Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I Survived November

It is almost Thanksgiving, and I can finally catch my breath. If you are friends with me on Facebook, you know what a crummy month this has been. It began with our anniversary in the hospital with Rob's poison ivy stricken face swollen like the bloated zombie in The Walking Dead (his words, not mine) and ended with me throwing out my back. In between, I fell off the porch, sprained my ankle and banged up my knee. I have been powering through it because we don't need more doctor bills, and I don't have time to go to a doctor anyway. We have also had happy and not so happy report cards, confusing teacher meetings, all amongst the normal chaos.

Amazingly (well really not), Rob and I have kept our patience and humor intact. That's what 19 years of marriage does to you. When you get married, you have no idea of the life time of crap and insanity you are signing up for. Sure there are the sweet wonderful moments, but the true test is how do you handle the tough stuff.

The vows should go something like this (in no certain order and personalized for us): I promise to love you through car accidents, emergency room visits, kidney stones, the flu; through pregnancy, mortgages, credit card bills, child birth, teething, potty training, midnight vomiting, and midnight pee. I will stand by you through lice infestations, stitches, speeding tickets, family deaths, diabetes, depression, anxiety, dead fish and lost dogs, good grades and bad, grad school, ADHD, big and not so big tantrums, Target, Giant, and other various errands. I will cherish you through weight gain and hair loss, through hearing loss and bifocals, and intestinal distress. I will honor you as you clean up poop and vomit, scrub toilets and wash dishes, fold laundry, and vacuum again and again. When, in the melange of all this, I invariably lose my temper and say hurtful awful things, I will remember to apologize and be humble enough to admit when I am wrong. And above all else, I will never lose my sense of humor.

 I can't wait to see what our 20th anniversary brings! I love you Rob Simpson!

Friday, November 7, 2014


Here is Halloween in my mind:

I spend the month before creating a witty, intellectual, and highly creative costume for Lily. She as my quirky and brilliant daughter will be in on the design. Maybe it will involve some sort of pun or a reference to a TV show, book, movie, song, that only my highly evolved family will understand. We of course will be delighted in our brilliance! I will arrive home the evening of Halloween to prepare a healthy and creative meal for Lily and her friend. It will be fun (it is Halloween after all), but nutritious (maybe even... organic!). After the meal, in which no one questions what is on her plates and asks for something else, we will get ready. While we are getting ready we will listen to campy vintage Halloween music.

We will head out walking through the neighborhood. The neighbors will be delighted by Lily's costume. She will make eye contact and charmingly thank everyone for her treats. She and her friend will skip and dash delightedly through the neighborhood. No one will be driving like a bat out of hell, and I most definitely will not have to yell at them to slow down. There will be no smoking parents swearing at their children. There will be no middle schoolers pushing my children out of the way. This is a holiday for everyone, so of course the middle schoolers will all be wearing costumes. They will let the little kids go first and compliment them on their costumes.

Afterwards, I will meet back at our house with other cool parents. We will sit our and drink local brewed pumpkin harvest beer (yeah, I know I don't drink beer, but this scenario calls for beer). Our children will sort through their candy. They will choose a handful of pieces to keep and give the rest to me to donate. They will then spend the rest of the evening playing creative board games.

This is the reality:

I drag through bumper to bumper traffic after spending the day with my adorable, but insanely hyper class. I drive through Wendy's because there is no time to make dinner. I stumble through the door weighed down by fast food bags and papers to grade. I am greeted with

"Ican'tfindmymask, thereisaholeinmycostume, and Ineedsomedeodorant"

(all said in one breathe without looking up from the TV).

I take a breathe, put down my things and counter with

"Where did you last see your mask? Give me your costume and why do you think you need deodorant? Where is Dad?"

After finding out that her armpits itch and she thinks deodorant will help, I explain that deodorant is to keep us from being stinky not itchy, and she doesn't need it yet. She does need to take more baths, but this isn't the time for that argument conversation. Rob has just returned from a week out of town and is sleeping off jet lag. I hand her the bags of food for her and her friend and proceed to race around the downstairs looking for her mask with the dog right on my heels. I calmly state the following:

"Give me your your costume. Well then put some clothes on. You should wear something under it. Push all of that crap over on the table so you two can eat. No don't pick up the broken printer off of the chair. Get another chair! Why is there a printer in the chair? Help me find this stupid mask!"

I look all around the upstairs for the mask and finally find it on top of a pile of laundry. Lily responds

"Oh yeah, I put it there when I trying to put a costume on the dog!"

I go downstairs to get out the sewing kit. I feel Lily breathing in my ear as she asks me

"Did you fix it yet?"

I explain that no, I did not, I was looking for her mask. I sew the costume while barking:

"Quit playing with the toys and eat your food!"

We finally get outside. I leave the bowl of candy on the porch with a nice note telling everyone to take two pieces. Lily is Spiderman and has made a cool speech bubble sign saying trick or treat, so she looks like a comic book. She get embarrassed by the sign and shoves it in my hand. We dodge the hyper non-costumed preteens and proceed to trick or treat. Lily is overwhelmed and refuses to speak, so her friend does all the talking. When trudge back to our house when her friend has to go to the bathroom, we discover that all of our candy is gone.

Once we head back out, Lily has started talking again. We chat with some neighbors and the girls end up with a huge haul of candy. When we are back home they trade candy with each other. They disappear into the bathroom and return giggling covered in fake tattoos. They finally lay down to watch a movie (after some persuading on my part). Lily's friend falls asleep, I go to bed, and Lily stays up watching TV.

Before I go to sleep, Caroline texts me to tell me that the Halloween party she and her friends planned didn't go as she thought it would. She goes on to explain that maybe her expectations were unrealistic. I know exactly what she means. The trick is to have fun even when things don't go as envisioned.

Bean 2.0

We  still have not met with Lily's teacher (reasons in post above), but I have progress to report: medication works! She is on a very low dose that is administered through a patch. I don't think she'll mind me sharing this because she is insanely excited about the whole thing. She likes going to the nurse's to get the patch removed at the end of the day. I can't really blame her; I too was an hypochondriac-attention seeker . I used to wish I'd break my arm, so my class could sign it. I thought that would make me special. I know, not very healthy, but perfectly normal, and I out grew it! Plus, this gives Lily a valid reason to see the nurse (whom she loves), and get a little TLC.

I also think she sees that it helps. We do! She is calmer, more focused, just a slightly up graded version of Lily. She is Lily 2.0. She still has her quirks and goofiness. She also still goes to great lengths to avoid the things she should be doing: brushing her teeth, showers, cleaning up, homework... all the things that get in the way of what she wants to be doing: watching TV, playing with her dolls, eating junk food, playing computer games.... The difference now is when she is called out for it, she does it. Oh it still might occur with grumbling, denial, and belligerence, but it occurs, so win for us. If cranky children scared me, I would have quit teaching long ago!

There are also these moments of pleasant reflection. She'll stop and talk to us about something interesting or something she learned. I want to hug her and yell "Welcome back! We missed you!" We have less and less of the frantic grabbing of attention through tantrums or maniacal silliness. Again, when it happens, we call her out and she settles (noisily, but settles).

We have learned to give her breaks, redirect, and give her sensory outlets. I bought her an awesome fidgit called the Tangle. We have one in the den and one in my purse. I have also discovered the power of writing lists where she can see them. I write brush your teeth and hair on the mirror with dry erase and she gets to cross them out when she is done.

When you put her creative energy with my creative problem solving mind and Caroline's solid good example along with Rob's love and compassion, well, you get success. At least for now.