Friday, December 28, 2012

This Is Why I Love Her Sense of Humor

So yesterday I came home to find D alone in the house with a boy. Apparently their ice skating date had been canceled, but he still came over to see her. Huh.

She only smiled when I asked if he's a good kisser and then denied it all, which means something definitely happened. It must mean something if she's not telling me.

Anyway, I commented that I hope she waits to have sex with someone she really cares about. She said of course she's going to and then we had the following conversation.

Me: "I'm not saying I think you'll do it tomorrow, I just don't want you throwing away what could be a nice experience."

D: "Duh, Mom. I know that. Besides, there are plenty of other things to do besides just sex."

Me: "Ugh, I don't want to hear that!"

D: "I was talking about ice skating and bowling!"

Oh, help me......

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Where Does She Get It?

The other day I picked D up from school and we went Christmas shopping. Her friend Little N came along and the two of them talked about every detail of their day, which mostly had to do with boys.

When we stopped at a light, I saw a man begging with a sign and locked my doors. D thought that was exceptionally rude, but I assured her that he didn't hear me do it.

The car in front of us rolled their window down and it looked like they gave him money. The girls started going through their backpacks to see what they had and came up with a candy cane, a gold chocolate coin, and a strawberry candy.

I rolled my window down and motioned for the man to come to the car, telling him that the girls wanted him to have their candy. He got the biggest smile, said "That's awesome!" and then asked if I had a light, which I didn't. No matter, he seemed genuinely excited to be given candy and waved us off saying, "God bless you! Merry Christmas!"

It was actually really nice and felt good. I told the girls, "You just made that guy's day."

And D replied, "Even if we didn't, he might at least have better breath now."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pigs In Blankets

I have a king-sized bed. I also have two Boston Terriers. Because they are small dogs, one would think that a king-sized bed would easily accommodate the three of us. This would be an incorrect assumption.

Even if it's only me, I sleep on one side of the bed. Reaching over to the nightstand to turn off the light, put my book down, set the alarm, or get a sip of water is just too much exercise to be done in a bed. This habit of mine leaves plenty of room for the dogs. They can stretch out. They can each have their own, separate spaces on the bed.

This doesn't happen.

My Puppy Loves like to sleep right next to me. As in right up against me. Which is kind of nice when I'm really cold, but not so great when I wake up and find myself on the very edge of the bed. With one dog at my torso and one at my legs.

My favorite thing is when they manage to pull the covers over to themselves while laying on top of them so that I'm left with only half covers and I'm cold and can't get their enormous weight to budge.

They also like to sleep under the covers. Especially Remy. If he's not under some type of cover he thinks the world is coming to an end. So several nights a week I am woken by a paw tapping my shoulder, waiting for me to lift the covers so he can find his favorite spot down by my feet.

Oh, wait. My very favorite thing is when Ruby is all snuggled up and I turn over to cuddle with her only to find that it's her butt in my face, not her face. And then she farts.

My sheets are not pretty. They are covered in hair and I know there have been dog butts on my pillows plenty of times. I find eye boogers and other, less-pleasing evidence of dogs if I dare to look closely enough.

You would think that it's time to kick them out. That I would sleep better with them in their own beds. That I would prefer clean sheets to hair and snoring and snorting and farting. You would be wrong, my friend.

Somehow it feels selfish to banish them to crates when I have such a large bed. It's also lonely without them. It's reassuring waking up to their warm bodies, knowing they find as much comfort from my half-covered, frozen, frustrated body. I love their smells and their sighs and their little frito feet. I love opening my eyes to find Ruby's little face next to mine, her look of pure contentment and trust.

Yeah, I pretty much sleep in a giant dog bed.
I wonder if I could teach them how to do laundry.....

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

He's Here!!

I have news! The baby is here!! Baby Boy has arrived!

I was stuck in a meeting and writing my to-do list after the meeting got completely derailed onto another, even less-interesting subject. Some things were work things, some were not. One of them was to check in with Mom and see if the baby was here because she told me last week that she would be induced on Tuesday of this week.

Got back to my desk to find a voice mail that Baby Boy arrived last night and is perfectly healthy. I am still working on the armoire for Princess so I will be able to see him and report back on how adorably snuggly he is.

In other completely unrelated news, I have discovered the cutest, smallest animal in the world and now I must have one. I want a bumblebee bat. I think he could hang nicely from the top bars in Jellybean's cage and we could let him fly around at night to catch any gross bugs that are in the house. He'd be especially helpful in the summer with mosquitoes.

Hear that, Fat Man? He'd also fit nicely in my stocking.

Monday, December 17, 2012

How to Grow Your Heart Two Sizes

I watched the president's speech in Newtown last night and cried. My heart goes out to everyone in that community. This morning I arrived at work only to find that the first email was from a co-worker whose father is very ill. It's the happiest time of the year and there is far too much sadness. So, so much of it everywhere.

It's very easy for me to get bogged down in that. I think it's hard for a lot of people this time of year, and depression makes it worse because it already tells me that life sucks. "Give up. Go back to bed. Why bother?"

But I decided that this year is going to be different. I've been so tired the last several years that I've made very little holiday effort. I've gone through the motions but my heart hasn't been in it. Most years I've only done it because of D; otherwise I wouldn't have bothered. Then this year I decided to be spirited and to enjoy the holiday. I still haven't baked enough (or at all) or watched enough Christmas movies but I'm in it more than I have been in recent years.

I loved helping our adopted family. It felt so good to be able to help people that really needed it. But then I keep hearing about more people in similar situations and it feels like I haven't done enough. That helping just one family almost isn't worth it when there are SO MANY people that need help. And I would love to help everyone, but I don't have the resources for that. My bank account only stretches so far.

So yesterday I decided to just give thanks to someone else who is doing something on a regular basis. To give them some encouragement to keep going, to know that their efforts are appreciated. They're both "friends" on Facebook.

One happens to be a little Boston Terrier who visits elderly people and sick children and many other people in need in his community. Of course there is a man with a giant heart behind this little dog who deserves most of the credit. I mean, the dog is adorable and obviously helps people, but he can't answer the phone when he's wanted for an appearance or drive himself there. Even though he does have his own motorcycle.

The other is actually a friend of a friend whom I have never met. She got tired of hearing about all of the shelter dogs who never find homes and decided to do something about it. She adopted two dogs herself from high-kill shelters and then floods my newsfeed daily with photos of other dogs whose lives are on the line. I don't mind. I'm glad someone is doing it. When she posted about how she feels like she isn't doing enough and gets discouraged knowing that so many,  many dogs are still put down daily, I had to respond.

I posted messages to both thanking them for what they do. I chose people with dogs because that is my passion. And it took all of maybe 10 minutes. Probably less. They both responded so I knew that they had heard me, but it wouldn't have mattered if I hadn't heard back. The point was to put a little more niceness out in the world. A little encouragement, a little bit of gratitude.

There isn't enough kindness right now. It's easy to get frustrated at long lines in stores and say something snarky about it. But you know what? It's just as easy to be nice to that cashier when it's your turn. Because she's probably dealt with a hundred crabby people and really needs someone to have some patience with her. It's easy to send out a message to someone you know or even don't know and thank them for what they do. Shovel a neighbor's driveway, let someone in line in front of you, leave a bigger tip than normal.

Someone might be on the verge of giving up. Giving up their cause, their plans, even their life. One kind word or act from you could change that. Even if you never know, you'll at least know you've done your best.

Let's do our best today.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Time for Change

Friday's school shooting is still in the headlines and still resonating with parents and will continue to do so. It is unfathomable what that community is going through. It is beyond understanding for me as a parent. I hate that I have to talk to my daughter about it when I have no answers. I hate hearing that her teachers are making escape plans and discussing them with her. I hate that she is now also afraid to go to school. School should be a safe place. A place where kids learn, not just about academics, but about friendship, how the world works, and what it is to grow up. This isn't how the world is supposed to work.

The knee-jerk reaction to this tragedy is gun control. Guns are bad. Guns kill people. I am certainly not advocating for guns. They frighten me and I don't understand the attraction to going out and shooting things up. I didn't grow up with hunters. But I do understand that thousands and thousands of people in this country own guns and those people could never conceive of using them in a way that the alleged killer did. There are people who respect guns and teach everyone around them how to use them properly. So I don't think that guns are the issue. Because happy, well-adjusted people don't take guns into school and take innocent lives just because these weapons are available.

It is time to look at the kinds of individuals that commit these horrendous crimes. What leads them to believe that taking lives, including their own, is the solution? These people are not well. They are also suffering.

I live with depression. For myself and my daughter. I can tell you that it looks very frightening at times. It feels frightening. And while seeing someone have a panic attack can be scary, it's even worse for the person having it. To be unable to leave the body and the mind that feels so uncomfortable leaves one feeling hopeless and trapped.

My daughter seems to struggle more. Whether it's her age or her particular illness, she is having a really hard time. Because she's a girl, she turns her fear and anger and confusion onto herself. As the mother who snuggled her for hours as a baby and relished in her experiences and watching her grow, this breaks my heart. I hate that I can't fix it. I hate that I can't change it and make it all magically go away. It confuses me. It feels like my fault. Because I'm her mom, so it has to be, right?

I am going to share something I'd rather not, but in the hope that it helps someone else. I didn't want to believe that she was feeling so bad. I blamed it on hormones and being lazy and spoiled and anything else that could make it her fault, make it a behavior that I could change. I minimize her feelings. I yelled at her. I took away privileges. I pretended it wasn't that bad. She was making it up. I couldn't be the kind of parent whose child has serious issues. I was raised better than that.

Denial is so dangerous.

Because it is that bad. I simply can't ignore it. Not when her therapist tells me it's bad. And her school counselor. Not when she suddenly does something that is so frightening to me I am afraid of really hurting her. I have to admit that there is something wrong. Ignoring it makes it worse. I'm not a perfect parent. And while I've always joked about that, I've never taken it to heart like I have recently. I had to set my ego aside so that I can be there for her. So I can really listen and be able to offer her the love and support she really needs. So I can do everything possible to help her out of the dark places that she gets lost in.

Girls, on average, turn in on themselves. While I worry for her, and hate the things she says and feels about herself, I only have to worry about her, and about my feelings and how to help her. Boys, on the other hand, typically turn all of their anger and confusion and rage outward. And, if D were a boy with the feelings she is having, I would be worried about the people around her. Because these are the kind of people that commit unspeakable acts of violence.

I am not taking away anything from anyone who has been through this experience, but there are other victims in these crimes. How much does a person have to hurt that destroying the lives of others is the only way out they can think of? How many times and in how many ways do they ask for help before this is their last resort?

Because D asked me for help. More than once. I am fortunate enough that I listened before it was too late and there was nothing to listen to.

We, as parents, have to listen to our kids when they ask for help. We have to put aside our own agendas and fears and feelings of failure because our children need us.

Nobody asks for mental illness. Nobody gets it and thinks, "Hey, this is pretty great." And for children, they don't even know what it is. They just know that something is wrong, they don't feel good. That scares them and confuses them. Babies don't understand what hunger is, they just need something and so they cry. Children can't articulate what they're feeling in much the same way.

We, as a society, need to be more empathetic to the disabilities of others. We need to look at a child or a family and recognize that they might need a little more help, rather than turning our backs in irritation or disgust. It is time that we start advocating for mental health. There are no easy answers, but there is a starting point.

Enough is enough. There has been enough loss. Enough sadness. Enough blame. It's time to look for real answers, have some understanding, compassion, and act from kindness. Kindness towards those who are struggling, whether it's an individual with a mental illness or the family members who care about them.

We have a responsibility to each other as basic human beings. Let's humanize this issue so that it doesn't happen to another child or family or community.

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Heart is Breaking

I woke up happy this morning. And then I saw the news. My heart just hurts thinking about those scared little children and the parents who must feel absolutely powerless right now. It's beyond tragic or horrific. There aren't words to describe that amount of anguish and sadness. It just hurts. A lot.

But I was so excited to tell you guys about our family so I'm going to mix in some joy with the sadness as a reminder that there are still enormous amounts of good in the world, that even though we hurt, we ease the pain a bit for others.

A small group of us delivered the tree and gifts to the family last night. When we arrived, Princess was standing and looking out the window. Mom said she had been there for the last hour anxiously awaiting the arrival of the tree.

Oh, the tree. That thing is enormous in their small apartment! It's so big the top is bent against the ceiling and it barely fit into the tree stand. But little Princess loved it and vowed to water it every day.

And she was oh-so-excited seeing all of the presents come in. She counted how many each one of them had and exclaimed, "There's so MANY of them!!" She was priceless.

But my favorite moment came when we brought her little pink bicycle in. Mom's hands flew to cover her face and she had tears sparkling in her eyes. I felt the lump in my throat and the sting in my own eyes seeing how completely surprised and happy she was for her daughter. She said that her daughter had wanted one so badly and yet they hadn't asked us for one. She must have thought it was just a bit too much. It was okay to ask for a toaster, but not a bike.

I had the fullest heart when we left after receiving hugs all around. This was one of the best experiences I've ever had and I am so grateful to have been a part of it. It has truly been invaluable and I am thankful to everyone who was a part of it. A part of giving happiness to a family that I know appreciates it wholeheartedly and with humility.

So, yes, let's take a moment to honor and remember those who are hurting and who have lost unimaginable amounts. They deserve our caring and prayers, hugs and help. But let's also remember that there is good and kindness and love in the world and choose to be a part of that. No matter the damage and harm that can be done by less-than individuals, it can't erase the kindnesses that have been given and the love that has been shared. If anything, we should be more determined to give the love we have, to show which force is stronger and work to overcome those actions that cause harm to our children, our friends, and all of those with love in their hearts.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Family Update and Helping Ideas

After posting both here and on HackBend about my company's adopted family, I have received offers from the community to help out. Granted, it's not the ginormous outpouring I had fantasized about, but it's still very touching and more than this family had hoped for themselves. And so I have an update.

Baby Boy will most likely arrive this week. I saw Mom last week and she was looking really ready to be done with this pregnancy. While there I was so happy to see that they had received a crib and some other furnishings. She's getting lots of clothes for Baby Boy and even Princess had a tv in her room. Mom says that  she's feeling like they really have a home. Isn't that the best gift ever??

Mom and Princess still need clothes. And girls always need shoes. Gift cards to fill in the miscellaneous items or for groceries would be really great. I happened to see the price of diapers at Costco last week and almost fell on the floor. And groceries are an ongoing need. Giving this family a good start in their new life is so rewarding.

Now, I know that there are many other families in the area and across the country that need help. I've just been lucky enough to be involved with one of them. (And one that provides an opportunity for new baby snuggle time!) And I've asked for help with them because I'm so involved and if you want to help them too, that is wonderful! But if you want to help other families that you know of, that is just as wonderful.

Do you not know who to help or how to help? There are so many ways. I've heard that the shelters and soup kitchens are pretty full this time of year so it's hard to get in there. But you know when they need help? All year. So put a day on your calendar in May or August to go help out and donate your time. People are hungry and homeless all year, not just during the holidays.

There are giving trees around town. Summit High School has one for teens in need. Toys for Tots boxes are collecting. Some grocery stores have pre-packed grocery bags you can buy for around $10 to provide a holiday meal. You'll spend more than that on your own holiday ham or turkey.

Here's something I started doing a few years ago that takes very little time and even less money. You know when you go to McDonald's and they ask if you want to donate $1 for their Ronald McDonald houses? Say yes. During December I say yes every time I'm asked at a register for a dollar donation. It might add up to only $20 for me for the month, but if we all did that? How much more could that be? Of course, if it's a charity you're really against, don't do it. But do it far more often than you don't. Because Ronald McDonald houses help families with sick children at a time they most need it. Animal rescues are my biggest passion. I gave a dollar to St.Jude's yesterday. A dollar. When do you not have an extra dollar? I couldn't give a lot last year when I was unemployed, but I still stuck to my December donations. Even then I had an extra dollar that someone else needed more than me.

Help my adopted family, help your neighbor, help a stranger. Just help someone.
Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Enemy Mine

I have created an enemy. Because I have declared war.

D sort of fell apart in school last year. First we thought it was the mono, and then found out it was depression. At the time her health seemed more important and, unfortunately, her grades took a back seat. Way back. Like back of the bus.

This year we were determined not to let that happen. She even declared that this was going to be her year. Her year of success. And it went well at first. She came home talking about school, describing in excited detail the pig organs that they were dissecting. She was getting an A. In science, of all things!

The Fiddler play was rough. It was a lot of work and she was often tired. I let her sleep in. I even let her skip a class here and there. But I let her because her grades weren't suffering. It seemed like this really could be her year.

And then, all of a sudden, once Fiddler was over, so was she. The exhaustion caught up to her and she just quit. Literally. As in quit going to class. I talked to her. I talked to her teachers. Everyone is willing to help her. Everyone has given her second and third chances. It's up to her now. And she's smart, I know she can do it. I think she has just enjoyed the extra attention a little too much.

She's now in the throes of the Christmas choir season. The special jazz choir she's in is performing gigs all over town. Chamber of Commerce. Old Mill. High Desert Museum. Private parties. It's a lot of work but she's enjoying it. But it's a lot of work and it's all she cares about. And it's a lot of work so she's understandably exhausted. She's tired.

But you know what? So am I. I'm tired of keeping track of everywhere she has to go. I'm tired of getting up early to take her to school because she's too much of a diva to ride the bus. I'm tired of emailing her teachers to make sure she's on track and where she's supposed to be. I'm tired of the excuses. I'm tired of spending money on all of her activities. I'm tired of working, going to school myself, being depressed, and still taking care of her. I'm tired of making dinners she doesn't eat and following up on homework when I have my own to do.

So this morning I turned into That Mom. I did something I never imagined myself doing. I'm still a bit in shock over the whole ordeal.

She wouldn't get up this morning. She was tired, she needed to "rest." What she "needed" to do was play her I'm-a-star-and-deserve-special-treatment role. She wanted to miss her science class yet again. I tried to explain to her that she made the choice to be in this choir and that because she made that choice, things will be harder for her. But there is no reasoning at 6:30 in the morning. And I hadn't had a sip of coffee. So I snapped. I gave her a five-count warning, to be fair. But then I did it. I poured cold water on her bed and on her pillow. Yes. I. Did. That happened.

I wish I had a picture of her face when it happened. Or even mine, because I probably looked totally crazed. She yelled, "That's going to be wet all day now!!!!" I answered back, "Well, it's a good thing we have a dryer in the house."

But she got up. And I bet she gets up again tomorrow.

Yeah, her diva days are over. The excuses are old and used up. There's a new mom in the house and she might not like it. In fact, she'll probably hate me. But maybe she'll thank me when she's 30 and not working at McDonald's.


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Hormone-Induced Junk Food Fest

Ladies, you know how there are certain times that you don't care what you eat even though you know you should? Like you really want to lose weight, but a pan of brownies is just way more appealing? And because you spent the previous three days crying because kittens might get sad? So you're a little vulnerable and that block of cheese looks really sympathetic to your plight?

Yeah, last night was one of those. I went to the store, roamed the aisles for 20 minutes and came home with the following:

garlic-bread pizza
Ruffles potato chips
ranch dip to go with said Ruffles
tortilla chips
Velveeta cheese dip to go with said tortilla chips
chocolate chip cookies filled with gooey caramel (yeah, they're as good as they sound!)
double chocolate ice cream with chocolate stuff added

Was I having a party? Yeah, in my belly! And did that party ever grow!

The wife came over and accused me of making her fat. Hey, join the club.

The boyfriend stopped by briefly as I was putting the dip away. Which is when the guilt crept in.
He: What are you doing?
Me: Oh, nothing.
He: Were you in the kitchen?
Me: Um. Maybe.
He: What were you doing in there?
Me: Uh..... Nothing.
He: What are you hiding?
Me: I'm not. I'm not hiding.... anything.....

I'm hiding my shame, okay? Because I complain about my weight on an hourly basis and then I still get Bad Food. And I don't want to hear that I'm not ready to do anything about it because some days I just can't. Not when it feels like I'm giving birth to a razor-blade baby or crying because one of my socks lost its matching friend or wanting to kill anyone and everyone who uses incorrect grammar on the wrong day.

There are three weeks out of the month that I can try to be good and eat less and eat better and do something that is considered exercise. But that other week? All bets are off. The hormones take over and chocolate chip cookies filled with gooey caramel are little miracle-workers. They complete me. I'm already bloated, so what difference does a bag of salt make? Who cares if I eat enough to feed a small army of pigs?

Yeah, men don't get that. Crazy, robotic-workout-warrior women don't get it (probably because their bodies aren't really female anymore as they have turned their ovaries into muscles). And those super-slim super models? They aren't human either.

But the rest of you? My sisters in suffering? You get it. Now, grab an extra spoon and help me eat this ice cream so I can hide the evidence.

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