Posts Tagged ‘things I hate’

Heavy Adulting

Monday, January 29th, 2018

So here is a thing people don’t tell you about being a grown-up: no one knows what they’re doing. I mean, maybe some people know what they’re doing in some scenarios. I hope my doctor knows what she’s doing when treating me for medical stuff. I hope my hairdresser knows what she’s doing when she cuts my hair. I hope my kids’ teachers know what they’re doing when they try to teach division. But every single day as a grown-up I am faced with things I have NO IDEA how to do or how to manage or how to pay for or how to handle and most of the people I encounter aren’t doing much better. I have a very distinct memory of sitting in a college French class, having literally NO IDEA what was happening because I had been faking my way through French for years, and thinking “Oh my God, I can’t wait until I’m done with school and things are easier.”

Let’s just take a moment to laugh at poor, naive, non-French speaking College Suzanne. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Here’s a current scenario. Lincoln’s annual blood test came back with elevated lead levels in August. Since I forgot to take him for the test last year, they couldn’t tell if it was going up or down. Finnegan’s levels also came back a little high. Because lead is considered a public health issue, their levels were reported to the health district and now it is a THING. A thing I have been worried about constantly since August.

The first woman I talked to told me the level wasn’t actually that high. But she wanted to come out at do an assessment. Two people came and I gave them a tour and showed them the house and told them about the bathroom renovation and how it took forever and the walls were all knocked out and it was so dusty and filthy for weeks. They both agreed the construction probably caused the high level and they didn’t seem concerned. Those people knew about lead but thought it shouldn’t be a big deal.

Then I got a call from someone else at the health department that wanted to do the testing the first set of people said I didn’t need. So sure, testing is fine, I’d love to know what I can do to stop the lead exposure. That woman was a nightmare – more than an hour late, unorganized, unfriendly and basically told me I was a bad person for letting the kids live here. So that was super fun. I spent days panicked over how we could afford to have all the trim in the entire house stripped and repainted while staying in a hotel so the kids weren’t exposed to more lead. Not to mention the fact that ALL the windows probably have lead and we just spent every penny of our renovation savings on fixing the bathroom and kitchen ceiling. That woman knew how to do testing but not how to keep her rude opinions to herself. Also she knew nothing about how to fix the problem.

Then I got another call from the first lady at health department. She suggested that I talk to the people at our town’s community development program because the town has grants available to help fix lead paint issues. I told her I had checked out their website and we didn’t qualify. She suggested the qualifications were more like guidelines than rules, so it might be worth talking to them. I talked to them. I filled out a ton of paperwork. I hauled the babies up and down the very steep stairs to their office to turn in reams of tax returns, bank statements and notarized forms. I’m still trying to get the last form filled out by my mortgage company. But after I dropped everything off, it was radio silence. That guy knew he could help but not how to make a phone call to tell me the status of my application. Also, he quit, so he isn’t the guy to talk to anymore.

Last Saturday I got a phone call from a very nice guy who said he needed 3-4 hours of my time to do a full lead inspection for the town. I was confused, because didn’t we just have a lead inspection? He assured me the one done by the health department is subpar and not what the town needs to write an abatement plan. Which they need, because apparently we’ve been approved for a grant to fix our lead issues. He didn’t know, exactly, because that part isn’t his job. His job was to come shoot his little lead paint tester gun at every painted surface in (and out) of my house. He was VERY good at that job. It turns out NONE of that trim has lead paint. None of my walls or radiator covers or doors or even my cool painted antique bedframe have lead. What does have lead is the outside of all our old, peeling, drafty windows, as well as the original paint on the porch and some on the basement stairs.

I am SO relieved. It’s too cold to play on the porch right now, the kids never go in the basement and the inside of the windows are ok. No one is being actively poisoned by lead. The nice inspector is going to write a report and come up with solutions for how to replace all 26 of our original windows and abate the lead on the porch and the basement stairs. He doesn’t know how, exactly, because he’s not a contractor. But he knows the people who can help.

And then, the day AFTER that inspection, I got a letter in the mail from the community development program saying we had been accepted into not just the lead hazard removal program but also a property improvement program. TWO grants to help fix the house. We’re going to be able to solve our lead problem without taking out a huge loan or selling everything we own.

I didn’t know the town even had a community development office. I didn’t know anyone was giving out money to replace old windows. I didn’t know this is something we could have done ages ago. I didn’t know because that’s not my job. But I also didn’t know who to ask for help, which is the frustrating part. There isn’t a class in college or high school or elementary school that teaches you how to just ADULT. Putting all the pieces of this (and, like, a dozen other problems I’ve had in the last month that are far above my normal paygrade) together is hard. Sitting on my couch watching Master Chef reruns and browsing Facebook is easy. I feel like that’s what being an adult boils down to most of the time – using all my energy to deal with life stuff and then waking up and doing it again the next day and the next day and the next day and as soon as I feel like I’ve actually crossed something off my list 5 new things get added. OMG it’s going to be like this forever now, isn’t it?

I’m not ready for that, so let’s just focus on how in the next few months I’m going to get new windows. Hopefully. Because until that happens I’m going to worry about it every day and never really get to enjoy anything. I know that much.

 

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I’m Totally Fine Except When I’m A Mess

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Ways in which I am totally, completely, 100% keeping it together:

  1. I’ve taken the trash and recycling out in time every week so far.
  2. I’m almost caught up on laundry and dishes (as much as it’s really possible to be with a house full of children to clothe and feed).
  3. I cleaned the bathroom floor on my hands and knees with a sponge.
  4. I scrubbed out the sink with lots of chemicals, so it’s nice and white.
  5. I dropped off the bin of clothes and the baby swing at the consignment shop.
  6. All the Halloween decorations are up!
  7. I made an important but unpleasant phone call, like a grown up does.
  8. I have a photo session scheduled for Saturday, complete with a contract, childcare, and a fun new location.
  9. I stopped eating a pint of ice cream every night and I’ve lost five pounds.
  10. All four children were washed with soap and water last night.

 

Ways in which I am completely, unquestionably, 100% falling apart:

  1. The dog has a broken nail and even though I keep cleaning it and wrapping it I’m pretty sure he’s going to need very expensive vet treatment.
  2. I have a huge stack of school papers I haven’t even read yet, half of which needed to be signed and sent back last week.
  3. I have a huge bruise from walking into a parking sign, a ripped toenail from tripping on the carpet, and a painful cut on my elbow that is of mysterious origin.
  4. Evan and Caroline are both now signed up for super expensive activities and I don’t actually know how I’m going to pay for it.
  5. I forgot to order groceries so the kids will be eating PB&J for dinner again.
  6. The light in the upstairs hallway burned out and I cannot figure out how to take the cover off to replace the bulb.
  7. The tires for the snow blower are at a tire shop somewhere. I haven’t figured out where or gone to get them.
  8. The lawn is a disaster.
  9. I haven’t drunk a single thing that didn’t contain caffeine in weeks.
  10. I spend far too much time fighting with jerks on the internet because I need somewhere to direct my frustration.
  11. Every bedroom in the house is a mess.
  12. I saw a mouse the other day but haven’t caught any mice in the mouse traps so there is still a mouse somewhere.
  13. I’ve planned to go for walks/get coffee/have playdates/get together with at least a dozen friends and not followed through or shown up for any of them.
  14. I forgot to meet the bus at the corner yesterday.
  15. The baby chewed through my computer cord, like he’s a rabid animal.

So right now the mess side is definitely winning. If I can hold it together until Sunday I can move some of my to-dos to the finished column and slowly, s l o w l y, slowly maybe shift the balance over so I don’t feel like I’m slipping into chaos. It’s going to mean saying no to some stuff I don’t want to say no to, being a little more patient with my children who cannot seem to remember simple things like “wash the shampoo out BEFORE turning off the shower”, and maybe drinking a bottle of water every once in a while.

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Expectations vs Life As We Know It

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

Ever since Caroline was born, I have dreamed of the day I get to give her an American Girl doll. If you were a little girl at any point in the 90’s, you probably understand (My husband completely does not understand. “Don’t be disappointed if she doesn’t love these dolls as much as you do,” he said to me. HAHA AS IF.) In those days, they were made by The Pleasant Company and were completely unlike any other toy I had ever seen. They were beautiful. They had the most amazing clothes. They all had tiny tea sets or picnic baskets or ice cream parlors. And everything cost one million dollars. Or at least it felt like it did.

When I was 7 or 8 my parents and grandparents teamed up to make my sister and I American Girl dolls. They bought blonde 18-inch baby dolls, purchased a few tiny accessories that couldn’t be easily replicated, and then hand-made everything else we needed for our own Kirstens. They did the braids. They made beds with tiny mattresses and quilts. And my grandmother sewed me a child-sized version of Kirsten’s pink checked dress because there was nothing in the world I wanted more than to be a Swedish pioneer girl, even if that meant my best friend might die of cholera. I still remember finding our boxes with the dolls under our Christmas tree.

Eventually, I got a “real” Samantha doll and several of her outfits. I treasured her until the day I accidentally pulled her leg off trying to get her into a pair of tights, then I gently put her away and thought “some day I’ll send her to the doll hospital”. I still have all of it, both the Kirsten and the Samantha and the clothes and accessories and the bed and the box. It’s been in Caroline’s closet for years. So I decided THIS year, when she turned 6, would be the year of the American Girl. I would stop hiding the catalogs when they came (because of course I get the catalog) and we would look through and talk about how pretty everything was. I would buy her a doll, then ask for my family to sponsor a gift card so we could go to the store and do some dream shopping. We could get tea and ice cream in the American Girl Cafe where your doll gets a special seat and her own cup and everything would be so pink and so sparkly and she would look back on this birthday as the best birthday of her childhood.

But I had a baby 3 months ago, who I can’t really leave for long enough to do a girl’s trip to Boston. So I needed to bring my baby with me. But I didn’t want a crying baby to disrupt our trip so I talked E into bringing everyone so he could watch the boys while Caroline and I did our special birthday stuff and then Finn would be close enough to nurse if he needed. In my head, it was a great plan.

In reality, it was a terrible plan because there was no plan. We left late. No one ate anything. We ended up with all of us standing in the middle of the American Girl store while Linc threw a tantrum, the hungry baby cried, Evan leaned against things because he was bored and I wondered how I could have even thought this was a good idea. Caroline picked out a couple things and we left. No tea, no magical mother-daughter time, no wandering around for an hour looking at every tiny detail for the dolls.

By the time we got home, I felt like I had genuinely ruined Caroline’s birthday. She would never look back on the day she got her first American Girl doll and think about how magical it was.

But the truth is 6-year-olds don’t internalize everything the way adults do. Caroline was so excited to play with her doll and to dress her up in all her new clothes she barely noticed how grumpy I was. So I pulled myself together and asked her if she wanted to run some errands with me, one-on-one. “Yes! A girl date! I love girl dates!” she said. We went to Target for diapers and toothpaste. We wandered around for an hour with our Starbucks (hot cocoa and a cake pop for her, the hugest peppermint mocha frapp ever for me), looking at Christmas decorations, checking out the stuff in the dollar spot, and picking up small presents she could give her brothers for Christmas. She brought her American Girl doll and they rode in the cart together, singing a made up song and telling every person who smiled at her that it was her birthday.

I have always struggled with keeping my expectations in the realm of reality and adjusting when things didn’t work out exactly as I had imagined. Going with the flow is not my specialty. Enjoying the moment if the moment isn’t the moment I had planned.

I’m working on it.

 

 

 

 

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Can You Ever Just Be Whelmed?

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

SHORT VERSION OF THIS INSANELY LONG POST: I did not accidentally have a baby while my husband is gone and our van is dead. Hopefully next week I will get a new minivan and a baby. 

Now that this week is 90% over, I no longer feel – both literally and figuratively – like I am drowning. Now it’s more like I’m treading water while holding half a pool noodle and also a baby. It’s been a really, really hot summer here in CT, sauna-levels of hot and humid, except you can’t just sit around wrapped in a tiny towel and the warning not to spend more than 20 minutes at a time in the heat can’t be followed because you can’t leave. In past years we’ve had a week or two of this weather, but not so many days in a row I lose the ability to leave my bedroom. Our house feels both way too big (how can I be expected to walk down a flight of stairs EVERY TIME I have to pee? why is there no way to air condition the open main living space?) and way too small (GET AWAY FROM ME CHILDREN) and I actually cannot wait to go to the hospital to give birth. Not because I like the hospital. I hate the hospital. Not even because I want to meet the baby. Obviously I do. But mostly because they have air conditioning AND a bathroom only 3 steps from the bed. HEAVEN.

Last week was a culmination of everything that could go wrong (besides actual baby-related stuff) all happening at once. It was hot (did I mention that yet?) and I had to drop Evan off at Seaport camp every morning with 2.9 other children in tow. There is not drop off line. You park across a busy street, take everyone in with you, sign one kid in, then have to convince everyone else to leave again when what they really want to do is play at the Seaport. Last year I had no problem staying. This year I felt like I was going to die just from crossing the street, so spending several hours walking around just wasn’t possible. I am literally unable to chase Linc if he runs away and he is deep in a running-away phase. Have I told you he also refuses to wear shoes? Because that’s also true. So no shoes, doesn’t listen, bolts at every chance AND at a waterfront location is just asking for trouble. What I’m saying is that week was already stressing me out.

Then our downstairs fridge stopped working. Good news: we hardly ever use that fridge. Bad news: we hardly ever use that fridge, so I have no idea what was in it or how horrific it currently is. Pretty horrific, I’m guessing. I can’t deal, so I’m waiting for E to get to it so he can deal. In the meantime, I’m just not opening the basement door.

Anyway, back to camp, sort of. On Thursday when I dropped Evan off, the oil light in the car kept turning on and off and on and off. Since we had the car serviced and the oil changed LITERALLY 9 DAYS AGO I planned to call the car place when we got home and ask them to take a look. But by the time we got home it had stopped happening and I figured it was a glitch, the way my airbag light and my tire pressure lights are always on (I’ve had them checked multiple times, there’s actually nothing wrong). On Friday, on the way to drop Evan off, it started happening again. This time I called E at work and asked him if he could call the car place and make sure I could drive straight there after drop off because maaaaaaaybe this was an actual problem. But how could it be? We JUST changed the oil. Surely they would have noticed a major issue. He called, they made an appointment and told me to bring it in. After I hustled the children back to the car, I decided to take the fast way – the interstate – back to town instead of the back way – country roads – because I wanted to get there as soon as possible.

I’d been on the highway less than 3 minutes before I realized my car wasn’t accelerating. It was barely running. I pulled onto the shoulder and burst into tears because I KNEW how screwed I was. The engine wouldn’t turn over. I was stuck on I-95 with 2.9 children.

Luckily, E was still in his building and not unreachable (he is very often unreachable at work) and someone found him and he came to rescue us. Or at least he came to provide a car with air conditioning that worked to sit in while we waiting for AAA to come. And waited. And waited. And waiting. Eventually the state patrol truck came to check on us and suggested we put oil in the van. A while after that I called AAA back and they couldn’t find a record of my call (of course) so they put in the request again (of course) and then I got a text saying my request had been canceled (of course). So when the van started, we decided I would put the kids in E’s car, he would drive the van, and we would try to get to the car place. We made it to within 5 miles of the car place before the van died again, for real. So dead. RIP Minivan. We used the car to push it off the road into a parking lot where we could wait for AAA. AGAIN. This time, they managed to actually put my request through and we got updates from the tow truck so we knew we had time to run home, let Caroline pee, grab lunch and go back to the parking lot to wait some more. After we got the van to the car place and the kids home (Evan was still at camp) we both made calls to reschedule the rest of our day.

Later, the car place called to confirm that our van was in fact a giant blue brick and replacing the seized engine was going to cost twice what the van was worth. It turns out there was a huge hole in the oil pan. I’m still not exactly sure how an oil pan that was looked at NINE DAYS AGO can have a huge hole in it, but they assured us it wasn’t their fault. I don’t have the energy to argue, especially because I am SURE the only way they would agree it was their fault was in small claims court and I can’t prove anything. I mean, Judge Judy would TOTALLY be on my side, but I don’t know about real life judges.

So after we took a break from that disaster to go see the show at Foxwoods on Friday night, we spent Saturday looking at new vans. It was horrible, because car shopping is horrible and children are horrible. Plus it was a million degrees and most car dealer lots are already as hot as balls, so when it’s even more hot than usual standing around looking at cars is almost unbearable. And there’s no good way to test drive anything when it means moving over 3 car seats every time. We did not buy a van. Our current car is a Ford Fusion, which means yes, we do all fit in it well enough to drive around to dealerships, but NO, we are not going to fit as soon as I have this baby. We have to have a new vehicle. We definitely want another minivan. It shouldn’t be THAT hard to buy something. But we failed on Saturday.

But why didn’t you just buy a car on Sunday? you ask, like a normal person. Oh, right, because my husband left for a week on Sunday morning. Because who doesn’t schedule work travel when their wife is 38-39 weeks pregnant? SEEMS LIKE A GREAT TIME TO BE HALF WAY AROUND THE WORLD. (It’s not his fault, just add it to the list of ways the Navy DGAF.) On the one hand, it means I can use his car this week while we browse internet listings for a van. On the other hand, if he was here we could just buy a van. Putting 3 kids across the back of a mid-size sedan is awful, especially because we still have Linc rear-facing aka perfect head-kicking height for his brother. Plus there’s not room for things like “the groceries a family of soon-to-be-six actually needs to feed themselves for more than two days”. It’s stupid. Everything is stupid. I just want a car that works.

Also, we have a fruit fly invasion, the garage door isn’t working, the a/c is about to die from overuse, the shower drain is all backed up, the shelf over the washer and dryer collapsed, the dog won’t stop eating used diapers, Linc has a rash, I’m pretty sure I have a mild kidney infection again, my heartburn is unbearable, the kids are ALL sleeping in my room, my pelvis feels like it’s going to split apart and I am still pregnant. Plus last night I realized I have done NOTHING to get ready to have a baby. I didn’t buy a new Boppy – the only thing I was actually going to buy – I didn’t find the bin that has the baby clothes, I don’t have any diapers, I haven’t even begun to pack a hospital bag. I am an actual disaster who probably should not be adding another child to her life but IT’S TOO LATE NOW.

I keep trying to focus on all the ways I am very, very lucky. We can (mostly) afford to replace the van. It’s not ideal, but it won’t be impossible. The day the van died, E was here and reachable and able to take over 90% of Dealing With It because I didn’t feel at all capable. No one got hurt. We do have a space in our house with a/c and we aren’t suffering from heat stroke. I’ve been able to put almost everything on pause and just keep the kids ALIVE this week while waiting for E to get back. I didn’t go into labor with no back-up plan while he was gone. In a week my mom will be here and she can help with finding the bin of baby clothes and making sure the kids eat something besides carrot sticks and popsicles while I lie down not handling things. And soon I will have a nice, new, clean, van with FOUR car seats installed so I can have this baby without also having a panic attack. I’ve gone from completely overwhelmed to at least capable of talking about it without crying in the course of a week. I feel like that’s about all I can ask for right now. My goal for today is the hospital bag, finding the rock-n-play, putting away enough laundry I can see the nursing chair and once again, keeping my children alive. Tomorrow, van shopping. Then I can be just plain whelmed.

p.s. Still no name for this baby.

p.p.s. God bless the lake for keeping me from completely losing my shit this week, so please enjoy these lake photos.

lake life august 2016

lake life august 2016-3

lake life august 2016-5

lake life august 2016-7

lake life august 2016-11

lake life august 2016-16

lake life august 2016-18

lake life august 2016-21

lake life august 2016-22

lake life august 2016-25

lake life august 2016-27

lake life august 2016-29

lake life august 2016-32

lake life august 2016-33

p.p.p.s. My new updated WordPress says the readability on this post “needs improvement”. CAN YOU NOT, WORDPRESS?

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Parenting in Public Is About 75% Nodding And Smiling

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

When you are in a public or semi-public space with your child/ren, people are going to talk to you about those children. And when strangers talk to you in public, they have a tendency to say some really stupid things. Try to remember that 99.99999% of the time they are just talking to you because you are there and their mouths are capable of forming words. I am an expert at having people talk to me because I haven’t yet learned the art of making absolutely no eye contact. Also, my children like strangers (I’m pretty sure they were switched at birth. All of them. Individually.)  So when Grandma Grabbyhands starts petting Caroline’s hair, instead of screaming “STOP TOUCHING ME STRANGE LADY”, Caroline insists on chatting about how she’s four and a half and loves horses and goes to school and one time on the bus her friend Michael threw up right on the floor.

Here is a brief list of things strangers might say to you in public that make you do the slow double blink. Remember, none of these things are personal. They would probably say them to a brick wall if the wall appeared to be listening:

  • Calling your boy a girl or your girl a boy. Your beautiful little girl could be wearing a pink, sparkled, ruffled gown with high heels and full make-up, her long curly hair braided and tied in bows and holding a giant flashing sign that says “I AM A GIRL”…and some lady at the grocery store is still going to say “He’s so sweet, what’s his name?” I promise this is not what is going to send your kids to therapy, so just smile a nod and say “Matilda Jane”. Then you can laugh and point as she struggles to comprehend why you would name your son Matilda. Or maybe don’t laugh and point, just stick with the smiling and nodding.
  • Saying “Wow, you sure have your hands full!” You probably, literally, do not. Most parents I know cannot parent without at least one free hand so we have found a whole list of ways to keep them available: babywearing, carts, strollers, leashes, whatever. This is just stranger-talk for “I see you have some small children in your vicinity”. Non-responses to this comment include: “Yep, children are a blessing”, “I sure do!”, “Really, it’s not so bad” or the perennial favorite: JAZZ HANDS while you nod and smile.
  • Making completely arbitrary comments over your child’s physical attributes that are probably wrong. Someone looks at your child who is in the 3rd percentile for height and says “She’s so tall!” Or they see your 99th percentile in the grocery store and say “What a little peanut!”. These are just words people are saying because they want to make a comment. They might as well  say “She is wearing blue!” or “Your baby has feet!” Unless you are at a medical doctor during a medical doctor appointment and it’s the medical doctor who looks at your very small child and says “What a chub!”, do not react. Nod and smile.
  • Asking you if the baby is sleeping through the night. THIS IS A TRICK QUESTION. They do not care if your baby is sleeping through the night. What they want to do is tell you about their baby or their cousin’s baby or their hairdresser’s nephew’s mailman’s baby who either a) started sleeping through the night at 4 days old, b) still doesn’t sleep through the night at 10 years old, or c) refused to take this stranger’s advice and now their baby is broken. Do not waste your time forming a truthful and accurate answer. They are not listening. Just said “Mostly!” and then nod and smile during what is sure to be a fascinating story.
  • Giving you ridiculous or outdated advice. Again, unless it’s your pediatrician telling you a little Jack Daniels is the perfect cure for teething pain, nod and then smile and then nod some more to disguise the fact that your eyeballs just rolled out of your head. (If it is your pediatrician, may I gently suggest you look for a new one?) These people will insist that they raised children who have survived to adulthood, which means you should do everything they did or your children will diiiiiiiie.

via GIPHY

I know it can be really really hard to simply nod and smile all the time. When the people doing these things are inescapable – because you are trapped next to them on a bus or because you live with them – it is incredibly frustrating. But I promise you, 90% of the time they are not being malicious, they are just talking because at some point human beings evolved the ability to speak and they are afraid if they don’t use that ability as much as possible they will lose it.

Nod and smile. Nod and smile.

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