My week in ten paragraphs

Noise-cancelling earbuds work just like ear plugs, if not better. Which is really nice on those days when I need to focus on editing and my son needs to listen to Ryan’s World at volumes so loud the neighbors across the street can hear it.

I learned…somewhere (can’t put my hands on the article right now) that weaning can cause depression and menopause-like symptoms. So I’m in a chicken-or-egg quandary here. One thing’s clear: The hot flashes are getting worse instead of better. Just in time for summer! Did I mention that in Barry’s wake we’re experiencing heat indexes of 110+ degrees?

I find gummies to be unspeakably disgusting, unlike the weirdos I live with. R had a bag of gummies in his car, which in this heat melted into a big steak-like mass. And they ate it anyway.

Our kitchen faucet has leaked since we moved in. YouTube made the fix sound simple. What I thought was going to be a 5-minute procedure turned into a 2-hour ordeal that ultimately culminated in just replacing the whole thing. During the faucet replacement, R periodically called me out of my office to give me show-and-tell progress updates. (The inner workings of the faucet were very rusty and gross.) During one of these updates, I was distracted by the music he was listening to. “Did he just say ‘My dog is bigger than yours?'” I asked. “No,” laughed R. “He said ‘My cock is bigger than yours.'” I like my version better.

Last month, when Anya had her nature camp, Kai begged to go to camp too. So I signed him up for a preschool day camp at the botanic gardens. He was excited to go to camp like a big boy…at first. When he realized that the mommies were leaving, he crumpled. I even stayed at camp with him; it didn’t help. After an solid hour of him begging me to take him home, I relented. He later told me that while he liked seeing the worm (it was a big one — as long as my foot, easily), he didn’t want to go to camp unless Anya was there. So I paid $125 for him to see a worm.

I’ve been doing Illustrator training again (lynda.com videos on LinkedIn — Deke McClelland is amazing), and while I watch the videos I’ve taken the opportunity to stand and stretch the muscles and ligaments in my lower back and sides that are hurting me so. (I tried looking them up so I could list them by name, but when Google served up anatomy photos instead of just illustrations, I decided I could happily die not knowing what they are called.) Turns out stretching in the morning makes me feel better all day. I need to figure out a way to make this habit. I’ve also learned that in order to make the pain better, I have to first lean into it. There’s a life lesson in that.

Two things I’ve been trying to make time for lately are non-yoga exercise and Duolingo. It’s too damn hot to walk outside, so I’ve been trying to do the step exercises on Wii Fit. But I end up having to fight Kai for the balance board and everyone ends up mad. I’m thinking I need to start getting up at 4 and squeeze in some steps before work. The Duolingo is going much better, because Kai likes to practice with me. His German’s not bad — maybe better than mine, even.

This Instagram post from Twisted Doodles had me sobbing. Though our circumstances are different — she could have another child, but chooses not to — the feeling is the same. It’s why I record in text, photos, and video my children’s every waking thought and accomplishment. The sense that something is slipping away even as you hold it is strong. I waited such a very long time to be a mother, and childhood passes so quickly.

The kids dug in to my workout gear cabinet and found my tai chi ball. I was having trouble explaining to them what it was for, so I decided to show them. Thanks to the YouTube app on our TV, the vast array of videos on YouTube are now useful to me —  I can actually see and hear what’s going on now. Bonus: The kids did tai chi with me! It was a short routine, just 5 minutes, but that was pretty much the only 5 minutes I didn’t have to fuss at them that day. I may try to make this a thing.

Last weekend, we all pitched in and cleaned Anya’s room. It has floor now! This week, after a couple of snags, we bought paint for the kids’ rooms (blue for Kai, aqua for Anya) and Friday we painted both because I am an insane person. Next up is furniture. Pics to come.

 

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Simple mango milkshake

I was going to take a photo of the milkshake for this post, but Kai drank it all before I got the chance.

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Luckily, I got a second chance: Anya asked for one the next day. This time I managed to snap a couple of photos (of which the top photo is one) before Kai reclaimed his cup.

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The kids are avid Coraline fans, so I have created various versions of her mango milkshake for them. Usually the shakes involve bananas — we almost always have some bananas on the brink — and I make extra so I can freeze some in popsicle sleeves for healthyish snacks. But I was in a hurry and also out of bananas, so I whipped this up for Kai. He declared it delicious and told me I am a good mommy, so it must have been good.

This recipe makes a small (8 ounces) milkshake; feel free to double (or triple!) the ingredients if you are not a little boy.

 

Simple mango milkshake

1/3 cup good quality vanilla ice cream
1/3-1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
1/3 cup orange juice, or to taste

Blend ingredients together until smooth.

Mama’s magic go juice

A recipe! I know — it’s been a while. I’m still fumbling with these food sensitivities. I think I have this smoothie down, though. Nothing in it sets off my stomach, and it keeps me full for hours. I can eat and work and not worry about crumbs in the keyboard. Plus I get my fruit without having to, well, chew it.

 

Mama’s magic go juice

1 tablespoon avocado oil
2 tablespoons flax seeds
1 scoop pea protein powder (I like JustPea)
2 teaspoons sugar
10 strawberries (I like mine frozen)
1-2 cups cranberry juice, to desired consistency

Blend the oil, seeds, protein powder, sugar, and a little bit of the juice together until smooth. Add the strawberries and 1 cup of the juice and blend until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add more juice.

Insert straw. Drink. Get stuff done.

I am so not cool

In the immortal words of Keith Mars, I was never cool. In fact, me quoting Veronica Mars is probably the coolest part of this post.

I’m bumbling and awkward and have a hopelessly dorky sense of humor. You’ve heard of 95% of the bands I like, because they used to be played a LOT on the radio. (Probably still are, on oldies stations.) I tend to prefer mainstream movies and popular authors. My fashion sense peaked somewhere around 2004. Which is also where my hairstyle comes from, and when I purchased the majority of my shoes.

Since my daughter was born, I’ve been out of step with the world, and I am just now catching up on the music, movies, and software updates that came out in the intervening years. (Books are on my list, but further down because they require more time than I have to myself these days.) My daughter was born in 2011, so I’m now nearly 10 years behind you all. I’m the Midwest personified, without all that Republican stuff.

Speaking of the broken democracy in the room, I have strongly held opinions, but I hate to debate, so aside from the occasional FB share I keep them to myself. I also hate haggling; I have paid full price for everything I’ve ever bought. Perhaps I would feel differently about both of those things if I were more persuasive and charismatic, or at least more argumentative, but I am none of those things.

I talk to myself. A lot. It’s slightly more socially acceptable now because I have children; people assume I am talking to the kids. Sometimes I am, but not usually. My social media and this blog are also, to some extent, me talking to me. It’s how I sort things out, how I remember, and how I make room for other thoughts in my head. The rest of it’s what passes for my social life. Because I am so, so, so not cool.

The nice thing about middle age is that I’m finally completely at peace with being uncool. Somewhere between 40 and 50, we all just become ourselves. Probably because none of us are particularly cool anymore, and even the coolest among us aren’t really sure just when that happened, or how. We leave the jockeying for dominance to the younger set and just get on with things. It’s one of my favorite parts of middle age, actually.

I will never go big; I will always go home. I like it here. It is my favorite place to be.

7 going on 13

My daughter has been diagnosed with premature thelarche. Which, if you’re not up on your medical terminology (this was a new one on me), means she’s developing breast buds a little ahead of schedule.

She is 7. Nearly 8, but still…7. With the beginnings of breasts.

That’s not the most upsetting portion of the situation to me. Because we went to see the doctor, and she ordered a hand x-ray to establish whether Anya’s skeleton was developed beyond her years, and it’s not. So we have avoided the hormone therapy we might have endured. No, what makes me sad/happy is this:

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Mom and I took Anya for a girls’ shopping trip. We used to shop all the time before Kai was born, and after he was born until he began boycotting clothes shopping. It’s been harder since Mom’s been on oxygen, but she’s doing much better these days. So we went out.

But just look at my girl.

In my mind, she looks like this.

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And this.

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And this.

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But she’s also helping me create weekly menus and insisting I let her clean the bathrooms and having discussions about pop music with my mother.

Yesterday we had to buy her new clothes (because she’s up a dress size) and shoes (because she’s up TWO sizes — putting her feet a mere three sizes smaller than mine). She’s eating roughly 4 meals a day these days. The girl who, not so long ago, told me “I don’t really like food” ate two dinners last night and wanted a snack when we got home. At 9 p.m.

Anya says she’s nearly a teenager. I tell her that, no matter what her body is doing, she won’t be a teenager for 5 years.  There is no denying, however, that she’s more mature mentally than I was at her age. I remember lamenting the loss of the playground when I entered 6th grade and we moved to the other side of the school. My classmates were losing interest in playing; they wanted to talk about hair and makeup and clothes and boys. I still wanted to swing. While she loves to play, don’t get me wrong — Anya is swiftly growing more sophisticated in her interests. I don’t see her as regretting the passing of childhood like I did. She’s more forward-looking than I ever was.

It’s a lot of fun, having a big girl. I have someone to talk to, someone to shop with, someone to bake and walk and watch movies with. But it also makes me ache.

Morning snuggles

Dawn. From the other side of my office door, I hear bare feet whisper-stumbling across hardwood. My door opens and my daughter shuffles in, a sleepy scowl on her face, to curl up in my lap as she’s done every day of her nearly 8 years. It’s getting harder for her to do that now; she comes up to my shoulder these days, and is nearly half my weight. But we manage, for old time’s sake, to snuggle together for a few moments. I stroke her hair as her eyes flutter shut, her face serene as when she was a newborn. Just for a moment, I’m cradling my baby — then she’s off to the kitchen in search of a cuppa and her tablet.

Soon after she leaves, I hear the scuffling of smaller feet on the boards outside my door. In bursts my son, making his usual early morning grumpy-owl face. He lunges at me and I lift him up; he flings his arms around my neck and hugs me tight, our hearts beating against each other, as he pats my back and I rub his. We hold each other like that for a moment, then he too lays down in my arms — not nursing, not anymore, but still enjoying the feeling of being cradled. I ask how he slept, and he tells me elaborate dreams that probably made more sense if you were in them with him. I kiss his head, and he kisses me all over my face. Then he’s off — to play, watch tablet, pester his sister, or chase the Roomba around and chastise it when it gets stuck under furniture.

Every morning of their lives, I’ve been here. If they’re hurt, scared, sick, lonely, hungry, bored, or just want a hug, I’m steps away. They sometimes get sick of me, and that’s okay. They know I’m here, and that’s the important thing. Being here in the morning when they wake up is one of my favorite perks of working from home. So important is our little routine that my son sometimes sleepwalks to my office in the middle of the night, looking for me. (We cosleep, so he’s slipping out of my arms to do this — which is how I know he’s sleepwalking.)

It’s just for a little while, though. Every day, they’re growing. One day all too soon they won’t come in to crawl on my lap when they wake up. That day is going to break my heart, but it will also mean I have done my job.

In the meantime, I welcome these little interruptions — even when they distract me from my deadlines. Deadlines will always be there, but kids are only small for such a short time.

Invasion of the body snatchers

If there’s a stage in menopause where you wake up in a body not your own, I’m in it.

I’m not talking about the digestive issues, either, though part of me wonders if that wasn’t influenced by my hormonal upheaval. No, I’m talking about these pillows on either side of my waist. My upper arm flags. The bags under my eyes, and the matching bolsters on my jawline. The overall jiggliness of myself when I attempt (badly — really, you do not want to see this) to have a dance party with my kids.

I was prepared for grays. For wrinkles. For my bra to wander towards the floor (which, thankfully, is not an issue, at least at present). I was not prepared to look like my grandmother. But here we are.

It’s been a chain reaction of self-loathing. I hate my body, so I hate how I look in clothes. I buy clothes that work better for my body, but I hate them too because they look so…old. I hate my hair, and my face, and I contemplate drastic revisions to both. A new haircut, or maybe hair color. Taking a laser to my face. Or maybe I should focus on my body — have some fat sucked out. Only I’m broke, squeamish, and have seen that episode of X-Files one too many times.

Think smaller. Like anti-aging serum I’m not sure I even needed that — after three days! — left a red, scaly chemical burn-style rash all over my face and neck. Oh, right: I have sensitive skin. I forgot that in my desire to blast the top layer of it off.

So now I’m pudgy and flabby and gray and wrinkled AND red and scabby. Nice.

I’m not opposed to aging, and I’m not a fan of trying to look 30 when you’re 70. But I guess I’m also not ready, mentally, for the age I am. It’s the back bookend to the feeling I had when I entered puberty: I wasn’t any more ready for boobs and body hair and armpit odor than I am for the changes I’m going through now.

Once again, my body is not my own. And I do not approve.