2020 good

My morning job recognizes Indigenous Peoples Day. So a few months ago, when I was putting in my time off requests for the rest of the year, I requested Monday off for my afternoon job. At the time, I did not know two things: 1) that my daughter’s school would revoke this first day of fall break and ask that students do distance learning instead, and 2) that I would give in and withdraw her for homeschooling the week before fall break. Since I control the school schedule now, I reinstated her day off. She needs a full week after what she’s been through since August. (We all do, tbh.)

I received my flu shot last month, and Anya got hers at her 9-year checkup. Since I was to be off Monday, one of R’s usual days off, I scheduled Kai’s flu shot for that day: Two adults are better than one in these situations. So of course R was called in on Monday, leaving me to handle my bucking, terrified 5-year-old on my own. He fought so hard that he had to have the shot in his leg while the nurse and I bodily restrained him. Anya and I cried right along with him. At bedtime, Kai informed me solemnly that if I ever made him go back to the doctor again, he would stop loving me forever. “No more love left in my heart for you, Mama.” I told him gently that being his mom means I have to take care of him and keep him healthy, and that if he had to stop loving me, so be it — that I would never, ever stop loving him. He gave me some remorseful hugs and kisses after that, and he fell asleep holding my arm. What stings isn’t the words he said but what I know it cost him to say them. I am his sun and moon, and I held him down while a stranger hurt him. In time he will understand that it was for his own good, but right now he is confused and hurt — and who wouldn’t be?

Monday evening, as I was preparing dinner, I noticed our koi, Espada, was acting strangely. Glassy eyed and slowly moving her mouth while resting diagonally at the bottom of the tank. Twenty minutes later, she was dead. R and Anya buried her in the backyard, and nobody was terribly interested in dinner after that. (That’s fish funeral number 4, for those of you counting at home. Daddy flushed Bubbles, Ben Connor, and the OG Princess Cupcake, but Mr. Pickles, Princess Cupcake II, and Angel were all interred.) Daddy picked up some tiny neon fish at the pet store later that evening, which took some of the sting out of the loss, but Monday was a day.

In between those moments, though, there was joy. It was a gorgeous autumn day. We played I Spy with the blazing fall leaves, marveling at the showers of them blowing across our windshield. I treated the kids to cake pops after the shot. After we returned home from the doctor, we all cuddled together on the couch and watched movies. The kids don’t often have me all day with no responsibilities before us; the lack of a to-do list and uninterrupted Mommy time was a welcome treat. I can’t remember the last time I sat down and watched a whole movie with them without doing something productive at the same time.

“How was your day off?”

“Good,” I reply. And it was good, mostly. Just as 2020 has brought joy and discovery and wonder alongside the pain and loss and hardship. It’s a bittersweet good. The kind of good that will look better in hindsight. The kind of mixed-bag good that you learn and grow from.

2020 good is a thing.

You say you’re tired and you just want to close your eyes

Post soundtrack: No Surrender by Bruce Springsteen. An alternate post title I considered was “There’s a war out there still raging; you say it ain’t ours anymore to win,” but the battle isn’t only out there — it’s also in here. It’s everywhere. It makes me tired.

I’ve been having a lot of vivid dreams lately. The other night I dreamed I was back in my childhood bedroom rushing to get ready before I missed the school bus. (Spoiler alert: I missed the bus, because 8-year-old me had way fewer last-minute things to do before leaving the house than adult me, and I was an adult/child in the dream.) I was struck by how detailed the dream was. I could smell my bedsheets, a combination of Era laundry soap and Bounce fabric softener. I could feel the warmth of the sunlight radiating through my window blind, and see all the loose threads in my Cabbage Patch bedspread. I lived in that house for 8 years. Not the shortest amount of time I’ve spent somewhere, but I’ve lived other places longer. I haven’t set foot on the property in more than 30 years. Yet when my mind goes home, it goes there.

I haven’t dreamed of that house in years. But right now a part of me is crying out for the security I had at 8, when the worst thing I could possibly imagine was missing the bus.

My ballot just came in. Which has prompted me to ask, as I’ve asked before: Does it really matter if I vote? I live in a red state. My neighbors don’t just have Trump signs; they fly Trump flags and have scary bumper stickers featuring liberals and guns.

Side note: I am amused that this twitchy, trigger-happy crowd is so quick to yell “Faith, not fear!” They’ll go unmasked in public during a global pandemic because God’s got their backs, but they’re reaching for their guns if someone dares knock on the door of their suburban McMansions on a Tuesday afternoon. What, God doesn’t do intruders?

This weekend, Anya and I passed a Trump support motorcade that was at least 10 miles long. The electoral college vote in this state will never represent mine. Setting aside his bizarre claims to become a squatter if the polls don’t go his way (and the man pried his sick old butt out of a hospital bed to return to the White House, so I’m doubting he’s going to allow a little thing like a lost election to budge him)…what does my vote accomplish? He lost the popular vote last time, yet here we are.

I voted, on principle. But I don’t have any faith that it matters.

I have stopped telling myself that things could not possibly get worse, because clearly they can. Will it get to the point where someone bombs us to right our course? If so, who will do the honors? These are the thoughts that come to me as I lie awake at night. If the pandemic doesn’t kill us, it’s possible our president will.

We had Anya evaluated for dyslexia, and it came as no surprise that she has a host of language processing disorders. The SPED teachers at her school are sympathetic, but the bottom line is they are stretched too thin to offer much additional help. (Fun fact: Twenty minutes before our IEP meeting, I was writing a summary of an article about the rights of children with disabilities to a free accessible public education. It’s free, yes, and public, but accessible? Meh.)

There’s a private school that I think would really help her, but she turns into a trembling ball of squeak when I talk about transferring her. Also, the annual tuition would buy you an economy car, and we really need a new car. So we’ve decided to homeschool for the time being. One of the homeschooling programs I’m looking at says that 3rd graders should expect to spend no more than 4 hours per day on schoolwork. We’ve been spending 12, usually part of that in tears, and not even getting through everything. Four hours? Where do I sign?

There is a tremendous push to get all the kids back in school — even as local cases among school-aged children are on the rise. I know for some kids, school is necessary for their well-being: Home is not a safe place. They don’t have enough food. Their parents need a free place to send their kids so they can work. However, those issues do not apply to us. Anya does miss the socialization, but we can and are socializing her in other ways. As for the education itself — what the hell is so wrong with writing off this year, and possibly next, and tacking on the extra time at the end of her schooling? I mean, would it be the worst thing in the world for her to graduate from high school at 19 or 20, if it meant she lived to see 20?

In advance of family pictures, I took both kids to the salon. Separately, of course, both to minimize their exposure risk (we are still very much sheltering in place, even if the rest of the world has moved on) and because Tween Anya feels too old for the kids’ salon this year. So we opted for the grown-up salon for her — and, due to some glitch in the online scheduling system, making her appointment required I make one of my own. I’d just trimmed my hair, but my roots were in desperate need of a touch-up; I’d been putting it off because the semipermanent color was no longer cutting it and I didn’t know what to try next. So I put myself in the hands of a professional. And I’m so happy I did. I just look better with dark hair. Like my childhood self, if my childhood self were left in the dryer overnight.

The weather here has been absolutely luscious (though it sounds like that’s about to end), and we’ve visited the botanic gardens multiple times. It’s simple to socially distance at the botanic garden because the place is huge. Plenty of room for everyone.

During our most recent visit, I heard some people behind me discussing amongst themselves the fact that the kids and I were wearing masks (I assume they were not; I did not turn around), and opting to walk in another direction rather than pass us and risk being asked to put masks on. After the brash, tone-deaf energy of the motorcade, that small measure of consideration was almost enough to move me to tears. Even if it was less about our feelings and more about not wanting to be confronted, it’s a greater level of empathy than I’ve encountered regarding the issue — regarding any issue — in quite some time.

Today’s happiness quote from Gretchen Rubin is this:
“There are unheralded tipping points, a certain number of times that we will unlock the front door of an apartment. At some point you were closer to the last time than you were to the first time, and you didn’t even know it. You didn’t know that each time you passed the threshold you were saying good-bye.” — Colson Whitehead, The Colossus of New York

Most of my goodbyes have been more good than bye; not that I’ve never had sad goodbyes, but if we were weighing them on a scale, the ones that led me to a better place far outweigh the ones that didn’t. But right now — awful as right now is — is about the most content I’ve ever been. More so even than I was as a child. The world outside my door is going to hell, I mean, but inside these walls we’re doing fairly well. I’m not ready to think about the goodbyes to come. I worked damn hard to get here; I want to stay here a while.

My Fitbit says I’m sleeping more these days, especially on the weekends. Partly because I have less extra work these days, partly because the temperatures have been cooler in the morning. Mostly, though, it’s because snuggling with my kids in a chilly room that’s slowly being warmed by the sun glowing against the blinds gives me the same sense of security and peace I had in my childhood bedroom. We all snuggle close under the blankets and drift in and out of sleep until mid-morning. The extra lie-in makes my body stiff and sore, but it’s worth if if I can hold off the sky falling for a while and just…rest. Be at peace.

We all need more peace right now.

We made it to fall

Last month was pretty eventful, hence the silence. A quick recap:

I withdrew Kai from kindergarten.
Even with all our homeschooling, school was wearing us down. Homework took 12+ hours each day — even Kai’s kindergarten homework! — and required much more hands-on parental involvement than I’d anticipated. (Right as my morning job changed my whole work lineup, complete with a two-week overlap between the old and the new briefs. That was fun.) Neither kid’s classes involved any remote instruction, synchronous or otherwise. Anya was floundering without a teacher, and Kai was becoming belligerent and telling me he hated school. Hated school. At 5. So I withdrew him. I’m using this extra year to help prepare him for school — giving him small yet steadily increasing amounts of work each day, and looking for alternative ways (camp, online classes, play dates) to socialize him. And I’m hoping that next year will be better so he can go to camp and attend school in person.

I’m hoping next year will be better, full stop.

Anya is finally being tested for dyslexia.
Now that I’m Anya’s teacher, I’m getting the full picture of her learning disabilities — they’re a force to be reckoned with. She’s so smart, but that intelligence does not always come out in worksheets; you have to talk to her to see what she really knows. And virtual learning for us has been all worksheets. So I reached out to the speech and learning center at the university, and we’re in the process of getting her evaluated for dyslexia and other language processing disorders. My hope is that the results will mean the school has to accommodate her needs, and that further therapy through the center will help her learn to work past her challenges.

I tested negative for RA.
I’ve developed what may be another symptom of food sensitivities, or it may just mean I’m getting old: I’m having random but increasingly incapacitating joint pains. Wrist, finger, elbow, and hip pain make sense, considering how many hours I spend sitting and typing. However, my feet have no reason to hurt. Given my family history, I had the doctor rule out rheumatoid arthritis. I didn’t have any of the markers for RA, or markers for any other autoimmune disorder, so that’s a relief. But it also leaves me once more without answers. I seem to hurt worst when I’m also swelling, so I am testing foods to see if there is a dietary link beyond soy (which I already know causes me joint pain). I’m also trying out turmeric and giving the probiotics another go. The probiotics do seem to be helping, so let’s hope the turmeric follows suit.

R has been in quarantine for the past two weeks.
R’s niece, who lives in another state, turned 21 a couple of weeks ago, so he drove out there to go to her party. As a precaution, we have had him quarantined upstairs since he got back. We eat separately, sleep separately, use separate bathrooms, and wear masks whenever we are together. Happily, he has had no fever and no symptoms, so he should be rejoining us soon. I’m not sure if that’s such a great thing for him — he’s got a sweet setup up there, with an air mattress, snacks, a beer fridge, all of his DVDs and video games, and mandated alone time — but we’ve sure missed him.

We left the house!
The (slightly) cooler weather has allowed us to go outside a bit more often, so we have resumed visits to the botanic garden. They finally reopened the kids’ section, too, so while not all features are available for play, they can at least play in the playhouses and climb on things. As the weather improves, I’m planning on bringing picnic lunches so we can enjoy some extra time there. We love our yard, but it sure is nice to leave it once in a while.

Summer has finally passed (chronologically, at least). My kids are super psyched for fall. School’s going a bit smoother this week. Work is, for the moment, not awful. I am hopeful that October will go more smoothly than September. At the very least, we may be able to venture outside again.

Soylent celery

My celery juice powder comes in a tall zipper bag with a small scoop. It looks like the powder I used to feed my sea monkeys. The scoop even looks like a larger version of the sea monkey food scoop. It smells better than sea monkey powder, though — smells like celery. I like celery quite a lot.

I read somewhere that celery juice is supposed to be really good for you. Full of vitamins. Helps regulate appetite. I’m noticing that my morning almonds upset my stomach; for 30 minutes or so after I eat, my stomach roils and grumbles like I’ve just eaten car parts. So I have been searching for a replacement breakfast. Celery juice seemed to fit the bill. I don’t have a juicer, but I have a blender. That’ll work, right?

Please: If you make celery juice in a blender, strain it first. Otherwise it’s like drinking moist cotton batting. I thought the kids were going to barf, and they weren’t even drinking it. However, you can squeeze a shocking amount of juice from the foamy pulp. It’s a pain in the butt, though, and messy if you’re not quite awake yet. Hence the powder.

“Celery juice powder?!” R said when he stumbled across it in the pantry. He didn’t say much more, because he’s used to finding weird things in the pantry now. Such is life with someone whose digestive system has gone off the rails.

I add the powder to smoothies, which I believe was the intent. Easy-peasy, and the flavor even blends nicely with the other flavors. Or maybe it doesn’t, but I happen to like celery. Anyway, I tried it on its own the other day. Just cool water and sea monkeyesque celery juice powder. It blended to a lovely shade of green, and didn’t taste awful. So I have been drinking it in place of breakfast because it’s fast/easy/quiet and I’m trying to see if my morning belly burbles are to be blamed on the almonds or if that’s just the sound I make in the morning, like my old Bunn coffee maker.

I still think intermittent fasting would help my digestive woes, but after 5 years of breakfast-on-demand, my stomach complains when I skip the morning meal. I’m hoping the celery juice will help ease that transition. And if not, maybe I could make a lifetime supply of cream of celery soup.

I can do hard things

Since my “This is hard; I need help” campaign went so well, I decided to add another. The other day, I printed up a handful of motivational posters from Canva for the kids’ study, including this one:

Yellow and Pink Motivational Poster

(Not my work; I printed up existing designs because free time is nonexistent these days. I’ll make my own later.)

The kids loved the new artwork, and have proudly showed them off to whoever will listen. I took the opportunity to point to this one every time Kai got a case of the can’ts. To which he rolled his eyes and told me that NO, he CAN’T.

A few days later, though, he stopped himself mid-rant. “I can do hard things?” he asked.

“Yes, you can,” I assured him.

And he did.

My morning job abruptly swapped out all of my assignments with brand-new ones. On the third week of distance learning. In the midst of a slew of doctor visits. Just when I was getting the hang of the ones I had. I’ve been assuring myself I can do hard things, and I can — but man, do they suck sometimes. I’ve been on edge, and crabby, and prone to blow up at the slightest provocation.

“Shh…it’s okay. You’ve got this,” Anya told me, after one such outburst.

“Belly breaths,” Kai added.

It’s always so shocking when I hear my words — the good ones, not the profanities — come out of their mouths. Proof positive that they listen, understand, and remember.

We can do hard things.

If you’re a bird, be an early bird

I remember the first time I encountered a rundown of Ben Franklin’s day. I was in college, and I thought he was insane. I could probably go to bed by 10 if I had to, but get up at 4? On purpose? Who does that?

I recently revisited his schedule when I stumbled across this article about it, and realized with a start that it’s actually really laid back. A schedule I’d enjoy following. Easing into the day. Taking two hours for lunch — reading, not working. Dedicating two small but energetic windows of time to the day’s work. I hope to someday be able to scale back to this model.

It made me think, though. I used to be such a night owl. Part of what appealed to me about editing was the ability to do the work any time, anywhere. I envisioned myself sleeping til late morning, then working in the afternoon and evening and having my nights to myself. Until I had a child that woke at 5 a.m. without fail. Now she sleeps in (til 7 or so — she’s still an early riser), and I get up at 4:30. I can count on one hand the nights in the past two years I stayed up past 10 p.m. The times, they changed.

What was so great about being up all night? You can’t do anything. Nothing’s open, no one’s awake, and you have to be quiet so you don’t wake them. Then I realized that was the point. Nighttime was my own, to spend as I wished. I couldn’t cook or clean or do anything productive without disturbing housemates and neighbors. I didn’t have to share my time with anyone. I could read, play games, binge-watch a show only I like, maybe work on a creative project. Nothing productive, though. There are no to-do lists at 2 a.m.

An hour of free time is a luxury these days, so I can’t even wrap my mind around having that kind of freedom. But I now understand why I don’t mind getting up before dawn. Sure, I’m working, but the setup remains the same: hours of cool, quiet solitude, in which I can take things at my own speed. It’s such a welcome contrast to the rest of my day.


Trust the process

I have come, somewhat belatedly, to the conclusion that I’m not a machine. I know, I know — I was shocked, too. For the better part of 40 years, I have frustrated myself. I know what I need to do. I want to do it. I provide myself all the tools to do it. And then…well, I do it, but never as quickly or as well as I’d intended to.

If motherhood intensified this issue, the pandemic has put it under a microscope.

I thought you were going to do the thing? my kids say to me. Usually when I am on deadline, on the phone, on the toilet.

I’m just following up on that project you were working on, my emails say. Need anything from me?

Don’t forget the thing, says the calendar.

And these, say my push notifications.

Bing, says the microwave, the oven timer, the doorbell. Bzz, say my text messages. Blocked call, says my phone. (Most of my calls are telemarketers.)

Remember that one pop song? says my brain. I forget the title and almost all of the lyrics, but that one line ended in a trite yet catchy turn of phrase. Who wrote that, and what have they been up to for the past 17 years?

I bounce from demand to demand all day, every day. But — and here’s the kicker — even when I have a blank stretch of time to work on one thing at a time, I never do. I lay out my exquisitely organized agenda, which accounts for every possible snag and obligation, planning to do X, Y, Z, A, B, C, D. And my days invariably look more like XAYE8FZBPCQ#morecaffeineplz. By the end of the day, I’m exhausted, frustrated, and disappointed in myself. Why can’t I just do the thing I want to do when I want to do it and be done with it?

I’ve tried productivity apps. Accountability journaling. Productivity and goal-setting social media sites. Paper journals and online journals and apps and calendars. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I really am doing the best I can with what I have to work with.

The reason I can’t finish tasks one at a time is because that’s just not my life. It’s nobody’s life. I can think of no person for whom responsibilities line up in an orderly fashion. Not me, not my coworkers, my friends, my husband, my parents, my kids. Life is not baseball; it’s dodgeball.

Even when I block out time for completing work in an orderly fashion (which these days entails getting up long before dawn), my brain struggles with settling down for long stretches. I’ll get an idea, have a breakthrough on an existing project, or remember something I’d planned to do. And boom — I’m back on the multitasking train.

This isn’t ideal, I admit, but…I don’t take breaks. I sit down in front of the computer at 4:30 in the morning and I don’t leave (other than, y’know, bio breaks) until at least 4:30 in the afternoon. I don’t take meal breaks. I don’t go for walks. I’m here, at this desk, doing the things. It’s part of the reason I’ve required physical therapy for repetitive motion-related injuries twice in two years. I know this is bad for me, and I’m trying to get to a point where I can stop, but for now? It’s just the way things are.

So when I take a small detour from my gotta-dos to Google song lyrics or jot down a paragraph in a blog article (hi), rather than feeling guilty, I tell myself it’s my process. I’m not slacking off from this big project: This is my process. I will take a 5-minute brain break, then get back to the things.

And they all get done. Maybe not before someone asks after them, but they all get done.

So from here on out, I’m going to do my best to trust the process.

But I digress

My Gen X heart really wanted to give this post a pithy pop culture title, but none of them really fit. We can’t all be self-aware and clever.

My kids cannot imagine this, but there was a point in my life at which it was not at all uncommon for me to pass entire days, maybe even weeks, without speaking a single word aloud.

I lived alone. I worked alone. If I encountered a coworker (which happened pretty infrequently considering the size of the office), we’d perhaps smile and nod. Any conversations I had were via email and instant messenger. My voice grew so disused that I’d creak if I tried to increase my volume above a murmur.

With my kids, I creak for a different reason: I have become a wall of words. I monologue some days from the time they open their eyes until they finally lay still long enough to sleep. For the hours in between, I am asking and answering questions, giving orders and parrying rebuffs, offering 20 solutions to boredom, yelling at them not to kill each other before dinner and to please for the love of Pete stop jumping on the recliner because it can and will tip over and we’ll all be sorry.

On one level, I’m unapologetic for the word wall. There is much I want to share with them. Much I want them to know. And I like to loop them in on things that they might not otherwise think to ask, so they know what to expect. I frequently see adults forging ahead with their own lives and just assuming that the kids will trail along like a string of ducklings. Which almost never happens unless the ducklings live in mortal terror of the head duck, and I am not that kind of mom.

Just as I’m growing tired of my own voice and wondering if those magic mom hacks I keep reading about actually work for anyone (“Don’t say ‘Put your shoes on, please, because it’s time for us to leave’ — say ‘Shoes’ and watch the magic happen,” they say –except my kids see that as an invitation to argue for 20 minutes about the purpose of shoes and why they have to wear them), my daughter will ask a question that has a long, complicated answer and once more I become my Shakespeare professor, who went off on tangents so frequently that the class syllabus included a recipe for spiced tea. I’m not sure he was even aware of his digressions. I am aware, often painfully so (yes, I do see how very paragraphlike that last sentence turned out to be), but some days I just cannot shut up. It’s like all the words I didn’t say for all those years are pouring out of me so fast that all I can do is grab a paddle and try to keep up.

I’m working on it, though.

The other day, my daughter looked distinctly uncomfortable while I was talking. Shifting, eyes darting, wincing a little. I wasn’t talking about anything untoward — no puberty, kissing, bodily functions, or the lack of visible floor in her room — and I was responding to a question she’d asked, so her reaction puzzled me. I paused and asked her if I’d somehow upset her.

“No,” she said, “I just really have to pee. But I want to hear what you’re saying! Come with me to the potty — I want to keep talking.”

I assured her that my words could wait through a two-minute bathroom break. And felt somewhat validated in my ramblings; this marked the second time in as many days that she’d asked me to talk more. We are approaching the teen years here, and I’ve been doing my best to earn her trust so that she will come to me when she needs to. I now have a small shred of hope that she will, in fact, feel that she can.

Stuck at Home

The other day, Anya told me that though there is a lot she misses about normality, this Stuck at Home (Safer at Home, I corrected her, but she’s not wrong) thing isn’t so bad. Generally I agree. I maintain that things could be much, much worse: One or both of her parents could be unemployed or underemployed. We could be living in a too-small house with no backyard to speak of, leaving me with hyper, restless kids in a crowded room full of injuries waiting to happen. I could be spending my days physically barricading the doors so they don’t sneak out and go see their Mimi, risking infecting her and killing her. I could be doing juggling acts to keep us stocked up on food and necessities while also being the sole caretaker of the kids 80% of the time.

These are not exaggerations, or projections. We’ve lived each and every one of these scenarios in Anya’s lifetime. Just, thankfully, not during a global pandemic.

So in terms of timing, this shutdown could not have come at a better time. The kids are just the right age; the loss of in-person school is a bummer, but not devastating. We’re employed, and employed in the exact right fields; while some people are struggling to make ends meet, we’re making more money than ever, and I do not have to choose between my job and my children’s safety this fall. It sucks that we have to worry so much about Mom’s health, but we can video chat and socially distance and have masked visits. The heat and the dust levels have kept us inside most of the time, but I’m not sure how much more time we’d spend outside in a normal year, and the hot, dusty summer was balanced by a long and amazingly beautiful spring.

I have become increasingly aware of these blessings, big and small, over the past year. For every down side, an up side. For every dark moment, there’s been one of joy.

Yesterday, on the drive home from the doctor (my fall last week resulted in no broken bones — a not-so-small blessing — but I did strain my back and hip), I was overcome with a wave of grief for…everything. Usually I can keep myself too busy to think about such things, but when I am alone they overwhelm me. I took the long way back, so I could have time to compose myself again.

When I returned home, I found my husband and daughter hard at work baking cookies. Gluten-free vegan cookies. Cookies just for me. And they gave me a little space to watch an episode of Dark while they baked, because they know my me time is basically nonexistent these days and I am nearly through the final season.

Truth: This post, as I’d written it in my head, was going to be about how unseen and unheard I feel much of the time — anyone with small kids knows exactly what I mean. The pandemic has only amplified this feeling. But last night I received tangible, tasty evidence that I’m seen and heard and loved.

I’m doing my best to hold on tight to these gestures. I know they will be what I will remember most when I look back at this year, but I am making a concerted effort to recognize and appreciate them as they happen, as well. We’ve lost so much, are continuing to lose so much, but not all is lost. We’re gaining, too.

The cookies are delicious.

Also way more photogenic than my cookies tend to be.

Bumps and bruises

Anya and I have not been having a great week.

Last week, her elbow — the one she broke in pre-K — was bugging her. Waking her from a sound sleep. After a few days, I consulted her orthopedist, who x-rayed it (no new break, thankfully, and no damage to the growth plate, which was my concern), said it was likely irritation in the synovial sheath, and put her in a cast for two weeks. She was all for that…at first. But the shine wore off quickly, and she has been miserable for days. The cast is itchy and hot. She can’t do anything: can’t draw, can’t cook, can’t clean, can’t even wash herself. She keeps scratching and bumping herself and others with the cast. She’s over it. And she has another week to go.

Two days ago, I injured myself in a way that is just so me. I was taking Kai a laundry basket so he could empty the clothes dryer (he’s declared that his job) when I miscalculated the doorway and rammed into the wall with the basket. Overbalanced, slammed into the pantry door with my back hard enough to send everything not secure in the rack crashing down, then crashed butt first on the tile floor. It’d have been funny had it not hurt so bad. I kid you not, I felt the two sides of my pelvis shift outward from the impact. So I have bruises on my back, my butt bones, and my tailbone, and I appear to have strained the muscle that goes from my lower spine to the top of my thigh. Sitting is agony. And my job involves sitting for 12 hours a day.

This has been a long week.

It’s also revealed one of the nice things about having a bigger girl, though: While she is still very much my baby, we’re becoming friends. I took care of her when her arm was hurt, so she’s been taking care of me, bringing me pillows and ice packs and cups of tea. I’ve been in no position to work overtime, cook, or do anything productive, so we ate tater tots in front of the TV while binge-watching Supernatural. (She is Team Sam. I tell her I was also Team Sam in S2, but that Dean comes into his own later on.) We have a lot of Supernatural to go through, and it’s so much fun seeing it through her eyes. I’m already thinking ahead to what we’ll watch next.

I don’t have any grand plans for the next few days. Working, doing what housework absolutely must be done, then Netflix all day. I’ve not watched this much TV in years. I wouldn’t want to make a lifestyle of it, but it’s not a bad way to pass a miserably hot summer afternoon.