Bethie Go Shoppy

Target is my Tiffany’s.

Which is a weird thing to read, I’m sure, if you’re not familiar with the inner workings of the cinematic classic I have referred to on the blog regularly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. At some point in the film, Holly GoLightly lets us know she heads to Tiffany’s when she’s anxious. It calms her down right away. And “nothing very bad could happen to you there.”

And this is what Target does for me. It’s silly, I know. But I’ve come to view my inexplicably frequent trips there as therapy. Self care.

You could even get yourself coffee in a paper cup, and a pastry of some kind in a paper bag, and eat it while you look at the goods.

bfastattiffs

You could sport her getup too, you might get a few side eyes, but oh well. I might just do that one of these days. Maybe skip the gloves though, because, desert.

It’s not a shopping addiction, though I know it must seem that way. Sometimes I go there just to look. (Granted I do end up getting something, but it’s often small and not even for me.) I will take pictures of things I want to remember later. Or I will find them on Amazon and add them to my cart to buy later. Or I will just admire them.

I live five minutes from a Target now. But even in San Francisco, where I had to drive 20 minutes to the suburbs to go (or go to City Target which is adorable and all, but not a replacement), I was still there a few times a week.

How can I explain it? It just makes the world seem right. It feels like I’m in a box of happiness and nothing bad can penetrate. Even though this is America, and this is 2018 after all, and of course bad things could happen there. But it feels like they won’t. And that’s the key. When I am walking around in this world thinking something bad will happen at any moment, take me by surprise and change my life forever, it’s nice to have a place to go where it feels like all of that gets checked at the door. Time moves a little slower, ergo so does my brain.

And because I cashiered for so many years (even a stint as a Target cashier no less) I feel confident using the self-checkout. I don’t even have to deal with people if I don’t want to.

I know the employees know me now. And I see some of them smirk when they don’t think I notice. But that’s ok. I am making myself feel better which is a huge accomplishment most days, so they can think I’m a nut. At least I’m not the lady who has loud, violent fights about “that girl you was with last night” with who she claims is Invisible Jesus (true story). (See, if you hang out there enough you get some good stories.)

Do you find yourself retreating somewhere when you’re in a funk? Somewhere outside your house I mean?

Ten

My firstborn is ten today. I’ve been a mom for ten years! Which doesn’t seem possible! Ten years!

He’s growing into an amazing person. At ten, he’s sometimes more grown up than I know, and other times still very much a kid.

Strikingly independent, choosing a few months ago to start walking to and from school on his own.

Very opinionated, on most subjects. And as his teacher this past year told us, even though sometimes he’s a little raw with his words, “He’s not wrong!”

He’s so effortlessly talented as an artist. Even his simple doodles far surpass any drawing I could ever do. And he’s equally talented with paint, clay, chalk and just crafting for fun. He’s also a bonafide musician. He tricked his piano teacher into letting him play songs by ear. Which is super great that he can do that, but no, you’re going to learn the notes kiddo.

He’s incredibly smart. I know all moms say that, but really, so smart. He did a project for the school science fair, and ended up winning city-wide and headed to SARSEF, the Southern Arizona regional fair. And he earned a trophy there! He often does not give himself very much credit, and has very little confidence, but when he puts his mind to it, he can do amazing things.

He’s sensitive to his core. It will be an asset as an adult, but as a kid he often just ends up sad or angry. It’s been a challenge helping him harness all that emotion, while still letting him be himself.

He’s as sweet and tender as his is rough around the edges. Watching him play with his baby sister is like watching a whole other child. It’s been amazing watching those two bond.

He’s a lover of animals. He loves our pets, of course, but loves to see new animals and learn all about them. When we go to the zoo, he rattles of a half dozen facts that he learned in zoo camp about every animal he sees.

Living in Arizona has made a real explorer and cowboy out of him. He loves everything about the outdoors, and camping, and is always up for an adventure. It’s the one setting where I get to see him fearless and brave.

It’s like my husband said, it would be nice to just freeze time and enjoy him just as he is. But it’s also been amazing watching him grow and become the man he will be someday. The great paradox of parenting.

We love you, Bowie. And we can’t wait to see what the next decade of your life will bring.

bowie is ten

 

A Mental Health Primer

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. And though I don’t have a Ph.D. or anything, after several years of mental health recovery and several diagnoses under my belt, I feel like I can pass on a pearl of wisdom or two. Here’s what I think are the most important things that you need to remember if a) you have a mental illness, b) you think you might have a mental illness, or c) if you love someone who has a mental illness. Living with mental illness is no small feat. And I need to be reminded of most of these things daily. So, consider this your reminder. And refer back as needed.

First of all, mental health is a spectrum. This, to me, is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING to remember about mental illness. People seem to think that mental illness is all or nothing. Black or white. Yes or no. Healthy or sick. It’s just not like that. You can have a touch of this, a smidge of that, and a dusting of the other. And just because you’re not a complete spaz, that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the treatment options available to you, that work for you.

You don’t have to fit someone’s mold of what “anxious” or “depressed” is in order to get sympathy and understanding. You deserve to have your mental health be taken seriously, no matter what state it is in. Just because a certain treatment worked for your great aunt’s cousin doesn’t mean it will work for you. You have to know that’s ok. You and your doctor or therapist can decide what will help you.

It’s important to know that mental illness has a significant impact on your daily life. A lot of people say that “we all have our stuff.” As in, we all have mental issues, to a certain degree. And that’s very valid. The majority of people have a bit of social anxiety. Very few people feel comfortable talking to large groups of people. We all have some bit of introversion in us, using time alone to “recharge.” People get depressed. People get anxious. People eat too much, drink too much. But real mental illness, the type you should take seriously and seek help for, will impact your ability to live a normal life.

Maybe you have trouble getting out of bed. Maybe you don’t feel like showering. Maybe you don’t feel like eating. Maybe you eat too much. Maybe you don’t feel worthy to hang out with a certain group of people (though they have invited you to several times). Maybe you just plain don’t feel worthy. You don’t feel like you will be missed if you were to be gone (this is suicidal, you don’t have to be actively trying to kill yourself, or have attempted to kill yourself, in order to be considered suicidal).

If you are sleeping all day and not taking care of yourself and avoiding situations you are likely to enjoy because of the slight possibility that you won’t enjoy it and you’re doubting your own worth, then your mental health issues are having a direct and dire impact on your life. You cannot function normally under these circumstances. This is how it is different than just being “shy” or “sad.” This is not how a normal mind works. And you know that it is not how a normal mind works, you just don’t know how to change it. That is where treatment comes in.

If or when you need it, medication is a valid treatment for mental illness. Taking medication is not “taking the easy way out.” Taking medication is not weak or wrong, or a crutch, and it doesn’t take away from your authenticity. People who use medication for their mental illness are not drug addicts or “pill poppers.” And no, a walk in the woods is in no way a replacement for antidepressants. Stop this. I began taking medication as a last resort. Truly a last resort. I had turned it down for years. And finally, after my second stint in rehab, I finally caved and said sure, why not. And you know what? It worked. It was amazing. I felt better and my life got better. And I won’t be made to feel ashamed for that. Are there people taking Xanax who don’t really need it? Sure. But don’t let that stop you from taking medication, recommended by a medical doctor, that will help you get better.

Something that my current doctor says to me a lot is that recovery happens in a sawtooth pattern. Meaning, there are times of great success, upward movement, good thoughts and feelings, productivity. And then there are times where you feel less successful, not happy, very anxious, in a slump, not interested in doing things. And it’s normal. You are not failing, you are not going backwards, you are trying perfectly hard enough, and you needn’t give up. There will be ups and downs, just as there are for everyone. The idea is to learn to ride out the low times without letting them break you down.

A lot of the time, if I have a bad day, someone will ask me, “well, are you doing the work that you’re supposed to be doing?!” And, of course I am. Of course I am taking medication, journaling, going to therapy, going to meetings if I need them, doing something creative, getting out of the house. I’m walking the walk in addition to talking the talk, and just because you are having a bad day doesn’t mean you are not trying hard enough.

If you’re reading this because someone you love is suffering from a mental illness, something to consider is to stop making mental illness a punchline. You know how it has become passe to use the words “retarded” and “gay” to mean derogatory things? Consider how it would make someone feel if you organized your spice rack and told everyone how you’re “soooo OCD.” Or if you watch the last episode of your favorite show and then you’re “so depressed!” Or if you change your mind a thousand times about the couch you want to buy because you’re “so schizo.” Or my personal favorite, if you eat avocados every morning because you’re “totally addicted” to them. I mean really consider the message you’re sending when you say these things. It’s not fair to people who truly suffer to diminish their reality and their struggle in this way.

If you have a confirmed mental illness: Remember to take your medication. Remember to get out of the house for a little while each day. Remember your personal hygiene. Remember to visit your doctor and/or therapist. You are worthy and you matter.

If you suspect you may have a mental illness: Seek help. Find a therapist. Be completely honest with them. Know that it is possible for you to feel better. Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t need help. Listen to your instincts.

If you know someone with a mental illness: Be as patient with them as you can. Know that they want to get better. Listen. Even if you don’t understand, just listen.

Mental health is just as important as physical health. And you would not tell someone with a physical ailment to “just go for a walk.” So, why do we do this? Why do we, as a society, downplay mental illness and mental health? Why do we stigmatize the perfectly legitimate treatments for mental illness? A healthy mind makes for a healthy person and a productive life. Mental illness is much more common than people think. One of my favorite quotes:

barrie

Hey, Girl

hey girl

I ran across this picture when I was going through some old things the other day. It’s a picture of Bowie, but I caught a glimpse of myself in the background, and just stared in awe. And got a little weepy.

I know that we are at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in this picture, held each October in San Francisco. And judging by Bowie’s age, I’d say it was 2009. I want to jump into that picture, and pull younger me aside and tell her so many things.

I want to tell her to cherish each day. Things are good for her now, and that could change at the drop of a hat. And it will. I will tell her to be patient with Bowie. He’s going through something they haven’t figured out quite yet. School will be difficult for him. But lay the foundation for a good relationship with him, and it will soften the blow.

I want to tell her to get help for her anxiety. It is not all in her head. It is not “normal.” It is something that can be overcome. And it would be best to get in tip top mental shape before things changed. Because they do.

And I will tell her to go easy on the wine. Just a few glasses a week. And don’t dive in head first after a hard day. That’s what the emotional help is for. Things can spiral out of control before you even realize it. And they will.

I want to tell her she will soon be hit with more sorrow than she’s ever known. Her second baby will die after just two months inside her, and her life will be flipped completely upside down. She will not know who to turn to. What to say. How she is “supposed” to feel. It’s ok to want to scream when someone tells her it was “meant to be.” It’s ok to feel like nothing is right anymore. It’s ok to not be ok. She will go on to have two more happy, healthy babies. And no, she won’t ever forget the one she lost.

And I will hand her a bottle of sunscreen. Like that old Baz Luhrmann song from the 90s. (Which I just listened to again and all of that. I’d tell her all of that.) “Wear sunscreen.” Most of the damage that would cause the melanoma will likely have occurred by then, but it can’t hurt to put on some extra protection. And I’ll give her the number of a great dermatologist in San Francisco.

I will also tell her to snuggle her cat Nashua very close. He’s senile and loud and losing teeth and is overall kind of annoying, now that she’s a mother. But her time with him is limited. (She knows this, it’s often on her mind. But she doesn’t know just how soon he will pass.) She will regret those nights she let him howl instead of picking him up and holding him close. Don’t let that happen.

And I will tell her to hold on to San Francisco very tightly. The city is in the early stages of an economic upheaval that will force even her, relatively well-off at that time, to leave. Go to the beach every single day. Do not complain about the fog. Do not complain about the “heat.” Catch a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge every day. And just know that what you have there is special. You will leave, and it will be sad, but if you squeeze what you can from the city, you will be ok. Take pictures of your houses, because the boys will ask what they looked like. And though the pictures are vivid in your mind, the kids will forget.

And I will tell her how freaking beautiful she is. Yes, she is overweight and yes, it bothers her very much. But look at that genuine smile. It will be one of the last full smiles she will be able to muster ever again. And that lovely hair. No wiry black and white hair peeking through. Look at that plump face. No crows feet yet. No sun spots. You don’t feel beautiful, I will tell her, but you are. And in 9 years, you will look back and wish you still looked like that. That your son was still so small. Your life still so very happy and simple.

I will tell her to brace for the change. Because I wish I had been ready.

Life just keeps marching forward and you’re just along for the ride, kind of like tubing down a river. And by the time you stand up and look behind you, you’ve passed so many things. Hit your ass on so many rocks. Missed so many sights along the way. But all you can do is sit back down and keep riding along.

I will tell her that she will survive. Because she did.

Nine Months

Baby Finley is nine months old now! She has been on the outside as long as she was on the inside! (Well I guess since she came two weeks early, I suppose she has been on the outside as long as she was on the inside two weeks ago. Semantics.) It’s amazing to think about, considering how baby’s first nine months go so much faster than the previous nine months. You feel like you were pregnant for at least 87 years, but no, it was only nine months. Just like the nine months that just sped past you so fast your head is spinning.

She finally learned to crawl the day before her nine month birthday. She had all the mechanics and strength down, she just had to put all the pieces together. And once she did, she was off like a crazy race horse. And now she is fearless. And I was like, gurl just CTFD on the bruises until after we see the pediatrician. She’s pulling herself up to stand, but has no balance and gets way too excited and falls. Usually on her head. Usually on the tile floor. She’s going to be walking in like, two seconds (see previous paragraph for parental timing units).

Speaking of which, we visited on Friday. She is weighing in at 17 pounds, and measures 27 inches. She is in the 30th percentile for both. She is still my Dinky Doo. She is wearing some 9 month old clothes, but is still in some 6 month stuff too. (Kids’ clothing sizes are so bizarre. Like some brands have 6-9 month, some 6-12 month, some straight up 6 or 9 month. And they all fit differently. Anyway.)

It was a funny appointment too. You’d think given the number of times the doctor reassured me with, “That’s normal,” that I was a first time mom. But I’m a THIRD time mom. She just so different from her brothers. I mean, they are all different and individual but as far as first year baby stuff, she’s crazy different.

Her favorite things right now are crawling (obvs.), playing with her brothers, grabbing the kitty’s ears, riding in a shopping cart, finding new things and putting them directly into her mouth, bath time, yogurt melties, smiling at people, peek-a-boo, sitting upright in the stroller, and teething but getting no teeth.

Her very least favorite things are baby food with broccoli in it, being constipated, being cold, the end of bath time, not yet being able to stand, taking a tile floor to the head, having her face wiped after meal time, being held by anyone but mom or dad, and the insult that is Cheerios.

nine months

This is Thirty Nine

Sunday was my birthday. And it was a good one. A quiet and seemingly boring, but good one, as most birthdays after age 25 are. Especially if you have children.

Thirty-nine is kind of a big one for me. I know it’s a totally random number, but I have my reasons. Not the least of which is the fact that my grandfather died of melanoma at the age of 39. And he was probably diagnosed (or should have been diagnosed) around the same age that I was, at 34 years old.

The past five years of my life have been…something. REALLY something. And one of the reasons was I was waiting out the five-year post-diagnosis period that the medical community waits before your cancer can be determined to be fully gone. Not that you won’t get it again, or some other kind won’t pop up, but the first cancer they found, if it’s not back within five years, then congratulations, you’re cured. I just hit that 5-year milestone at the beginning of this month. So, yeah, it felt pretty good to turn 39 and feel like I was (more or less) healthy. Alive.

The day started off with the dog somehow managing to escape to the driveway, get in a dog fight, possibly get kicked by a neighbor, (this is all hearsay from our kids who witnessed the whole thing but didn’t say anything) and then came inside to recover from the fight/kick and we all thought he was dying. Until we offered him treats. Then he was miraculously recovered.

I had brunch at a diner with Brien and Finley. And we then went on a hot date to Target to pick out the toaster oven we had wanted to buy for a while now. And I was going to get some goldfish for the aquarium that’s been sitting empty since our beloved George the beta died. But my husband was wondering if I wanted to upgrade to a bigger aquarium and get fancy tropical fish and after a mild panic attack and existential crisis, we left the store with nothing. Hashtag this. is. anxiety.

Then it was off to the mall for Dairy Queen, but it turns out at some point they ripped the whole Dairy Queen kiosk out. It’s as if it was never there. We got nachos instead, from one of my favorite restaurants in Tucson, that happens to now have a location in the mall food court. I bought a great little travel bag for camping essentials (we just got back from a four-day haul and I learned A LOT about my camping needs) and scored some deals at Gap. And I am officially more excited about the unicorn socks I bought Finley and the adventuring shirts I got the boys than I am about anything I got for myself. Mom life.

I went home to discover that while we were out, the boys had picked out an ice cream cake for me with the help of Gramps and Gram. Brien ordered pizza. We dined and discussed Bowie’s science fair project. I got a stomach ache (so classically me) and turned in early.

A few days later, a surprise gift from Brien showed up. He got me a metal detector! I have wanted one since I was a tween. This guy in the tiny northern Illinois town I am from had found my aunt’s class ring with his metal detector. I was enchanted with the idea that there were treasures like that just out there waiting to be found. My interest was sparked again when we lived in San Francisco. I combed the beaches for sea glass, but I always wondered what might be under all that sand. And now, we are out in remote parts of the desert in our Jeep. All the history of Spanish explorers and Native American battles and the mining industry–the excitement is too much! Great gift.

And today, I went back to the pet store and had Ferris help me pick out two small goldfish. They have yet to be named. I shall keep you updated.

fishies

I am telling you about my birthday in such detail so I can document it. Every year I fill out my year end review, and the question about how you spent your birthday trips me up every damn time. What did you do for your birthday? Um, gee, well, uh, that was 9 months ago so I HAVE NO IDEA. Anyway, now I have something official to reference.

And also to let you know what a big deal it is for me to be this age, and to my knowledge, be perfectly healthy. It feels good. The amount of anxiety I had thinking about this birthday way back when I was 34 and newly diagnosed was all-consuming. And now the day is here and I feel great, positive, capable. I got this.

Big thanks to every single person, near and far, who wished me a happy birthday. It was a happy one. Here’s to many more.

What #100happydays Taught Me About Self-Care

I started a little bit late (it was supposed to be the last 100 days of the year) and I missed a day here and there, but I stuck with the #100happydays photo challenge on Instagram. Which is a pretty big feat for me, and believe it or not, my mood did convince me a few times to just scrap the whole thing. All that is involved is taking one picture every day of some small moment of joy, but on some days even that was too much pressure for me.

I have about two weeks left and then I’ve reached 100, but I will probably just keep going. With or without the hashtag. It has taught me a lot of things, and helped me with my mental illnesses.

It has helped me reach full gratitude. And to understand that gratitude can come from a variety of small nooks and crannies in our lives. It is heavily suggested in therapy for depression to keep a gratitude journal, in which you list a handful of things you’re grateful for. Which always made me feel so pressured in that moment to come up with 5 really amazing, huge, fantastic things I was grateful for. And then when I couldn’t come up with 5, I felt like a failure. Which is not exactly the result you’re going for with this exercise.

I learned that gratitude can be a cloud shaped like a bunny. Catching a glimpse of the jaguar at the zoo. Seeing your infant enjoying a toy from a dear friend. Appreciating a rain shower. Literally stopping and smelling the flowers. It’s all these things combined that make for a happy and joyful life. It can’t be all new house, birth of my baby, huge bonus all the time, and that’s ok.

I also learned a very big lesson in mindfulness. I was always trying so hard to force mindfulness on myself, when my inclination is to ruminate on the past or panic about the future. So, when I’d catch myself in those moments, I’d feel shame. Again, not what you’re going for here.

I learned how to take a moment and focus on what’s right there in front of me, even if only for the moment that I snap the picture. And, more importantly, I learned that that counts. Mindfulness is a practice, and there’s no minimum for daily mindfulness. You can get it in there in bits and bops and that’s totally fine. As long as you’re noticing it and realizing it, and focusing on how happy it has made you, you’re doing it right.

And I have learned the power that lies within accomplishing something, finishing a task. It’s not as if I have never finished anything, I’ve seen quite a number of things through to the end, and kept up good habits. But, it can be difficult to remember in a low moment how good it feels to finish something, even if it felt difficult and overwhelming in the process. This is an important thing for anyone with depression to remember. That there is a great benefit to doing things just for the sake of doing them. Things you once enjoyed, but your depression has robbed you of. And also important for anyone with anxiety. It might not happen perfectly, or even be a success at the end, but you must let go of that anxiety and take the outcome for what it is.

It seemed like a simple social media game when I first hopped on board, but I have been amazed at the transformation on my mental health from this simple task of finding and documenting happy moments in my days. It holds me accountable to my social media followers, which is key for me in helping me do things, and do them well. If I am doing something only for myself, that is where I fall short and give up (self-worth not being my strong suit).

Reconsider what a small thing like this could do for your happiness. I took it on because of the advice for anxious introverts to “always say yes.” That is, say yes to invitations, new experiences, simple challenges like #100happydays. Giving up is always an option, so you have an out. But you more than likely will find most experiences to be enriching and enjoyable.

Enjoy below some of my more random moments in this photo challenge. And begin one of your own. Who cares if it’s the middle of January?

image1

 

image2

Year in Review 2017

My yearly wrap-up post.

And what a year it was. I spent the first half pregnant with a baby I had no idea what I was going to do with. And the second half parenting a newborn, and dealing with drama in both boys’ schools. And then there’s all these THINGS that are HAPPENING around us, and it’s enough to make you want to hole up in a panic room for the rest of your life. But, we’ve made it. And a new year awaits.

1. What did you this year that you’d never done before?

Had a third baby. Had a daughter! Had a pet run away. Homeschooled. Was pregnant in 100+ degree heat. Bought my own washer and dryer. Ran an Airbnb. Went to the gem show. Saw the Grand Canyon. Camped with a newborn.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I never remember my resolutions at the end of the year. I suppose I resolved to save money, get rid of junk, the usual.

This year my resolutions read like a to do list:

Get my wedding ring fixed. I noticed one of the prongs was broken. This happened to me about 5 or 6 years ago, and the diamond fell out in the bathroom at a museum, and thankfully I retrieved it. Anyway, I took the ring off so that wouldn’t happen again, put it in a drawer and promptly forgot about it.

Get my recalled airbag fixed. They send a card in the mail every so often. They harass my husband over the phone about it. I called once and a guy was supposed to call me back and never did. I made the call, checked it off my to do list, and moved on with my life. I hate when you can’t rely on people. Anyway, I need to call back.

Get to the dentist. It’s been…a while.

Lose weight. Last January I was pregnant, and the January before that I’m sure I needed to gain weight. But this year I’m quite a bit heavier than I’m used to being. Lots of leftover pregnancy weight and combining my breastfeeding appetite with the unhealthy treats that seem to multiply in my house at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I could stand to eat a smoothie once in a while, instead of peanut butter M&Ms.

I need to get my Etsy shop up and running again. I’ve got oodles of candles just sitting around, and they sell at shows, so I’m hoping they’ll sell online too.

I should blog more often.

3. Did anyone close to you die?

A good family friend passed away suddenly.

4. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?

More life balance. Less anxiety. Patience. Confidence. Free time.

5. What dates from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory?

Finley’s birthday. Inauguration day. Labor Day weekend (I got to see the Grand Canyon!)

6. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Having another baby. The whole thing was wrought with stress and uncertainty. And the delivery was stressful. In the end she came and everything was fine, and it can thankfully all be a distant memory. It was hard work, and I made it. I did it. We did it.

7. What was your biggest failure?

Letting my anxiety get the best of me. When I don’t actively work on it, life lags. Feelings slump. I fall back into old patterns. It’s not hard to manage, but sometimes I let less important things take center stage. After a few years of doing really well, even through the big move, and an unplanned pregnancy, I sailed. Then, I crumbled. Sometimes I don’t even know why I do that, and I’m learning that it’s ok not to know, but you still need to fix yourself.

8. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Having the baby, and having my tubes tied after. And several mole biopsies, as per the usual.

9. What was the best thing you bought?

The baby. Haha! Just kidding. I mean yes, she was the best thing. But as for material goods: my new freezer. We JUST got it, so I don’t know if I can say it’s the best, but it’s a game changer. I can’t jam enough stuff into this freezer. Crock pot meals, ready-to-eat meals, treats for the boys. Baby food at some point. And I save a lot of stuff in the freezer, basically anything you can freeze. It’s going to work out VERY well.

10. Where did most of your money go?

The baby. More plumbing woes. The husband’s Jeep.

11. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Not being pregnant anymore! (Ever!)

12. What song will always remind you of 2017?

Halleluja by Leonard Cohen. Not because of its recent rise in popularity because of his death in 2016. Though that rise in popularity brought the song back to the forefront of my mind, and I remembered how much I always loved it. It’s hauntingly sweet and heartbreaking and fits perfectly with my mood sometimes.

Wild World by Cat Stevens. As I mentioned before, it makes me think of my cat Coco and how she ran away, unexpectedly. Understandably, but still unexpectedly. I had hopes she would return when the temperature dropped, but we have had temps as low as 29 degrees and she has not shown her face. I can only hope she has found a new, warm home and is being loved and cared for in her senior years.

I am Woman by Helen Reddy. It has been empowering watching women around the world take of the gloves and fight bare-fisted for things to change. Women coming forward against powerful men, and the #metoo movement. For my daughter’s sake, I hope I am witnessing the downfall of the patriarchy. Or I hope at least we’ve knocked it down a few notches.

We Will Rock You by Queen. It is Ferris’ absolute favorite jam, and he is constantly asking me to play it in my car. He has also learned how to ask our Amazon Echo to play it. I hear it a lot. But hey, things could be worse. I will always think of him at age 5 when I hear that song.

13. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?

b) thinner or fatter?

c) richer or poorer?

a) Sadder, I think. Maybe roughly the same. This time of year is always hard for me, so maybe that’s contributing. I have not been happy with the way things are going for our nation, that is definitely not as good as last year. It’s a strange thing, depression. I feel loved, and blessed, and lucky, and comfortable. Just not happy.

b) Oh man, so much fatter. I was a pant size bigger after I had the baby, and that weight has gone NOWHERE. I’m not eating well, that’s the number one contributing factor. And who has time for real exercise anymore?

c) Richer. In that we are paying much less toward our mortgage than we paid for rent in San Francisco. And the Airbnb rental brings in a substantial amount of money. Not a lot richer, but richer.

14. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Enjoying pregnancy. It was my last, after all. I let the stress cloud all the enjoyment. I am enjoying her as a tiny baby though. I know all too well how fast that goes. As I write this, she is just over the 5 month mark, and she is eating solids and starting to sit up on her own. She’s in size 2 diapers already, and already outgrown some clothes. Just, like, slow down, time!

15. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Stressing. Eating. Stress eating.

16. How did you spend Christmas?

My in-laws were in town (house shopping!). They came over early and we opened gifts and watched the boys play with all their new stuff. It was 75 degrees out, so Brien and Grandpa took the boys to the park to shoot their new cap guns. (Yes they still make cap guns, and yes my husband bought some.) My mother-in-law gave me the inside scoop on these turkeys you cook from frozen in the oven, and they’re all seasoned and ready to go and everything. So we stuck one of those in the oven. And then I was supposed to make mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts, but I went to lay down with the baby so she would nap, and ended up falling asleep myself. Y’all, I got a NAP for Christmas. And my wonderful mother-in-law had made the rest of the food and set the table, and I will forever be grateful. It was a good day.

17. What was your favorite TV program?

I rewatched Gilmore Girls. And Friends. I’ve also enjoyed The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce (a mid-season cancellation BOO), Flaked. Lots of baseball.

18. What did you do on your birthday, and how old are you?

I turned 38 this year. It came and went quietly, as most 30-something birthdays do. I was pregnant, and I think the boys were on Spring Break. Not notable. I will try to make the answer to this question more interesting next year.

Happy new year! Let’s hope 2018 is an upswing.

7F4AFC33-A482-40D3-BE7D-1FF17CE618AA

Now I’m a Homeschool Mom?

A few weeks ago, I broke up with our preschool.

I don’t know if I had ever mentioned it on here before, but last year Bowie was expelled within 6 weeks of starting at a Montessori elementary school, as a result of “violence” from him. And I never felt the strength to fight them on it, I rolled over and took it. He’s very happy at the local elementary school so, emotionally, we all got over it. But, this time I took a chance and voiced my thoughts, and left the school.

The preschool/Kindergarten and elementary schools are in separate locations, so I was never sure if the preschool had been up to speed on what happened with Ferris’ older brother. But, Ferris had a very good year there last year, and we were feeling like it was right for him.

Ferris started acting out physically toward his peers, and I just started getting the phone calls, and the threats of suspension, and all the stuff that happened with Bowie last year, and I was not going to take it.

Elementary school was free, so whatever. But preschool costs us $800 a month, and Ferris was learning very little there, he really should have gone to Kindergarten this year but didn’t meet the September 1 birthday cut off. We had planned to put him in Bowie’s school next year anyway, and had debated skipping this year of “preschool”, but went for it anyway. It’s nice to have time away from your kids, and to have them socializing, and hopefully being educated. My kids were not getting educated at this school, they were being made to feel separate from the group, and shamed for behavior that was likely instigated by another student.

I make NO excuses for my sons’ physical outbursts, but I know from my background at the co-op in San Francisco that my kids are not instigators, they are reactors. And they need emotional support surrounding any incident, whether they were the attacker or the victim. And this school does not provide it.

When I went to pick Ferris up from school on Friday, he was in a corner alone, for having dumped toys on the ground in a fit of rage, and he was bawling. Not just mad and crying, sobbing. And I had had enough. As had my husband. Who is away at the time for work, but even remotely, he knew the whole situation was wrong.

We come from a background of being taught day after day, and through several parent education classes (required at the co-op) of Hand-in-Hand Parenting, emotional understanding, Gordon Neufeld approaches to parenting. And the Montessori style is so opposite of this, I couldn’t believe it. I figured that if he was going to be there for six-plus hours a day, and be treated as he was being treated, we were basically paying these people $800 a month to emotionally neglect our child. Instead of seeking the cause of the outburst, the merely isolate the child for the outburst and move on with their day. This is not effective discipline, nor is it the right way to treat a child.

As far as learning was going, he can write his name. Barely. He knows some numbers, and can count to 12. At the same age, Bowie was much further along. Going to preschool a mere 3 hours a day. So, obviously not a ton of practical learning was happening for Ferris.

And when they call you and say, “He pushed another child today. If anything else happens today, you’ll have to come pick him up.”, it takes a great deal of patience and cheek biting not to shout, “YOU ARE THE TEACHERS. THIS IS YOUR SCHOOL. IT IS YOUR JOB, NOT MINE, TO MAKE SURE HE FOLLOWS SCHOOL RULES.”

Ahem.

So, long story slightly less longer than it could be, we quit. We left. We broke up with them.

There are other preschools in Tucson that we could afford that could do a slightly better job. But, I can take him out and do learning activities, and do academic workbooks with him at home, for free. 

In 10 months, they will finally deem him age appropriate for Kindergarten, and he will go to Bowie’s school, and that will be that.

I have been asked by all the people I emotionally unloaded upon if I thought I’d be ok having him at home all the time. I’m not known for a past with extremely great experiences in this department. I know that. But, the prospect does not scare me. I have learned a lot in my 9.25 years as a parent, and I can figure this out. And it’s only for a while, less than a year. He will be home with me and we will just get to hang out and be together, he will not be shamed for having typical 5-year-old emotional outbursts, and we will be saving a good chunk of money. Win-win-win.

That said, I’m now a homeschool mom, I guess? On a technicality? And I’m looking for ideas on resources. Good places to go and do educational things. Good workbooks or companies with good learning materials. I’m not going to go all out here, I just want to teach him his letters and numbers, and some basic concepts. So, if you homeschool, or have homeschooled, or are just up on the subject, please pass along any applicable info. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and obviously here. Lay it on me.

Five

On Sunday, my dear sweet Ferris, my now middle child, turned five. Aside from being super mad that he can’t go to Kindergarten now, and didn’t magically overnight learn how to read and write, he’s pretty excited.

He’s as hilarious as he is cute, and he’s pretty darn cute. And he’s so unique, and not afraid to let his personality show. And a unique boy needs a unique celebration. The day started off with some birthday pancakes at Denny’s. Then, we took him on a shopping spree at Toys R Us, mainly because we forgot to get presents until the last minute, but if he asks, we thought it would just be more fun!

birthday pancakes

Then it was off to Golf N Stuff with friends. It’s a place here in Tucson with mini-golf, bumper boats, go karts and an arcade. It’s basically the best place to spend a kid’s birthday. After that, we headed to Dairy Queen for ice cream, and then at bedtime he got to play with his new toys in his for a while before going to bed. All in all, a good day had by everyone.

putt putt

 

birthday ice cream

He’s becoming his own little person in so many ways. Of course, anything his big brother loves, he loves too. But he’s always putting his own little spin on all of it.

He mispronounces like, a million words. I don’t have the heart to correct him, it’s just way too sweet. Some examples: kitty glitter (kitty litter), sprinkle water (sparkling water), Pandaspress (Panda Express, his favorite restaurant), flip flaps (flip flops), roaster coaster (roller coaster), Golfing Stuff (Golf N Stuff) and scream time (screen time). He also likes to tell us how he’s feeling using the infinitive. “I feel like to poop.” “I feel like to sleep.” “I feel like to have cereal.”

Favorite things: Scream time (see above), Minecraft, Legos, cats, dogs, dinosaurs, robots, knock knock jokes, salami, dirt, horsepower (when we are driving and the engine revs), Jeep adventures, arts and crafts, root beer, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, McDonald’s Playplaces, and making poop and fart jokes.

Least favorite things: not getting a turn during Scream Time, having his picture taken, the fact that his car door is still child locked, bedtime, leaving school, chocolate (weirdo), and apparently, riding in someone else’s car (we tried a carpool thing with friends and it did NOT go over well).

It’s amazing to watch him grown and become his own little man. So much of him reminds me of when my younger brother was a kid, which is very heartwarming. I’m just thankful he hasn’t needed stitches yet, very much UNLIKE my younger brother.

Happy fifth birthday to my dearest Ferris, I’m sorry you’re the middle child now, but being sandwiched between siblings has got to have some benefit to it, right? I vow to make sure I remember to douse you with as much mom love as I can. I hope you have a great year, even though you don’t get to go to Bowie’s school quite yet. Here’s to 5 and all the exciting stuff to come.