The harsh truth of impermanence

Around 10:00 on Saturday night I received a text from my neighbor.  Unfortunately it was not anything good.  Her text read “FYI: it’s happening.  Smitty has to be in Colorado on March 1.  I will stick around to get the house ready to sell.”

At first I was dreadfully sad. They have been so good to us over the years. They are just a bit younger than my parents, no children. Before we had kids, they let us borrow tools and invited us over to dinner. Once Elliot came along, Nancy often watched him for brief periods of time when we had extenuating circumstances. She brought him birthday gifts and was good to him like an aunt or something. When Isaac was born, she stayed with him so Ash could be at the hospital with me; same with Dakota. When we had to take Iggy to be put to sleep, she stayed with the boys and reassured them it would be alright. For the last couple years, she has watched our dogs so we don’t have to pay the vet while we go out of town. So, to say I was saddened is only part of it.

I didn’t realize how comforting it was to see their cars next door every day. If you have read my blog for any period of time, you may have heard me talk about the neighbors on our other side: the ones who feed stray cats. To say I hate them is a gross understatement. They will drop dead before they move.  Just knowing that on one side of us are good-hearted people who aren’t trying to screw us over is just so… nice, you know? I will be sad to see them go but hopeful that perhaps – just maybe – a family will move in.

A few weeks ago, I was lamenting the fact that my friends and I get together on a monthly basis but they all hang out with their neighbors all the time. Each one is lucky in that they moved to neighborhoods where there were kids that went to the same schools and were the same ages as their kids. They have all become friends with their neighbors by chance. I am not as big on praying as I used to be but I am really praying for a nice family next door. It’s a great house with a cute yard; please let it be good people. The worst-case scenario is one of two things: renters who are just bad people and/or people with kids and those kids are punks. BUT, I am going to be hopeful and positive.

This put a lot of things into perspective for me though. I am very hopeful that 2014 will bring with it good things. Ash is working on a new project, I have applied to some full-time online gigs, and I am excited about change for our family: Baby Girl growing older, Elliot playing coach pitch baseball, Isaac playing flag football and going to VPK… there’s a lot going on this year.

I knew they wouldn’t live there forever; they told me years ago they wanted to go back to Colorado but I always figured that we’d move to another neighborhood before they left. But we cannot control so many aspects of our lives and this is something I must simply accept. In some ways, understanding that fact and letting it go is freeing. I can’t stop them from going but I can help them pack up and be thankful I knew them. I can greet whomever moves in next and make the best of it. Maybe in a few years, once my younger kids go on to elementary school, we can start scoping other places. Maybe we won’t always stay in Tallahassee, but if we do, we’ll definitely find a more family-filled place to relocate. For now, I am just thankful to have had such good people in our lives.

Two steps forward, one step back

The place where I bit the inside of my cheek during surgery has turned into a terrible sore which is more painful than my actual arm pain.  My arm and my hand actually feel pretty good.  I can’t pick up anything but I can use my fingers a little bit more than I could.  It is amusing to me that I figured out how to use voice recognition so I wouldn’t have to type slowly, and now it hurts to talk.  I think it’s a test; because I’m very quick to think that something – some cosmic force –  is always working against me.  Though I know this is not logically true, sometimes it does seem like it.  Perhaps in this case I have to let that go and believe that sometimes things just happen.

I am taking a half day today; Ash and I are going to the new BJ’s Brewhouse, though eating kind of sucks these days with the mouth pain.  I can keep it at bay by rinsing with hydrogen peroxide and other mouth sore meds, but it still makes eating entirely unenjoyable. Not sure what the weekend has in store for us but it’s pretty cold here.  I’ll probably try to tackle laundry the one handed, which is always pretty annoying.  Elliott has a birthday party tomorrow that I really don’t want to go to, but we’ll probably go to anyway.  It is at a skating rink, so it should be pretty funny to watch all the kids fall all over themselves.

Pretty sure our lives are about to get pretty busy.  Once I get my sutures out, Ash has a Saturday card tournament, then he runs a marathon on the same day as the Super Bowl.  Elliot starts and baseball at the end of February, then Ash has a race in Orlando at the beginning of March and a 50k at the beginning of April. His brother will be here for both.  We may also celebrate Isaac’s birthday a little early because Uncle Elliot will be here.  Isaac has yet to have a birthday with friends – we usually just have family – but this year we have to have a friend birthday.

What it all comes down to right now is that I’m not feeling like myself, I suppose due to the surgery and the mouth pain.  Oh I know that in a week or so I will feel a lot better; for now everything seems like it’s in a holding pattern.  I’m not as depressed as I was this time last year but things feel like they’re just floating, waiting for something to happen.

Maybe I need to make something happen.

A day in the life

I didn’t run yesterday. I wanted to, needed to. Have brand new shoes and everything. But instead, I left my office at 3:30. A student had come in, complaining about her teaching assignment, and my inability to form coherent sentences indicated that I was crashing hard. The night before, Dakota went to bed at 9 but woke at 12:30, 1:30, 3:30 and 5:30., apparently starving. Normally, she wakes between 3 and 4 sometime. I managed to keep the sleepiness at bay: travel mug of Green Mountain Sumatran Reserve then a grande vanilla latte from the library Starbucks after my class at 10. The air was particularly brisk and the walk from Williams to Bellamy woke me up, cleared my nose. Mid-day brought spring assignments and then, mid-afternoon, I was DONE.

I went home and ran a hot bath, made some hot Lemon Lift tea, and laid back to finish Drawn Together by one of my all-time favorite romance authors, Lauren Dane. The rest of my crew got home around 5 and we did homework and choose your own adventure dinnertime: pb&j for Isaac, grilled cheese and tomato soup for my other two guys. Once everyone had been fed, I managed to make myself a grilled cheese with one slice of colby jack, some horseradish cheddar, and a couple slices of bacon. Magical. But that was about the time Dakota started to crash too. She sometimes cries like mad when she’s really tired so between 7:30 and 8, she was nearly inconsolable. But then she fell asleep in my arms around 8. And Ash made a comment that if she fell asleep on him, he would be asleep soon after. And what do you know: I was. I slept there with her, all bundled on the couch, until 9. It was magical sleep, wonderfully peaceful sleep. I liken it to that Friends episode where Joey and Ross nap together and it was the best nap of all time.

Before getting her in bed around 9:30, I washed bottles and did a load of baby clothes. Around 10, Ash and I climbed into bed after turning the heat on for the first time this season. We watched some FSU basketball and I got out some of our fuzzy winter blankets. I drifted off to sleep nice and cozy.

Around 4;45, I bolted upright, realizing Dakota had not yet woken to eat. It’s a strange dichotomy; I want her to sleep all night but if she hasn’t woken, a small part of my brain believes that there is clearly something wrong. I went in to her room and she was snoozing peacefully, not ready to eat at all. So I got back in bed and slept about another hour until I heard her stirring on the baby monitor. The morning felt rushed but we got out of the house on time AND I had time to make sausage, egg, and cheese biscuits for the boys. And now, here I sit in my office, perusing the internet and slowly gathering things to organize on my desk, making a list of tasks to accomplish today.

It’s Luke Bryan day!

In a little bit, I’ll be going home to get ready for the show. I’ll be meeting my friends and taking one car out to the Tallahassee antique car museum, where the concert will be. I’m a little nervous leaving all three kids with Ash, though he’s pretty much a pro at this by now. It’s the bottle feeding, etc for the baby that makes me worried. Not that he can’t do it but that he’ll be stressed out by it. Silly, I know. But he also might brave Elliot’s school’s Fall festival with all three and that would make me nervous if it was ME taking them. I am sure he will be fine though. Sometimes being thrown into situations is the best thing.

I hardly ever do things for myself so I need to stop feeling guilty about it. Ash goes out a couple evenings every week and I am stuck with the three. I do just fine and I know he will too.

What is up?

I am stuck on level 181 of Candy Crush and don’t think I will ever beat it. Unlike some levels where you can get lucky and the stars align just right to win, this one is a lot trickier; I have been stuck there for over a month now. But in those waning afternoon hours where I am too tired to go out or start a new project, and all that’s on are Bones reruns, I still play the level, over and over and over.

There is a squirrel – juvenile from the looks of his scrawny legs – walking back and forth on my deck with a nut of some type in his mouth. We have a lot of them around but they usually don’t frequent my deck near the door, probably because of the dogs. Not that my dogs ever pay them any mind, though. They’re simply present. My dad’s squirrels will go right up to him and take a peanut from his hand. One will even sit on his hand and eat it. In the absence of a dog, my father has adopted squirrels.

Both mornings and evenings have been slightly cooler this week and I am eagerly awaiting actual Fall. The feel of it makes me able to cope with other stresses like ALL those activities that seem to happen around this time. It’s fairly busy right on through Christmas. I cant lie: I am a little stressed about going back to work. This upcoming week I plan to start pumping and storing milk for Dakota’s entry into daycare. The final week of September we’re going to go into the infant room for a couple hours to get used to it. I haven’t had a kid in the infant room at this daycare (both boys did in-home until they were one) so I want to see how they run things. I trust the place entirely but again, my boys were older. I have to store milk for the night I’ll be at a concert. And maybe even for a morning when I might do one of those color runs. I may not though; it’s the day after the concert and I may be a little worse for wear. I love having a baby again but there are all those provisions we must make in order to care for her. (Running during the time of breastfeeding is definitely one of the more annoying and uncomfortable facets of motherhood.)

I kind of wish we could go to the beach one more time before Summer sails on but I know it would be way too hard to make it with the baby. I used to read this blog where they traveled all over the world with their kid and they made it work, but they were made of tougher stuff. The fact that we even have to drive four hours for Thanksgiving makes me preemptively weep.

Baby Girl has started smiling this week. Though I know it is merely a reflex, I do know it is in response to something she likes, like a sound or image. It doesn’t mean she has some kind of emotional connection to me, but it’s good enough. Watching this little lump that does little more than sleep, eat, and poop, finally see your face and then react to it is rather heartwarming. And you can understand why people have more than one kid.

Some days, time slips away from me and I am disappointed that I haven’t done more. Today,  I took the boys to school then went to Target for a few things. It’s ten now and I have papers to grade, but don’t feel like it. I know I’ll be happy with myself if I do so I had better get on it.


Pre-labor musings

Between 8 AM and 2 PM yesterday, I had irregular but more painful contractions. I went home around noon and laid down, because that felt a lot better, even though I was still having them. I didn’t figure I’d be going to the hospital any time soon; this was exactly what happened with Isaac. So this time, I’m taking it with stride and knowing that my body is simply preparing for the real deal. I felt alright last night but really cold, for some reason, and just achy and tired. I fell asleep on the couch watching Casino Royale but then woke to catch Inkmaster.

This morning, I felt nauseous, which is apparently pretty common around now. No contractions yet today though. We’ll see how it goes. We wait.

I am awaiting a coupon I supposedly get from Babies R Us right around now so I can get things that I didn’t get from my registry. Waiting so we can save money on the carseat; I figure we’d better order that soon! I do feel like shopping; I wonder if it’s part of that nesting thing. Yesterday, even though I was in pain, I put the new bumper in the crib (ok, it’s a mesh liner, but still). I appeased my desire to shop by taking Elliot to get new shoes after dinner. He needed a distraction anyway; the holdover from Monday’s full moon was affecting he kids. They weren’t bad, but they were definitely out of sorts and just… weird.

I was really surprised how tired I felt after having those contractions all morning. I laid down and just felt worn. This does not bode well for those first few weeks when I have to adjust to waking up every couple hours. I do that now but I pee and go back to sleep, not walk to the nursery, feed a baby, then lay back down. Sigh. You’d think this wouldn’t worry me, seeing as how I have done it twice before.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been thinking about. I’m in limbo and waiting, just waiting. And will keep you posted.


Slightly overwhelming

A few weeks ago, I ran into one of Elliot’s former preschool teachers at the mall. While we caught up, she asked things like if we still had the same jobs, lived in the same place, etc. And I said yes, realizing I prefer stability over radical change these days. Whenever a kid gets sick though, all that is thrown out of whack. Isaac was mostly better yesterday, though napped a lot and didn’t much eat. Elliot, on the other hand, was fine all day but then around dinner, said his stomach hurt and then he commenced with the puking. Just once though and he took a bath and went to bed. He was fine all night and woke up this morning feeling normal, so he says. And Isaac woke up STARVING so that’s a good sign.

I’m glad it happened this week and not next; next week we leave for Orlando to stay in a swanky hotel. Although, I will still have work to do while there so I have no idea how that’s going to work. It’ll be me and the kids in the room while Ash is working; it’s for a conference. However, I think my parents will come over for one of the days and then on Friday, in the afternoon, we’re taking the kids to Magic Kingdom. THAT is when I will forget I even have all these jobs and just enjoy life for a bit.

It’s going to be crazy, I fear, once this new baby arrives. Though maybe not; maybe this time it’ll be so old hat we’ll all adjust just fine. That would be nice. I keep having slight panic attacks about all the things that come along with a new baby but I really don’t know why. Half of them weren’t even bad with Isaac. I.E. lack of sleep. You just resign yourself to the fact that babies need to eat all the damn time and your body adjusts. I can’t tell you how many people thought it was insane that I was the only one who got up when a kid needed to eat. Until men have the ability to lactate, then that is how it is. I wouldn’t choose formula over BFing just so it would be “fair”. Ash helped out big time when Isaac was born and I have no doubt he’ll really play a large part in keeping the boys happy while I focus on Baby Girl. Who, by the way, had three names in the running but since two have been ruled out, I am pretty sure we’re going with our original frontrunner: Olivia.

This summer will be busy getting her room ready and generally rearranging our house/lives, but the Fall will be equally crazy. A lot of things are up in the air, especially my parents’ situation. As mentioned before, my dad’s been out of a job for a while. But my mother only recently found out her position at the private school was not renewed. She has been with them in some capacity since about 1995 so it kind of sucks. Meanwhile, my dad’s been applying for a million jobs but has finally resigned himself to applying here in Tallahassee. He made first cut on a city job and has a second interview at Bass Pro Shop this coming Monday. I think it would be really good if they moved here. Though we’d lose that Orlando connection, my parents need to do what they can to be pulling in money.

I have always wondered what it would be like to have family in the same town. My sister lived here for one year, a while ago. We saw each other – maybe – once every two weeks, if that. I would like the bonuses my parents would bring for the kids: picking them up from school if we ever needed them to, emergency babysitter, and just the time they’d get to spend with them. I’d say now, with them four hours way, we see them once every month or two. It’s a good time away but the kids and my parents really benefit. My mother and I already talked about ground rules anyway; no stopping by any time you want. There have to be boundaries. But again, overall, it’s a great chance to be closer to family.

I’m really hoping something pans out for them. I know they have struggled for a long time now and it’s time they got a break. When you’re my parents’ ages, you should be thinking about retirement!

So yeah, lots of changes, lots of things just going on in general: birthday parties, beach trips, friends moving away, babies being born. It’s a turbulent time but for the most part, we’ve found our stride and we are stable.

Putting out fires but where’s MY fireman?

Monday began book orders for my entire department and since the system is new, no one knew what they were doing. Not only that, but the first person in charge was – conveniently – not at work. The second in command, also mysteriously absent. I then trained another coworker on the ins and outs of said system. Then I proceeded to do my own damn work. And I worked all evening – at home. The week has been exceedingly busy and I came home from yoga last night to find that Isaac had a slight lapse in his spotless potty training record for the week, Ash was in a funk about a work problem, and Elliot was bitching and moaning as usual.

I got the laundry started and the kids clean and dried.

After shuffling them off to bed, I ate my Publix sub and we watched Life of Pi, which was a good movie for the moment; made me remember to be thankful. Ash’s problem averted (with the help of a margarita or two… but mission accomplished.)

I thought it was Thursday all day yesterday. Today, my mind gets to relive Thursday all over again. Elliot woke up with some intestinal distress then followed it up with his most negative attitude and complaints of still being tired after 10 hours of sleep. Kid, most adults would kill for 10 hours; shut up. By the time he left my car and stood at the corner near the crossing guard. I think he was awake (mostly) and feeling better.

Seriously considering just picking up Boston Market for dinner. Not only do I not want to cook, but we may all need some comfort food. And maybe just watch a movie tonight. I need someone to come to my rescue; to quell all my fears and anger and tell ME it’s going to be alright.

I’ll settle for a coffee and donut. Yeah, that makes everything better.

Drowning, waving, whatever

This week’s theme: just keep my head above water. Thank GOD Ash comes home today. It hasn’t been HARD, per se, but it’s been a long five days with just me and the boys. We’ve made it though; he comes home tonight. The hardest part is having my brain in ON mode for that many hours a day. And for anyone who has been pregnant, the term “pregnancy brain” is totally a true thing. So not only is my gray matter in a state of flux and not altogether present, I have had to make it so.

I had final papers in a Lit class to grade, grammar tests in a comp class to grade, teaching and papers that my face-to-face class turned in (though I totally have not graded those) and I am wrestling with the new course management system for my normal job. My head has felt like it was about to explode pretty much all week. My decompression time has been in the car on the 10-15 minutes drive to retrieve the children, but then that’s over and it’s back to being ON.

The problem I now encounter with all these side jobs, is that it doesn’t actually END. If it did, I’d be stressing because that means the money would then end. And even though I make it a point not to work on them over the weekend,  i go back to being slammed at the beginning of each week. I guess what I need is a vacation  though I am afraid of the post-vacation blues I’ll inevitably feel once it’s over. My plan was to get to St. George Island this weekend, though Sunday will be warmer than Saturday and I doubt we’ll have time for that drive, after the few Easter things we actually do (baskets, egg hunt in the yard).

There’s no tee ball so at least the day is free. My plan is to actually relax and not feel like the dino below. My entire life lately feels exactly like him!


The Arcade Machine


That’s the best photo I can come up with for now but yes, we have a Killer Instinct 2 arcade machine in the kitchen. Ash bought it in (probably) 2003, when we were living in a huge ass house with other people. It worked well in the basement but then we moved here and it just doesn’t work. Now it did, before kids, because we’d have parties and people always played it. I feel like we’ve outgrown it now, even with two boys getting older. The monitor sometimes shuts off after ten minutes of play and to be honest, we just play more console and computer games. It’s kind of sad because Ash misses his days of arcade play but it’s just outgrown its space in my kitchen!