Saturday, November 9, 2019

cats and turkeys

I was under the impression that cats were very easy, very hands-off pets. Sources told me, "all you have to do is give them food, water and clean the litter box." No one told me that they'd go into all my cabinets, sit in the sink while I brush my teeth, drag a loaf of bread bigger than their body from the pantry to the living room, stand on the keyboard while I type or sit on my head while I'm sleeping. They're into everything. It's like having two toddlers. 

No one told me they can also have allergic reactions leading to traumatic shots at the vet.

I took AB to her doctor this morning to have her ears checked. She hasn't complained about them but she's had an endless cold and what might be blocked ears on and off for about three weeks. It just as well might be selective hearing. Who knows. Most of my motherhood is guessing. I decided last night to take her in so I didn't have time to make an appointment. Her doctor takes walk-ins every morning for an hour so I decided we'd try that instead. Half the town had the same idea, thanks to flu season. Annabelle wasn't concerned about germs and thought laying out flat on the floor was a good idea so we'll be bathing in disinfectant tonight. Lucy had an appointment at the vet at 11:30 so we were on a time crunch. After waiting 40 minutes we were still two patients away and Lucy's appointment was fast approaching. I had to choose between waiting another 40+ minutes for my child or taking my cat to her doctor. I don't like those types of decisions. It's too much of a which child do you love better situation. OF COURSE, I love AB more, but Lucy is the one with wounds/sores on her body and Annabelle was the one happily sitting in the waiting room with her dress bunched up around her waist with her tights and belly on full display. She is not in any pain. We made an appointment for Monday and left.

AB was thrilled to have someone in the backseat with her. Lucy normally loves the car but meowed up a storm. Annabelle kept up a steady pep-talk. "It's ok, Lulu. Do you wanna blanket? Do you wanna little cuddle time? I'll take care of you."
The doctor took one look at Lucy's issues and told me she was having an allergic reaction. A reaction to what, she didn't know. I love the cat and all (I did choose her doctor over my human child's doctor) but I'm not about to do some kind of food elimination diet to figure out if she ate something she shouldn't have. I'm not about to go cat paleo and feed her a diet of almond meal and cauliflower. If she's reacting to something outside, maybe she'll learn to stay inside like she supposed to. The vet gave her a shot that made Lucy jump a foot in the air and AB squeal much too loud for a small room. Both girls were wound up as we walked back to the car. Lucy was trying to leap from my arms and Annabelle was strolling through the parking lot while swinging the cat crate into her legs and asking why a highway is called a highway. 

I'm mortified to have typed out 1,000 words about my cat. I swore I would never be that person.

Earlier in the week, our homeschool group had a kids market where the kids could sell baked goods, crafts or old toys. Annabelle and I made little turkeys out of lollipops and paper leaves.

It goes without saying that I did most of the work but she did draw all the faces. It took IMMENSE self-control not to redo all the faces when she went to bed but it was her project. If she liked how they looked then I would sit on my hands rather than have her think I was criticizing her drawing. She set up her little booth and told me, "You go look around, Mama. I've got this under control." She was so proud of herself.

I could tell she felt grown-up when she would look at what the other kids were selling and handed over her money. I told her she needed to save some of her money, but she spent some on an LOL doll, a necklace, a baggie of meringues and a cup of hot chocolate. Not bad for spending a grand total of $2.50. 

Lucy will need to set up a table at the next kids' market to pay for all her vet bills.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Currently, the beginning of November edition

Watching: You've Got Mail. I watch it every year and every time I love it more. I like to pretend it's based off my relationship with Christopher as we also got to know each other over email. If Meg Ryan ever wants to play me in a movie I won't complain. I forgot that the little girl in the movie is named Annabelle which further strengthens my theory that the movie is about us.

Blue Planet. AB wasn't feeling well on Friday so we had a low-key (she calls it "slow key") day. For science we watched a few episodes of Blue Planet on Netflix. It's the companion series to the Planet Earth series and so well done. It's fascinating. 


Wearing: shorts and short sleeves because it's still 70* and 80* during the day. It was 59* the night we went trick or treating and everyone was bundled up like we live on the North Pole. I tried explaining it's appropriate Fall weather but they couldn't hear through their earmuffs. 


Sharing: my pearls of wisdom with the captive audience that is my offspring. To be honest, sometimes I don't know who is the captive audience of who, she gets so clingy. I am very dedicated to raising AB and any future children to be kind. She has two signs about kindness in her room and I'm constantly reminding her to treat others with kindness and respect. When we were leaving the doctors office the other day, I went into too much detail explaining what "it's better to be kind then right" means. I was really proud of my explanation and was sure she had soaked up every word and would apply it to her life immediately. Alas, she had not. She asked me a question about the office roof.


Baffled by: people who like raccoons. A friend at work told me she was shopping at Target and saw a woman in the store holding a baby raccoon wrapped in a blanket. A BABY RACCOON IN TARGET. The lady didn't want to leave the raccoon in the car alone but she couldn't buy her raccoon supplies while holding the raccoon. My friend offered to hold the raccoon while the lady picked up what she needed. Raccoon rescuer was hesitant that my friend would "steal the raccoon" but she accepted the help. My friend did not steal the raccoon even though apparently SHE'S BEEN WANTING A PET RACCOON. This place is so weird.


Slaving over: Halloween costumes. I give AB until October 1st to change her mind about her costume. Whatever she wants on October 1st is what I make and what she is without complaining. For months she said tiger so I bought the necessary supplies weeks ago but didn't get around to starting it until last Saturday. The upheaval of the last several weeks took away all energy for dealing with orange felt and clothes from Walmart. All the sudden it was five days before trunk or treat at church and I had done nothing. I frantically began cutting stripes and gluing them to the clothes. I was halfway done when she announced on Tuesday that she didn't want to be a tiger anymore. She was no respecter of my efforts and said she'd like to be Elena of Avalor instead. Because she already had the costume from the cruise last year so I let her switch. There's no way I'd be whipping up an elaborate princess dress 24 hours before she needed it. For trunk or treat she brought her tiger with fabric tied around his body to make wings. She stood and acted in a ladylike and princessly manner. 

The next night she stuck a plastic hammer in her belt and whipped it out to defend us against inflatables in neighbors yards. A few little boys we were with had light sabers and she fought them off with her hammer, never caring that they're weapons were four times the size of hers. A princess has to defend her family however she can!

Chaperoning: Annabelle and Grayson's second annual date at the fair.
Expect to receive their wedding invitation in 2039.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

It hasn't been my day, my week or even my month

You know the saying "that ship has sailed"? Not only has my ship set sail, I've been doing everything I can to keep the sinking ship that is my current life afloat.

The first thing to sink to the bottom of the ocean is my chance for the 2019 Mother of the Year award.

I've had to get blood work every few days for almost two weeks and I've had to take AB with me every time. We were sitting in the quiet waiting room and she was telling an endless story about her toothbrush. I shouldn't be surprised when her stories go on fifteen times longer than necessary. She has me for a mother. Tree, meet your apple. Honestly my mind was wondering but it got jerked back to reality quickly when she said, "I was looking for the toothpaste so I looked under the sink. I found some medicine but I thought it was toothpaste so I took the cover off and tasted it. It wasn't toothpaste. I think it was medicine." I was mortified.
I have made it a main mission in life to keep her from putting the wrong things in her mouth. The quarter swallowing incident of 2018 was too costly to be repeated. At least once a week we talk about what goes in her mouth and what doesn't. We've had several conversations about not taking medicine that I don't give her. Ninety-five percent of our medicine is locked up for foster care but somewhere along the line I threw the impetigo medicine under the sink. Again, the waiting room was VERY QUIET and she was not whispering as I had instructed. I swear everyone in the waiting room snapped their head in my direction and started judging the mom who leaves medicine out everywhere. She kept going. "I was like, no. This isn't the regular toothpaste! I think it's the hand, foot and mouth medicine. Isn't that funny?" Yes. It's hilarious.

If there was any chance left of me receiving Mom of the Year award based on my performance for the last several months, it is now long gone.


A few days ago I turned on my computer to finally do some blogging. Somehow, without my permission or desire, the computer did a factory reset and I lost everything. Every document. Every bookmark. Every school thing I hadn't backed up. All that was left a random collection of previously deleted things in the recycle bin. I have most of my photos on an external hard drive but I know I lost some. I haven't had the emotional capacity to look and see exactly what I lost.


Finally, between Christopher being rear-ended and the kitchen sink leaking, I got pregnant. It was much less of a unexpected surprise and more of a very planned event with Dr. John. I've had three years of secondary infertility and gone through my fair share of poking, prodding and very unpleasant appointments. We decided to do IUI in September. Christopher had to be at work during the procedure so I was impregnated by another man while my knowing husband was the next town over. Christopher does not find this as funny as I do, I have to find humor in the situation. Dr. John did his thing then I had to lay on the exam table for 15 minutes. He offered me magazines then asked if I wanted the lights off so I could take a nap. I love an unexpected nap so I agreed. He took my phone, put it on the counter where I couldn't reach it and said, "If I don't take your phone you'll get antsy and start twitting your friends." That right there is the kind of generational gap I need if I have to have a male doctor up in my business. I need a doctor who doesn't know that the correct word is "tweeting." Of course I started giggling even more because giggling is what I do at the doctors office. I really need to find a more adult way of dealing with nervous energy.

The two weeks between the procedure and the day I could take a test were very long. As soon as I took a positive test I went into panic/early nesting mode. I cleaned and organized more in the next week than I have since we moved in. I tried to do 500 days worth of projects in a week. I was sure the hyperemesis from AB's pregnancy was coming down the pike and I wanted this house whipped into shape before I was laid out for nine months. I never got any pregnancy exhaustion which really helped my mission. 

Sadly I think the pregnancy was doomed from the beginning. I had stomach and back pain from within 30 minutes of the IUI. I had several other issues which I won't describe in detail because as I said earlier, I don't know when to end a story. I earned my WebMD Masters degree during the short pregnancy. I googled more than I should have and one link for IUI side effects brought me to a site providing housing resources for aboriginal women. The internet is an odd place. Last Tuesday a nurse called and very unsympathetically told me all my numbers were lowering and "it wasn't going to work out so you can stop the progesterone." I had lots to do that afternoon but all I did was go home and lay down with my heating pad and cry while Annabelle watched too many shows. With every blood test the numbers went down and the same nurse would call to update me. I love the doctor but I want to put myself on that nurse's no-call list. She could have been sympathetic while still sharing the facts! Annabelle didn't understand what was happening. She kept asking, "When will you feel better? Is there a reason you're sick? Why do we keep going to the doctor?" We weren't planning on telling her until after my first appointment so I never said what the real problem was. By Thursday it became clear that the baby wasn't going to stick around and just like that it was all over. It was a very long and emotional month and I am SO TIRED.

It was too early to know the gender. but I wanted the baby to have a name. I think every person should have a name. Good gender-neutral names are hard to come by, but we settled on Elliot. It seems like the right one for our baby.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

never say never

I am not a a sporty person. 

I love baseball and the Olympics but football, soccer and basketball could be banned and I'd never once miss them. I always assumed that I'd have children who played sports and I wasn't overly thrilled about it. It's not that I don't want to give my child the opportunity to excel in sports, it's just that I don't want to do all the driving and sitting through practices necessary for her to become proficient. I want the benefits and glory of an pro athlete child with the work of a 30-minute practice once a week. I have a feeling it doesn't work like that but come back in 15 years and we'll see if I succeeded. I wouldn't mind being a baseball mom, but soccer mom? Thanks but no thanks. Don't even come at me with your talk of me ever being a football mom. 

But as life goes, that which I don't want to be is what I have become- a soccer mom.
We missed the spring soccer signup but told AB she could do the fall season. She was thrilled and asked endlessly when soccer would start. I had to work the night of her first practice and I felt AWFUL about it. It seemed like a big moment in her life and I was missing it. Not to mention that it won't make me look good when she's giving an interview at the Olympics and mentions how her mom couldn't make it to the first practice. I'm very concerned about how her potential sports career will affect my comfort and reputation. 

The tides have turned in an unexpected direction. While I have no desire to watch adults play soccer, I have become a very enthusiastic sideline participant of kids soccer. I like to yell helpful advice from my blanket even though I know next to nothing about the sport. The Strikers are not an organized team and seldom have a clue what's going on, but they try. Antonio is off in the corner practicing is leaping skills. Robert can't decide if he is going to be a useful part of the team or a hindrance. Annabelle is too polite and doesn't want to get the ball from the opposing team, but she has lots of time to practice before the summer Olympics of 2036.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Muffin Tins and Egg Cartons and Betsy Ross


Guest post by Sister of the Blog "The Squidz" Elizabeth

Sarah is an Enneagram twelve. She's certain of it.

If you have not heard of the Enneagram, this isn’t the place to learn about it. On all things typology, Sarah prefers to swing between radio silence on her blog and outrage from her couch.  


That is why I, the sister who enjoys the more intellectual pursuits of life, have taken it upon myself to shed some light on the topic. She would rather attend an American Legion parade in 103-degree weather than dignify the Enneagram “fad” by giving it attention on her blog. 

As it stands, the task is left to me to explain. Since I value our relationship in general and her generous trips to Dunkin’ Donuts in particular, a lengthy explanation seems precarious. I'm already walking on fragile interweb turf. I don't want to fall through a digital rabbit hole and meet the OshKoshBGosh wearing Sarah of 2005 as she sits down at her giant Dell computer to check her emails. I'd just rather not, so the Enneagram background story will be shorter than the laundering instructions stitched on the inside of pair of overalls.

The Enneagram system suggests that, in general, human beings see the world in nine different ways. These “lenses” influence the way a person sees herself, her relationships, and her purpose in life. Sarah and I have visited several times since the Enneagram entered our lives. Every time, she asks, “What do you think I am again?” She doesn’t ask because she really wants to know. She asks, “So I can speak your language, Squidzen.” Obviously, she doesn’t listen. This is why we cover the same information at least 27 times per visit.

“What number do you think I am again, Squidzz?”


“Well, you’re not supposed to tell other people what they are. But I think you’re a Six. This means you’re very loyal and also can tend to be anxious and prepare for the worst.”


“What!? I’m not anxious! When do I prepare for the worst? I’m very upbeat and positive!”


“You sleep with a baseball bat under your bed. You said it’s there to defend yourself against intruders. And you do have about 3,492 boxes of bandaids, about 17 flashlights in your car, and a glove compartment full of coffee supplies that you’ve collected for months in case Dunkin Donuts runs out. Plus, any time I frown, you ask me if I’m about to climb on a roof and jump off.” 


“Well, it’s because YOU are a UPS. A CVS. An EFIPHGJ.”


“You mean an INFP. And an HSP. A highly sensitive person.”


“Oh, my word. AREN’T WE ALL? I don’t like hearing the neighbor’s dogs barking in the middle of the night! I don’t like when loud noises disturb my sleep! But that’s not because I’m a SPHEGU. It’s because I have a very talkative daughter and would prefer not to have a talkative dog intruding on my beauty sleep.”


“I think it’s more than that….” 


“WELL, I DON’T! IT’S RIDICULOUS!”


I sigh. 

It's only a matter of time until she asks me all over again.

However, just a few weeks ago, we had a breakthrough. 

We’d just finished watching You Before Me. During the opening credits, Sarah had insisted that we should cry. Not having understood the plot at all, I did not comply. But Sarah went above and beyond the call of duty. She announced that she had been crying real tears. In wonder, I insisted that she remove her glasses so I could inspect her eyes. She did and, sure enough, tears dribbled down her face. I was thrilled.
For a while, we both lay on the couch. The late hour and the tragic movie quieted us. Then, Sarah put down her phone. 
“I’m DEFINITELY a twelve.” 


I was no longer sleepy. “What?”


“I’m a twelve. All the greatest people are twelves.” 

She flicked her finger over the screen of her phone and exhaled in a superior way.

“Twelves are well-behaved, VERY well-behaved,” she said. Twelves like glitter and sparkles. Betsy Ross was a twelve. The Founding Fathers wanted to create an  American flag that only had stripes. Betsy was appalled. She added the stars. If it wasn't for Betsy, the American flag would be completely made out of stripes. That’s what twelves do--they add stars to things.”
“Wow!” I was amazed. “Do you know of any other twelves?”


“Oh, sure. Betsy Ross is the original twelve. But Kate Middleton, Hoda Kotb, and Dick VanDyke are also twelves. Twelves are funny. Well-loved. All the positives.”


As I lay and watched the blur of Sarah’s finger racing over Words with Friends, the reality began to set in for me. It’s no coincidence that a muffin tin holds twelve muffins, an egg carton holds twelve eggs, the year holds twelve months, a foot has twelve inches, and recovery programs have twelve steps. Roses, jury members, and the Days of Christmas come in twelves. Jesus even chose twelve Apostles. 
Come to think of it, maybe her type needs no intellectual explanation. Their zany touch is all around us. 


Sometimes, on a crisp Autumn afternoon, I think I hear welve drummers drumming to celebrate Sarah and the Twelves. 

Or maybe that's just Betsy Ross stomping her foot in defense of those stars on the American flag.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

our career as dancers will start as soon as we stop eating pizza on the couch

Happy Tuesday! Last night I made Christopher have a conversation about jelly flavors if you're wondering the level of intellectual conversation I bring to the table.

Last week we made a quick trip up to Christopher's parents. I have very few photos from the weekend, but I do have documentation of the most monumental moment of the trip: AB finally learned to pull her own luggage. Seventy-five percent of what we bring onboard is hers so it's about time she starts pulling her own weight around here.
We had a nice time visiting with the family and AB had so much fun she told me multiple times she wished she could live with Oma and Opa. She ate chocolate, jumped on the trampoline in a fairy costume and walked the dog. It was her dream vacation.

On Monday we dropped Christopher off at the Columbus airport and drove to Michelle's for a very quick visit. The drive to her house was BEAUTIFUL. Maybe one of our moves should be to Ohio where the roads are windy and the trees and fields perfection. We hadn't seen each other in over two years which is two years too long. She's one of the best gifts the internet has given me. Annabelle gave Gracie the side-eye for a few minutes but soon they were off digging in the dirt and "picking poisonous berries." Every other time I've traveled to Ohio something has gone wrong and I REALLY didn't want the catastrophe of this trip to be that my child generously shared berries with Gracie that ended up killing her. I don't think they were poisonous, but I shut down the berry business just in case. They played so sweetly together. I so wish we lived 16 minutes instead of 16 hours apart.

Michelle wasn't feeling well the whole time and I felt bad taking over a corner of her couch and talking her ear off, but I'm SO GLAD we got to visit. We had the best time. We watched Dancing with the Stars and laughed like I haven't laughed in so long. We didn't get a picture together, but I did find this paparazzi shot of us with Sean Spicer, the former White House Communications Director, after his DWTS debut. Not everyone can pull off a sequined pineapple top but Michelle can and that's a quality I always look for in a friend.  
(I will require that Michelle and I both use this photo as our 2019 Christmas cards.
I spent four Peppa Pig episodes and delayed snacktime twice while creating this masterpiece
using my limited photoshop skilz.)