1.23.2017

when it rains, it pours



And I mean that literally, because it is still raining.

I've noticed lately that I don't just have bad days, but I have bad weeks. One bad day, and I can be certain that things won't look up for at least a week or two. That sounds pessimistic, which is not how I am by nature, but that's just how things seem to go. Whenever a day starts to go rapidly downhill, I brace myself.

Thursday was the worst kind of day, but I had a brief reprieve from the madness on Friday. My dearest friend came into town bearing a bag of delicious cookies. We watched movies and ate pizza and played with Gracie. It was an absolutely perfect day and desperately needed. I don't even know the last time I had that much fun. Gracie even called her "mama" and wouldn't let me rock her before her nap (which she refused to take), only Joellen, her new mother. We watched the inauguration together, laughing at the fact that Kellyanne Conway was wearing a hat almost identical to Gracie's.

On Saturday, I woke up feeling off. I rallied, though, and we went on a family walk to the park that was all fun and games until it was time to leave. Gracie refused to be parted from the swing and we had to carry her all the way home while she screamed bloody murder. Whenever we put her down, she tried to run back to the swing. By evening, I was feeling gross again but attributed it to the intense marijuana smell filling the downstairs. We had to call it an early night because my eyes, nose, and throat were on fire from the smell, even with the windows open. We've been patrolling the building every night trying to figure out who it is and simultaneously pestering the office to the point they're probably going to evict us out of pure annoyance.

I woke up with an upset stomach Sunday morning, feeling completely exhausted. I've been fighting insomnia since Christmas. I believe I've had only two or three good nights of sleep in a month. It's like having a newborn again, except there isn't a reason for waking up every hour on the dot or not falling asleep until 2. I'm the kind of person who requires 8-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night to feel human, so you can imagine how much this is wearing me down. I haven't felt like myself in weeks. After a series of complications, we made it to church 15 minutes late. Gracie went into the nursery like a champ, but not 20 minutes later I had a text saying she was completely inconsolable and I needed to go get her.

I went to go grab her and calm her down, and it was clear I would not be able to leave her again without her world ending. As I was holding her while she tried to stop hyperventilating, I found out that one kid in the nursery had RSV, and a little girl who had been close to Gracie had a stomach bug. There is nothing that angers me more than parents who unnecessarily take their sick children in public. Obviously you can't help it sometimes, but putting a highly contagious child in the church nursery? There is no excuse for that. I was livid. I hauled Gracie out as fast as I could since she was screaming for James and I didn't want to expose her to any more germs. She was so upset we wound up having to leave church early. I know church is a good and important thing, but sometimes it just doesn't feel worth the stress.

I ranted and raved all day about the sick kids in the nursery. If Gracie gets sick, I'll get sick, and James works nonstop and I will be stuck all day unable to take care of us. I was panicked. Remember last fall when I had 4 horrible viruses in a row? Gracie wasn't even sick, but I was for two months straight, and those were the hardest months I've had since I was pregnant.

We got home, and Gracie refused to nap. My condition worsened as the day went on, and I found myself curled up in bed so exhausted I couldn't think straight with a raging upset stomach. Maybe the little girl in the nursery wasn't the only one with a stomach bug. My one consolation was that James was miraculously only scheduled to work one night this week. By the power of Winnie the Pooh and Daniel Tiger, I would be able to get through the day if he could be here to do dinner, bath, and bedtime.

After putting Gracie to bed, James walked in the room and told me he had just gotten a text from his boss that she needs him to work three longs days in a row. That's three 14 hours days in a row.  Basically three days where we won't see him and I'll have no help no matter how awful I'm feeling. I burst into tears so severely that the next time I saw him, an 30 minutes later, he handed me two boxes, one with a slice of cheesecake and one with chocolate cake. Normally I run and hide in the arms of chocolate when I feel like the world is ending, but this kerfuffle was strictly meant for cheesecake. And it was the perfect thing to eat during a lull of stomach pains while watching the season 2 premiere of Mercy Street.

I woke up this morning feeling the same, probably because I was up every hour on the dot again last night, dreaming of politics. Cleaning up Gracie's diaper leakage in the crib this morning also didn't help matters. I've been so weak and shaky I can't do much, but whenever I have a burst of energy, I've been sanitizing everything and changing the sheets in an effort to keep the rest of the family safe. I'm starting to feel a little better, and I hope I'm on the mend. The stomach bug has been going around here, and while this was a mild case, it was still awful.

Gracie and I were playing with her dollhouse this morning (read: she was playing and I was curled up in the fetal position), and she put the mama doll on the toilet and said "mama potty! mama potty!" over and over. Which is a pretty accurate representation of the last few days.

Please pray for sleep and good health, if you think of it. Feel free to send more cheesecake, too.

1.20.2017

I'm currently applying for head of the neighborhood watch program

This all started, as most sagas do, at the eye doctor a few weeks ago. I went to a new doctor who drastically changed my prescription. I've been using up my store of old contacts before ordering new ones with the new prescription, but I went ahead and ordered some glasses online since my old ones were already a prescription behind my outdated contacts.

My new glasses showed up Wednesday evening. Before bed, I ripped my contacts out and pulled out my new glasses, excited to try them on. The second they hit my face, the entire room started spinning and I felt like I was looking through a fishbowl. James said I just need to adjust to the new prescription, but the dizziness and nausea came so fast and furious I thought I was either going to die or deliver a baby in 9 months. I took them off, having only worn them for roughly 1 minute, and was uncomfortably queasy the rest of the night. I've always been easily susceptible to nausea and dizziness, but ever since going through pregnancy and Hyperemesis Gravidarum, the smallest things will send me into a spiral of motion sickness. I figured this was partially from epic sleep deprivation, and I would sleep off the ickiness and feel normal in the morning.

After a fitful night's sleep due to the neighbors deciding to hang pictures up in the middle of the night, morning came, and so did the nausea. It wasn't bad, but it was just enough to make me feel squirmy and gross. I fumbled my way downstairs to find James grunting and fussing under the kitchen sink. It seems our drippy faucet had turned into a full blown plumbing malfunction overnight, and a pipe had leaked and flooded the cabinet. We immediately reported the problem to maintenance, and I figured they would be by that morning since they're usually very prompt. I dragged Gracie to Trader Joe's, my stomach finally feeling slightly better, and figured it would be fixed by the time we got home.

As I was lugging the bags of groceries through the parking lot, around the building, and up two flights of stairs, an aggressive wave of nausea hit me out of the blue, and I had to stop and kneel down on the ground to get my bearings. We got inside to find that the sink still hadn't been fixed. I put the food away, fed Gracie lunch, and hauled her upstairs for nap time. I was getting her changed when a violent wave of dizziness hit and made me stumble over. It felt like I had put the vertigo glasses back on. I waited for it to pass, but it didn't, and the nausea started to hit as well. I threw Gracie in the crib and literally crawled to the bathroom looking for my vertigo medicine. I couldn't find it anywhere, and I fell into a blind panic since James was working late, I had no medicine, and I couldn't drive in that state. After some teary and dramatic texts to James, he led me to the last pill on top of the fridge. I downed it as fast as I could, and once it kicked in and I ate some lunch, I started to feel almost human again.

An hour passed, and Gracie finally talked herself to sleep. I was about to fall asleep on the couch and figured that maintenance wouldn't come until tomorrow, so I might as well get comfortable. I threw on Christmas pajama pants and a sweatshirt stained from last night's enchiladas, and I walked downstairs. I had just sat down on the couch with some coffee and a book when I heard a pounding on the door.

The maintenance man. Of course.

These men have the worst timing imaginable. They have only ever come while I've been in the middle of nursing a tiny Gracie or getting out of the shower, so I was anything but surprised when they came just as Gracie fell asleep and I was looking and feeling completely unfit for human interaction. The man banged around under the kitchen sink for over an hour and woke Gracie up a few times. She went back to sleep by nothing less than the grace of God, and at least we got a new faucet. He left, and I managed to get a few more chapters in before Gracie woke up for good. Once she did, I went upstairs to find her scribbling on her crib sheet with a blue crayon. In my haste to get her down for her nap before throwing up, I failed to notice that she had been hoarding a bag of crayons in her paw the whole time.

I curled up in a ball on the floor while Gracie played with her dollhouse. I wasn't dizzy, but the nausea hit me again, and I felt awful. And then I smelled it, wafting through the giant vent under the door housing the furnace. Marijuana.

We got a letter on our door a few days ago from the management, claiming someone in our building was smoking pot and they were determined to figure out where it was coming from. My knee-jerk reaction was to be terrified they would somehow blame me and I would get arrested, even though I've never gone near pot in my life. We smell cigarettes frequently, and I know someone has been smoking those inside due to how strong the smell is in the laundry room, but I wasn't sure if I had smelled pot. I mean, it's been awhile since I've been to a music festival. I got a whiff of what I thought was pot the other night, but today it was unmistakeable. It was so overwhelming I think I wound up on an episode of That 70s Show. After awhile, my eyes and throat felt like they were on fire and I was having a hard time breathing. I was having a total allergic reaction, and I started panicking about the fact that my daughter was breathing this in. I notified the office, and they responded with something about sending a patrol officer out in the evening to walk around the building.

I didn't want to wait that long. After watching a particularly horrifying episode of Sherlock and reading a book with very brave characters, I summoned my courage and crept outside in my pajamas. I tiptoed down the sidewalk in my striped socks, sniffing and looking for anything suspicious. I couldn't smell anything, confirming my theory that someone's smoking inside, but I suddenly saw one of my neighbors walk out onto his first floor balcony holding something between his thumb and index finger that looked suspiciously like a joint. I tried to hide behind a flight of stairs, but when I went to take another look, I heard a high-pitched voice squeaking "Mama? Mama? Oh wow, it's cold!" My child had weaseled the front door open and was toddling toward the 2 flights of stairs leading up to our front door, leaving me no choice but to turn around and go grab her. And just as I was about to solve the crime of the century!

I got her to bed and went downstairs to clean up the hurricane of toys she had left behind, but I could hardly stand the overpowering smell that was violently wafting through the air again. I put my shoes on and prowled around again, but I couldn't smell anything outside. Nothing! I had thought about calling the police, but what good would it do if I couldn't provide an address and you can't smell anything outside? Not to mention, the office had ignored my email providing them all the details and information I had acquired from my sleuthing. But no matter, I'll be on the case again tomorrow. And by that I mean I'm going to send James in to talk to the landlords.

Sherlock Michelle Holmes, at your service.

In the meantime, the windows are cracked to air out the living room even though it's freezing again, and my nausea is momentarily much better, though I'll be restocking my vertigo medicine before trying those glasses on again.

And at least now I know why I've been so hungry at night lately.

1.17.2017

tales from a (sort of) reluctant hermit



I've got the January Blues so bad. It has been dark and raining for weeks now. I usually live for this kind of weather, but it's warm and rainy. The warmth without the ability to go outside is a cruel sort of tease. I love having the windows open, but if it's warm I want to be able to go outside. If it's dreary, I demand cold and snow. My eyebrows are usually freezing off this time of year, but I've barely needed my coat lately. Regardless, the rain and thunderstorms have kept us inside as much as if it were -15 outside. Being cooped up all day with a toddler is a form of torture reserved for terrorists. But not just any toddler--a toddler who has stopped sleeping.

I don't even know what sanity is anymore. She's taking hours to go to sleep at night and she hasn't napped in days. I'm sure it's some sort of developmental spurt that will sort itself out soon, but I'm drowning in the meantime. Literally and figuratively, because it has rained a lot. 

Also, I have stopped sleeping too. I've had only a small handful of nights I've slept well in the past several weeks. I've been walking around in a cranky, delirious stupor and trying to not let Winnie the Pooh raise my child. I know so many moms don't let their kids watch tv, and while Gracie's tv time is very limited, if Pooh buys me 5 minutes to close my eyes, it's worth hearing the songs in my (very limited) sleep and feeling the scorn of all the better moms.

And yes, I am eating a cannoli as I type this. I don't think that needs any explanation based off what you've already read, but we'll get to the cannoli later.

Anyway, I haven't had a moment of silence in days. Not a moment. She talks nonstop, 100% of the day. She wants me to read to her or interact with her all day long. I love her, I love that she's talking so much and so well, and I love spending my days with her, but I've started fantasizing about my old cubicle and having adult conversations in the break room. I have no desire to go back to work, so that's how I know I'm really starting to lose it.

To top it off, James has had to work more than ever the last few weeks. He's home maybe 3 evenings a week, so I'm doing the solo mom thing from morning till bedtime with not a moment's rest. It probably goes without saying, but I have been starving for adult interaction. Last week at church I saw my friend dropping her daughter off in the nursery when I was, and since we're both in the same boat, we wound up sitting in the middle of the nursery and talking through the entire church service. It was the most adult interaction we'd had in weeks, and it was like basking in warm sunshine after a long winter. And this is coming from the most introverted introvert of all time.

My attempts to socialize lately have been a comedy of errors. I was determined to get us to story time last week, but every morning I decided to go we woke up to inclement weather, and then Gracie wasn't feeling well. I've had to more or less give up on Mops for the time being due to conflicts with James' work schedule, and the Women's Bible Study at my church decided to start meeting at a house 45 minutes away, after Gracie's bedtime, on a day when James is usually working late instead of the usual morning meetings nearby.

I think I just need to accept that this is not a season of life for getting involved and being social. There will be other times, but clearly not right now.

There's a store nearby called The Anderson's. If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's basically a fancy grocery store combined with a Lowe's and a Bed, Bath, and Beyond. You can grind your own coffee beans, buy meat from the butcher shop inside, peruse the Fiestaware, pick out new kitchen cabinets and buy lumber, grab a coffee at the coffee shop (yes, there's a coffee shop), and buy some clothes or Melissa and Doug toys. Literally everything you could ever want or need under one roof. They announced yesterday that they're closing their stores. For obvious reasons, I was devastated even though I've only been once to buy firewood with my dad. It takes half a day to walk around the entire store, and since the rain had stopped and it's practically in our backyard, we went. Gracie put on her red hat that she wears 24/7, and we wandered every aisle, including the bakery where I left with the aforementioned cannoli and snickerdoodles.

I hate to admit it, but I think this was the most exciting thing to happen to me all year. I was rummaging through the sample-sized bags of flavored coffee looking for more exotic flavors to try (Michigan Maple! Chocolate Marshmallow!) when a man stopped me, mistaking me for an employee. I'm not sure if it was the toddler in my shopping cart or the giant mom bag I was carrying that tipped him off to the fact that I'm a grocery store employee, but he was not pleased to hear that I had no idea where the stainless steel cleaner is. I had to laugh when a minute later, in a neighboring aisle, I heard: "I'm sorry, sir, I'm not an employee here." "Oh, sorry, I thought you were."

Not long after that, what sounded like an air raid siren went off through the store. It was deafening and people were running around aimlessly trying to figure out what to do. An old lady shouted "It's an air raid!" and with Gracie's retro hat on, I felt a little bit like I was living in one of those WWII novels I'm so fond of. After several minutes the siren stopped, but I have no idea what it was about. I was just happy something exciting happened and I was out of the house to witness it.

Other than exciting grocery store adventures, I've been spending my evenings solo watching The Bachelor and Sherlock while knitting. One is a train wreck, one an adrenaline rush, but both make me cringe and hide behind a pillow. On the rare evenings James is home, I've been going to the gym to blast good music and run. It's been the perfect outlet for my winter/toddler mom angst and helps make up for the amount of chocolate I've been stress eating in the pantry. I have a thousand cleaning and organizing goals, but with that nasty case of the January Blues that I can't shake, I haven't been able to quite do much about it yet. The motivation has vanished, and a general sense of malaise and laziness have set in. Instead, I've been reduced to fantasizing about an organized pantry while Gracie shoves a plastic pickle in my mouth and tells me to eat it with a spoon.

Speaking of Gracie, I think she finally fell asleep for her nap. She spent an hour talking to her stuffed animals about her red hat before finally going to sleep. I should use this opportunity to clean or get started on dinner, but there's a snickerdoodle waiting for me on the kitchen counter, and I think we all know which one is more important right now.

1.11.2017

buzzwords and why you shouldn't

My dad is very successful in the business and management world. As I was growing up, he would often come home after a meeting and rant about the business world's newest buzzwords. There was always a list of pretentious new words to take the place of older words, for no reason other than to make yourself sound more important and knowledgeable. He hated this (and still does, rightfully so). My biggest problem at the time was my math homework (literally--lots of big math problems), so I didn't fully understand his disdain.

Well. I get it now.

I'm not in the business world (praise hands), but I am in the blogging and social media world (kind of the same thing as business these days, no?). And whew boy, are there plenty of buzzwords out there. And I hate every single one of them. I will admit, I think I have more pet peeves than the average person, but the slaughter and abuse of the English language cuts me deep. It's not that these words are wrong, it's just that I find them really annoying. Which, in my esteemed opinion, basically means they're wrong. I realize I'm a curmudgeon who hates change and snapchat, but sometimes I really wish we spoke like a Jane Austen novel instead of karate-chopping "very" into "v." and thinking it's cute.

I tend to be a very snarky person. I don't mean any harm by it, but it often pours out of me when I'm not actively reigning it in. My blog posts used to be so full of snark they most likely came off as rude and offensive at times, but I've tried to tone it down and be kind and loving instead. But there is a time and a place for everything.

Today is the time for snark.

If you'll allow me, I would like to present the list of words and terms that I would like to ban from society. Some are valid, some are ridiculous and only annoy me, but all of this is just in good fun, so just chill out already.

+ Source, as in sourcing food. This one has blown up and I roll my eyes every time I hear it. It makes me think of this Portlandia skit  where they want to know the entire life story about the chicken before ordering it. When I was at a blogger brunch a few years ago, a girl literally tried to swipe a bowl of fruit salad out of my hands, because the fruit obviously wasn't in season in Ohio in February and we must source local foods and only eat seasonally or you will get cancer. Yes, she said those actual words. So basically I probably have a personal issue with this word. Just stop worrying about your chicken and just chew it already.

+ Gift. Not as a noun, but as a verb. Gift, when functioning as a noun as GOD INTENDED, is one of the most beautiful words in the English language. Then Satan showed up to twist and contort it into a verb, so people say things like "He gifted me that necklace." And then my ears bleed, because he gave you/bought you that necklace and we already have enough words to express that thought, and saying "He gifted it to me" sounds so pretentious that I immediately picture you wearing boat shoes, khakis, a polo shirt, and a cardigan.

+ Wifey/Hubby. You should not be allowed to get married if you use either of those words, as the only explanation is that you're still 12 years old. The cute-ifying of words makes me throw up more than when I was pregnant. And that's saying something.

+ Preggo/Preggers/etc. See above reasoning, also I'm pretty sure a pregnant woman is not a jar of pasta sauce. The only other forms of pregnant I will deem acceptable are these, because they're hilarious. Just say "pregnant." It's really not that hard, and I won't have to unfriend you.

+ Do life with. Several friends brought this term up when I had a twitter meltdown over stupid words a few months ago. I could not agree more. When I was in college, the church I went to frequently used this term when referencing Bible studies and small groups. "We want to do life with you." I physically twitched every time. I want you to do shutting up.

+ Littles/Smalls/Bigs. These have become common words when describing children. Pass me the barf bag. Did you know there's already a word for this? It's kids. Also children. Also infant, baby, toddler, adolescent, teenager, etc. Stop trying to reinvent the wheel. It's not cute, it's foolish.

+Tribe/Squad/#squadgoals: Are we Native Americans? A cheerleading squad? WHY IS TAYLOR SWIFT TELLING US HOW TO SPEAK AND WHY ARE WE LETTING HER? Whenever someone says "my tribe" or "my squad," I immediately know I don't want to be a part of it. Remember when we just used to say....group of friends? Is that as outdated as the VCR now? Pardon me while I clutch my pearls.

+ Babywearing. FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING, YOU GUYS, PUT THIS ONE OUT OF ITS MISERY. My baby is not an article of clothing! You're carrying your baby in a baby carrier or a wrap.  You're not putting your baby over your head and stretching your arms through him or her. I'll just be over here pushing the stroller, or as I like to call it, babystrolling.

+ Crunchy. The whole "crunchy mom" diatribe is the most obnoxious thing in the world. I'm all for natural stuff and whatnot, and that's super cool if your beef is grass-fed and organic and definitely gluten-free, but it's become such a passive aggressive mom war thing. No wonder I'm not friends with "crunchy moms." I've always enjoyed smooth peanut butter better.

+ Foodie. Jim Gaffigan said it best when he said "I'm not a foodie; I'm an eatie." Preach on, brother Jim. The word "foodie" is the King of Pretension. I was listening to a podcast the other day, and one woman said "We're all foodies in my family, so we would never use a crockpot. Gross." And then she lost me completely. I love good, fancy food, but seriously I am never happier than when eating pizza. I just want healthy, wholesome, delicious food I can make and eat at home while my toddler tugs on my pants and pulls them down and cries for me to hold her. If the words "molecular gastronomy" are involved, I'll see myself out.

+ Selfie. I think I can speak for many of us when I say that this word needs to jump off a very high cliff. I don't even care if people take pictures of themselves as long as they're not calling it a selfie. It brings me immediate visions of the Kardashians. The only known cure is to read a dictionary. However, with the direction of our language lately, I'm not even sure I can recommend a dictionary anymore. Read some Dickens instead.

+ On Fleek. I almost didn't include this because I'm not sure I actually know what it means. I hate it so much that I black out whenever I hear or read it. I'll just be over here saying "the cat's pajamas" instead. Be a dear and hand me my AARP card.


What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? What did I leave out? I'm so worked up I could go on all day.

1.10.2017

winter jams

When I was in college and living down south, I had a group of friends. All guys. Just the way I liked it. We did everything together. We cooked together, went to midnight movie premieres, spent days at the beach, threw pool parties, played Wii for hours while pounding Red Bull, went to concerts, and sat in coffeeshops talking late into the night. To this day, they are probably the best group of friends I've ever had. My memories with them are some I will cherish forever, even if they aren't in my life anymore.

They have, however, had had a lasting impact on me in the form of music. They made me mix CDs, gave me tons of music, and introduced me to my favorite bands and musicians back when The Avett Brothers were unheard of everywhere outside eastern North Carolina. They completely transformed my taste in music, almost like they showed me the music I was meant to be listening to. That sounds ridiculous, but it's true. I think of them whenever I make a playlist. I bond with people over music faster than anything else, and that's why I love posting playlists. I do it in memory of my old friends who introduced me to some of my favorite songs and musicians and to share the music that is currently playing a big role in my life. Because music always plays a huge role in my life. Books and music. Take them away from me, and I swear I would stop breathing.

Some of this music is new to me, and some are old favorites. Most of these songs are upbeat and have a solid groove, but some are a little angsty, because I've been down with a case of the January Blues lately. And there's a Relient K song, because they were the wind beneath my wings in high school, and they recently wrote a really catchy song about Ohio that I found myself singing in my head while laying in bed the other night.

Long story still long, if you need some music to perk yourself up in the dead of winter and to fill the void of Christmas music, here you go. I've been listening to this music all day every day lately, and it puts me in a better mood every single time.