Sorry About What I Said When I Was Working Out

The weather has been cold and rainy lately and my energy level went way down. I wasn’t moving my body very much, and I’ve felt tired…but not a good tired. A yucky, blah, haven’t-used-my-body-so-I-feel-like-a-lump-tired.

So today I forced myself to put on my workout gear first thing. After breakfast, and after helping my son cut out 8465526289 paper geometric shapes for a school assignment, I put an exercise video up on the TV and got shit done.

And by got shit done, I mean I powered through amidst everyone and their mom trying to interrupt me with noise and feelings.

Instructor: C’mon ladies, let’s power through! Gimme more lift, and lift, and lift…

Me: Uuggghhhh lift…lift…keep lifting…

Daughter, who comes to sit down right next to me, almost touching: IMA DO YOGA TOO MOMMY! MOMMY WATCH! I’M DOING IT LOOOOOK!

Me, grunting: Y-yup. I see you. Good. job. Hey, could you scoot? I’d like some personal space.

Now side…to side…side…to side. C’mon!

Son: MOM! I’M STUCK! HOW DO I DOOOOOO THIIIIIS?!

Me: Figure it out, dude! Take a deep belly breath and try it again!

Son: BUT MOOOOOOOM!

Me: You got this, dude. I know you can do it all by yourself. This is my time right now.

Now crunch UP left, center, right, AND DOWN. Left! Center! Right! And down!

Daughter: Mommy, I’m tired. I want to be a ballerina INSTEAD!

Me: Cool. You do that. Fuck, I’m tired too.

Son: LOOK MOM I DID IT!!!!!

Me, without even looking: Great job, man! See I knew you could.

Now balance and lunge and pulse it and keep your core tight! Don’t stop now!

Me, (I turn to lunge and my daughter ballet-prances right into me, pushing me over as I lose my balance): Hey Little Miss, PLEASE give me some personal space, okay?

Daughter: OKAAAAY! She spin-dances away.

Now I want you to kick up and back but don’t sway those hips! You’ve got this ladies! Woo!

Me, huffing: You want us to do what?

Daughter, who shoots a nerf dart right past my torso: WEEEEEEE!

Me: Could you please stop shooting that in here? GO IN THE OTHER ROOM AND GIVE ME SOME SPACE!

Ten more reps, ladies! I can start to feel it now, I hope you can, too!

Me: Oh I can feel something, you chipper ass bitch.

Son: MOOOOM! I NEED HEEEELP!

Daughter: MOOOOM! WHEN ARE YOU GONNA BE DOOONE?!

The Cat, who walks underneath my body in a downward facing dog, looks up at my face: HOOOWL!!!!

Me: sonofabitch.


Day 20

Frozen Terror

Aaaand now I have two sick kids in the house. Ugh.

To put a funky spin on things, because normal illness isn’t fun enough, my oldest woke up last night in a sweaty, fever-induced screaming night terror. Well, technically he didn’t wake up, but my husband and I did. Thank goodness my other sick kid slept through it all. Oh, and it made the cat nervous in the service as well. Don’t get me started on how weird our cat is.

Most things about parenthood make you feel powerless, but this one pretty much takes the cake. And dear baby jesus, they are aptly named.

Took me a long time to calm down and get back to sleep after that.

The funniest part? My son was screaming lines from Frozen, which would have sounded way creepier had I not immediately known the reference.

Creepy because the line was, “HE HAS NO BONES!!”

I guess Frozen-inspired nightmares run in the family?

Maybe we need to lay off the Disney raves for a while.


nanopoblano2019

Ways I Combat Seasonal Depression

Hello, dear Psychos, and welcome to Day 8.

Seasonal Depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (appropriately SAD) is a real thing. Oregon is cold, it’s dark, and it’s freakin gray. It’s hard to get out of bed some mornings, and I often can’t get warm, even in my own house. It’s no mistake that Jo Rowling (we’re on a first name basis, people) gave the dementors, a metaphor for depression, the power to create an icy chill in their midst while sucking the soul out of their victims. When I’m cold, like that chilled-to-the-bone feeling, I’m irritable. Moody. Unable to feel contentment. I feel like crawling back into bed.

I have several tricks up my sleeve to try and keep the soul-sucking dementors at bay. I wish I had a magic wand, but I guess my Hogwarts letter got lost in the post.

Until that ruddy post owl is found, here are the things I try:

Note: This post is not a replacement for real, amazing therapy. These are simply things that work for me personally. Psychology Today is a great place to start looking for a therapist if you’re in the market, as it were.

  • My light therapy lamp

Last year, I finally went out and got myself a happy lamp! Getting up in the morning is hard for me, especially in the winter time when it’s pitch black outside. Somehow, that just seems wrong for a person to have to function in those conditions. I just got my lamp back out for the season, and I put it on my bathroom counter and flick it on as soon as I get out of bed. It’s on and shining into my eyes for about 10-15 minutes as I get ready in front of the mirror. It helps to perk me up in the mornings and makes me feel less dead inside. I wish I could get the effects for longer, but I have active kids who need to be places and I no longer sit in one place for very long. At this point I’ll take whatever I can get.

  • My slippers and hats and sweatshirts and blankets. And sometimes my cat.

Did I mention that I get cold in the winter? I’m actually always cold, but in the winter I’m knocking-on-death’s-door cold. I still can’t believe that I survived living in Boston for two years. I attempt to stay warm by wearing fuzzy slippers. I have ones with down feathers in them. And memory foam. I also have those buttery-soft slipper-socks. When I’m feeling saucy, I’ll wear slipper-socks and slippers at the same time. It’s also not unheard of for me to wear a jacket indoors, or one of my many knit hats. The couch is covered with blankets. And when I don’t hate my cat (and when she doesn’t hate me), I will allow her to sit on my lap to keep my nether regions from frosting over. When animals aren’t total assholes, they can be kind of comforting.

  • Those microwavable ricey/beany heat pad thingies

They are warm when I am not. The end.

  • Hot drinks, sometimes with sugar and caffeine

In the winter, I’ll often make hot decaf tea in the afternoons and evenings (in addition to my normal caffeinated morning beverage) to take the chill off, but also because they provide this psychological cozy boost. I enjoy feeling the warm, solid mug between my palms and breathing in the sweet, warm vapors. The Dutch call this feeling gezellig, which roughly translates to “cozy,” and I find myself often chasing it.

  • FIRE. (Candles and the fireplace)

First off, let me just say that Oregonians have a weird obsession with scented things and lighting shit on fire. Haven’t any of you heard of a spare the air day?! Having said that, I do enjoy the occasional scented candle or switching on our gas fireplace because Oregon creeps up on you after a while. It’s the warmth, but it’s also the psychological boost from the bright, flickering lights and the yummy, spicy, earthy, comforting scents that can fill up the house and my soul.

  • Music

Music is the perfect drug; there is a piece of music to induce any mood you’re after, with little to no side effects. Spooky Halloween music, cozy Christmas music, after dinner dance party music (pants optional). Music shoos them dementors straight back to Azkaban. Also, if you don’t get these Harry Potter references, consider yourself on notice.

  • People

I tend to isolate when I’m anxious and depressed, so I schedule events on my calendar to get me out of the house and interacting with humans over the age of 5, even if it’s cold and rainy and gross and disgusting outside. We might get wet or cold or muddy or all three, but at least we have a fun time hanging out with others, and then we’ll get warm and gezellig once we’re back home again.

  • HUMOR!!!!!! DEAR GOD, THE HUMOR!

Humor is my EXPECTO PATRONUM!!!!!! Laughter boosts the mood and the immune system. It brings people together, and holy crap it makes me feel less alone. The best cross-section of humor and mental health I can think of can be found at The Bloggess. Jenny suffers from anxiety and depression, but she doesn’t let that get in the way of being fucking hilarious. She’s the reason I started blogging, and I love her and I met her once and she signed my DSM because that’s how deep her commitment to hilarity runs. She normalizes and humanizes mental illness, makes me feel less alone, and makes me laugh – which makes me feel better. Boom. If you’re at all interested, read her blog, check out her books – geez, I wonder if she’ll pay me for this? Shout out, Jen! Call me.

As an example to show how much Jenny Lawson just gets me, here are her calendar pages for October and November:

 

She gets me.

 

The timing is no mistake

 

Ok, I’ll stop here. I hope this is helpful for some people. TELL ME – What do you do to combat the cold, dark, gray, damp winter months of torture?!

nanopoblano2019

 

 

 

My favorite part of the day

Today’s my birthday, y’all. And you know what that means – I insist on some me time so I can wax poetic on my blog about another year gone.

Another year older, wiser, more tired. It’s also been a year a bit more hopeful than recent history. My kids are getting older and more independent (read: less dependent on mommy for every goddamn little thing), which is very much appreciated. We’re all creeping out of the baby stage, and while that makes a part of me kinda sad, it makes a larger part of me sigh with relief. We’ve got potty training on the horizon for the little one, and while that process will probably be a brisk walk through hell, I am giddy with excitement when I think about life on the other side. I simply won’t know what to do with myself.

Along those lines, in the fall my oldest will start kindergarten and my youngest will start preschool. That means I get some time to nap, clean the house, poop alone, and start the process of maybe eventually going back to work.

I think my brain just exploded.

And now I’m going to leave you with a little window into my day. It’s a story that’s been bouncing around in my head for a few weeks and I’ve been meaning to get it down in writing.

__________________________________________

One of my favorite parts of the day is when we read to the kids right before they go to bed.

My son has always settled down to be read to, but my daughter has only started sitting still for books in the past 6 months or so, and it’s glorious. Even so, she’s still demanding to help turn the pages, interjecting every 5 seconds with “waat hap-pen?!” but I’m not complaining.

Getting ready for bed is usually chaos. Screaming, streaking, wiggling. Diapers, pajamas, teeth brushing.

Each child gets to pick a book.

We sit perpendicular on my son’s twin bed, resting our backs against the wall. We use a body pillow for support that my husband first bought me when we were living in Boston, as a surrogate for his own body once he left to take a job in California. How time flies.

My son sits to the far left, then daddy, then my daughter, then me. Always the same.

We have a desk light on low. Daddy and I do all the voices. I specialize in Princess Sparkle, supersonic jets, and the Minosaur. Daddy’s really good at Old Bear and witches and farmers.

About halfway through the first book, without fail, the cat skulks into the room and jumps up on the bed, demanding my lap. Her furry body warms mine. My daughter reaches over to pet her back or poke her in the ear.

Snapshot: for about 10 minutes each day, or entire family is calm and snuggling and…together. All focused on the same thing for a brief moment before we say our goodnights and iloveyous, lay them in their beds, turn out the lights, and shut their doors.

Sometimes my son wordlessly reaches for my hand.

Sometimes my daughter rests her head against my torso.

Sometimes the cat purrs.

Sometimes my partner and I exchange a glance above our kids’ heads.

Always it’s my favorite time of day.

Always.

My mood swings have mood swings

I got nothin today, folks. Not a real post, at least. (I often start out a post saying this, and then end up writing a post. This is now a post.)

Sometimes (most of the time) I feel like my husband and I are just scrambling to try and keep this household and our family running somewhat smoothly. We are stretched, our energy is so limited, and if something goes wrong – speaking for myself – I get overwhelmed very, very quickly. Today was one of those days where shit went wrong, but, miraculously, quality good times were also had. No wonder I feel like I have mood swings. My mood swings have mood swings.

The lows:

  • The weather suuuuucked today. Non-stop rain made me want to stay in bed.
  • Our furnace broke today, so our house is effing cold. I can’t stand being cold.
  • I want to strangle my cat, or at least forcibly remove her vocal chords. She wakes me up, wakes our kids up, and anyone who disturbs my sleep who is not one of my kids is DEAD TO ME.

The highs:

  • Met a friend for breakfast and found THREE friends waiting for me at breakfast. It was a very lovely time out.
  • Snotty wet kisses from mah babes.
  • The boyman coming home from work in the middle of the day to troubleshoot the furnace issue.
  • Laughed til I peed borrowed diet coke about bible references and street names for drugs. (You had to be there.) We got matching shirts, we’re gonna study, and we’ll be back next time to kick ass and take names, PDX Trivia! Should my callsign be Turnip or Scalene?

Tomorrow is a new day, with its own highs and lows.


NaBloPoMo Day 15

The Moral Support Brigade

My two kids kinda hate each other.

Well, the younger one ADORES the older one, and he follows her around, chases her, wants to play with her…..and she’ll have nothing to do with him.  She even hides from him.

I guess it makes more sense that my oldest is a six year old cat who was an only child for the first 5 years of her life.

She’s been careful to give Dylan a developmentally appropriate-wide birth.  For example, when he was just a poopy blob, she would venture a sniff to the head.  But now that he’s starting to WALK, ladies and gentlemen, not only will she not touch him with a ten foot pole (if she had opposable thumbs), but she displays a look of pure panic at this recent development (which I translate to: holy shitfuck!) and runs like I do when I’m running from zombies.  Which is probably a good thing, because her hanging tummy waddle could use a little slimming.  Mine could, too, now that I think about it.

My cat’s also not too bright.  To her credit, she has identified areas of the house where Dylan can’t go and she’s learned that those places are sweet, sweet havens of peace (notice I didn’t say “and quiet”).  Two such places are the staircase (where she sits and waits in an attempt to trip us, ideally making us fall to our deaths) and the downstairs bathroom.

See, we keep the cat’s poo box in the bathroom, and so we had to figure out a way to let the cat into the bathroom, but keep the boychild out.  Child gate! You say.  Yup, that’s what we thought, too.  We installed one, and it definitely kept the wee lad out.  Unfortunately, it also kept the feline out as well.  I tried to train her to jump the gate like a normal cat would, but she was uninterested and actually threatened to go poop in an undisclosed location unless the gate came down.

Long story long – I was lamenting about my son who loves to eat cat litter and my cat who can’t jump, and my dad suggested rigging up some sort of string that allowed the bathroom door to open just wide enough for my fatty catty to get through, but not wide enough for the child who ripped through my vag (my words, not my dad’s).  It was brilliant, it was cheap, and it worked.

And that’s how the bathroom became a toddler-free cat haven…until a human has to use the facilities, that is.

So twice now this week when I’ve had to use the potty, I will unlatch the bathroom door and the cat will scamper in.  I don’t know what she’s expecting…a pooping party, perhaps?  Each time I warn the cat in plain English, “You know Dylan will be in here before you know it and you’ll be cornered.  You hate that.”  And each time I waste my breath.

So in comes Dylan, because mom clearly needs moral support to do her business.

And then, in an effort to give mom some privacy from the rest of the house which is now empty (either that, or in an effort to hold us hostage for promises of extra chunks of cheese at lunch), Dylan pushes the door shut, turns toward us, and cackles manically.

This is the cat’s cue to lose her shit.

WE’RE TRAPPED!  WE CAN’T LEAVE!  WHAT DO WE DOOOO?  I’ll go this way- no this way- no, on top of the toilet- nay, behind the toilet!!!!!  AAAGGHHHHH!

Cue boychild to squeal with delight while he bears witness to the cat’s manic panic attack.

And I can’t do anything to let the cat out until my personal business transaction has been completed.

Sometimes I feel like I run a zoo.

…maybe I should start charging admission.

Strike Three

I just had a lovely phone conversation that I’d like to share with y’all.  Details may have been embellished because funny.

The setup:  After unsuccessfully trying to update my profile info on the pet microchip website (strike one), I looked for an email address to seek help.  There was none (strike two).  I was forced to make a phone call and wait on hold for several minutes.  The following conversation was the strike three.

Lady:  Hello, how may I help you?

Me: Hi, I tried to update my profile info on your website but couldn’t.  Can you please help?

Lady:  Sure, just let me get some info from you. (She gets it from me.) Ok, so for this you’ll have to fax in a copy of your change-of-name document and we’ll get that changed for you.

Me: Fax?!  Really?  What year is this?

Lady: 2015, ma’am.

Me:  Exactly.  Fax machines should have all self-destructed by now.  Can’t I just email you a picture of it?

Lady:  Oh…sure, I guess you could do that.  Send it to: wereidiots@stoopidville.com

Me:  Why couldn’t you have just put this information on your website instead of making me call and wait on hold?

Lady:  Oh that would be too easy.  See, we need to be sure that our customers are worthy of our services and love their pets enough to call and wait on hold.

Me:  —-

Lady:  Also, I see here that you owe a balance on your account.  The first year of this service was free, but every year after that there’s a fee.  You could either pay $20 to secure your membership for the next year or just pay $283655673 for a lifetime membership.  Since your precious little kitty is so young, I recommend the lifetime membership.  Would you like to take care of that today?

Me:  Uh, what?  We’ve never paid membership fees.

Lady:  Oh, well we don’t send out bills.

Me:  Then how do you collect fees?  Via carrier pigeon?  Telepathically?  Or maybe the lost animals do it!!!

Lady: We send you a reminder email, or when you call us we remind you.

Me:  Wow, so you do try to use email?  Why wouldn’t you try and fax me first?  I never once got an email or fax from you.  Or a carrier pigeon.

Lady:  Maybe it went to your spam folder or you deleted it since you hate the animals.

Me: Yeah, no.  Unlike you, I actually understand how emailing works.  And billing, for that matter.  So why isn’t my online account closed since we’ve never paid you a dime?

Lady:  I can’t answer that question because I am incompetent.

Me:  Ok, so…if my cat had gone missing one year ago and someone found her, would you still have called me even though we’ve never paid?

Lady:  Oh yes.  We would never not reunite you with your animal.  We love an-

Me: You love animals, yes.  I get it.  So what you’re telling me is that this is a free service.

Lady:  No, it’s not.  You have a balance due.  Would you like to take care of this today?

Me:  No.  No, I would not.  You just go take care of those animals while I go all Office Space on my fax machine.  Oh wait.  That’s right.

Lucy

She was the runt of the litter, and she was the only one who actually let me hold them.  That’s when I knew – she was mine.  We were going to bring her home and love her.

She was kinda like me, actually.  Nervous, cautious, quiet, but also an observant wallflower, kind, playful, and very sweet.  And weird, because she really loved to lick human hair if we let her express her need for social grooming rituals.

We rescued her from the local animal shelter and she was in a cage with her two brothers Calvin and Hobbes.  She was a tuxedo cat: black, with a white chest, tummy, and feet.  Every other toe was alternately black and pink.  Her shelter name was Susy, but I renamed her Lucy on the car ride home.  That was 1998 and I was 15.

This past weekend, my family had to help her die because she had come to the end of her life and my mom could tell she didn’t feel well.  I’m so sad to have lost one of my very best friends.

We grew up together, Lucy and I.  She listened to my secrets and napped with me and kitty-massaged my calves and licked my hair.  We chased her in this game that always went the same way where she’d  lead us to her rug where she’d stop and fall over so we could rub her belly and brush her.  I clipped her nails, gave her treats, cleaned up her vomit.

1998

2011

 

We (everyone but my dad) fought for a while to get a pet.  I joked that we slowly worked our way up the food chain.  First we had three goldfish who, one by one, committed suicide by jumping out of the bowl.  I can only guess that the first one was depressed, and then the other two were overcome with grief.  Years later, we got a female rat.  She was really sweet, but didn’t live long.  Next, we tried two sister rats.  They lived a bit longer and were fairly fun, but cleaning the cage was a huge chore.  Finally getting Lucy was wonderful because she gave us a moderate amount of love (she was a cat, after all) with only a moderate level of cleanup and care.  My dad eventually warmed up to her, too, which was an added bonus.  I think she made it pretty easy to love her.

Lucy was the oddest, most well-behaved kitty I have ever met.  She didn’t like people food.  Seriously, we tried.  The only food she’d eat was ice cream, and even then we had to dab it onto her nose so she’d lick it off.  She had her claws and never destroyed anything.  She never bit or clawed – quite the opposite, actually – she’d allow herself to be manhandled by my brother and never fought back.  She was the most docile creature.

She came to us with a bunch of health issues.  Yes, she was the runt and was underweight, but apparently this stray from Oakland also had fleas and mites and had had a tough time.  My mom’s friend commented on how little Lucy was so lucky,  “She won the lottery, because now she has all of you to love her.”  She was right, but the feeling is mutual.

I won the lottery that day, too.

I want you to know, Lucy, that I really wish I could have been there for you during those last few days.  I desperately wanted to be there to comfort you, to hold you, to whisper my secrets to you again.  I am very thankful that the rest of my family was able to be there for you, and that my mom held you in her lap when the vet helped you die.  I just want you to know, that I wanted it to be me.  If I could’ve, I would’ve been the one to hold you.  I held you on that first day when you picked me and I wanted to hold you on the last day, too.

I love you and miss you, baby girl.  I’m so glad you’re not hurting anymore and I hope you’re licking ice cream off your nose right now.

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Lady

Hey, this is Brian.

Yup, the husband-of-a-pregnant-blogger-Melissa Brian.

I’m here to school all the partners of pregnant ladies so that they get through the experience relatively unscathed.

Can you believe Melissa actually let me on here to write my very own post?

Yeah, neither can I…because this is Melissa, and I am writing this from Brian’s point of view with his general oversight and mild approval.  Learn from these tales, my friends.

 Brunch-tastic

I decided to wait to eat breakfast on this lovely Sunday morning, opting for brunch instead.  Of course, Melissa wolfed down two bowls of cereal and about ten lemon poppyseed muffins before I even got out of bed, so I figured she’d be good for a while.

I walk into the room with my beautifully prepared brunch and I see that she’s on her computer.  I sit down next to her.  She looks up expectantly.  “What’s that?”

I paused, realizing my mistake too late.  Could I still get away?  Maybe I could pretend that I didn’t hear her.

I faced my fate head-on: “Uh…it’s a sandwich.  Made with this delicious bagel, pesto, lettuce…and from diseased deli meat and unpasteurized cheese.”

At Melissa’s rageful silence, I got up and backed away slowly, and once I was a safe distance away, I threw another muffin at her for good measure.

 The Hangry Plan

Pregnant ladies have gold medals in being hangry, so Melissa and I have learned to try and plan for the worst when we go out shopping or to run some errands.  We bring water and snacks, and we also conjure up contingency plans, especially since she’ll be less able to run and defend herself in the event of a zombie apocalypse breaking out mid-outing.

For this particular outing, I wanted to go clothes shopping, and I gave Melissa the option of staying home, but she insisted on getting out of the apartment.

Melissa: “If I get hangry, just drop me at Cinnabon.”

Me: “You mean when you get hangry.”

Pregnant glare.

Me: “And we may have to think of somewhere else, because they went out of business.”

Wide-eyed, panicked Melissa: “What?!”

Me, making sure I was more than an arm’s length away: “Ha, just kidding.  You totally believed me!”

Melissa: “You are dead to me.”

 

The Sperm Whale

We’re at the doctor’s office, and Melissa has some fetal heart monitors strapped to her belly to check some things out.  Everything was awesome, and when they took the monitors off, they had made two round impressions on her very pregnant belly.

As Melissa was getting dressed, I giggled.

Melissa: “What?”

Me: “Nothing, it’s just that you reminded me of a sperm whale.”

Melissa, her tone of voice flat-lining: “…a whatnow?”

Me, as I point to her belly: “You know, the sperm whale surfaces and the squid has been attacking it, and you can see where the squid’s suction cups were stuck to the whale.”

Melissa: “And that makes me a sperm whale?”

Me: “…a small, cute one!”

Melissa: “You know what else sperm whales can do?”

And without waiting for an answer, she sat on me.

 

The Jungle Cat

It’s 6 in the morning, and Melissa got up with me because she couldn’t sleep, so she was naturally hungry again.  But also because she loves me madly and couldn’t bear to miss seeing me off to work.  As you recall from previous blog posts, it’s my responsibility to feed the meowing, howling cat at this time of day.

After spending a few minutes in the bathroom doing disgusting boy things, I entered the kitchen and threw some kibble in the cat’s bowl.  The howling stopped, replaced by sounds of frantic gulping as she turned all of her attention to her food bowl.  I looked up and realized that my cat and pregnant wife mirrored each other – each were hunched over their food in intense focus, like jungle cats tearing their fresh prey apart.  Melissa even had on adorable cheetah print skivvies.

Foolishly, I reached over and patted Melissa’s bum.  “You’re like a cheetah!” I told her. And then I growled for good measure.

Melissa looked up from her peanut butter and jelly topped onion bagel.  “Huh?!” she said with her mouth full.

I pointed at her underwear and growled again.

She looked down and then quickly looked back up.  “Yeah, I can’t see what underwear I am wearing from this angle.  Thanks.”

“Well…it looks fabulous!”

And then I threw another muffin and ran away.