What Makes You Happy?

Today was one of those days.

The type where you check the clock just to be shocked that it’s only been 6 minutes since you last checked it. The type where bedtime can’t come soon enough.

I had a tantrum while cleaning up my middlest’s second accident of the day. A tantrum. I’m not proud, y’all, but it’s the truth. It happens sometimes when you’re living in the trenches. When you’re taking care of others and you have so much to do and you’re frustrated and tired and angry at yourself for not being the best mom every moment of the day. Sometimes you just jump up and down and growl a deep animal growl of frustration because cleaning up another person’s pee is just. Not. Fun.

These days happen. And, sure, the whole day wasn’t a shitty frustration-fest of annoyance, but it kind of feels like it sometimes, doesn’t it? It’s hard to remember all those moments that happened throughout the day that weren’t just wonderful, they were full of wonder. Those moments where you stare and think “Please, please, please let me remember this moment.” I had some of those moments today. Right? I think? Probably?

Cue my friend’s recent photos showing up on Facebook with the tag “100happydays”. Some were particularly artistic, posed, or framed. Some were not. So I googled it, and I knew I would take this “challenge”.

Sure, I have plenty (more than enough, more than anyone could ever hope or ask for) to make me happy. Whenever I bitch about stuff, which I do, there’s this small voice in my head that screams “SHUT UP! ARE YOU EVEN KIDDING ME?!” It’s not just about “first world problems”, please. I am a lucky SOB. I am loved and healthy and provided for. I have kids I love, a best friend of a husband, hell, I even like myself. I don’t have jack to complain about. That being said, life isn’t all roses and glasses of good wine. Sometimes things are annoying, or frustrating, or hard to do. Sometimes things are sad, or infuriating, or not what I’d hoped. At the end of the day, I am absolutely thrilled with the hand I’ve been dealt, but I’m also not always focused on those positives. So, an exercise in gratitude, in recognizing the little (or big) things that are there everyday? Sign me up.

Here are some of the things that have (and haven’t) made my list since I started a couple of weeks ago.

Sunday is the best dog ever, and Elizabeth is the only kid who's shown this much interest in her.

Sunday is the best dog ever, and Elizabeth is the only kid who’s shown this much interest in her.

Is there anything cuter than short kids in ballet outfits?

Is there anything cuter than short kids in ballet outfits?

This piece was a special order from A.S.H. Collective (on Etsy and FB) and I LOVE it.

This piece was a special order from A.S.H. Collective (on Etsy and FB) and I LOVE it.

Doodle has move up to her very own bedroom and out of the office/nursery attached to the master. FREEDOM!

Doodle has moved up to her very own bedroom and out of the office/nursery attached to the master. FREEDOM!

My Father-In-Law made me these AWESOME grow boxes in which I've started this year's garden. Which is NOT pot, FYI.

My Father-In-Law made me these AWESOME grow boxes in which I’ve started this year’s garden. Which is NOT pot, FYI.

Val is making real progress potty training. Today was an accident free day at school. Totally warrants a donut and the digital version of Frozen right?

Val is making real progress potty training. Today was an accident free day at school. Totally warrants a donut and the digital version of Frozen right?

If you've never tried Eastern NC style BBQ, you're missing out. It's tangy and spicy. I actually sub Sriracha for the hot sauce, I like the depth of flavor better.

If you’ve never tried Eastern NC style BBQ, you’re missing out. It’s tangy and spicy. I actually sub Sriracha for the hot sauce, I like the depth of flavor better.

friends

If these last few months of unemployment have taught me anything, it’s that I am not at all cut out for stay-at-home motherhood. I’m bored. Quinn is bored. Lucas has school all day, so he’s not as bored… but I think he can feel my boredom. It’d probably be easier if this had happened over the six months of good weather here in CT, but the weather is absolute crap, so our options are limited. It sucks being stuck inside all day everyday. Totally and completely sucks.

It’s hard not to throw a self-pity party while unemployed. I feel like I could handle just about any job given just a small bit of guidance (you know, except, like, brain surgeon or some shit.) But I’m stuck in the death spiral of “no experience so no job so no experience” while trying to obtain an actual librarian job and also being over-qualified for other “lesser” jobs. So ultimately, I’m getting nowhere fast and that is a major blow to my self-esteem. Add that to the fact that financially things have been really difficult and you can see why I am having a hard time right now.

But you know why things are not all bad? Because I honestly have the greatest friends EVER. Seriously. EVER. I am an incredibly lucky girl. I have friends who are always there to lend a sympathetic ear or virtual shoulder to lean on (as many of my friends live too far away to lend an actual shoulder to lean on). Friends who make me laugh and friends who listen when I cry. Friends from high school. Friends from college. New friends and old friends. Friends related by blood and friends who are not. Friends who provide support and love and advice and love and love and love.

In just the last week, I’ve had two friends in particular reach out with generous, surprise gifts just because they know I’m going through a rough patch and need some help. I cried both times when opening the gifts. Tears of joy and relief. Tears because I know that not everyone is as lucky as I am to have such a spectacular support system. Tears because I don’t feel like I deserve such love and generosity. And then there were more tears when I was assured that yes, I do deserve it.

I’ve often heard that it’s during the difficult times in life when you realize who your true friends are. I have been lucky enough to find out that most of the people I consider friends are, in fact, those true friends. I may not have made great decisions when it comes to some relationships, but when it comes to my friends? I’ve chosen wisely.

Thank you to my friends. Thank you. I love you.

 

Brushes With .. Fame?

When I first met Koa (and I’m not sure if that was a year and a half ago or in another lifetime…she’s one of those), I noticed that she lived in a town I’d heard of. A little town in Oregon. I’ve never been west of Illinois, but I knew of this town because I’d been reading the blog of a woman named Linda Sharps since approximately 2005. I don’t remember how I stumbled on her blog, but it was during a time when I was working a desk job and would have time to kill while reports ran. I read a lot of blogs. Linda’s blog (All & Sundry) was one of the few I continued to read for any length of time. I feel like I know her. Which is weird, I know. I’d talk about her stories with people…which is weirder, I mean, how do you say “Oh! That totally reminds me of something that happened to this person I know. Well, I don’t know I just, read. Like, her blog. Um. Yeah.” But I do feel like I know her. Further, like I like her.

Anyway, I’ll stop being a weird fangirl and get to the point. So, I noticed that Koa lived in the same town as this woman and I suggested she read her blog as well. Which she did, and which she also liked. So then I did what any normal person would do, and suggest that Koa befriend her, so that I could live vicariously through her obviously. Through a series of TOTALLY NOT SKETCHY AS THEY SOUND circumstances they did end up hanging out..and I seriously wanted to squeal a little about it.

Yeah, this is why it’s good that I don’t live in NY or LA…I would SO not be cool if I ran into someone famous. Maybe one day I’ll tell you about geeking out in front of Guy Fieri. Probably not though.

So you can understand my complete excitement when I saw this on my instagram feed:

There's so much that I love about this photo...so so much.

There’s so much that I love about this photo…so so much.

Daddy doin’ work is a dad out in California who is a super dad and blogger and advocate for dads (among other descriptors I’m sure I’m forgetting.) I enjoy his perspective and his male-parent centric focus. I’m married to a man who is an AWESOME father, and while he’s not perfect, I think awesome men don’t often get their due when it comes to all they are doing well. DDW recently started this instagram feed featuring the photos sent to him by readers of the Daddies Doin’ Work in their lives. On day 2 of our snowpocalypse Joe built a big snow man and his three snow daughters with the bigs while Baby Elizabeth and I made dinner. I love how proud of hers Rea is, how excited about life Val is, how present Sunday the Dog is.

And, of course, I love that it was posted by someone famous.

5 is Big

5 years ago Sunday

5 years ago Sunday

Jed turns five on Sunday.

On the day before Valentine’s Day five years ago I was heading out for my final water aerobics class in the morning. “Aerobics” being a very loose term generally meaning, at that time, floating on my back in a heated pool with one noodle under my knees and another one under my neck and a giant baby filled gut sticking up out of the water like a whale coming up for air. What do they say, the higher the belly the closer to God?  Anyways, I was belly deep in that warm water with a bunch of 90 year old seniors (interestingly enough, as much as I loved those preggo water aerobics classes, once I was in actual labor and in the actual labor tub at the hospital I couldn’t wait to get out, get dry, and get back into my preferred doggy-style-with-barf-bag-at-the-ready labor pose. But I digress.

On that day before Valentine’s Day 5 years ago I then headed in for my final “non stress test” because, you know, I was of “advanced maternal age” at 36 and statistically likely to birth an actual Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Beat. Beat. Beat. Beat. Beat. Went Jed’s little heart. We knew he was a he and thought he’d be a Jed but maybe a Rye. (How awesome is Rye for a little brother name?! Tiny bit of I only had one kid angst coming out right there.) But we actually didn’t decide until exactly 2 minutes before checking out of the hospital and can’t those nurses leave you alone for 5. Fucking. Minutes. We. Just. Had. A. Baby. But I digress.

Then, on that day before Valentine’s Day 5 years ago, I had my last visit with my OB, who informed me that “my uterus looked like crap” and nothing was happening and I might as well just walk over to the hospital and have them cut me open right then for he C-section that she was so sure I’d need because, you  know, I was VERY, VERY OLD and A LITTLE BIT FAT (suck it, doc, suck it hard, because I was neither old nor fat, I’d hiked or jogged almost every day of my pregnancy, I’d trekked through Italy in an ungodly heat wave, I’d gained the recommended 25-30 lbs that was just perfect on my strong and fit frame, I’d juiced kale, I’d been able to guzzle down about 30 pounds of dissolved sugar and process that shit right on out of my body quick for your little test, and I’d read the entire Twilight series TWO TIMES EACH BOOK in late night horn dog bouts of hormones and LOVED EVERY WORD. But I digress.

But for nine months, she’d had me do all these ultrasounds to size my baby, who sized two weeks big from conception (I’d had a 6 week ultrasound from a much better doctor who confirmed that two weeks big number). Plus, I could pinpoint the exact hour of conception, because I’d had to come home from work for a bit of a nooner because I had a lot of VERY IMPORTANT WORK TO DO for a sales presentation and a trip to New Jersey and that $200 fertility computer wasn’t paying for itself. But despite the regular tests showing the exact same rate of growth and the stated inaccuracy of all the sizing tests, my OB seemed to know that FOR SURE my baby was going to be a 17 pound one year old before he was born. Never mind that I had a week to go until my due date. My uterus looked like crap; I was never going into labor, ever. But I digress.

So I took my crappy uterus home and did what any confident, sane first-time mother-to-be would do. I went and got a pregnancy massage, and had the therapist Sharpie all the points on my ankles that could stimulate labor. And the next day, Valentine’s Day, February 14th, I took my final hike, a few miles, straight up hill. And I came home about 722 hours later, and had my husband give me the ankle massage of all time.

And then the day after Valentine’s Day, 5 years ago, I started deep cleaning the house, you know, scrubbing the baseboards. And this particular brand of crazy resulted in … my water breaking, with a bit of blood, and us rushing to the hospital, breathless, never once having read anything about water breaking with blood, thinking the whole thing was going horribly wrong, checking in, freaking out. Until, you know, everyone calmed down, the baby was fine, I was fine, and they let me go into a normal delivery room, assume the arched back doggy style labor pose previously mentioned, go through a closet’s worth of those pads to sop up the blood (and I mean, a closet’s worth; at one point I heard my nurse say under her breath to the orderly, yes, more, and he goes, incredulously, more, and she goes, yeah, more) and a bunch of vomit bags. And I spent the next 24 hours drug free trying to get a baby out of my body. Er, trying to welcome my son into the world. Labor progressed, then stalled, then actually retreated. No, they don’t mention that in the classes, that you can actually get more open, then more closed again. What the fuck, wonderful and beautiful natural process that all women are built to do. But I digress.

A few times I thought it was a 17 pound turtle trying to get out, but, alas. It was just a boy, a big, strong boy, but a boy whose mom thought she’d outfox her OB, outfox nature, and try to bring this boy in before he was ready.

So 5 years ago on February 16th, after 24 hours of labor and no more hours to give because of that harshly broken water, we agreed so reluctantly to a C-section. The boy came, and they set him at my head, and my arms were shaking so hard from the anesthetic (which I told them clearly would be a side effect of that drug on me and why don’t they ever listen?!). But my arms were shaking so hard that my baby was set at my head and my husband and a nurse were sort of holding my arms down and all I could do was look at my boy and lick him. Like a mama cat. I licked his face and kissed him and said you are so cute. And so big. And so cute. And I licked/kissed him again, and they took him away to be cleaned and weighed (only 8 lbs. 6 oz., a wee sprite who likely would have come out of a perfectly lovely uterus a week later on his own time). His head was pretty big though. And his feet were gigantic. But I digress.

So anyways, after that, as we all know, it was just baby, cry, nurse, fail at nursing, sleep, stroller, why am I still so fat whoa look at that I just lost 17 lbs in a week, mama cry, worry, wonder how anyone ever does this and why anyone ever wanted to have babies ever because this is so fucking hard, wonder how the hell do I get the car seat into the grocery cart, figure out it only works at Target because their carts are so big, have your first Mother’s Day, first Halloween, wean, walk, fly on an airplane, first Christmas, first Birthday, first sentence, first jokes, first camping trip when it snowed, out of the crib, into the bed, napping, not napping, sleeping, scheduling, playing, swinging, running, moms, dads, parties, grandparents, Easter Bunnies, loving, laughing, running through sprinklers, jumping on trampolines, making friends, going down the slide, posing for pictures, refusing to pose for pictures, going to school, needing new pants, picking out his own clothes, skipping, swords, loveys, swimming lessons, soccer, talking about high school, talking about the moon, refusing to eat his salad, choking his salad down with a milk chaser while he plugs his nose, art, asking about riding the bus to Kindergarten next year.

And me getting so much better at letting it all happen at the right time and not rushing any of the steps. But I digress.

On Sunday Jed turns 5. It’s a big one.

 

be mine

I’ve mentioned here before that I’m not particularly crafty, so usually when I need something artsy, I tend to buy it rather than make it myself. That being said, I’m unemployed, which means I’m trying to find ways to save a buck.

This Friday is Lucas’s kindergarten class’s Valentine’s Day party… oh wait, I’m sorry, Friendship Party (give me a break…) and Lucas was tasked with creating a “friendship card” for each one of his classmates. Each one of his 21 classmates.

I really didn’t want to go out and spend money on a box of superhero Valentines or Transformers or whateverthehell Lucas would have chosen for his friends. I have construction paper. I have stickers. I have markers and crayons and an abundance of other coloring supplies. I decided he was going to make his Valentines. How hard could it be, right? Nothing fancy. I’d cut construction paper into quarters, he could write each kid’s name on the front, write “From: Lucas” on the back, add some stickers and boom. Done. And I wouldn’t have to spend a penny… but oh… oh how I paid…

It started off well enough. We decided he would start by just writing the “From: Lucas” part on each card. I assumed that he would just get into a rhythm and be able to slam through them pretty quick.

Oh no.

He finished three… three out of 21… before he started complaining.

This is going to take forever!

My hand hurts!

How many do I have to do? I don’t want to do any more!

I tried a different approach. I thought if he could focus on writing each individual child’s name, then perhaps that would distract him from exactly how long it was taking. It worked. He got through five (out of 21!) before the whining started again. And, now that we were writing his classmates’ names, we inevitably got to a couple who he believed shouldn’t get a card at all because I don’t like her! and He’s mean to me! which meant that I had to explain that everyone gets a card and you have to be nice and fair even if someone isn’t nice and fair to you. 

As we painstakingly moved through the list, each classmate on the front, “From: Lucas” on the back, I got closer and closer to completely losing my shit. It turns out my darling 5-year old is a passive-aggressive little jerk. He started deliberately writing huge and sloppy. Or pushing the marker so hard that it left those big blotches behind. Or deliberately copying the names incorrectly. At first, I tried scolding him and telling him to be neater, but eventually I decided I really didn’t give a shit. These were HIS valentines (er… friendship cards…) after all. I wasn’t going to do it for him, so if he wanted them to look cruddy, so be it. And let’s be honest, they’re just going to end up in the trash after Friday anyway.

Once we got to the sticker phase of production, Quinn was glad to help out so we managed to fly through. All in all, it took TWO HOURS to make those goddamn cards. I sat them both in front of “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2″ with their dinner and drank a couple of beers in order to soothe myself.

I realized something, too. That even if I had gone to Walmart and bought a box of those premade cards, I still would have had to suffer through the process of him writing them all out. At least they’re done. Just in time for school to be cancelled tomorrow and most likely on Friday due to the impending snowpocalypse.

I need more beer.

The cuteness of this photo belies the agony of this process.

The cuteness of this photo belies the agony of this process.