This is supposed to be a boat

Does this look like a boat?

This is supposed to be a boat.

That is what J’s preschool teacher said this morning.

I do not think this looks like a boat.

I think this looks like something very unlike a boat.

Am I nuts, or do you see it too?

Good, better, best

Note: the following is a selfish rant, covering all means of topics including but not limited to: intestines, finances, and my husband. I am fairly sure I have never ranted about these before, nor will I again.

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a little difficulty managing stress. (This is where people who know me in real life choke on their coffee and spray the computer monitor. That’s like hearing the Pope dabbles in Catholicism, that Martha Stewart’s hobby is crafts, or that Reagan had a hard time remembering things. Yes, Alzheimer’s jokes. I laugh to keep from screaming.) The stress was tolerable in high school and early college, I met Tom and my stress went up, I married Tom and my stress went up, I had A and my stress went way up, I had J and my stress went up, and 2007 popped me out of the red zone of stress and into “Holy Crap! She’s gonna blow!!!” When I was in grad school and the university was auditioning a new flute professor, one of the applicants (who did get the gig and I studied with her for a year and she was awesome), who I had just met, listened to me play, and flat-out told me I was too stressed out, should go get smashed, and practice like that for awhile. Yeah, apparently I am that uptight.

And it’s not as though I haven’t tried. I have tried to manage my stress. I don’t know what the heck I’m doing wrong. How do you manage something that is beyond your control? (story.of.my.life.) I was doing yoga for awhile and loved it; but being gone from the house right at bedtime was causing more stress. I try to get away, but then something comes up and I have to stay home. I’m getting a wee bit resentful.

It is starting to take a toll on my health. I’ve been having stomach problems since September. Nothing debilitating, just chronically painful. In the last couple of weeks, in an attempt to not rip out my fricking stomach lining and stomp on it, I’ve given up caffeine, dairy, and artificial sweeteners. That’s helped a little, but hasn’t done much for my mood. I haven’t had coffee or a coke in almost 2 weeks. I had an appointment with a GI specialist yesterday. Holy Heck, it was like conversing with a man who’d been sucking on a lemon with a red hot poker up his butt. So Dr. PokerButt (well. that’s gonna bring out the interesting google searches!) ordered some more tests, but said it sounded like Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Yeah, the one that is brought on by extreme stress. Great, just great.

In the meantime, I have a husband who has been traveling considerably more than usual, kids who are acting out because dad has been traveling considerably more than usual, stomach problems, goals I’m trying to reach but it’s almost impossible because I’m flying solo so much, dealing with the suckage that is February (thank GOD it’s almost over), a three year old who is literally attached to my hip if I’m not entertaining him or if he’s not plugged into the computer, juggling finances (oh, I’m so pissed off about gas going yet higher and my utility bills-what else can I turn off?-going higher, andandand…), and just crabbiness because I feel more like a business partner than a wife lately. Not doing much for my mood. That little post earlier in the week about Left Brain sticking Right Brain in the closet…yeah…somehow I’ve become a Human Doing, rather than a Human Being, and I don’t like it. My stomach lining isn’t too fond of it, either.

No, we don’t have family nearby. No, I’m not hiring a housekeeper, it would just be another expense. No, I can’t get a sitter, $7/hour is high and we use it for truly special occasions. No, I can’t ask a friend to take my kids for an evening or day or weekend. They have their own lives and I’ve tried; our schedules don’t match up. Yes, I have tried turning on a movie for the boys; it works until they start arguing over who is sitting on whose side of the couch. Yes, I do throw them outside when the weather is pleasant; it works until they start throwing rocks down the gutters, causing a dam when it rains. No, I can’t go to the bathroom by myself, thanks for asking. It’s no wonder I can’t get out of bed in the morning. It’s the only time of day when I am completely alone, no one is hanging on me, no one is fighting around me, I’m warm, nothing has happened to piss me off…too bad it’s only 20 minutes long.

So I am going to place better limits on what is in my life. It may mean giving up this blog, which I truly do not want to do. I am going to set up a Good, Better, Best list (I got this idea from Oh My Stinkin’ Heck a few days ago) and follow through with it. There’s a lot going on that I can’t control, but I can better control my reactions to it all.

And now I must go play “Play with me Mommy! {I am playing with you, quit asking!}” with a three year old before he explodes.

end rant

It’s not spring, but it’s close enough

J, my little Velcro shadow (but that rant later), insisted I go outside with him earlier. We played for a little bit, then I sat down in the bright sunshine while he played. I closed my eyes, appreciating the warm sun on my face; it’s been a long month, and it hasn’t even been that bad. I listened to J play, barely audible over the school construction thisclose over my back fence. I think they’re building a moat. It’s the newest thing in school security. I read that somewhere. I think dragons are next (argue not with dragons, for thou art crunchy and go well with ketchup. I love that quote). I could hear the shouts in Spanish, the beepbeepbeep of the cement truck. The sun blinded me through my eyelids. I could smell…what is that? Is that the smell of thawing ground? It can’t be, it’s too early! And “Roger the Wonder Shrub, the Rhubarb Plant Hell-Bent on World Domination” is still a’slumber. He’s an earlier riser, too; spring has sprung when he begins to stretch skyward. (note to self: do something with the 40 cups of chopped rhubarb in the freezer immediately!!!) Must be the scent of moist disturbed soil from the construction. I sat, warm in my parka, hands in my pockets, face turned to the sun, recharging my solar panels. Spring will come, spring will come.

I needed this

I found this post via An Iowa Mom, and it hit home for me today. I…just go read it… This is the line that smacked me upside the head:

My child is different because he came into this world to make a difference.

Wow. Those simple words clarified the chaos that is known as raising A. He is going to set the world on fire someday, and I can’t wait to see it.

This is what I listen to all day

Right Brain: Jen, Jee-eeen!!! Let’s go play! Your scrapbook room is calling out for some lovin’! I’m ready to go! Look, I’m even wearing my pretty, brightly flowered dress today! Look how pretty it is when I spin around! Wheeeeee!!!!!

Left Brain: Jennifer, you do not have time for such frivolity. Look at that to-do list. Yes, there are only eight items on it, but one of those items has a sub to-do list of another 20. You only have another hour and a half until you have to go pick J up from preschool, do not waste it. In fact, you should not even be writing this little piece of fluff. Get it in gear, woman, you have too much to do today.

RB: Oh, put a sock in it you ole’ meanie! Jen-Jen, put on some rockin’ music and let’s go playyyyyyyy! We haven’t played in such a long time! In fact, let’s play with the boys this afternoon! We haven’t done anything super-duper fun in a loooong time!

LB: Work first, then play, not the other way around, you crunchy flower-child freak! When the work is done, whenever that may be, then it is time to play. Not before.

RB: You poo-poo head, there’s always work to be done, it never ends! All work and no play makes momma a cranky bitch! You know that!

LB: I know no such thing. Back to work! {whip cracks}

RB: {moons LB} Nah-nah nah-nah nahhhhh nahhhhhhh….you can’t catch me! Thpppppppppppppp!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The boys are going to grow up thinking that work is forever, and that play is never, and we’d better get along before that vein in Jenni’s head starts throbbing again! That’s scary shit, man! Look at my dress! Wheeeeee!!!!!! Hey, look, a puppy!

LB: {sighs} Stupid git.

RB: Hey, there’s a yoga class tonight, and there’s childcare for the older kids too! We can take the boys! Jenni-wenni can do yoga, the boys can play, everyone wins! Here puppy, puppy!

LB: No. That would keep them out past bedtime, and A has homework to do, and that to-do list is not doing itself right now! Every time we try something like this it blows up and there are meltdowns and tears and feelings of complete parental failure. Not worth it. Just have to miss working out again today. Too much to do!

RB: You’re no fun.

LB: You are an irresponsible child.

RB: Fartface!

LB: Brat!

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This is the crap I listen to all day. Any wonder my memory is failing?

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edit: RB has kicked LB in the butt, and LB has retaliated by sticking a dirty sock in her mouth and locking her in a closet. Updates to come…

While you were sleeping…

I stayed up to watch SNL last night, crashed out on the couch with my laptop on my lap. Just piddling around, watching the show, surfing some blogs, organizing digital photos. And then this SNL ad came on. If you missed it last night, I share it here for your viewing enjoyment. I damned near laughed myself wet and I was afraid I was going to wake the boys. Enjoy.

The things you do when you’re hanging out on a Saturday night


Click here to create your own painting.

My avatar has better hair than I do

How bizarre would it be if I printed off my avatar and took it to my stylist and said, “like this.” Yeah, I thought so. Borderline psycho.

So it has come to my attention…or not…that my memory is not doing me any favors. At least three times in the last week my memory has had a short-circuit and failed me. Let’s see if I can remember…

Saturday I got into the van with Tom and the boys and immediately couldn’t find my sunglasses. My elfin-made, dried with the tears of fairies, waited for four freaking months and paid a fortune for, sunglasses. Tom was driving, I was tearing the van apart. I could read his mind (and he was stunned later when I told him, word for word, what he was thinking): “you waited four months and paid a freaking fortune for those sunglasses and you lost them?” Ten minutes later, I shifted in my seat, and there they were, stuck between my legs where I put them when I got into the van, got distracted by the boys, and promptly forgot that I put them there.

Yesterday morning I was in a hurry getting the boys into the van (seeing a theme here?) to drive A to school. Tom helped out, getting J strapped into his carseat. I got into the car, turned around to make sure both boys were buckled up, and lost my keys. Where were they? In the ignition, where I put them when I got in.

I…I can’t remember the third one, but it was similar to the first two.

So now I have to decide…is my family history of Alzheimer’s hitting me at the tender age of 34, or do I just need to learn to live in the moment better? I think it’s the latter, and I’d better get on that before the former bites me in the ass.

There was something else…what was it…oh yeah. And y’all probably thought I forgot…

never-a-dull-moment-self-portrait.jpg

I probably should print off my avatar and go for that haircut, huh?

Thursday Thirteen: things I’ve learned about staying safe in the backcountry, just by watching the evening news

 This winter the Rocky Mountains have gotten a whole lotta snow. Record snowfall, as a matter of fact. This brings out the winter outdoorsmanpeople. Skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling…all things that involve snow and cold and being outside in both of those. Not my cuppa tea. But, snuggled here in my warm home watching the news, I’ve learned a few things about staying safe while doing all those insane fun outdoor activities. There seems to be a huge increase in snowmobilers and day hikers getting stranded. Please keep in mind that I don’t actually do these things, I just watch the news and figure it out on my own. Enjoy.

Thirteen Things I’ve learned about staying safe in the backcountry, just by watching the evening news 1. First and foremost, if you want to stay safe in the mountains, just don’t go outside. Stay in by the crackling fire and sip coffee drinks liberally dosed with Kahlua, Bailey’s Irish Cream, or Frangelico. Or all three.

2. If you do insist on going outside, dress in layers. Many layers. I understand that cotton is about the worst thing you can wear, as it just sops up moisture and gets cold and clammy against your skin. Just…wear layers, and for more details, go hit REI or something for suggestions.

3. Just assume, right from the get-go, that your cell phone won’t work. So don’t rely on it as a “hey, come rescue me” device. I lose my cell phone signal driving through my neighborhood (hills and valleys cut it off), so don’t assume it’s going to work up in the mountains.

4. Even if it’s an afternoon trip, take enough food for a couple of days. Or for a Thanksgiving feast. A granola bar and a water bottle just ain’t gonna cut it. You really wanna be starving up there, waiting for someone to find you? Again, ask the dudes at REI for suggestions, they’re the experts.

5. You need an emergency kit. Don’t go without one. Again, and the dudes at REI are gonna just loooove me, go see them. It doesn’t have to be big, but it should have one of those space-agey silver blankets to keep you warm, a first-aid kit, a mirror (so you can reflect the sun up at searchers), and waterproof matches.

6. Never, ever go alone. Yes, it’s peaceful, but it’s dangerous and can peace you right to death. Literally.

7. Never, ever split up. See above.

8. Let someone at home know exactly where you are going and when to expect you back.

9. If there is a place at the trailhead or ranger’s station to sign in, do so. Name, where you are going, and when you expect to return. Then sign out so they know you’re out of there.

10. For God’s sake, heed the avalanche warnings. They’re not there to cramp your style, they’re there to keep you alive.

11. Get an avalanche beacon. Wear it.

12. Extra gas for snowmobiles is a must. You never know when you’re going to need it.

13. Watch.The.Weather.Reports. If Weather Babe says that bad weather is moving in, believe her and take caution. In fact, just stay home and watch Weather Babe.

Ok, that’s my “I stay home and don’t like to be cold in the snow” list of how to be safe. If you’re an outdoorsy person, please don’t flame. I gathered all this, literally, from watching the news. Leave a gentle comment. Otherwise, go make up the coffee, I’ll pull out the Frangelico.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. (leave your link in comments)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

I read a book!

Yeah, don’t pass out…I actually read two. And in trying to write reviews for them, learned something very interesting about myself. I love to read. I love book clubs, where I can discuss and hash out books, preferably with a glass of wine in hand. But I’m not so good writing about books. Funny thing, seeing as how I love to write and love to read; you’d think the two would go together like bread and butter, but alas. I finally gave up last night. But I am going to quickie discuss the two books I read, and tell ya to just go read them. They’re both good.

Truth and Consequences by Keith Olbermann

 

I love Keith Olbermann. I find him to be articulate, witty, and dead-on accurate on so many things. He’s at the top of my list of “people I’d love to have dinner with.” And he’s damned easy on the eyes. Mmmm…

 

Truth and Consequences is a compilation of his Special Comments from Countdown. Each chapter is a separate Special Comment with a short introduction giving greater insight to the Comment. If you agree with the policies of the Current Occupant, then this book probably isn’t for you. If, however, you find yourself screaming at the evening news from time to time (or  more often, in my case), you’d probably enjoy this book.

 

Is it an easy read? Eh…sorta. It reads well, but if you take the time to read and think, then it’s a good chew for your brain. It’s what you want to say, but may not be eloquent enough to get out. You know, because you’re too busy screaming at the tv…or something like that.

The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner

 

I read a review of The Geography of Bliss in the paper a few weeks ago and was lucky to get a copy from the library quickly. The author is a correspondent for NPR and took a year to investigate happiness. He traveled, literally, around the world to find the happiest places on the planet. I found the book to be a great introduction to cultures in different countries. Who knew the people in Iceland were so cheerful? The lack of sun would do me in. And now I know of a country by the name of Moldova (former Soviet republic) and have absolutely zero desire to ever go there. Along the way he finds that happiness is more than a location…yadayadayada…this is a terrible review, I apologize. I loved the book, it was an easy read and despite that, made me think.

 

Ok, those were two abysmal reviews and I apologize again. I have eleventy billion things to do today, including reading (The United States of Arugula by David Kamp: how America became a country of “foodies.”). I’m great in a book club, but apparently not as a book reviewer. Bummer. But, hey, at least y’all know I read now! 🙂