Random Thoughts: The THIS WEEK! Edition

1. Day 16 of the government shutdown.

Are you effing kidding me?

2. Work is a veritable shit storm. I need a raise.

Seriously, if you have tips about asking for a raise — separate from a review, because HA! Like we have time for reviews around here — enlighten me in the comments. Or at least cheer me on.

3. I am making the Halloween costumes. The girls are helping. They have to be ready for Saturday evening, the “Boo Bash” at the girls’ school.

Stitch Witchery is magic stuff people.

4. It used to be really easy to embed my photos in my posts. Picasa made it super simple.

Google+ apparently wants it to be super hard. The Share option will let me send it via email or post it to my circles. But I can’t seem to find the link to embed it on my site.

Which is tragic, because Flora had a really apt picture I wanted to share. (Some of you probably saw it on Twitter.)

5. So I’ll just share this instead: Flora’s band name? Rock Dove.

6. To clarify number 3: I am not creating costumes from scratch (i.e. a pattern and a sewing machine), I am putting together the girls’ costumes.

M’s costume is a hand-me-down, and we love it. No worries there.

7. M had been poking at his ear for a few days, so yesterday I decided I better have a pediatrician look at it. He never ran a fever (although he quite dramatically will push his bangs up, put the back of his hand on his forehead, and declare, “I’m wohm.” i.e. “warm” No idea where he got that from.)

We went to the doctor yesterday. When the pediatrician came in, he said to M, “What’s going on, buddy?” M said, pulling on his ear, “I need a new ear.”

No infection, however, the amount of wax the ped had to pull out of M’s ears to even check for an infection, and make sure the tubes were still in place, was impressive. And gross.

8. What I want more than anything right now, excepting money, is an entire day completely to myself. Coffee uninterrupted, a day of pampering, reading a book, watching a movie start to finish. A day I don’t have to feed anyone else, or put someone on the potty, or bathe them, or put them in bed. From start to finish, a ME day.

I know in five to 15 years, I will have all the me time I can stand. (I say five years because surely M will have grown out of the phase of “be as close to Mommy as possible” by then.) I will have that uninterrupted time occasionally. I know how selfish I am for wishing for that time now.

I don’t care. I am stretched to the max between home and work, and I just want to take care of myself and my needs for an entire 12 to 24 hours.

It’s futile to wish this today, this week, this month, this year.

But still, there it is.

9. My friend Kim is running a number of Halloween-themed guest posts over at her place in Chicago Now magazine. You should read through them; they are very entertaining.

Yours truly has an upcoming guest post. Keep an eye out!

10. What would your band name be?


I’ve been trying to figure out if my stress levels have passed an acceptable level.

There are some unfortunate signs they have.

In case you are unaware, here are the top ten stress-creating situations:

1. Divorce/Breakup.
2. Bereavement.
3. Losing a job.
4. Wedding planning.
5. Work.
6. Kids/Family.
7. Debt.
8. Commuting.
9. Studying for exams.
10. Pregnancy.

I’m trying to find a source for order of most to least stressful, and how that’s determined. For example, with kids/family, I imagine that being the parent of a special needs child trumps my family/kids-related stress. If you’re not getting divorced, bereaved, unemployed, or married, does work automatically jump to number 1?

Not that it’s a competition, but you know what I mean. I hope. I haven’t been sleeping well. I’m not even sure I know what I mean.

On this list, I “suffer” from — if you will — numbers 5 through 8. Again, I find myself wondering how the scale differs from person to person, from occupation to occupation. Is work stressful regardless? I mean, if I’m not free to lay about all day long on a nice sandy beach being brought cocktails by Sven the cabana boy, then am I by default stressed? (Is Sven, the transplant from Sweden to Hawaii stressed in his role as cabana boy for that matter? Is it legal to be stressed out in Hawaii?)

Mmmm, cocktails. Beach. Cabana boy. Hawaii.

*closes eyes for long moment*

*blink blink*

Where was I?


A certain amount of stress is beneficial, I get that. It’s the extended-type of stress that starts tipping the scales. That’s what I’m trying to suss out: where and when do the scales tip? How do I stop them from tipping? Or, if they have tipped, how do I get them to balance a little better?

Here are some physical things that make me think I’m over-stressed: canker sores (I’ve had four in the past eight months); tension headaches; back aches (I’ve been seeing a chiropractor, which is helping); exhaustion; insomnia (it is not fair to not be able to sleep when I am so tired).

I’ve also been having some emotional struggles. I am tending toward depression (rather than anxiety, which is my usual MO), I lose my temper WAY too easily, and I feel like bursting into tears much of the time too. And, no, I’m pretty sure given the consistency of these feelings that I can’t put them down to hormones.

And mental lapses. Pure forgetfulness, dropping the ball, utter disorganization. I have to put reminders on my phone (or my work computer) for nearly everything.

I’m sure I’m a pleasure to live with right now.

Of course, I have some ideas of how to reduce my stress, but nothing immediately available. Plus I wonder if changing one thing simply mean another thing will become more stressful? My usual coping stratagems are being overwhelmed, primarily because my schedule (between work, house, and children) simply leaves me no breathing room.

*sigh* I’m just Susie Sunshine around here lately aren’t I?

What do you do when you’re overwhelmed — not just stressed, but over-stressed?

Well, I Tried

So I completely fucked up my childcare situation — okay, not completely, but allow me my dramatic language for a minute — and I’m kinda cranky about it.

I don’t think the two halves of that sentence go together.

I have complained before about my situation in the evening, e.g. the endless driving. I thought I had found a cost-effective, win-win situation (no, not a new job), and was all set to implement it this week.

And it all went to shit.

I should probably back up a little bit.


I don’t know when I got the idea to ask Tiffany (not her real name) to babysit full-time for us in our home. Tiffany is one of our regular babysitters. She has known the girls since they started at the Day School (I think Kate was 3). Tiffany left the DS, but she offered her babysitting services to those parents, and a few of us have taken her up on that.

Tiffany is a sweet girl, likes my kids, and is responsible: doesn’t let them veg out on TV, cleans up after meals and playtime, gets the kids to bed on time. My kids like her, too.

We have *never* had a problem with her.

Recently, Tiffany lost her full-time job. And she’s pregnant. The two may be related, but I don’t know the particulars, and that is for Tiffany to work out with her former employer.

So, she became readily available. She was always willing to babysit, just about any day or time. We asked her to watch the children the week between Christmas and New Year’s — the kids could sleep in, I could leave early in the morning having only myself to get ready. During that week, Dan, Tiffany, and I talked about her watching the kids at our home until she delivered her baby in May. Maybe doing a little driving to pick them up. We worked out a plan that had her working for us part time — Flora in school full time, Michael and Kate at the DS three days a week, Tiffany picking up from the DS and watching Kate and Michael at home all day twice a week. If Flora had half days or days off because of holidays, Tiffany was available.

I was very enthusiastic about this idea. I saw a future where I could leave work, maybe make ONE stop instead of two or three, walk in the door by 5:15 at the latest. Occasionally, I could have her switch on the slow cooker or rice maker so meals would come together more quickly. She would empty the dishwasher so I wouldn’t have to do the nightly dance of empty dishwasher, fill dishwasher, clean kitchen, run dishwasher before bed.

It was going to be great.

Tiffany flaked out on us. She doesn’t want to drive in the snow. Her PCP said she needed to get more rest, and shouldn’t be babysitting so much — which REALLY? How does she think I did it, pregnant with Michael, with two kids AND A FULL-TIME FUCKING JOB? Since time immemorial, Tiffany, mothers (to-be) have been sleep deprived, physically overextended wrecks. So good luck with that.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah. Flaked out 21-year-old. About two days into our new arrangement.


In the meantime — and I will make this as short and non-ranty as I can — DCL simmered with resentment because she wasn’t watching our children any longer, hence is not making as much money as she was, and so won’t watch our children any more. Bridge, burned. (I was unaware of the simmering resentment/rage until I received a pissed off email. After my husband read it, he said, “Yeah, that’s how a nice Christian woman says, ‘Fuck you.'”)

Fuckity fuck.

This is where I start thinking I would’ve avoided all this angst (and eff-bomb dropping) if I were a SAHM.

Boat, sailed.


I worry about Tiffany, and I was hoping that babysitting for us would give her a little money in her pocket, a little stability. Dan and I do really like her, and she’s going to be struggling more once her child is born. This post is more about my frustration than any anger at anyone. As far as DCL, she is entitled to her anger at us; we did not give her enough notice about pulling the children out of her care. I wish she had *talked* to me instead of emailing me. That made me a little sore.

Changes need to happen in my life, and changing up my childcare arrangements to accommodate me better was supposed to be a little boost in the direction I want my life — and my time — to go. It’s fallen through, and my disappointment is keen.

At least we’ve eliminated one pickup (sorry, DCL). Kate and Michael are together, so drop-offs and pick-ups are shorter; I’m driving a little less.

Lining, silver.

What do you do when your best laid plans go to hell?

I Am Pathetic

Over the past two months, I have had increasing problems with tension headaches, sleeplessness, and neck mobility. (I hesitate to call any sleeplessness “insomnia” largely because when I go to bed, I do fall asleep; and if I wake up due to one of my children *cough*Bun*cough*, it’s more a matter of being kicked in the kidneys keeping me up, although I do have the occasional racing thoughts at 4 a.m.)

I took the opportunity over the weekend to see if my sister, whom I will now be referring to as Dr. Sis, could help me out with the neck thing. Using a combination of massage therapy and chiropractic, she worked on my neck for upwards of an hour Saturday and Sunday. I’m a tough patient, it turns out.

She adjusted my hips and back as well, which she thinks will help with my neck, too. But she was pretty honest: I have muscular and skeletal issues that are going to need care. She thinks there is some degeneration going on, as well. She prescribed daily heat and stretching. I should probably find a chiropractor, too, huh? My free adjustments will cease — or become far in between times — when she moves to Wilmington, NC.

She also warned me: “You’re going to be pretty sore.”

Boy, she wasn’t kidding. Between the ride back to Pittsburgh with two over-tired children who would not just pass out already and those adjustments, I was in considerable pain when I finally pulled into my driveway. DearDR was supposed to take over as POD (and I was supposed to go to a blogging event on the South Side), but his high-school friend who is living in Arizona was visiting, so that didn’t happen. Fortunately, my MIL once more rode to the rescue by serving dinner to everyone (Earthmom and her family were on the compound as well), and my SIL and BIL-IL took all the kids for a nature walk, so I took to my bed for about an hour with a heating pad and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (yeah, I know, I’m behind).

The major issue (it seems to me) is that when I have stress/anxiety issues, I tend to “store” them in the muscles of my neck and shoulders. In thinking about this more in depth, I keep coming up against: WTF do I have to be stressed out about, really?

Yes, we had repeated bouts of strep throat this summer — as a matter of fact, summing up my summer at my Aunt M’s 70th birthday party a couple of weeks ago went like this: a month of two rounds with strep, and a week in Cape Cod. Then lots and lots of other travel and activities coming up — a spa weekend for me, trips to Seven Springs a couple of different weekends, sundry summer stuff — into August. Plus the usual stressors: full-time work, paying bills, raising children — my wonderful, adorable, challenging children — maintaining a relationship with my equally overworked husband.

This is normal life, I tell myself. Why am I such a basket case? None of us (and I’m counting my parents and my ILs here) are dealing with life-threatening health issues (knock on wood); my children are not special needs children, or even particularly high needs; my husband and I are employed and have health insurance; we have a roof over our heads. Heck, we get to do things like take road trips to Erie, Seven Springs, and Cape Cod. I have good friends with whom I enjoy spending time; I have good family, ditto. Yeah, we still have debt issues, but they are resolving and not getting worse.

What is wrong with me that I find the relentlessness of my children so very exhausting sometimes? And their screaming — oh my gosh, the screaming has to stop. Even when it is in fun, it makes me crazy. They are so bloody shrill, my girls. The drama, too, simply escalates. I tell Monkey I can’t talk to her right now, and she wails about how no one ever is going to talk to her ever again. When things aren’t going Bun’s way, she stomps off in a pout and says, “I’m not playing with you guys.” Which, adorable, but so not to be encouraged.

At one point in Erie, I was on the back porch of my parents’ house with my mom and Dr. Sis. The girls were in the back yard. I was yelling down to them: “Bun, where are your shoes? Monkey, don’t climb that tree. It’s too little! Stop feeding the dog berries from that bush!” (Monkey’s response to that last one, “I’m just giving him the berries to play with.”)

My mom chuckled. “That’s your life, pretty much, isn’t it?” she asked me.

Yeah, it is my life. A constant barrage of guiding and asking and telling and saying no and re-direction (when I remember). And in response, pouts and yelling and reasoning that isn’t reasonable and (occasionally) “okay, mama”. (On the nail-biting thing with Monkey: “Monkey, stop biting your nails.” “I like them really short.” “Well, I’ll cut them, then. Just tell me when you want me to.” “Well, this is how I cut them.” “Monkey, that’s a bad habit. It doesn’t look nice.” “I like my nails to be really short.” *headpalm*)

Each Monday finds me more tired and feeling the need for more catch up — on laundry, on husband time, on sleep, on cleaning, on me time. At this point, I’m thinking of just throwing it all in until they are in college. Maybe I can start playing catch up then.

Count down to Spa Day (standing in for Girlie Weekend this year): Five days.

Also, this “news” article from CNN.com makes me want to go kick some ass. Full-time parenting is a grind? Really? [Insert swear words of choice here.] My heart bleeds. With apologies to the full-time dads I know out there. Who get it, and don’t need a news article to point out what moms have been saying for centuries.