Spring is in the Air

Holy crap. I haven’t blogged in two months? TWO MONTHS?! That’s the longest I’ve ever gone since I started blogging to begin with. And the longer I’m away, the harder it is to pick up again.

I’ve been in a funk. I mean, a FUNK.

If I didn’t have children depending on me, I may not actually have gotten out of bed for a long time. I was going about my days, muddling through like a zombie. I have not been taking care of myself very well, and I have been letting things slide. Like the blog.

I’m making changes though. Big ones. Getting back on track with my health, with my life, with my writing and other creative outlets. It’s going to be a long, hard road. But, I can do it.

Like I said in my last entry, I’m in therapy now. And it’s been great. I’ve been holding a ton of anxiety about cancer and my future and all of that, but also anxiety about things I haven’t thought about in years. It’s a bit cliche to say so I suppose, but my therapist knows exactly the things to ask me to get me to open up the past and figure out how it’s affecting my present and how it might affect my future, and that’s helping me feel more in control. She’s fantastic. If you live in the city and are looking for someone, I can pass on her number.

Two months ago, I was hopeful for the future. And I knew the work that had to be put in. But I wasn’t quite ready to do it yet. I’ve had a lot of very eye-opening, you-gotta-figure-this-out-lady moments lately, and I’m ready.

Thanks for your patience.

Some stuff you guys missed while I was away pouting:

1. Ferris turned 18 months officially. He’s getting to be quite the little dude. He’s adventurous and tough, but very sweet and kind. He LOVES animals. And his new favorite thing in the universe is Thomas the Tank Engine, both playing with brother’s forgotten train set and also watching Thomas on the TV. Other current likes: climbing, snuggly blankets, milk, climbing, opening doors, slides, trucks, climbing, puzzles, walking around the neighborhood, climbing, and trying anything that anyone else is eating or drinking. Dislikes: when daddy leaves for work, falling down, having his teeth brushed, getting pushed too high in the swing, having toys taken away from him, split pea soup.

2. I went and turned 35. Which is a big part of some of this “rebirth” I’m feeling right now. Not only is it one of those milestone birthdays, but my therapist was telling me that our bodies and lives tend to move in these 7 year patterns. And 35 is a multiple of 7. I’m ending one 7 year cycle and beginning another. She asked what I’d like to do in the next cycle, and I surprised myself with all the answers I had. It’s going to be a good one I think.

3. The one year anniversary of my kitty’s death came and went and I handled it so much better than I envisioned I would. I think I’m finally moving into Acceptance territory with my grieving. Which is good for his memory and good for me. It’s opening up some space in my brain for other things. Exciting changes.

4. Bowie spent his entire Spring Break two hours away at his grandparents’ house. He had a ton of fun, and we got a little break from each other. A much needed break from each other. It gave me a chance to focus on Ferris for a while and focus on the house a bit. And when he came back, it was such a great feeling to welcome him home. Even though he had a blast, he still missed us all a lot.

So yeah, time marches on, and all of that. Thanks for sticking with me.

The One Where I Kinda Bum You Out

I suppose if I’m going to hog this domain name, that I could actually blog once in a while. Thing is, along with all the hubbub and running around and preparations we make for the holidays, I’ve also got this looming dark cloud over me lately.

I am really out of sorts right now because recently, one of my favorite teachers from high school passed away at age 52 from breast cancer. I was a student of hers for many years, and she was a warm, wonderful woman and a great mentor. I had always meant to pop into the school and visit her, but never did. Something beat me to it: CANCER.

I think her death reopened something inside of me about my own cancer that I had locked up and buried deep, deep below layers and layers of myself. All of a sudden it hit me like a brick to the forehead: I have had cancer.

Living in the online world, cancer touches you from far and wide. I was reading that a blogger that I follow who was treated for stage 3 melanoma only to find out she had stage 4 ovarian cancer, has had her ovarian cancer return for the third time. And her story now has me really worried about the BRCA gene mutations. These mutations are commonly known as increasing a person’s likelihood to develop breast cancer, but can also mean increased likelihood of other cancers, including malignant melanoma. I don’t know if I’ve been tested for this mutation or not, I plan to ask my dermatologist if this was part of the blood work I had done in March. But, I would make it my (uneducated hypochondriac) guess that if you get cancer under the age of 35 then you might have the mutation.

So cancer has been on my mind lately. REALLY been on my mind. Not just because of these things, but also because I’m looking back at the last 10 years of my life and thinking of all the abuse I put my body through. I didn’t really take care of myself at all. Junk food, diet soda, alcohol, no regular exercise, heavy anxiety, all of this takes its toll. And only NOW am I realizing this.

I’m afraid I’ve done things to my body that I can’t take back, and can’t fix. Because my lymph node came back clear last spring, they ended up not giving me a full body scan. I did have a chest X-ray, so I know my lungs are clear. Which is a good thing. I also had a physical with my gynecologist over the summer, who said everything looked and felt fine to her. But I have the nagging, nagging, NAGGING feeling that they’ve missed something, overlooked something. Because I’m so young, they’re not looking hard enough, not taking things seriously. Of course, I’m way too chicken to go in and ask for the scan. Not only can we not afford it, with $3,000 left from our $15,000 owed out of pocket from the past 2 years, but also I’m afraid they will find something. Which, yes, of course, it’s better to be informed. But being informed means not living in ignorant bliss. Though I would not call my current state of being “bliss” either.

I think when they told me I had cancer, even though they had caught it in time, and it hadn’t spread, I’ve been treating that diagnosis as the beginning of the end. I am now headed to the end of my life. Rather than treating it as the new beginning that it should be. I know that kind of thinking isn’t normal, but I can’t really help it. I need to figure out how to change how I view life and death.

After the cancer diagnosis, there was the actual surgery, which was pretty much the beginning of the end of me breastfeeding Ferris (which if you’ll recall, I had to stop doing when he was 8 months, because he was confusing me with the bottle and biting me until I bled). And there was the false alarm, where the surgeon told me the melanoma had spread to the lymph node, only to call me a week later to say, “No, whoops, sorry about that. You’re good.” That was very difficult. And I’m still wondering, “Are you sure? ARE YOU ABSOLUTELY SURE?!”

I’m trying to focus on 2014. A new year brings new hope, new promise, new life. But, for a person with anxiety issues, a new year also brings new challenges, new problems, new struggles. I barely made it through this year. What if next year is worse?!

I have some changes in mind for 2014, things I can do to better myself and my life, and hopefully help the year not be worse than this one was. I’m trying to be optimistic, and I’m trying to dig myself out of the dumps, if only to not be such a bummer. I want to get the anxiety under control, I want to change the diet a LOT, I want to get past this depression, or whatever funk I’m in, so I can enjoy every day. Every hour. Every minute.

I knew a blogger that found out she had melanoma, and died just months later. I’ve been given a longer time than she was given. Knowing that I need to do more with my time is obvious, but actually following through without feeling so down and so sorry for myself is another game. A game I plan to OWN.

Thanks for sticking with me, folks.

 

 

 

Hi! I’m Still Alive, I Swear!

You guys! I’ve missed you. I haven’t blogged in eons, and I’m so sorry. I’ve been crazy busy! Which I know everyone says. And I fall firmly in the “let’s stop the glorification of busy” camp. BUT.

Being an elementary school mom is mad cakes. The handouts that come home. I could reshape them into a whole tree. (And this is San Francisco!) And each one is asking something from me: volunteer in the classroom, volunteer at this event, you’ve got a parent-teacher conference coming up, we need a dish for this event, can you bake something for this event, hey guess what we want the parents and teachers to get together for a night out so if all that other stuff doesn’t have you too bogged down…

And then there’s the matter of my second son, who we might as well just call Spiderman or King Kong at this point because the kid can climb ANYTHING. I turn my back for 10 seconds, and he’s scaled another structure in our house. Or at the library. Or in our hotel room. Or at Target. So, when he’s awake, there is no put-him-down-to-roam-and-play. It’s me getting up every 10 seconds to peel him off his latest conquest. It keeps a lady busy.

And then there’s the matter of our latest little venture away from home. My little brother Jeremy got married in Florida this past weekend. My baby brother! Married! It happened.

We flew from San Francisco to Fort Myers, stayed for 4 days and then flew back. It was a whirlwind (wonderful!) weekend that included the longest flight that Bowie has ever been on, and our first flight as a family of four. So you can imagine the fun that was had. There was even a lady that told Ferris to “shut up, kid!” when he cried on our 6 a.m. flight bound for home. Yep. She did. Amongst other things. Turns out most of the other people on the flight were annoyed but once they figured out what a raging bitch this woman was, they were more sympathetic. Some of them even commiserated. One guy flew 18 hours with his one year old. Dude deserves a MEDAL OF HONOR.

I have about 100 small drafts of blog posts just hanging out in my drafts folder. But I know that doesn’t really help you guys out too much. The past month has just been one thing after another and I can’t find the time to sit and type, nor can I apply the necessary brain power to coming up with new post ideas. I even picked my computer up when we returned from our trip and had to wipe a layer of dust off of it.

To help liven this apology post up a little, I offer you 3 interesting things I found on the Internet this week. Love you guys, thanks for tuning in and still reading.

1. Whenever you think you’re having a bad day, just remember that you’ve got it better than a good percentage of the rest of the world.

2. This anti-bullying video puts what kids go through into an adult perspective. It really hit home for me. I’ve always been against bullying, of course, but I didn’t know how to relate to a bullied child until I saw this. Powerful stuff.

3. Turns out, I’m not just shy, I’m totally socially awkward.

Unpleasant, but Important

I just ran across a parentings site forum in which a woman made a case for more openly discussing miscarriage and the chances thereof, only to be accosted by several women telling her how they “just don’t want to think about these kinds of things while I am pregnant, thank you very much.” And “how dare you bring this kind of thing up with a bunch of pregnant women?”

I’m here to tell you, you MUST think about it. Talk about it. Learn about it. It’s a very common occurrence, a very real possibility. Of COURSE we don’t WANT to think about it, it’s unpleasant. But, it’s also a fact of life.

The one thing that still nags at me about my miscarriage was that I, too, just didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t consider it a possibility or a reality. Because no one had sat me down and had a serious talk with me about it.

As a result, I told the blogosphere that I was pregnant at just 7 weeks, and then had to suffer a very public loss of that pregnancy. Granted, it was a hell of a lot easier to come to terms with, having had so many people there to support me and welcome me into the group of survivors. But, it would certainly have felt less humiliating had I just waited it out.

I didn’t know how common it was. I didn’t know it could happen to, yes, even me. And then afterward, I couldn’t figure out why all the moms and doctors and pregnancy experts all kept so quiet about it.

It’s an ugly topic, stuff your nightmares are made of. But, education is your best defense when those nightmares become reality.

Don’t just stick your fingers in your ears and scream “LA LA LA LA LA!” Please don’t be afraid to take pregnancy for everything that it is, the good AND the bad.

Group Therapy: The Self-Deprecation

The first few weeks of 2012 have not been kind to some of my friends, family and acquaintances. But, they’ve been going swimmingly for me, and my little corner of the universe.

Which has really taught me a lesson about myself lately: I find it hard to be happy when others are not.

There’s a Woody Allen joke, “I can’t enjoy anything unless everybody is. If one guy is starving someplace, that puts a crimp in my evening.” And, I think that’s what I’m trying to say. I can’t be happy if everyone’s not happy.

Which is just ridiculous because, take a look around. It’s highly unlikely I’ll ever live to see a day when everyone is happy.

So, I’m trying to by happy for myself, even if I can’t be happy for everyone in my life. I can still be there to support them, I can still be there to love them. It’s not as if I’m showing up on their doorstep saying, “My life is so much better than yours right now!”

I’m sure there were times in those people’s lives when they were happy, and I wasn’t. In fact, I can think of several examples to that effect. But, I never resented anyone for it. I told myself, “It’s not their fault that I’m not happy.”

So, then why would I also say to myself, “Why should I be happy when they are not?” Doesn’t make any sense.

I’m not huge on resolutions, I find them hard to make and harder to keep. But, I suppose this can be mine for 2012: Don’t be afraid to give myself credit and allow myself to be happy.

Things I care about right now

1. The crosswalk in front of Bowie’s school. It’s been a mega hazard ever since we moved back into the new building a year ago. And for some reason, the city of San Francisco is being a bunch of douche nozzles about having a guy come out and paint us a more visible crosswalk and/or trimming the tree that blocks the stop sign on the corner. Yesterday, my son was literally almost hit by a car as we crossed the street. So, I wanted the better crosswalk before, but now THIS MAMA BEAR IS PISSED.

2. The weather. It’s been completely effing fantastic here, and I’m not normally one to complain about picture perfect sunny 65 degree days, especially given how much I complained about the fog to you guys last summer. BUT, we haven’t had any rain for maybe 8 months. And we, like, need it and stuff. California is always in need of more rain. So, it’s a little disturbing when our “rainy season” isn’t so much rainy as warm and sunny. Sorry Bay Area folks, I’ll be the one you see on the sidewalk tomorrow doing a rain dance.

3. Rick Santorum. I don’t like to get political on Very Bloggy. In fact, I hate it. And I have written and deleted this paragraph like 10 times. All I will say is dude has some pretty crazy ideas for our country that I think even the most conservative of my conservative friends would not like to see happen. So, take it as you will, just do some minor research on him if you’re curious.

4. January clearance sales. I got some kick-ass deals today people. Two shirts at J. Crew for $13? DON’T MIND IF I DO. Get out there, there are such awesome deals to be had.

Things I DON’T care about right now: whether or not Beyonce was actually pregnant, any kind of baked good in a jar, my son’s affinity for juice (there have been some *opinions* lately) and my Klout score.

Have a good week, peeps.

P.S. Sorry for the bloggy dry spell lately, I have no idea what’s going on with my brain these days.

Five For Friday

Some baby posts.

1. We had two earthquakes yesterday. TWO. I mean, we probably have several tremors every day that we don’t feel, but yesterday there were two large-ish quakes, upper 3s and lower 4s on the Richter scale. Quakes like that are always a little unnerving, but to have one in the afternoon and then another in the evening is…GAH. Reminds me that I need to put together some kind of earthquake kit. Water, canned food, a flashlight, what else? They say these smaller quakes help relieve the faults, maybe preventing “The Big One” or at least staving it off for a few more years. Still, it’s scary.

2. A few months ago, I was casually browsing online for holiday gifts, now I feel like the holidays are coming at me like a freight train. I usually have it somewhat under control, but not this time around. I’d love to make some of the gifts this year. Anyone have any good craft ideas?

3. It pays to buddy up with the owner of your local corner market. Remember on my epic bad day, and they didn’t have a single Coke product to be found? Turns out he had to have them take away his Coke cooler so he could fix the floor underneath. Since he wasn’t willing to take it back at the end of the same day they gave it away, and now he has to wait for a new one to become available. Boo. BUT, today he dug out a can of Diet Coke from the back of a cooler just for little ol’ me.

4. Have you found the Trader Joe’s chocolate covered potato chips yet? TO DIE. Sounds strange, but it’s an amazing chocolatey, crunchy, salty delight. And if you’re into it, then you have to seek out Jimmy Fallon’s flavor of Ben & Jerry’s. Late Night Snack.

4 1/2. Sorry that like, half of this post was about junk food. It’s just been that kind of day.

5. We have lots of visitors coming next week, and the weather is slated to be AMAHZING so new posts may or may not happen. But I’m still here, still love you guys, have a fantastic weekend.

Stuff

When my husband and I ventured west, from Wisconsin to California, we had to pare down our belongings so that everything would fit inside a five foot by eight foot U-Haul trailer, and the back of the hand-me-down Dodge Caravan that we were driving around back then.

My husband had landed a job in California, which he had to start pretty quickly. And, I was slated to be a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding that summer. So, he went to California six weeks ahead of me. Leaving me to deal with all of our stuff.

I was amazed at just how much STUFF we had accumulated in our three years together. When we started out, we lived in the tiniest efficiency apartment. It was basically the size of that U-Haul trailer. So, we didn’t have much. We lived meagerly because we just plain didn’t have the space (well, truthfully, we didn’t really have the money either).

In the next three years, we would move into bigger and bigger places, and accumulate more and more stuff. Our last place in Wisconsin was a modest two bedroom house. Somehow, we went from a tiny efficiency apartment to a two bedroom house, and in the meantime, had gotten enough stuff to FILL the two bedroom house. As I packed, I was thinking how does this HAPPEN? We were still living paycheck to paycheck, but look at all this STUFF.

It was embarrassing the amount of trips to Goodwill I had to make, the guy at the donation door filled my last tax receipt out for me, name and all. Also of note are the many hours I spent sifting through STUFF, deciding what would go and what would make the trek to California. Not a lot of stuff made the cut. You’d be surprised at how quickly a five by eight space fills up. I was even handing things to my mom on the day we loaded the trailer. “Here, don’t you need these great canisters? What about this awesome box fan?”

When I first arrived in California, the apartment was barely furnished. My husband had gone to IKEA and gotten a chair, an end table, some lamps and some dishes. We went out that week and got a couch, and a table and chairs, and we filled in the empty spots with the few things I lugged along. But, it was still sparse. We didn’t even have a bed for a month or so. Not very much stuff. Clean slate.

So, that is why it amazes me so much, after six years in California, how much stuff we have accumulated again. I look around our house and think of all the stuff we have purchased just in those last six years. Just in the last 3 years. Just in the last year. I want to do away with all the clutter in our house, but I find it really difficult to pare down again.

I guess I feel like I had to leave so much behind in Wisconsin (there was some stuff that it really bummed me out to see go), that now I will just keep whatever I can. Not like, Hoarders style or anything. I still donate a few boxes every couple of months of the stuff we really don’t need anymore. But, it’s weird, I look around and can point out at least a dozen things in this room that we totally don’t need, that we never use, that are still good and someone else could use them. But, let them go? That’s the hard part.

A lot of stuff goes along with kids too, new furniture, clothes, toys, books and gear. Sometimes I fear we’re giving our son the wrong message about stuff. That you need stuff, and you need a lot of stuff. We try to keep the toy buying to a minimum, but it’s hard to deny that adorable face asking, “just one more race car please” when he asks so nicely.

What is your view on STUFF? The more the merrier? Or, are you also living in clutter, scratching your head trying to remember where all this STUFF came from?

10 Randoms

Because I’m too scatterbrained at the moment to pull together one complete post. And these also happen to be put together in a free association kind of way, no logical order. Enjoy.

1. Don’t forget, if you make and sell goods, then you can be featured on the SocialMoms Facebook page. Just email me a link for your store or product, and I’ll check it out! You get a full week with your product featured on the Shop tab. It’s great exposure! (Pssst…I am the moderator for the Shop page, so it’s kind of a done deal if you contact me, FYI.)

2. I need to hear from people who had a three year old that wasn’t potty trained yet. Just for my sanity. Because there’s only a tiny shred left. If I have to mop up one more pee puddle…  So, THIS is why God invented wine.

3. I kind of feel like I could be having PMS. Which would mean, period imminent. Which is great news, since I’m probably the most anxious-to-be-pregnant-again woman in the history of time. Wish us luck as we embark on this scary, exciting roller coaster ride.

4. I am over the moon that Jane Pratt is back in the saddle. Were you a fan of the magazine? Then check out her new site: http://www.xojane.com/.

5. Summer in San Francisco is cloudy, foggy and grey. It’s already mid-May, and we’re still having rainy days. I think our winter and our summer are going to blend together into one depressing, sunless season, completely bypassing spring. Though, at least we aren’t getting snow. Or floating away down the Mississippi river.

6. The preschool, God love ’em, is having literally their third bake sale SO FAR THIS MONTH this coming Saturday. I’m baked out, people! I didn’t even like it that much anyway, now I loathe it. At least I’m getting better at it, I suppose. And the school year is over in T-minus 17 days.

7. Speaking of baking, I had some zucchini sitting in my fridge, a recent impulse buy from our delivery service, and it was starting to turn. I have never successfully made a loaf of good zucchini bread, so CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. I made this recipe from the always lovely Smitten Kitchen, and it was pretty good. That one, I kept for us. The school got my mediocre carrot muffins.

8. Bowie is obsessed with Cars. And when I say obsessed, I mean OBSESSED. But, the resourceful little ball of adorableness doesn’t have an actual Lighting McQueen to play with, so he carries around any red Matchbox race car he can. And, he has dubbed some of his other Matchbox cars to be other characters in the movie. It’s amazing, his ingenuity. If only we could keep that kind of simplistic satisfaction as adults.

9. Can we take a minute to talk about the latest news with Arnie? It’s funny, I think when the news of his “secret baby” broke, everyone in California went, “Oh yeah, well that’s Arnie.” The rest of the world is shocked. His disappointed constituents? Well, we feel like we should have known it all along.

10. I’d love to tell you the miscarriage was a distant memory, but it’s not. I know I just wrote about how awesome I was feeling, but right after I published that post, I had a string of terrible days. I float back and forth between hope and despair, sometimes within a range of five minutes. People keep telling me that one of these days, the bad days will be fewer and farther between. We’ll get there.

Slow Going

I am getting through the muck that is getting past a miscarriage. I say “muck”, because most days lately, I feel like I’m walking through the world in slow-motion. My feet feel heavy, like I’m walking through a muddy, mucky swamp or something. The world just seems to be zipping past me at light speed, while I trudge along.

I have to analyze my life plan. I have to re-evaluate my future. My whole existence has changed, and getting used to that is going to take some time. It takes a lot of energy, just to focus on that. So, it would stand to reason that the rest of my life would move a bit slower.

I don’t think I’m depressed, though (well, not anymore). For the past few mornings, I have woken up with a sense that I have been granted a new day to go out and do things and fix things and get my life back in order. I’m no longer afraid to face the world.

My confidence and my whole world view were completely shattered. But, I’m managing to pick up all the pieces, put them back together (albeit in a new way) and take a few steps forward.

It’s times like these when one can be amazed at their own resilience. You hear about other people’s misfortunes, and you think, “I can’t even imagine what I would do if that happened to me.” But, the truth is, you manage it somehow. You reach deep down inside of yourself and you pull out the courage and the strength you need to get by. And you look forward to all the tomorrows you have ahead of you, instead of fearing them.