-to-go-home’s. It’s hot. I don’t have any of my stuff. I don’t have an internet connection of my own that isn’t based off my phone. I’m disconnected from the people I need the most right now. While my family would argue that they’re all right here, it’s my close-knit group of friends that I am most lonely for.  My marriage is in a difficult time right now. We are both going through and adjustment and having to come back from the real damage that was done over the past year of Doug’s ridiculous schedule.  It’s been trying to say the least.  With two people that have two completely different communication styles things can go from great to worse quickly.  When there is also a time deficit and a family to raise in between, and there are things that have been said and left un-said that have caused fissures in our foundation.  Add that I am stressed about the amount of work that I am coming back to and I’m ready to crack.  Thankfully I was able to drop off Krysty and Fi with my mom to get some laundry done while I get time to try to get work done and some much needed blogging done.  At some point I’m going to have to upload all of this to the website and figure out how to get it all in order.

Right now this sucks. It’s hard and I don’t wanna!  I know I’m still adjusting and coming off a really hard week/month/year.  I know in a few days I’ll feel better. Much better – but today is hard. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Control Issues

So we all know I’m a crazy bish with control issues. Seriously, I don’t try to hide or deny it. The more stressed I am the worse it gets. With the stress level lately trying to get everything ready for the move you can imagine what a peach I’ve been to be around.  Add to that a steady diet of Diet Coke and chocolate I’m just about wired for sound.  This is all a recipe for an OCD cocktail that just might explode if you’re not careful.  I think my husband has been at least mildly thankful that his schedule has kept him out of the line of fire. 

There is reason behind my madness, though.  When chaos reins supreme as it has the last few months my brain requires control.  If you know me at all you know that my life is normally filled with some kind of chaos, so how can this really be any different? Well, usually it’s a chaos of my own creation and I know where the limits are.  I do brew my own proprietary brand of crazy and am able to happily work within the confines that requires.  Trust me, live in my head long enough and you find ways to make this work.  When there’s extra crazy, that’s when things get dicey.  I then require to have a gargantuan amount of control over, well, everything.

I also have a wicked fear of heights. Not so much heights as falling.  I think more accurately it’s that sudden stop at the end that’s the real problem.  I do have a rather vivid imagination and can see everything that’s going to happen from the time I’m somewhere Up until how I horrifically make it to Down. That also requires an uncontrolled fall for an indeterminate amount of time (see above). All in all, not good.

I explained all that to tell you this:

My husband tried to kill me. No shit, thought I was gonna die, all his fault and the bastard did it on purpose! I’m not sure if he was going for the driving-us-off-a-cliff-fireball-of-death-down-a-mountain or giving me a heart attack because I was imagining the driving-us-off-a-cliff-fireball-of-death-down-a-mountain.  Let me explain. I usually drive. I just do. I always have (ahem, control issues). And, mountain roads scare the hell out of me (the whole heights/falling/ sudden stop thing).  Doug, trying to be a sweet husband, had offered to drive (and had to continue to drive because of some freak issue with my power seats). I prefer to drive on mountain roads because if I’m gonna die from driving-us-off-a-cliff-fireball-of-death-down-a-mountain then I’d rather try to control it.  Instead I spent  a good 20 miles curled in a little ball in the passenger seat with a white knuckled grip on the arm rest and my eyes squeezed tightly shut praying that we didn’t all die in that aforementioned fireball and trying not to whimper or out-right cry.  Not one of my proudest moments.  We did get to re-play the whole thing again when we drove down the Oregon coast for a few hours.  All he could do was shake his head and ask “Seriously?”.  Especially, since the second time I wasn’t able to stifle the whimper and about crawled onto the center console. Yes, I’m crazy. And as I like to remind him, he signed up for this shit on purpose.

Needless to say we are not going to be continuing down the 101 and visiting the great California Redwood forest. I don’t think my nerves could take it. Maybe next year.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Well, That sucked!

Leaving Washington this time was hard. Really hard. Like oh-my-God-what-the-hell-am –I-doing hard.  I’ve been gearing up for the last few weeks. Saying goodbye to friends has left me exhausted.  The logistics up until the last few days were a nightmare.  Doug’s work schedule meant no down time and (barely more than) no help.  But the day finally came. Getting out of town didn’t go as I had planned.  We were five hours behind “schedule” when I finally locked up the house for the last time.

And that’s when it hit me.

Locking up the house for the last time hit me in a way that I wasn’t expecting.  It hit me harder than anything.  It took me longer than was reasonable to close the door for that final time.  Managing not to put my head down on the steering wheel and bawl for a good long time was one of my better feats of self-control.  Had we gotten married in the back yard or had a home birth there – both of which we thought about – I don’t know how I could’ve pulled myself away.  That house has a lot of history for us. That’s the first place we ever lived together. We had our first fight and came home from our wedding night. We created and lost life, labored and brought home babies. My dog died there for crying out loud!  We truly became a family in that house. I would have happily bought it and lived in it for the rest of my life.

I stood there with my hand on the door knob and I cried.  I let the memories and the tears come.  I looked at my husband, standing in the yard waiting for me and he smiled.  So, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and closed the door for the last time. 

May the next chapter be as wonderful!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I’m Awesome. Just Ask Me.

*Note: Names and details have been changed to protect the mean innocent.

I learned something yesterday. Not everyone likes me. I know! I was filled with shock and awe myself. Me! How is there anyone out there that doesn’t like ME!?! I’m awesome – just ask me.

Well, in reality I’m shocked there is anyone that does actually like me.  I have people that I’ve known for most of my life that by now are required to like me (ahem, Michelle). There are people who are required to put up with me – sorry in-laws. But, in all reality I am shy and insecure and surprised that anyone truly likes me. Especially at times like last weekend, when my house was bursting with people that came for the singular purpose of wishing us luck on our move and having a chance to say a personal good-bye. I’m always astounded that there are people that are not required to put up with me and continue to choose to spend time with me. Not that I think I’m all that horrible. I like me. Doug likes me. I like other people, so I shouldn’t be surprised when I fall into the “other people” category of someone else, right? Not so much.

I was still taken aback when talking to Megan* on the phone and she says  “So, why doesn’t Hailey like you?”. Um, I didn’t know she didn’t. Not like we’re best buds or anything.  We’re not planning vacations together but we do have some inter-connecting circles and are often at the same gatherings where we chat and (I thought) got on well enough.  In a conversation with Leslie, Megan was told something along the lines of “Hailey doesn’t really like Brandy and I don’t know why”. Hmmm. Well, Brandy doesn’t know why either.  I do know how Sweet-Valley-Vomit this sounds.

Doug said I shouldn’t worry about it and that since he likes me no one else should matter. And in a way I suppose he’s right. Then again, it sucks. While I will be the first to admit that Hailey is not someone that would be on the top of my list of new shopping buddies, I don’t dislike her. I don’t think she’s a bad human out drowning kittens in her off  hours. We just don’t have a strong connection. We’re different types of women, different types of parents, and there is a bit of an age gap.  But I still like her! We have some significant commonalities that I thought would at least make us allies. Doug said “so just ask her”. Oh yeah right. Hasn’t the fact that I’m even having this conversation clued you in that I’ve been punted squarely into being a 11 year old that got left out of the birthday party?

I’m not sure how I’m going to handle the whole thing. I do know how silly it must seem to even care, but I do. It hurts my feelings and bruises my pride. My hard candy outside and evil gooey center hide a tender heart that bleeds easily.  So if I’m extra bitchy awesome for the next few days you can add this to the list of why.

I guess it’s time to update my press release.

I'm Awesome. Just Ask Me.

Note: Names and details have been changed to protect the mean innocent.

I learned something yesterday. Not everyone likes me. I know! I was filled with shock and awe myself. Me! How is there anyone out there that doesn’t like ME!?! I’m awesome – just ask me.

Well, in reality I’m shocked there is anyone that does actually like me.  I have people that I’ve known for most of my life that by now are required to like me (ahem, Michelle). There are people who are required to put up with me – sorry in-laws. But, in all reality I am shy and insecure and surprised that anyone truly likes me. Especially at times like last weekend, when my house was bursting with people that came for the singular purpose of wishing us luck on our move and having a chance to say a personal good-bye. I’m always astounded that there are people that are not required to put up with me and continue to choose to spend time with me. Not that I think I’m all that horrible. I like me. Doug likes me. I like other people, so I shouldn’t be surprised when I fall into the “other people” category of someone else, right? Not so much.

I was still taken aback when talking to Megan* on the phone and she says  “So, why doesn’t Hailey like you?”. Um, I didn’t know she didn’t. Not like we’re best buds or anything.  We’re not planning vacations together but we do have some inter-connecting circles and are often at the same gatherings where we chat and (I thought) got on well enough.  In a conversation with Leslie, Megan was told something along the lines of “Hailey doesn’t really like Brandy and I don’t know why”. Hmmm. Well, Brandy doesn’t know why either.  I do know how Sweet-Valley-Vomit this sounds.

Doug said I shouldn’t worry about it and that since he likes me no one else should matter. And in a way I suppose he’s right. Then again, it sucks. While I will be the first to admit that Hailey is not someone that would be on the top of my list of new shopping buddies, I don’t dislike her. I don’t think she’s a bad human out drowning kittens in her off  hours. We just don’t have a strong connection. We’re different types of women, different types of parents, and there is a bit of an age gap.  But I still like her! We have some significant commonalities that I thought would at least make us allies. Doug said “so just ask her”. Oh yeah right. Hasn’t the fact that I’m even having this conversation clued you in that I’ve been punted squarely into being a 11 year old that got left out of the birthday party?

I’m not sure how I’m going to handle the whole thing. I do know how silly it must seem to even care, but I do. It hurts my feelings and bruises my pride. My hard candy outside and evil gooey center hide a tender heart that bleeds easily.  So if I’m extra bitchy awesome for the next few days you can add this to the list of why.

I guess it’s time to update my press release.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Something New

For a while now I’ve been thinking about getting a website. There’s been no real reason behind it. Mainly…I just wanna. And in our uber-digital, drag-and-drop time, why the hell not? So I did it. I bought the domain and a year of web-hosting and set up Right now it’s a jumble of, well, nothing.  I’m still trying to figure it out and still playing with the settings.  I don’t know that I’ll ever really do anything with it.  I’ve thought about moving the blog there.  For now the decision is to keep the blog right where it is.  The Strange Times Facebook page will be updated with whatever is the most current site. 

In grand, Brandy-like fashion, it’ll probably fizzle out after a couple of months. But, who knows - this has some how managed to hang on for about 3 years – there could be greatness in store!

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Make It SHINE!

Disclaimer: This here post is what’s known as “over-sharing”. If the knowledge that you’re going to be reading about something that happened to my va-jay-jay is a little more than you can handle I totally understand.  For the rest of you… you’ve been warned.

I bought a deal on Living Social for a Brazilian and eyebrow wax. Or, what I like to call the “Eye-brow and Thigh-brow” combo pack. This is something I’ve really wanted to do for a long time but never been able to scrape up the courage to actually do it! Toss it at me at 50% off and add in an eyebrow wax on top of it? Amen! I’m in there. Well, more accurately, the salon lady was “in there”, but we’re not that far in the story yet. Anyway. I was telling a girlfriend that I had actually bought the package and I was going to go do it.  She asked if I was nervous.

Um…d’uh! Lady with hot wax gonna pull the hair off my lady-parts! Yeah, nervous seems to cover it. Apparently what scared her the most was having to walk in the salon and saying “Hi, here’s my junk! Now wax it and make it SHINE!”. See, these are the people I hang out with.

I get to my appointment this morning and I’m nervous.  Jessica, the gal at Fleur de Lis Spa and Boutique, was super nice. She asked if I had done this before and if I was nervous (see above). Now understand that the salon was beautiful and there was The Beatles playing softly in the background. Could it be any more perfect? She hands me a “spa-panty” and tells me to get undressed from the waist down and put them on and she’ll be back.  I’m not really sure of the reason behind the spa-panty. Are we really trying to preserve my modesty when I’ve paid you money to rip hot wax off of my vagina with a narrow strip of muslin? I’m pretty sure there are 17 states in this fine country of ours where I’d be arrested for being in a room with no pants, another woman, hot wax and a box full of popsicle sticks in the first place. Modesty is really no longer an issue.

I’ll skip too much detail but will say that surprisingly it wasn’t that bad. No really. Like getting your eyebrows waxed… only not. There was only two spots where I was really questioning whether or not I could leave right then and have to later (willingly) explain to my husband why I had a partially bald vagina. 

carol-ohmart-screamingJessica says: “there’s usually one spot that feels like your vagina is actually getting ripped OFF” Gee, ya think.

I will say that the Brazilians are some twisted, Commie bastards.  I learned one inalienable truth of the universe today: Any time you’re laying on your side in a spa-panty and someone says to you “now don’t let your cheeks touch” nothing good is going to happen!! You’re not about to win the lottery. The Easter Bunny is not going to leave you a basket of jellybeans. Your husband is not going to finally take out the fucking trash without being asked (ok, that one might happen but I think that’s a different type of blog you should be looking at and I’m pretty sure you’re gonna need to be 18 and have a credit card). Oddly, not the worst part of my day.

For those that are wondering, totally worth it. And yes, I’d do it again. Are you really surprised?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Life Lesson #843

When riding in the car with Mom, don’t complain about the radio station. When I tell you “I like this station” do not continue to complain and request a change of stations.

Fine. What, you’re not happy? But, I changed the station.

mexicanContinued Mooooooommmm! Ppppllleeeeeaaaaaaaaaasssssssssseeeee! only results in us listening to Mexican radio for the remaining 10 minutes we’re in the car. LOUD Mexican radio. I kind of like Mexican radio.  I did what you asked, I changed the station. Next time maybe Mom will get to listen to what Mom wants to listen to in the car that…wait for it… MOM PAYS FOR!


Oh, and yes, I did know what you meant when you asked me to change the station. What’s that? It’s frustrating to have someone do something that they know is not what you wanted them to do even though they are technically doing what you asked? Really? Huh. Imagine that.

Sometimes life lessons are fun. For me anyway.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Breastfeeding Struggles

If you know me at all you know that I am an advocate for breastfeeding.  I think it’s fantastic! I hate the way formula is marketed to parents and what little education and help we receive for breastfeeding.  In the beginning breastfeeding is hard and a lot of work. Hell, sometimes that never goes away.  There are a very small percentage of people who truly can not breastfeed or who do not make enough milk – even with the help of all of the different things you can do to increase your supply.  Most of the problem comes in when in the first couple of months you don’t know what the hell you’re doing. You’re sleep deprived, you’re hormonal and you’re convinced you’re going to starve your baby. We all do it. Whether you’ve never put your babe to breast or she’s been attached to your boob since before the placenta was delivered.

Now for the record, not all of my children were breastfed until kindergarten. I’m not that chick. (If you are – Amen to you sista!) Krsyty was breastfed for about a month. No support or education and when I was worried the answer I got was “just give her a bottle, you don’t have to breastfeed her”. Um, ok. I’m 17, that works for me. Allie was born so tiny that she couldn’t use the calories it required to eat, so she was tube fed for more than 2 weeks. I pumped for a while and she ate what I pumped. But truthfully that didn’t last long. With Jane I was 22, had two other kids under 5 and there was zero support or education for me.  I also went back to work when she was 3 weeks old. They are all fine and perfectly functioning. I was formula fed. Although, now that I say that, I’m probably  not proving a very good point! Winking smile

Fiona took to the breast like a champ! She nursed within minutes of being born and stayed there for almost 2 hours. She was a good, strong and efficient eater. She weaned herself at almost 12 months and went straight to milk. I had a clogged duct twice that never lasted for more than 12 hours. This was a dream! I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I spent my entire pregnancy with Georgiana dreaming about what a wonderful breastfeeding experience we were going to have. Boy was I wrong.

What all the breastfeeding propaganda (yep, I went there. It even feels that way to me sometimes) fails to mention is that sometimes it isn’t you. It’s that little person on the other side of the breast that’s the problem.  Babies are not born to breastfeed. They’re not born to formula feed either. They’re born to eat. That’s what they know. They know they need to eat and it’s our jobs to teach them how that happens. Being a parent does start that early, folks. Getting them to do it doesn’t always work the way we want it to. Yup, rebellion starts that early, too. 

Georgiana is a great baby. A GREAT baby. She has her father’s temperament. She doesn’t get riled easily, she’s not a fussy baby. She is quiet and content most of the time. I keep telling her that she needs to speak up or she’s gonna get left somewhere one day with the size of this bunch.  .

The problem is, she’s a lazy eater. L.A.Z.Y I tell ya! And we have some spit-up issues. And by spit-up issues I mean “holy shit where the hell is all that disgusting stuff coming out of her mouth coming from, I’m not even sure she ate that much, oh damn, now she’s choking” issues. When I took her in for her two week check she hadn’t yet reached her birth weight. Her doctor said to try to increase her feedings and add some pumped milk in to try to fatten her up a bit. She gained but not much. When I went in at my six week check-up she still wasn’t really gaining weight. She’s a slow eater. She falls asleep and stays that way. She only wants to eat so much and eating at the booby is work – did I mention she’s lazy?   We figured that because of how much she was spitting up she just wasn’t keeping the calories in she needed.  Dr. Merrill suggested that I “supplement” at her feedings. He never did say the “F” word, just let me come to that on my own, and I’m thankful for that.  We tried Zantac and that didn’t help. So I decided that splitting her feedings half breast milk/half formula was the best idea. It was giving her the extra calories she obviously wasn’t getting from me while still getting the benefits of the breast milk.  I tried a “gentle” version formula. It was better but could still be improved.  I switched her to a soy version and Holy Mother of God! SUCCESS! Looks like my girl has either a lactose sensitivity like me or a milk protein allergy that she’ll hopefully grow out of. The spitting is still there. After she eats you still have to be careful and whatever you do, do not lay the child flat. We have a weight-check appointment on Wednesday.  Fingers crossed that we see a “good” weight.

So for now I sit attached to this stupid breast pump and feeling like a dairy cow.  Thankfully I found this nifty bra…


Gee, don’t you wish you were me? Hint: I do not look this cheerful while hooked up to this contraption. Just sayin’.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hang On Tight

This move has put me on an emotional rollercoaster.  I wasn’t prepared for that. 

Kraig and I moved a lot.  My older girls went to a different school every year until we moved here. The brass ring was always in sight and we jumped at it every time.  When Doug and I moved here it was a chance to settle down and have a family.  I don’t know how much I actually settled in here. There are things still in boxes from the move in. The garage is full of “I’ll get to it”. Things that need to be sorted or donated.  I was finally starting to feel like we weren’t going anywhere and this pops up.  It’s finally starting to sink in that we’re leaving.  In 30 days we’re on the road.  I’m having trouble wrapping my brain around it a little. Part of me has gone into moving-mode. Another part is fighting leaving this stability that we have built here. And yet another is trying to make the two work together. Oil and water, I tell ya!

In the last four years we have moved in together, gotten married, and had two kids. Doug’s had three jobs. Krystyne started high school. Allie started – and has now completed – middle school. Life has been created and lost in this house. I’ve made friends. Real, true and honest friends. I’ve found myself and defined who I am. 

I am in such a weird place. I am looking forward to the time with family. My cousin, Alfredo, that I was so close to growing up will live within blocks. I’m looking forward to getting to know another better (It’s all you, Rene!). My kids will be able to have grandparents, aunts, and cousins around all the time. We’re an obnoxiously social bunch.  When Doug and I got together I thought that it was an opportunity to have family close again. They’re a private bunch. The pop-ins and hang-outs I expected didn’t happen. I talk to my mom three times a week at least. She sees my sister about that much and my aunt almost daily.  While my mom makes me a special kind of crazy (stop acting all shocked, Mom) we do pretty good when we have our own corners to retreat to.  I haven’t lived this close to my family in 15 years or so.

And yet…

My friends are here. That sounds so juvenile and petty. You can almost hear the foot stomping. Which is good, because it’s there. Friends! For the first time in my adult life I have a good, solid, supportive group of girlfriends. Putting the call out that I need “mediocre-Mexican” means something (at 34 means something way different than it would have at 24!).When my life is overwhelming, or completely friggin’ awesome, there is someone that I can just call and share it with.  I have somewhere to be when my marriage or kids are trying my patience. A release when it seems like everyone in my house is tap-dancing on my last nerve.  I have support that I am actually doing a good job and not making my kids into serial killers because I don’t hug them enough. I have a reminder that no one ever died from an un-mopped floor. There’s someone to drink wine and laugh with. Someone to to giggle over girl-stuff until we cry.  These are the friends that you tell stuff your husband would be mortified if he knew what you shared with.

How do I find the balance? I don’t think I can.  For now I just have to let the “mover” in my brain take over and let the rest figure itself out. I think the physical act of packing is the hardest part.  One thing at a time I am removing myself from my home and the life I have built here.  With every closed box I am farther from the support I need so desperately right now.  Looking at my husband’s travel schedule for the next month is a great help.  It reminds me that in the next two weeks he will be home 5 nights. And the two weeks after that I’ll be lucky to see him while it’s still light outside – and that’s saying something for this time of year in Washington.

So if it seems like I’m hiding, I am. If I don’t venture out I can manage to hold off just a little while longer. At least in my head. If I don’t call, don’t come to visit or update Facebook I can feel like I’m not saying goodbye with every conversation.

I should go pack…

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dear Ridge and Valley Women

It’s taken me a while to write this because I’ve been in a bit of denial lately. I worried that it was negatively affecting the group and that’s why I turned it over to (the wonderful) Carla when I did. And truthfully that should have happened sooner but, I had a hard time letting go.

For those that don’t know, my husband has accepted a transfer opportunity with his job. He currently works 70+ hour weeks and travels a third of the time. Obviously this creates a poor work/life balance for all of us. We have been talking about and looking into different options for some time now. In just about a month we pack a truck and make the 1100 mile drive to southern California.

I wanted to take the time to thank all of the wonderful women in this group. When I started it just over a year ago I never expected anything to come out of it. I never expected that there would be this small community of women who have come to mean so much to me. It breaks my heart a little to have to give up and let go of this group. I started it out of a bit of rebellion. I had been rejected by other “Mom’s Groups” and told that I just wasn’t the type. I’m opinionated and have a potty mouth. I have an ex-husband and am not afraid to say I can’t afford something. I am not defined by my children. I know that my girls are not spectacular to anyone but me and am not afraid to admit I find stranger’s kids irritating. I knew (or at least hoped) there were other women around here like me. I wanted a place to be able to connect and support each other. I wanted to be able to bitch/celebrate about my house, my kids, my husband or the kick ass new shoes I just found. I wanted to have the joy that only comes from a good circle of girlfriends. I found it.

And now I’m leaving it behind. I have had to pull back a bit over the last few months. I feel as though I am severing a limb and now have to sit back and lick my wounds.

My older daughters are struggling with leaving their schools and friends behind. They’ve heard, but doubtfully understand, that this is what’s best for our family. I know it doesn’t make it easier for them. I do understand and it doesn’t make it any easier for me. Here I sit, in the shoes of my teenage daughters, and if fucking sucks.  

I know that I am taking a bit of every one of you with me in my heart. I have made friendships here that will last a lifetime. I wish I could thank you all individually for what you have brought to my life. Through this group I have made connections and learned the real importance in having a strong group of women surrounding me. I have laughed until I snorted coffee, cried over losses and celebrated victories with you. We have welcomed new friends and had to say goodbye to others. Now it is my turn to say goodbye.

I wish you all the best in everything you do. Thanks to the magic of the internet we are never that far apart. And I promise to always be here with an inappropriate commentary or some ridiculously blunt take on parenting.

Thank you, Ladies –for all that you are and all that you have given me.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The First Month

I’m told quite frequently “I don’t know how  you do it”. Let me tell you a little secret… I don’t. I’m glad that I am able to have this illusion that I have my shit together. But in all honesty – I don’t. My house is a disaster area, my kids don’t always get the attention they need and I’m snippy with my husband when he doesn’t deserve it. It’s a balancing act and most of the time I’m just trying to keep the shit that falls from breaking. 

It’s been a month since Georgie was born and I keep thinking that at some point I’m going to get it all back together. I’m going to figure out how to have two very small children at home and still be able to be a functioning adult.  I did this before, shouldn’t it be easier this time? Well, no.  When I had Krysty and Allie I was barely 20 and too stupid to realize how bad I was fucking it all up.  I didn’t struggle to prioritize my responsibilities because I wasn’t responsible. If the dishes or laundry didn’t get done or the bills didn’t get paid it didn’t matter. There is some bliss in ignorance.  I feel like I’m dropping friendships and loosing connections because I just can’t find the time to do all that I need to, let alone the things I want to.  I often hear that I need to just relax and everyone gets it. I know I do when it’s someone else.  I don’t hold myself to the same standards or expectations I have for other people. Do any of us? 

I have finally reached the point where I am not in tears every night.   I think hormonally I am starting to balance out even if nothing else is.  I’ve tried telling myself that I need to be on “maternity leave” for at least 12 weeks.  Isn’t that about what everyone else gets? 12 weeks to be home from work with baby and adjust. The problem is that I can’t put my life on hold.  I know that the pressure I am feeling is only what I put on myself. My husband understands. I just wish he would explain it to me so that I do.

It’s hard sometimes to rationalize what you would chastise a friend for doing. I am 25lbs over what I consider and “acceptable” weight. Not a goal or ideal, but acceptable.  I am trying to find where I can fit in some exercise because that 25lbs is making me nuts.  “Seriously, you look great, you just had a baby and you’ve already lost 25lbs, give yourself a break” is what I would tell me if I was my friend. Unfortunately I am not as good of friends with Me as I should be .  “Georgiana’s fed and changed, some extra Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is not going to hurt Fiona, and the older kids should be helping out more”. See, I know  all of this. It’s all the things my husband and friends tell me. But again, expectations are higher and not being met. Things are not getting done.  My excuse of being pregnant and tired and blah blah blah are gone so now what? How do I rationalize turning from one excuse to why I’m not getting things done to another?  Time to buck up and power through. Innovate. Adapt. Overcome. Be easier on myself, breathe and relax. These things do not mesh. Find the middle ground between the wife/mother/woman I want to be and what I am.  Find acceptance in the wife/mother/woman that I am. 

My goals for today are both easy and unattainable. I’m shooting for somewhere between useless and fucking awesome. One thing at a time.  It’s been a month since Georgiana was born and this is where I am.  I can’t believe so much time has past and how short that time really was.  I wonder how the next month will turn out.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Georgiana Grace

**Warning: This is my actual birth story. There may be TMI for some people. There are pictures. I’ve tried to keep them “modest” as I can, but this is about a natural birth. You’ve been warned**
When I was at the end of my pregnancy I had a really difficult time sleeping.  Getting comfortable was almost impossible. I was exhausted, but I couldn’t fall asleep as easily as I usually do. I couldn’t move from side to side without effort. I couldn’t move at all without effort.  To help relax and get to sleep I would visualize my labor and birth. I would write Georgiana’s birth story in my head and I could relax and fall asleep. 
This is not that story. This is what actually happened.
Thursday, March 31, 2011, Georgiana Grace Strange made her entrance into this world at 12:41 PM.
I woke up Thursday and it was just like any other day. I had a cup of coffee. Checked Facebook and then logged on to work.  I was making good progress and getting a lot done when I felt this “pop”. Kind of like when you step wrong and your knee pops. I looked down and said “I don’t know what you just did in there but knock it off, that hurt” and went back to work. A few minutes I felt like I had to pee (again) so I got up and that’s when I realized that “pop” was my water breaking.  This is the first time I had ever experienced it breaking naturally.  I went to the restroom and when I sat down I got the gush of water.  Thankfully it was in the restroom and on the toilet. I changed my clothes and called up to Doug. (Thankfully he was home. He was supposed to fly to Yakima for work that day) I said “my water just broke” and his whole face lit up! I came upstairs and he asked how I was. I said I was fine and “looks like we’re having a baby today”.
I didn’t really think that things would progress as they did.  I’ve read probably over a hundred birth stories. Your water breaks and sometimes nothing happens for hours or it’s a slow progression. That’s what I was prepared for.   I called my boss and let him know that I wasn’t disappearing but my water broke so I wasn’t sure how much I would be getting done that day (I never did get back to work). I updated my Facebook status. I texted some friends and Krysty (she was in CA for my uncle’s funeral). I had some breakfast. We had time. My water broke at 8 and we had plenty of time. I called my doula, Jen,  just as a head’s up.  I told her we had plenty of time. I was going to shower and get  ready. We had to pack a bag. The girls weren’t even up.  Doug called his boss and started shaving and I got in the shower.  I had a small contraction here and there but nothing we needed to really pay attention to. I asked Doug to get in the shower with me. It was a nice intimate time for us. Just having to be so close together (our shower isn’t that big – but I was!) was nice. The hot water was relaxing and I was enjoying the closeness of my husband. It had been a crazy couple months and those few intimate moments mean the world to me. I had a couple more contractions, this time a little stronger.  I told Doug it was time to get out and that we should probably get things together and get moving.  By the time I was dressed I called Jen back and let her know it might be time to come out. I knew she had kids of her own to find care for and that it could take her some time to get out here. She said she’d be here in about an hour.  I called the hospital and let them know my water broke but we weren’t heading in quite yet. Contractions were coming but they weren’t substantial yet.  They said they would call Dr. Merrill since it was his day off and he wasn’t in town.
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By this time I’m having to really concentrate through my contractions. We aren’t even bothering to time them because they’ve changed enough that we know it doesn’t really matter.  Jen is on her way and we’d leave when she got here.  The girls are starting to wake up. We’ve told them what’s going on and that they’ll have to stay at the house for now.  We’ve had to make arrangements for Doug’s dad, Phil, to pick up my mom from the airport. She was flying in there was no way we would be able to pick her up.  He would stop by the house and pick up the girls and bring them to the hospital.  We’re still gathering stuff. We’re still trying to think of what we need to bring.  I would have been 37 weeks on Friday, we thought we had more time and weren’t anywhere near ready.   I had managed to charge the video camera the week before  (Spoiler alert: There is no video of the birth). More than once I had to get on my knees and lean over the bed and begin to vocalize through the contractions. I was glad to know that Jen was on her way.  Doug came to me when he saw they were getting worse and rubbed my back and supported me through them.  Jen got there right as Dr. Merrill called and asked how things were going. I let him know that we were heading in. He asked if I thought he should come in, too.  This was my 5th baby and he asked how I felt things were going.  I told him it might be a good idea for him to head to the hospital, too (he was 45 minutes away). We gathered the last of things together and left. Jen gave me some balls to put in the small of my back for counter-pressure and warned me about laboring in the car. 
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I was not prepared to labor in the car. HOLY SHIT! That was awful! I couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t get comfortable. My contractions are really close together and I have to vocalize through them. There is no more just breathing.  I have to just sit there but I can’t just sit there.  Doug is doing a great job of distracting me and making me laugh by kicking my ass at Slug Bug. I think I did manage to get one!
When we pulled into the valet parking for St Elizabeth Hospital in Enumclaw I told Doug to just go in and get us signed in. They knew I was coming but I wasn’t sure what the procedure was for signing in.  Jen had followed us and would be able to help me get in.  I had to wait through a contraction to get out of the car anyway. And then another before I could head for the doors.  We arrived at the hospital at noon.
When we got inside they said that I would have to “register”. I told them that I had just been in on Tuesday and that nothing was different. The front desk gal said “it’ll just take a minute”. I told her that I was in labor and had called and they knew I was coming.  What she said I couldn’t make up. I’m not that funny. She looked at me and said “Well you’re not having the baby now are you?”. It took me a second to even form words. Who says that? The registration lady came out and I explained  to her that I was just there on Tuesday and everything was the same and they knew I was coming upstairs.  She said “it’ll just take a couple minutes”. I’ve never been so thankful for a contraction in my life! I was rocked by one at that very moment. I grabbed ahold of the counter, went into a deep squat and moaned  through the contraction. Both women looked like I was about to drop the baby on the floor in front of them. “You can just fill out the paperwork later”. Gee, thanks gals. You’re tops.
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We made it up to the birth center and as soon as we got to the labor room I told them I needed the restroom.  I sat on the toilet and instantly felt the baby move down. It was like she was waiting for that very spot to get into position.  I was feeling “pushy” and having to moan through some very difficult contractions.  Jen heard me and came in to check.  I could hardly move. She’s telling me we need to get out of the bathroom and I wasn’t sure I could do it. I think without her Georgiana would’ve been born on that toilet.  With Jen’s help I made it back into the room. I believe I must’ve hit transition either in the car or in the bathroom. 
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From this point on in my mind everything pretty much happened at the same time.  While I do remember most of the order the space between is pretty much not there. From this point on my brain is simply following the orders from my body.  Everything is instinctual and I gave into that instinct. I allowed my body to take over and listened to the signals I needed to in order to birth my baby. Because I know when we got to the hospital (noon) and when Georgiana was born (12:41) I know that everything happened in that amount of time. It felt like 10 minutes if I had to guess. Otherwise I have no real recollection of time. Also, I have very few “picture memories”.  There are some. Jen’s face here and there, or Doug’s smile, or his eyes – but that’s it.  My memories are mostly feeling and audio. Like listening to a story with your eyes closed.
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After I came out of the bathroom I immediately held onto Doug through another contraction.  By this time the nurses are in and are asking if I can get on the bed so they can check how dilated I am. I looked at the bed and it was like a dream sequence from a movie where the furniture gets farther away the more you need to sit down.  While I know it was only a couple of steps to the bed, it might as well have been a mile. I knew there was no way I was making it to the bed.  When she asked again if I could make it to the bed I just shook my head. She said she would have to check me with me standing up and that was OK as far as I was concerned. I was NOT getting near that bed. Not then. I was dilated to 7cm at this point.  I think that was the only cervical check I had.   I had the idea that I would try and sit on the birthing ball through some of the contractions.  Apparently that was not the best idea I had all day and I knew instantly that I would find no relief there.  I hit my hands and knees and spent a couple contractions there.  Then, with little warning I threw up!  I wasn’t expecting it, but I felt better once I had. After that I felt like I could make it to the bed.  It was the farthest 3 feet I’ve ever had to walk.  At some point close to this Dr. Merrill arrived.
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I crawled onto the bed and remained on my hands and knees.  I remember the nurses and Dr. Merrill asking me if I could  turn over and all I could do was shake my head. The message I was getting from my body was “No” so that’s what I was relaying.  I raised the back of the bed as high as I could and just hung from it. I remember telling Doug and Jen that I just needed a minute. The contractions were hard and fast and I was having trouble wrapping my brain around them. It was definitely getting to be too much. I remember saying “I just need a minute to rest”. I was moaning and yelling through the contractions and I needed a moment to get some quiet in my own head.  (I’m sure the staff would’ve been OK with a moment of silence, too!)  I remember Doug telling me how great I was doing, how beautiful I was and that we would see our baby soon. As I moaned and yelled through contractions I would hear him telling me that I was doing just what I needed to do to bring our baby out.  He would tell me how much he loved me. I remember Jen’s voice, too. Reassuring and calm.  As I would get to the end of a contraction and start to wonder if I could make it to the end of it her kind words of encouragement and soft touch were just what I needed.  When I finally got a minute to rest between some contractions I was aware of only her and Doug’s voices and Doug’s hands.  I remember Doug putting a cool towel on the small of my back and feeling like that was the most wonderful and loving thing he had ever done for me.  It was the most wonderful touch I had ever felt. I looked at him and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the love I saw in his eyes.
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I vaguely remember hearing Dr. Merrill ask me if I could turn over.  I knew I couldn’t. I’m not sure if I ever answered him.  I am grateful that I had a provider like him. I learned later that he was reigning in the nursing staff.  When they were rushing and trying to get a heartbeat and trying to get the monitors on he shooed them away saying I was fine and baby was fine and waiting a few minutes wouldn’t hurt.  When they were getting upset that I didn’t have an IV and wanted to at least get a hep-lock started, again, he waived them away assuring them that things were progressing fine and that it wasn’t needed.  He has seen enough natural births to know when things are happening the way they are supposed to.  When I finally did feel like it was time to turn over Doug said I just flipped over. He said he hadn’t seen me move that fast in weeks and I surprised everyone around me!  I knew it was time to lay back and so that’s what I did. It never occurred to me that what I was doing was anything but exactly what I needed to be doing at that time. Right about this time is when I started to push. This part wasn’t very long.  I grabbed onto the top of the rails of the bed and actually lifted myself to help with the pushing.  I don’t know if it actually helped or not but it made sense in my head at the time.  (My arms and sides hurt like hell the next day! LOL) I know there were 3 or 4 where I would push her down and as soon as I would stop she would go back up a bit before she started crowning.  I think there was another 5 or 6 before I was able to get her out.  Between some of the pushes I was aware of some discussion of Doug’s glove size since he wanted to help deliver our youngest daughter.  Again, Dr. Merrill’s support in this was amazing.  I remember snippets of conversation about what was happening and what he would be doing.  I remember looking at him and feeling such joy for him.  Knowing that he would be one of the first people to touch our daughter meant the world to me.  It also helped to motivate me to bring her into his waiting hands. I could wait. I was fighting against the “ring of fire” (If you don’t know what it is other than a Johnny Cash song then Google it) and had all the time in the world. But how could I delay bringing our daughter into the waiting hands of my husband? Like in so many things, Doug’s smile was my motivation.
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I was finally able to push her head out and then her shoulders.  Dr. Merrill helped turn her for this and then let Doug take over and lift out her body.  He placed her on my stomach and she was amazing! She didn’t cry. She looked at me with these bright eyes and seemed to take me in as much as I was her! Doug was there with me and the world stopped for just a moment.
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At 12:41PM Georgiana Grace was born and the world was right again.
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She was 9lbs 3oz and 21.5 inches long.
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A few minutes later Doug cut her cord. I delivered her healthy placenta without incident.  I had one small tear that Dr. Merrill said would heal on it’s own and I didn’t have any stitches. Doug eventually took her to be weighed, measured and examined.  Although the nurses examined her, Dr. Merrill also made sure to do his own thorough examination of her.  Within a few minutes she was nursing like a champ.  Her blood sugar was very low (26. Normal is 55.) and they asked that I supplement a little formula at the same time and I agreed. They just placed  a little tube in her mouth along with the breast. Jen hugged and congratulated us and left us to attend another birth.
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I could not have asked for anything better than the birth that we had.  While this is not the birth story I wrote in my head night after night, it is the one I will tell year after year. Georgiana made a forceful entrance but has been mostly quiet ever since. She is nursing like a champ and sleeping even better. She sleeps almost 7 hours most nights already.  She is the light in everyone’s eyes and I’m afraid she’ll be spoiled beyond any hope of repair before too long.