Tap Tap…Is This Thing On?

Why is depression embarrassing?

It is. I don’t know why. Most people I know absolutely get depressed sometimes. And the ones that claim they never, NEVER do…well, they’re the ones stabbing their husbands 180 times and then burying him in the backyard. (That’s a true story. Look that shit up.) And while I admire the upper arm strength one must possess to shank ones husband that many times (her triceps must have been magnificent), I’ll take a bout of sadness every now and then thanks very much.

I can usually feel the depression start to creep up. It’s friendly. Deceptive. A stealthy freefall wearing the mask of ‘taking a break’. Like dipping a foot into a bathtub of very hot water.  You pull back instinctively.  You know slipping into that tub wouldn’t be good.  But you swirl your foot around a bit until suddenly the bite of the searing hot water takes on a level of comfort.  Slowly lower yourself.  Calves. Knees. Belly. Hands. Elbows. Shoulders. Lower and lower. The warm water lapping, pulling you down. Soothing. Swallowing.

My family calls it ‘My Cave’.  They know it will take me days, maybe weeks to return a call. My house gets a little (lot) messier.  The laundry pile gets a little (lot) bigger.  My children give me a purpose at a time like this. I think that if they weren’t there, I would pull the covers over my head and sleep for 100 years.  But little hands tug, demand, need…hugs, breakfast, help, shoes, visits to the park.  The dog needs to be fed.  The sheets need to be changed. The benefit of a kid that bed hops with peed on pajamas…I’m forced to wash sheets.  Not necessarily a bad thing.

The water in the tub grows cooler. I want to climb out. But the thought of standing, shivering, vulnerable while I try to pull on warm clothes…it’s too much. I sink deeper. Lay my head back. The water fills my ears, my nose.  I close my eyes. Safe. Weightless. Tucked away from life and its demands.

I don’t call my friends.  It takes me days to reply to a text.

“Sorry!  Just seeing this!!!!”

Exclamation points are depression in denial.

And then.

I softly bump onto the bottom of the tub.

Thump.

I can go no lower.

I’ve never once thought about killing myself. It’s not that kind of sadness. It’s old stuff that pushes forward, tapping on my heart and demanding my attention.  Things that I think I’m over. How stupid not to be over things from so long ago. The only time I’ve ever thought about the possibility of death was when I was really, really sick. I would lay in bed and wonder if my body would come through. And then I would get pissed off and get out of bed. Of course it would come through. I wouldn’t let some crapass autoimmune take me down.

But a memory. Snippets of an unresolved past. They clothesline you. Lift you off of your feet and drop you into that tub.

So I have to decide. Do I stay down here? Or do I gather my strength and push off, lungs bursting, racing to the top. Break the surface of the water with a gasp. Find my family. My friends. Just waiting. Whether they knew or not. Just waiting. For me to start again.

One Of These Days, Siri…One Of These Days.

I yell at Siri.  A lot.  Not as much as I used to, but still more than I should.

At first we didn’t understand each other:

“Siri, call my mom.”

“I don’t know who your mother is.  As a matter of fact, I don’t know who you are.”

Hand to heart, that robot bitch said that to me.  Can you get your feelings hurt by a computer?  Apparently.  I said some horrible things to her about where she could put her ones and zeros and then read my owner’s manual.  Well…flipped through my owner’s manual until I found the part that told me I had to program my own info into the phone.

Oh.  Sorry Siri.  I take back the part about shoving your you-know-what you-know-where.

We still had our ups and downs.  It was all very Hollywood celebrity like with public declarations of love and jokes (Haha, look everyone!  Watch what happens when I ask Siri where can I hide a body!) during the good times and lots of cursing and name calling with me asking where to hide HER body during the not so good times.

My children began to pick up my phone and yell at it.

“SIRI!  LISTEN TO ME!”

“THAT’S NOT WHAT I SAID, SIRI!!”

Even now, when Purple hears Siri speaking he’ll give an indulgent head shake coupled with a soft chuckle…”Oh Siri…”

We kind of have a messed up relationship.  I am actually for real worried about hurting her feelings so I will pick up the phone and apologize to her after I yell.  Because I wouldn’t want Obama to think I was rude.

So it wasn’t too strange when I recently asked Siri:

“Siri.  Look up acne after finishing Prednisone.”

And she said,

“Acting after Beethoven.  I’m not sure.  Shall I look that up for you?”

“NO.  ACNE. AFTER. PREDNISONE.”

“Acne without predictions.”

“Close.  FINISHED PREDNISONE. ACNE.”

“Finishing predatory accounting.”

“OH FUCK STRAIGHT OFF, SIRI!”

I hauled my butt over to the computer and managed to type in my question.

“OH YES!” said Google!  “Lots of problems with acne after finishing Prednisone!”

Because this was happening to my face.

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Oh the eyebrows! Oh the horror!!

And this was happening on the other side:

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I can’t even with this face…

And it was on my chest and arms.  Not nearly that bad but still there.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m can’t say I haven’t fallen asleep before without washing my face but this…oy.

(Also can I say…steroid swelling almost totally gone!  Yippee Von Skippie!)

I made an appointment with my baby dermatologist (not a derm for babies…literally a very young doctor.  With silky smooth skin that I try not to stare at too much) and was lucky enough to get in the next day (mostly because I think my doctors are fascinated with my weird skin and the chance that I may not be wearing underwear…IT ONLY HAPPENED ONE TIME!)

So there I was at my appointment (pants on, thanks very much!) kind of hoping the doctor would walk in and say, “Oh gracious!  You’re reverse aging!  Lucky you!  Look, you have the ass of a 22 year old girl again!”  And I would say, “Oh doctor, you rascal!” and pinch his adorably smooth cheeks and saunter out to drink a cup of ranch (as one can do in their 20s).

Instead he walked in and said, “Well that looks like a lupus rash.”

Excuse me very much, Doctor?  Don’t you know that I JUICE?

Guess who has 2 thumbs and got her cocky, little(ish), still regrettably 39 year old butt taken down a notch.

This girl!

Because I honestly forget that I DO have an autoimmune!  And though I manage my symptoms (cough cough *incredibly* cough) well, I still HAVE it.  And therefore am subject to some of the rules.

Like…stay out of the sun!  It’s autoimmune sun rash!  Sumbitch.

“Have you been out in the sun a lot?” asked the doc.

To which I answered:

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“First one to give mom a hideous rash is the winner!”

Those bikes.  They have new bikes and they want to ride them 24/7.  They jump on me at 7 freaking a.m., prying my eyelids open and yelling, “LET’S GO RIDE BIKES!” Middle of the day?  “BIKES!” Before dinner. Bikes. After dinner. Bikes.  I’ve replaced vasculitis for bikeulitis.  But of course I’m not going to complain.  Ride away.  Wear yourselves out.

Except that we live on the surface of the sun.

When the doctor asks, “Do you wear sunscreen?” I do what any normal person paying hundreds of dollars a month for medical insurance would do and I lie.

“I sure do!”  Because I mean, hello!  My moisturizer has some spf in it!  And sometimes I remember to put it on!  And then my makeup has it too so that’s practically like wearing a spf spacesuit, right??

Wrong.

My doctor is too polite to challenge me (because he respects his elders) and instead exchanges a raised eyebrow with his nurse which I believe is medical for, “BUUUULLLLSHIIIT.” He also tells me to buy some protective clothing and hats and to be good about staying out of the sun during peak hours, dumbass.  Okay, he doesn’t SAY dumbass but I’m pretty sure he’s thinking it.

So now I’m THAT girl in one of THOSE hats.  And sun shirts.  And I’m not one of those people that carries off a hat with aplomb (SAT word!).  I think I’m going to look like this:

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Just the hat. Not the rest…I’m not crazy.

But instead I look like this:

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Fact. She still looks cooler than I do.

But dorky is still better than that rash!  Brutal!  And I guess no one in their 60s ever said, “Oh I wish I’d spent more time uncovered out in the sun.  This creamy, unlined skin is the WORST!”

And Kyle is super duper extra sweet and SWEARS he loves me in my hats…I knew never making fun of his CROCS WITH SOCKS(!!) would eventually pay off.

Besides none of it really matters because you and I both know…it’s all Siri’s fault.

PoopJacked.

Today I’d like to talk to you about a serious problem.

A problem that affects 99/100 parents around the world.

PoopJacking.

PoopJacking occurs when a small child opens their bedroom door during nap time to tell you, “Mommy, I poo pooed.”

The juice made me do it.

I’m sorry…the juice made me do it.

And when a nap is PoopJacked more than 20 minutes in, the results can be devastating.  Just enough sleep to feel rested.  Not enough sleep to avoid channeling Nick Nolte by 5pm.

Haha!  Just kidding!  I'm freeeee, suckers!

Haha! Just kidding! I’m freeeee, suckers!

Signs that you’ve been PoopJacked may include the following:

  • Unfinished coffee (with the weird milk skin on top).
  • Unfolded laundry.
  • Desperate calls to your spouse to ‘please just pick up a pizza!!’
  • Greasy hair.
  • Unwritten blog posts.
  • Changing a diaper with your eyes closed to try and convince the toddler that, ‘Look!  It’s still sleepytime!  Everyone is sleeping!  See??  ZZZZZ!!’
  • A 2 year old that will be awake for 13 consecutive hours and is wired like a spider monkey on crank.
  • Uncontrollable crying.  You, not the kid.

But there is hope.

College.

In 16 years, your toddler will be ready for college and you will finally be able to get stuff done.  Unless your husband has retired because then you’ll just have a different bored person following you around.

Until then, just stuff the kids with cheese and hope for the best.

PoopJacking.  Funny name.  Serious condition.

P.S.  I was compelled to write this after I really changed a diaper while pretending to sleep.  Lame.

Snakes On A Blog

Snakes.  This blog post contains snakes.  SNAKES SNAKES SNAKES!  Well…one snake.

You’ve been warned.

Oh.  And maybe some dead rats too.

Now you’ve been doubly warned.

Still here?  Okay, good.

So…we have a 10 foot long boa constrictor.  And by we, I mean Kyle.  And maybe it’s ‘only’ 8 feet…but does that really matter?  BECAUSE THERE IS A GIGANTIC BOA CONSTRICTOR LIVING IN MY LAUNDRY ROOM!

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I feel like she’s judging my dingy whites.

It all started out so innocently.  About 8 years ago, Kyle adopted this SMALL snake from another teacher at his school.  Small.  Key word here is small. He mumbled something about projected growth and lifespan but I was still in the throes of newlywedness where I thought that all of his ideas were adorable.

Oh foolish girl.  If I’ve learned anything in my 9 years of marriage it’s that you don’t let your husband bring home questionable pets.  Or pick out paint colors.

Back to the snake.

I was okay with it.  I’m not afraid of snakes.  It was going to live in Kyle’s classroom throughout the school year so it would only be an occasional visitor.  I even named it.  Apple.  Get it?  Garden of Eden.  Snake.  Apple.  I love naming animals.  That is why we have 2 newts named Fig and Sir Issac.  Fig ‘Newt’on and Sir Issac ‘Newt’on.  I don’t care what you say, that’s greatness.

Flash forward and I’ve now discovered that not only does she have a projected life span of 35 years but that because ‘it’ is a ‘she’, she will get even bigger. And Kyle is no longer a school teacher which means the snake now lives with us.  All. Of. The. Time.

YAAAAAAY!  Said no one ever about a gigantic, continually growing snake living in their laundry room.

And in case you’re interested in how you find out if your snake (that I hope you don’t have) is a boy or a girl…well you just take them over to your nearest snake specialist and have them sexed.  That’s right.  You sex up a snake.  I’d like to think there was some Barry White and a nice box of chilled chablis but APPARENTLY it involves a guy (who I am assuming resides in his parent’s basement) picking up the snake and SQUEEZING it in the genital regions until some thorns pop out.  Or don’t.  And that’s how you find out the sex of your darling, slithery baby.  Also, if I was the snake I’d be pretty pissed there was no wine involved.

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Ever since Kyle had the snake sexed, they’ve had a strange relationship.

“Hey Kyle.” says I. “Maybe we should think about donating our lovely friend Apple here to the rescue zoo.  They’ve just built a nice, new reptile house, she’s used to being around kids and there was one other thing…whaaaat waaas it?  Think think think…oh yes.  I DON’T WANT A SNAKE LIVING IN MY LAUNDRY ROOM FOR ANOTHER QUARTER OF A CENTURY!”

“Hmmmm…” he says. “I’ll think about it.”

Well think about this, Mr. Snakey Pants.  There is a good chance that at the reading of our will one day, the sentence ‘and the care of the boa constrictor goes to…’ and both boys will shout ‘NOT IT!’ at the same time.  And that’s not how I wanted the reading of our will to go.  I was thinking more along the lines of a dramatic video where we reveal to the boys that their loving father never read their loving mother’s blog.

And that’s a good thing.  Because now we can put my sneaky plan into play.  Which is…if you know Kyle then the next time you see him you should casually toss out something like, “Hey Kyle, did you know that it’s a proven fact that people with snakes are 50% more likely to cause the Cowboys to have a horrible season?” or “Hey Kyle, did you hear about the guy with the boa constrictor and no wife?”  I kid.  Sort of.  Also, if you know any Swedish supermodels be sure to have them casually run into Kyle and say something like, “Ooooh guys that donate their boa constrictors to rescue zoos are soooo sexy!”

Seriously.  I’m reaching.

Why.  Well let’s see.  As I type this I have 3 gigantic, dead rats residing in my freezer.  That’s right.  Have you ever reached into the freezer to pull out something for dinner, picked up a package thinking, “Hmmm what’s in here?” only to realize that you are holding the tiny, frozen claw of dead rat?  Have you??  Well I have.  And it’s skeevy.  Also…what if rats have ghosts??  What then??

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That’s a bagful of rats. Beside a package of blood worms for the newts. Where the hell is my wife of the year award??

And how would one thaw out a tasty rat for the snake’s dinner?  Why in a bucket, silly you!

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So let’s examine the facts:

1. We own a gigantic snake.

2. We have a dog that is 50% pit bull.

3. My husband drinks Natural Light from a can.

4. My kids run around in their underwear/diapers about 90% of the time.

5. We own a 25 year old pick up truck that occasionally emits a black cloud of smoke when started up.

6. I paint new toenail polish over my old toenail polish.  I have a layer of toenail polish that dates back to the Cretaceous age.

7. We have rats in our freezer.

All of those things on their own aren’t too bad (well, the toenail polish thing is pretty bad).  But add them all together and…

WE ARE ONE CAR ON BLOCKS AWAY FROM USING ALUMINUM FOIL AS CURTAINS!

So let’s all agree that we will continue to harass…errr…I mean we will make loving suggestions to Kyle that he should donate his boa constrictor to the rescue zoo.

And if you run into me and I’m wearing snake skin boots?

Well, don’t judge.

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Hmmm…that snakes look like woman’s size 8.5 shoe…

P.S.  If you are a snakey person, please don’t get your panties in a wad.  This is (mostly) a joke.  Just calm down and go have your mom make you a sandwich.

Guess What?

I am off the steroids.  Done.  No more.

That takes me down to…oh…ZERO MEDICATIONS!!

WOOT!

That is all.  Please resume your regularly scheduled awesomeness.

Scratch & Sniff

I’m rocking some homemade deodorant right now and I’ve got to tell you…it’s fantastic.

WHAT?!

YES. I swear. I put it through 3 solid tests and it is amazing.

In my ‘herd of turtles through peanut butter’ type way, I’m slowly trying to make changes to the the products we use. About a month ago I switched over to Tom’s Natural Deodorant and let me tell you…it sucked. Actually it stank. No, actually…I stank. I stank in that special ‘keep your elbows at your sides when someone hugs you’ type of way.

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Say goodbye to all of your friends…mwahaahahahahahahaa!

What’s the bigs about antiperspirant? Well, basically the aluminum swells your eccrine-gland ducts shut so the sweat can’t get out. Not so bad every once in a while (wedding…job interview…torrid affair with Tatum Channing…Channing Tatum?) but not something I want to happen on a day to day basis.

So I was interested but skeptical when I saw a post from Mommypotamus claiming that not only did she have a recipe for a homemade deodorant that worked…but she swore it worked on a man. In the Texas heat.

Now listen. I have a man. A sweaty man. And I live in the Texas heat. So I know that a claim like that isn’t something to lightly fling out into the universe. You can’t saddle a woman with a stinky man and not expect some lash back.

You can read her post and recipe here:

http://www.mommypotamus.com/easy-homemade-deodorant/

It’s 2 simple ingredients: coconut oil and baking soda (some people find the baking soda a little irritating and if that is the case, you can sub out the baking soda for an arrowroot/cornstarch blend). You pour some baking soda into a container and slowly add the coconut oil until you have a wet sand consistency. Then you just scoop a little bit onto your fingers, apply a thin layer and rub it in until it disappears. Easy peasy squeezy.

Update: My friend, Crystalyn (who is Jedi wise in the ways of the homemade products) had this helpful tip: Never use cornstarch. It promotes yeast growth. And then people who use it often get yeast infections in their pits. So always and only arrowroot :-)

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Delicious on toast!

I had both of these ingredients so I whipped up a batch yesterday. We were heading out the door to a pool party so I figured it would be the perfect testing ground…especially since I would be surrounded by the good kind of friends…the kind that would say, “Girl. You stink.”

But I DIDN’T stink! After the party I made Kyle smell my underarms and he did because he’s an excellent sport. And also slightly weird.

I wasn’t sure if it was a really good test though because I had been in the pool for a lot of the party. We rushed home and got changed for our date night but there was no time for a shower because the clock was tick tick ticking and I’m super lame and will turn into a sleepy pumpkin if I’m not home by midnight so I slapped on some more deodorant and we headed out to play putt putt. In the grossest, most humid conditions ever. And I was wearing jeans! WHY?? I was so hot and sweaty that I had excessive perspiration in my intergluteal cleft.

That’s right…I was sweating down my butt crack.

That’s hot. Literally.

My butt was sweaty but my armpits were daisy fresh. Unbelievable. Still…I was skeptical.

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Uh Kyle…it’s pretty hot out…Peter Pan’s crotch is probably not the best place for your head right now…

So we got back in the car and did that lame, unplanned date night thing where we drove around downtown saying, “Where do you want to go?” “I don’t know, where do YOU want to go?” and Kyle cursed every time he drove too fast and missed a parking spot and I said helpful things like, “Oh! There’s a spot…oooh that guy beat you to it…OH there’s a spot..oooh you’re driving too fast…THERE’S a spot…never mind, there’s a SmartCar in it…”

I imagine Brad and Angelina’s dates are exactly the same.

We eventually found a spot approximately 823 miles from wherever it was that we didn’t know we were going. We trudged along with me giving helpful weather updates like, “ERMAGAH it’s SOOOOO hot. I can’t BELIEVE how humid it is! Is it hotter than it was last year??” and Kyle, who abhors talking about the weather more than anything else actually said, “Holy f&%$ is it hot out here.”

If that wasn’t an excellent homemade deodorant test, I don’t know what what else to do for you…

EXCEPT EAT SPICY MEXICAN FOOD OUTSIDE ON A PATIO!

You’re welcome.

As is my way I still wasn’t convinced. Even though I had sniffed my scent free underarms about 100 times and poor Kyle had been in there enough times to qualify him for a quickie divorce.

So Test 3. This morning I took the boys to the splash pad. Have you ever wrestled a two year old into a swim diaper, swim suit and swim shoes in the backseat of a Honda Element? Imagine getting Paulie Shore high and then trying to dress him. Lots of Jell-o like limbs and giggling and nonsensical words. And he’s the only one who thinks it’s funny. Lots of opportunity for sweat. 3 hours of walking between the splash pad and the playground…because when you’re cavorting in sprays of cool water, why WOULDN’T you suddenly get the urge to rip the skin off of the back of your tiny kid thighs on a plastic slide heated to the same approximate temperature as the surface of the sun.

Kids are weird. But this deodorant? It’s the bomb diggity. For reals. I give this deodorant 2 arms up! Now get in here and gimme a hug!

I Can’t Hear You! LALALALALAAAA!!!

Ruh roh.

What’s this?

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Ankles are weird.

That, my friends, is vas-cu-freaking-litis.

What happened??  Is the juicing not working??

Oh yes.  It works.  If you actually DO it.

I went to a funny place in my head this week.  That negative little place with that irritating little voice that says crappy little things.

“You’re too old to go back to school.”

“Juicing probably isn’t really the reason that you’re healing.”

“You can’t pull off flesh colored jeggings.”

Actually…go ahead and listen to that last one.  No, really.  Please.

For some reason I talked myself out of juicing for a couple of days this week.  It was more than the ‘pain in the assedness’ of it.  I mean, yes.  Juicing is a pain.  And expensive. And it it sucks to clean it…blah blah blah…all the stuff we all know.

It was more than that.  It was letting the skeptics in.  And of course, you are your own worst critic.

“How can juicing REALLY be helping that much?  What is it about JUICE that makes my blood vessels stop exploding??  How is that even slightly possible?”

It was a talk myself out of it, cross my arms and pout kind of moment.  So I found myself juicing just once a day.  And then…not at all.

The little voice whispered:  “It’s not going to make a difference.”

“It might.”

“It won’t.  And is this really something you want to do everyday for the rest of your life?”

“Hmmm…I guess not.”

Here is a solid truth.  Dietary changes are some of the hardest changes you’ll ever make.  And definitely the hardest to stick with.  Convenience foods are called that for a reason.  They are convenient.  At the time.  But if they are making you sick then they aren’t convenient at all.

I’m an old school kid.  I was raised on pink antibiotics and chewable kiddie aspirin (remember those?? yum!).  If the Prednisone and Plaquenil and Colcrys had worked I would still be taking them…popping them in 2 twice a day and shrugging off the side effects.  Driving to the doctors twice a week…sitting in the waiting room…sitting in traffic…sitting in line at the pharmacy.  I would have done it all without question.

That total trust in Western medicine?  It is hard to let go of that mindset.  I’ve said it before and I still mean it…there is absolutely a place in our lives for medicines.  But not the whole place.  And not with blind trust.

Is juicing hard?  Yes.  Is making most of our food and cutting out processed food and constantly educating myself a pain in the boohiney?  Yes.

Are there side effects of juicing?  Oh hell yes.  Energy.  Better skin. Thicker nails.  Healthier hair.  NO HIVES OR VASCULITIS.

Are there side effects of the medicines?  Just a few.  Nausea, stomach cramps, loss of appetite, diahhrea, dizziness, or headache, arm/leg/back pain, fast heartbeat, hair loss/color change, mental/mood changes (e.g., anxiety, depression, hallucinations), ringing in the ears/hearing loss, worsening of skin conditions (e.g., psoriasis). serious (sometimes permanent) eye problems or muscle damage, sensitivity to light, vision changes (e.g., blurred vision, seeing light flashes/streaks/halos, missing/blacked-out areas of vision), muscle weakness, severe stomach/abdominal pain, severe nausea/vomiting, easy bleeding/bruising, signs of infection (e.g., fever, persistent sore throat), seizures, shortness of breath, swelling ankles/feet, extreme tiredness, dark urine, yellowing eyes/skin, rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), dizziness, trouble breathing.

And that’s just the Plaquenil.

So shake it off, woman.  For reals.  I don’t know WHY my body seems to react so well to these diet changes but why the hell would I ever look a gift horse like that in the mouth?  And then shoot it?

So what’s important ISN’T that I stumbled.  It’s that I got up.  And back on track.  It’s that I’m going to go register for classes next week and that I have bone broth simmering on the stove and that I’m about to drink my second juice of the day.  It’s that I put duct tape on the mouth of that awful negative inner voice and instead I listened to the whisper of the vasculitis.  The worst thing that has turned into the best thing.  My gift.

Craptacular The Magnificent!

Ladies and Gentlemen…prepare to be amazed…

BY ALL OF THE CRAP IN MY HOUSE!

Seriously. When did this happen???

I’ll tell you a secret. Before I had kids I had big, big plans to only let them play with wooden toys hand carved by silent monks who lived in remote mountainside Tibetan monasteries.

….

….

….

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No…plastic…toys…I think I just peed a little…

I know…I know…that was my hiiiii-larious plan. So how did this happen?

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To be fair…this was clean and then it got Trap Trashed.

And this…

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Someone at Toys R Us just erupted into evil laughter.

And that doesn’t even start to encompass the grown up stuff…

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Keep the corkscrew…toss the rest.

Stop! Wait! Put down the phone…do NOT call Hoarders.

I know that you’d look at these pictures and think you’d have to walk down a hallway of newspapers to get to that playroom but that’s the weird thing…we actually don’t keep a lot of stuff in the house. It’s just that we’ve slowly, slowly accumulated. As Mama Bear would say…”We’ve got a case of the messy build up.”

Hey Mama Bear...the bigger issue might be the demonic bear doll lounging on the floor waiting to eat your children while they sleep.  Just sayin'...

Hey Mama Bear…the bigger issue might be the demonic bear doll lounging on the floor waiting to eat your children while they sleep. Just sayin’…

Remember all of those signs your grandma had up around the house?

“I put my scissors on this rack, if you use them please put them back.”

“A place for everything and everything in it’s place.”

“If you sprinkle when you tinkle, be a sweetie and wipe the seatie.”

Hee hee…that last one has been making me laugh since the early 80s…

But you know what? G-Ma was onto something. I mean, not the plastic carpet runners that would flip over and impale your feet with their little spikey undersides.

But the ‘put your crap away and leave my crap alone’ way of ruling the house. That was golden. THAT’S what I need to do.

I’m slowly identifying my triggers…you know…those little things that make you a little crazy. One or two things aren’t a big deal but when you add them all up they definitely cause more stress than they should. And if you can get a handle on the little stuff then the big stuff kind of just naturally starts to sort itself out. You get rid of the brain clutter too.

So. Instead of doing my old thing where I make grand fantastical schemes and then get overwhelmed and instead of actually doing anything I lay on the couch and eat potato chips while I watch whole seasons of The IT Crowd, I’m employing my new baby steps method.

Identify what exactly is driving me up the wall:

1. Laundry

2. Milk Waste

3. Toys. Toys Toys Toys. TOOOOOOOOYS.

4. Papers. Mail. Flyers. Bills. Magazines.

5. Emails. I currently have 26,987 emails. WHAT??

6. Car Keys.

There is other stuff but I can’t remember it right now. Or my little pea brain has gone to Happy Place.

1. Laundry. It’s ridiculous. Redonkulous. Reeeedonkulosity. We all complain about it. And then continue to do it. Or in my case, continue to START it and then rewash the same load of musty clothes 3 times. Why is there so much laundry? BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY CLOTHES!! My 2 children have THIRTY EIGHT TSHIRTS. 38. THREE EIGHT! That’s stupid. So. Reduction in clothes will have to equal reduction in laundry, right? Reduction in folding. In putting away. In options for my 4 year old to change clothes 78 times a day. A box in the bottom of each closet and I’ll just drop the things we don’t need in as I see them. No big schemes to CLEAN OUT ALL OF THE CLOSETS! Because you know what happens? The kids come in and start to ‘help’. Which consists of pulling all of the clothes off of their hangers. And screaming. And beating each other with aforementioned hangers. And while that activity is Joan Crawford approved…it is not Curious Sea Turtle approved.

Seriously Joan...have you thought about juicing?  You look a little tense.

Seriously Joan, you look a little tense …have you thought about juicing…OW! OW! STOP IT! I’M SORRY! I’M SOOOORRRRRRY MOMMY DEAREST!!

2. Milk Waste.

If you’ve paid close to $6 for a gallon of organic milk than you know the weepy frustration of finding full, 5 hour old sippies of it casually tossed all willy nilly around the house. ACK! I fixed that. I fixed that good.

Kids!  Drink your White Russians! It's almost bedtime!

Kids! Drink your White Russians! It’s almost bedtime!

Milk. Only at the table. In a big kid glass.

Done and done. I’m happy to report to the board that milk waste has been reduced by a whopping 56%! Just kidding…I have no idea how much it is but we go through SO much less milk now!!!! And it has cut out the mindless drinking so they eat better too.

3. Toys.

That’s too big. That’s for another post. “But Turtle!” you say. “Box up half the toys and rotate them out!”

Yeah yeah yeah. Done it 100 times. The problem is that we don’t have hidden storage in this house so it’s only a matter of time before they stumble onto the hidden toys. It usually goes something like this:

Purple: “Mommy! What’s in this box??”

Trap: “BOX!”

Me: “Uhhhh…it’s broccoli…holding a needle to give you a shot!”

Purple: “No it isn’t! What is it??”

Me: “Nothing! It’s private! Don’t open it!! DON’T OOOOOOOPPPP—NOOOOO!” (picture me slow motion diving across room…very Die Hard…all the sweat…none of the muscles)

Purple: “GASP! A 3,876 piece toy set! Is this new?? When did we get this?? Look at how TINY the pieces are!! Look how MANY of them there are! YAY!”

Trap: (Can’t talk because mouth is full of tiny toy pieces.)

Me: (Can’t talk because I’m curled up in a corner softly weeping.)

So yeah, we’ll tackle toys later, thank you very much.

4. Papers.

Don’t we live in a paperless society? Then what the h-e-double hockey sticks is all of this tree pulp doing in my house?? Some of it is my fault. I’m very much a ‘pile it now, deal with it later’ type of person. Except subtract the deal with it later part. Ooops. I thought about one of those receipt scanners except I know in my heart of hearts that all that will accomplish is a pile of papers cascading on top of a $200 scanner. Still in the box. So this is another one that I’ll have to put to the side for now. I need to recycle, file and shred as things come into my house. I’ve stopped renewing my magazine subscriptions because I never read them but I THINK I’m going to read them so I keep them because getting rid of them would mean that I’ve become the person who can’t make time to sit down and read a damn magazine. And I’m not…I’m NOT! Except I am.

I’m pretty good about recycling but awful at filing. And the shredding? We keep the shredder unplugged and hidden because…well…Trapezoid.

5. Emails.

Gilt. Totsy. Zulilly. West Elm. Fab. Touch of Modern. Living Social. Groupon.

For someone with no money to spend I sure subscribe to a bunch of shopping websites. So I’ve been employing the teeny tiny method here too. As I get an email from a site I don’t need, I unsubscribe. That’s it. One at a time. Simple. Effective. Easy…ooooh are those new boots on Zulilly…NO! UNSUBSCRIBE! Better for me. For my wallet. For my marriage ;) I still have 26,987…nope now 26,989 emails but that’s because I’m a terrible deleter. TURRIBLE. I just typed Amazon Local (when did I start getting those??) into my email search bar and deleted 240 Amazon Local emails that I have never even opened or read. Slow and steady, my friends…slow and steady.

6. Car Keys.

Do you know how many times I have wept…literally wept over missing car keys? Only a couple of times but still…that can’t be good. And then I find them places like behind the television in the guest room or in my make up bag or even better…actually in my purse. All true stories. All the cause of tears. So I came up with the awesome, innovative, mind shattering way to never lose my keys again.

Hook. Keys. Front Door. Boom.  Mind blown.

Hook. Keys. Front Door. Boom. Mind blown.

I think we can all agree that 19 years of driving is the appropriate amount of time to come up with a solution like this, right?

(19 years of driving?? When the heck did that happen???)

Update: Holy Shamoley I am a weak minded idiot. I’ve been driving for 23 years!! 16 + 23 = 39. Duh.
So I’m on my way to a zen and harmonious household. I figure at the rate I move I should have the toys sorted and cleaned out just in time to box them up and give them to my grandchildren. That’s recycling!

See…it’s already working ;)

Strip Down To Your Skivvies!

Meet my friend, Kate:

Image

Okay…technically it’s just Kate’s arm. But I could have a friend that’s just an arm! You don’t know my business!

Last time I saw Kate, she was rocking a hella big scar on her arm. I wish she had taken a picture of it because it was pretty cool…all folded over skin and awesomeness. Now it’s a pretty, ladylike scar. But still cool.

Kate had a mole on her arm that had been bothering her for a few months. 4 to be exact. It had started out as 3 moles that she had checked out and biopsied a few years ago. The results came back fine. Then, in Kate’s words “it grew back 2 years later fast and furious as one big mole.”

ONE MOLE TO RULE THEM ALL!

It itched and when she scratched it, it hurt. Then it started hurting all of the time. It was just sore, not painful. Kate says that looking back it was textbook. The size, the shape, the varying colors.

Still…I bet it would have been easy to ignore. Especially since it had already gotten the all clear once before. And there is the myth that ‘cancer doesn’t hurt’. According to Kate’s dermatologist, that’s a big, fat lie.

Except she didn’t ignore it. YAY KATE! Her second biopsy came back as being cancerous and they cut that sucker out.

So a tip of my SPF 50 hat to you, Kate! You took charge and kicked ass!

Did you know that May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month?

Neither did I!! That’s why I am posting this on May 31st. I mean, I’m a procrastinator but I’m not THAT bad.

With all of the crap that clutters up my news feed I can’t believe that there was no mention of it. It’s kind of important. Skin cancer is a pretty sucko cancer to get (not saying there is a ‘good’ cancer). But it’s fast and aggressive.

And we ALL say the same thing. “I really need to go get my moles checked!”

So go get your mol-e-os checked. Yes. You. I went last summer and it had been TEN years since my last check. Now THAT’S procrastination. I was a little nervous. I’m super moley and some of them had changed. What surprised me the most was that none of the moles that concerned me turned out to be anything to worry about. It was a teeny, tiny freckle on my leg that she biopsied. I never would have noticed it and it turned out fine but the point is…I NEVER WOULD HAVE NOTICED IT!

Image

Girl. Push those cuticles back. Sheesh.

“Buuuut Daaaaanielle,” I can hear you whining…”I don’t have insurance!”

Well lookey here.

http://www.aad.org/spot-skin-cancer/what-we-do/free-skin-cancer-screenings#.Uaj78-tsyHA

Free skin cancer screenings. You are welcome. Just enter your zip code and find one by you. And if they don’t have one in your area, you can sign up to be notified when one is scheduled.

What’s your excuse now? Huh?? I mean you’ll strip down to your underwear and be examined inch by inch under harsh florescent lighting. Without the benefit of wine. Come on! How could that not be fun?

You’ll either get a clean bill of mole health and then you can be all proud of yourself about your use of protective clothing and sun screen OR you’ll have something that needs to be biopsied and you get to pat yourself on the back for being proactive and getting it checked out.

Either way, you get to be justifiably smug. And how often can you do that??

UPDATE: Kate wants to let you know that she is religious about applying and reapplying sunscreen so even if you are a sun care fanatic…you shouldn’t let that lull you into a false sense of security! Now get thee to a skin doc! Posthaste!

How Much Wood Can A Wood Chuck Chuck?

This post might make a wood chuck upchuck.  And maybe you too.  It’s…errr…ummm…introspective?  I hope I used that word in the right context…

First off…let me begin by introducing you to my logs.  (Heh Heh…)

Look at those tree trunks sitting on a log!

Look at those tree trunks sitting on a log!

It all started when I saw a cool table that one of my favorite bloggers over at The Art Of Doing Stuff made out of a tree stump. (If you like cool projects, chickens and funny Canadian chicks then you’ll like her.) I wanted to try the same project minus the legs.  Ummm…the table legs AND Trap’s legs.  Then I saw that ol’ Martha had done a stump table too but she left off the legs and painted the top with a beautiful blue enamel paint. (If you like impossible projects that involve Pantone colored chicken eggs or hand harvested wheat that is only available in 1 square mile of Eastern Maine for 76 hours out of the year…then you’ll like Martha’s blog.)

I haven’t learned how to link yet so here is the table from The Art Of Doing Stuff:  http://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/stumped-how-to-make-a-tree-stump-table/

And here is Martha’s.  (Or Marty as I like to call her when we get together and knock back a few brewskies):  http://www.marthastewart.com/270888/tree-table

“Heeeeey!” I thought.  “I have access to lots of logs!” (Heh heh…)

Sidenote:  To Whom It May Concern.  In my next life, please do not send me back with a 14 year old boy’s sense of humor.  Thank you.

We have family with some land.  And a lot of dead trees from the drought last year.  They have been cutting them down like crazy so I asked them to keep an eye out for any good pieces of wood they might come across.

Of course this caused MUCH rolling of the eyes from my spouse.  He was rolling his eyes so hard that 13 year old girls were coming over to take lessons from him.

So now I HAD to actually do something with these logs.  Doh.

Now I was supposed to let them sit and dry out for a month.  To make the bark easier to peel off.  Ooops.  Instead I just started working on them right way.  With a little help from my friends.

"Okay, you stab yourself in the leg with that screwdriver and I'll tip this log over and crush Mom's ankle.  Aaaand GO."

“Okay, you stab yourself in the leg with that screwdriver and I’ll tip this log over and crush Mom’s ankle. Aaaand GO.”

It took forever.  No joke.  The kids were fascinated the first few days I worked on them.  Sharp tools and the possibility of being maimed…what wasn’t to love?

Until I got out the sander.  They hate the sander.  TOO NOISY!

Sander

In unrelated news....sales of sanders have risen 300% amongst women with small children...

In unrelated news….sales of sanders have risen 300% amongst women with small children…

In the midst of this project I had my first visit with the naturopathic doctor.  Now a naturopathic does a whole body/mind thing.  So for the first 2 hour appointment we just talked.  About…everything.  Stuff.  I cried. A lot.  I’m a crier.  It was VERY therapeutic.  But one thing she asked me that really stuck with me was, “Are you an angry person?  Do you hold anger?”

NO!

That was my immediate, knee jerk reply.  And it’s mostly true.  I don’t like to be angry.  I’m the person you can cut in front of in the grocery store line and I probably won’t say anything because I don’t feel like it’s worth it.  Getting mad never makes me feel better.  And it certainly doesn’t make the person you get mad at feel better.  I’ll make the conscious decision to either say something to the person or just let it go.

Except that I got home from that appointment and started sanding down those logs.  And thinking.  And thinking.  And thinking.  Sanding those things became almost meditative and do you know what I realized?

I was furious.  I was shakingly, ragingly mad.

I had been slowly been getting sick since last summer.  It started with fevers every night for a month.  Anywhere from 99 to 102 degrees.  Horrible night sweats.  Then all of a sudden…a rash.  A different rash than the ones I’ve shown you.  This was on my elbows.  Knees.  Scalp. And so painful on my hands that I couldn’t pick up my kids.

August. Dermatitis Herpetifomis.  Celiac that comes out through your skin.  So I gave up gluten and it took a few months but everything calmed down.

It’s okay it’s okay it’s okay.

September.  The swollen thyroid.  The nodules.  The biopsies.  Everything clear.

It’s okay it’s okay it’s okay.

October.  Every lymph node in my body swells up.  They recommend putting me under to take out and biopsy a whole lymph node from the back of my neck.  It comes back as negative for lymphoma.  They culture it for 2 months to check for bacteria or fungus.  Negative.

It’s okay it’s okay it’s okay.

November.  The hives start.  I’m so over doctors at this point that I decide to keep a food diary and discover that I get the hives when I drink or eat anything with sulfates.  Wine, pickled foods etc.  No problem, I cut them all out.

It’s okay it’s okay it’s okay.

Sometimes I would get random hives and I would think, “Huh…I must have eaten SOMETHING with sulfates and just didn’t realize it.”

End of February.  That’s where you joined me.  That’s when my body exploded.  Remember this?

photo 3

It just gets better with age, doesn't it?

It just gets better with age, doesn’t it?

Guess what?  That’s not okay.

That. Is. Not. Okay.

So here is what I’ve discovered while I’ve been sanding down these old pieces of oak.

Being diagnosed with a ‘chronic illness’ sucks.  It’s scary.  You go to bed every night and you don’t know what your body will do while you sleep.  More hives?  More broken blood vessels?  Lumps on my face?  Feet and hands cramping so badly from the steroids that you wake up gasping with pain.

That is justifiably infuriating.

Scarred from the vasculitis.  From the biopsies.  My body now bears marks that are a testament to this journey.

I kept sanding.  Furious.

Then I found the paths the worms had burrowed through those stumps.  And I thought they were beautiful.  It calmed me.

Don't ask me why I found a dental tool in Kyle's garage...it's rather 'Dexter' of him...

IMG_3404

I found scarring where they had gotten too close to the fire and been rescued just in the nick of time.  And I loved the character it gave them.

Tree Nip

And I found a superfluous nipple which I loved because I am truly a juvenile.

This has been such a journey for me.  A scary, confusing journey.  One that has caused me to stop.  And think.  And decide what I am worth.  A journey that has made me stand up and fight for myself.  To cherish and care for myself.  To put myself out there to the world every time I publish a blog post because it is scary.  But worth it if one person is helped.

Look.  At this.  Off of almost all my meds expect for the steroids (down from 60 mg/day to 25 mg/day with an end date of June 21st).  I did this.  I won’t even pretend to not be so proud that I’m giddy.

The picture on the left was taken May 3rd.  The picture on the right was taken today, May 26th.

The picture on the left was taken May 3rd. The picture on the right was taken today, May 26th.

The logs and I…we have a lot in common.  Slowly peeling off the bark.  Revealing the scarring.  And finding a beauty in it.  I’ve gotten really close to the fire.  But I’ve pulled back just in the nick of time.  And you know what?

It’s okay it’s okay it’s okay.

It really is.