Sunday, July 31, 2011

Death and dying and whining

We are finishing up a nice round of what WebMD tells me is gastroenteritis. Or shigellosis, salmonella poisoning, sickle cell disease, or drug overdose. I was set on stomach cancer, so thank goodness for WebMD. I settled on gastroenteritis because I'm extremely careful with proper food handling, and we haven't done THAT many drugs lately. Plus, we never share with the kids, and Emmy was the first to get it.

Thanks to this weekend, I am now well-versed in:
  • How to neglect your children all day but still keep them alive (I nearly failed at this one when I opened my eyes to see Emmy standing on top of the piano across the room).
  • How to clean carpet using only laundry detergent, vinegar, and tears.
  • Fending off delirium.
  • Finding things to feed your children without actually smelling any food.
  • Not killing your husband, who had the nerve to get sick while you were still sick.
It's been a wildly entertaining weekend.
The Child also chose this weekend to grow some ovaries and start climbing tall things. She has no problem climbing onto the changing table now and standing on its flimsy top in the middle of the night, but she still needs to repeat, "I'm not gonna fall you, I'm not gonna fall you," as I'm bathing her in the sink. I don't even pretend to understand the logic happening in that tiny brain.

But anyway, long story short, she decided last night was the night to climb out of her bed and onto the changing table, out of her bed and onto the chair next to Emmy's crib, and so much more. In our barely-recovering haze, we resorted to bribery: "If you stay in bed for the rest of the night, you will get a treat right away in the morning." At that point, I had no idea what we could give her, but it sounded good.

It totally worked. I was amazed. See, when we first switched her to a toddler bed, my sister suggested that tactic, and it didn't work at all. She was out of bed in about three seconds. No concept of delayed reward. But last night, she stayed in bed all night. She was wide awake when I went in to get her this morning, but she was firmly planted in her bed.

We'll see how the next few nights go.

The silver lining in this weekend? I've lost five pounds. I KNOW it's not a healthy five pounds. While I've been stuck at roughly the same weight for two months now, I can still see the flab shrinking and the muscles becoming more defined; however, the psychological kick is nice.

I'm still 15 pounds over the upper end of my recommended weight range, but it's nice to kind of enjoy looking in the mirror again. Not that I stand in the mirror and flex (much), but there's no recoiling anymore. I think if I stopped losing weight right now, I would be mostly okay with that. I'd keep working out. It makes me feel good. But these few extra pounds don't really bother me the way the other 20 did.

And a final note: if you're on the tail end of an illness, and the mere thought of all food still horrifies you, despite the nausea having vanished, and you haven't eaten in two days... Don't eat a whole bag of mango chunks just because it's the only things that sounds good.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Gee, which one of us is more neurotic?

I hate this side of me that resents Grace's anxiety. I know better. I do. I think part of the reason it bothers me so much is that I worry it's partly my fault. When she stopped sleeping for a few months, I was not a great mother. I joke that she wasn't held enough as a baby, but I do think it's kind of true.

I'm not saying this to get validation. I think she'd probably be neurotic no matter how amazing a mother I was. But I do think I could have kept it from being worse. And since I know it's partly my fault, I do take it personally when she flips out over dumb things.

Lately I've been sneaking her out of the room about half an hour before Emmy is due to wake up from her nap. We lie on the couch together and play silly games. It's bittersweet. It's so much like it was before she turned 9 months, back when she hardly ever cried and was almost always happy. I know that little girl is still in there. She just needs to be coaxed out.

The Child seems to have started outgrowing her abject terror of going number two. She still hates it, but I don't think it's A Thing anymore. This means... potty training! Joy. This Saturday is D-Day. Now, I don't normally care to share such things here, but it's something I've been dreading pretty much since the day she was born, so if I put it here, the only way it won't happen is if our apartment explodes.

Wish us luck.

We went to a birthday party on Saturday. A birthday party for an adult. But there was a bouncy house. Jeremy spent almost the entire time in there with the kids while I lazed around outside talking to friends. He got huge brownie points for that.

Believe it or not, The Child loves bouncy houses. She feels about them the way I feel about ponies. So, she spent hours scooting up the ramp, bouncing inside for a moment, getting launched up to the slide part by Jeremy, the running back around to the ramp to do it all over again. I was watching her finish a lap about halfway through the party when I saw her bump head-first into the our hostess's deck. Ooow, I though, but sort of ducked down so she wouldn't see me and start freaking out. But she kind of stumbled a bit, and then one of our friends picked her up, and she was obviously upset.

And then I saw BLOOD. Blood everywhere. It was all over her face and hands and in her hair, and she was hysterical. I rushed over and took her into the house, to the bathroom, and oh, she was a mess. Grace is such a cautious child that I have never seen her bleed. Not even once. It was a bit alarming. Our hostess handed me a washcloth, and I started dabbing the blood away while Grace hiccuped and sobbed. The wound itself wasn't bad, even though I'm sure it hurt like crazy. I probably would have cried, too. But I figured the night was ruined for her, and she and I would be stuck sitting in a chair while she clung to my neck.

The second she could speak through her tears, she looked up at me and said, "You wanna go down the sli-i-i-i-iiide?" Atta girl. Maybe I shouldn't worry about you so much.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Eye of Sauron

Good things are happening for us recently. I'm not allowed to go into details, but due to something wonderful and unexpected, we were able to drop the price on our house down to its current market value without having a short sale or losing money. Praise God! When we got the news, I instantly felt about twenty pounds lighter. I hadn't realized how heavily this had weighed on me. I'm continually amazed at the way things have come together for us financially over the last year, despite the early college years we spent with very little thought for the future. We certainly don't deserve it.

And, on top of this, one of my church friends gave me her old double stroller for FREE. Theirs got damaged when they flew, and the airline is reimbursing them for a brand new one. I spent about $20 to get a new axle and cup holder. We had an ancient bottom-rung Graco stroller covered in coffee and missing several (nonessential) parts. Well, we still have it. I haven't decided what I want to do with it yet. The smart thing would be to try to sell it or take it to Babies 'R' Us when they have their trade-in promotion. But I'd really like to drop it off a tall building.

Anyway, things are looking good in the house-selling department. We've had four showings since we dropped the price, and two of those were the same person. It's not a guarantee that we'll sell it soon, but it's a good chance. And you know what's funny? Now is when I get a touch melancholy over it. I remember when Grace was a baby, I'd drag out the tiny baby pool and sit in a camp chair in the yard while she splashed away. Or we'd blow bubbles in the front yard and watch them pop on the bright orange lilies. I love Emmy dearly, and having a sister has been very good for Grace and her neuroses. But I miss it just being me and Grace sometimes.

Enough of that. I'm getting all serious and mushy, and it's creeping me out.

THE SUN. The sun here is incomprehensibly intense. I wonder how long we'll live here before my brain can begin to understand this. I've learned to cover up or wear sunscreen if I'm going to be outside for more than fifteen minutes. But now I keep forgetting how unpleasant it is to be in direct sunlight between the hours of 8 am and 7 pm. This morning, the girls and I were up and finished with breakfast by eleven (yes, we get up late, but they also eat breakfast for about ten hours), so I decided it would be super fun to go for a walk along the river.

HAH. By the time I made it down the road, across the street, through the parking lot, and into the shade under the bridge, we were all listless and cranky. Like warm pieces of lettuce with PMS. I was determined to make it at least worth getting the stroller out, so we walked a little further (like, three yards), and I decided to go back. When we got in, the three of us lay on the living room floor and guzzled water for ten minutes before we could do anything else.

I was going to add more, but then I accidentally sat on a water bottle on the couch, and I should probably clean that up.

Or maybe I'll just leave it for Jeremy to discover when he gets home from work. So many difficult decisions.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Another entry about how much I love Utah. Aren't you glad?

Today's PSA: Do not get on a ski lift ride in Park City, UT, unless you know how long it is, and you are okay with that. I met some friends up there earlier today for lunch. Most of them left around 3, but one lady and I walked around for a while. I've never been before. It's like Galena, IL, except in the mountains. And much, much bigger.

Anyway, we thought it would be fun to hop on the ski lift ride at the bottom of Main Street. My tiny brain still hasn't grasped the enormity of the landscape here. To me, "ski lift" means, "short jaunt up a steep hillside, and back down." But, see, this isn't Alpine Valley in Wisconsin. This is a mountain top in a spur of the Rocky Mountains.

It was at least an hour long. It's really a miracle that the only place I burned was my nose. So now I look like a wino. Yay.

Anyway, the drive up to Park City is spectacular. My aforementioned tiny brain exploded at least four times on the way there. It's a good thing I wasn't driving, or we'd be dead in a canyon somewhere off I-80. If Jeremy and I ever find ourselves in such a position that we can literally swim in money, we are so moving there.

I have my eye on this gem (notice that it says "single family home"). 12 Bedrooms of terrible, terrible decor. I'm very sorry if that's your personal preference, but I would definitely overhaul the decorating theme. And then roll through the house on the floors I've carpeted with money.

Okay, so this one is a little more reasonably priced. I mean, for being enormous and beautiful and in the middle of one of the wealthiest communities in the country.

Actually, I have decided that we can move to a tiny hovel hidden in the woods and just get some really rich friends. Can you imagine the upkeep on some of those houses?

I am suddenly fascinated with the notion of hill people. I heard today that there are caves all over the place in the Wasatch Range, and my tiny brain immediately latched on the notion of remote, inbred enclaves hidden in nooks throughout the mountains.

Something about backward societies hidden right in the middle of modern civilization fascinates me. This may have something to do with that episode of Supernatural Jeremy and I just watched last night about the crazy family that kidnaps locals and then sets them free to hunt them. But now I must know if there are any in Utah.

It has been a very long day, and I need sleep, but I also wanted to tell you about the newest addition to our family. No, I didn't have another baby, hard as that is to believe. But my sister did! The new one's name is Adelaide, and she has pudgy cheeks and fuzzy hair, and I want to hold her so badly I itch. But it will have to wait for Christmas (babies are at their best around five or six months anyway).

My sister may or may not read this, so you should all congratulate her, just in case.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The way to my heart is through my stomach.

Stompy Neighbor rang the doorbell this morning. AWESOME, I thought. But then Jeremy came back inside after talking to him and plopped a basket full of deliciousness in front of me. Bread, tomatoes, broccoli, peaches, some fruit thing I have never seen before in my life, and more. It was a Bountiful Basket. An organic one, at that.

(Oh, turns out they're figs. I've never seen fresh figs before.)

How cool is that? Even the annoying people here are awesome.

If you'll excuse me, I have some fruit to gorge myself on.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I win

Our neighbors have been very quiet for several days.

One night during a particularly fun bout of insomnia (and this is the night after my ER visit), I had JUST dropped off to sleep (after already waking up once) when STOMPSTOMPSTOMPSTOMP. I got good and angry and was about to go up there when it stopped. I should have gone up anyway, but that would mean getting out of bed and getting dressed, and I opted to just stew in the dark for a couple of hours. So much easier!

The next night, same thing. First, I got mad at Jeremy. He was lying there, all asleep, and I wanted to punch him in the head. But then I realized that I'm nearly 30 years old, and while it's fun to make funny status updates about my annoying neighbors, it really wasn't worth the trade-off in sleep, and Jeremy has to work in the morning, so just sack up, already.

Luckily, I was already dressed. And I had showered that evening, so instead of looking like a gross, dumpy housewife, my hair was all over the place in a scary but good way. I was trying to figure out what to say on my way up the stairs, but too tired to think of something appropriately scathing, but not quite so awful that it would make a friendly neighbor relationship impossible. I was still standing there glaring when he opened the door. And, honestly, I didn't mean to do it, but it just occurred to me when I saw his face in the door.

I stared.

I didn't say a word.

He turned beet red and fumbled through about ten apologies. When he wound down, I said, "Thank you," and walked back down the stairs.

It was quiet the next day, and I joked about me scaring him (because, if you have ever met me, I am the LEAST scary person ever in the world, except for maybe the little girl in Signs), but they were probably just hungover from the party last night.

And then they stayed quiet. We heard normal living noises and very faint music, some normal thumping like kids playing. But nothing at all unreasonable.

And it's stayed that way! For over a week!

Every time he's seen me since, he has apologized. I've been very careful to be nice (because I do want to be friends; I'm such a sickening people-pleaser that I can't stand the idea of someone somewhere in the world sitting there and not liking me), but not to tell him it's okay. In fact, the last time I saw him I told him I was pissed at the time, but it's been quiet ever since, which is all I want.

This is a big thing for me, folks. I am not good at holding my ground unless I'm angry. I back down immediately once the apologies start.


The last couple of days have alternated between pure delight and wishing I could mute and pause my children for a day or two. Perhaps even unplug them and put them in a nice, comfy box out of sight.

I'm just going to come out and say this: Grace's anxieties drive me CRAZY. Hey, I know it's not cool to complain about your Little Blessing's personality quirks, but there you have it. I can both love the snot out of my child AND find her crazymaking AT THE SAME TIME. It's amazing. Who knew that a human being could feel two conflicting emotions?

So far, I've been reassured at every appointment that it's well within the range of normal for a child her age, but this just doesn't seem right to me. When I take Emmy in next, I'm going to get pushy with our pediatrician.

The difference between Grace at Home and Grace out among People is like the difference between Barack Obama and Edward Scissorhands. It bothers me for selfish reasons, and it bothers me because she is missing out on so many of life's delights. It's not just shyness. She has a new phobia just about every day, it seems. She overcomes almost all of them with a little work, so I suppose they're not really phobias. But her last one (bugs--like, the minuscule bugs that come in from outdoors and just sit on the wall all day) had her screaming off and on all day for a week. And sometimes at night.

And then there are days when she is completely anxiety-free. A bug flies in her face, and she barely winces. She smiles and waves to everyone she sees. She makes jokes and does normal toddler things like climbing onto precariously high pieces of furniture. Sometimes she even eats vegetables. So I know there's a kid under there somewhere who can cope with life. I just wish I knew what it was that makes her hide all the time. And it's even more frustrating and heartbreaking because she was like that all the time in the two weeks before we moved.

At home, both kids have been great most of the time. But we've been developing a bit of a social life recently, and it's exhausting to constantly tend to her freak-outs when we're just trying to make friends.

Emmy is a trial of her own, but in a much more normal kid kind of way. She is SO willful. Happy, easygoing, delightful, physically capable, engaging. But tell her 'no,' or take something away, and be prepared for the most ear-splitting shrieks you've ever heard. It's awesome. In both the more modern sense of the word and the classic hymn sense of the word. And the ironic sense of the word. Like, by "awesome," I mean, "the sort of thing that makes you want to stab your ear out with a bendy straw full of acid."

She may actually not be that willful, but my only point of comparison is Grace, The Most Compliant Child Who Ever Lived.

So, there's been that. Also, the antibiotics I've been on have put me at risk of tendon rupture. Super! So no weightlifting the last two weeks. And I'm still at risk for months to come, but my rapidly-dough-ifying midsection won out over being smart, and I started again tonight. I'm not as horribly out of shape as I thought I'd be (probably thanks to dragging two kids all over The Promised Land of Utah, or swimming almost every night, or going for countless walks), but it was still disheartening. Ah well.

I inexplicably LOST three pounds in the last couple of weeks. I'm sure part of that is loss of muscle, but since my waist has only expanded a tiny bit, I doubt it was much.

Anyway, I need to shower and perhaps spend some time with my husband. Tomorrow, I'm going to water aerobics, and that's really hilarious to me because we used to make fun of the old ladies at the Y who had their class right before swim practice. And now I'm going to go myself, and I'm really looking forward to it.

I feel pretty(ish).

I have begun putting my hair in rollers overnight. It's a pain in the rear to do, but the results are so much fun. I can now have long hair AND look like a woman AT THE SAME TIME.

Long hair does not suit me. It hangs flat no matter how it's layered, and I look like a boy in a wig with no chin. It's bad. Really, really bad. It also thinks curling irons are hilarious. And really, who wants to put her hair through that every single day?

Short hair looks great on me. You can see my face, it holds curl, it behaves when I pin it up. But I'm so sick of the layered bob and its many variations. And I have fanciful visions of long, flowing, ultra-feminine hair. I know they're ridiculous; I look LESS feminine with long hair, unless I style the snot out of it, which means lots and lots of damage.

So I found some soft curlers that I can sleep in, tried them out, and the next day, my hair was fun! And curly! It didn't start uncurling until evening, either. These curlers are cheap, and I'm pretty sure they'll fall apart on me in a matter of weeks, but for now I'm enjoying them.

Carp. I was going to write more, but Jeremy wants to play a game. And I'm too tired to be amusing anyway (spent all day cleaning and cooking, then went to a pool party with two small children and my entire church, and as much fun as it all was, I feel like my limbs are made of warm deli meat).