Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Better Living Through Chemisty

I hate taking medications.  I hate living in a society that quick fixes everything with a pill.  I think every option should be tried Before taking a quick fix.  Diet, sleep, schedule.. . especially diet. . . affects how we function. 

That said, sometimes medication IS the way to go.  S has been doing radically better on her new medication.  Example:  Three months ago, if I told her "no" she couldn't fill in the blank with any mundane thing you can think of, she would flip out, scream, pout, rage, sometimes for a few weeks, sometimes for a few months.  Because she didn't get her way.  Today, I can tell her no, to any number of questions, and she may get upset, she may yell, but she's over it in a "normal" time span of 10-30 minutes.  Sometimes less.  It's like living with a completely changed person.  Yes, she still annoys me sometimes.  Yes, she still acts inappropriately around her sisters.  Yes, she still breaks the rules.  But now, they're the sort of infractions normal kids make.  They aren't fueled by some uncontrollable rage for weeks and weeks on end. 

This is a GOOD thing.  Now, the problem is this:  N and I have lived SO long, in fear, in distrust, in shame, in crisis, in ANGER, that it's hard, SO hard, to let go of all that negative emotion.  Instead of S's rages, I now have a knee jerk reaction to her minor turmoil.  Because I'm expecting, fearing, a more bizarre, extreme reaction from her, *I* react more strongly than I should.  And I'm having a hard time letting go of my anger.  I have spent 8 years disliking this person I've had to share a home with, that now that she's . . . behaving normally. .. . . . I can't switch it off. 

But we're healing.  Little by little.  We're healing. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Thrift Chairs: Before and After

Here is the chair before I started work.  $10 each at a yard sale last year.  The lines were fantastic and fit into our mid-century mod house perfectly.  The fabric however. . . worn, dirty and fraying. 

Here's Chair #1 after I recovered it in about $75 worth of fabric.  I added a $1 thrifted pillow as accent.  This was a total no sew project, completed with a staple gun, carpet tacks, a mallet and a second pair of hands.  Total chair re-do cost far, far less than finding a similar, less sturdy "new" chair AND I got to customize my fabric choice with something I loved!

Next weekend we tackle #2.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ink, Ink, BABY!

Today my tattoo artist and I got started on the actual tattoo.  2.5 hours under the needle and we got most of the outline done.  I head back in three weeks to get the rest of the outline and the color done.  We may have a third session, but hopefully not. 

Not that I'm complaining.  Because every session that I have, I spend the night in Indy, hanging out doing whatever I want with zero interruptions or drama.  No cats, dogs, kids, dinner, husband, chemo or anything else.  If I just want to chill in the hotel room and read, that's what I do.  If I want to go shopping, that's what I do.  If I want to go to a museum, that's what I do.  No planning.  No muss.  No fuss. 

So yeah, if I have a third session, it's all good.

When we laid the template out onto my arm, she had to reduce the size to better fit my existing tattoo that she's reworking.  And THAT means that I've got an extra two inches to add something else in a little bit. 

So far, I've got my sun/moon (reworked) that represents Hubby and I.  I've got Mother Earth in goddess form, holding her pregnant belly which is the planet earth (showing Africa).  I've got an African crane, hibiscus flowers and dogwood flowers. 

I'm thinking about adding a leopard in a tree and an elephant, but that will probably be several months out.  Got to space out my tattoos lest I run out of space.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Good Times

Today was a fine, fun filled day.  Mostly. 

Good stuff:  Got the girls off early, picked mom up and went yard saling.  We had some great laughs, particularly when I started screaming (in my van) at the guy loading up his new dumpster dived garden statue that I'd planned to dumpster dive myself. It took only driving around a city block to lose a fantastic Venus-ish garden statue!  ARG!!!  However, I did managed to dumpster dive a FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC marble pedestal (4 feet high) that had been dumped from an old home. 

And I nearly peed my pants when mom read a recipe incorrectly as "Honey Granola Cunt".

And I introduced mom to my new favorite German restaurant. 

And we found a yard sale with some really neat (really expensive that I'm too cheap to buy when I can dumpster dive it for free) architectural salvage.

The only down for the day is door slamming, pouting and disrespect because I refuse to drive Sophia 30 miles to a job and back during the summer. 

All in all, that's a pretty good day.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Random Musings

I'm ITCHING for another kitty.  I can barely contain myself.  I've actually been wanting a kitten since Morris got sick, so . . . since October/November, which oddly (or not for those that know me well) coincided with Dad's death.  Every time I feel the urge to pick out a kitten, I sweep.  So far so good.  But I did put in an application to be a foster parent through a local humane society.  They provide all the food, medication and litter, and I get to play with the kitties for 2 months with no further obligation.  WIN-WIN

My yard FINALLY looks like something other than a white trash trailer park lot.  It's still not great, but I've got the tarp off the lawn (which killed most of the weeds) in that section, the wood pile has been moved to the pile behind the fence, and I got my black sheeting off the lawn from last years tomatoes.  I was feeling mighty pleased with myself after 4 hours of hard yard work.  Then I went over to my mom's house and her garden areas look fan-freaking-tastic. 

I'm off to the doctor tomorrow.  I'm worried.  I've been having quite a bit of chest pain, fatigue and shortness of breath.  That can be totally stress related.  But given that my grandmother had a heart attack at 40 and my mom has had heart problems for years, I'm not holding out hope.  I've eaten complete and total shit for 6 months, put on 20, yes 20, pounds and have stopped working out almost entirely.  But the chest pain has kicked me into high gear.  I've been eating clean for the past week.  I've gone out walking a few times.  I'm drinking more water.  I'm focusing on getting nutrition from my food instead of an emotional boost.  It helps to think in terms of fueling my body, but damn it.  I fucking LOVE cookies, chips and popcorn!  Moderation.  I'm not good at that.

Sophia.  We've got two days left of school.  I'm simultaneously dreading having her home 24/7 and thanking the universe that I can FINALLY sleep in again.  I am NOT a morning person, and try as I might, I just don't function well getting up at 5:30 every day.  But. . . we're trying out a mood stabilizer and that seems to be working.  Somewhat. There are still many, many aspects to her personality that I just don't like, but for the past week, we haven't seen the extreme mood swings that we had been seeing.  Hopefully the removal of school related stress will help level her out further.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Run For the Roses

Dan Fogelberg.  I'd always associated this song with the Kentucky Derby, one of Dad's yearly getaways.  The story goes that Dad and Stan went to The Derby while they were in law school.  They bet, but didn't win.  And then Dad, king of hair brained ideas, decided that they should collect all of the betting tickets that had been tossed to the ground, in hopes of finding a winning ticket that had been discarded by accident.  They snuck under the fence (ahh. . . to live back in an age without no big brother!!!), collected bags of tickets, and actually found a winner.  From that point forward, Stan and Dad went to the derby each year, although never with that much success.  And as they got older, going to the derby morphed into watching the derby on television, during their own "derby day".  Run for the Roses became one of Dad's favorite songs.  In retrospect, I'm sure it had nothing to do with the derby, and everything to do with the profound lyrics.

"It's the chance of a lifetime and a lifetime of chance."  Those words. . . so profound, have been resonating deeply within my soul, within my heart.  By chance, my family came together.  By chance, I grew up with, went to school with, dated, worked with, adopted with, people that have deeply, significantly, affected me, changed me, molded me into the person I am.  We all experience this Lifetime of Chance, experience things out of our control, meet random strangers that somehow become as vital to our being as the breath in our lungs, the beating of our hearts. 

But there is also that Chance of a Lifetime, those things that we can choose for ourselves, opportunities we take or don't take, so often dictated by fear, fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of Pain, fear of causing pain. 

As I sit here, I know that I can't choose who has come into my life.  I can only choose how I let those people affect me.  I can only choose how I react, how I change because of their influence.

It's no secret that I don't like this person that I've become.  I don't like the constant anger I feel towards my husband, my children, my mother.  I don't like, I hate even, this lost identity, this new definition of my being, as mother and wife, instead of simply "woman".  Yes, I am a mother and a wife, but those are only two facets of my being.  I am so much more.  I know that I am, but I have been so buried, so crushed, by the roles of mother and wife, that I'm not sure I can dig The Woman out of the abyss. 

Last night, Nathan and I talked.  Last night, I voiced out loud, for the first time, something that I've been thinking about for some time now.  I think it is time for me to leave.  Not forever.  Not permanently.  But for a few months.  Long enough for me to remember.

The decision, not yet fully decided upon, does not come easily.  I take my responsibility seriously.  I understand that I have a husband, three children, five dogs, and two cats that need me to be present in their lives, that need me to fulfill the role of mother, wife and caretaker that I willing accepted.

The problem lies in the realization that I cannot fulfill my roles as mother, wife and caretaker as I exist right now.  I need to step away.  I need to remember the person that I've always wanted to be before I can actually be that person. 

And so, we have some details to work out. I need a job.  I need a place to live.  I need to make sure that things are in order in this house.  I'm not sure when, or even if, all the pieces will fall into place for this to happen.  But. . . . it's the working plan right now.  I'm going to run for my roses.



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dad, Grammy and Remembering the Living

At 40 years old, I can count the number of funerals I've attended on two hands.  Of those 10, 4 are funerals that I've gone to strictly because it's part of my in-law duty.  Another 2 were because it was "the thing to do" in the community at the time (police officer and a child).  One I was too young to even know what it meant.  And 3 were for people that I was actually close to. But even those I didn't find meaningful.  I didn't need to see the body in the casket to cope with the loss of my grandfather, my great-grandmother and my cousin.  Actually, I'm quite cynical.  I think funerals are a crock of shit.  And I HATE seeing a graveyard.  All that land that could be forest, habitat, used up to store dead people.  Insane. 

I'm not sure if my dad shared my exact opinion of funerals, but he certainly shared my hatred of burials.  He made it known many, many years ago, when he was still healthy, that he wanted to be cremated.  I'm not sure when the idea of a memorial service took root, but he chose that as well.  I guess when there's no body, it's memorial service or nothing?  I don't know. 

Before the memorial, set two weeks after his death, I focused on getting by.  I didn't grieve.  I didn't want to participate in the memorial.  I couldn't understand, resented even, my mother's complete focus of The Memorial Service.  For me, the memorial was something to Get Through.  It was something I had to endure because that's what good daughters do.  I didn't anticipate having any more emotional impact for me than the actual loss of my parent. 

But, Mom wanted to go all out.  She found several people that Dad worked with, was friends with, that he golfed with, that would be willing to talk.  One, my Dad's good friend Stan, whom he'd known since law school, a former prosecutor, dry, stoic, almost said no.  Actually, he did say no, but changed his mind. 

I'm glad he did.  Stan's well spoken, as most people would expect a prosecutor to be, although if anyone's ever been to a country courthouse, that perception would change dramatically.  And he prepared.  He told me afterwards that he didn't want to make my dad look foolish or goofy by telling silly stories, but he also wanted to honor his friends craziness (although I'm fairly certain he didn't use that word).

He shared a few stories that I'd never heard before.  My dad, running down the highway in suit and dress shoes because he bet Stan, a runner for life, that he could beat his 8 minute mile.  He did.  My dad doing a standing vertical leap onto a desk in the lawyer lounge on a bet.  He made it.  Mostly.  My dad playing tennis with Stan in the middle of the night and losing so badly that he wouldn't fess up to his family that he'd been playing tennis at all.  And this crazy thing happened.  In that five minutes that Stan talked about my dad, he brought him back to me, if only for a short time.  You see, I'd started seeing my father as the grouchy, old, sick man that he'd become.  And I'd forgotten his zest for life, his love of learning, his craziness, his arrogance, his athletic ability.  In those moments, I remember my dad as he'd been 10,20, 30 years ago and for that, I will forever be thankful. 

My mom and I have talked about this a few times.  She had also forgotten the man that he'd once been.  She needed the reminder too.  But the thing is, it extends beyond just my dad.  That memorial service changed the way I interact with my grandmother.  Yes, she's got Alzheimer's and most of the time she's bat shit crazy.  Yes, she's accused my kids of all sorts of things, from stealing her money to hiding her purse from her to knocking her down the stairs.  But I'd forgotten who she used to be.  I'd forgotten that she used to bring Nathan and me groceries when we were broke because of the cancer stuff after we first got married.  I'd forgotten that she helped foster my love of yard sales, that she'd take to the garden to help pick veggies, that she'd make the best fried bologna and mayo sandwiches that I will NEVER eat again, but loved at the time.  Yes, it's about remembering the living while they still live.  Not simply the way they are now, but also what they used to be.

And I'm trying to remember me, the way I used to be, 15 years ago, before kids and cancer and death and responsibility took over.  Did I really drive 36 hours during a three day weekend just for a boy?  Did I really enjoy running?  Did I really drink so much I'd fall over?  Oh wait.  I still do that one sometimes.  Who was that creative, single, crazy girl I used to be?  I want to find her again.




Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Three Down, Eleven to Go

Yesterday Nathan finished his third round of chemo.  Three down.  Eleven more to go.  Sometimes that number seems daunting.  But we've already gotten through THREE.  And instead of thinking of this as 11 more months of chemo, I'm choosing to think of it as 11 more WEEKS of chemo.  Because for every week of chemo, we have three weeks without it.  For every week that I'm a single mom, I have three weeks with a partner that supports me, that listens, that cares, that props me up when I'm ready to fall on my face.  That's more than many women around the globe have.  I choose to see the good, the happy times, the fun. 

Today S will see the new psychiatrist for the first time.  I've been dreading this.  Mainly because I'm a dweller, a worrier.  I believe Generalized Anxiety Disorder would be a better term, but people understand that label about as well as they understand RAD.  Anyway, I'm so thankful, SO very thankful that she's settled firmly into "normal" range again.  For whatever reason, Friday she just. . . . changed her behavior completely.  She turned off the rage.  She turned off the disrespect.  She turned off the defiance, the hate, the inability to reason.  And it's like it never was.  Except for the aftermath.  Her first suspension, another tarnish on her school record, an F in two classes, a friendship in shambles, medical bills. . . and the emotional aftermath in our family. Can't forget about that one.  But. . . it's all off.  It's over.  At least for now. 

Thankfully we'll be able to go to that appointment today without worry that she'll jump from the moving car, that she'll spit any medication back out, that she'll climb out her window in the middle of the night and wander off into the country, that she'll do something else equally as bizarre, dangerous, or traumatic.  While I think the psychiatrist needs to see that, let that come a bit later.  Let's get adjusted first.  Let her meet the psychiatrist when she's open to changing.

As for me, I've been going to the movies quite a bit.  With my girls, with friends, with Nathan, by myself.  It's wonderful to escape for just a bit.  And I've been gardening.  It's something I love doing, but even a week ago, the thought of getting my garden out just seemed too overwhelming.  But I'm getting back into it.  It feels good.  Mentally anyway.  Physically I'm feeling a wee bit sore.  But I guess those sore muscles mean I'm alive.  And that's a good thing.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Letting Go and Forgiveness

So much has been written on Forgiveness, the need to forgive, for ourselves, for others, for our  sanity, our health.  Yet I can't think of a more elusive art form.  The art, the skill, of forgiving. . . logically, I know it's something I need to do.  But logic fails when someone treats those I love with disrespect, disregard, animosity, apathy, anger, hate.  All those pretty reasons why I shouldn't react, why I shouldn't take it personally, why I should just let it go, why I should Forgive. . . .they burn away like fog on a sunny morning. 

Forgiveness.  I'm working on it.  Everest seems less daunting though.

Step 1.  Five minute re-do.  I'm offering a five minute period of time to re-do, or a time out if you will, in which I refuse to react negatively.  Sophia can go back to her room to reflect on how to choose better words, and she can choose change her words or keep them as they are.  Sometimes that works.  Sometimes it doesn't.  For both of us.  It's HARD to drop my instinct to fight back.  And I know it's HARD, near impossible, for her to admit she's wrong. 

Step 2.  Remember, it's not personal.  Whatever happened to this child in the first 7 years of her life affected who she is today.  The skills of survival in an orphanage are the very thing that prevent her from functioning well in a family.  She did what she had to do.  It has carried over.  I am not responsible for her life before coming to her family.  And her rage, while directed at me, isn't a reflection OF me.  Or my parenting. 

Step 3.  Focus on the Littles.  I have spent a great deal of time out of the house this year, avoiding situations where I'll be near Sophia and her issues.  But spending so much time away from my Littles makes me feel like a failure as a parent.  Spending time *with* my Littles makes me feel like I'm succeeding as a parent.  And both of those feelings snowball.  I get to choose whether my snowball is negative or positive. 

Step 4.  Sometimes "alone time" just means you're alone.  This relates to step 3, but it extends to friends and family as well.  I often think that I need to be alone, instead of going out with my mom for example, when what I really need is, not to be alone, but rather to be with someone who is supportive. 

That's what I've got so far.  I wish I could say that during each negative moment, each hateful word, I take a mental step back and work through my process.  But. . . I'm human.  Sometimes I'm tired and it just doesn't happen.  Sometimes I'm so caught up in the moment of defending my husband or my Little, that I blow up.  I'm a work in progress. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Well, you CHOSE to adopt!

"You CHOSE to adopt!"  Hands down, the most insensitive thing that has been said recently. 

Would you tell the mother sitting in the cancer unit with her dying 8 her old that she CHOSE to have that child knowing that there was a small chance the child might become ill,?

Would you tell the mother struggling to push her child up a hill in his wheelchair that she CHOSE to have the kid anyway, even though the doctors told her that her child might be challenged?

Would you tell the parents of the teen that took her life that they CHOSE to be parents, even knowing the struggles of parenting teenagers?

Would you tell the widowed mother struggling to make her utility payments every month that she CHOSE this life, even knowing there was a change she or her husband might someday become single parents?

Would you tell the mother grieving because the perfect baby she'd dreamed of having was born with a life altering birth defect that will drain them financially, emotionally, and physcially that she CHOSE to birth that child anyway?


No. 

So why is it OK to judge me?  Why is it OK for you to say those things to single mothers, adoptive parents, foster parents?  Why can you show compassion for some, but not others?  Do we not all struggle at times?  Wouldn't you prefer somebody listen to your hurt instead of blaming you for causing your own pain?

You wonder why friends and family don't open their lives, their hearts to you.  I don't wonder.  I know.