Dellabee and Me

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Archive for the month “December, 2011”

In One Year…

Although I would never describe myself as terribly ambitious, I am looking forward to the coming year. I have been thinking about where I am at now compared to where I was just a few years ago. It is amazing how much can change in a year.

In 2009, I moved cross-country. Overweight and unhappy, we struggled financially to regain our footing. My oldest child started kindergarten. My youngest was potty trained. Near the end of the year, I started a full-time job after being a SAHM for most of the previous 5 years.

In 2010, our finances stabilized a bit. We finally found a home for the very, very bad dog we had struggled with for years. I worked full-time and hated what I was doing. My youngest child was in full-time daycare, my oldest in school all day and then afterschool daycare until 6pm. They were both unhappy with this, and I felt huge guilt. Yet, I also decided to lose the weight that had been plaguing me since my first pregnancy. I joined a weight loss program and stuck with it. I decided to quit my job so that the kids could be home more. I returned to college to pursue a completely different career. And then I fell into a part-time contracting position. My youngest child began preschool. I hired a nanny. I was hired on as a full-time employee at the end of the year, and promptly found a puppy from the shelter.

In 2011, I worked full-time as a school counselor until June when I was surreptitiously laid off. We moved to a nicer neighborhood in a bigger home with, good lord, an actual fenced yard and TWO trees. I decided I did not want to pursue the other career but did like the school counseling work and chose to pursue certification in that field. I started and completed the Couch to 5K running program. I slowly gained 10 pounds over the year. Strangely, this weight gain coincided with the running. My youngest child began kindergarten – two kids in school now. The puppy we were told “will not get bigger than 40 pounds” expanded into a 70 pound lovefest. I worked my way through the certification courses, culminating in an internship at a high school in the fall. I ran 2 5ks. I became a vegetarian. At the end of the year, I have a full-time job offer as a school counselor and my husband has a promotion – but the promotion involves relocating.

I have been thinking and thinking about the different possibilities waiting within this coming year. And though I have listed the factual events of each year since our move, I left out the more subjective shifts that went on within my own being. There are things I understand now about me, about life, about desire and longing and happiness. Things that deserve their own post, on a different day.

So I will say that the biggest thing I have realized is that while life is a journey, you get to control the ride – and the ride is what it’s all about.

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A Tale of Two Playdates

I have been stretching outside of my comfort zone a bit in order to expand the kids’ social lives.

It’s all about the kids.

So, prior to a recent teacher workday, I called one of Desi’s friends and spoke with his father to invite the kid over to play. Desi doesn’t get along with many kids, especially if they are his age or older. He tends to be high maintenance. But he had several playdates with this boy over the summer and I was impressed with how well they got along, so I had no concerns about inviting him over to play for a few hours.

Well, things have changed. Within minutes of his arrival, pretty much as soon as his parent pulled out of the driveway, this child turned into a human weather event. He went wild. There was shrieking, and running. There were sword fights with non-sword items. Did I mention the shrieking? As I have mentioned before, this might be normal behavior for most boys but this is not how Desi plays. I knew it was a disaster when he came into the kitchen and said “um, Jack is kind of wild.” I agreed. Desi was as confused as I.

Then, the playdate hit its climax: Desi sprinted downstairs and said “Mommy! Jack picked his nose and he ate it!” and then he gagged and gagged. He is my son, after all.

When Jack’s dad picked him up, he asked how he was and I said “um, he was a little wild.” He had the nerve to look surprised and then told Jack to say thank you for having him. Jack walked out without making eye contact with any of us and said “whatever.”

So, pretty sure that playdate ended in a break-up.

Not to be deterred, I invited a mom of one of my daughter’s classmates to come over with her kids. We have just begun hanging out and I really like her so we are in the courting phase of our friendship, in which I provide her with tasty snacks in my newly clean home and the kids get along fabulously. Or some version of that fantasy.

In the reality version, within 5 minutes of her arrival her younger child clubbed Ella in the head with a golf club (that should not have been in Desi’s room, btw), forcing me to bring her to the ER while my new friend stayed at my house with the rest of the kids. Not exactly how I pictured our time together.

When Ella and I returned from the ER, Desi and my friend’s older son were having a wonderful time acting out various Star Wars scenarios. My friend had sent her younger child, the golfer, home. We were both relieved that things had turned out okay with Ella and I persuaded her to stay a bit longer so we could chat. Within 10 minutes of our grown-up time in the kitchen while the kids were in the front room, Desi came running in to announce – loudly – that Ella had just showed the boys her “lady penis.” I turned to my new friend and tried to act like I had no idea what this lady penis was, despite the fact that I have actually had multiple conversations with both kids about how we keep our private areas um, private.

My friend left soon after, her son’s innocence lost, while I sat at the table with my head in my hands. I should have blamed the lady penis incident on the head injury, but it was too late. Argh. I completely understand why moms invite others over to drink while the kids play.

Playdates are rough.

Rumination

I just learned that I do this. Like, a lot. Thank you, Real Simple magazine.

I’m not sure how anyone who blogs can NOT ruminate.

I am always thinking of things to write about, twisting the words around in my head to view them from different angles. When I hit on an idea, I have to rehash the details in my brain for a bit in order to get a feel for the “voice” I want to use. Then I start to mentally compose it, and immediately imagine what my mother would say if she read it. This has halted many a post, by the way.

(I am 99% sure that my mom does not read my blog, mostly because I think the few times she has tried the posts have been either uber depressing or uber gross. It’s fine.)

Then I write it out, which includes rereading sentences obsessively to ensure the flow is right. I review the grammar, make sure the verb tenses match, that kind of thing. When I finish, I do not want to read it in its entirety. I don’t know why this is but I suspect it is related to the hammering of “revision” throughout my high school years. Yuck.

Eventually I gather up the courage to read the entire post. Then I spellcheck it. Then I read it again. I usually make a few small changes.

Then I hit “publish” and cross my fingers that someone will read it and leave me a comment.

The first blog post I wrote was in 2006 and it was on blogger. I remember I wrote it at night, I was pregnant with my second child and feeling a lot of mixed emotions about our circumstances at the time. I don’t remember what my post was about but I do recall the way it felt when I published it – how it was like sending an SOS out into the night, how exposed I felt. I was surprised when I checked it in the morning and learned that nobody had read it.

It was humbling, of course. How could people go about their days without having read my pithy words about motherhood and life? The same way I was able to go about mine without reading the words of other moms online, day after day after day.

I could go on and on about blogging and how I feel about it, because after all I ruminate. But I hear my beloved children fighting (again) while playing on the trampoline and I am sure you  can understand the high risk of injury in that scenario.

Until next time…keep reading.

Ho ho ho

The days are rapidly running together as Christmas is approaching. I can’t seem to keep the date straight – every day I end up squinting at the calendar to figure out what it is. Without a job, classes, or kids in school I have no point of reference.

I have been trying to do stuff with the kids, although I confess that I feel lost about establishing traditions. I think this is because my “tradition” ideas always seem to be about food and I just don’t think that is a good idea given my weight struggles. I have maintained my loss for a year now and definitely don’t want to end up near 200 pounds again (FYI, I am 5’3″). I have done some sweets, of course. I made amazing mint fudge and these cookies-n-creme bars (rice krispy treats made with crumbled oreos instead of rice krispies). We also made rolo-pretzel yummies (or reindeer noses, as I called them).

We made salt-dough ornaments:

 

We decorated gingerbread houses:

 

We went to the ER.

 

Ella took a crack to the skull from a 3 year-old boy wielding a golf club aka. light saber. I am usually pretty calm in this type of crisis but it immediately bulged up and turned purple which immediately convinced me that it was a skull fracture with probable brain bleed that would result in blindness, seizures, death. I used to be addicted to Discovery Health Channel, in case you were wondering, plus I have worst-case-scenario syndrome.

Pardon the bad pic, it was with my phone

She is fine. In fact today, a mere 24 hours later, there is no swelling and just light bruising. But she still has the nasty cough and stuffy nose she has been fighting for like 6 weeks. She is on her 3rd antibiotic, plus prescription nasal spray and as-needed breathing treatments, plus daily claritin and now several times per day dosing of Mucinex. I suppose I will call the ENT and try to get her in with them since this is now a sinus/ears thing.

Tonight I am off with my husband for our first real date-night with a teenage babysitter handling the kids at home. I am thrilled but having a wardrobe crisis because it has hit me that yoga pants and a v-neck T from Old Navy might not cut it in a restaurant with (gasp) cloth napkins. I better get on it.

OH! I went for a run this morning before my husband left for work. That means I was running before 6:30 am, thankyouverymuch. And can you tell that I LOVE this new camera?

 

12

That is the number of drafts I have going right now.

None of them seem good enough.

I finally broke down and bought a DSLR camera and I am so in love with the thing, I want to make it a satin pillow and cook it breakfast.

Running: still doing it, though I feel like a fraud calling it “running” when it is really jogging at best.

I have a job offer. Notice I did not say “I have a job.” This is because there has not been a contract signed, as it is a school job which requires a state license and mine is still pending due to the end-of-semester backlog at the college. I am excited about the job, although I wish I could figure out a way to get paid to just sit around, check out Pinterest obsessively, and make microwave popcorn.

It’s “the holidays.” We have our rather spartan decorations on display. I sucked it up and bought a new artificial tree because our old one was shedding fake needles like an evergreen stripper. The new tree is simple (read: cheap) but the needles are staying on the wire branches so it’s all good. The cats, despite their new gigantic cat perch, are enjoying the comfy space under the tree.

The kids are excited. I am horrified at the looming 3-week break from school. All they do these days is fight with each other. Spare me the “it’s normal” and “I bet you fought with your siblings” because I don’t care – it is annoying and constant and ruins most of the time we spend together. It is the Dyson of joy, sucking it clear out of everything.

I don’t know how I am right now. To be honest, this time of year really churns up my anxiety. I worry about not doing enough with the kids. I get overwhelmed with figuring out what to do, how to do it, how to coordinate it, how to convince my husband that we should do it. Because we have only lived here for not quite 3 years, and we have no family nearby, I am still unfamiliar with what our celebratory options are. We don’t have firmly established traditions and rituals. This makes me sad. When I was a child the one thing I looked forward to every Christmas was the annual party my aunt had for my mom’s relatives. Because my mom comes from a large family, there were tons of cousins and lots to do.

Because of a variety of reasons, my kids don’t really know their cousins – and there aren’t many anyways.

There are many good things lurking on the horizon: my return to work means more money, no more classes for me so free evenings, my new job is just past the gym so I can totally work-out on my way home, my husband is getting a fantastic promotion.

The promotion, however, will require us to relocate to (another) new city about 3 hours east.

This is ironic, because I am just now feeling okay with where we are – I love our home, I love our neighborhood, I am making connections that I hope will grow into friendships, I like the kids’ school and they are doing well there, I have my running loop, I know my way around.

I am not opposed to the move. I think it will be great. We aren’t going until the kids finish school in June, which is also when I will finish my interim contract, so there is plenty of time to research and plan – things we did not do when we made our cross-country move. My concern is that it has taken me just about 3 years to settle in here. What if that is my standard adjustment timeframe? My kids are 7 and 5, I don’t know how fair it will be for them if I am miserable for the next 3 years. That will have been most of their lives spent with a miserable mother. Seriously.

So, I am hopeful about the future, happy with the present, and crossing my fingers that we have already gone through the worst.

I don’t have resolutions for the New Year. I hope to keep running and do some more races. I’d like to get the kids into some activities like gymnastics or dance. I want to do some training with the dogs. I want to find a job in our new city.

What about you? Do you feel like you are moving in the direction you want to be heading in the coming year?

Flashback: In Which I Blame Dr. Phil

This is a flashback to one of my first’s posts back in 2009, but it still makes me laugh.

potty time

Potty training is hell.  But Dr. Phil has it all figured out.

According to Phil, all you need to do is get an anatomically appropriate doll that wets, show it to your kid, and have your kid “teach” the doll to use the potty. Really, the stuff of genius.  After a little internet research, I discovered that certain brands of dolls were recommended – and they were all a tad expensive.

While Christmas shopping at an overpriced specialty toy store, I came upon a stack of these potty dolls.  Impulsively, I grabbed the boy version and paid over $50 for him.  His name was Potty Paul.

As it was, my son received a boatload of holidays gifts.  This was the first Christmas after the birth of his sister, and I admit to shopping excessively using my guilt purse.  The potty doll ended up stashed in the closet, still in his box.

Several months later, when I realized the potty training needed a bit of a kickstart, I remembered the doll and retrieved him.  Eagerly I ripped Paul from the package, along with his potty paraphenalia that included underpants, a mini potty, and a fillable bottle.  He was wearing a rather bulky disposable diaper.  I called my son over to show him the doll and explained that this doll was a boy just like he was, and that we needed to show him how to use the potty because he wanted to wear big boy underpants instead of his uncool diaper.  My son, somewhat interested, watched as I removed Paul’s diaper.

“Where is his penis?” my two year old asked suspiciously.  Where was the penis indeed.  Paul wasn’t packing anything, if you know what I mean.  In fact, his crotch looked like the crotch of every other doll except that it had a hole for peeing.

So I re-examined the box.  Yes, this was the boy doll, complete with powder blue accents on the underpants.  It said anatomically correct on the box, but of course it did not show a picture of the anatomy.  A lengthy internet search confirmed that no place selling the doll was posting a picture of the dolls genitals.

I looked through the box and wrappings that the doll had come in, operating under the theory that the penis was either removable (trans-gender Paul) or just not affixed to the body that well – but there was no stray penis to be found.  I began to wonder if the problem was me.  Did I have a twisted idea of what anatomically correct meant?  I imagined the rest of the world’s population going about their everyday lives, secure in their knowledge that anatomically correct did not actually mean a penis and balls.  I wondered what the heck the girl doll looked like – or if that was what I had.  Clearly someone at the doll factory was not doing his job.

I returned to the store to do some covert doll-crotch spying – but it was impossible to tell what, if anything, was lurking behind the dolls’ bulky diapers.  I am sure that you can imagine how going on such a mission makes you feel like a bit of a creep.

Finally, I ended up calling the store.  In a rambling, disjointed splash of words I explained that I needed to know if the boy dolls actually had penises, because ours didn’t and my son was a bit puzzled by this.  The girl on the phone said yes.  I then said “um, can you check for me?”  She laughed nervously, clearly thinking I was either pulling a prank or setting her up for an FBI sting operation, but she agreed to check.  In a few minutes she returned to the phone and told me again that yes, the dolls have penises.  So I asked her to put one aside for me so that I could exchange ours – but I asked her to please check the doll set aside for us to make sure it was hung anatomically correct.

When I arrived at the store with my penis-less doll and his useless accessories, I was a little bit nervous.  I handed the package to the girl behind the counter, told her my name, and explained that I was exchanging the doll for another one that had been set aside for me.  Smirking, the girl nodded and directed me to the box around the corner from the check out counter.  On the floor was the new Potty Paul, with a yellow sticky note on top that said to hold, my last name, and one word:

penis.

We brought the doll home, removed his clothes and were thrilled to learn that anatomically correct really meant anatomically correct – Paul had a penis and a scrotum, and he did pee.  Hooray.  We were so thrilled we renamed him Peter.

And Peter had zero impact on my son’s potty training.  But the penis was cool.

Peter on the potty

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