Weekend away

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Parenting is a challenge. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that statement. The more kids you add to the equation, the more difficult your balancing act becomes. There’s no time of the day where this is more evident than at night. When most people are sleeping away, ours is a tenuous bargain with the volatile little people in our home, hoping that they will allow us to rest and get some sleep of their own. It’s a lot of trial and error, hoping to find a solution that allows us to cohabitate without wanting to kill each other. The boys wake up a LOT at night, sometimes it’s the baby doing what babies do, sometimes it’s our older son, talking in his sleep or just awake and trying to fill in the hours before the sun comes up. Regardless of who starts it, the chain reaction of one child waking the other sets off a series of events that usually ends in tears (mine) or yelling (either adult), but always accompanied by a day’s long crankiness that will only resolve with the elusive sleep that no one seems to be able to get enough of.

After listening to my husband complain about needing this rest, I did my best to come up with a solution, which was to beg his parents to let me bring the boys up for a weekend so he could catch up on sleep, hoping against hope that I might be given a gift of a nap in return. Luckily they agreed and off we went. I’d never travelled with both boys and not had another adult with me, so I wasn’t sure how that would play out. The drive up was tough, but we made it. Construction on the turnpike meant the car slowed to a stop at some point and crawled to an unpleasing roll during the merges, which woke and angered the tinier human. He regaled us with screams and howls of displeasure, stressing me and the less tiny human to no end. Unable to stop the car or do much to help, I had to ignore it as best I could and keep driving until we got to where we were going.

Arriving at my in-laws, I learn my FIL had a broken rib and couldn’t hold the baby. Not that the baby would have let him, mind you, as he was going through a very clingy, mommy-only phase and was essentially glued to me for the whole weekend. My arms ached from holding him. We got the boys set up, ate some yummy take out, and settled in for a long night. The night shift fell entirely on me, which ended up being two separate waking incidents, before we finally just decided to call it morning around 4:30 a.m. The other adults didn’t wake up until much later, so I tried to keep the kids quiet and occupied until they awoke.

It was a lovely sunny summer day, and figuring the boys were antsy and not wanting to particularly listen, I decided to take them for a walk. It was then I realized how much I really should have brought a stroller, because holding the baby was beginning to take its toll. Still, we looped the neighborhood, chatting with the people out mowing their lawns and what not. When we arrived back to the house, we loaded in the car and headed to the children’s museum.

The grounds for the children’s museum was on the campus where I went to college fro my undergrad. It was a very bizarre experience, having last been there years ago as a mostly irresponsible, degenerate asshat and now trying to pass myself off as a functioning adult and parent to hopefully less irresponsible, not-degenerate children. The museum itself had lots for the boys to do and see, which was great. It was tricky getting them to leave when it was finally time for lunch, but we got them off campus in time to make our reservation. My older son ended up eating most of my lunch as he decided mommy’s ravioli looked better than his pizza, so I resigned myself to batting clean up and holding the now sleeping baby for his nap in my lap.

We headed back to the house for a much needed nap myself, as I woke up around 8:00, just in time to put the kids to bed. I had to run out and get more formula for the baby after that, and got lost trying to remember the backroads that had all changed since I’d lived there over a decade ago. Another night of baby duty, waking several times again before he finally peed through his diaper, soaking both him and me. By then it was just after 4:00 a.m. and I was out of clean clothes, so I just said fuck it, and got dressed for the day.

When the other child awoke, we dressed and packed the car. We promised to stop over at the other grandparents house on our way home. I wish I had the patience for more time, but by then the sleep deprivation, stress and general irritability got the better of me and we left. The baby screamed pretty much the whole way home and by the time we rolled up at our house, I was 100% done. I learned that while I can travel with two kids, it’s not ideal. I did figure out some stuff that would be helpful the next time we took the show on the road, and definitely promised myself no matter what, I would bring the damn stroller.

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The unicorn poop paradox 

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So, we’re reading this lovely book with my kids. I highly recommend anything by the beloved Liz Climo. She lends her creative hand to the artwork for this story about a boy who wishes for a unicorn and it comes true!

But he soon realizes the error of his ways, as unicorns have some…unexpected quirks. Such as…

Okay, that’s problematic. Or is it? Apparently unicorns poop cupcakes.

So the question becomes, would you eat a mountain of cupcakes, knowing they were pooped out by a unicorn? Do the unicorn turd-cakes taste like turds or cupcakes? What’s up with the flies? Are they to symbolize bad smells? Do they smell bad but taste good? I can’t even…

The question remains unresolved, but I ask you fellow reader, would YOU eat them??

Frailty

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Some days, my mental health just isn’t where I want or need it to be. As far as I can tell, there’s not really a cause, other than perhaps biology, exhaustion, or stress. But I’m writing today because I’m in the thick of it. No matter what I tell myself, my brain is full of sadness and feeling without purpose or meaning. The core of my self always feels this, I think, but most days I can put enough layers of seeming normalcy around it that the frayed and sharp edges are softened enough and I can pass like everyone else.

But today, well, I feel like most of those layers are gone, and what’s left is so transparent that people regard me as though I might break at any moment. It’s strange, because in these moments, the broken people in my life, my inspiration for healing, seem to sense that I’m doing poorly, because inexplicably, they reach out.

And, while the darkness inside me should recoil and surrender at these kind gestures, it doesn’t. It’s made of strong stuff as well, and doesn’t move well for anything other than itself. It whispers lies in my ear, that in the face of this evidence that I’m loved and worthy of it, how much I don’t deserve it.

It’s frustrating because thoughts like that feel juvenile and regressive and nonproductive, and the fact that I continue feeling them well into my adulthood makes me feel like I’ve never matured enough to move past them. I feel stunted and immature and petty for these concepts that my mind won’t let go of. I feel angry at the fixation that stands in the way of nearly anything I’m trying to do.

And because all these thoughts don’t feel grown up enough to broach with anyone in my life, I keep them to myself, embarrassed and silent. The ugliness festers, and the barely protected exterior struggles to contain the roiling interior.

Depression isn’t feeling sad, it’s feeling irredeemable and utter hopelessness. There’s not a platitude on the planet that could fix it, so why my brain yearns for some sort of outside validation seems comically misplaced.

Perhaps that’s the lie, as I look for someone else to help me process it, I get to overlook my own abilities to fix myself, because I’m already filled with such self doubt. It’s crippling and heartbreaking and without end.  

Adventures in Jury Duty

Unlike most people, when I receive a Jury Duty summons in the mail, I’m excited. I know, I’m weird, but I really enjoy Jury Duty. Having an opportunity to be part of the judicial process is something every American has the right to, and being on the judging part rather than needing judgment is always preferable.

The last time I had Jury Duty, I was actually selected and got to serve. I found the experience wholly interesting and was satisfied that we gave the finding we did, letting a young man who wasn’t guilty of the nonsense they were trying to pull on him walk free with his family that day.

This time, though, things were slightly different. I arrived to find a line of people waiting to get in, as I was a little early. Not wanting to stand around, I took a quick walk around the block to get some fresh air. When I arrived back at the courthouse, the doors were open and we all proceeded through.

I spotted all sorts of folks outside, which made me oddly proud of our melting pot America, how we are all different, but also the same. Making our way through security, it was no less stressful than going through the process at the airport. Things were beefed up a bit more than the first time I’d gone, but that probably had something to do with the fatal shooting that took place there a few years back.

So, after getting through the check in process, I took my seat in the room with everyone else, and began to read quietly. Soon they called my name and we filed into the elevators to the courtrooms upstairs. We received some instructions and were given the opportunity to disclose anything to the judge or attorneys that would preclude us from Jury Service.

Unlike the previous time, they called me but then I was immediately dismissed by the defense attorney. I assume it was because of the type of case (another second degree assault charge, ironically enough), and that middle-aged white ladies are less likely to side with a guy who punched someone in “self-defense.”

They were probably right to dismiss me, I guess. I don’t know what I would have decided, given the evidence. But I probably wouldn’t have bought it, and may have found the guy guilty. But, not being picked wasn’t so bad, I got to leave early. When I did though, the most interesting part of the day was getting lost in the parking garage with the hundreds of other people trying to figure out what floor they parked their cars on, each of us wandering through the levels, hitting our keyfobs and listening intently for our cars. It took much longer than it needed to, but that’s the case when you’re trying not to be somewhere, I suppose.

Beach Trip – Part Two

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After our first attempt at a beach trip was pretty much ruined by roaming norovirus infestation and sleeplessness, we gluttons for punishment nevertheless persisted. The hotel we booked for our second trip is my favorite of all time, beachfront, awesome pool, fantastic suites, amazing restaurant and great location. We arrived on a Friday afternoon, taking our usual time to get down, stopping at a lovely family friendly brewery with a playground on site for lunch.

We brought our own pack & play this time, learning from our previous mistakes. We were able to set up a nice place for the baby to crash in the front room of our suite. We spent most of the time either in the pool, but I was able to convince my older son to come down to the beach to “meet a friend of mine” (aka, the ocean – Moana reference anyone? anyone? okay!).

He was hesitant at first, but then got to making sand castles with me at the shore line and enjoying the fun as the waves crashed over them. That evening we had dinner at the crab house with my in-laws, and the baby showed off his new eating skills by housing a lemon and two oranges from our drinks, as well as mangling an ear of corn and tasting some awesome blue crab.

That night, I took my older son in search of the fated Ferris Wheel, but when push came to shove, he was afraid of heights and wouldn’t go on. Instead we found plenty of other rides that were just as enjoyable, and rode them well into the night. We met lots of other fun moms and dads. One russian mom told me that her coffee cup was full of wine, making her my new hero.

Although I was beyond exhausted, we still had to walk back to our hotel. I ended up carrying my son for most of the trip, until we walked by a bus stop where some jackass decided to piss, and splashed onto my leg as we walked by. It was the longest four blocks of my life, followed by ridiculous scrubbing once we got back to the room. Even though I was sure I’d get no rest, the baby inexplicably slept until 5:00, which is almost unheard of these days. It was a true gift and one that I desperately needed after a long weekend with the boys.

Beach Trip – Part One

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This year was supposed to be one of cutbacks. With a new baby and a change in careers for my husband, there was definitely going to be less money to go around. But that’s hard to explain to our older son, so we tried our best to make travel happen over the summer, as much as we could, so that he wouldn’t resent his brother for existing and stealing his fun. So, we cashed in hotel points where we could, booking our favorite hotels near the beach at least once.

The first trip to the beach was our very first as a family travelling anywhere overnight, save the few nights we spent over the holidays at my in-laws. The hotel was in a great location, and had plenty of amenities, like an awesome pool with swim up bar, and fun lounging hammocks, but they were sadly out of rollaway cribs. Had they actually called us even one day prior to our arrival, we’d have brought our own pack & play, but since they didn’t, we were stuck trying to co-sleep with the baby in a strange place while we were all in the same room.

The baby got up several times in the night, and by sunrise, I was completely exhausted. Inexplicably, as I’m rocking the baby trying to get him to go back to sleep, I became overwhelmed with nausea, and sure enough, managed to hand the baby off to my husband just in time before the subsequent stomach eruption. Whatever I had, knocked me down hard. I tried my best to tough it out, and I managed to rally a bit by midday. I got a short nap while the baby took his, and that helped enough to make me feel like dinner might be okay.

At the restaurant, we had a lovely time. The boys were incredibly well behaved, the baby tried all kinds of new foods, and my older son actually ordered off the adult menu. We had a lovely meal and after a few, we went back to our room and the nausea came back full force. I spent another hellish night handing off the baby to puke, and then not sleeping, and generally miserable. We had another full day booked, but with storms working their way up the coast, it looked like the best times we could have were behind us.

It wasn’t our worst trip, but it certainly could’ve gone a lot smoother. It won’t deter us, though. We’ve got another one coming in a month.

 

 

Foto Friday – Let’s chat

As many of you readers are aware, I schedule these posts to go out as part of a series, which allows me to showcase each one and also buy myself some time to get new ones done for the next series. The problem with that deal with myself is that I have not been shooting new photos to fill in the rest, and I’m left with not much in the way of new material.

So, as I was contemplating what to do with this, I decided to go back through the ones I’ve done over the years. WordPress tells me I have over 16 pages worth of Foto Fridays since the blog’s inception. As I went through to see what might still be viable from my archives, I realized my 3rd party hosting has somehow malfunctioned, leaving most of the old posts with an error message, which I had no idea about. As far as I can tell, anyone looking at older posts will probably see this error as well.

So now I’m left with this seemingly impossible task of trying to remember what each image was and going back to rescue and upload each one seems overwhelming and honestly, not something I really have the time to do at the moment. The only thing I can commit to doing is to continue writing and produce text posts for Fridays to replace that content. (I honestly have been contemplating not writing at all, but I don’t want to go down the road emotionally at the moment.)

So I leave you with an apology, friends, and a note of appreciation. I’m sorry about the technical problems and lack of preparation on my part. Thank you all so much for your dedicated readership, and particularly, the support of this blog feature, which has been easily the most popular component of my site. Until I can get this all sorted out, there won’t be any new pictures. I’m not sure I can even salvage the old ones, but I’m hoping to try to work on that at least. As always, I appreciate everyone’s time and support as I put my brain’s musings out there into the world. Like most things, this blog evolves over time, as do I. Thanks for holding my hand as I grow. I love all of you for it.

The Great Inflatable Race

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When I was pregnant, all I heard was from people around me were the limitations I had. I was well aware of all the things I couldn’t do because gestation of a fetus takes priority. But after the kids were born, I wanted to do something to take back my body from that process and get back to doing the things I wanted to.

Fitness was one way for me to do that. It was important to set an example for my children, so when I learned about the Great Inflatable Race, I knew I had to find a way to make it happen. It’s basically a race (but very casual one) that has a bunch of bouncy castles and inflatable obstacles. It was perfect! Luckily, my son was just old enough to participate, so I bought tickets for us both.

In the meantime, I got hurt and the hernia was on my mind throughout the summer. My surgeon cleared me to do the race after looking over my CT scan results so weather was my next concern. Obviously, rain would’ve meant a no go. But the forecast held, and off we went on our adventure.

The race itself was held on the grounds of a local YMCA outside York, PA. I must say it was a tremendously well organized event, with highly enthusiastic and helpful volunteers. They drove the race very well, and the DJ did a great job engaging the different groups as they waited for their turn to begin the race.

Overall, it was a hit, although we hit a few snags along the way, trying to explain for example that they race was done as a course and we had to go through each one before going onto the next. My son pitched a tantrum after the first one, thinking this was it. It took some cajoling (and some carrying) to get him going, and by the end, he was a pro.

Afterward, he met another boy who was kind and patient and wanted to teach him how to play tetherball. The older child, who was about the same height but like 4 years older, was able to keep his attention better than anyone, and I thanked him for it. I also let his mom know, who was watching from a safe distance how old my son was and how nice her child was being to mine.

At the end of the day, we left without much trouble, although he could have clearly bounced on the bouncy castles all day long. It was a wonderful experience for us both and I can’t wait to try it again next year.

Drama Llama

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Okay guys, grab your popcorn and settle in for a lovely tale of my garbage workplace and the nonsense that happened yesterday. If you’re averse to such discussions, maybe you might want to hold off reading this post and wait until the next fluffy Foto Friday. I feel petty and dumb for even writing this, but I need to put it somewhere and get it out of my busy brain.

I work for a large hospital in a department that oversees the research that’s done here. Every year, our department foots the bill for us to attend our annual industry conference, which is always a clusterfuck of assorted sundry nonsense, histrionics and awkward avoidance of the people I work with for like 4 days. Each year, it’s in a different city, and this year it’s far enough away that I was granted permission to dial in remotely to the web broadcast, rather than leave my husband and young ones behind and try to go to Texas. My colleague, the specialist snowflake to ever exist, however, is rabid at the opportunity to go, mostly because her homelife is less than satisfactory and getting out of town for a few days on her own gives everyone a much needed break.

In the past, we’d send our request for the fees associated with registration, travel, and lodging on a paper form to the Accounts Payable department. However, now that we’ve adopted an electronic system, the process for doing this has become less clear. Our Special Snowflake (SS) decided to wait until the last minute to register for the early bird rate, and was given specific instructions on how to go about getting the check cut for this cost. Our boss told her that since only one person in our office, his right hand (wo)man, the Executive Assistant (EA), has access to the new electronic reimbursement system, please fill out the paper form as we had done before, give it to her (EA) for entry into the system. Easy enough, right? No way that could go wrong, right? Ah, sweet summer child…no…not really…

Our EA had a terrible migraine the day this paperwork was due to her for entry into the system, which fell on the last day for early bird rates. So, rather than wait for her return, SS decided she was going to take it upon herself to find a way to circumvent the process. She began calling every single person in the Accounts Payable department to see if they could give her access to the electronic system, but unfortunately, those folks never answer their phones. SS was frustrated but not deterred. She then called a person in another department, who, while knowledgeable about the old system, wasn’t so much on the new one. This person gave her incorrect information, and helped her put a request into a different electronic system (reserved for corrections in one’s paycheck or getting reimbursed for things after the fact, not the proactive request for funds, dumb I know, but that’s the way it is).

One thing that was needed to do all this, was our department’s cost center. This number is held by our boss, and is only to be used with his permission. It’s like our department’s debit card. And, well, since SS didn’t have it, she just left it blank, which meant that it would either go nowhere or be assigned one from whomever is processing this request, and very likely not correct. The boss got wind of what was going on, and realized that this would now create a ton of work for him to personally correct because he would have to now override the error, and try to make sure his budgets are in line with what they should have been. What she did bordered on fraud, but without negative intent, it’s just stupidity.

So, naturally, the boss was upset, not only because she created this mess, but because he was going to have to spend a ridiculous amount of time to fix it, and it was all because she refused to listen to basic instruction. He went into her office yesterday (across from mine), closed the door, and then began to discuss it. His tone was stern, but soft. He wasn’t thrilled with her, but he was a lot calmer than I think I would have been. Our SS, however, was not calm. She began pitching a loud tantrum, audible through our paper thin office walls about how she’s “not as stupid as everyone thinks” as the boss tried to diffuse the situation. He asked her to “just please listen” and she started slamming her desk drawers and packing up her bag to leave, saying how “she didn’t want to listen” and then logged off her PC and stormed out.

This took place around 2:00 in the afternoon. I figured she took a walk to calm down and would come back. Nope. She didn’t come back for the rest of the day. Everyone was just like Wat. Tha. FUCK?! and that sentiment has carried over to today. As I type this, there’s no resolution. She hasn’t called out or emailed the rest of the office as to her whereabouts, although perhaps the boss has been in touch. He isn’t here yet (he’s got a lot of meetings today), but the office is so very tense and uncomfortable. I honestly am hoping she is either fired or quits with this walkoff nonsense but who knows?

It would be too much to dream that she would be gone. She’s a destructive, toxic presence, but those people are particularly difficult to extricate from one’s life. She’s also the kind of scorched earth, hell hath no fury, sort of outlook on life, so who knows what she’s got planned for the inevitable plotted revenge. It’s likely that she’ll at least file a complaint to Human Resources saying how she was bullied (you know by being corrected on a mistake is being bullied), but hopefully they’ll take it with a grain of salt. I just don’t know what’s going to happen next, but I definitely would rather be anywhere than here today.