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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Solitude, Allergies, and Making It Work


“To make the right choices in life, you have to get in touch with your soul. To do this, you need to experience solitude, which most people are afraid of, because in the silence you hear the truth and know the solutions.”

Alright, I don’t know who said that but it feels true to me.

Ugh, solitude. I both crave and abhor it. (Abhor - what a cool word. AbHOR!)

Luckily for me with two babies around I don’t have to endure solitude often. 

I’ve had a weird last few months with them. They’ve been sick since June with what the doctor is now saying is allergies. So I’ve got them full of allergy medicine and they are slowly getting back on track. We’ve been having these endless cycles of what I thought were colds, I’d give them allergy meds (because you can’t give cold meds to kids for some reason) and they’d start to bounce back and I’d stop (because I hate taking drugs or giving them to the kids long term) and they’d get ‘sick’ again followed by steadily worsening symptoms until one or both would get an ear infection and we’d be back on antibiotics and the allergy meds again.

Exhausting much? Anyone who’s ever stayed at home to take care of babies knows the unique strain caring for sick kids gives. Toddlers aren’t the happiest little dudes in the base case. Add a head full of gunk and a sore throat and cough and they are chucking their cheerios at your face (while screaming like a maniac) and throwing the dog around the living room by the tail. 

It ain’t pretty.

So. Allergies. 

Claritin until November, apparently. As a pretty crunchy (hippy) chickie-poo this does not sit well with me at all.

After a poll on facebook I’ve been basically told to keep doing what I’m doing with the Vicks, Eucalyptus and Camphor oils, and to add Elderberry gummies. I knew about Elderberry, taken during a cold to help shorten the duration and lessen the severity but I didn’t know it was good for allergies.

I am willing to give it a try. Anything is better than being on allergy meds for two months.

The whole time I’m like BUT I BREASTFED! Argggg. I breastfed those little buggers for almost a year for Ellie and a year and a half for Benji. They’re not supposed to get allergies or skin issues. They’re not supposed to have mood swings and tummy issues.

They’re supposed to be shiny and golden with good health oozing from their pores and…and…just glowey with the awesomeness of my sacrifice.

I digress. The only thing shiny and golden these days are the McDonalds french fries we eat in the van on the way to or from one thing or the other.

So if you’ve got solitude…get in touch with your soul. Or binge-watch Ozark I don’t know, whatever makes you happy.

If you’re like me and you don’t even have solitude to potty, well, hang in there. Or don’t. Carve out some time ala Kiki in the ‘Bad Mom’s’ movie:

“And I said I’m going to the PTA meeting with my friends so stop being such a (blank, blank) and make it work!”

And have an Elderberry gummy while you’re at it. It may not help your mood but the sugar and the chewing will make you feel better.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

I Know What's Best For Me.


 “I don’t just want to live the length of my life. I want to live the depth and breadth of it as well.” Diane Ackerman

“Singleness of purpose is one of the chief essentials for success in life, no matter what may be one’s aim.” John D. Rockefeller

These two quotes are often running around in my head. Yes I realize they are contradictory. At least, I think they are. 

What I want more than almost anything is to be financially independent and secure. Boom. I said it. Whew. Why was that so hard to admit? Because I’m a woman? Because I’m trying to be a ‘nice’ girl and nice girls don’t want that kind of personal freedom and independence?

What I want above everything is a life where I can feel joy and peace and feel safe and where my children, all of them, feel that too. Where I seek knowledge and happiness wherever I find it and I ask questions until I find the origins.
In my mind the two ultimate goals, the two goals underlying everything I do, the two goals I feel are seeking different experiences and are fighting each other for dominance.

One goal, if fulfilled, is a life where I chase every curiosity, where I find every smallest thread of happy and peace and I follow them wildly, joyfully to their source, no matter the cost, no matter the impracticality of what I will learn or experience, and no matter the risk. 

No matter what other people think of me.

Worst end result scenario? Rich in wisdom and knowledge but poor. Sitting in a dark room in a sparse place devoid of beauty and with only the memory of beauty in my mind to sustain me in the cold final days of my life. Bleak much?

Another is where I narrow down my passions and focus on one. I am practical and reserved. I am disciplined and wise. I seek to be excellent at this one thing. 

I pick one. Yoga. Writing. Career in Corporate America.

So excellent money will follow. Not millions, but enough to know I will feel ‘safe’. And that I can extend that safety to my children. My end days are spent in warmth and comfort physically, but my heart is snagged on ‘what-if’s and the kind of soul-insecurity that only comes to you at the end, when you know it’s you and death alone. What might have made this life fuller? More magical and sacred? Did I exchange spiritual solace for fleeting physical security?

I think my biggest problem is I’ve faced death at a really young age. I was 16 when I finally came to terms with the weird fact that my life would someday end. And as things were going at the time, sooner rather than later. 

It kind of crunched me, burned me up inside until all that was left was curiosity, and a serious annoyance for superficial. I don’t got time for BS. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a total pushover. I’d rather shove a toothpick in my eyeball than hurt someone’s feelings even accidentally. But my tolerance for BS is decidedly low. Hopefully especially low for my own BS.

This blog today has done what I was hoping against hope it would do. It has clarified what I really want from the chaff of what I should want.

I want to live my life widely, deeply. I want to be curious about what I’m curious about, I want to know me, I want to connect with the divine honestly.

No one knows what the end will be or when. All we know is here, now. And here, now, I want to live as if I’m the only one who knows what’s best for me. Because I am.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Facing Your Fears In Your Neighborhood


The secret to a long, happy life.

Here it is. Are you ready? 

Face your fears.

In every situation I have ever encountered in my entire almost 40 years on this planet - I have ALWAYS felt better when I faced my fears. And I always felt worse when I didn’t.

What brought on this life-lesson buried deep in my subconscious?

GRE math and a new Daniel Tiger show.

We’ll get back to the GRE.

First, Daniel Tiger. A NEW Daniel tiger came on today. A new neighbor moving into Daniel’s neighborhood. 

Cue hysterics from my four year old, Ellie. Tears. Screaming in terror. Hiding of eyes. Wailing and gnashing of teeth. You get the picture. ‘I don’t want to watch the new one! I don’t like it I don’t like it!’

I don’t pretend to be all wise and all knowing. But in this case, it was clear she was terrified of her favorite show changing. Changing in a way she might not like, or will be afraid of. New neighbors were scary things when it happens to your favorite warm, cozy, unchanging TV show. It would be like finding out Scrooge had a wife. It’s like…no, that’s not right. Who’s messing around with my favorite Christmas movie?

Except magnified times a hundred. So I have two choices as a mom. Cave to the fear, turn it off, and continue on our day, or endure the hysterics trying to make room for her natural resiliency to shine through.

Maybe it was the whole wheat Wheaties I had for breakfast. Maybe it was the Kombucha in my Green tea this morning. For whatever reason, I decided not to take the easy way out. I decided this random Tuesday morning in the middle of September was a good time to instill some of my hard earned wisdom into her tiny heart.

I left the show on.

Ba ba baaaaaa.

I held her, I rocked her, I brought her to her room when I had to deal with Benji. But i left the show on. And at some point I went into her room and gave her a big hug and told her the secret to a happy life. 

I didn’t pressure her, or force her to watch, but I didn’t turn it off either. I let her come out on her own. And she did. And the next time that show comes on, it won’t be a melt-down of fear and anxiety, because she’s already dealt with it.

Face your fears. 

You’ll feel better. Every time. I promise. 

And if it doesn’t feel better immediately, (I’m thinking finally going in for that test you’d been dreading and it’s bad news) or the niggling feeling your partner hasn’t been faithful that you finally confront. These kinds of adult fears may take a little longer to feel better after you face them but you will. And you’ll be stronger.

I’m not a perfect parent. I am not a saint. I’ve got my own issues for sure. But Ellie will know that fear is an enemy to confront and beat down, and that results in a life any one would be proud to live, no matter what happens.

Oh, and I passed the GRE yesterday, with points to spare. Sure glad I faced my fear of math. Just sayin’. We don’t know what we’re capable of unless we just put our heads down and do it already.

“One of the greatest discoveries a man (or woman!) makes, one of our greatest surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid to do.” Henry Ford.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

The Blog In Point Form, Hemingway Shemingway and a Poem About Babies In Your House



For the first time ever: I bring you…

The Blog In Point Form. 

Why? I will tell you why.

* I’m finally admitting the Hemingway philosophy of writing is correct. Less is more. Words are punchy when they’re sparingly, ruthlessly pared down to the essence of the thought. No frills. No flowery sentiment. Just the facts.

That doesn’t sound like me does it?

Let me try again. 

*I. Am. Exhausted.*

*Ellie’s got a mystery illness that began with me following her around with a puke bucket and a cold washcloth for her raging fever on Friday. Two clinic visits totaling 5 hours. Advil and Tylenol around the clock. The sour smell of fever and sweat and germ overload. An ear infection to boot. Pharmacy’s closed on Sunday nights.

*My own lingering cough burning a hole in my chest. But I’m still standing. I’m in a hardboiled detective novel for moms. Except my mysterious enemy is a virus and exhaustion and my tragic flaw is my inability to take care of myself when I need it.

*Truth. I’m falling asleep writing this. Two nights of sleeping on the floor in Ellie’s room because her bed is too small to accommodate us both.

*The drooping eyes. The fuzzy thought process. The heavy, uncoordinated limbs that drop plates and food and teddy’s and pacey’s and all the balls i’m trying to juggle.

*AND YET. I submitted my application for a masters in M.ED yesterday. I’ve officially set myself up for failure. Or success. So hard to tell in the beginning, yeah?

*I’m officially done listening to all the negative stuff my deep brain throws and I’ve said…’Meh. I’m going to try.’ Worst case scenario I get denied to U of Houston and I turn my attention to juggling school. I hear clowns make a lot of money and they’re not creepy at all. Red. Balloons. (Shiver, shudder, shiver.)

Then a life of crime. Non-violent crime, of course. Just good, clean, thieving, ex-clown-school-fun.

*No school this week for the babies. No breaks. Only the churning belly full of Ellie’s germs, flailing around in my acidic tummy. Ha. Serves them right, You can’t survive in such a caustic atmosphere. Silly germs.

*I'm sorry I just fell asleep sitting up. I’m ornery today. Invidious, even. (GRE word of the day!) Means, Hateful, offensive, and injurious.

*Have you ever felt so tired and sick you literally day-dream about your nice, soft, warm bed with cool, fluffy pillows? Ahhhhh, sleep I crave you. Bed, I need you.

*Namaste everyone and thank you for tuning in. Stay tuned, video clips to the blog are in the works. Once i figure out how to do it.

*For now, good night Moncton! And the Woodlands. And, weirdly, some place in the new Czech Republic. (Why are you reading this? Who ARE you!? I love you.)

*I leave you with a tiny, sleepy, baby poem.

THIS POEM DOESN'T HAVE A TITLE

You get to know a house
when you have a baby

Every creak your retreating footsteps trigger
every shaft of light and where it falls
through on her tiny face while you walk - light, shadow, light, shadow.

Her lashes catching the glistening moon-glow as they lay like delicate black sighs on her soft pink cheeks.

The ceiling in her room where the moonlight and streetlight
conspire together to paste shadow-trees on the wall behind you.

If you’d lived a million lives alone and stayed here for centuries you still would
never have noticed this play of light and shadow.

But she did. Before she fell asleep in your arms, snuggled like a baby should.

You get to know a house
when you have a baby

Joy, pain, joy, pain, flickers by and she watches it all with wonder

She pushes wide your beginnings balloon of love and pierces it with shadows of endings

You get to know your house,
when you have a baby.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Cruising Home from Vacation


 
My blog entry is a little late this week because I’ve spent the last four days traveling on a gigantic ship from Galveston to Mexico. With Bill and my babies.

Alright let’s review the low lights. The cruise wasn’t really set up for kids under 2. He couldn’t go into the pools on the ship at all, and yep they were watching closely. They had a ‘camp’ for kids but would only watch kids under 2 for two hours in the morning (but they wouldn’t watch Ellie the same time). And then again from 10pm-1am. Who drops their under 2 year old at a crazy, noisy, smelly day care center after their bedtime? After my bedtime!

Someone who doesn’t have a sweet little guy who is usually out by 7:30pm that’s who. 

So basically we managed one hour the whole trip where they agreed to watch both of them at the same time. They didn’t communicate that properly at any of the FOUR times we talked to them. They kept giving us a little index cards with the under 2 times but not with the over 2, anyway.

For that one hour I had a glass of white wine and read my book and sat on the deck in the sun and it was lovely.

I digress. Let’s just say I won’t go on another cruise with babies unless it is DISNEY related, okay dokay?

Benji’s nap schedule was totally messed up and so he was a raging toddler mess most of the time.

No WIFI. (This is also in the plus column)

The ship was huge and I was still getting antsy and restless. (The walls are closing innnn, ahhhhh, let me OFF!!) Wait - free fro-yo!

The highlights! 

I saw dolphins in Mexico. Swimming with Ellie in the pool while dad stayed with Benji in the room while he napped. While they both napped.

Swimming with the kids in the ocean, hanging around on hammocks on the beach.



Watching Peter Rabbit with the kids - outside on deck on a big drive-in type movie screen.





Towel animals, am I right!?


Eating dinner at a ‘fancy’ restaurant every night. 

The ocean at night.

Fro. Yo. FRO YO!

Art work lining the hallways.

Violin concerts in the American Lobby.

No Wifi.

Matching manicures with Ellie. (Purple. Of course.)

Dancing waiters on the tables.

Dancing waiters period.

Coming home again!

                   “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” Susan Sontag