Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Blogging, Children, Life, Mommyhood, sleep

Failing Forward

I wish it were easier these days to put words down on paper — or on a screen, as it happens. Even with the speed and ease of typing, it’s hard to get the words from head to hands. They either crowd all over themselves in a rush to get out, such that I can’t make heads or tails of any single thought — or they scatter to the four winds, and even though I had plenty of ideas to write about just before opening the laptop, I suddenly have nothing.

This is a draft that was only a title when I opened it — a head without a body. I don’t even remember when I started it, then left it, forgotten, in the drafts folder. But it pretty much embodies the way I feel about any progress I try to make in anything I do these days. I do accomplish things, but even the simplest tasks seem to take great effort to see through to the end. So you can imagine how the more complicated ones are doing . . .

I’ve been slowly backing out of everything I used to be involved with in the Before Times (that is not a paying job or a benefit my kids, to be clear). I’ve already posted about quitting the two choirs I was in. The next thing I’m giving up is most of the committee involvement I’ve gotten myself into. I will still be a secretary on the Symphony Board, but after this current project ends, I will not be filling any leadership positions or taking point on any committee projects — or even embroiling myself in any great needs that come up while we transition back and forth from virtual to live to hybrid. At least, not for the next year.

My husband’s deployment is looming, and I’ll have another nine or ten months of single parenthood, wherein we figure out how to take school more seriously, create routines that don’t stress us out entirely, and focus on the boys’ therapy and medical needs, which are growing more intense. My youngest and I cross swords constantly when he doesn’t want to do something, and my oldest and I tend to flounder in ADHD confusion more often than we’re intentional about things. We make a great team. 😅 Therapy is about to take an even more complicated turn, but I can’t quite talk about that yet, because it’s already kind of overwhelming and I still sort of need to process it.

I have two weeks to help wrap up this online auction and gala we’re doing for the Symphony (wanna check it out? CLICK HERE), and while it’s been a great experience in people management, leadership, event coordination, and a whole new world of stress and crazy, I’ve felt like I was in over my head for months. How on earth did I find myself in charge of it?? Because I helped last year? How do I not get in charge of it again?? 😆

It might not have been quite as stressful if it hadn’t come on the heels of spending all summer and winter helping to create and manage a whole new virtual membership model and an advertising/sponsorship system, while butting heads with those who don’t quite understand the virtual world (to put it nicely), who have strong opinions and impractical ideas, because they’ve neither had the experience with virtual communities and their dynamics, nor ever really known how to reach out to anyone younger than my generation. We’ve had Zoom meetings almost every Thursday night for months, sometimes two meetings back-to-back or an extra on a different day of the week, which wouldn’t be quite as difficult if I also hadn’t started teaching co-op on Thursday mornings (one volunteer thing I continue to plan to do, because the boys benefit from it, too). Some people can do Zoom meetings all day, every day, but I cannot. I like the occasional Zoom gathering with friends or family, but full meetings get exhausting.

In the meantime, I can barely keep up with the boys’ needs, or even my own. I can’t even plan meals. I really suck at being a homemaker. 😆 But I need to step those things up to fulfill therapy goals and create a healthier environment for everyone in the house. This is not a small goal or an easy accomplishment. It’s going to take months, even years.

I do remind myself from time to time that there are things I’m good at: editing, being diplomatic, sticking to commitments, trying to be organized, mostly getting things done by deadlines (this took years of training, and I still do suck at it sometimes), not starving all the living things in my house (despite my lack of planning), managing our money, teaching, and making checklists. There are some other things, probably, but those are things I can usually sort of do with some measure of consistency and be successful at.

But, often, my inner adult is falling forward on her face and laying there . . . done with everything. And it’s not that I’m constantly busy all the time — I goof off way more than I should. It’s just that there is so much in my head and outside of it demanding my mental energy that there’s almost nothing left for other people, and that is not a good problem to have as a wife, mother, teacher, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, neighbor, etc.

Add to this Covid-lockdown fatigue and stress, lack of exercise or daylight, and seriously flagging creativity, and it’s no wonder that all I want to do is spend a week alone at the ocean, staring out a window and drinking coffee. . . . *dreaming* *sigh* (NOTE: I have rented a beach house for the weekend after my birthday, and will be spending three nights there, doing exactly what I stated above. In silence. I might do other things, too, but I greatly look forward to silence and no commitments. I’ll write about it later.)

I’m grateful I have the resources to take time out sometimes, but guilt will always play a role, no matter how much I “deserve” or need the break. I think more people can relate to that than they admit. 😉 But since I can’t just up and quit, I have to take these breaks and keep “failing forward to success” (a phrase I learned while selling Mary Kay, which has never quite sat well with me, but pretty much defines my life. I just wish I could see more success, for as many failures as I feel I’ve accomplished . . . 😝).

All right, I’m risking continued rambling and too long a post, so I’d better end this. I still have family to pay attention to and a lot of video and sound editing, as well as scripts to write and other little tasks to keep up on while I still have the time. I also need to drink my coffee, because even though it’s 10:30am, I’m still groggy and don’t want to be awake.

How is it February already?

Posted in Anxiety and Depression, Blogging, Children, Identity, Life, NaNoWriMo, Organization, Pediatric Feeding Disorder, Pets, Writing

2020 Was Lame, but NOT the Worst Year

Welp, it’s time for the annual “Oh hey it’s January!” blog post, which makes up probably three quarters of this blog since I started it. 🙄

It’s been trendy since January 2nd of 2020 to bemoan what a horrible year it is / going to be / has been. In many ways, it has been a stinker of a year, full of all sorts of mayhem and dumbassery, perhaps more than most years. But . . . This year has actually yielded some major blessings that I would not have taken advantage of, grabbed onto, or even noticed for what they were if everything hadn’t been thrown completely off-kilter.

I do feel like I’ve gone through at least ten different personality changes over the course of the last ten months. It’s been a weird mental journey, and I’m still not exactly sure where it’s going to end [Narrator: “Little did she know, it would NEVER END.”], but where I am is certainly different than where I was earlier this year.

Like, seriously, I can’t really figure out where my brain was two posts ago. I was feeling incredibly vulnerable, but also too outspoken (even though I didn’t say anything). “Now” Me doesn’t really recognize “Turn Off Comments” Me. I do recognize that I went through some kind of state of wanting to talk into a vacuum or scream into a void — while never being able to materialize any words on what I was thinking, and also being afraid of releasing anything that did materialize into the ether where it could be . . . what, criticized? Noticed? Read? What the heck do I have a blog for, again?

(FOR THE RECORD, I kind of want to go back and shake that version of me and explain that it was stupid. But I wouldn’t have been able to see that back then, because I hadn’t yet made the transition into this mindset I’m in now. All versions of me are very good at making things awkward, but Fragile Me has gone through some toughening up since August. The moth has emerged from the cocoon. Well, mostly. Anyway, ignore that dumb post where I was out of my mind. Comments are staying on.)

This year has presented some great challenges; things I didn’t really want to have to deal with, but did because I had no choice. Some of them were choices I could have put off, but my life has improved since making the choice to not put them off. Some choices were scary as all hell . . . but I am so glad I made them that I can barely contain my gratitude for what I now consider were blessings that had to be revealed at the Right Time.

That was convoluted. Let me be more specific . . .

THE OBVIOUS:

  1. We’re saving money on gas and bridge tolls. This extra money allowed us to give more charitably, but also afford groceries for two adults being home all the time, when up until February it had been mostly me at home, and not always that often. It also helped us pay off debt accrued in October 2019, when we had a bunch of expenses and the fear that we wouldn’t have a paycheck if they messed up my husband’s orders again.
  2. We sold an old, less-functional car and bought a far more practical vehicle for our family. Yes, more debt, but absolutely worth it. And now we are in a financial place where we can afford it.
  3. KITTENS! (Duh 😆) The fact that we’re home far more often now makes it possible to care for pets, and they have done wonders for my mental health. Also challenged it, because one of them developed pneumonia a few weeks after we adopted them, and has only JUST been given a clean bill of health — and, once again, we were fortunate to be able to afford the vet bills. We couldn’t have last year.
  4. We took the time to have a large chunk of garage storage hauled away. It’s only a fraction of what we need to get rid of, but it was going to be very hard to do it all by ourselves (mostly baby and little-kid stuff, as well as old, sentimental junk that I couldn’t just take to the dump). Paying someone else to do something with it was absolutely worth every penny — and I’m going to do it again.
  5. We replaced our water heater. It has been ailing for at least two years, but we just didn’t have time (or money) to deal with it. It was stupidly expensive (financial challenge), but now I can take hot baths again, which is a decent replacement for not being able to go to the sauna at the YMCA (we canceled our membership — more money in our pocket, I suppose, even if it means we’re back on our own for exercise motivation). This also works wonders for my mental health, and sore muscles. I’m loving it! Glad we didn’t put it off further! (Side note: This house was built in at least 2009. When the water heater guys came to install the new one, they told us our old water heater had been built in 1992 (!!!). I was 31 when the house was built, and 14 when the water heater was built. It was probably what my husband called “new old stock”, but WOW. I feel much better knowing that both the water heater and expansion tank have been replaced sooner rather than later.)

THE NOT-AS-OBVIOUS:

  1. Because so many people were staying at home and cancelling their medical appointments (and, sadly, probably losing their medical insurance; or, less sadly, moving out of this crazy state), two slots opened up this Fall with the speech therapist I wanted at the clinic where the boys had occupational and physical therapy. It does mean I’m driving 40-something miles round-trip twice a week to take them to their appointments, but it also means they are actually improving with the help of the right therapy, and we have a great advocate for the boys’ medical issues, if we have to see other specialists (N just had an endoscopy done — upper GI — and bloodwork, and will have an allergy test done later this month, because we think he may be very allergic to nuts). I didn’t have that before, and was afraid to pursue testing for either of the boys, because doctors don’t exactly know what Pediatric Feeding Disorder is, much less how to treat it.
  2. I deleted my NaNoWriMo account in October, and will only be participating in the future on a personal level, with close friends. I wasn’t thrilled with the confusing updates to their website, which shaved off several years of my participation history, anyway — among other issues I was having. I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I don’t really need that community, because I’ve got one of my own. It was actually kind of a quick decision, once I decided to do it, and I haven’t been unhappy with my choice at all.
  3. While I’m still heavily involved with the local symphony association, I quit the chorale (choir 1) in early September. I already had too many Zoom meetings for the symphony, and the “rehearsals” I was attending for a community choral ensemble (choir 2, same director) were just about all the virtual “rehearsing” I could stomach for the week. It wasn’t fun and it wasn’t helpful or edifying. I also didn’t want to subject myself to having to sit through the dominant conversations during the “social” time, which was not only not social, but a major waste of my own time, and also caused nothing but stress and frustration. I’ll go into that in a little bit.
  4. In mid-November, after 10 years of participation, I quit the ladies choral ensemble (choir 2). This is a big one — a major blessing in disguise that I would never have recognized for what it was without being forced to take a break. I’ll also go into that shortly.

A little inner voice I’m prone to ignore had been nagging me for some time for a break, or a rearranging of priorities. I really needed to stop being so busy with my activities and focus on the boys more. That seems obvious, but when things are moving at a constant pace, it’s hard to find the point where you can break away from them — especially if you’re committed, and it’s the thing you get to do away from home that is kind of adventurous and challenging, and even athletic.

I was extremely resentful of these lockdowns for putting the brakes on everything. I wanted a break, but I wanted to make the choice — I didn’t want to be forced into it. However, if I’d been honest with myself, I would have been able to recognize that nothing short of forcing me to take a break was going to make me take a break. I’m still resentful of the lockdowns, but no longer for that reason. 🙂 I am still upset that, despite the extra time with my family, I can’t make my normal escapes, because everything is stupid right now. This is another reason I’m glad we replaced the water heater. Drinking tea or wine while soaking in a hot bath behind a closed door makes me far less hateful of everything if it’s too cold and dark outside to sit in my hammock in the sun.

ANYway . . . In the before-times, as much as I loved singing and being a part of a team and blending my voice with others and performing — and all the things that came along with being a part of two choirs with very different repertoire — I was beginning to chafe. I won’t go into much detail on exactly why, but suffice it to say that I was definitely needing a change. I would have disavowed this on the basis that I was just tired and had a bad attitude sometimes, and eventually I would get over myself and be a better team-player — but that wasn’t the true problem.

After the lockdowns, when I learned that the chorale would still be “rehearsing” over Zoom, I stressed a little before notifying my director that I would no longer be attending. I was 99% convinced she would understand, knowing that I had a lot on my plate with the changes the Symphony was trying to make to the subscription model in order to keep the doors open while live performing arts were essentially being crushed to dust (she was in the same meetings I was), and that I was still choosing to stay in her smaller ensemble, despite the challenge of “rehearsing” over Zoom. What I didn’t tell her was that I loathed the idea of being forced to socialize with those who would dominate all conversation (read: listen to people talk about politics while I’m attempting to maintain a neutral expression), and not ever be able to talk about what I wanted to talk about, because my beliefs are not exactly tolerated by the status quo. There were only a handful of people I socialized with at rehearsal, anyway, and none of them were outspoken in the virtual format, either. Not to mention, when I rehearse with a choir, I rehearse with a group. Rehearsing by myself over Zoom (because you can’t sing as a group over Zoom) is neither something I want nor something I need — and especially something I should not be forced to do. I have means of learning music that does not require trying to hear the accompanist through my computer speakers while singing by myself. It had been frustrating enough sitting in the rehearsal hall late on a Tuesday night (or several nights the week before a concert), twiddling my thumbs while the director spent 45 minutes helping the men learn their parts, when they really should have picked up that information in sectionals. I could not subject myself to that over Zoom.

As time marched on, however, it became very clear to me that I just could no longer participate in any virtual “rehearsal” — pretending that we were still a choir, being reminded every week how “dangerous” it is to do anything outside our own houses (I’m sorry if you also subscribe to that narrative — I will not be responding to or even approving comments telling me why I’m wrong), and trying to learn songs in the most tedious way possible. It was frustrating, soul-sucking, not at all self-improving or group-edifying. Not to mention, we were trying to break into the “virtual choir” video world, and, honestly, we were rushing it. Few of the members (in either choir, actually) are either capable of that kind of solo work, or even technologically equipped. On top of that, I resented being forced to languish through a “rehearsal” that wasn’t helping me learn anything just so I could participate in stressful, rushed video performances that just weren’t in our bailiwick. But it was being made mandatory that we attend all the virtual “rehearsals” in order to participate in the videos.

No. I had to draw the line. If I wanted to do solo work, I would do it independently. If I want to be in a choir, I want to rehearse as a choir. There are some members who do benefit from that kind of rehearsal, but I’m not one of them. Unfortunately, even after voicing these concerns — and not being the only one who held them — participation in “rehearsals” was still going to be mandatory, even if the director did back down from further video production goals.

Additionally, I was looking at a very stressful few months, outside of choir participation, and the thought of scrambling to get home after church in order to spend two hours in an activity I was growing to hate was NOT how I wanted to spend my Sundays. But it’s hard to say “this is demoralizing and I hate it” to a group you do love, and into whom you’ve poured a lot of time and effort over the course of a decade.

I had heart palpitations for days before and after. I almost went to the ER, because I was afraid the stress was doing damage, and I was going to have freed myself from it just to go die of apoplexy.

But then I didn’t die. And, to be 100% honest, I’m intensely grateful to have finally given up my choir commitments. I get my Sundays back! No more taking the boys to my parents and picking them up late on Tuesday nights while my husband is gone! No more driving back and forth in the dark and rain to spend maybe 30 minutes of 2 hours actually rehearsing! I can get sick during concert season and it won’t matter! No dragging my sick butt to rehearsals, either (not that that will happen anymore, I bet), to sit in the back and not miss any important notes, or dragging my poor kids to rehearsals when I can get babysitters (especially when we’re all sick)! No more busy summers full of rehearsals and concerts leading up to a weekend retreat that takes place less than a month before the next season begins, because we couldn’t do it early enough to get two months off! No more— Um, I need to stop, or I’m going to get into the more personal reasons for leaving, and those don’t need to be publicly aired. Not right now, anyway.

Will I miss it? Sure! But not as much as I’m going to enjoy not having to do all that AND homeschool my kids, pay closer attention to their therapy, teach a homeschool co-op class, get my house under control, take care of two cats, and be mom and dad while my husband travels. Since we have so much newfound time at home, I can build up my editing business if I want to, and even start writing again. I sculpt clay now, and I want to improve my sewing skills. I also want to host a podcast, do radio plays with the boys, and maybe create my own music recordings. It’s time for a change, and it appears this is the time the change will happen.

I’ve never chosen a word for the year, though I know several who have (or several homeschool parents who choose a word for their homeschool year). I’m not that fancy. I usually go with the traditional half-assed resolutions that I give up on halfway through January. But, this year, a word got stuck in my brain, and it’s practically surrounded by flashing lights and filled with glitter, and pretty much impossible to ignore — so I guess I do have a word for the year: CREATE.

I can create new crafts, new words and stories, new ideas; I can create space in my house by decluttering; I can create ways of helping the boys learn, and make time for school, fun, and adventure; and I can create a better routine that will bring us closer to God and each other. No sweat, right? 😉

Go count your blessings, and have a great 2021!

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Blogging, Children, Identity, Life, Organization, Writing

Ch-ch-ch-ch-CHANGES

The following is a draft from August 2015. I might not have posted it because it was the one I’d taken so long working on, that had reverted to an old version of the draft after I’d tried to post it. It’s complete, and has relevant information about my journey from then to now, so I think I’ll post it today. 🙂

—————BEGIN POST FROM AUGUST 2015—————

I remember updating my blog every day. I would have to resist updating a few times of day, because I had nothing else to do. Those were the early days of marriage, after I’d graduated college, and could clean my apartment in an hour. (This year marks fifteen (15) years of marriage for me and my Sweetie. Where has the time gone??) But now? It will take days to do the amount of cleaning I need to do in this house, and my rugrats keep my mind running in circles all day, even if I don’t accomplish a darn thing.

But those aren’t the changes I’m referring to!

Since posting about adult ADD, I’ve sought professional help, and it’s been lovely! I haven’t received medication, because I wasn’t seeking anything more than cognitive (“talk”) therapy, and while I still struggle with anxiety and depression, I have a better roadmap for dealing with it. I have also managed to pinpoint the less-obvious triggers and make some rather monumental (a.k.a. “hard”) decisions regarding my life that have made a big difference in how I treat myself.

The first big, hard decision was owning up to the fact that I’m a lousy Mary Kay consultant, and, well, maybe I should admit that it’s not a career I should be pursuing. I already knew that, and wanted desperately to improve, but I was not making the improvements. It was driving me CRAZY that I could not even make myself do what I kept planning to do, or what it would take to make me successful at this career. How hard could it be? People from all walks of life could make it in Mary Kay (or direct sales in general).

But I am not a direct seller. Approaching strangers (or even friends) to sell them stuff is just not in my programming, and trying to program myself to be able to do that was blue-screening my motivation to do anything. It took years to come to this conclusion, because I believed that telling myself I was not meant to do direct sales was “stinking thinking”. You don’t tell yourself you’re not good at something! You tell yourself you’re excellent at it! And you will BECOME EXCELLENT.

Dear readers, I’m going to tell you right now that there are wonderful things I’ve learned from Mary Kay that I will always be thankful for, but IT IS OKAY to say that I AM NOT A DIRECT SELLER. Forcing yourself to do something you do not enjoy in order to fit a niche you believe you should be in works only for certain personalities — but not for mine. Mary Kay is a wonderful company, with a great product. The troubles I had with my own business are completely separate from the business at large. I’ve just finally come to realize that direct selling is not something I enjoy or want to do with the rest of my life.

See, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve been writing stories since I could form sentences. The first time I “quit” Mary Kay was to become a writer, but I didn’t have the discipline for anything nor did I have the support structure I have now. I used writing as an excuse, rather than a true chosen career path, because even then I didn’t believe that it was something I could realistically pursue in my life. It wasn’t a “real job”. No, I wanted my “real job” to be motherhood — so when my husband came home from Afghanistan and we started our family, that’s all I had in mind.

Of course, then I signed back up with Mary Kay, days before giving birth to our first child. Again, for some, this is fine. For me, it was a spontaneous choice perhaps fueled by hormones and the fact that my husband was not thrilled with his job. Don’t sign up for life choices when you’re eight months pregnant, ‘kay? Wait awhile to see what you’re up for. Ian was a difficult baby, and my life and demeanor was just not geared toward making money off strangers buying stuff from me, or for being organized in any way, shape, or form. Home businesses require organization, and that is another weak point with me.

I was loyal to my team and to my director, whom I love dearly. But I can count on one hand the number of skin care classes/parties I held in my entire two attempts (about nine or ten years, total) at being a consultant. I was not a productive member. I was spending more than I was making, and I was constantly guilting myself over my inability to just DO IT. Was I scared, or was I just lazy? Why did I constantly feel this insane mental block when it came to picking up the phone, or trying to work out the logistics of a single party a week? Why did I never say a word to people in the store, even when it was obvious they were looking for skin care or makeup, and I could totally help them? Was I just that unskilled? Did I just need to get over myself?

But, then, I feel such great satisfaction in being in my house, creating worlds and characters and fashioning stories out of thin air, participating in NaNoWriMo (and winning!), and telling everyone about THAT? When it comes to writing, I can’t shut up! When it comes to singing, and telling people about Symphony and Lyrica concerts, I can’t shut up!

What I finally figured out (but probably knew for a long time) was that, perhaps, I needed to honor the fact that I have an artistic personality that needs to pursue artistic goals — and I needed to leave the business to the business people.

I’ve purged much of my old Mary Kay stuff that’s been sitting around, staring at me and waiting for me to sell it/use it/give it away, and am building up my artistic self. I have a great writing group, which is more like a support group than just a group I write with. I actually believe, now, that I really can publish a book, or use my word skills to make money if I wanted to. I’m jumping with joy that I will be joining the Bremerton Symphony Chorale for the 2015/2016 season (at least), which I couldn’t do in the past because it rehearsed on MK meeting nights. I’m trying to put together my crafting nook, so I can spend more time knitting and sewing, things that bring me great joy and sense of accomplishment.

I didn’t want to “quit” Mary Kay, because I felt committed to my director and my sister consultants, and it felt like if I quit, I was “not being true to my potential” and just “being a quitter”. I was avoiding the things that brought me joy, even through hard work, for something I thought would eventually bring me joy through the hard work I would have to force myself to do for years. It did scratch an itch for teaching and leading — which I enjoy very much — but not as much as running workshops for my writing group.

So you see where I’m going with this. It was scary to admit this to my husband, who never thought direct selling was for me (but greatly supports my pursuit of a writing career), but whom I wanted to convince I could cut it, and even scarier to admit it to my director, to whom I was deeply loyal and did not want to disappoint. Once I finally did these things, though, and gave myself the permission to dress the way I wanted to, and wear little or no makeup out in public, and spend my time not focused on my family or house in creative pursuits, my outlook on life began to improve considerably! I’m happier, my husband is happier, and my friends, whom I just don’t call often on a normal basis, are happier that I’m not only calling them to hit them up for sales.

My house is still a mess and I have a LOT of work to do in various other areas of my life, but freeing up that anvil over my head has lightened the burden immensely. And now I’m making actual progress on my novel(s), with a mind to publish them, and I’m ridiculously happy with my decision to follow that path.

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Blogging, Children, Life, Organization, Pediatric Feeding Disorder, Vision and Glasses, Writing

Rumination

A lot has changed here at WordPress since I started blogging here. Even since my last post! And it’s high time I started using it again.

I used to blog all the time — nearly every day — but that was before kids, and kind of before blogs became a professional industry. After that, I was conflicted: Do I join the industry, and try to make a blog that had the potential to be monetized? Write high-quality posts about relevant topics, or try to make my boring life funny and interesting? (Truth be told, the latter was already my favorite reason for blogging, but suddenly there was the pressure to produce, and I had far less time — and brain power — to spend doing that.) Or do I continue to just write whatever I want, in any format I want, and not bother competing with the professionals?

Obviously, the latter choice is the better one, for someone busy and not planning to make money at the task, but . . . writing is one of my joys, perhaps even strengths, and professional blogging looked like fun! On the other hand, with little kids running about and all the distractions that life brings, a single, well-crafted blog post took me hours — hours I didn’t have time for. And being as disorganized as I am, I couldn’t prioritize blogging like I used to, and couldn’t focus on it once distracted from it. And then I couldn’t decide whether to draft the whole post in the web editor or in a word processor, because I once had lost hours of work after proofing in the web editor (the old one) and losing it to a site glitch. It was an enormous setback, especially after I’d sacrificed so much time I should have been spending with my family to try to write something that wasn’t going to have any purpose. I put aside blogging for awhile, because the tedium of going from word processor to web form was taking even more time. I’m a ridiculous, nearly-OCD perfectionist, and I wanted to make sure EVERYTHING MATCHED. The things must match, or they would haunt me.

I have issues. 😆

There are a lot of things I want to talk about, besides my stupid eyes (I really can’t believe I spent so much time posting about that; I’m feeling a little self-conscious about it now — though I did recently, FINALLY, get new glasses that work just right, but there’s more to say about it than just searching for glasses). My kids have eating disorders and we’ve finally gotten therapy for them; I’ve passed on to them Joint Hypermobility Syndrome, which I’ve just learned is a thing, and explains SO MUCH that was not previously explainable, including visual weirdness; I’ve been learning more about ADHD, ADD, “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”, and executive function difficulties; depression and anxiety are very real, potent manipulators of my productivity (or lack thereof); military life, even as good as we have it, brings a measure of experience and “fun”; and I need more writing motivation. Among many other things.

There are more reasons for blogging than not blogging, and I need to work on getting over my issues so I can get back into it. That may still take some time, but maybe I’ll have something here for my imaginary friends sooner rather than later. 🙂

Thanks for your patience with me!

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Blogging, Children, Life, Mommyhood, Organization, Pediatric Feeding Disorder

January 2017

Oh, look, it’s January! Time to make resolutions I probably won’t keep! Time to renew my commitment to a mental facility to do more writing, especially in my long-neglected blog!

This time, I have incentivized myself. I’ve purchased the domain “coffeeandlollipops.blog” AND made calling cards with that info, and the forwarding email “deltasierra47@coffeeandlollipops.blog”. (It’s clunky, but it’ll serve for now. Especially since I’ve already printed cards. But if you want to contact me, use that address!)

This is in anticipation of launching a big plan to, among other things, document my struggles, failures, and successes in helping my kids learn to eat. I’ve mentioned before that they have feeding issues, but it’s kind of long past “issues” now into “disorders”. As in, I feel safe diagnosing them both as having “SED” (Severe Eating Disorder), without the need of a medical professional to do it for me. Granted, SED is an umbrella term, but one that is becoming more widely known and accepted, as “SPD” (Sensory Processing Disorder) and “Autism Spectrum” have been.

Before anyone worries that I’m one of those WebMD parents who thinks they know better than doctors, I want to remind or inform you that my kids are not toddlers or speshul sneauxflaykes. They’re eight- and six-year-old boys who have been eating five foods or less since introducing solid foods, have been to a few years of OT and feeding therapy (with small progress), and who would rather starve themselves past the point of feeling hunger rather than try to learn to chew anything, including treats like Jell-O, ice-cream, or cookies.

If that doesn’t convince someone of the severity of this situation, nothing will.

They do love lollipops, though. I daresay it’s the only solid food my six-year-old eats. So there’s hope!

In addition to blogging here, I hope to start vlogging, as well, and might set up a separate blog the boys can contribute to in the far future, which will feature their own videos. I bought them an inexpensive action-camera set-up for Christmas so we can create cooking videos. I homeschool them, and realized that cooking classes would be a great way to learn all kinds of concepts, and my eight-year-old mentioned that it would be fun to put some of our cooking exploits up on a YouTube channel. (He’s been angling for a YouTube channel for months; this is one way I can cave to his request while also making it educational and limited in scope. If it were up to him, he would post videos of himself rambling on about everything and nothing, pacing back and forth in our cluttered living room, and I just can’t let him do that. I’m a mean mom for promoting meaningful web content. 😉 ) So watch this space for kitchen antics!

Before that can happen, though, I have to address another extremely severe issue in our house: Ridiculous Overabundance of Clutter (and dog hair). It has gotten so out of hand, I could ALMOST make it on the TLC “Hoarders” program. Yes, really. I am not exaggerating.

I’ve always been a messy person. I know now that it can likely be attributed to a level of ADD (and OCD, but not the clean kind) I’ve always had, but got out of hand after I had kids and lost my ability to keep up with it. Now, I fight fatigue and motivation every day, and can just manage to stay on top of most of my outside commitments, making the kids’ food (for home and travel), doing the dishes, and emptying the trash. This is compounded by the fact that my husband is on a nine-month deployment (Army, someplace that rhymes with “Little Beast”), and it’s winter, so depression and anxiety are at their highest, too. I admit I haven’t really done much school with the boys this year, even though it’s the first year I’ve had to declare to the school district that the eight-year-old is homeschooled.

I’m a hot mess, y’all.

Which is why I need to blog — or, rather, “document” — my journey back up the downward spiral I’ve been on for awhile. In about a week I’ll be leaving for the Feeding Matters Pediatric Feeding Conference, which I managed to talk myself into going to this year. I’m really looking forward to it, not only because it’s in Phoenix, AZ, in the middle of January. 😉 I’m hoping I’ll be able to network as well as learn some new things and gain more advocacy for our situation. I wasn’t happy with what I’ve had available to us in the past, but I’ll address that in a later post. For now, I need to go make lunch.

Here’s to a successful 2017! 🙂 Feel free to post your own resolutions, struggles, recommitments, etc., in the comments. Please refrain from advice at this point, however, though well-wishing is welcome. Soon I’m going to write a more comprehensive post about feeding disorders and the issues we’ve had to deal with, and why conventional advice for “picky” children just cannot work for us.

Thank you! See you again SOON!

Posted in Children, Diet and Nutrition, McDonald's, Mommyhood

Confessions

My kids don’t eat “food”. My oldest son has eaten oatmeal, with few variations, for every meal (for, not with) since he was a year old. He’s eight now. My youngest doesn’t chew; he drinks a nutrition shake for every meal. This presents all sorts of issues I will get into eventually, but that’s not what I’m actually going to post about this time, ’cause that’s just gonna get depressing.

No, what I’m confessing this time is my unabashed love of McDonald’s cheeseburgers and French fries. Apparently, I was a little picky as a toddler and went through a “crackers and French fries” phase, and I am still a very big fan of both. McDonald’s fries aren’t really all that special when compared to the flavor and cut of several other competing chains, but they’re always hot, extra-salty, and crispy — not to mention nostalgic and probably laced with crack, or something. The same goes for their cheeseburgers. They taste like childhood. And if that’s wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

Seriously, my kids don’t know what they’re missing.

So, you’d think that having two children who do not eat McDonald’s fare and cannot be bribed with food would keep me from falling into the temptation of using the Golden Arches as a reward or incentive — but you’d be wrong. 🙂 When I bribe my children with McDonald’s, it’s not because I’m going to fill them with junk food and let them act like monkeys in the Playland while I play on my phone and ignore them for half an hour. It’s because I’m going to fill me with junk food and let them act like monkeys in the Playland while I play on my phone and ignore them for half an hour.

I will have paid less per person to have access to a covered, air-conditioned play environment, compared to the age-limited, expensive indoor playgrounds we have around here. And I’ll get food I didn’t have to cook for myself. What’s not to love?

More importantly, I’m not having to buy them each a Happy Meal or something else they are not going to eat, that I would only end up eating in addition to my own meal — because one does not simply waste delicious McDonald’s food. I watch the other moms and dads in the Playland, coercing their child into eating just one more chicken McNugget, or take another bite of their cheeseburger before they can go play. (For the record, I was that kid, too. Mom would tell me I had to eat my whole burger and at least half my fries before I could go outside — there were no covered play areas when I was a kid — but I liked to eat all my fries first. And then I had no room for my whole burger.)

Now that I’m an adult with aliens for children, I’ve realized there’s not much point in begging them to just tryyyy a French fry. I simply feed them at home, then buy the Happy Meal for me. I get to satisfy my junk-food craving with very small portions of the yummy food I love there. I mean, have you seen those cute little fry boxes? It’s, like, half a small fries off the adult menu. It’s probably less than they served in Happy Meals when I was a kid. Instead of a small soda, though, I get a juice box and apple slices with it. Boy 2 gets the juice box, Boy 1 gets an order of small orange juice, and I order a medium drink for me. If the Happy Meal contains a kind of toy I might want (like My Little Pony) the toy is MINE (what? I’m a fan; don’t judge). But if it’s something they like, I’ll just buy an extra toy. I have, in the past, ordered two Happy Meals to avoid questions from the cashier, but eating two Happy Meals while my kids play seems a little too indulgent, even for me. An extra toy costs less (in money and calories) than another Happy Meal, so it just makes more sense, overall.

After that, they go play in a covered, air-conditioned (albeit ridiculously loud and germ-ridden) Playland while I eat and don’t do the things I brought with me to do…because phone.

Win-win, right? 🙂 Tell me you’re not jealous. And if you’re not, turn your thermostat up until it’s 85°F in your house and tell me how much you look forward to cooking for yourself, and how much you don’t wish you could get into your air-conditioned car and go to an air-conditioned place where your crazy children can get their energy out and you can sip iced-tea and not sweat. Because that is what summer is like in our house, and it is miserable.

Honestly — why suffer? McDonald’s has more seating than any of the playgrounds in our area, and it’s fully covered so I don’t have to bake in 85° sunshine because the postage stamp-sized covered area is packed with a bunch of moms who want to socialize. I do not go to the playground to socialize (with the exception of the few times I’m meeting a friend so our kids can play together, but none of my friends down here homeschool). Often, I’m taking my energy vampires to the playground for a break (from them — so they can feed off someone else for an hour or so). But if it’s 85° in my house and 85° outside, the playground is not a break — it is torture. I wrote an entire post that didn’t end up getting posted (I don’t know why, and it was stupid-long and I’m kind of glad it’s too out-of-date to post now) about adventures at a playground, including no seating anywhere and having to wait for the porta-potties to be washed out before Boy 2 could go pee (with help, because I have nightmares about my tiny boy falling into one of those) — and sometimes that hassle is just not worth it.

Besides, I don’t feel like I can be as readily judged by other McDonald’s parents. We all know we’re there for the junk food and leisure time. High-five, McDonald’s Moms! Now leave me alone.

BONUS:

I’ve been itching to blog more. (Yes, again. I know, I say it every time. I really do mean it this time! Probably.) I have more content that isn’t stupid day-to-day stuff, and a lot of crap to work through, especially where it concerns my children’s eating habits. We’re also staring Real Homeschool in the face this year, and as much as I’ve been looking forward to it, I’m terrified. McD’s might very well become my office and the boys’ recess some days.

Therefore, I’m embracing my new tagline in the banner: “I am the very model of a major modern-mother fail.” Not that I think I’m a failure, but I’m a failure at modern mothering. I love my kids and they’re great, but sometimes I love them more when I don’t have to pay attention to them. Anyone who thinks that’s bad parenting doesn’t have kids. Search your heart; you know this to be true.

Meanwhile, I’ll be at McDonald’s, ignoring my kids. 🙂

Posted in Children, Insomnia, Television

Why Do I DO This to Myself??

My blog title and theme have everything to do with today’s post (“momsomnia” and “I Could Really Use a Nap”). You know how some nights, especially after a little too much caffeine consumption the day before, you just don’t feel like going to sleep? That you could happily sail through the midnight hours, watching Netflix episodes and reading until the wee hours before dawn?

I hate when that happens. 😛

I love it at the time, but the morning after is brutal. Last night, I thought I might try to go to bed as close to before-midnight as I could. Preferably still within the ten o’clock hour. Perhaps the eleven. I’ve been sleeping in a lot, which probably doesn’t help, but I thought that I could at least make an effort to get up before 6:30am.

Not so! First, I watched the last episode of season two of Sherlock on Netflix. It was frustrating and touching, all at the same time. I want to watch it again. Maybe the whole series again. (Hurry it up, BBC! Season three needs to come out SOON! Not that I’d be able to see it till it comes out on DVD, but whatever. The sooner the better!) Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are my new favorite British male actors. I was delighted to see that Katherine Parkinson, one of my favorite female British actors, had a role in this last episode, though she was not an endearing character by any stretch. But I digress. If you haven’t seen Sherlock yet, YOU NEED TO.

It finished around 11:30-ish, and I was not yet tired. And my foreign-accent fix had not been sated. I decided to peruse my queue to see what I had available that wouldn’t take long, require much concentration (I love Psych and Eureka, but I really have to pay attention while watching), and had foreign accents. I’d already watched all The IT Crowd episodes available (starring the aforementioned Katherine Parkinson). And then my attention landed on McLeod’s Daughters, which I’d tried to watch once while feeding Beanie in the middle of the night, and couldn’t quite get into. It had been since recommended by someone as a great show, so I decided to give it another shot. 45-minute episodes meant I could get to sleep around midnight and still get enough hours to not feel like a total zombie when I woke up this morning.

THREE EPISODES LATER . . . Beanie had come running into my room around 1:30 (I think), very clingy. I couldn’t tell if he’d gotten up because he’d had a bad dream or because he was cold, but I couldn’t very well put him back to bed when he was being such an adorable snuggle bug, so I held him and finished watching the third episode. When that was over, I shut my computer, put it alongside the bed, and laid Beanie on Sweetie’s side of the bed (it’s empty while Sweetie is out of town 😦 ). I still didn’t feel tired, so I picked up a short Christian romance novel I’d started a couple days ago, intending to read a chapter or two and go to sleep.

TWO HOURS LATER . . . Beanie was taking his half of the bed out of the middle, kicking me in the kidneys, and I was finishing my book. I realized that birdsong had started up outside the window, so I looked at the sky was just beginning to get light, around 3:55.

I finished my book, got up, used the bathroom, repositioned Beanie so I could have more room on my side of the bed (especially since the cat takes up a quarter of my half, too), turned off my alarm, and fell asleep. Three and a half hours later, Pie came into the room and laid down at the foot of Sweetie’s side of the bed, thankfully quiet for a while. Then Beanie woke up. Then I got up to start making breakfast for everyone and COOOOFFFFFEEEEEEEEEEE for me. 🙂

I don’t feel too badly — right now, anyway — for having gotten so little sleep, but I’m sure tonight might be a different story. Maybe I’ll try to go to sleep right after the boys go to bed tonight. Maybe without another episode of McLeod’s Daughers and the closing chapters of the next Christian novel I picked up today . . .

Good luck with that, right? 😉

Posted in Children, Identity, Mommyhood

My “Hero” Name . . . if Heroes Worked for the TSA

Fair warning: This contains humor a fourth-grader might enjoy. I will not take the blame for snort-laughter at work. And make sure you’re not drinking anything, mmkay?

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It seems the older my boys get, the less mature I become. Not younger, mind you — they have the ability to age me severely some days. I mean, I will laugh at immature jokes and phrases and subject matter I might have just given a courtesy chuckle to or just outright rolled my eyes at in the past.

But my kids say some hilarious things. What makes it even funnier is that they often don’t even understand WHY Mama is suddenly snorting, gasping for breath, and running to her phone to text someone or post to Twitter/Facebook (if they even know that’s what I’m doing. I’m sure they’ll be onto me someday). Sometimes, the only person I can tell is my husband, because I generally consider Facebook to be “mixed company”, where not everyone is going to fully appreciate the fact that I have suddenly reverted to the fourth grade.

It took me a long time to figure out where my oldest son could have gotten the imagery for this gem, uttered last year sometime:

“I smell a green floppy thing. It’s just my butt. It does that sometimes.”

See? SEE? How can you possibly read that and not feel the urge to titter, even a little?

I discovered later, while actually paying a modicum of attention to one of the movies they were watching, that “a green floppy thing” that smells bad most likely came from a description of Sid the Sloth from “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs”. Aha! The imagery is something to avoid thinking too hard about, but it’s still funny!

I fight the urge to chuckle every time my kids talk about Beanie throwing up, even when I’m telling them not to. It’s a big mess to clean up (and he’s talented at hitting as many targets as possible), Mama gets a little excited over the fact that it always happens at the most inopportune times . . . It’s become kind of a household event. We’re brushing teeth? Get ready to clean the bathroom and change everyone’s clothes. Touching food? Watch carefully for the signs and be ready to clean everything again. Often ten minutes before we have to get in the car, or at times when I don’t have extra clothes for him.

His most impressive display occurred one afternoon when he managed to get almost every square inch of the kitchen walking space. I was almost proud — except that I had to clean it all up. Pie’s still talking about it (but because he has no concept of time, he keeps saying “last night”, so I have to correct him for the sake of the concerned adults with whom he has chosen to share this tidbit).

One time, Beanie threw up on the rug in the bathroom, and when he was done, he told me in a matter-of-fact tone of voice, while looking at me very seriously with his huge, sky-blue eyes: “I frow up on da rug.” *Giggle, despite frustration* Yes, son, yes you did.

I also lose maturity points every time Beanie says poop. It’s so freakin’ cute, I can’t stand it! You’d think I was five instead of thirty-five. And I taught him to say, “I’m a stinky boy!” which is also painfully adorable.

But, then, TODAY. Today was a doozy. Today was the funny to top all funnies thus far. And it’s SO inappropriate and immature, I’m not necessarily proud that I totally went there. But I did, and I’ve been laughing to the point of tears ever since.

Pie’s been watching the cheesy Batman cartoon on Netflix and playing super heroes all day. I was changing Beanie’s diaper in their room, when Pie came in and said:

“Mom, your hero name is Ball Searcher!”

*Blink*

“You search for balls!”

Total loss of control in three . . . two . . . one . . .

Oh. My. Gourd. It was all I could do, seriously. I wanted to post to Facebook right then and there, but in my barely contained mirth, I managed to retain my last shred of dignity and just texted my husband. And Joy. And I almost called a few other friends, but was afraid I’d be incoherent.

I’m not kidding. My vision was obscured. I hadn’t laughed so hard since having a Tim Hawkins marathon on YouTube a few months back.

What made it better was when he called me in on a ball-searching mission (*snort*). “Ball Searcher! You need to find four balls!” (Oh MAN, the jokes write themselves!!) There’s this plastic dinosaur thingie we have that sings and bounces. You put these colored balls in one end, and they bounce and come out the mouth. It’s a baby toy, but we haven’t gotten rid of it. He gave me a hint to look in the dinosaur, then led me into the room and I pointed at them (trying not to snicker the whole time, lest he ask me why I’m laughing. Or crying. Or fainting from asphyxiation). He counted them and celebrated our success. I just barely managed to say, “Oh good. I’m glad my super powers have not gone to waste.”

Then, redoubling my fits of laughter, I came up with my catchphrase:

“It takes balls to be a super hero!”

Oh dear . . . *wiping tears away*

This is the fine, quality content you get here at Chez Mom. Don’t you just feel so lucky? 😉

Posted in Children, Mommyhood

Can’t we just trade him in?

Beanie clocked Pie over the head with a toy car earlier today. As often as you tell kids not to hit their siblings, nothing you can do or say will curb all their impulses. This is especially true if the target audience is two.

Anyway, Pie whined, I reprimanded and started to get up, then Beanie ran into his room. It was almost like a self-imposed timeout, but not as effective a brother-striking deterrent as one might hope for. Pie began to cry and carry on, probably because I was giving him attention (and maybe because it hurt, so I gave him hugs and kisses — and permission to smack his brother back if he gets hit again). (What? He probably won’t even do it. He’s bossy, not violent.)

When he was sufficiently mollified, he began to chatter, as he is won’t to do. Then, the following gems fell out of his mouth: “I don’t think [Beanie] likes to live here anymore. We should get a different baby . . . that’s smaller. And nice.” [Chatter chatter while I’m trying not to explode with laughter.] “Maybe I need a sister!”

HAHAHA. Dream on, kid! 🙂

(A few minutes after this, Beanie comes out of their room with a toy piano, and invites Pie to come play with him. Pie agrees, after lecturing Beanie on the fact that they can’t fight over it, ’cause Mama said no fighting over it. (Sometimes he listens — that lecture was a month ago.) They played and danced for a whole FIVE MINUTES before the next fight broke out. Oh well! At least they’re cute. 🙂 )

Posted in Children, Diet and Nutrition, Mommyhood

My Son’s Oatmeal

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(Created using Sketchbook Pro on my Google Nexus 7)

I do love that this ended up sort of in the style of The Oatmeal, and is also about oatmeal. Kinda proud of that. 🙂

I’ve mentioned before that my five-year-old is what might be called . . . particular (a.k.a. “picky”, but about a jillion on a scale from one to infinity). He likes his oatmeal a certain way: With peanut butter, honey, flax meal, and HOOOOOT. He can tell with one sniff that it is missing some element (or that’s what he’d like us to believe), especially heat.

I make it with boiling water. Like, “the kettle must be at peak whistle” boiling. It mustn’t sit cooking for more than a minute, or it will drop below 285°F, thereby becoming unfit for consumption (who knew?!). For this reason, I am continually baffled about how he could possibly not like the taste of other foods, because surely he has burned off all his taste buds by now.

Kids are weird . . .