Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sicky McSicky Pants

We all have the Galloping Crud around here and it isn't even the least bit funny. Usually TS or EG gets the sickest and miraculously LH usually runs through these things really fast. DH and I usually only take turns being under the weather so one of us gets to be in charge and then the other one takes over when they feel better. This year, the flu didn't cooperate and act like it usually does.

TD and EG had a very mild case of it. Actually EG didn't run a fever at all, but she was a big-time grouchy-butt, so I kept her home as long as TD. The real patient this year, has been LH. Her fever has been at least 99.7 and all the way up to 102.5 at times. She is coughing and snotty and making all sorts of wonderful noises all day and all night. I have learned how to be all cool about this sort of thing (even though inside my brain is screaming in Panic Mode) because rushing her to the doctor for every, little, tiny sniffle is just asking to have more germs added to the mix. I am finding it harder and harder to keep my composure as she hacks and coughs in the next room. The Mom in me wants to rush up and cradle my baby in my arms and snuggle her till she feels better. The HLHS Mom in me wants to freak out and rush her to the hospital to have her X-rayed, and tested, and listened to, and watched. The Sensible Mom in me has been largely in control so far and I haven't done that yet - partially because she is getting slowly better but more because I don't want to over react again. It is VERY hard not to over react, though, because I have been through such serious episodes of sickness with all three of them, that I constantly second guess my "instincts"

When she was a little baby, I would have her in the dr's office and the ER at the drop of a hat. The slightest cough or sniffle and I was convinced that she had pneumonia again and I couldn't sleep until I knew her chest was clear. I lost track of how many times I went home from the Emergency Room being told that I was already doing everything I could and that she would be just fine. I felt like I was turning into "That Mom." The one that you KNOW the pediatrician regrets ever seeing enter into their office (after the last four pediatricians stopped taking her calls.)

Just when I relaxed a bit and thought I had put things into perspective (I managed to stay away from the ER for two whole years) I casually gave EG a hug and she felt like she was on fire. A further examination showed all three of them were running fevers and TD was pale and listless as well (this has happened over the course of a few hours.) Of course it was a Sunday evening. Before long, I had all three of them in the ER together, and TD was hooked up to IV bags because she was so dehydrated. I felt like a horrible mother for letting this happen. Surely if I had been more on top of things she wouldn't have gotten that sick. I went into Eagle Eye Mode again and I'm sure the pediatrician wondered why a seasoned mother of three was calling her once a week about silly stuff that I already knew.

In this case, the hyper-attention was a good thing. Christmas break brought another round of illness back to the house, but I managed to handle things without chucking out a major co-pay. Everyone seemed to get over things by the time school started but then something happened that put us back into the ER. LH had a substitute for her gym class who wasn't completely aware of all of issues that might come up. When the kids all ran seven laps around the gym (equal to about a mile) LH only ever ran two laps and stopped, knowing not to over do it. The teacher didn't ask her WHY she stopped running, only that she really needed to do her best. LH, doing what she was told, did her best and ran fully six laps. The entire class was cheering her on even LH was surprised at how well she did. (I can imagine this whole Chariots of Fire scene.) Then, she went back to class, put head down on her desk and promptly passed out.

Fifteen minutes and one concerned call from the nurse later and we end up back in the ER with virtually the same symptoms from the week before. The nurse took LH's oxygen level (noticing her ever-present blue lips) and then rushed us into the asthma wing due to congestion. We spent the next several hours taking breathing treatments, monitoring her breathing, heart rate, and oxygen, and trying to find things to keep a hyperactive nine year old busy in the ER. (If you've ever had to give your kids a breathing treatment, you understand why this was an issue. Asthma medication is basically speed administered as a vapor.) She went home with a prescription for antibiotics and an inhaler and she has had to use it on and off ever since.

As a mom, it is hard to get past that sort of thing. As an HLHS mom, I feel downright guilty. Did I somehow let my little girl down by not teaching her to stand up for herself and recognize her own limits? Is it the fault of the teacher for not asking? Is this just something I will have to learn to love with? I sure hope not. It took several months for LH to get over this round of sickness and her oxy levels really never recovered. About a year later we had to have LH back into surgery to put two stints in to help her overall energy level. Were these situations related? Did my lack of attention end up putting her back in the hospital? We might never know if she would have needed the stints or not if she hadn't gotten sick.

Now I face a similar dilemma. She hasn't overdone it or missed her medications, but she has been sick for at least a week now. Her appetite was gone for three or four days, and she has lost a few pounds because of it. I've been giving her all the over the counter meds I can and she still has a fever. The emergency room is for emergencies - you won't live if you don't see a doctor NOW. I think she will live through this, but I am still worried. I am going to attempt to compromise between Panic and Peace, and I will wait through the night and call the doctor in the morning. As often as I have been through this, there are no signs that talking to or seeing someone tonight is that much more important that waiting until the morning when I won't be getting people out of bed or disturbing their dinner. I know there are people at the ER at all hours, but I also know that late evening is the time when things are the craziest and I really think that exposing her to all that is counter-productive. So. I will watch her closely and call as soon as the office opens up in the morning. I hope I can resist picking up the phone until then.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bah Humbug

I want to write a nice long post today. I have lots of awesome ideas in my head that I am just dying to share. I won't though. After a week of really awesome days, I ran into a stretch of "Other" days. I am not sure if I am coming down with the bug that is going around, or if it just the pendulum swinging to the other end of the spectrum for awhile. All I really know is that I am tired, sore, and I can't see straight.

So, I will instead just say that I hope everyone else is having an awesome week. Go kiss your kids, or love up on your Other Half, or snuggle your pet, or whatever. In the post-holiday decompression phase that we are in, it is important to remember that we don't HAVE to run around freaking out. Last year is gone, this year is here, and let us spend every moment doing the best we can for ourselves and our families.

Over the past few weeks, several people have made the journey to the other side. I did not know all of them personally, but it can be just as painful watching someone close to you lose a loved one and feeling helpless to do anything for them. I look at my family and they seem so much more precious to me in the light of that. I fervently hope I can cherish their moments as long as I have breath in my body.


Thursday, January 13, 2011


Yesterday I did the smart thing and, instead of throwing my laptop through the window, I turned it upside down and shook out the junk that was hiding in the keyboard. Viola! half a dozen seed beads and two tons of crap came pouring out from between the keys and now, miraculously, both the "y" key AND the space bar work just like they should. Who'd have thought that a clean keyboard works better than a filthy one? Simply amazing, I tell you.

Know what else is amazing? My kids got to school on time, and I helped! (I feel like a Shake and Bake commercial now...) Before bed last night, I insisted that everything they needed for this morning was ready to go - shoes, clothes, school books...everything. So, even though I wasn't able to actually open my eyes until 7:15, they were ready to walk out the door (and eat breakfast at school) by 7:30. Thank you FLYLady, for convincing me that the Before Bed Routine was not just for special occasions!

Now, I am sitting in my office, dressed, and still thoroughly exhausted. Yesterday was one of those days where I, apparently, needed to get stuff done. I tried three times to take a nap and all three times, I ended up working on important things around the house, instead. It was like my brain switched to To Do List Autopilot and just kept on moving. I took care of a dozen little projects that I have needed to fix, and I still kept a happy mood and got the girls to all do their chores, too. At 5:45, I actually did manage to lie down for about an hour, but I was up and taking care of business again until bedtime.

The place was a pretty big wreck, because I was so very sick for almost a week followed by almost four days of being at home because of snow, so things weren't totally finished by bedtime. I relented and gave them each a "happy face" for their obvious hard work and sent them to bed on time. They were all snoring within five minutes of snuggling down in their nests of blankets. Frankly, it wasn't long after that when I took myself to bed, as well.

DH is staying in The City with his parents to save money on the commute, so I am alone for the rest of the week. Usually, I get a little more stressed without a back-up adult around the place, and normally that equates to less work, less organization, and taking the cheaters' way out for dinner (reheated left overs.) The past week has been far better than that, though. I've gone from needing 18 hours of sleep to only needing 8, and I'm able to use those "awake" hours with far more productivity than I am used to. Maybe it's because I was on the wrong meds and they were making everything worse. Maybe it's because I am just having a string of "better" days. Maybe I am actually learning how to control this little Monster. Who knows? What I do know is that I feel better than I have in YEARS (literally) and I am going to enjoy it as long as I can.

Last night, instead of letting the kids fend for themselves for dinner, or cooking a big meal and making a bigger mess, I had LH cook some frozen pizzas and we all sat down together to eat instead of letting them turn on the Evil Television (and leave a mess in the living room on top of the mess that is already there.) Most nights we do sit down to eat dinner together, even if it is just grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. It is the act of being together for at least a little while, that makes dinner time a routine for us and (I believe) has helped hold this family together in spite of the chaos that has surrounded us for the last several years.

Somehow, during dinner, one of the girls asked about something they heard and that started a nice little conversation. Just what is the big deal about "Gay" and what does it really mean anyway? Truly, I was delighted to have the opportunity to talk to all three girls about this. It is a subject tat has been in the news a lot lately and I know that they hear it at school being used derogatorily. As much as I needed to discuss this, just sitting them down to have a "Talk" was not what I really wanted. Something this important needs to be brought up, sure, but something this controversial to the rest of the world needs to be discussed openly, not behind closed doors or with a sense of fear.

So, what is Gay, and what is the big deal? Here is how I put it to them. Gay is a term that many people use when a boy loves a boy or a girl loves a girl the same way that Mommy and Daddy love each other - in the living together, supporting each other, acting as a couple way. (No, I didn't go THERE. It wasn't a conversation about the Birds and the Bees, people. Just about relationships.) I got three very different faces looking back at me, and that was pretty funny to me, but I managed to hold it together and kept this from being a "giggle" moment.

EG had a ton of questions, I could tell, but she usually chooses to sit tight and listen for awhile before actually asking what is on her mind (usually.) This is the one who decided to dress Ken up as Barbie, so I figured she would have something to say, but surprisingly, she just listened, soaking everything up like the sponge she is.

TD thought the idea was pretty weird, and a little funny, but once I informed her that many people are Gay and we know, very personally, lots of gay couples, she decided it wasn't so funny and started asking a lot more questions. Not everyone talks about whether they are Gay or not, just like not everyone talks about whether they are Straight or not. I don't walk around telling everyone that I kissed a man goodbye this morning. It isn't really appropriate for ANYONE to talk about it in social situations. It's called being polite and discrete. I also had to make the point that just because it doesn't need to be part of everyday conversation, doesn't mean it isn't a normal part of life. I reminded her about the female couple that are the parents of an awesome kid (Eagle Scout at 13, OA Officer for four years, all-around decent human being and really cool guy) who has been attending the Air Force Academy. Suddenly the light bulb went on. "OH! I wondered about his Moms, if they were just really good friends, or what?"

Yes, they are good friends. Best friends, like Mommy and Daddy are best friends. No, they aren't legally married because not all states are ok with that, yet, but yes, they live together and raise their kids together and support each other the way married couples do. Since they have known this couple for many years and we have never made a distinction between them and any other couple, all three girls realized at that point, that I didn't feel there was a real difference to be made. They were parents and they were together and that was that. Also, I mentioned a few other couples, as well as some single men and women I knew, and they seemed to understand that I felt it was only as important as you wanted it to be. If you are talking about who you want to spend the rest of your life with, then yes it DOES make a difference if you like opposites or equals. If you are deciding who to be friends with or who to share your school book with, it doesn't make any more difference than the color of their hair.

LH, really wanted to know, "What's the big deal? Why do people throw the word around and freak out about it?"  That was a really hard question to answer. Partly because I don't understand it completely myself, but also because it meant that I had to try and explain intolerance to someone who is completely colorblind to the people around her. The only thing I had to say was that some people feel that it is a sin according to their religion and other people feel it is socially wrong. Because of that, some people are ashamed of their children or family members who are Gay. For the people who ARE Gay, it makes it difficult to tell people about it because they don't want to be made fun of or treated badly. This brought up a discussion about "The Closet" and "Coming Out" and I think they were all a little confused, but I did the best I could.

 At this point, EG started to giggle. Mostly at thought of someone bursting out of a closet door looking "Fabulous!" As funny as her image was, I had to point out that you wouldn't laugh at someone for being in a wheel chair or having a different color hair, would you? (Of COURSE not! THAT would be rude!) So, you wouldn't laugh at a boy who likes other boys or a girl who likes other girls, then.
THAT made sense to them.

I love having the opportunity and the freedom to discuss these things with  my girls. I'm sure a lot of parents feel that 7 years old is too young to talk about stuff like this. For some kids, it might be, but I found that if I choose to ignore a topic - no matter how insignificant or important - they will keep pushing and wondering WHY I didn't want to talk about it and suddenly the cartoon that I didn't want to watch because the voices are annoying becomes a full on battle about independence and freedom.

In our family, I like to take every chance I can to teach my kids about the Values I want them to have. Whether they are asking about gay couples, or why people who have been Americans for generations are called something different because of their skin color, or even why I choose to have reusable bags on hand for recycling,  no time is a bad time to teach your children the way you want them to be. Maybe I am brainwashing them by taking them to church and telling them not to waste electricity or to be nice to everyone they meet regardless of how they look. Is all that a really bad thing?

Deb "The Mom" Lollar

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


It is both uplifting and humbling when you are in need - desperate need - and you must ask for help and then, your help is given. I asked, swallowing my pride, and I received. I prayed with all my heart, and my prayers were answered.

Just so you know, I  don't give all these details to you as a sob-story. I know which of my issues are personal an which are just beyond my control. Really, I just want to let others out there know, that some people go through this stuff and they are able to live happy lives anyway. Maybe by telling the tale of what I have to go through, it will help someone else out there either to feel less alone, or possibly recognize they maybe, they needed help too. Maybe someone can see the future of their own lives in some of mine and they can make efforts and changes to avoid the potholes that I keep falling in.

Anyway, back to the Miracle. Since we moved to The Country four months ago, money has been tighter than it even was back in the City, but we have had more motivation to make the best of thing. We've been doing so well at "making do" that I really thought we would be able to pull out of the financial tail spin on our own, without asking for help. Eventually, I was sure that I could work the numbers well enough and use my imagination creatively enough that I wouldn't have to "steal from Peter to pay Paul", as my MIL says. I also should add, that with a diagnosis of Bi-Polar Disorder, inability to manage finances and accurately predict and follow through with budgets is a common symptom.

At the beginning of December, I was getting comfortable with the notion that I could juggle bills and stay less than two weeks behind when, suddenly, our van stopped working. I had been in school for about three weeks and I had already discovered just how much it costs in gas to get to and from my college, so we were not in any type of a good place. We managed to put off the car repair for two weeks by borrowing WP's car for school, but eventually, we had to get the van fixed and when it came time to pay, the bill was twice what we had planned. It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, pushing us from less than two weeks behind to more than a month behind. A series of bounced checks and cut off utilities followed closely behind, as well as a notice from school that I have now been dropped from all classes due to poor attendance.

We managed to scrape things together, borrow a little here and there for gas and groceries, but still, all the bills were due as well as the rent, and we simply didn't have it. By the time pay day rolled back around, we were so far in the hole that we were still in the red after the deposits were posted. (That is a sick feeling, I tell you.) So, covering the bounced checks was impossible and paying anything current was even harder. Calling up the landlord and utility companies only got me so far. My stress level was cranked to 11, and then, we got hit with a major cold storm. Snow, ice, below freezing temperatures for more than 48 straight hours... everything in town - including school - shut down. (that may seem silly to those in the northern half of the lower 48, but in Texas, this is a rare occurrence.)

While we were sitting at home (adults trying to stay warm and busy, kids out enjoying a real snow day) the water gets cut off. My first thought was that there was some sort of line breakage. Then, I find out that no, it is due to non-payment and no, they won't even leave it on a trickle to make sure the pipes don't freeze (very old pier and beam houses like mine have completely exposed pipes so this is a big issue.) That by itself is pretty ugly way to spend the day, but then, we got a call from the In-Laws. A close relative (cousin of MIL) passed away after a lifelong battle with MD and a short fight with pneumonia. DH was devastated. I wasn't close to this person, so it didn't affect me nearly the same, but I did so hurt for DH and his whole family. The Good Reverend was a truly good man with an incredible sense of humor and a very strong will to fight. We will all miss him down here, but I know that God welcomed him with open arms as he walked (for the first time in most of his life) through the pearly gates to be among the Beloved in heaven.

Later that same day, a close friend of mine lost her father. He had been sick, and in the hospital but I had no clue that he was THAT sick. I had met him a few times, and I knew him to be a good man. I know he will be missed. The part of the situation that had me torn up the most was that my friend is doe with her first baby in less than a month. The joyous event of a new baby and family being created will be overshadowed by the paid and loss that her father would never have gotten to see his new grandson here on Earth.

Having already taken a humiliating hit by getting the water turned off (something the entire street knew about before long since all the kids were running in and out of ALL the houses on the block trying to stay warm and have fun at the same time) now I had the news of two separate and tragic deaths on my mind. I don't think I could have performed any sort of normal function at all, at that point, had it not been for my family around me and WP there to save the day. He gave us a five gallon jug of water for emergencies, and invited us over for dinner. After the most incredible meal of beef stew, and the gift of a warm shower, I was starting to see things a little more clearly. The dark fog was beginning to lift and I realized what I had to do - I had to ask for help from someone who could actually GIVE me the help I needed. I called The Minister and His Wife.

I really didn't think that they, or the Little Church, would be able to give me the help they needed. We had such a BIG problem, and this is such a SMALL church. I called asking them if they knew where to send me to actually get the help I would need. I never expected for The Minister to actually come to my house, get the information he needed, and help take care of these problems within a matter of hours. Apparently, some kind soul left a large sum to the church several years ago, and the interest that is created from that account is specifically used in situations like mine. I had no expectations of this, at all. One minute, I'm telling them my story, and the next, The Minister is walking over to pay the water bill for us. It was back on before dinner time. Not only that, but he found a way to pay off some of the back rent we owe in order to hold off procedures there, too. I was able to give them a check this morning and make arrangements to get caught up by the end of the month, which I think is a reasonable goal.

Monday, when I went over to WP's in the afternoon looking for answers, he told me to "put this in God's hands." I have to admit, that it was a little odd coming from him. As deeply spiritual as he is, he just doesn't say stuff like that. So, I listened to him, and I prayed. In fact, I don't think I have stopped praying yet. Granted, my prayers have gone from despair, to hope, to thanksgiving, but in my mind I am still talking with God and letting Him know.

So, there is my story of the First Miracle of the year, just proving that rainbows are not possible with rain and sun, together.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Who knew?

Apparently, I am good at beading with a loom. In just about a day, I finished two 6 inch strips of loom bead work in five colors using a design I created. And they look GOOD! I very rarely get a chance to pick up a new hobby  and find I am good at it from the beginning. Over the  past few years, though, I have to say I have tried many new things that I have always been interested in but only had the guts to attempt recently. For instance, I have always been a self-proclaimed Queen of Stick Figures even though several members of my family are incredible artists. Just before I turned 30, I picked up a book about figure sketching and found out that I am not half bad at pencil sketches. It takes me a long time and nothing I have done is worthy of being displayed, but I can confidently say that my sketches often look recognizably like the subject I was using as a model. Strangely enough, my style is eerily familiar to that of my sisters and mother. Maybe it's like a family whose handwriting is all similar?

So, after I tried (and succeeded) at creating a few pencil drawings, I branched out a bit and tried drawing things from my mind instead of from a photograph or a model. The results have been...less than stellar. Actually they have been just short of embarrassing. Also, I found I was better at plain pencil than I was at using colored pencil, pastels, or paint. That was a little odd to me, because some thing I DO know I am good at is coloring. I can fill in colors and shade and chose complimentary palettes and all sorts of stuff, as long as I don't have to start with a blank page. Plain white paper makes me nervous, I guess, and inhibits part of my creative flow. I can ink in pencil drawing (Oh...you trace...) so I would probably make a great addition to some comic book artist team, as long as I didn't have to create all the art myself. Interesting, no?

Besides coloring, inking, and pencil sketching, I have found over the last few years that I enjoy working with cloth and yarn. I grew up watching my mother sew and make all sorts of things. She has some amazing costume work that she completed for the local Renaissance Faires. At least one of her gowns is made from multi colored brocade and beaded with semi-precious gem stones from neck line to hemline (it weighs several pounds) and is intricate enough that it could go in a museum.  Naturally, I assumed that I would be at least passable at sewing, too. No way. I can sometimes pull off a straight enough seam to maybe make a pillow case that isn't totally even, but anything more complicated than that, and I have to call in the Cavalry (that, of course, would be my incredibly talented Husband who makes me sick with how easy all this stuff is for him.)

I mentioned that I am good with yarn, and that is basically true. I braid, and crochet, and knit, and finger weave pretty well. I don't do it nearly as  much as I would like to because gripping the yarn can be hard on my fingers and hands. I have a few projects that I am working on, though, and I pick one of them up when I am feeling good and I work on it until my hands get tired and I move on to something else. I have thousands of ideas on projects and color combos and designs,though, and I know that if my arms would just cooperate I might be able to be a successful and prolific crafter. 

One thing I would LOVE to be able to do but I have not the space or tools, is woodwork. It is a combination of sculpting and building with wood. Laugh if you want. The image of a rather round, short, and clumsy female wearing goggles and turning blocks of wood into cuckoo clocks IS pretty comical. I love to do it, though. I used to help my dad when I was younger with creating wood projects all the time. I love the way it feels to sand something so smooth you can hardly tell it used to be rough wood. Measuring (twice) and cutting (once) so that the blocks fit together, just so and creating useful and beautiful projects is always something that makes me smile. I can linger in the wooden section of the craft store for hours, walking along running my hands over the wood, imagining how they would look finished, sanded, maybe stained or painted. Unfortunately, this is one of those things that I will have to put off for awhile longer, at least until we have our own home again with a garage and a work room. Maybe then, I can have the space and freedom to turn the blocks of wood I see into bowls, pens, crochet hooks, knitting needles, and anything else my imagination creates.

So, the moral of the story? Try, try again. If you have never done something and it interests you, pick up a starter kit or borrow some supplies from someone you know. It could be that you realize all your interests were completely unbased in reality. However, you might just find out that you are better at something than you knew you could be.

Grandma Moses didn't start painting until she was in her seventies. Before she died, she created more than 3600 pieces and was recognized world wide for her skill and talent. Someone asked  her once, why didn't she start painting before her retirement years. Her answer? That she just never tried before. Can you imagine what would have been different had she picked up a paintbrush 20 or even 40 years sooner?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Full Week Ahead

Tonight is one of the dreaded Back To School Nights. No matter how I try, my Little Darlings are always up at least an hour later than they should be on the last night of a school vacation. Tonight, that extra hour passed swiftly by and the time kept on moving before they were even in bed, let alone asleep. A good portion of it, is really my fault, I'm afraid. It was I who kept them up, by turning a simple request for shorter bangs into a full-blown beauty parlor treatment.

For WEEKS my girls have all been begging me to give them a hair cut. This is a Big Deal in the House of Many Hearts. With as much hair as we all have together, even simple trim can be close to a three-ring-circus. When you throw in the excitement of the New Year, and new clothes for Christmas and new jewelery, a new hair style just HAS to follow it up, right?

As I said, they all have been asking for haircuts but I've been putting it off A)because I hate paying someone to take something away (we're GIVING them hair, and WE'RE paying them?!?!) B) I don't have the cash-on-hand even if I wanted to pay someone else for it, C) the last time we got hair cuts, no one was happy with them, and D) I didn't have the confidence to actually pick up the scissors and start hacking away at all those beautiful blond curls. (I really do love the girls with long hair) Anyway, about two weeks ago, even DH was looking shaggy, so I agreed to give him a trim and I haven't heard the end of it since. You see, I actually did a pretty good job (if I do say so myself) and giving a guy a good hair cut can be pretty complicated. Suddenly all of the protesting about how they were getting too old for "at home" haircuts just didn't hold water. While most kids would turn up their noses at sitting in the kitchen and letting Mom chop at their hair with some kitchen shears, my kids have been raised to be incredibly cost savvy and remarkably confident in my skills as a hairdresser (still not sure how this happened.) For them, a trip to a stylist might be a treat, but for a normal trim, they still seem to prefer the safety and cost effectiveness of my "fantastic" skills.

The nagging for a trim only got worse when Little Monster came over and I spent six hours giving her a trim AND a hairstyle - complete with multiple braids and beads at the ends. In my defense, her hair is WAY more fun to play with than ANY of my own little hearts'. She has that awesome dark, super curly, but really fine hair that is just so darn bouncy and cool.  I could never put that many braids in my girls hair, let alone beads, unless I want them to look like anything but a bad version of Justin Timberlake in cornrows. Besides that, LM sits still for hours instead of jumping up every three minutes to see "how it looks so far." In any case, after two weeks of avoiding it, putting it off any longer after giving LM a completely new 'do would have just been insulting. So, after I used it as a bribe to get them to clean up the kitchen (which they actually DID!) I ended up spending a good hour or longer on each little bundle of curls giving each of them just the perfect new style. I didn't actually start until after 5:00 (having had to wait until the kitchen was ACTUALLY done) so by the time they were trimmed, fed, showered, and actually IN bed, it was well after their bedtime. Getting them to sleep quickly with visions of a super cool return to school tomorrow dancing through their freshly trimmed heads was just about impossible. I'm not looking forward to tomorrow morning.

Actually, that isn't quite fair. I probably won't notice a difference as I will most likely be passed out still and completely oblivious to the trial and tribulations of Manic Monday Morning Chaos. I've already mentioned that I don't "do" mornings all that well. The majority of the responsibility of getting the girls up and out the door usually falls on the shoulders of DH, especially when I'm not feeling 100%. I can already tell that the best I'm going to be able to muster up is about 38 1/2 % so if DH needs me before 9:00am, he'll probably be out of luck. Failure to plan on my part often creates an emergency on everyone elses (or at least a huge inconvenience) and this is another one of those times. Before New Years, I forgot to fill the really important prescription for the meds I take every day. I've managed to stop taking almost all of the prescriptions over the last few months, but this one is really important. Without it, I feel like crap, warmed over, drug through a knothole backwards, and dizzy to boot. I know that the nausea and pain and swirlies are just part of the withdrawal, but I haven't been able to get past them long enough to stop taking this particular med. The benefits completely outweigh the side effects and as long as I don't skip any doses, I'm pretty ok most of the time.

It also ocurrs to me that I probably have mentioned this about a dozen times already. Short term memory loss is also a side effect of the withdrawal, along with feeling like hell and being really, really dizzy. Did I mention I'm off my meds and that makes me feel awful (and grouchy?) Just checking...

Truly I am very thankful that my family has been able to adapt so well to my "lack of alertness" in the morning (and the afternoon...and the evening.) Between the FM and my general disgust for the daytime before the sun comes up I don't really have enough brain cells firing to be much good. Try as I might, I haven't figured out a way to change this little fact of my life. Coffee, the Elixir Of Life, only goes so far to get me moving, and I actually have to get out of bed to get to it so mornings are usually pretty slow for me these days (It's purely out of respect and safety for my fellow man, I assure you.)  I'm going to have to figure out a magic potion pretty quickly, though, because in order for me to get to and from school with any success whatsoever, I'll have to make my schedule mesh a little more closely to that of the rest of the world.

I still have some time to get this figured out. In spite of my love of the Culinary Arts, I simply can't warrant going to and form school right now. I have arranged to take a leave of absence for the next session (or maybe two.) In my mind I know I have to start all over because I failed all three of my classes last session, and in my heart I know I'm just not quite ready to take that on successfully. Besides that, in my bank I have not the resources to actually GET back and forth to the school so attempting to go back right now would be a bit fiscally irresponsible.

Fear not. Chef D has not given up the dream of the well-funded coffee house or the Fabulous Cafe downtown. I just came to my senses, is all. Somethings are meant to be. I am meant to be a Chef. Somethings, however, take a bit more work and cash-on-hand than I am fully able to devote, and so I will extend my vacation a bit longer. Like, maybe until March. Or so...


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Up Late

It is officially the New Year and I don't really want to go to bed, yet. All the kids are sleeping and it is quiet and peaceful. I want to just sit here and soak up the post-holiday happy vibes and enjoy the near-solitude for awhile.

I didn't party hard this year. In fact, I hardly ever do. Since the regrettable Halloween of '96 where I learned my lesson about over-indulging and mixing my drinks (I have the pictures to remind me, since I can't remember it on my own) I just haven't really been inclined to really boogie down and go crazy for holidays. I don't really have a problem with music and dancing and yummy drinks and all that. It's just that it feels like such a waste when you work that hard to look that good and have a good time only to get numb and forget most of it. I think I would rather keep my wits about me and get to tell everyone else how goofy they looked after their 9th whiskey and coke. Plus, I can't warrant spending money on fancy clothes, restaurant bills, and taxi cabs just so I can spend the evening in a room full of too many people, loud music, and cheap champagne. Maybe when I grow up a little, I will come to appreciate it all. For now, I'd rather be safe and warm at home with my many hearts than risk losing myself or someone else to one of the reckless party-goers or (even worse) drunk drivers blazing down the highway full to the brim with artificial confidence and hard earned stupidity.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind being social and I love a good drink. But, if I'm going to make a party of it, it has to be good friends and it has to be a GOOD drink. Since I am now too far from almost everyone I would want to party with, I'll just spend it at home, thank you. Plus, everyday beer just won't do, and cheap, generic, knock-off liquor is just a hangover waiting to happen. Since I only indulge in one or two drinks every now and then, I want to enjoy every drop of it. If it IS malt liquor, it's got to be a boch or a dark ale. If it's wine, it needs to be rich, flavorful, and either red or white (forget that blush, white zinfandel, rose stuff.) When it comes to hard liquor, I would really prefer something smooth and sweet on the rocks, or even something strong and hard mixed with something smooth and sweet. (I wouldn't really consider myself a connoisseur, more like an alcohol snob.) Sure, call me a wuss and a pansy for sipping a fruity cocktail instead of shooting whiskey. I'm cool with that. I'm also cool with calling you a cab when you pass out in the bathroom. And taking pictures of you drooling on yourself. And sending the pictures to your mom. (Just a warning, don't get overly intoxicated around me. I'll remember lots more than you will and I enjoy it that way.)

Anyway, tonight while trying to find something tasty without too much kick, I found my new favorite mixed drink. Normally, I like rum mixed with anything, so things like daiquiris and mojitos top my go-to list of tasty drinks. Without fruit of any sort in my kitchen, all those were not possible. Most of the shot-type drinks were off the list, too, since we got rid of most of our really good stuff before we moved (Celtic Crossing and Irish Cream, I miss you my friends.) Instead of driving for 45 minutes and spending money at the liquor store tonight, I decided to make something using only what I had on hand, and (surprisingly) it worked. I mixed amaretto and cola and I liked it even better than the time I accidentally found out how much I like Captain Morgan Spiced Rum. To make it feel fancier, I sipped it out of a wine glass so I got to be all grown-up and stuff in front of the kids. (Ok, I don't really own wine glasses. They are long stemmed water glasses that I drink wine out of. I suppose it's a bit trailer trashy, but I haven't been able to break one yet, so I'll stick with them.) but to keep it light I drank it over crushed ice all night. I have two words for you Yummy and Delicious. Why did I never figure this out before? The discovery of this wonderful union came as much out of a pitifully spare liquor cabinet as from a real desire to mix the two, but as I happened to have both on hand, (and I already mentioned my desire to not purchase anything further) I gave the mix a shot and I am so glad I did. I think I have a new tool in my "It's five o'clock and I want the world to disappear" arsenal.

Tonight, while drinking a total of two and a half glasses of this concoction (I told you, I'm a real light weight these days,) I got to hang out with all of my kids and I had a bonus, too. I picked up my oldest niece this afternoon and invited her to stay with us for the weekend. Little Monster is a little less than a year older than Little Heart and I love her to bits. She has three younger brothers, so she is the only girl-child in her house and I love getting the chance to bring her around my girls and let her relax without being in charge of anyone else. I know (from experience) that being a big sister in a big family can be a LOT of work. Whether asked or expected, big sisters pick up a lot of the slack for moms. That's just the way it is. Giving them a break every now and then can be very healthy. Besides that, I think LM is just a cool little chick. When she was very little, even before LH was born, I got to spend a lot of time with her. I fell in love with her creamy brown skin and curly dark hair as much as her incredible imagination and goofy wit. Even as a toddler she was blast to have around, and that hasn't changed after 13 years. She much more "plugged in" than she was before (she has her ipod in one hand, cell phone sending texts in the other, and the computer on FB and IM's at the same time) but she is still my Little Monster, and she always will be.

My motivations, aren't 100% altruistic, though. LH just came back from a few days' stay at her grandparents but she doesn't go back to school until Monday. That means she was wandering around the house getting into trouble, or messing with her little sisters, just to have something to do. If I didn't provide some sort of distraction for her, I think EG and TD were going to launch and full-scale assault and rebellion. Having a girl-cousin stay with us was just the added "fun" LH needed to convince her to leave her poor sisters alone.

After a taco and nacho dinner, ginger ale toasts at midnight, and a full hour of Apples to Apples (Junior Edition to accommodate EG and TD) we finally got all four girls in bed and quiet by 1:00. DH and I have been up since then spending quiet time together, doing our own separate things, but close together. By now, I am actually getting a little bit tired and I should be able to go to sleep soon. One of the disadvantages of taking sleeping meds - mixing them with any alcohol is very, very bad, so I can't drink and then take them too soon after. I either have to try to get to sleep on my own (not very easy) or I have to wait several hours after a drink before I can go to bed (to make sure the alcohol is out of my system.) Tonight I'm opting for the "wait several hours" option. If I have to wrangle all four girls again tomorrow, I'm going to need all the rest I can get.

The past year has been filled with so much of everything, that I have a feeling getting my rest will be more important than ever. Over the last 12 months, I have come to many new realizations about myself. Things like, I love to write, I suck at working for other people, I love to cook, I suck at being a housekeeper, I love being a mother and wife, I am NOT crazy, and there IS a valid reason for my pain, fatigue, and regular bouts ickiness. I picked up and relocated my family 75 miles away from everything I was comfortable with in search of a simpler and more comfortable life. I bought a new car, sold 50% of my belongings, and took more risks than I have made in many, many years. I didn't manage to lose the weight I gained, but I didn't gain any more, so that is a big positive for me. I have learned more about what makes me tick and I have taken my health into my own hands more effectively than I was able to before. Financially, I am not exactly better off, but I am not worse off and I am slowy learning to face and control the making and spending of resources much more efficiently than I did before.

As I mentioned before, I won't make New Years Resolutions, but I do hope that certain things will come to pass before this year passes on. I hope I can become more stable health wise and even start to go further down the path to healing. I hope that I can figure out a way to balance time, money, and energy so I can stop feeling like I'm being pulled in too many ways at once. I hope that I can bring new and interesting dishes to the table and introduce my family to new foods. I hope I can write more than I ever have before so that I can feel more comfortable submitting my work for publishing. I hope I can get BBD back, because I really, really miss my dog. And I hope I can bless all of you with good thoughts and plenty of smiles in whatever way I can.

So with that, dear friends, I say good night to you, good bye to the old year, and hello to the new.