Wednesday, March 30, 2011

In Which I Ramble. A Lot.

Somedays, today included, I look in my emotional mirror and don't recognize myself. And that's a good thing.

I'm not sure where it has come from, but I'm beginning to feel balance and control in my life. Is this how the rest of you usually feel? Where once things would have spun me completely out of control, I take one look, assess what I can do, do it, and then go "Meh." It's awesome.

I think that it has a lot to do with being put through some situations that I'd rather not deal with. I may have said this a couple of posts ago, but it bears repeating as I feel that it is the theme for the first three months of this year: It is absolutely amazing what you can cope with when you have no other choice.

Do you ever look at someone else's life and think that there is no way that you could deal with (X)? Guess what? That person probably would have felt the same way before they had to deal with it.

This year so far has been chock-full of "aha" moments for me, most of them being things that most people already know but they're new to me.

Several months ago someone told me that people can't do this or that around me because I don't handle it. Something like that. That statement sent my brain spinning. I wondered what exactly does "handling it" mean? How on earth is anyone qualified to judge whether or not another person is handling something? Maybe I don't handle things the same way you do. Does that make me wrong? Not necessarily. Think of one of your worst days ever. Lost job, lost money, fight with a loved one, a horrible combination of several of these things...then throw one more awful thing on top of it. If an outside observer only witnesses the last straw and the subsequent reaction, I don't think that makes them qualified to assess the degree of handling that is done.

I think you either handle it or you don't, and the "don't" mostly equals you die, because any way you look at it, as long as you're alive, you will experience it, whatever "it" may be. Denial will only get you so far. anyway...

Today I was told that my baby, Jack, most likely has Asperger's. He may not have it and if he does, he is a very high functioning Aspie. It's still not the greatest news to find out that things that come naturally to other people are going to be extra hard for Jack. It still makes my heart break when I think of the extra obstacles that he will have to overcome. But the news didn't send me reeling. I didn't even think of how it was affecting me until someone asked me about an hour ago how I was handling it. I had to stop and think. How am I handling it? ...umm, okay, I guess. It's just news. There are therapies available and so much out there to help Jack. Am I sad that my baby will have to deal with this? Yep. Am I going to dissolve into a puddle of helpless, hopeless tears? Nope.

I don't know where this inner strength has come from. I don't really care. I do know that I am vastly different than I was six months ago, and I'm loving it. I feel like I finally know what it feels to be normal. I feel almost invincible. (but let's not test that, God, okay?) It feels so good to not feel as if everything around me is out of my control. I don't remember the last time that I felt like I was in control of my life. I know that I'm actually not in control, but I'm okay with that. What I am in control of now is how I deal with what life throws at me. I still have bad days. I still miss my husband and wonder if his being away is going to be the undoing of my family and marriage. So far things are okay, but God didn't give us the institution of marriage so that we could spend 80% of our days apart. I still worry about my children, the economy, the price of gas, but those worries don't consume me. I can take them out of their little box, examine them, decide what, if any, action I can take, and then, this is the best part, I put those worries back in their box, dust off my hands and get back to living.

This whole regulated emotions thing is pretty cool, really. I sorta feel like you all have been holding out on me.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes, Toddlers and Tweens

My kids have been on a collective roll. It seems that every time I turn around, one of them is spouting off with a gem that I want to share. The following are just a handful of the things they have said lately, which mostly means that these are the ones I can remember.

In January, Adam graduated from the Nursery in our church to the big kids' class, or Primary. Alas, there are no toys in Primary, so every week that we go I hear the lament, "I don't want to go to Crymary! I want to go to the toy class!"

Additionally, we are not the most regular church attendees. I really do want to go, but so many Sunday mornings I wake up, take a look at my four pajama-clad children and think that it's not worth the effort. As a result, we usually only attend one or two Sundays per month. In Nursery, the kids take turns bringing snacks to share. I noticed that it seemed like we were being asked every other Sunday to supply the treats and I was wondering why I was being asked so frequently. Then I had the realization that I was most likely not being asked any more frequently than the other parents, it's just that when you only attend 25% of the time, it's going to feel like you get asked all of the time. Duh, self.


Michael is growing more mature every day, and as a result is getting to be so much more like a peer to talk to. One day we were having a conversation about cloning and what we would do if we could clone ourselves. Mike said, "If you had a clone, you guys would probably talk about boring stuff, like naps and crazy pills." Boring is definitely a matter of perspective.

Another time I asked the kids to go downstairs with me and help me clean the living room. Noel and I headed down immediately but Mike took a few minutes to get there. By the time he showed up, we were mostly done. I wasn't upset because I knew that he had been taking care of some things upstairs so I jokingly said, "Hey, thanks for your help cleaning." He retorted, "Hey, thanks for the sarcasm." Touche, son. Also, you are awesome.


Noel is still Noel, which means she pops off with some of the most random stuff ever. You honestly never know what is going to come out of her mouth. She's at that dangerous age where she understands enough and appears to outsiders to be mature enough to be trusted with normal conversation. The thing with Noel is that somewhere between her ears and her information processors there is a short. The following conversation is a good illustrator of that.

Cousin: I have heartburn.
Noel: Me too.
Grandma: You don't have heartburn, Noel.
Noel: Well, I've already had puberty, so what's next?


The next one is from Adam, and it is highly inappropriate. Let me preface this by saying that I don't swear excessively in front of my children. The occasional "H" and "D" words slip out, but that is as crude as it gets. The "F" word is not something that is ever used in our house, which is why the following caught me so completely by surprise.

Adam requested his pillow pet, which looks like some sort of primate. As I was reaching for it, I said, "You want your monkey?" He replied by screaming, "That's not a monkey, it's a gorilla, you f***!"

I also feel it necessary to point out that he had just been marching in a circle chanting gibberish words, some I'm sure that it was an unfortunate mash-up of consonants and vowels on his part. I explained that it was not a nice word and left it at that. I once read that tragedy + timing = comedy, so I got a good laugh out of that, as soon as I left the room.


My kids routinely make me laugh every day and remind me of one of life's most important lessons: don't take things too seriously!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Party Barge

My son Mike is totally awesome. He is nearly eleven and gets more mature and more fun to talk to every day. He is very intelligent and creative, and I used to think that he had just the right touch of feminism. I was wrong.

This afternoon he was showing me the party barge that he made with his Legos.

There is so much detail here; every single piece has a purpose. He was explaining each of the components of the barge but when we got to the barge kitchen my mind came to a screeching halt.

When he originally showed me the barge, there were a total of 16 minifigures (for those of you not initiated in Lego-ese that would be Lego people). Out of those 16 figures there were two females. Where did my sweet son see fit to put them? Oh yes. The kitchen. He assures me that they volunteered. I assured him that he would volunteer to cook dinner tonight.

Barring the blatant sexism shown here, the barge is still a delightful peek into the workings of my son's mind. He isn't here right now to explain everything, but I took some close-ups of my favorite parts.

I think that the frosted windows may be a bit of a liability for the pilot and co-pilot.

This is the captain. Eerily, he resembles Mike. When I asked why there were decapitated bodies near the captain, I was informed that they were his uniforms. Duh, Mom. I didn't question the skateboard. Who knows when the captain may come upon some sweet half-pipes? Ditto with the gun and hand cuffs.

When I was taking pictures, I thought that this guy had fallen down and was going to stand him back up. Then I noticed the boom box. Oh yeah. This guy is break dancing.

Also, did you notice the variety of people who are partying together? Besides the captain, the break dancer and the indentured servants women, there is an under-sea dude from Atlantis, a business man (complete with briefcase), a man in a pith helmet whom I believe to be Dr. Jones, Sr. (if you didn't get the Indiana Jones reference you probably shouldn't be here), a fire fighter and a police officer. Sounds like a party!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

You Should Probably Disregard the First Line of This Post

I am not crazy. At least, not in the textbook way. I do, however, have an entire myriad of ways that I am interesting. I have become used to most of these interesting quirks of mine, but throw me into a new or stressful situation and things can quickly get out of hand.

A few weeks ago, I had a visit with an ear, nose and throat specialist. Depending on your point of view, he had news that was both super and supremely crappy. First off, all of my airways are far too small for a grown woman to receive adequate air flow. He actually used the word petite, but I think that he was just trying to soften the blow by using a complimentary word. What woman doesn't want to hear that she's petite, right? Add to the petiteness of my airways a severely curved septum, a soft palate that is too long and a too-large tongue base and you get what he called a "poster child for sleep disorders". I have so many obstructions in my airways that it is difficult for me to get enough oxygen, especially when sleeping. Which makes for a very sleepy-all-of-the-time Julie. He actually said that my condition was so severe that he would like to have students come take a look at my messed up airways. At least I know I'll always have the option of sideshow freak as an occupation.

Fast forward one week: I am headed to the sleep study which has been scheduled for me. I'm a little freaked out by the thought of going to a strange place for the sole purpose of having people watch me sleep. I posted a facebook status saying something along those lines and this is the gem that my friend Sterling commented with:

So, as you lay down on a squeaky cot a group of doctors assembles in the room with those reflective light thingies on their heads. One of them says to you "Mmmkay, just go ahead and fall asleep. We will be right here watching you, taking notes on whatever weird, funny or strange thing you do. Don't be nervous. Only about 3/4 of our patients actually fart when they fall asleep... and you don't look like a farter to me."

Thanks for the confidence booster, Sterling. That doesn't make it worse at all. Also, I have completely awesome friends.

So I showed up that night, was told to change into my jammies and then wait for the sleep technician, Pauline, to get the other woman hooked up and then she would come take care of me. I laid on a super comfy bed and read for about an hour. It was total bliss. No kids, no diapers, no responsibilities, just quiet and my book. Then I noticed the cameras. I quit looking for them after I saw two. I knew that I would be filmed because I had to sign a consent form for the process, but actually seeing cameras mounted on the wall, aimed at my bed made me feel like this was the worst hotel room in the history of ever.

Pauline showed up and began the process of attaching 28 different electrodes to various parts of my body. She explained what she was doing as she went, telling me that she had to attach this electrode to my scalp over this part of my brain and these electrodes to my face to track the muscle movement. As she worked, we talked a little about ourselves. It took nearly an hour, so I learned that she had two children and was five months along with her third, which I hadn't even noticed because I was pretty nervous about the upcoming night when I met her.

She finished hooking me up and then told me that if I need to get up in the night for anything to call her so that she could help me unhook all of the wires. Glancing around for a call button, I asked how to call her.

"Just say my name. I'm going to be watching and listening all night so I'll hear you."


She then had me get in bed and get comfortable. She told me that she would go back to her room, call me on the intercom and have me do some movements so that she could ensure that everything was hooked up correctly. Then I was free to relax and go to sleep.

I followed the instructions that her disembodied voice gave a few moments later, opening and closing my eyes, looking up, down, right and left. I opened my mouth, closed it, held my breath, moved each leg in turn and then was told, "Okay! Go ahead and fall asleep."

The following is the mental conversation that I had with myself. What? You don't have conversations with yourself? Well, you see, no matter how sad, angry or totally nuts I feel, there is a woman in the back of my mind. She is the sane me. Her name is Julie and she is very well dressed, completely rational and has the most calming voice. She never shouts or raises her voice. She is the sane, perfect me. I think of her as my very own Jiminy Cricket. The prevalent voice in my head is Jules. She is way more fun, but she is also way more neurotic. Jules is who's in charge most of the time. She is louder than Julie and usually forgets that Julie even exists. Jules is kinda weird. But I like her.

Jules: Okay. Fall asleep ... How do I fall asleep? It's not really something that you can do on command, you know. How do I usually do it at home? Relax, breathe deep ... She's watching me on that damn camera, wait, TWO damn cameras. And those are just the ones that I saw. How am I supposed to sleep with someone watching me?

Julie: It's fine. She's just doing her job. You signed up for this. Relaaaaax.

Jules: Yes. Relax. These electrodes stuck on my scalp feel weird. I wonder if it will pull my hair out in the morning when she removes them. She said that she had to place them over certain parts of my brain. Different parts of the brain are in charge of different parts of things, different emotions ... I wonder if she can tell what sorts of things I am thinking of right now ... OH. MY. GOSH! She can read my mind! She knows what I'm thinking!

Julie: She can't read your mind.

Jules: She most certainly can! If different parts of the brain control different parts of things, she can tell if I'm sad or happy or totally freaking out, like I am now. She also can tell if I'm looking up or down, or if my mouth is closed. She could tell if I laid here and stared at the toilet all night long. Then she would wonder what sort of toilet fascination I have.

Julie: She can't read your mind. You just need to calm down and try to sleep.

Jules: Try to sleep? That's like telling someone not to yawn, or not to scratch themselves. They'll immediately yawn or have something start to itch. *big yawn* Crap. Now the electrodes itch and I can't scratch them. Telling me to sleep makes me completely unable to do just that ... Okay, clear my mind ... No thoughts ... Just a blank space ... ... ... That was pretty embarrassing that I didn't realize that she was pregnant. I hope that she didn't think that I thought that she was enormously fat ... FRICK! Now she can read my thoughts and she can tell that I'm thinking that I thought that she thought that I thought that she was huge! What if she only caught part of that thought and just saw that part that said "Pauline is fat". ARGH! youarenotfatyouarenotfatyouarenotf-

Julie: Stop it. She can't read your thoughts. That is not possible.

Jules: You're probably right. But I'm sure that she can tell what sorts of emotions I am feeling. Like what does she see on her monitors if I think about my kids? ... Now I'll think about Moe ... okay, becoming X-rated ... moving on ... I'll think about this bed ... now I'll see if I can remember where I parked ... Oh, you are a wily one, Pauline. You think you can mess with me? Watch this.

I then began to focus on the image of my friend Sterling stomping out a flaming bag of dog poo that I had threatened to mail to him. (It was a continuation of the facebook thread. This post is long enough without including that here.) The image was so awesomely clear that I actually giggled out loud. Crap. She must know that I'm still awake because of those blasted God-like electrodes and now she can hear me giggling to myself. She must think that I'm absolutely insane.

Julie: She doesn't think that you're insane. Just take deep breaths, please try to clear your mind and sleep. The purpose for you being here is not to be made fun of, but if you keep this up that may not matter anymore.

Jules: You are absolutely right. And this is all being recorded, and if it gets out of hand, this may be the video that Pauline saves for the technician who comes in to replace her. She'll say something like, "Oh my gosh! You will not believe the woman who came in here last night! She was totally off her rocker! Check out her video - all fifteen angles I captured on film. Plus, her mental images were so vivid that I was able to get clear video of those as well." Then he'll show the next guy, and the next thing you know, they'll be posting it on YouTube and showing it at the company Christmas party.

Julie: Jules? Really. It's all okay. Just relax.

Jules: *takes deep breath* Aaahhhhh. I can do this...

Eventually I did fall asleep. But I woke up several times during the night and it would start all over again. I could barely meet Pauline's eye the next morning when she came in to unhook me from everything.

I have an appointment next week to discuss the findings of my sleep study. I have no idea what the doctor will say about my oxygen levels or airflow obstructions, but I would not be surprised at all if he hands me a pamphlet on mental disorders, along with business cards for several psychiatrists.

But really? I'm not crazy. If you want to be technical about it, the clinical term is insane.

Friday, January 28, 2011

My Friend is Famous

My pal Emily is being featured today as a guest writer on Rants From Mommyland. My best pal ever and my most favorite blog in the world. It's better than popcorn and M&Ms. Click on over and show them all some love!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Catch-Up Post

In October, we left our home in the sticks and moved in with my mom. Into her basement. Into two bedrooms. For six people and a dog. It's been super fun. We'll stay here until the school year is out and then we're thinking of moving to a new town.'s all up in the air and still open for discussion at the moment.

Morgan got a job driving truck for a company in Hazleton in September. He hauled cattle and was gone from Monday until Friday or Saturday. It was tough at first, but we got used to it. As soon as we got used to it, in the middle of November, he lost that job. He started working for Swift Transportation driving truck in December. He completed all of his training before Christmas and then stayed home with me while I recovered from my surgery. He finally headed out on the road the first week of January and has been gone ever since. We're hoping to see him on Thursday, but he is currently in Kentucky and waiting for the company to assign him a load that will bring him back west. We have no idea how long that will take, so I'm just hoping to see him before I send the kids off to college.

It was his choice to stay out for three weeks, the reasoning being that since it's been so long since we have had a paycheck that it would be a good idea to work a lot right at first. However, it has turned out being not such a great idea as the kids have missed him terribly and he's run into a few other logistical concerns being out that long. The company requires that the drivers be out for at least two weeks, though, so he'll still be gone for long stretches with only two days home at a time. We feel that this is a temporary set up and that we can tough it out for a year or so and then possibly he'll be able to get a local job.

In the meantime...

I never imagined that I would be 32 years old and live with my mother. It's amazing how much I care what she thinks about me, my personal habits, my parenting techniques, etc. now that I'm back under her roof. In my own house, I didn't feel guilty if there were days that the kids stayed in their jammies until 3:00. Now I feel as if I'm watched every minute of the day. I have taken to calling her "The Warden" when I talk to Morgan because I feel like every single move I make is under constant surveillance.

In all fairness, I know that it can't be easy for her, either. She has given up her regularly scheduled life to allow us to be here and we do our best to respect her home and her privacy but I have toddlers, people. Toddlers are respecters of no one and no thing. Cats fall into that same category, but it only took one of them pooping on her brand-new bedspread twice for them to become permanent outside cats. You just can't do that with toddlers.

There are pros and cons to living here. For instance, I only make dinner and do dishes half of the nights. Also, if I don't abuse the privilege, a quick run to the store for a gallon of milk can be just that, a quick run to the store, instead of the diapers-wipes-sippy cups-coats-boots-hats-mittens-car seats odyssey that it used to be. Yep, I just hop in the car, buckle my seat belt, and head out. It's quite a new and magical experience. I think that once, long ago, I used to do the same thing, but I believe that all memories of those times are erased by progesterone and oxytocin. Now, they are nothing but wisps of déjà vu.

My privacy, however, is something that I kissed goodbye the very first week that we lived here. I was in the shower, you know, showering. The door was firmly closed. I turned off the water, opened the curtain, and as I was reaching for the towel, my mom opened the bathroom door. She actually looked surprised to see me
naked. The door was closed, the water was on less than ten seconds ago - what did she think I was doing? Gone are the days of checking facebook in my undies while eating a bowl of cereal. Gone are the days of quiet lounging.

But I am grateful. We are here for a season, and soon we will begin another season in our lives. And in that season, I will do everything while wearing nothing but my underwear.