Field Trip

I had trouble getting out of bed.

My sinuses were all blocked up and I could feel that the pressure was only going to get worse. I couldn’t breathe out of my nose and those of you who know me know that I can’t stand [being] a mouth breather.

It was the day of my kindergartner’s big field trip to the children’s museum and I had signed up to go. I told my husband that he’d have to go instead because I wasn’t going to make it; I felt like death warmed over.

He left the house with my son and headed to school. I got up with my daughter and started getting ready for the day, which included taking a full dose of sudafed. My mind was reeling, and the sudafed made it reel even faster. I was really sad that I’d be missing the field trip, and I was frustrated about feeling so awful.

Once I started moving around and ate breakfast and ruminated some more, I called my husband. When he picked up, I could hear a whole lot of excited little kid screaming in the background.

“I’m feeling a bit better and I want to come! I think I can make it. Am I too late?” The school was just two blocks away.

“Are you sure? You still have time, if we switch now.”

“Tell the teacher that I’m coming. I’ll be ready to leave the house when you get here. Thanks!”

I grabbed my jacket and the lunch I had made for myself the night before. I kissed my daughter goodbye and then ran out the door as soon as I saw my husband coming. I huffed it to the school and waved to my kid’s teacher.

“Glad you could make it,” she said with a smile.

“I rallied the troops…and I’m on a lot of cold medication.”

We went on a bus full (very full) of very excited, very loud kindergartners and parent chaperones. I was in charge of my son and two other sweet boys and we spent the day negotiating how much time to spend in which area of the museum, because we needed to stay together.

Kids were running everywhere, touching everything.

I took pictures of my son with a group of kids climbing on play structures, splashing in water exhibits, sharing mounds of clay whose only purpose was to be shaped into robots of various sorts.

I was struggling to concentrate, as my head had that stuck-in-a-fishbowl feeling and I felt exhausted.

I was standing in the main entryway, waiting for the boys to decide where to go next, and my watch buzzed.

I glanced at my wrist and saw an alert from NPR.

“The WHO has declared the Coronavirus a global pandemic,” read the headline.

I looked up at the pandemonium around me and thought, oh shit.

It was March 11, 2020.

Books Read Amidst A Pandemic

I’ve kept a list of books I’ve read since I was about 8. I don’t think I’ve listed every single book I’ve ever read, but it’s pretty close. It’s interesting for me to go back over the list and look at trends…which years in adulthood I’ve read the least, which I’ve read the most, and what was going on in my life that dictated those changes.

Some books I barely remember and others I can picture where I was sitting and what time of year it was and even what I was eating when I was reading.

This year, when everything first shut down in March I was reading Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer. I had read Into Thin Air several years ago, and that book was so exciting, so compelling that I couldn’t put it down, so I gave Wild a go. Into The Wild was not nearly as exciting for me, but the survivalist in me enjoyed reading about the true story of a free-spirited young man who desperately wanted to live off the land on his own and paid the price for choices made. What will forever make this book stand out in my mind is that I read it amidst the backdrop of an unfolding global pandemic, stuck at home while the protagonist singlehandedly took on the world and left everything behind.

In the middle of reading Wild I had put Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel on hold at the library, just before it closed down completely for several months. I thought I was out of luck to get it any time soon, but my friend who works there saw my hold come in after the shutdown, asked her boss for permission, checked the book out to me, and hand delivered it to my door! What lovely service! This book was recommended to me by friends who know me and know that I love apocalyptic/dystopian/survival and now pandemic stories. Y’all, the similarities between the pandemic in this book and Covid are uncanny and sent shivers down my spine as I sat in my front yard in the sun reading for hours and ignoring my family one Sunday afternoon. I also appreciated how the book wove in timelines of various overlapping characters that spanned from pre- to post-pandemic.

A few books later I read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah because a friend of mine thought I’d like it so she lent me her copy. If I remember correctly, she said she thought of me because it had “strong female characters,” and boy howdy, am I glad she did! This book was, hands down, the best book I’ve read in at least two years. For some reason I have it in my head that I don’t like historical fiction, but I think I need to recalibrate that notion based on this example. This book was mainly set in WWII era France and focused on how two sisters struggled and fought and lived through various atrocities. I find that time period extremely compelling, as does my husband. Usually he’s focused on the military side of things while I love to learn about the political/psychological/socioeconomic aspects of civilian upheaval, struggle, and survival, and this book did exactly that for me. This book was so moving that it had me outright sobbing at more than one point and it read like a movie. Five stars; go read it now.

After Nightingale, I needed something extra light so I picked up The Maze Runner by James Dashner from the Little Free Library. It was definitely written for teen boys, but I enjoyed the original dystopian mystery concept and it went quickly as a nice palate-cleanser. I watched the movie of it afterwards. I wasn’t intrigued enough to continue on with the series, but your tween cousin might be.

A bit later on, I escaped back into the world of Panem and it was glorious! I read The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. As devout fans know, I was skeptical that this book could live up to the original Hunger Games trilogy and in my opinion it did a fine job, although the plot started to lag 3/4 of the way through. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know young Corelanus Snow and I was singing The Hanging Tree for weeks afterward.

Towards the second half of this year I started to re-read the Twilight series, which I hadn’t done since getting married and having kids. I desperately needed an escape from the world and current events. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were many details I’d forgotten about, which made the experience feel new again. Of course, after Twilight I read the brand new Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer, which is the same plot as the first book told from the point of view of the mind-reading vampire, Edward. Highly entertaining and satisfying both for my inner teeny-bopper and for previous me who read the leaked incomplete manuscript of this book years ago and has been lusting after the conclusion ever since.

Sprinkled in there around Halloween, I read Bird Box and its sequel, Malorie, both by Josh Malerman. Bird Box was much creepier than the movie. Although Malorie was interesting in its attempt to answer the question of now what? at the end of the first, it fell flat for me.

Other special mentions:

  • I re-read Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell for the first time since it was read aloud to me by my 4th grade student teacher. This book is an amazing jem: it features an incredibly strong and determined young female protagonist AND – what escaped me before – it’s based on a true story (of a girl left alone on her native island for years)!
  • I read Little Weirds by Jenny Slate because I like her standup and I find her hilarious and quirky and delightfully anxious, but…I hated the book. It was too weird for me.
  • I got my hands on a copy of The Power by Naomi Alderman and shoo-dang, this was a fun read. Women and girls now have the power to produce electrical current through their skin and they use it to stop taking shit from men?! SIGN ME UP! It didn’t quite go the direction I wanted, but I loved the concept. And interesting that this is a book-within-a-book, where the story is told from the future as a flashback of sorts. Read it, and you’ll get what I mean.

I could go on and on and I didn’t mean for this post to be so long but I LOVE BOOKS and the year of the pandemic calls for many.

Next up on my list: A Promised Land by Barack Obama.

What have you read in 2020 that you’ve loved? Hated? Used as toilet paper?


Day 29 – The second to last day

Luck Has Nothing to do With It

When I’m chatting with ladies who don’t know me all that well, who are only acquaintances, sometimes the topic of household duties comes up.

Oh, I’m so tired of cooking! Say, what are your favorite recipes to make for your family?

Internally, my eyes roll back in their sockets before I respond.

Actually…my husband cooks in our house.

And then I brace myself for the two-pronged response that I almost always get:

First is SHOCK: Whoa! What?!

Second is: Wow, you’re so lucky! I wish my husband would do that!

I have so many issues with this. First of all, just because I’m female and I’m a wife and a mom does not mean that I like to cook, or that I cook at all. That bias is still present for me, hence the jolt of weird guilt that goes through me when I end up confessing shirking my domestic womanly duties.

Second of all, luck has nothing to do with this arrangement. I chose a dude who doesn’t adhere to rigid gender roles, just like me. I find that attractive in a partner. Also, the way we negotiate the household duties is based on practicality and it’s on a fluid, ongoing basis. We do what we’re good at, what we like, and what works better for our family. Why the frick should I cook simply because I’m female? Doesn’t make any horsesense to me.

Third, it makes me so mad that it’s flippin 2020 and we’re still having these conversations. And the pandemic is only making things worse, as I saw a headline recently that reported several million American women left the workforce since March. As for me, I didn’t leave it, but it sure as heck delayed my entry back into it. Because, while other countries have social/government run safety nets, the United States has women.

I recently saw the interview Melinda Gates did with Dave Letterman on his Netflix show. In it, she said that when her oldest kid was in preschool, her husband Bill and her decided that he would drive their kid to school two days a week. That’s how they negotiated the household duties that would work for their family. As the school year went on, Melinda noticed that more and more dads were also driving their kids. When she spoke to the other moms, they said that once they saw Bill driving his daughter, they went home and told their husbands that if Bill fucking Gates could drive his kid to school, those husbands could, too.

And so. If my husband can cook dinner like a boss, yours can too. Let’s show each other that gender roles are bogus and all they do is hold us back, men and women both.

Luck has nothing to do with it.


Day 14

Peace+Tranquility On Fire

Today I’ve been trying to keep my cool.

Yeah right. Like I had any cool to begin with. To rephrase, I’ve been trying to keep my inner monologue – which today is only the sound of my desperate, frantic screaming – where it belongs, on the inside.

On the surface, the day has seemed mostly normal. Mostly.

Unfortunately, my robot vacuum lovingly named Olaf woke me up at 5am with a distant jingle followed by a robotic female voice informing me that DO-DO. BATTERY IS LOW. DO-DO.

Dazed and confused, my heart leapt into my throat and I prepared to die. Even after I figured out what was happening and realized I couldn’t fix the issue through the app on my phone, I still woke my husband to help because there was no way I was going downstairs by myself at night because the bent neck lady was waiting and fuck no to that. (I’m only two episodes in, and while my nerves may not let me ever finish, no spoilers please in case I ever do.)

Anyway, the point is that my day started off with me being afraid for my life and that’s keeping with the theme of this year.

I made coffee, I began helping my kid with online school. I wiped my littler kid’s butt.

I decided one cup WAS NOT ENOUGH so I made a cup of tea. Caffeine tends to make me anxious, but I like the ritual and I like the taste so while this may or may not have contributed to my goal you can fight me.

I decided my mid-morning hobbit snack needed some ambiance so I lit a candle. My husband hates scented candles but I did it anyway. To avoid a fight I decided to tell him about it before he had the chance to notice on his own, but looking back I’m wondering if maybe I could have used more tact.

Me, as I burst into the room: I LIT A CANDLE AND IT’S CALLED PEACE+TRANQUILITY. DON’T HATE ME.

Him: …Is it working?

Me, shouting: OF COURSE IT’S WORKING! YOU WANT SOME TEA?!

After school and lunch, I ran out of the house to do my normal Tuesday errands, which involve the library and picking up our grocery order. Today, the order was a bit bigger in case election rioters release the murder hornets and I blasted my car stereo so I could no longer hear the voices in my head.

While I’m wearing suffragette white under my jacket and RBG earrings, I decided I needed to make a louder statement.

After returning to the house and getting my kids outside to run around, now the real nail-biting portion of the day begins as I turn on the TV and re-learn the fucking electoral college.

Choose love, y’all. Let’s get through this.


Day 3

Holding My Breath

Like many Americans, I’m having some feelings this week. Lots of flashbacks to the last election.

Four years ago, I was pregnant with my daughter and I was excited. I was so sure my daughter would be born into a world where she’d be able to take a female American president for granted. To me, it seemed like a no-brainer: our country’s most qualified candidate in history was running against our country’s most unqualified, outwardly racist and misogynistic candidate. It should have been a slam dunk.

I believed the polls. I had faith that an overwhelming majority of Americans would not choose fear and ignorance and hate. Needless to say, the outcome was shocking and traumatic. The experience was definitely a loss of innocence.

That election day I attended a goodbye party for another mom-friend of mine. This was a sad occasion for my whole family since her husband was friends with my husband and they were basically the first friends we made after moving to Oregon. This party was also the last time I planned to leave the house for a while, as my goal was to potty train my 2 year old son as best I could before the new baby came.

We had election coverage on in the background while we ate dinner. We had to turn it off while my husband put my son to bed, and I remember sitting in my room on my phone, scrolling. My first indication that something was wrong was when Florida went to He Who Must Not Be Named. After that, we watched with growing fear and went to bed in shock and disbelief.

I woke up the next day in a daze and proceeded with the potty training plan. It was horrible, stressful. I spent a good portion of the day in tears, not knowing what exactly I was crying about. All of the day was spent elbow deep in piss and shit, one way or another.

I remember thinking that my daughter would be ALMOST FOUR before we’d have the chance to vote him out. Four years is a hell of a long time to do a lot of damage. And so much damage has indeed been done.

As I write this, it feels akin to how one might tell a story of where they were and what they were doing when the twin towers fell or when Kennedy was shot. It was a dark day; one I’ll never forget. Looking back, it spun me (us) into a crazy-ass couple of years. My daughter was born. My post-partum anxiety took off like a brush fire. I went back to therapy. I spent a good few years just trying to get ahold of myself and figure out who I was and how to leave the house with pants on. All this with a background of news reports on hate, ignorance, fear, anger, violence. Rolling back progress and denying human rights.

Fall of 2019, I finally started feeling better, consistently better. I, like many others, declared that 2020 was going to be my year. And it was…until the pandemic. And now the election.

So you can see (I hope) how I am holding my breath. I’m white knuckling this. I’m so angry and scared. I want to believe the polls. I want to have faith in people to do the right thing. But frankly, this country is not what I thought it was, and we’ve all been here before, on this abusive rollercoaster from which we can’t seem to get off. I’m honestly not sure how I’ll get through the next few days…or weeks…or longer, depending.

To those in power who are using that power for personal gain and to manipulate and spread fear: we see right through you. You might be fooling some, but you sure as hell aren’t fooling me.

Abusive people use anything at their disposal to have power and control over others. If they can’t control others, their power is gone. Abusive people try to stop others from voting. Abusive people try to sue for votes to not be counted. Abusive people lie and manipulate the system. Abusive people threaten violence. Abusive people intimidate (in this case, by bringing guns to the polls, or by blocking traffic, etc.). Abusive people gaslight others and deny any wrongdoing. All of these behaviors are coming from a place of insecurity, NOT love, NOT protection, because if these people knew they could be fairly reelected in a just, democratic system, then there would be no need for such devious theatrics.

Abuse is not strength. Make no mistake, we are in an abusive relationship and that is an incredibly powerless feeling.

I voted as soon as I possibly could. I even made sure my ballot was received. And now, I wait. Full of dread, fear…and some cautious hope.


Day 2

Halloween Afterglow

Welcome to Day 1 of NaBloPoMo, or as I like to call it, HolyShitIForgotINeedToGoPostSomethingBRB. I really enjoy writing, but give me a deadline and it almost immediately becomes a yucky chore. So I do this month to challenge myself and I do it in 2020 because why the hell not? It’s a healthy outlet that I will add to my pile of leftover Halloween candy and leftover Labor Day booze (that’s a thing right?). Also, I figure that this healthy activity gets me out of things because now I just hole myself up in my room (ok, the bathroom) and yell SORRY, CAN’T! I’M BLOGGING!

Without any further ado.

I am basking in the Halloween afterglow, you guys.

We saved it, and I’m so glad.

Halloween is my very most favorite, but my expectations were appropriately low because hashtag dumpster fire. As you know, I usually make or put together as much of the costumes as possible. I don’t like to buy the premade costumes cuz that feels like cheating.

While my kids are still young and impressionable, I also try to wrangle my living companions into a family group costume and this year was no exception. Because I wanted to do something easy, I convinced my kids that we could all be The Incredibles. Sure, it’s been done, but it would be fun to be a superhero family who runs around putting out dumpster fires! Plus, I figured it couldn’t be too hard to find some red clothes and slap on some black masks.

Well….after some online shopping and price comparison, I realized that buying all the materials to make 4 Incredibles was going to cost about 2-3 times as much as the premade ones. Soooo, I found myself giving in because 2020 has sucked all my energy. I filled my Amazon shopping cart with the costumes we’d need and then I headed to the local Halloween popup store to see what they had. I called my husband from the store sounding frantic because I was second guessing what I was about to do; my husband probably thought I had been in a car accident or something.

Me: Brian! The store doesn’t have all we need! I’ll need to get some on Amazon!

B: Then do that.

Me: But what if they don’t fit!! And this one’s too expensive! Do the kids even want to be The Incredibles anyway?!

B: Just come home. Are you okay?

Me: I’m not okay! Nothing about this is okay! Do we need any more fake blood? Maybe I’ll just use my own.

B: What? Put down the knife and come home. I’m hanging up now.

The takeaway here is that 2020 has also zapped my ability to make any kind of decision.

It’s true that originally my kids wanted us to be characters from Frozen. We haven’t done that Disney movie yet for Halloween, and my kids are still obsessed. I had originally vetoed the idea because there was no way I’d be able to make all those costumes during Covid when I can’t spend hours at Goodwill like I usually would. But. Now I was considering…gulp…buying premade costumes. I was this close to pulling the trigger on the premade Incredibles when the ghost of Covid Halloween came to me and said, hey. hey you. put down the knife and look at me. first of all, there is such a thing as too much blood in a Halloween display. please. let’s keep this classy. second. you’re allowed to buy premade Halloween costumes during Covid. I give you permission. make your kids happy.

And that’s how I was finally able to buy an Olaf costume for my son, an Anna costume for myself, and spruced up an Elsa costume that had been given to us for my daughter. My husband was to be Kristoff, but those costumes were super expensive, and so my mom came to the rescue! She bought a quarter zip black jackety thing, took out the zipper and sewed on the fake fur and burgundy trim. We used the same fabric for his chic burgundy sash. Lastly, my mom fashioned some awesome curly-toed bootie out of felt and fake fur that strapped on over his normal shoes. He added a black beanie and bam! We were set.

As soon as these decisions were made, I felt so much better. Not only were we gonna be what my kids actually wanted to be in the first place, but I realized that I was gonna get to play a Disney princess for the first time in my life!! And not just any princess – one of my favorites!

What was better still was that we were able to plan and enjoy socially distant Halloween fun that made the holiday feel just as fun and festive as any other year. I helped plan and execute a mini parade where families watched from their parked cars, and on Halloween night we did a treasure hunt fully masked with some friends.

One thing that continually brings me hope during Covid is how humans refuse to give up. So many of us are making the most of this situation and we’re finding the most creative ways to still have fun and be as safe as possible.

Are you, are you, coming to the tree…

A dumpster fire, you say? Let’s all sit around it and roast our fucking marshmallows. I hope everyone had a happy and safe Halloween!


Day 1

Team Cheer Peppers Dumpster Fire

This November, I’m going to post once a day.

Why, you ask?

Because I am a blogger, and in November we wear pink we post for NaBloPoMo, or National Blogging Post Month, or more affectionately called NanoPolano, aka Team Cheer Peppers. Plus, it’s also the pandemic-social-distancing edition, and I have nothing better to do, my friends. I mean, this year is already a world-class shit show, and so why not add a little class and sass to this dumpster fire? Why not indeed.

If you’ve been on this ride with me before, bless you, because things tend to get hairy towards the end (or in the middle if I’m being honest) when I rapidly run out of writing ideas.

And, as the saying goes, it takes a village to write a blog, so this is where you come in, my dear Psychos.

  1. Please comment below with compelling, witty, and/or thoughtful ideas of what I should write about in the coming month. Winning ideas will be featured on the blog accompanied with virtual hugs and kisses and an imaginary cookie.
  2. If you have the time and would like to support other bloggers on Team Cheer Peppers, please check them out in all their glory: Team Cheer Peppers 2020!

Wish me luck, dear Psychos. Lord knows I’m going to need it.

Challenge Accepted, MFers

2020 is my year, bitches.

I’ve taken my extra time away from babies and I’ve surprisingly spent a good chunk of it exercising and shit. I know, I’ve surprised even myself. This morning, I was running around the house in my sports bra, getting the kids ready for school, and my husband first asked this weird half-naked lady with purple hair if she’d seen his wife, and then, upon remembering how hot I am, asked me if I knew where the gun show was. (spoiler alert, I do.)

That’s right. We know how to keep that spark alive.

Ever since my daughter was done breastfeeding and my body became my very own again, I’ve been working to really, truly take care of myself. I’ve had mental health stuff come up. I’ve had a bunch of seemingly random health stuff come up, too. Skin issues, GI issues, chronic acid reflux issues, my ongoing headaches and migraines. I’ve had a few tests done for the GI stuff and the short version is that they can’t find anything physically wrong with me. That leaves me with…my diet. The food-like things I put into my body.

About a year ago I cut out some dairy, but not all. I feel like that has helped some. Not all. I’ve also cut out or reduced a few things that trigger my reflux. So that helps. But not all the way.

Sooooooooo, my dear psychos, I’m taking the plunge. Starting tomorrow, I’m doing Whole 30. Wholey crap. For those of you unfamiliar, Whole 30 is an elimination diet to see how certain food groups affect your body – you eat whole foods for 30 days and then slowly add stuff back in to see what happens. It’s a good way to see if you have any allergies or aversions and junk. Basically, I can have meat, fish, eggs, fruits, veggies, nuts. Nothing else. No added sugar, no soy, no dairy, no legumes, no grains, no alcohol.

This is a big deal for me. I’ve always eaten everything. I don’t have any obvious allergies and I’m generally not a picky eater. I’ve also never been on a special diet before, ever. Unless you count my surgery prep and the stuff I couldn’t eat during pregnancies, I’ve never really restricted myself. And guys, my parents are from the midwest. Dairy is, like, THE most important food group. It’s like how Bubba is with shrimp: there are so many ways you can have cheese. There’s sliced cheese, grated cheese, powdered cheese, melted cheese, blocks of cheese, wheels of cheese. There’s cheese curds and cheesecake. Don’t forget cheesewhiz. I grew up having cows milk with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Ice cream almost every night. Dear lord, my body is a temple and it’s never not been worshipped with dairy.

This is going to be interesting, y’all.

Luckily, I have a friend, whom I’ll call M, and she’s done this before and she offered to do it with me now and to be my emotional support animal. Honestly, I don’t think she’s aware of what she signed up for, because when I get hangry, all bets are off. I’ll be texting her in the middle of the night needing a peptalk so I don’t inhale my kids’ Valentines candy in my walk-in closet.

It goes without saying that I plan to blog about this experience as much as I need to and probably more than you all would like. Food is such an emotional thing. We have living, breathing relationships with it because it’s rooted in culture and family and it’s woven into every. single. social. gathering.

I’m treating this like one big experiment, and it’s my goal to remain determined and curious. Although I’m a rule follower to the core, M (dude, when I call you M, it reminds me of that kickass lady from the Bond movies played by Dame Judy Dench. You’re welcome.) kinda gave me permission to bend some small rules so I don’t go absolutely crazy. Like, I may still cook with real butter (I’m just kidding! I don’t cook, my husband does. A word on that later). And I’ll probably have some store-bought mayo (another midwestern food group – you can’t make a salad without it!), but I’m very interested to see how I feel without all that sugar and dairy and grain in my system. I’m looking forward to the poops! Oh, the BMs! I’ve heard the legends and I want to know what secrets lie within…and without.

Advanced thanks to M and to my husband, who has been amazingly supportive so far. He does all the cooking in the house, and he’s been planning meals for me and I know he’s gonna be there to cheer me on this whole way, even when I’ll be tackling him to the ground trying to eat the pasta hanging out of his mouth.

It all starts tomorrow, folks. What’s hilarious is that my mom friends are going out after we walk/jog/run tomorrow morning for coffee and donuts. FUCKING DONUTS ALREADY?!

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

2020: There will be multiple abs

Happy New Year, y’alls!

I felt the urge to mark this milestone, the passage of time by writing. An attempt to reflect a little more deliberately.

It’s the end of another year, and I felt like this year was on the upswing, which is saying a lot. I’ve had a very tumultuous several years lately. My daughter just turned frickin THREE, started preschool, and folks, we’re finally out of the tiny human slash baby phase, and oh man, it feels so good. We’re getting rid of diapers and some strollers and the high chair and baby toys…and making room for Frozen dolls, Legos, big feelings, and books.

Speaking of books, my oldest turned FIVE and he’s starting to effing r-e-a-d. The other day, I spelled s-n-a-c-k-s to my husband in front of the kids and my son PUT THE LETTERS TOGETHER AND SAID THE WORD. I’ve never been so simultaneously proud and horrified. I’m now going to have to learn French (or work on my Dutch, ja?) because my kids already know too much sign language and Spanish (seriously). Also, my son’s entry into kindergarten sparked this huge turnaround in terms of his behavior and maturity level. Finally, he’s not melting down during every little transition. And finally, he’s decided to EAT FOOD TO LIVE (not every day, but it’s progress!)

Because both my kids are in school now, this fall I got 6 glorious hours a week to myself. I joined a gym, and you guys, I am the proud owner of an ab. It’s real and it’s spectacular.

It’s been a big year and we’ve all gotten some breathing room; it’s been a life-saver. Right now I’m in the middle of winter break where both kids are home with me full time again and I seriously can’t remember how or why I got through having them in my hair and watching me poop and screaming in the house every. single. frickin. day.

I can feel the days, weeks, months getting more crammed and hectic as the kids get older and more active. As I continue to try and keep a lid on that, I’ve been enjoying having more intelligent interactions with them and watching them turn into little humans. Dare I say it, parenting has gotten easier, for the moment. I plan to enjoy it as much as I can, for as long as I can.

As for me, well…eventually the plan is to go back to work, hopefully part time. I’m dying to do therapy again. But, as soon as I start thinking about all the logistics, I feel incredibly overwhelmed. First, I have to reinstate my license which means spending lots of time and money getting my continuing education credits. That also means finding and paying for childcare while I do that. Then comes the job search, cover letters, interviews (all of which I loathe with the fire of a thousand suns). Any job would have to feel worth it (a privilege I recognize that I have). It’d have to pay enough and be close enough to home. It would either have to be super flexible OR I’d have to magically find childcare to pick up my kids and then there’s early release days and teacher work days and breaks and holy crap. Without family here, or a professional network, all this put together sounds like Mount Everest.

I know, I know, one step at a time. And I’ll do that. At some point.

As for now, I’m enjoying the small bits of time I’ve gotten to do what makes me happy. In the past year, I took two painting classes! And one was a bucket lister because I got to work with oils for the first time – LOVED it. I Marie Kondoed my entire house this year, more or less. It’s a work in progress, as I love to shop for just the right storage containers. We took our first major family road trip! I completed NaBloPoMo for the second time ever. I became secretary on the board of my local MOMS Club chapter. I was able to volunteer in both my kids’ classes. I made it to my first Women’s March (hopefully there won’t be a need for too many more of those). I saw NKOTB, and, more importantly, THE BACKSTREET BOYS! Dear lord that was fun! I ran my second 5k ever, through downtown Portland where we got to stop for donuts and beer mid-run. It was all about moderation, my friends. We went tent camping and went to an airshow, both of which were much better experiences (read: no kid breakdowns) than the first time we attempted them. I’ve also read 21 and a half books this year, whereas in previous recent years, I’ve only gotten to read about one a month.

Also this year, I am happy to report that anxiety was way down, and I got considerably more sleep and exercise. I can’t emphasize enough how amazing this part has felt.

WHAT A GREAT YEAR!

I’m so glad I took the time to actually list all that, because that does feel like a full life, doesn’t it? I’m grateful.

I’m confident that 2020 will be even better.

There will be multiple abs, just you wait and see.