Welcome to My Corner of the World

I hope you find humor, inspiration and something worthwhile on this blog. I plan to be as candid as possible. Life is hard. I know, I've overcome a lot (and still have a way to go).
It doesn't help others if the rough things are glossed over.

I will no doubt fill this blog with stories of my achievements as a mom as well as my personal struggles.

I have an incredible husband whom I call "my sanity." I have two great kids with strong personalities. I struggle with anxiety and depression and I have had a colorful childhood.

I also have an addiction to Gilmore Girls, A&W Cream Soda, and Starbucks peppermint mocha.
I have recently added biking to my list of hobbies and also love to read, knit, and play tennis.

Welcome to my little corner of the world!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


  My last post was about how well I handled a crazy couple of weeks and this one follows in the same fashion.
  This week was kind of gross.  I won't go into great detail now (perhaps another post will be devoted to one day in particular--it was that bad!).
  Hubby was on a business trip from Tuesday through Friday.  My energy was lacking.  My patience was lacking.  I had a book club meeting at my house Thursday that I needed to clean the house for.  I was hosting a game day for my best friend's kids and my kids (two boys age 2 and two girls age 4) on Friday.  I really struggled with A on Wednesday and that left me drained.
  However, on top of all of that I noticed that the way I handled it all was amazing--especially when I compared it to how I would have handled it in the past.
  Used to I would have been cranky, felt overwhelmed, been depressed because I had too much to do and couldn't get it done, and would have been incredibly anxious about it all--sweating, unfocused, the whole package.
  This week, however (with the exception of Wednesday), I handled it all well. I didn't avoid my chores, wasn't tempted to just curl up on the couch and sleep it all away, wasn't scattered and sweaty!
  Wednesday night I went to bed at a decent hour (used to I would have stayed up late trying to clean and get caught up).  Thursday I was productive and I was looking forward to having all my friends over instead of stressing about it all.  I wasn't cleaning and distracted when everyone arrived.  I had everything ready and was focused.
  It felt amazing!
  It's times like that when I'm able to see that all of my counseling and chats with my husband and best friend have paid off and have really stuck!
  I know that I have a lot of strategies in my arsenal to fight depression and anxiety, but it's great to see that my subconscious has filed away all the talking and processing.
  There are certainly times when I have to make a very deliberate effort to do what I need to.  There was a time (and I still have days like this) when I had to force myself to eat breakfast, get the kids dressed, make lunches and snacks and it takes all my energy to stay awake and off the couch.  Thankfully those days have become fewer and farther between.
  There was a time when I never thought I'd be in this place.  I was too overwhelmed by normal, every-day life.  How in the world was I going to be able to to anything "extra" (have game days for/with my kids, plan fun surprises for friends/family, do something spontaneous, be truly organized and be able to plan ahead, etc.)?
  I am so happy to say I have finally reached the point in my life when I can do some "extras" and not lose focus and get overwhelmed.
  It's been quite the journey, though, full of pity parties, anxiety attacks, depression, strong emotions I didn't know how to handle, unhealthy relationships, guilt trips and such.  Thankfully the journey was also filled with good counselors, incredible friends, answered prayers and an amazing husband!
  I'm off to have a wonderful weekend, free of negatives and full of positive things!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Huge "yay me!" moment!

  Bug turned 2 last Saturday and naturally we had a birthday party for him.
  I like to keep things nice and simple.  There were 7 adults and 4 kids--the perfect sized gathering for me.
  Mom came (which after her arrest and my failure to come bail her out, I wasn't sure she'd make it) and was pretty quiet, but seemed to have a nice time.
  It wasn't until a few days later when Hubby and I were talking that I noticed I had a HUGE breakthrough moment and I didn't even realize it!
  Hubby's innocent question: "How was your mom this weekend?"
  My response:  "I have no idea."  I almost added an "I don't really care, either" comment, but didn't.  It wouldn't have been the snotty, hurt-feeling kind of response.  Instead, it would have been the healthy, "I'm not going to stress over it" reaction.
  I can't even begin to tell you what an utterly HUGE moment that was in my life!
  I have spent my entire life up to this point being able to gague Mom's moods and guess her behaviors.  My childhood revolved around a certain look in her eyes.  It was a look that incited so much fear in me that I continued to allow it to have that effect on my until I was 28!
  It was then that my therapist asked "why are you afraid of her?"
  What was I afraid of?  I was married and no longer lived with Mom, I could tell her "no" if I needed to.  I didn't have to let her into my house and I didn't have to answer her phone calls.  So why did I allow her to have that control over me?
  I decided then and there that I was done running from her.  I have an amazing husband who offered to come home to help me deal with Mom if I needed him to and an incredible best friend who offered her house as a refuge for me to run to if I needed it.  But I was done running.  I was an adult and had a daughter to take care of--what kind of example was I setting?
  My therapist suggested setting boundaries.  I thought of at least 10 boundaries to set, and the first one was "call before you come." 
  I can't even begin to tell you what a life-changing decision that was!  It seemed so simple--and yet made such a profound impact.  So far, that's the only one we've had to set and enforce from time to time.
  The first time I kept control of the situation and didn't let her take over I felt so incredibly liberated!  She dropped by, after I had requested she call before she come, and I only let her into the foyer for a 5 minute visit.  That was all it took for her to realize I meant what I said.  She's tried to push the boundary since then and I've stuck with it and we haven't had any major issues since then.
  Up until that point she had taken to just dropping by.  That might not have seemed like a big deal--but she lived 2 hours away at that time (since then she moved closer--now she's only about 20 minutes away)!
  So the other day when Hubby and I were talking I realized that I had no idea how Mom was doing mentally.  And that didn't bother me.  Instead I felt great.
  If she's entering an unstable phase, fine.  We'll cross that bridge when we get there.  If she's semi-sane, fine.  We'll enjoy time with her.
  Sure I noticed she was a little quiet and reserved (which is SO not my mom) last Saturday, but I didn't give it a second thought.  A year ago I would have been analyzing every look that crossed her face.  I would have agonized over when the storm was going to break (which sometimes is 6 months away and other times is next week).  I would have gone into "self preservation mode" which would have involved dissociating myself from the situation (read: life in general).  I would have become anxious and unfocused.
  Two years ago I would have cringed at every comment other people made that could have been miscontrued by Mom.  I would have been on edge when she made snotty or nasty comments.
  Her moods conrolled me--and I let them.

  I'm happy to say that they don't anymore!  At least not this time.  There will probably be times in my life when I'm down and something will come up with Mom and the instincts that kept me alive and protected as a kid will start to kick in again.  I can only hope and pray that I have the strength to say "never again" and stop them before I allow the situation to take control of me.

  So, yay me!!  =)


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Emotions are funny things

  Disclaimer:  the title of this post uses the word "funny" loosely.

  I've had a lot on my plate recently, and have been so annoyed with A's behavior.  She's melting down over things we've dealt with in the past.  Things that we haven't had issues with in months!
  The issue with the tags I mentioned in my last post is one of the many battles I've been having with her.  She now insists that her shoes (ALL of them, except her Crocs) hurt her feet.  There are a few pairs that are getting too small, but she also has at least 2 pairs that fit her just fine. 
  She was crying about one of the pairs that actually fit her the other day and I suggested putting socks on with them.  She did.  Then she complained about the seam in the sock hurting her.  These are socks she's had no trouble with in the past and has been wearing for months!
  She'll be dressed and ready and fine for 45 minutes and then all of a sudden something starts hurting her and she spazzes out!

  So what gives?  Today I had one of those fabulous parenting light bulb moments--school.
  A started preschool at the end of August.  She goes from 8:30-12 Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  I anticipated some issues at the beginning of the school year.  It was quite a change for A.  She's the kind of kid to whom different = pain/discomfort/bad/etc.
  I even expected any trouble she had with school (internally, because externally she'll be the best student: quiet, sweet, listens to the rules) to manifest itself here at home and I expected to have more power struggles with her.
  However, September came and went and half of October has passed and we didn't have any problems.  She seems to like school.  She never cries before going off to school and has only mentioned in passing a few times that she doesn't want to go.  By now, I expected her to be used to the new routine.  So, a month and a half later, her outbursts have caught me off guard.

  I have learned so much about A over the past year and I have been so thankful for the books I have read for many reasons (they're listed on the main page under "Great Parenting Reads").  For one they help A learn how to take responsibility for her choices but they also help me develop a healthy (read "not co-dependent") relationship with her.  I understand how to relate to her, whereas before I was lost.  I had a 3 year old who had meltdowns over people calling her nicknames.  She couldn't even handle it when her friend (who is 8 months younger) was learning how to say her name and couldn't get it just right!
  So in this great epiphany I just had, I was reminded how much A likes to be in control.  Again, changes and the unexpected make her uncomfortable.  I am going to make a conscious effort to go back to what worked.
  What worked? you might ask...I give her a "choice" even if there's not really a choice.  For instance:  "A do you want to fix your hair now or in 5 minutes?"  Her hair will get fixed, but she gets some say as to when that happens.  In her small, 4 year old world, she has very little control and it's very unsettling for her.
  I also try to have as much routine as possible.  I would think that the routine of school would be great for her, but if school is what's making her uncomfortable (for reasons I may never know) then no matter how expected and predictable it may be, she's not going to like it.
  She's also the kind of kid who is fine around almost everyone else, but she feels most comfortable around me and as a result her behaviors are always between me and her.  A compliment, sure.  A challenge, definitely. 

  A has always been private, and I realize that a lot of things that happen in her life I will never know about.
  Communication is key, though.  If we can't talk about the uncomfortable things in life when she's 4, then when puberty hits I might just go insane!
  One thing I've started doing to open those lines of communication is to ask her (during some mellow time in our day) what were two things she like about school and one thing that happened that she didn't like.  We also have problem-solving sessions together.  She and I take our notebooks while Bug and the hubby do something else and we talk about possible solutions to the problems we have been having (for instance: the problem of the tags in the clothes or the problem of the toys not getting picked up).  A loves to write and really likes the one-on-one time so she has yet to balk at the idea!

  Here's to hoping things calm down a bit in the next few days!

Just let go

  The past week and a half have been emotionally draining.  I can look back at the past 14 days, though, and be proud of how I've handled myself.
  My father-in-law suffered a stroke about 4 months ago and I've been working with my mother-in-law to find a good nursing home to serve as a transitional living place for him.  It's certainly been challenging with all of the Medicaid dos and don'ts, ins and outs, etc.  I worked with 3 different social workers and only one of them seemed semi-competent in her job--it was incredibly frustrating and created so much unnecessary stress.
  As if that hasn't been enough to try to stay on top of, I got a call from Mom this past Monday.  She called to tell me that there were some police officers at her house to arrest her for missing a court date for a ticket for expired tags.
  This is the second time she has been arrested in 4 months!  My entire life (almost 30 years) the only time I know that she's been arrested was when she had a mental episode and the neighbors called the police.  They came and took her to the mental hospital where she stayed for a while (I was so young, it could have been 6 months or 2 weeks) before she came home.
  This time she needed someone to co-sign the $1,305 bail bond for her.  My husband and I weren't comfortable doing it, so I did what I could to get it taken care of.  I called my uncle and a family friend who has always helped Mom in the past.
  As it turned out, a police officer (perhaps the police chief) was able to talk to her and ended up releasing her, so no one needed to mess with the bail bond.
  I, however, was not looking forward to the next conversation she and I would have because she would know I didn't bail her out.  Her one and only daughter.  The person she called when she needed help.  And yet, I knew all of that and I didn't feel guilty.  There were no "but she's my mom" thoughts nagging me.  There was no sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  There was no anxiety causing me to worry over what to say to her.
  Sure I thought about what I'd say--it was a delicate matter.  I just didn't dwell on it.  I came up with an honest, not-to-revealing, rather neutral explanation (with the help of my best friend) and then let it go.  As it turned out, I haven't had to use that response (yet).

  I've been getting a lot of practice at letting go lately.

  There was a place for me to help in the situation with my father-in-law.  I stepped in and took initiative with some things, and I've questioned those decisions.  There were a few things that I let bother me more than they should have and there were probably a handful of phone calls I made that were unnecessary.  Overall, however, I don't regret anything.  I'm proud of how I handled things.

  With Mom, I was able to let things go and not let that situation keep me up all night.

  I have had chest pains off and on, and earlier this week they started to restrict my movement (it tends to make the pains worse if I move my left arm much or try to take a deep breath when they get bad).  I was able to close my eyes and focus on my breathing and replace the anxious thoughts statements of reality--and it worked!

  Of course my mom and father-in-law haven't been the only things I've had to deal with this week and part of last.  It's times like these when my kids really seem to act out and give me more of a challenge-- naturally.

  A has always been sensitive to textures.  There was a time when the tags in her clothes bothered her badly enough that I had to cut out the tags before she'd even think about wearing the piece of clothing.  She is a dainty, girly girl and so her Nana loves to buy A fancy, frilly dresses.  Unfortunately A can't stand to wear dresses with the can-can material at the bottom (even if it doesn't touch her.  These days dresses are made with kids' comfort in mind and there's usually a layer of softer material under the more abrasive stuff, but that doesn't matter).  She also can't stand to wear dresses or shirts that have sparkly threads running through them.

  This issue has resurfaced recently and now extends to her shoes as well.  Remember, reason has no place in A's world when emotions take over

  So this past week while I was dealing with my mom and the situation with my father-in-law I also got to deal with A's meltdowns.

  I must say I'm looking forward to some mellow days in the near future!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Boys will be boys

  Yesterday I touched a bit on this topic..boys!  Bug is such a boy.  I find myself frequently wondering "what am I going to do with him?"
  He's not like A (and rightfully so.  They're individuals, and then there's the fact that he's a boy and she's a girl).  But A has always been able to sit still for a ridiculous amount of time.  I knew that was abnormal, but the contrast between her attention span and Bug's amazes me!
  When Bug gets quiet (which is next to never) I know he's doing something he shouldn't.  A was always quiet, and loved her space.  When she was quiet she was hardly ever getting into trouble.
  With A I subscribed heavily to the "you should be able to take your kids anywhere and expect them to behave."  Yesterday I had to take Bug to the chiropractor with me.  He hasn't been in so long, I don't think he remembers anything, so I was hoping he'd be intimidated enough to stay out of things!  It worked, but he did sit up on the table with me while the TENS machine worked to loosen up my shoulder muscles...all in all, though, it was a success.
  I just have to put so much more thought into things with Bug.  There have been several times in the last 3 months where I've had to tuck him under my arm and carry him to the van from a public place while he screamed and flailed.  I will never judge another parent again (ok, I'll try really hard not to)!
  Just last week I had a neighbor over to visit.  While we were visiting the kids had their morning snack of graham crackers and milk.  Bug got bored and has recently decided that spitting is awesome.  'Nuff said!  Our poor neighbor.  She never had small children (her step kids were teenagers when she and her husband got married) and none of her and her husband's friends have kids, so I'm going to guess when she got sprayed with milk she was a little more disgusted than someone with kids would have been!
  I was so embarrassed!  But what do you do?  I apologized and went on.

  It also happens that the day before that particular neighbor came over Bug's left ear began draining.  He's had tubes in his ears for 18 months and we've never had any ear infections.  The tubes were doing their jobs, but his ear ran (and dripped--bleh!) like a nose!  It even got crusty from running so much.  I was fascinated, I had no idea an ear could do that!  Our neighbor was probably ready to bolt for the door!

  Again, I'm trying to give Bug opportunities to explore things and get messy without getting into trouble.  I've designated Monday as "water-play Monday."  Bug gets to play in the bathtub and play with things he doesn't usually get to (like the squirt bottle, my ladles and a watering can).  I'm hoping this will get us through the cold months ahead when his outside time is restricted.
  Hopefully by next spring I'll still have my sanity and the house will still be standing!


Monday, October 3, 2011

Back to normal!

  Ah, life.  What a fun experience!  There never seems to be a dull moment.
  I have been feeling back to normal for the past few weeks and it feels great!  It felt like I spent too much time in the past month and a half feeling lost--and I hated it!  Apparently I returned to normal just in time. 

  My father-in-law had a stroke about 4 months ago and we just got word that he will be discharged in a week from the rehabilitation center he's been living at for the past month and a half.  Unfortunately for many reasons, a nursing home will be the best thing for Dad right now.
  The tasks of finding nursing homes, figuring out what Medicaid will pay for and figuring out how to get from point A to point B have all fallen to me.  I am more than happy to do all of this, but there's a time crunch and trying to find the right person to talk to about Medicaid has been like pulling teeth.
  I think I've finally got all of those loose ends taken care of for now, and hopefully things will go smoothly from here on out [said with fingers crossed while knocking on wood].

  While I was taking care of those matters, I was also getting ready for a yard sale my best friend and I put together.  Thankfully we've been doing yard sales together for 4 years now and have a good system!  I didn't end up stressing over it like I usually do, which was great.

  About two weeks ago Bug was twirling in circles in our foyer, fell and hit his forehead on the corner of the wall.  Naturally, since we're talking about Bug, his head split open and he needed stitches.  My poor husband was the only one home with the kids when  it happened and he freaked out!  I went to the ER with Hubby, A and Bug and was the one to go back when they put the stitches in.  He got 5 and only cried a little! 
  Up until they put the stitches in Bug was wandering around the ER (because I can't get him to sit still for 10 seconds!) and started to demonstrate for a few people how he got the gash. I stopped him before he banged his open wound on the wall for all to see--he is certainly something else.
The kid won't be 2 until the middle of October.  I hope this is not a glimpse of what's to come in the year ahead.
  I've been doing really good with the anxiety (and considering everything that's been going on, I've been impressed).  I've been having chest pains more frequently, but considering the craziness that I call "life" lately, I'm annoyed but not surprised.  There was one Wednesday I was trying to get the kids a bath and get dinner made before Church and I started sweating and thinking about ALL that I had to get done.  I was able to catch myself and think "one thing at a time."  I took  a deep breath and did just that.  I finished one task before starting another and I was able to get everyone ready and fed AND we were early!

  More to come tomorrow--my kids certainly don't leave me lacking when it comes to having stories to tell and dealing with stress!