Posts Tagged ‘things I hate’

Slightly Christmasy

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

We have a family tradition of getting our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. It was something my family did, it was something E’s family did, and it’s something we’ve done throughout our marriage. This year Thanksgiving was late, and also fell in the middle of shift work for E, so he didn’t get the day off. Or the day after. I was a little bummed, but we planned to just get the tree in a few days when E could get a few hours off of work.

That never happened. He literally hasn’t had any time off – besides a few hours to sleep most (not even all) nights – since mid-November. If it was at any other job besides the military, his hours would probably be illegal. I know I’ve complained about how much he works before (probably a lot) but I’ve reached a point where I’m not sure how I’M going to get through it.

Right now the only thing I’m getting by on is making sure the kids are still enjoying Christmas. They are so excited about every single part of the holidays that it’s pretty easy for me to let myself get wrapped up in it too, although the fact that we’re missing 1/4th of our family is always in the back of my mind. My mom sent the kids an advent calendar and GOD FORBID I don’t remember to get it down so they can open the day’s door first thing in the morning. And amazingly, they’re keeping track of whose turn it is and remember better than I do. It’s teaching them sharing! And fairness! And that if you touch something covered in glitter it will stick on your body basically forever! Those are all very important lessons.

My biggest accomplishment so far is that I took both kids to the tree farm on a weekend (SO CROWDED) and we chopped down a tree. I CUT IT DOWN MY OWN SELF. WITH A SAW. I did a hack job and a nice guy with his own family came over and steadied it while I was sawing so it didn’t fall over and crush me, but besides that I did it alone. Luckily the farm picks up the cut trees and carts them down to the station where they shake them and wrap them up for you, but then I hauled it to the car, into the car (God bless minivans) and home into the house. I totally failed at getting it into the stand but E got it set up the next morning and now we have a fully decorated tree. We had to rearrange because my little desk/office corner went in the former Christmas tree spot, but now we can sit on our new little couch, enjoy the fire and look at the tree at the same time. Tomorrow the kids get to start opening their Christmas books (I was going to do one for each day of December but books are really expensive, yo) and we can sit on that new couch by the tree and I can read to them about the Christmas story while I sob quietly because magic and family and loneliness and children and Jesus and FEELINGS. It’s raising my level of holiday spirit from Grinch to Slightly Christmasy, which is a definite improvement.

I haven’t had much time for my own photos lately, which makes me kind of sad. Partly because once something is part of your job it loses a LITTLE bit of the fun and partly because it’s hard to juggle the kids in public and take photos. It’s pretty easy to lose one kid while you’re taking pictures of the other one, and I’m generally only seconds away from losing a kid even WITHOUT a camera in my face. It’s amazing I’ve kept them alive this long, honestly. But this might be the first Christmas they remember when they look back as adults and I want to make sure I have at least some pictures to show them, so here are a few.

christmas 2013

Evan’s first choice, but I told him it was too short.

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Caroline’s first choice, also on the small side.

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Final selection

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After we killed it.

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Watching them wrap it with the cool wrapping machine

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The farm had all our favorite food trucks, including the delicious kettle corn people from the farmer’s market.

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The princess places the angel

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Yes, I know it’s out of focus

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Fun with bokeh cut-outs

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Friday, October 25th, 2013

Is it possible I could be nesting even though I’m not pregnant? Maybe it’s less nesting and more getting ready for winter hibernation. I’ve been living on a steady diet of HGTV while I edit photos, and nothing makes me hate my own (pretty nice) house than watching people turn their horrible basements into super useful space. Why can’t someone do that to MY basement?! It’s disgusting! The before and afters would be amazing!

The current first floor makeover started when E moved our cheap, old, Walmart desk downstairs so I could carve out an “office” corner for my business stuff. Need a lamp for one ugly desk was the gateway drug to a Target trip, which lead to a HomeGoods trip, which lead to an Ikea catalog with half the pages marked and a Pinterest board full of links to more furniture than I could ever fit in my house.

Last weekend I went shopping alone to “just look” for a little tiny couch to put in the living room. I didn’t end up finding the couch of my dreams, but that didn’t stop me from dragging the rest of my family out at 7 pm to look at the couch I DID find. It’s probably for the best I couldn’t find the one I wanted – I’m not sure a white tufted fabric couch is the right thing for a room that is currently full of surfaces the children are allowed to write on. The tan microfiber that was delivered yesterday will DEFINITELY survive more Play-Doh mishaps.

Part of the deal when E agreed to come look at “my” couch was we would also look for “his” new couch, which was basically the total opposite of that white one I had in mind. Think of the ugliest, most ridiculous man-couch you can. Now make it a) bigger b) uglier and c) add more cup holders. THAT is the couch he wanted. If a dozen cows didn’t have to die to cover his own personal reclining seat with built in beer fridge, he was NO INTERESTED.

Fortunately, our budget couldn’t support that couch, so it is NOT what I am sitting on while I write this. Unfortunately, the store’s huge sale item that weekend was a big, squishy sectional complete with cup holders and power recliners at each end, so that IS what I am sitting on. I’m not going to lie…it’s pretty comfortable. And this cup holder is very convenient for my Diet Coke. And it’s nice that it takes up basically the ENTIRE ROOM so we had to move most of the toys upstairs and I have most of my house back. The kids are both old enough that I can send them upstairs to play without me and I only have to occasionally shout at them to stop hitting each other. It’s pretty amazing to go from having 3 seats in this room to at least 7…and that’s not counting MY couch in front of the fireplace. A couch in front of the fireplace! For sitting on while drinking mulled wine and eating sparkling brie bites and having adult conversation without the TV on!

That will probably happen once. Right after we put the Christmas tree up. Then someone will say “We should watch Love Actually!” and we’ll move back to the giant ugly couch and that will be that. But when we have people over, there will be SO MANY PLACES TO SIT DOWN!

I realize I just wrote 500 words about two couches and I’ve posted no pictures, but that’s because I’m not done with the rearranging and redecorating. Plus I haven’t finished cleaning the old couch to put on Craigslist, so we actually have THREE couches in two small-ish rooms. I’ll be sure to do an underwhelming reveal if I ever get this part of the house set up the way I want – but I sort of suspect we’ll get busy and never actually sell the old couch or move this bookcase that’s basically blocking a doorway or buy a coffee table or patch the holes in the walls. So for now, just IMAGINE I live in a Pinterest-looking classy yet casual house. That’s what I’m doing.

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Life Lessons And Other Skills I Do Not Have

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

This past week has really testing my parenting skills. I don’t mean in a “care and feeding and keeping them mostly alive” way – that I can handle. I mean in a “Mommy, who is God?” kind of way. Those question make an alarm go off in my head that blares: WARNING WARNING! Code red question alert, run away or distract with candy immediately! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised this stuff is starting to come up, since 4 1/2 and almost 3 are ages known for ALL THE QUESTIONS but it doesn’t change the fact that in the moment I freeze up and I never know what to say.

The first one was at the park last weekend, while I was taking pictures and Evan was supposed to be helping but wanted to pout instead. Evan is an expert flouncer – he would win the gold, silver and bronze flounce medals in flouncing and the Flounce Olympics – and was trying to flounce himself away from me…right into the graveyard at Fort Shantok, which is part of the Mohegan tribe’s sacred burial lands. NOT A GOOD SPOT FOR FLOUNCING. (For the record, the graveyard is 100 feet from a playground and a baseball field, it’s not like we climbed a fence to go tromping through it on purpose.) I hissed at him not to go in there but he kept inching further away from me until I said “That is a GRAVEYARD. Stay OUT.”

Stupid, stupid Suzanne. Of course then he wanted to know what a graveyard was and WHY do they put dead people there and are there STILL dead people there and what HAPPENS to dead people once they’re in the ground and does that mean HE is going to turn into dirt TOO???

I managed not to mention zombies.  HIGH FIVES.

We both survived, and I think I’m the only one of us who’s still concerned about it, so it wasn’t the worst conversation ever. But it certainly wasn’t a shining moment in using my words.

The second one, which is way harder, is Evan’s bus situation. His best friend since before he was even capable of having friends is on his going-home bus, but there have been some problems with teasing. The good news is Evan isn’t the ringleader and after I found out he was involved we had a good talk and he apologized now he knows he’s supposed to tell people “Those are not kind words, be nice to my friends!” The bad news is four year olds forget stuff and some parents are more involved and some are less involved and when the only adult there is a bus driver whose job it is to DRIVE the bus it’s easy for someone to get their feelings hurt.

In an attempt to separate the troublemakers, Evan ended up with an assigned seat next to a kid he doesn’t know. The bus driver – who is very nice – told me Evan was upset the first assigned-seat day, so I asked him why he couldn’t be friends with the girl he was sitting with. He said,”I don’t want to sit with her, she has yucky boo boos on her face!”

My brain said: “Aaaaaaagh alert alert, your child is a jerk! Fix it! Fix it now!!!”

My mouth said: “Evan! That is not OK! You be nice! To everyone! Even people with…who…different! Everyone is different! We are friends with everyone even different people!”

“OK Mommy,” said Evan.

I composed myself and we talked about it again later. I must not have done too badly, since the next day he told me he sat with (that same girl) and they were new best friends and the bus driver reports that he’s been good. It’s only a 15 minute bus ride, I don’t want it to be the most stressful part of his whole life. It’s crazy to me 4 year olds even know HOW to be mean to each other on the bus – at home the meanest thing Evan ever does to his sister is not share toys. He wouldn’t have any idea how to hurt her with just words and it scares me that pretty soon he probably will. I’m going to need to read a book or watch a YouTube channel or get in touch with Mr. Roger’s ghost somehow to help me navigate this life lesson stuff.

Can we just go back to babies that never sleep and when to introduce finger foods? That seems less likely to cause permanent damage.

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This Post Was Supposed To Be Happier

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Last week, I was pregnant. It didn’t stick, which I feel I need to mention right away so no one jumps to congratulate me only to feel bad about it later. I’m not pregnant now. I was pregnant, now I am not.

I had such a great reveal story, too. We’ve been trying for a long time now, almost a year, and after another month of negative tests at the end of August I decided to just give up until October. October marked 12 months of no babies, so my doctors would finally talk to me about fertility testing. With E’s crazy work hours the chance of getting pregnant without charting and calendars and schedules were almost zero…but that didn’t stop me from bringing a couple cheap pregnant tests to Atlanta just in case I was late. Even though I wasn’t trying my brain has been automatically keeping track of the days and….maybe…?

On Sunday morning, just before breakfast at the Type-A conference, I peed on a stick. I stared at it for 30 seconds but only got one line. Of course I only got one line. I’m doomed to only get one line forever. I set it on the counter and left. When my roommate Miranda and I came back up to the room a while later I picked it up to throw it away (because ew, what was I thinking?!)…and there was a second line. TWO LINES. I screamed “Miranda!!!” and threw the door open and she was standing there smiling at me.

“I know!” she said. “I saw!”

“But there was one line! There was only one line this morning!” I said.

“Right before we went downstairs, I saw it and though ‘Hey, that an HCG test, not an ovulation test’! I didn’t want to say anything!” Miranda said.

“Aaaaahhhhhh! You saw! You didn’t tell me! Oh my god! Two lines! But we gave up – I’ve been trying for so long, we gave up!” I rambled and laughed and cried and she hugged me and I was so so happy.

My roommate knew I was pregnant before I did. I called E and informed him he was actually the THIRD person to find out, but not to feel bad since I was the second.

Isn’t that a cute story? My own mini 2-hour version of I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant. I couldn’t stop myself from telling a few friends (and a few strangers) right away, but promised myself I’d wait a respectable amount of time to announce it officially, since the books tell you to wait. Now I know why people wait.

On Monday I got another positive at home, with a fancy digital test. I took a picture of it, just to prove to myself it was real. On Thursday morning I wasn’t feeling particularly pregnant – which is pretty normal, it happened with both of the kids – so I peed on another stick to reassure myself.

One line.

I tried the digital test. Not pregnant. I started to worry, but with no symptoms one way or another I couldn’t do anything. I called the doctor to ask if they could confirm, but the office on base won’t even test you until 2 weeks after your period is due, so I had another 8 days before I could go in. I asked Dr. Google, I asked my Facebook chat friends, but no one had a magic crystal ball that could tell me anything. So I waited and crossed all my crossables and prayed and wished and tried to lie as still as possible, as if just NOT MOVING could make this pregnancy stick.

It didn’t work. It unstuck, and now I am back where I was at the end of August, with one line on the test. I don’t feel like I lost a baby – at not even 5 weeks I think it’s only considered a chemical pregnancy and I didn’t have enough time to absorb the news, let alone get attached. It wasn’t a baby, it was the promise of a baby. Or may the suggestion of a baby, since no one is promised anything, especially by their own bodies. I didn’t pin any pregnancy reveal ideas or make any lists or imagine nursery themes or browse Etsy for cute hats or think of clever ways to put it on the blog. There wasn’t any time. I haven’t lost a pregnancy before, and I’m not exactly sure how I’m supposed to feel, but it’s mostly just kind of disappointed. I was really looking forward to being pregnant. Those 4 positive days have thrown my hormones and emotions totally out of whack though. All I really want is a couple of hours of alone time to lie in bed and feel sorry for myself and eat a pint of ice cream, but I haven’t had the chance. E is stuck at work close to 100 hours a week – that’s not a typo or an exaggeration – so he barely even knows what’s happening and can’t be here to talk or help or keep things together. He’s under so much stress already dumping all of this on him seems completely unfair.

And as if that disappointment wasn’t enough, I have a slightly horrifying, extremely personal medical thing that flared up again the second I got a positive test and by Saturday was almost unbearable. I’ll spare you the details but it involves a scalpel and stitches in a very sensitive (not thoroughly numbed) area and possibly major surgery in a few weeks, which I don’t know how I’m going to schedule since E can’t even get out of work to watch the kids for my urgent appointment, let alone something that’s not considered an emergency. Throw in the government shutdown and the threat we might not get paid (and the reality that the reenlistment bonus installment E gets each October is nowhere to be found) and I’m sort of stressed out. All of THAT on top of the non-pregnancy means I feel like everything sucks right now. I wish I’d never taken that test. I never would have known and the status quo of no baby never would have changed.

It’s all just…shitty. It’s shitty. I feel shitty.

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Monday, July 22nd, 2013

This post was going to be full of sidebars and parentheticals, so I’ll try to sum them up with a general disclaimer: like I’ve said to many people and had quoted back to me by astute readers – one person’s hard does not invalidate someone else’s hard. I am not saying “Woe is me! Pity me! This is the WORST EVER!” I am saying “These are my feelings and maybe you have some feelings and we can talk about our feelings and maybe braid each others hair if you want or you can call me a spoiled douchecanoe if you want and either way I will understand.” Because, feelings.

dining room

I have been on a cleaning tear (Tear might be too strong a word. More like a cleaning small rip in the corner of a page) for a couple of weeks. My housekeeping skills are not great and in general everyone is fine with that situation. The children certainly don’t care. But things reached a point where I didn’t even want to open the door for the pizza guy. Every time I would look at the pile of mail by the door or the pile of school papers on the piano or the pile of birthday decorations on the table I would freeze. Where to START? What’s the POINT? Why should I even BOTHER?

When one thing in your life feels hopeless and out of control, it’s easy for that to reflect into other things, and in this case the mirror was clearly my house. The thing being reflected is bigger than a few stacks of paper though. I’ve been off birth control and hoping for a baby for 9 months now without success, even though it feels like everyone around me is getting pregnant and having babies. Tons of babies. Babies everywhere. You get a baby and you get a baby and YOU get THREE BABIES! (True story, a friend from high school is having spontaneous triplets.)

There’s a whole online world of trying-to-conceive message boards and secondary (tertiary?) infertility boards where people talk about this stuff, but because I never had any trouble the first two times I’m mostly unfamiliar with them. To be totally honest, until I started talking privately with some of my friends about how I’m struggling, I had no idea how much planning COULD even go into getting pregnant. Ovulation sticks and fertility apps and trying disgusting information involving mucus became things I Googled on a regular basis. The biggest surprise was how many people casually mentioned “Oh yeah, I used those OPK sticks to have my daughter”. I think a lot of people err on the side of privacy when it comes to their baby-making-attempts (because, yeah, no one wants to know ALL THAT and no one owes the internet their medical history) but it gives the impression if it takes more than 5 minutes you’re sort of a weirdo. A “Surprise! Pregnant!”-baby (which I am totally guilty of) is more blogable than endless “Not pregnant! Again!” posts, so someonr announcing it when it happens means you don’t really know what people have gone through. I’m a tiny bit concerned that the IUD I had after Caroline was born caused some sort of terrifying, permanent problem (Dr. Google totally agrees) but before we’ve been trying a year no real medical professionals (Dr. Google obviously got his degree online) want to talk to us.

I realize 9 months isn’t that long to be trying, but when your friends who said “Yes! We’re trying too!” back in November are actually giving birth to their babies it feels like forever. I also realize I have two beautiful children so complaining about not having a baby is going to sound selfish and disgusting to some people. But two was never our plan and close together is so much fun, I liked the idea of adding more sooner rather than later. I guess that “Man plans, God laughs” adage is pretty apt, although I if anyone embroiders that on a pillow for me I’ll punch them in the face.

So instead of thinking about my sad, empty uterus constantly I’ve been cleaning. CLEAN ALL THE THINGS. It’s part super-premature nesting, part feng shui and part at-least-this-is-a-problem-I-CAN-solve, but it’s helping. Sort of.

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Yes, it’s definitely helping. Just looking at that room and knowing all the birthday decorations (from APRIL, good God woman, you’re so lazy) are put away makes me feel better.

I’ve got the guest room and the kids’ rooms to tackle next, including a couple of terrifying closets I haven’t fully opened in years. I even wrote a garage sale on our calendar and I’ll be running in and out of the house throwing stuff in the yard all day. Maybe space – a space, lots of space, many spaces – will leave room for more good things to come in. It’s better to think about it as space than as emptiness. I’m tired of empty.

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