23 Apr 2014

My New Motto

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Yesterday I visited a new chiropractor. It was both an embarrassing and enlightening visit. I was pretty out of whack, and the painful deep tissue stuff he was doing sent me into a sweating jag not seen since Albert Brooks in Broadcast News. This is how I used to sweat whenever anyone asked for my autograph in the Mad TV days, moving the uncomfortable teen who had just asked for my signature to THEN ask if I was alright or needed some water, or a chair. Or CPR.  Dr. Greg laughed when I apologized for the drips of salty liquid pouring from my forehead, chest, back, and anywhere else sweat can come from. He turned the air on full-blast when he had to apply heat to my lower back. When I told him I was mortified he replied, “Well, I’ve seen you at your worst now, so it can only go up from here!”

But this is not the point. Sometime after he removed the heat and started kneading my muscles again, he asked what my stress level was. Any time any doctor has ever asked me this question, my immediate response is, “It’s HIGH!” But this time was different. I wasn’t sure how to answer because I WAS sure the answer wasn’t “It’s HIGH!” I searched my brain for the correct thing to say. And then, “It’s not so bad, really.” “Huh”, he said, “Because usually people with this kind of knotting have very high stress levels.”  I thought again, really considering everything in my life. “Yeah, no. I really don’t have a lot of stress right now.”

Let me stop here and say that my life is basically the same as it’s always been. I don’t, however, have a father who is dying, a mother who is in deep mourning, or a small baby who needs me for every little thing. So, I need to make it clear that things now are certainly easier than they were a two and three years ago.

Now, for the other things that have changed.

A year ago I cut out gluten. I did it in the hopes to have more energy and less bloating. Six months into it, I discovered I was slightly allergic to it which made me even more resolved to cut it out. I believe with all my heart that, even though it did very little to help my bloating, it cut my anxiety levels by more than half.

Six months ago, I cut out dairy. I think this helped, too.

But here’s where the actual work comes in:

I went to a therapist I had been seeing off and on for years. She gave me ways to change my behavior instead of me waiting for everything around me to change. Little things that I do now have saved me from tons of stressful moments which would have turned into stressful days and weeks. I won’t spell it all out for you here, because I believe it’s all different for everyone and what I had to change is not necessarily what you might need to change. But what I will say is that, if every day feels like a weight on your shoulders and you find yourself slamming your desk or your steering wheel, or screaming because someone angered you, or crying because it’s all just too much… Think about the common denominator and what you could possibly do to change it.

Last but most certainly not least: Garrett is the wisest boy in the world.

When I was at my height of stress and anxiety, he was as well. He would see me exhibit all of the above behaviors and I would just want to die when I saw the look on his face. But I couldn’t stop what I was doing. He asked me too many times if I was okay or if I was mad, and he began finishing my sentence when I would say, “I’m not mad I’m just… FRUSTRATED.” He began showing signs of stress, too. I was desperately trying to fix it.

Then one morning as we were having our typical mental breakdowns trying to get out of the house, I told him we had to rush because we only had two minutes. He looked into my eyes and calmly said, “Mom, we can rush. But we don’t have to worry.” The difference that made for me is immeasurable. I actually HEARD him. We can rush. But we don’t have to worry. I hugged him so hard and I told him that could be our motto from now on. That was about two months ago and we have not had one bad morning since. We still rush around a bit but if either of us feels distressed, the other will say, “Rush but don’t worry!” and it all goes away.

It’s so simple. It’s painfully simple. And you can apply it to every single thing in your life.

Rush but don’t worry.

Have a party but don’t worry.

Get the laundry done but don’t worry.

Cook. Or don’t. But don’t worry.

Go to that meeting. But don’t worry.

Yes, it’s easier said than done sometimes. But, far more often than not, it’s easily done.

The cat pukes on our blanket for the second time this week. I want to scream but I did that the last time. So this time, I put all the shit in the washing machine and I move on with my day.

I have a few of G’s friends over for a play date. The house isn’t as clean as I’d like, and when they leave there will be an even bigger mess. So? Live in that moment. Don’t worry. It all gets done.

If I have an audition and no time to prepare, I figure it out. Worrying only makes it impossible for me to learn my lines or find the character’s voice.

I breathe a lot more now. In and out slowly. It’s much more nourishing than my heart beating out of my chest while my fists clench and unclench. I also work out five times a week. I know, without a doubt in my mind, that this is beyond helpful. And I know so many of us don’t have the time. I thought I didn’t have the time, but I go right after drop-off every day, or I’ll go at 4:00 when kids club is open, and take G with me. I work out with friends, and it makes all the difference.

I don’t have a full-time job. But I do have auditions. A lot of them. And I have the unsettling feeling of not knowing if I will ever work again, or if I’ll make enough to get health insurance or if Russ were to stop working, will I ever be viable enough in this business to pick up the slack? My schedule is never the same, and this is hard too. I also know that things come up to throw a wrench into the system now and then. There are emergencies and disasters and surprises we never see coming. And I hope those things are few and far between, but I also hope I am able to deal with them well.

Rush but don’t worry.

I promise if you can adopt this principle, your life will change. Or it won’t. But don’t worry.

31 Dec 2013

I Resolve, 2014

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This year’s resolutions are not “less”, they’re more.
I’m not going to resolve to eat less or weigh less.
I’m going to resolve to write more, create more, be more patient, be more grateful, enjoy more of the moments given to me, exercise more, laugh more.
Oh, a couple lesses: Less stress, less anxiety, and less guilt.
More Fun. More Happy. More Good. That’s my motto for 2014.
Hope your year is filled with more good stuff than you can handle.
And please be safe this New Year’s Eve, so you can get to 2014 in one piece.

15 Dec 2013

New Member

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We adopted a puppy today. He’ll be coming to live with us permanently by January 1st.

So, will people be bringing us casseroles and presents like they did when we had Garrett? I’d like that. I just want  you all to remember I’m gluten and dairy free. And if anyone wants to throw me a puppy shower, I’d be totally into that. He’s a boy, so nothing pink.

26 Aug 2013

Kindergarten

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It was inevitable.

After eight glorious weeks of summer, filled with enormous amounts of fun, a heart-filling trip to Oregon, endless hugs and laughter and, yes some frustration, impatience and yelling… It finally came.

Kindergarten. The thing I have dreaded, fret over, lost sleep from, and worried about for over a year.

G started school with two teeth gone, and one waiting to fall. He started it bravely. So bravely that most of my own fears were assuaged; a relief considering what I thought was going to happen his first day. We were allowed to follow him to his class that day, and after his new teacher had them all sit on the multi-colored rug, she abruptly asked us to wave goodbye. G turned to me, the panic in his eyes only mirroring my own. I smiled at him and shrugged as if to say, “I guess this is it!” But he  wouldn’t have it. He boldly asked his new teacher if he could run to give us hugs, and she incredibly kindly, and against her better judgement, said he could. He milked the next two minutes, going back and forth between Russ and I, hugging, kissing, hugging again. Then he looked toward the rug, saw his future, and told us he had to go. One last hug each, and out the door we went, leaving our little man to start his first steps on the road of education.

Or something like that.

He started on a Tuesday. They get out an hour early on Tuesdays. So I showed up at 1:19, waiting with the other parents, and with bated breath, to see how day one went.

The first words out of his mouth were, “I loved it so much, I wish I could stay longer.”

Relief doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt.

That night we sat down to do his homework together and immediately began fighting. My child just wants to know how to do everything without being shown. So I had to back off a bit and let him learn and flail and ultimately succeed. We made a deal that night that I would always sit with him, but only help if he asks. I’m not kidding when I tell you that homework time is one of my favorite times of day now.

Day two was the tough one. I was without Russ’ support, and I couldn’t follow G to class that day. I could only stand on the gray concrete where they line up, and watch him follow his already beloved teacher around the corner to his classroom. He was excited and happy. I was, too. And then, as soon as he was out of sight, I teared up. This was real now. No turning back.

Week two began with G wanting to run laps before school. They give the kids tickets for each lap they run and then they count the tickets up for each class. The classes with the most laps run in each grade get recognized at Monday morning assembly, and get a certificate to hang up in class. Somehow we are getting out of the house by 7:30 most days so that he can run and work up a real sweat before line up.  At this morning’s assembly, they announced that his room was the winner last week with 130 laps. G ran 24 of those.

And there have been changes in me, too. I work out every day now, right after I drop him off. I’m going to bed earlier and waking up brighter. I am letting myself learn from him now, because he knows a lot of stuff about how to act and how to be patient and happy.  I’m cherishing every moment even more than I was.

He lost his third tooth last week. He has made new friends. He thinks his teacher is beautiful and brilliant. He loves his music teacher. He was sad this morning just before the walk to class. It was an especially busy weekend and those are the hardest to come out of. But I have a feeling when I pick him up today he’ll say that things were great at school, and he’ll ask for a snack and he’ll want to know what fun thing we’re doing this afternoon. And I will look at him in complete awe, because I’m so amazed at how lovely this transition has been.

I spent over a year worrying about this time.

In just two weeks, he has proven to me that I worry too much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

24 Jun 2013

My Little Man… Today

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This is who he is today. Two months from six-years-old, a pre-school graduate, eight weeks away from starting kindergarten. He wouldn’t think of not dressing up to graduate. He is obsessed with anything having to do with the creatures who live in the ocean, especially Giant Squid and Sperm Whales. He still has all of his baby teeth, but three of them are “wobbly”, as he likes to say. He is polite, saying “Excuse me” whenever he has a question for an adult. He can’t walk by a dog without petting it. He loves to show younger kids the ropes. He loves to look at older girls. He is so into Big Time Rush music that it’s all we listen to in the car. He still says “mine” instead of my… As in, “This is mine book about sea creatures.” He is so proud of the trophy he got for completing his t-ball season. He hugs his friends with all of his might. He hugs and kisses me all the time. He yells, “I love you” and “air hug” and “remember to say I love you in your head today” any time we say goodbye. He can’t stand making mistakes, he loves to draw, he’s an incredibly fast runner, and he’s got a “great arm”. If you ask him what he wants to be when he grows up he’ll say, “I want to study Whales and Squids and get to see them battle in the deep, deep ocean”, or “A paleontologist”. He doesn’t like vegetables, except for carrots. He loves any kind of fruit you put in front of him. His favorite foods are pizza and burgers… And anything made with sugar. He wants a sibling. He is joyful and stubborn and incredibly smart and funny.

This is who he is… Today.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since Garrett was born, it’s to expect constant change. Phases that last for a year, that I think will never end, end with a whisper. Obsessions change in the blink of an eye.

For nearly a year, G couldn’t go to sleep without a song called “No Dreams Garrett”. It was accompanied by a hand gesture that indicated a magic spell and sips of his water that turned into a potion. One night he didn’t want the song. And that was that.

For about six months last year, G was having anxiety. (Probably because I was having anxiety too.) Every day he asked if he was going to throw up. Then one day he stopped.

For nearly two years, we couldn’t pass any major landmark in our lives… The school, the diner, the store… Without G (and us) yelling out loud what we were passing. We don’t really do that anymore.

One thing that never changed was our goodbye ritual at school. For three years of preschool, G and I hugged, kissed, hugged and kissed again, then had an elaborate waving ritual with him at the window, and me walking toward the car. The windows changed as he got older, but not the goodbyes. “I love you”, “Air hug”, “See you at three” was paired with thumbs-up, waves, salutes, air hugs, and one final wave after rounding the corner then popping back around. Tuesday was our last one of those. I know next year “Real School” starts, and that won’t happen again.

 

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I know these “endings” are harder for me than they are for him. They stab at my heart with a sharp edge, but the pain fades as the new beginnings start.  And as much as I know the changes are as inevitable as my pride in seeing him grow, I pray that some things last forever:

I pray that his joyous nature will not change. I pray he will always be kind and mindful of others. I pray that he makes fast friends who are true and good, and have his best interests at heart. I pray that he has an adventurous spirit but stays cautious. I pray that we remain close. I pray he isn’t afraid to talk to me about anything, ever. I pray that he marries a partner worthy of him, that he is happy in his work, that he is confident and brave and unafraid to love.

I pray that in the years before he becomes an adult, his days are filled with fun and laughter and that his childhood is a memorable one for only good reasons.

I pray we can keep up with all of his constant changes.

I love who my kid is today. And I can’t wait to see who he is tomorrow.

06 Jun 2013

Lice Mother, Lice Son.

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Last week was one of the most exhausting weeks of my lice. I mean life. It’s not that I don’t lice doing laundry, I mean LIKE doing laundry. It’s just that I don’t like doing 45 loads in four days. Luckily, there was a lice, I mean LIGHT at the end of the tunnel, but it seemed very far away. And I still haven’t totally recovered. It wasn’t just the laundry. It was the vacuuming, wiping down, scrubbing, and cleaning things that didn’t even need to be cleaned. There’s a fine lice between cleaning and cleaning OBSESSIVELY. And itching non-stop. I mean line. There’s a fine line.

Yes, our family was struck. This was the third time this year the little buggers came to visit our school. And, since we completely missed it the other two times, I was confident we would msis it again. We didn’t. WE didn’t. Did you get that part? WE. G and I. Me and G.

Luckily, we got to it early. It started Tuesday morning. Russ had taken G to school and I had just gotten on my “walking Bogie” clothes when the phone rang. Russ gave the phone to G who sweetly said he was coming home because he had lice. They arrived home moments later and then it began. I called the Lice Lady, (Yes, there’s a Lice Lady), got on line to do research, and started my day. Lice Lady arrived about 90 minutes later and combed through G’s hair for an hour. Then I insisted she comb through mine. I had it. Barely. But that’s like being a little pregnant.

When she left, I went into action. I stripped the beds, took the blankets off the couches, and put all of G’s stuffed animals in garbage bags, tied them tight and put them into the garage.  I put every article of clothing we could have possibly worn in the last several days into the laundry baskets and left them all outside. I vacuumed the 2 carpeted rooms and the rug in the living room. I vacuumed the matresses, I wiped down the couches, I soaked my brushes in alcohol, poured boiling water over them, and put them in the freezer to sit for 72 hours. Then I started doing laundry. I did laundry until 11:00 PM that night. I promise I’ve done at least (and I think I’m being very conservative here) 60 loads of laundry in 10 days.

We took G to get his hair buzzed that day. I bought a lice comb, lice prevention spray, and tons of treats for G being so patient and good.  We went to the laundromat to get eight loads done at once, just to shave off some hours of washing. That night I sobbed from exhaustion and stress. But at least I waited until G went to sleep!

Since then, several other kids have been sent home. It’s been like a revolving door of lice at our school. I check G’s head every morning, wash his hair with Tea Tree Oil shampoo nightly, and put the lice prevention spray on him daily. I also put it on myself and try to convince myself that tea tree oil, mint, and rosemary is a sexy scent on me. I use the lice comb on myself every other night, just to be sure I’m okay. I even went to a lice-specialty salon Monday night to have myself checked again. I was asking the owner a ton of questions and she literally told me I needed to chill out. She said, “You’ve done everything right. Neither of you have it anymore. You’re done. Chill out.” I asked if I should buy the carpet spray from her and she said, “Stop. You’re okay now.” I told her I was sure crazier people than me had been in there. She said yes, but I’m not sure she meant it.

I can’t stop cleaning or doing laundry. I can’t stop vacuuming. I can’t stop checking for lice. Yesterday I had the lice salon people come to our school. They combed through everyone whose parents were willing to pay. One more person got sent for treatment. I think we might have conquered everyone now.

So there you go. You’re probably itching by now. That’s what happens. I just wanted to share my experience with you so that you know what to expect if you get it. And I was also hoping to kind of make the whole stigma disappear. It’s not a disease. It doesn’t happen to dirty people. It’s not shameful. Kids get it all the time, and pass it on and bring it home. I hope we never have to deal with it again and I hope you don’t have to either. But mostly us.

At least my house is clean! Really, really clean. And that’s lice. I mean nice.

14 Apr 2013

So Not Cool

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I am getting worried about not being “hip” or “with-it”.

I picture myself every time my mom talks about ANYTHING current, and I’m rolling my eyes. I’m always rolling my eyes in those moments. I’m a 41-year-old woman rolling my eyes at my MOM! This does not bode well for me and I think it’s going to start happening SOON!

The thing is, I’ve never been “with-it”. Truly, I never have. I didn’t really know what Coachella was until three days ago. I figured it was a Woodstock-kind-of-event, but you’d think I’d have a more current thing to compare it to since I wasn’t even ALIVE when Woodstock was happening.  I’ve never been a real concert-goer. I happily went to see Duran Duran in 7th grade and appropriately cried during “Save a Prayer”. But I know my love for them stemmed from my friends’ love for them. Don’t get me wrong. I was a HUGE fan, but I didn’t come to it on my own. The same with Prince and Madonna. For me, it was always Billy Joel and The Eagles. Even then, I wasn’t “hip”. Oh, and I knew every lyric to “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat”, so that was helpful.

I never know the hottest restaurant or the coolest club. I like to stay in my own little bubble, I pretty much always have, so I’m very unaware of what’s going on downtown, in the heart of Hollywood, or beyond.

I try to stay up-to-date with pop culture, but even that seems difficult for me. Someone will mention that so and so is breaking up with what’s his face and I’m like, “I didn’t even know they were together!!” And movies are the worst. My husband and I have been to maybe five movies since G was born. We just can’t seem to get there. We got a TON of screeners last year and only managed to watch a few of THOSE!

Needless to say, I’m nervous. I’m okay with being the dork in the room at a party or event with adults, but I’m not looking forward to my son and his friends looking at me and thinking I’m pathetic.

Here are my options:

1.  Set aside an hour or so a day to scour the internet for stories about celebs. Try to fit in a 10 minute viewing of important TV like The Real Housewives or Duck Dynasty. Listen to some music that I am not familiar with. (Although in this case I might be okay. G’s affinity for 80′s Hair Metal means I have little research to do.) Find some age-appropriate clothes that still say, “I know what’s going on in the world of fashion!”

2.  Dye my hair gray, buy some housecoats, and get REALLY good at baking cookies. Be the mom that embraces old age, so no one ever EXPECTS me to chime in on any current conversations. Pop in every once in a while with a slice of pumpkin bread and say, “Is anyone hungry? You look like you’re having fun talking about that Jason Beeter”. Everyone laughs because of the quaintness of my mistake, and spends the next ten minutes talking about the pumpkin bread and how it’s the best they’ve ever had.

3.  Stay exactly how I am and suffer the slings and arrows of my son’s disappointment with me as a completely lame mom.

4.  See number 3 but add fake boobs, a tummy tuck and a whole lot of injectables. Wow all of my son’s friends with my overwhelming beauty and inappropriate clothing so that none of them care what I know, and G is forever blushing in shame.

I consider all of these to be viable options. I’ll probably stick with number 3 because of my extreme laziness, but in a few years I might lean a little more toward 2 or 4. I’ll ask G what he thinks. I’m looking forward to the eye-roll.

13 Apr 2013

Squirrel watching with daddy

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13 Apr 2013

Fancy dinner on patio

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08 Apr 2013

Good Times

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This was a bad ass spring break. I mean seriously, it was magical for me and I hope it was at least as magical for G-Man.

We had tons of play dates. We went to the Aquarium of the Pacific. We went begrudgingly to the beach and ended up having a spectacular day. We ate fun food, we spent time with family, we danced, we laughed, we yelled at each other…

On the way to school today I told G how much I loved my time with him and he said he loved his break. I told him we have many years of these breaks together and I hoped they would all be as much fun. He asked when Summer is coming and I said it’s in about 10 weeks…

Then I realized it’s the last summer before Kindergarten. And even though things will be almost exactly the same in terms of how long he goes to school and what our days look like… It’ll be Real School. And that means no “taking the day off” because I feel like having him home with me. It means his butt needs to be in his seat by 7:55 AM or he gets a tardy. (Tardy. Worst word ever.) It means big kids and a much bigger school. It means, in short, my little boy is growing up and it’s just happening too damn fast.

But we had a magical Spring Break. And I am grateful beyond words for the little man (and the big one who looks just like him) in my house who are my family.

By the way, I’m trying to invent something to slow time down a little. Boredom does that, doesn’t it? Hmmm… Maybe I need to rethink these breaks!

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