Eight years ago today I was lying in a bed in the antepartum wing of the hospital, my OBGYN and my perinatologist on either side of me.
They looked over my charts and numbers from the weekend and were all, “Yeah, NO. These do not look good.”
And I was all, “I’m feeling great! I think I can totally keep my blood pressure under control at home.”
And they were all, “Your babies are fine for now, but you’re probably going to have a seizure if we let this go any longer.”
(Let’s not talk about the nurse who had said, “We were all talking about how we’ve never seen someone with protein so high who was still pregnant!”)
And then an hour or so later, a nurse stuck her head in my room.
“Did they tell you you’re delivering today?”
And I said, “No. No they did not.”
And she said, “Oh! Well you’re on the board for 4:30!”
And I was like, “DAMN.”
And that is – give or take a few liberally misquoted conversations, but that’s pretty much the gist of how it went down – THAT is how I ended up delivering two tiny twin girls at 31 weeks.
Happy birthday, sweethearts. We’ve come a long way.
Sometimes I get overwhelmed at life. Springtime is SUPER busy for us, between Zoe’s birthday in February, Listen to Your Mother auditions, casting, and rehearsals, Christian’s birthday in March, and Rachel and Claire’s birthday also in March. I always have something to do, and that makes me anxious. So today I’m just escaping here to do a little rundown of things that are good in life, and things that could use a little improvement.
THINGS THAT ARE GOOD
• Spring came early this year. We had an unusually warm February. Warm days are not uncommon in a Texas February, but neither is going from 76 degrees one day to snow the next. It looks like it’s here to stay, and since I cannot function in anything under 54 degrees, I find this quite delightful.
• Things are moving along swiftly in Listen to Your Mother world, and we’ll be announcing our cast soon!
• I’m running again! Sometimes pain free! I’m training for the Statesman Capitol 10,000 and hoping to finish before they kick me off the course.
• Texas Mountain Laurels are in full bloom. They don’t last very long, but while they’re here, they’re heavenly. When the girls were babies, I used to take them for sometimes twice-daily walks around the neighborhood. Back then the smell of these flowers reminded me of walking around the UT campus in the springtime. Now it reminds me of walking my babies around the neighborhood and how nice it was to be able to strap them into something where they couldn’t get out. #memories
• I’m unclenching a bit by letting go of a contract gig I’ve had for a while. I really enjoyed it, and I’m sad to say goodbye, but I’m looking forward to being able to focus on my other job and maybe have a little more free time. Or at least some stress-free, clench-free time.
• My grandpa is turning 91 on Easter, and we’ll be there to celebrate!
• It’s been raining for days, so today I just let the girls come home and watch movies after school while I helped Zoe with some LEGO building and cleaned some of the neglected house. These are admittedly some of my favorite days.
• House of Cards is legit awesome this season.
• I am obsessed with this band Shearwater. They’re from here in Austin, and I’ve been listening to them nonstop when I’m working. Catch them on Spotify here. Please don’t get too popular so I have to stop liking you.
• I saw Doc Brown yesterday.
THINGS THAT COULD USE SOME IMPROVEMENT
• At this very moment my cat is walking around and yowling for God knows why. He’s definitely deaf, probably going blind, and likely has a UTI. I need to take him to the vet. Christian wants to take him to a field far, far away. We are both tired of cleaning poop out of the bathtub.
• It’s been raining for days, and I miss the sun.
• I whined the other day to a writer friend that I couldn’t even manage to make myself write for 10 minutes a day. She calmed me down by saying she “only had 2 kids.” I love it when people justify my crazy home life, even though I only have one more child than they do. But I do wish I was writing more.
• Most days are pain free, but my back does get cranky here and there after running. Every time it makes me want to throw in the towel and say, “Enough! I will never recover fully and be able to run again!” And then I think of that guy who could barely walk, and then he got super into yoga and can now run and is incredibly fit. Too bad I’m too lazy for yoga.
• Rachel’s voice has changed a little since her tonsillectomy. We expected that, but I didn’t expect it to be so….[insert word that means awful, but won’t hurt anyone’s feelings when they inevitably read this in 10 years]? When I was a kid, I never really understood what authors meant when they described someone as “talking through their nose.” Now I know. Let’s just say that at the end of a long day, it’s not my favorite sound.
• I got my kids to donate a few stuffies to the school carnival…..where they promptly played the Stuffed Animal Walk game and – you guess it – brought home more stuffies.
• I was a total bitch to the cashier at Lowe’s today. When I contested the price of some fabric bins I was buying, she asked if I could go get the tag (I’d already been waiting in line forever). When I did, she informed me that it was for a different FUCHSIA FABRIC DRAWER, even though the FUCHSIA FABRIC DRAWERS I grabbed were the only FUCHSIA FABRIC DRAWERS in the vicinity and the tag was right underneath them. I get that errors happen and retail sucks, but man, was I cranky. I’m not naturally a bitchy person (depending on who you talk to – this cashier would definitely five me full on bitch classification), so I felt bad.
• Fuchsia is an unnaturally hard word to spell.
What’s going on in your world?
As a part of the Netflix Stream Team, each month I get to talk about what I’m watching on Netflix. What should I watch next?
A few nights ago I had a mountain of laundry to fold and some quality time to spend with my husband. We’ve been so busy this week with Listen to Your Mother auditions, unexpected work loads, and just the crazy busyness of life with kids that we both needed to chill for a night.
I spend forever browsing Netflix before I can decide on what to watch. I need to make sure that the time I’m spending watching this movie or that show is time well spent. The kicker is, I spend so much time browsing, neither the laundry nor the movie get folded or watched.
My husband, on the other hand, looks briefly through the first few movies suggested, pulls up Good Will Hunting and presses play.
Our relationship in a nutshell.
We’d both seen it before, more than once, so it was the perfect mindless entertainment to get me through the laundry folding and him through…not folding the laundry. I’d forgotten what a wonderful film it was, couldn’t fathom that it was almost 20 years ago, and my God, can you believe Robin Williams isn’t with us anymore?
Oscars well deserved, boys.
I didn’t watch the Oscars this year (we don’t have cable, and someday we will get a digital antennae, but that day has not come). And I’m not sure if I really saw any of the Oscar-nominated movies other than Inside Out (did it win? I haven’t even checked). But I know you CAN watch loads of Oscar-nominated movies on Netflix! (exclamation points!!!)
I mentioned this in another Netflix recap, but it’s such a great film. Jennifer Lawrence’s jiggly boobs still make me uncomfortable though. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director for David O. Russell, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Actor for Bradley Cooper, Best Actress for Jennifer Lawrence, Best Supporting Actor for Robert De Niro, and Best Supporting Actress Jacki Weaver; with Lawrence winning for Best Actress.
The tale of a simple-minded man who leads a remarkably event-filled life won six Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director for Robert Zemeckis, Best Actor for Tom Hanks, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects (I remember the absence of Lieutenant Dan’s legs being a HUGE deal), and Best Film Editing.
This is one of those films I was dying to see, but when I dragged my husband – then my boyfriend – to see it, he was probably all, “What in the ever-loving HELL.” But then the movie won five Oscars – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography, so I felt redeemed.
I’m not a huge war movie buff, but I di end up watching a lot of war movies, thanks to my military-obsessed husband. Black Hawk Down won for Best Film Editing and Best Sound Mixing, and if you don’t blink, you’ll get to see a sweet little Orlando Bloom in his pre-Legolas days.
Speaking of war movies, this Quentin Tarantino film makes me squeamish, but it’s worth it. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Waltz, and Best Original Screenplay. Waltz was awarded the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
What are YOU watching?
Some things going on that are all pretty random, but kind of related in some way. It’s basically a week’s worth of brain dump.
1) Rachel is making progress in her recovery. She’s still home with me and still in pain here and there. Scabs apparently (probably) (maybe?) came off a couple of days ago (pause for gagging), which caused lots of ear pain and throat pain, so we’re not totally off the hydrocodone yet, but hey, she’s not vomiting it back up! #blessed
Now we’re at the point where she’s still home, but not miserable. So lots of TV and video games, fewer naps and less caretaking on my end. Let’s just say she’s not well enough to go back to school just yet, but she’s well enough to be driving me just a wee bit crazy, especially when I can’t stop what I’m doing to help her complete level 3 of Sonic the Hedgehog. I predict she’ll be ready to go back to school in a few days, but there’s no sense in sending her back on a Friday, right? GAH.
Oh, and since you’re dying to know, yes, the breath is still completely rank. Not filling up entire rooms with noxious gasses, but it still makes my stomach turn when I catch a whiff.
Upside is I am enjoying spending time with her, and I’ll miss her when she goes back to school.
2) Claire has been having a bit of a hard time with this whole ordeal. On the one hand, she really wants to take care of her sister. On the other hand, she’s feeling left out and is actually voicing that Rachel and Zoe get all the attention. Apparently she’s still a little bitter about the whole dental nightmare of 2015.
It always comes up at bedtime, where she resists sleep in favor of crying and pouting that she never gets any attention because she didn’t “get” to have surgery. Because we all know how fun surgery is. Just ask Rachel when she’s vomiting up hydrocodone.
So I told her that she and I? We’re the caretakers. And sometimes being a caretaker is a thankless job. We spend our time and energy caring for others, and sometimes it seems we don’t get a lot of attention in return, but that’s not necessarily true. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I would get just a little sick so someone would take care of me for once. But then when I do get sick and I’m writhing in pain from the body aches and fever, I would give anything in the world to feel better.
I’m so proud of how responsible she’s become over the last year. She’s going to make a great mom someday. I mean, she already has the martyr part down pat.
3) Claire and Zoe went to the dentist on Monday (Rachel had to sit this one out since she was still fresh off her tonsillectomy), where we learned some things. First, Claire has an extra baby tooth (which we already knew, but hang on). During development, her lateral incisor (AKA “the tooth next to the big tooth,” for those who don’t know, like me before I googled “tooth names”) split into two teeth, a process called – wait for it – TWINNING. I KNOW. A twin with twin teeth. So meta.
Anyway we had been told that those two teeth would fall out as baby teeth do, but only one would grow back.
Except her x-rays on Monday showed that she has two permanent teeth ready to grow in, where there should only be one. Actually, they already are growing in, because those twin baby teeth aren’t loose at all, not even a little bit.
So…..in order to avoid becoming a snaggletooth, she has to have those baby teeth pulled, a process the dentist assured me would be painless for her, but would take a while, and she’d have to miss school and get lots of attention from me, and my God, you should have seen her eyes light up.
“I’m going to have surgery???”
Well, kinda, not really, but you will get to miss school for the day!
PLUS once the double permanent teeth come in, we’ll then be shipped off to the orthodontist, who will decide which of the teeth to keep and which one gets evicted. More teeth pulling! Yay!
I predict Claire will use up the majority of the health savings account in the coming months (years). She’s a thumb sucker, so I’m pretty sure this will not be our first trip to the ortho for her.
Now if I can just keep the rest of my family from having dental problems/tonsil problems/anything involving knives and medications and days off from school, life will be grand.
We are Day 5 post-op (not including surgery day).
Today was a good day. The past 4 days, not so great.
Surgery day was tough on all of us. I’m not sure I prepared her all that well, other than telling her she wouldn’t be able to eat much afterwards. The promise of ice cream and popsicles kept her from being too anxious about it, but as we waited in pre-op, she grew increasingly quiet and withdrawn.
In hindsight, I wondered if I should have been more up front with her about how she would feel. But I wasn’t, partly because I wasn’t so sure myself. And partly because how do you tell an anxiety-prone 7-year-old how confusing and unpleasant it is to come out of anesthesia? How much her throat will hurt? How do you tell someone how much they take swallowing for granted until they literally cannot do it?
When we arrived into the recovery room, her face was teary, and she held a sad, quickly-wilting popsicle – the kind that’s basically frozen sugar-syrup with a healthy dose of red dye #40. For the next two hours we sat while she slept on and off, her little bum peeking out of her hospital gown.
During those two hours, I realized how naive I had been about this whole thing.
I hadn’t been prepared to watch the nurses wheel her away from me, through the double doors to the operating room.
I wasn’t prepared for the tears I couldn’t stop when her nurse applied hand sanitizer too close to me. (NICU flashbacks are real, you guys.)
I didn’t anticipate “I have to go pee” to turn into “I’m going to sit on this toilet and cry for a few minutes” while we waited for the short surgery to finish.
I wasn’t prepared for how little work I would get done with her home, but I will close this laptop in a heartbeat if my girl needs some snuggles.
I had no idea how exhausting it could be to take care of someone who really didn’t need much more than apple juice and medicine.
I didn’t anticipate it being so difficult to get her to take in her fluids.
I was NOT prepared for the most rancid, sickeningly sweet, could-burn-the-nostrils-off-zombies bad breath that has been coming from her mouth-hole and filling up entire enclosed spaces like cars and bedrooms.
I wasn’t prepared to hold my girl as she shivered and cried because the pain medicine made her sick, or the congestion was keeping her awake, or the anti-nausea medicine burned her throat.
Watching her go through this has been so, SO tough, and it reminds me that there are parents out there who watch their kids go through this and worse every day. It doesn’t make our ordeal any less sucky, but it’s a nice piece of perspective to have. She will recover from this. We are having a hard week or two. But she will recover.
Today was a good day. She’s eating a little more. Two out of 3 meals today have been salad – including breakfast. Homegirl loves her balsamic vinaigrette. We went to see Kung Fu Panda 3 and had dinner with friends, followed by ice cream. At dinner she hit a bit of a wall, like you do when you’ve really had a bit too much activity. She got a little feverish (which is normal for a few days after surgery) and ignored her dinner in favor of laying her head down on the table and dozing. We were nearing the evening hour where her pain has routinely been the worst, and here we were, out with no medicine. I’m the mom who never even carries tissues or Band-Aids. I’m lucky if I have all my kids with me. I can’t be expected to remember to bring a medicine cabinet.
I walked over to a Target in the same shopping center to grab some children’s ibuprofen. Hopefully it would kick in quickly, or the ice cream would distract her from the pain. I think it was a little of both.
She’s a trooper.
I wasn’t expecting to feel so happy that she had a good day.
(And now for a good old-fashioned photo dump of our recovery. Most of these are also on Instagram.)
In less than 12 hours, I’ll be headed to a surgery center with Rachel to get her tonsils taken out. It’s kind of a long story that started with some inquiries on development and frustrations that led us to occupational therapy. What I didn’t talk about in that post was that upon examination, our pediatrician noticed that Rachel’s tonsils were enlarged.
All of the frustrations we were having were also all things that could be caused by fatigue from interrupted sleep.
I could go into a lot of boring detail, but I’ll save you most of it. We learned about the enlarged tonsils back in July, but I didn’t act on it until we started to notice it affecting her schoolwork. Worksheets (mostly math) were coming back completed, but it was clear she was just filling in answers so that she could a) appear to be working, even if she didn’t understand the assignment, b) not draw attention to herself by asking questions about the assignment and being embarrassed to ask for help, and c) finish quickly so she could turn the page over and draw Sonic the Hedgehog story lines.
The short version is that many signs, both at school and at home, pointed to possible ADD/ADHD, but we needed to get her tonsils checked out first. That led us to a sleep study, which was completely terrible, mainly for me, the mom who had to sleep on a makeshift bed that killed my hips. AND I forgot my allergy meds in the middle of full blown Cedar Fever season here in Austin, so I sniffled and snorted through the entire night, so I fully expected them to come back and say, “She slept fine, but we’d like to test YOU.” Meanwhile, Rachel woke up approximately 874 times to ask if it was time to get up yet.
Results: She had an average of 4.5 “episodes” per hour, where they don’t really want to see more than one. One of those episodes lasted for over 20 seconds. 20 seconds where she was struggling to breathe. Diagnosis: sleep apnea, although apparently 4.5 episodes per hour is still considered mild.
Tonsils and adenoids, yer outta here.
She’s surprisingly not too nervous. Rachel struggles with a bit of anxiety, but her anxiety seems to revolve around things that either aren’t real (mutant squirrels), or things that I cannot do a thing about (it’s 4:30 on a Sunday afternoon and she has to go to school the next day). These are the things for which I have a hard time easing her fears. School is school, and as long as there’s no deeper reason for not wanting to go (there isn’t; she just claims to get bored), we go. Mutant squirrels? Stumped. “They’re not real” isn’t a good enough argument for her. But when her sister made a sign on the front door forbidding entry of all “BAD SKWIRLS,” all fears faded.
I’m not creative enough for this, y’all.
So anyway, by the time anyone reads this, she’ll probably be in surgery, or out of surgery, or back home, or maybe back at school because we’re all behind on our blog reading. She’s not nervous. I am nervous, because my poll on what to expect came back that either she’ll recover like NBD, or she’ll be laid up and miserable for an entire 2 weeks. Friday is also Kids’ Night Out at the school, and Christian and I were looking forward to a much needed date night. But you know. Priorities and such.
She IS super excited about missing at least a week of school and her upcoming popsicle/ice cream/smoothie/ALL THE LIQUID THINGS diet. So there’s that.
I’m looking forward to some unadulterated Rachel time. So there’s that too. [insert smiley emoji here]
Years ago I read a few twin-centered parenting books. My girls were all of about one year old, and we all know that in hindsight, reading a parenting book when your children are not even considered toddlers yet is pretty much a waste of time. But back then I thought I was getting a head start on things. And one of the main things I took from these books was the importance of spending individual time with your twins.
Ask me how many times since then I’ve taken the girls on individual outings. Not including errands. It’s embarrassing.
Zoe had that kind of quality time with me from 18 months old. When Rachel and Claire were in preschool twice a week, Zoe and I were together. ZOE AND I WERE ALWAYS TOGETHER.
When Rachel and Claire went to elementary school and Zoe started preschool, she still had two days a week with just me. I miss those days with my girl terribly, although most of them ended with me saying, “Wow, is it time to pick up your sisters yet? Because this child needs someone else to talk to that is not me.”
Anyway. I decided recently to make the effort to take each of the girls on a special outing, just me and her.
My visions for these outings were idealistic at the very least. We would go to a local coffee shop or bookstore, grab a treat from the pastry case and a coffee for me. We’d find a small cafe table near the warm sunlight streaming through the windows, just enough room for her to draw quietly in her journal and for me to read my book. We’d stop every few minutes to chat about her pictures or school or whatever.
“Mom, I want to go to the mall.”
If you know me at all, you can probably guess that I hate the mall. It’s not sunny. It’s loud. There’s terrible music playing at just about every turn. It’s filled with strange people who are just there to…shop. For someone who pretty much only goes out when I need something, I find that very strange.
She wanted to go because there was a Sanrio store, filled to the brim with Hello Kitty and friends.
The Hello Kitty store was no more.
Not only that, but in this trip to the mall, I learned that The GAP had closed, the once gigantic Express store moved into a suite less than half its prior size and apparently now stocked nightclub wear (I used to buy my work clothes there!), and of course Victoria’s Secret and it’s boobs still reigned supreme in the upstairs, near the food court. Oh, and Abercrombie & Fitch still smells like teen desperation.
There WAS a Pokemon store (with everything behind glass cases, THANK GOD. Going to the mall with sensory seeking kids is a special experience indeed). There was a cool hippie store with lots of jewelry for her to paw through, Chinese stress balls for her to ooh and ahh over, and bonus hookahs for her to pick up and shout “I want THIS!” There was a giant pretzel from the pretzel shop.
And of course no trip to the mall is complete without a stop at Claire’s. Especially when you are with Claire.
Claire is turning out to be my girly girl. She’s discovering her style, although she still needs a little guidance on what combinations won’t assault other people’s eyeballs. She loves makeup and nail polish and admires herself in the mirror. I would say that looking nice is important to her, and she tests the boundaries of what goes with what. But I think the main thing she cares about is “Do I feel good in this?”
She picked out a sparkly teddy bear necklace and a small compact of glittery eyeshadow, because although the intention of this outing wasn’t to go buy her something, it’s not like you can take you kid to the mall and go home empty-handed. Children do not exactly understand window shopping, and I figured the $10 I spent on those things would have been spent on coffee and treats at a coffee shop.
At the end of the day, or the END OF DAYS because it was the mall, I was just glad to spend that time with her. As admirable as our intentions are, it’s not something we get to do often, even though we know it’s so important.
“I love spending time with you, Mommy,” she said, hugging my arm tight as we walked through the parking lot. “But I miss my sisters.”
Seems we’ve fostered quite a bond among those three. And I’m grateful for that. Christian and I won’t be around forever, and it’s important that they have each other. Even if right now it seems like they can’t seem to get away from each other. And even if I have to go to the mall.
As a part of the Netflix Stream Team, each month I talk about what I’m streaming online. What should I watch next?
How was your January? Mine went well, thanks for asking. I’ve been able to mentally prioritize things a bit, which basically means doing my best to balance work and household stuff, and not feeling one bit guilty if I have to take a power nap before picking the girls up from school, and also not stress-eating all of the Nutella. It sounds simple and very “duh,” but it’s taken quite a bit of mental shuffling to get me here.
What I’ve learned about myself these past several months is that I am not one of those women who can go! go! go! all the time and still stay standing and sane. I mean, I already knew that about myself as a mother (more than one outing a day with the kids exhausts me, mentally and physically), but now I also know that about myself as a woman in general. So it just means I have to work harder to prioritize my tasks so I can make sure to work in a little me time – reading, writing, and of course, sleeping. All in the name of self care.
I read a blog post the other day about an amazing Star Wars themed birthday party, and while I was all, “Whoa, that is COOL,” I was also all, “Whoa, that is a NO.” My kids are lucky if I remember to plan their birthday party far enough in advance to actually book a venue and send invitations. One year I procrastinated so much, Zoe had her February birthday party in March, and the twins their March birthday party in April. I mean, part of me wants to be the mom who throws that kind of rad shindig, but the real me knows that I will half-ass it because I just can’t care that much about it. It’s not who I am. I am not a party planner. I WILL make the cakes (I make awesome cakes) and throw some Pirate Booty on the table, but any more than that is asking too much of myself. IT IS WHAT IT IS.
The best part of any party is when it’s over. Spoken like a true introvert.
So what am I watching these days?
YOU GUYS. I have drank the Kool-Aid.
I first caught Fixer Upper at our hotel in Dallas over Thanksgiving (I am thankful for cousin sleepovers and child-free hotel cable). And since I’ve started watching season one on Netflix, I am convinced of one thing:
Chip and Joanna Gaines can do no wrong.
He’s bumbly and funny, she’s gorgeous and relatable, and together they are just plain adorable. I don’t even hate her for being able to look fabulous in a plain gray tshirt and jeans, raise 87 children, keep chickens, design a boss house, and maintain a garden. She is the girl crush of the moment for all of us.
But there is this:
LOL at Fixer Upper making Waco look like the hidden gem of Texas.
— Leigh Ann Torres (@latorres) January 11, 2016
Maybe I just haven’t spent enough time in Waco. Maybe….I’ll stick to Austin. (Still love you, Gaineses!)
Black Mirror caught my eye because Jon Hamm was on the image preview. There. I said it.
Black Mirror is a British series that uses speculative fiction to examine themes such as technology and modern society. None of the themes in the show have happened, but it’s not hard to see how they could someday be a possibility. For example, a woman signs up for a service in which she can receive emails from her deceased husband, using technology that mimics his personality via his presence on social media. The show is definitely interesting and a little creepy, but not nightmare creepy, because I don’t mess with that American Horror Story crap.
In honor of the late, great Alan Rickman, I’m adding one of my favorite movies that I don’t watch nearly enough. Galaxy Quest is kitschy and fun and has so many great quotes. Tim Allen and crew are a bunch of washed up actors who once starred in a hit space television show in the 70s. An actual alien race contacts them asking for help, thinking they are honest-to-goodness space adventurers. It’s fantastic.
I can’t tell you how many times my old co-worker Michael and I would walk by each other and say, “We nnnnnneeeeeeeed your help!” If you haven’t seen it, you won’t get it. So watch it.
Christian also watched and enjoyed Marco Polo. We usually enjoy watching historical fiction together, but didn’t get into it. And of course, I watched Making a Murderer like the rest of the world. I still have no idea if Steven Avery is guilty, but I do carry strange affections for Dean Strang and the Silver Fox reporter.
What are you watching?
Hey! This post is sponsored by bObsweep, who graciously sent me one of their robotic vacuums to try out. I promise you, it’s fun.
Well I didn’t mean to write about unclenching myself and then take a two and a half week long hiatus from my blog, but that’s exactly what happened. But the good news is I am feeling much less clenchy, thanks to some mental prioritization and some great lunches with great friends who let me vomit all of my troubles onto them so they can say wise things to me like, “Girl, you need to chill.”
They didn’t say that. But they did say some really wise and nice things that actually helped me chill.
You may remember that last November we went floor shopping, and then decided to get those floors installed like 10 days before Christmas, meaning before that we decided to paint the entire house. It was not stressful at all, having to move every bit of furniture from the living room out to our back patio, including the already decorated Christmas tree. And then move it all back in except for my giant bookcases, because it just feels so airy in here, and those heavy bookcases really weighed down the place, and now I have boxes and boxes of homeless books.
Marie Kondo would be be proud of me. Not so proud of the fact that they’re all sitting in my garage until I figure something out.
The floors look amazing. But here’s the thing. When the installer guys ripped up the carpet, there was a layer of fine dust on the concrete. We asked if it was disintegrated carpet pad. He said, oh so eloquently, “Ah, no. That’s dirt. From your feet.”
When we decided on dark floors, everyone – EVERYONE – said that the biggest pain was that every single piece of dust or dirt or hair or minuscule skin particle would show. But when the floor is clean, it makes the house. They were right on both counts. We have a little fluffy sweeper pad that we can run around the house if we need to clean in a hurry, and the amount of crap that collects in a 24 hour period is amazing and also gross, considering when we had carpet I would pretty much wait to vacuum until I could not stand it anymore. (Christian was the vacuumer and usually did it on weekends, but sometimes the burden did fall on me, and what a burden it was.) So now we get to see exactly how much dust and debris was collecting on our floors all this time. So fortunate.
Not long after we scheduled our floor installation back in December – like maybe a whole day later – the people from bObsweep offered to send me one of their robotic vacuums, the bObi pet, designed specifically for homes that may or may not have massive amounts of pet hair floating around.
And I stared at my email in disbelief for a moment and then said, “YES PLEASE.” Because did you read the part up above about me waiting until the end of days to clean the floors? Now I could have someone to do it for me. Laziness achievement unlocked.
The bObi pet came with her – yes, it’s a girl! – own birth certificate, which was enough to convince the girls that they had a new sister.
This little thing is so sleek. She (yes, I will continue to refer to the vacuum as a she, because it humanizes her, and robots need love too) has a simple interface on her…face…where you can tell her to GO! (run rampant around your room using her complex cleaning algorithm that rivals Google) or WAFFLE (stick to a smaller area for spills, or in my house, “Who was eating crackers right here and missed their mouth several times?”) or JUICE, which sends her home to her charging station.
My favorite thing to do with bObi is to pick up all the odds and ends around the living room – which seems much easier now that we have less furniture in the room – and just let her run around and do her thing for a while. If she starts running low on battery, she’ll send herself home. You can even program her to clean at the same time every day. I am a creature of inconsistency, so I haven’t taken advantage of that just yet. The only time bObi seems to have trouble is around dark pieces of furniture, which is disclosed in the owner’s manual. She gets a little confused around the dark wood media center, which sits a little off the floor, but not high enough for her to go all the way under.
bObi came with a side brush that kicks dirt and debris away from the wall so she can then suck it up, an extra filter, and a microfiber pad that you can wet with water or cleaning solution. Yes, she will sweep and mop at the same time (although the mop pad doesn’t retain enough fluid to mop a large room). She has sensors that detect dirt and dust, and UV light that disinfects as she goes.
I mean, I never planned on having another baby, but I guess if my girls were going to get another sibling, it may as well be one that cleans, right? bObi, you are here to stay. We love you. Just remember who cleans your filter. Because I love you the most.
When I think about 2016 and everything I want to accomplish, one word keeps popping up: UNCLENCH.
I do not have a to-do list of my dream online publications, an upcoming novel, or even a set of attainable blog goals. When I say “everything I want to accomplish,” I really mean what I want to do for myself, or what I want to undo, for that matter.
I need to unclench.
This term comes from a physical need for me to literally stop clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth – something I do when I’m stressed out and overwhelmed. It causes terrible headaches and jaw pain, something I haven’t experienced since before I had kids, when I was stressed out about spending every day of my foreseeable future in a dismal and uninspiring (for me) job. I left that job when I had twins and entered a whole different kind of stress. But the jaw pain was gone, because I was free.
The second half of 2015 was hectic and mostly unenjoyable for me. I took on too much – my own fault, because in foresight, I said, “Why not?” but in hindsight, I say “WTF was I thinking?” I have been unorganized and scatterbrained. I had to let a lot of things that had previously been important to me slide: writing, blogging, laundry (only important if you take into account the fact that clothing is, in fact, a must).
In 2016 something has to change. I know things need to come off my plate, or #offthebeam, as Jen Hatmaker describes in her book For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards (affiliate link FYI), which I am about halfway through. In the first chapter, titled “Worst Beam Ever,” Jen says this:
Decide which parts are draining you dry. What do you dread? What are you including for all the wrong reasons? What parts are for approval? Is there anything you could delegate or hand off? Could you sacrifice a Good for a Best? Throw out every should or should not and make ruthless cuts. Go ahead. Your beam is too crowded. I know it.1
These decisions are harder than they sound. I want to meet my girlfriends for lunch once a month. I should be able to work in a once-a-month lunch, but the fact of the matter is, sometimes that once-a-month falls in a bad week. If I haven’t planned the rest of my week around it – or even if I have – sometimes things just come up. (Sidebar: Girlfriends, don’t give up on me. This doesn’t mean I won’t ever be able to meet up. I live for having lunch or coffee or even better, COCKTAILS with you. Just know that sometimes it won’t be possible. Also, know that I realize that I am not the sun around which your social events revolve, and my inability to participate in some events is harder on me than it is on you.)
That’s just one example in what seems like thousands. But in thinking of my priorities and what must get done, some clear winners come out:
• I must make sure my family is taken care of and that there is food in the fridge and dinner on the table (at least a few times a week I will actually cook said dinner) (maybe).
• I must be able to give my kids my undivided attention when they need it. They don’t always need it, because the three of them often come straight home from school and head straight out onto the trampoline. But every once in a while, our kids do little things to show us that they need us now. We must listen to these little things. Sometimes those little things consist of a stream of consciousness fan fiction mashup of Star Wars and Ninja Turtles, in which BB8 is in love with April O’ Neil. I don’t get it either, but if it’s important to her, it’s important to me.
• I cannot go through every day with a headache from clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth.
• I must divide my time – and my brain – between work time and me time. It’s not healthy for any of us to think about work all of the time.
Those are just a few things that have come to the surface. And I know I cannot accomplish those few things with so many other things on my beam. I’ll figure it out. Sometimes the decision process is more agonizing than the actual decision, and I look back and think “Why was that so hard?” But right now it seems excruciating. I’ll be looking at my calendar and working out what can stay and what needs to go.
And I’m going to unclench.
- Jen Hatmaker, For the Love (Nelson Books, 2015), 7.