On being a hermit.

There is nothing like a winter’s evening, a Christmas tree, Frank Sinatra on the digital music channel…and a small child passed out on the couch. 

It would be a perfect scene, for sure, if the child asleep on the couch didn’t wake up every 12 minutes to puke into a bowl and then pass out again.

So, there’s that.

I’m selfishly sad that she is sick on a Wednesday night because that means she can’t go to school tomorrow.  And that I can’t go finish my shopping all alone like I did on Tuesday.  Poor baby.  Poor mama.

I guess I will have to shop the interwebz tonight instead.  It’s almost as fun as walking around the mall.  Amazon is like the Mall of America of the internet world.  We’re wandering, we’re wandering…wheee….roller coaster.  Okay, it’s nothing like the Mall of America but I’m such a huge fan of Amazon at the moment.  Of course the Kindle is on the front page, taunting me because the Nook (Barnes and Noble’s much better, cooler version of the book reader) is backordered until sometime in February and I am still Instant Gratification Girl after all.  It makes me want to order the Kindle and have it here by this time next week. 

Or, I could just stop shopping for myself.

I did, on the recommendation of The Pioneer Woman, order THREE gifts from www.thecakepanlady.com because I am a firm believer in one stop shopping.  Thus, the trip through the aisles of Amazon. 

Turns out, I don’t ever need to leave home.  Thus, adding to my hermit ways.  Just like Netflix. 

I’m not a total hermit.  Amelia had her preschool program last night.  Is that even possible that my baby stood in front of 75 people and sang her heart out?  Because she did.  She did NOT have the solo but she stood up with the child who did and sang along with her.  Man, I wish I had the guts to do that.  I almost lacked the guts to go.  (Why couldn’t she have gotten the pukes on Monday night?) 

I love her preschool.  Okay, it’s really a daycare with a preschool in the morning and then she stays for lunch and nap.  It’s spendy for two days a week but, just like the occasional cut and color, I’m worth it.  Her teacher rocks.  The directors have their shit together.  The other parents….okay let’s just leave it with the teacher and directors. 

How about this picture?  I was the only parent without: a spouse, a camcorder, Uggs, a set of grandparents, a full carat, a personal trainer and, apparently, a hairbrush.  But my kid was cute.  Super cute.  Even if I wasn’t. 

I guess I will be home tomorrow…making more cookies…possibly a coffee cake.  And check your mailbox for a Christmas card from us.  And if you want one, let me know.  I overordered.  Again.  I should really count before I shell out for photo cards.

Internet M.D.

We all know that I have my internet doctor degree, yes?  I do.  Years and years of research and study.  I can tell you about ganglion cysts and plantar warts and pinworms.  I can diagnose a pregnancy over the phone.  I can tell how dilated you are by what you are eating.  This year alone, I have learned about deep vein thrombosis, Superventricular tachycardia, thyroid levels and ketones.  Mad skills, yo.

I’ve been wandering around online looking for what might be wrong with me.  I’m probably borrowing trouble here.  If I look for it, I might find it.  Right?  So I’m looking here.  Right here.  This blog post.  Maybe somebody will recognize something and help me out.  Help me fix it.  Prescribe a treatment.  Or, at least, tell me what to demand the next time I see a (real) doctor.  Which may be never since my new insurance sucks ass.  (3K deductible and even then it’s 80/20.  Oh, and no mental health benefits.  And I had better not get knocked up.  They will have none of that prenatal care stuff.)

I am tired.  Always tired.  Always looking for a nap.  If I were a dog, I’d be a Bassett hound.  I require 3- eight-hour naps per day.  And even then I might still be tired.  Mentally.  Physically.  And when I am awake, I’d like to be sitting.  Or counting minutes until the next break.  Yawning.  Tired.

I was prescribed Lexapro when Stephen was in his final weeks.  I started on it because I couldn’t make a moment to moment decision anymore.  I was afraid of everything.  I was also given xanax for the quick onset attacks.  Anxiety and depression.  I have been on Lexapro steadily since September 2007.  This last spring, I got it into my head that things were going good and spring was hopeful and, well, I’d wean myself off of it. 

Not only was the weaning a bad (at the time) idea, I spiraled into a dark place.  Not physically dangerous.  But I was angry again.  Short fuse with the littles.  Unable to cope or function around the house.  My dose was doubled from the original dose.  I was nearly weaned when I went back on it.

Since Stephen died, I lost 25 pounds first and then gained 40.  No matter what I do:  WW, 5 times a week swimming, intense physical work, days and days without sleep…the weight only comes on.  Which brings me to…

My self-image sucks.  I am one biscuit away from buying all elastic pants at Kmart.  I got my membership card at Costco and I don’t recognize the person on the back.  I haven’t voluntarily looked in the mirror in months. 

I feel…numb.  For lack of a better word.  Numb.  Not good.  Not bad.  Just…here.  I go through the motions, doing only what is necessary and rarely much else.  My house is reasonably sanitary, my bills get paid, my kids are cleaned and fed and loved.  I have 17 hours of TV waiting for me on my tivo but I haven’t watched it all yet (except Glee!!!  Where have you been all my life, Glee!?) because I keep thinking I should be doing something else except I never do that something else. 

My skin looks terrible.

I crave carbs and only carbs.  I have, thusly, developed a taste for coffee drinks that taste like pastries.

I made a rash decision to join eharmony.  Don’t know if I’m ready for that.  But I keep thinking that if I ever get to meet one of the fishers-of-women, they will be disappointed.  Truly.  That lipstick on a pig thing.  Except I don’t own a lipstick.

To sum up:  On meds (don’t want to be on meds but have anger problem when not on them), fatigue, carb problem, body image issues, weight spiraling upwards, rash decisions regarding potentially bringing somebody else into my life.  Our lives.  Oh, and apparent lack of lipstick.

And then there’s that doctor degree.  Years and years of study. 

And I still can’t figure myself out.

Withdrawal symptoms.

Day two:  Not at work.  Finally.  Also gave up caffeine but not on purpose.  I might die from this headache. 

I had all these plans for “when I am not working”.  Sewing projects.  I have a thawed turkey in the fridge waiting to be roasted.  I need to clean bathrooms.  And what did I do today?  You’re looking at it.  Filled with Twitter and Facebook and obsessively checking email because somebody, somewhere might want to write to me.  Fail.

Tomorrow will be different.  Yes it will!  Amelia is going to school for the day so I will have the whole house to myself for seven whole hours.  I have a list of things I should be doing.  And a list of things I want to do.  And then there’s the reality:  netflix and ceiling fan shopping and maybe a nap. 

This post brought to you by Tylenol PM. 

Goodnight.

Crave.

This is the holiday weekend post that nobody will probably read.  It’s filled with self-doubt and loathing.

I invited myself to a Crimson and Cream season opener party with my sister.  I thought it was at a bar.  It wasn’t.  It was in some dude’s garage.  I instantly developed a severe case of social anxiety disorder and almost didn’t go.  I’m glad that I did, if for nothing else than the vast array of dips and chips.  Hot dip that tastes like a jalapeno popper?  Don’t mind if I do.  Same goes for you, crab rangoon dip. 

My littles are slumbering with relatives who, I fear, will never invite them back.  Ella needed a nap this afternoon but naps for her often bode poorly for bedtime. I am enjoying my quiet night and almost don’t want to sleep because when I wake up, it will all be over.  I love my kids but…one night is never enough.  I need one to chill and one to get stuff done.  Like unpacking my sewing room.  Or baking bread.  Or…anything else really.  Story of my life.

Why is it that I spend a good portion of my time thinking of the next moment when I don’t have to be a mom?  Because it really isn’t that bad.  My girls are really pretty good.  I’m lucky there.  And we always find things to entertain ourselves.  I guess I’m just craving.  Something.

That’s a really good way to think of it:  a craving.  They hang on me all day and I crave to not be touched.  But really, I want to be touched by someone who doesn’t want anything from me.  They make messes and I crave order.  And to not have to be the one to create order every. time.  They ask for dinner and I crave a meal that doesn’t include anything breaded, fried or between two pieces of soft bread. Or coated in an unnatural cheese powder.  I also crave the times when I don’t have to prepare it.  Or endure the constant motion and ramblings of small children.  They fight, screech, turn on the television and leave the room, clack random things together and talk to inanimate objects.  I crave silence.

But when it is silent, I can hear what’s in my head.  Not crazy voices but memories banging around.  I can feel my jaw ache because it is always tight; waiting for the cheap shots that seem to pepper my life.  When it is really quiet, I am forced to live my life all over again.  And I’m not so sure I want to do it.  Especially now that I know how to do it different.

And this anxiety in social situations?  Comes from being the only thirty-something in the room without a spouse, alive or not.  I really dislike being single.  I really don’t like being a single parent (double parent?).  I feel like I am the intrusion into other people’s lives because I don’t have my own.  A soul to be pitied.   Nobody wants that.

And yet…

What I am really craving is to be someone’s everything again. 

I miss Stephen, still, everyday.  And I still am in disbelief that this is how the story ends.

Clean House.

It only took a week but I think we are all turned around from our trip.  The doggy is back to her usual naughty self (I’m fairly certain that she thought we had abandoned her and that she had better be on her best behavior), the littles are happily playing together in the basement toyroom (and destroying it I’m sure) and I am back to my daily dose of Discovery Health, water aerobics and not clearing the clutter that completely annoys me.

I’ve been watching Clean House on the Style channel.  For the record, it’s the only thing I watch on Style.  I have no style…not my house, my closets, my children, my car.  None.  But I really enjoy the bus-wreck watching of people with more mess than me.  Part of the intrigue is “why”.  Sometimes it’s a worthless husband with an overworked (or lazy) wife.  Sometimes it’s someone that can’t say no to handmedowns.  And sometimes it’s the grieving widow who can’t bear to make a change…who can’t throw things out…who is stuck in a rut.  My favorites are the hoarders and the shopaholics.

The premise of the show is that this team goes into the home, finds out what needs to be done, makes the offenders clean up their shit and sort through it.  What isn’t kept goes into a yard sale.  The proceeds are used to makeover a room or two (or three).  I have only seen one time where the homeowner wasn’t pleased.  I mean, who wouldn’t be happy to have a designer work on a room?  Who doesn’t want someone to force you to go through years and years of clutter.

Fascinating.

I, myself, am annoyed at my clutter.  (It’s never as bad as those slobs on TV)  I have been for all of my adult life.  I blame the littles…plenty of it is the direct result of placing random things out of reach (currently: box of Lincoln Logs, box of Polly Pockets, 200 piece art set, Dora Memory game…sensing a theme here…everything and anything with a million pieces).  That’s really just an excuse.  I blame myself and my inability to be around a flat surface without putting something on it.  Empty spaces that must be filled.

Closets, pantry, dresser drawers, fabric shelves, freezer, medicine cabinet.  All are full.  Not overflowing but definitely full.  Why is that?  Who does that?

I swear, I need a shrink on speed dial.  Not necessarily because I have a daily case of the crazies (okay, maybe I do but that’s not the point) but because I have an insatiable curiosity (read: nosy) for why people do what they do.  What does that say about me?

If Clean House called me (and they wouldn’t) my story would be that I hate the clutter but I lack the energy to find a place for everything.  It doesn’t help that we are crammed into 700 square feet.  But I could downsize.  I could work harder to keep things in their proper places.  I could stay away from the Carter’s outlet store and do laundry more often.  My story would also be that I’ve always been a little bit of a packrat and that when I got really annoyed I would throw a hissy fit and my husband would find new homes for all the junk that was obstructing my view of the top of the counter.  Sad.  But true.

And there would be some other bus wreck watcher on the other side of the country saying to herself, “Wow.  At least I’m not that bad.”

Illusion of bravery.

We are home.  You know, in case you wanted to break in and shampoo the carpet while I was gone.  Too late.  Kids and dog have staked their claim.

Seriously, though, I could have stayed another week.  At least.  I didn’t get to see half of the people I intended to see, most of whom I have recently found on Facebook.  Wouldn’t it be fun to have a reunion?  Oh, right.  We can meet any time of any day on the interwebz… 

I think…maybe…just maybe…it’s time to move home.  I have always said “Home is where your mother is”.  I miss my family, specifically my sister and my nephew.  It’s really great when the cousins get to really know each other.  I also miss my friends.  I have really great friends here, no doubt.  But there is something to be said for a group of people who have known you for 10, 15, 20 years or more. 

I figure I have lived five lives: before college, college, touring, roadhouse and mommy.  I can honestly say that there is not one single person who has been with me through all of my lives; all the different versions of me.  Some get really close and the ones that have stuck through are the ones that are still in Omaha.  Or came back to Omaha for the same reasons that I am giving myself to create the illusion of bravery.

That’s what it’s going to take…bravery.  Getting out of this chair, packing a truck and starting over.

I have given myself too many excuses to stay.  My friends, my church, the boys are buried here.  My doctor, the kids’ school, the Y, the waterpark.  It’s too expensive to move, too expensive to live.  My parents are crazy.  This house, while really small, is very nice which has spoiled me for housing that does not contain central air, a garage door opener, a dishwasher and brushed nickel faucets and knobs.  Okay, maybe not the knobs but I’m not sure that I can live in a midtown fixerupper.  Which would, realistically, be what I can afford.  Unless I go back to work.

So there’s that.

I could go back to work.  But that would eat into my busy schedule of swimming, stirring cookie dough and not  managing to remember send birthday cards.  (I buy them but forget to actually send them.  I suck.) 

I loved being in Omaha.  I loved working Boheme with a great bunch of guys and maybe the novelty of the brotherhood will wear off if I actually have to work with them every week.  Probably not.  I enjoy their company and their candor.  And the more than occasional off color comment.  Or three.  I loved playing Guitar Hero and drinking beer.  I loved watching the littles play with their cousin and I loved it that I could get MY cousin to see an opera only hours after he was turkey hunting.  (I love that…and am really proud of him.)  I miss my friends, the ones who have known me since I was a punk kid on her first tour with everything to prove.  And they love me now, half broken and 20 (or 30?) pounds heavier, with nothing to prove at all. 

Mentally, I am ready to go home.  Be home.  I told myself that I would know when it was time.  I’ve lived here for 9 years, soon to be 10.  That’s longer than I thought I would be here.  But I need a big dose of courage.  Because I’m scared.  Scared to make a giant mistake.  Scared to take the littles away from their home.  Scared to leave my boys here. 

Scared to make any kind of decision that may alter the course of things.

Revolting.

I’m in hour 14 of (what seems to be) my quarterly bout of gastrointestinal distress.  Can’t.  Stop.  Pooping. 

While it might be a bug, it probably isn’t.  I blame the Girl Scout Cookies.  All six boxes.  Gone.  I think my lack of gallbladder might cause my innards to revolt.  Be revolting.  Whatever. 

Speaking of revolting…I will never, ever get all wrapped up in a reality show ever again thanks to The Bachelor finale.  I’m so disgusted that I probably gave myself the shits over it.  And I think I got all roped in because who, in my position, wouldn’t be intrigued by single parent, hot daddy Jason?  Poor fella got his heart ripped out on TV before.  You want him to do well. 

And then you find out he’s a pig.  That he’s been all wrapped up in his fantasy land of 20 young, naive, beautiful girls.  And he gets to choose and do whatever he wants.  (And, yes, I understand that the tables are turned on The Bachelorette but I have never watched that so that’s not the point!)  He was babied and pandered to by the girls and by the producers.  Dates in New Zealand?  Yacht tours at sunset?  Whatever happened to dinner at Olive Garden and a movie?  Did he have to find a babysitter for his kid on his own? 

This?  Is why my TV is getting taken out of the living room for the summer.  Just as soon as the Grey’s season finale is over.  Maybe.

And then I have days like today.  Where I want to curl up into a ball and bury myself in a pile of fleece blankets.  And the littles are perched next to each other, engrossed in Noggin.  Again.  And I thank the gods of the digital cable. 

So here’s hoping that Jason gets what he deserves.  And here’s hoping that my guts settle down so I can get on with my week.

Dry drowning.

After almost two years, I have started dreaming again.  I have these short, vivid dreams just about every time I lose consiousness for more than ten minutes in a row.  They are, for the most part, not happy or overly pleasant either.  It’s almost a case for going back on the ambien.  At least then I didn’t remember dreaming.  I hear that I can rob a bank on ambien and not remember that either so that’s kind of fun.

I don’t know if it’s the addition of my nocturnal fantasy life or what but I’m in a funk.  I shouldn’t be.  I have no real right to be but I’m in a funk.

Sunday is Stephen’s birthday.  He would have been 34. 

Yesterday was almost 60 degrees.  I try not to talk about the weather but we got outside, played with chalks, rode bikes, walked the dog (or the dog walked me, I’m not sure) and had our afternoon snack on the front step.  Today?  We are planning for a snow storm.  Argh.  As much as I don’t like heat (comes with the Big Boobs McGee territory), I’m starting to think that winter is just not for me. 

Water Aerobics is going well.  Too well.  I’m finding myself cruising the interwebz for water aerobic shoes and gloves.  I didn’t go today so I could let my forearms and thighs rest (that sounds dirty but it isn’t) and now I feel like a lump of…butter?  No, that’s not right.  Frosting?  Melted Cheese?  Mmmm…melted cheese….  Anyway, I’m down about 5 pounds in the almost 3 weeks that I’ve been in the water.  Not too shabby considering I’m always freaking hungry.  What’s that all about?  It’s not that intense.  What is it about the water that makes me want to eat everything in sight?

I have baby lust.  Big.  Time.

Ella is over the sickies and back to normal.  We are working on manners.  Big time.  Amelia is naughty.  I almost committed a felony the other night when I caught her with a (washable) marker, drawing all over the sheets and pillows two hours after I changed them.  And fifteen minutes before bed.  We really need to be outside more.  Much like the dog, everyone does better with a little fresh air and exercise.

The urge to date comes and goes.  It all boils down to the thought that I really just want someone to give a shit. 

About me.  And only me.  For, like, ten uninterrupted minutes.

I am also struggling with feeling jilted.  Short stick.  Screwed.  Whatever.

I shouldn’t.  I have so, so many things going right.  More so than they have a right to be.  We were talking tonight at church about greed (among other undesirable traits).  I decided about a minute in that this was my vice.  Greed.  I feel screwed therefore I have a huge sense of entitlement.  I don’t “love thy neighbor” because life screwed me and not him.  I don’t give as freely as I could/should because so much has already been taken from me. 

Kind of ironic, really, that I have chosen to spend my mornings in the water when it is the rest of day that makes me feel like I’m drowning.

I thought I couldn’t do it.

I’ve come a long way since August.  I had been on WW for 6 weeks and I was considering quitting, not having been all that successful despite doing, what I thought was, everything I could.  Turns out, had real exercise been in that equation, I might have done better.  Granted, I’m only on day 6 this time but I feel really good and I don’t feel deprived.  Yet.  We haven’t been out to eat (not really) and we have not traveled.  Six days of sticking close to home and eating at home means about four pounds gone.  Really.  Good for me.  Yea, me.  See…cheerleader.  For myself. 

Ella has been home sick for a few days.  She has a fever on and off.  I think I’ll probably drag her to urgent care/doctor’s office sometime today.  She has to go back to “school” at some point.  The other night, she was crying in her sleep, which she doesn’t often do.  She’s the kid who goes and goes all day long and then crashes hard.  After trying to pat her down multiple times, I picked her up and she was rocket hot.  Had a temperature of 104.5 and was miserable.  I stripped her down, got her some orange juice and forced a motrin chewable in her cheek (very resistant to medication).  We turned on Noggin.  (3 hours later….) I convinced her to go to bed but she sat there, in the dark, and sang Christmas songs until she woke up her sister.  I still haven’t been to sleep at this point.  I brought Amelia to bed with me and I finally had a quiet house around 3am.  We fired up again at 8am.  Rinse and repeat. 

I.  Am.  Tired.

But…I get 45 minutes in the pool this morning.  Alone.  So that should help.   Maybe.

What I really want is cupcakes.  Martha Stewart Living magazine cupcakes.  Five sticks of butter and a pound of sugar cupcakes.  I’m obsessed. 

And maybe I’m not doing as well as I thought.

It was a bad week on the interwebz.  One mama has a nervous meeting with a neurosurgeon regarding her week old baby girl.  One mama is having a memorial service tomorrow for her two year old daughter who died of cancer last Friday.  And one mama’s baby boy died in utero two weeks before he was supposed to have his birth day, strangled by his own cord.  I visited each one of their blogs last night.  I read their stories.  My fingers paused over the keys and I tried to leave a comment that wasn’t trite or about me or calloused. 

And I couldn’t do it.

You’d think that I would have a whole world of insight.  You’d think that I would have a whole sinkful of compassion and understanding.  You’d think that I could send the perfect cyberhug to someone I’ve never met just by my words.  But I couldn’t do it.  Because what if the words “Could be worse…” comes out of my fingers?  What if the words “Give it time; you’ll go on” make it to the screen?    So I just didn’t write anything.  I offered up a little prayer for all the mamas who are hurting.  Who can’t see their real blessings because of their tears.  (Not that their tears aren’t justified, lest anyone think that my heart is really black and cold)  I pray that time really does heal or at least scab over their hurts.  I know where they are today.  I know their fears.  I know how very scary tomorrow is.  I know how quiet it will get.  I know the looks, the random letters and cards, the isolation. 

However, if they need cupcakes to help the healing process, I’m their girl.

Sweat. (or Big Girls don’t like Heat.)

Ella was just laying in bed and crying a bit in her sleep.  I went in and patted her.  Wait?  Where is my baby?  Amelia’s foot was near Ella’s nose and they are curled around each other like kittens in a basket.  I left them like that.  I may or may not adjust before I go to bed but I hope I carry that little snapshot in my head and in my heart as they grow and change.

I am reclaiming a little bit of myself.  It started with dinner out and the new outfit that came with it.  And then water aerobics.  And being accountable for what I put in my mouth.   And going to bed at a decent time. 

There is, of course a trade off.  There is a distinct lack of cookies in my house at the moment.  My house is a dirty wreck since I am not at home in the morning.  But, we are eating better and eating together again.  I have worn more than trackpants in the last week. 

The one very, very surprising thing is how much better I feel with that 45 minutes in the pool every morning.  And how sluggish I am on the days that I don’t/can’t go.  I’ve been bashing on exercise and giving myself excuses for a while.  Okay, my whole effing life.  Whatever.  Turns out, I just don’t like to be sweaty so the pool is just the thing for me. 

Do you get over that?  The hate of the sweat?  I used to love it, relish it.  It used to be a badge of honor.  It meant that you were working hard, getting things done.  And now?  All I can think is that if I get too sweaty, I will have to take time out of my day to take a shower and risk yet another mess created by littles/dog when I get out.  (We are down one plastic bowl, a beach ball and 2 mini Barbies just this week…do you think she’s bored?) 

I can, happily, say that I have never broken a sweat while eating.  Yet.

I’m feeling the need to get out of town again.  And it will be probably April before I do.  I have the urge to hotel it somewhere and find a neighborhood to wander around in.  The urge will wax and wane I’m sure.  Much like my love of cheesecake.  Some days I crave it and others I could take it or leave it.

Wow.  This was all about me.  I’m just feeling a touch selfish.  I’m sure that my kids have noticed as they have been left to their own devices and made to entertain themselves lately.  They are also pissed that we are out of cookies.  Whatever, girls.  Mommy’s on a diet.  Again.