Monday, December 9, 2013


I don’t want to come off as a complainer or anything, but sometimes I just feel like gravity pulls a little harder on the Stien Family.

We are so very blessed to have a wonderful family, our health (for the most-part), great friends, and a lovely home that is filled with laughter on a daily basis.  Yet, somehow we always end up in these sit-com scenarios that leave me wondering if anyone else has this many calamities on a regular basis?

Last week was one of those weeks where everything seemed to go wrong and as I sit her Monday morning, the hits just keep on coming.  Last Monday I had just come off of a busy weekend helping plan a Santa 5k that was a huge success, but consumed my life leading up to it.  I went through my usual routine getting the kids off to school, writing my column for the magazines I write for, running errands and preparing for my cycle class that evening.  The kids also had karate, so I picked Maddie up from school, threw a snack in the backseat and she changed her clothes in the back of the minivan in the parking lot of the karate school.

When we got settled, I went to the desk to sign the kids up for the next session.  We had been doing a 2-week trial at a discounted price and I wanted them to continue on.  Colin has been going twice a week and Maddie once since she also has Religious Education and Figure Skating to fit in her busy schedule.   My eyes almost popped out of my head when they told me the grand total for a month’s worth of karate was $300!  That’s a car payment, people.  They also told me that the entire family could participate at that price.  Since Tom doesn’t get home from work until after 6 p.m. and I have the whole physical fitness thing covered with all my teaching, I told them that Tom nor I would be interested in participating. 

I decided that perhaps just Colin should take lessons since Maddie already has her skating.  Of course, explaining that to Maddie was no small feat.  Unfortunately, she had a bit of a breakdown right there at the karate school.  I tried to talk her off the ledge, but we both left feeling sad and my pocketbook a little thinner since even Colin’s lessons were going to run me $100 a month plus $70 for the uniform and necessary equipment, which they talked me into signing at least him up before I left that day.

I had that icky feeling tugging at me that the whole situation was not right.  Everyone was unhappy, even Colin because he doesn’t even want to go in the first place even though he needs it the most.  I got to the gym to teach and had to shift gears to be “on” for my class.  I actually felt much better after taking my aggressions out on my Spin bike until one of the girls from the childcare center entered my class just as I was finishing up.

Apparently, Colin had to go poop and didn’t quite make it to the bathroom in time.  He ended up peeing his pants and “touching cotton” leaving his underwear smeared with poop.  I raced into the childcare center where they had him quarantined in the boy’s bathroom and I tried to clean him up to the best of my ability. He was pretty upset and had already used half a roll of toilet paper to try and dry his pants and wipe his underwear and had left it in a pile in front of the toilet.  As least he didn’t put it in the toilet like he did the last time this happened and ended up almost clogging it up.  I got Maddie to sit with him while I went in the hall to call Tom to have him bring a change of clothes for Colin.  When I returned he had taken all that toilet paper and put it in the toilet.  Luckily I got there in time to retrieve it before he flushed it, which entailed grabbing wads of it with my hand and gradually flushing it. 

After thoroughly scrubbing my hands since I had just been fishing my son’s poopy toilet paper out of the toilet, I ran out to see if Tom had arrived with Colin’s clothes.  When Tom showed up with a pair of swishy pants instead of Colin’s preferred “soft pants,” I knew I would get push back.  Tom was able to handle this situation for me and we were finally on our way home to finally eat dinner at 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, I made the decision that if Maddie couldn’t also take karate, that it wasn’t fair for Colin to do it, especially since Colin’s was still going to cost me a pretty penny.  I did some research on the programs available at the other school Colin had taken his Little Ninja’s class at last year and I could have both kids take lessons once a week for $135 per month and their lessons would be on the same day at the same time. Not only did this alleviate a great deal of logistical issues, it also would prevent Wendy’s drive-thru for dinner.  Fast food dinners seem a bit counter productive when you are trying to instill a healthy lifestyle by participating in physical activities.

I called the other karate school to cancel and told them that we thought it would be best to wait until to the New Year and revisit our budget.  To be honest, I didn’t really think the price tag would be any less of a burden, but was trying to avoid saying, “We Quit.”  I know they were likely shaking their head thinking that is why Colin is the way he is and his behavior will never get better with a mom like me.  The owner offered to let Maddie stay and extra month free of charge, but that would land us one month further in to the whole experience and make it that much harder to say no.  I’ve been in sales; I know how these things work.

I took the cowardly way out and emailed that we would not be returning.  I did however come clean that we would be attending a different school that was more reasonably priced.  Now all I had to do was go in and face them in order to get my credit card swiped to get my money back.  I got in and out of there as quickly as possible before the owner’s wife karate chopped me, especially since Colin was running around on the karate mats with his shoes on and didn’t even bow in and out.

I was relieved to have that behind me when Thursday rolled around.  I had to teach cycle that evening and after I did homework with Maddie, we headed out.  Tom was downtown for a work dinner and I had planned on grabbing dinner after my class at the café at the gym.  This kids cooperated leaving the house for once and we were actually on time.  I hadn’t forgotten anything where I had to turn around and go back home for something.  I wasn’t frantically looking through my purse for something while I drove, wasn’t texting or even talking on my phone.  I had just turned the volume on the radio up slightly so the kids could hear the Christmas music I was playing.  I was only a block from the gym when I suddenly saw a car coming at me on the passenger side of the car.  I couldn’t slow down or speed up.  Everything went slow motion and finally the car ran into us.  I immediately looked in the back seat to make sure the kids were O.K.   Everyone was fine, thank God.

I jumped out of the car and the woman immediately began making excuses until she realized she quite simply just ran right into us.  Another witness ran up to make sure we were O.K. and gave us her contact info saying she saw the whole thing and knew for sure it was the other woman’s fault.  I called 911 and waited for the police to show up.  In the mean time I began making phone calls to Tom, my insurance agent, my boss, etc.

Ten minutes later, the cops still hadn’t shown up. Colin suggested that perhaps they were too busy eating donuts at the donut shop.  I still can’t figure out where he learned about that particular stereotype.  I called the police back and they said that they weren’t even on their way and that we should just exchange information and come into the police station to fill out a report.  I was relieved and figured I could even make it to my class on time.

After the woman backed away from my car, I tried to pull away only to find that my front tire felt funny.  My front tire was pushed in and I had to pull off to the side.  I eventually made my way to the gym figuring either I turn in at a restaurant/ice cream parlor parking lot or go a bit further up to the gym and have people at work to help me.  I drove very slowly and eventually got there.  I taught my class, for which I was 20 minutes late, only to have one of the girls from the childcare center come get me at the end of class to tell me Colin was acting up.  Apparently he didn’t handle the stress of the accident very well.  I got him out of there and then began the process of sorting out the details of having the car towed, talking to police and getting home.

I was talking to the police on the phone, because thankfully the woman had gone straight to the police department to fill out the report, and trying to give my side of the story.  Colin kept yelling at me that his name was “Max” not Colin when I gave the officer the names of the passengers.  That is what Colin has changed his name to this week.  Last week it was Alexander.  The week before it was Carlos.

The police came to look at the car, the tow truck came and my friend came to pick us up and take us home.  Now, all I had to do was get a rental car the next morning so I could get to my 9 a.m. cycle class I was teaching.  I called Enterprise at 7:30 a.m., right when they opened, and they were able to come pick me up at 8:15 a.m. immediately after I got Maddie on the bus.  It gave me just enough time to rent the car and get to my class.  Of course, when I went to close my garage door, it wouldn’t go down.  It took five tries and on the last try I said, “Please God.  Let my garage close.”  And it did.

The Enterprise rental car guy was pretty impressed.

The rest of the weekend went on pretty smoothly despite the extra ten minutes it took me to get the kids in and out of the Ford Focus I was sporting.  Let’s just say I love and miss my minivan.  Sunday we all went to church followed by a pancake breakfast with St. Nicholas.  From there we went to Michaels so I could get some more ribbon to finish decorating our Christmas tree.  Mind you, I’ve bee decorating Christmas trees for three weeks now.  Every time I turn around, Tom decides we need another one.

Tom dropped me off in front of the store and he and the kids decided to stay in the car and pull around when I came out since it was snowing and we didn’t want to drag everyone in.  I was just finishing up at the checkout counter when I saw the kids and Tom walk in the store.  Tom informed me that the screw that had been stuck in his truck tire finally came out and now he had a flat tire. Then my daughter revealed it happened while dad was “doing circles in the parking lot.”  Busted.  Turns out he was doing donuts the parking lot…with the kids in the car…with snow falling.  His response was, “It wasn’t donuts.  We were just driving in circles.  The back end didn’t even spin out.”  Seriously?  I was gone for ten minutes.  He wonders why I didn’t want any more kids.  Three is enough.

I called AAA to get a tow truck while he called tire repair shops.  His spare tire was stolen off his truck years ago and we never replaced it because it cost $700.  Bad decision.  Tom’s parents came and picked up the kids and I, and Tom spent the next five hours waiting for the tow truck and for his tire to get fixed.

I went home turned on some Christmas music, made hot chocolate for the kids, coffee for myself and finished the tree.  By the time Tom got home I had also worked out in the basement and made dinner.  Tom wasn’t happy with how his day had turned out, but knew he had no one to blame but himself.

Monday morning rolled around and when Maddie woke up she sent she wasn’t feeling well.  Then she looked up at me and I realized she had pink eye.  I had some leftover drops from the last time they had pink eye and called her out of school.  She and I did some grocery shopping and then went to pick Colin up from school.  We got home and planned on having a relaxing afternoon.   I had to work later in the evening and had arranged for my father-in-law to watch the kids since I couldn’t bring Maddie to the gym’s childcare center.  I was doing some work on my computer when Maddie came to report that there was a major problem upstairs. Colin had waited too long to get to the bathroom once again and got poop all over the bathroom. 

I found him doe-eyed with shitty shorts in the bathroom.  The odor was intense and could only be a result of him getting it on the floor, the walls, the entire roll of toilet paper, his pants, and down his legs.  He also managed to get it on every layer of the toilet seat.  I scrubbed the toilets, the floors, and the walls.  I tossed the roll of toilet paper, emptied the garbage can, gave Colin a bath and threw a load of laundry in.

All these things that happened over the last week are just the icing on the cake of our chaotic life and general running in circles like dogs chasing their tails.   I often wonder why I always feel like I’m moving against the grain. I try to find ways I can change how I am in order to make it through the day without major calamity.  I feel like I am walking through quick sand half the time, despite the fact I am always running at a frantic pace.  I know that there are probably a million things I could do to be more efficient, better organized and less frazzled. Despite the fact that I sometimes just want to press pause or just want to crawl into bed into a little ball to avoid all of it, I can’t help but be grateful that these are our biggest issues.

I’m grateful no one was hurt in the accident, and that my marriage is still intact despite Tom’s parking lot antics.  Despite the fact crawling in the backseat of a car not made for car seats takes major flexibility and core strength, the worst part of my rental car is that I don’t have seat warmers and XM Radio.  Can you say spoiled rotten?  I am grateful pink eye, which is 100% curable, is what I am calling the doctor about.  I could seriously do without the poop cleanup, but at least he’s going and not holding it.  I lived a charmed life and perhaps all of these “issues” are just life’s way of reminding how good I’ve got it?

Of course, without all of these wonderful “hiccups,” what in Gods name would I write about?  And that, my friends, is the silver lining in all of this. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Zen and the Art of Being Colin

In a constant effort to channel and redirect Colin's energy, I think we've found it.

It has definitely been a process, but I think if we stick with our new regime, the results will have been worth the wait.  We've tried time-outs.  We've taken away privileges, toys and electronic any screen he could possibly stare at to no avail. When we moved several months ago, my in-laws had their treadmill in our basement until they moved.  During that time, the kids actually enjoyed going in our workout room and using the elliptical, spin bike, treadmill and even lifted some light weights.  Colin especially liked the treadmill and would get my heart rate elevated just standing there watching him.  He would crank up the speed and I would swear he was going to fly off the back of that thing, yet he just kept running.

At one of the gyms I work at, they have an indoor track that is open to the public and when the kids come with me, they always ask to take a few laps.  I usually tell them one lap, but Colin will always take extra.  He finishes breathless, but with a smile and a sense of accomplishment on his face.  Guess the running shoes don't fall far from shoe rack? Because if they did, then that would make him more like his father.

A few weeks ago, Colin was having a particularly hard time behaving.  Tom had been on a month-long stint of constant business trips and I was at my wits end with the amount of button pushing, limit testing and downright rude behavior Colin was dishing out.  I looked at him one morning after he had talked back to me for the fifth time since he opened his eyes only a half hour prior, and in an act of desperation, told him to drop and give me ten push-ups.  I figured, I teach all these classes and yell at people, push them to their limits and they all do exactly what I ask them to. There are even times when I scratch my head and some people will scratch their's because they do exactly what I do.

At first Colin looked at me quite puzzled.  I told him I was serious and since he had talked back, he had to give me ten push-ups.  He got down and gave me ten piss-poor push-ups.  Guess we will have to work on that.  Awhile later he talked back again and I made him give me ten more.  Once he caught on that I was serious, the day went more smoothly.  Later that week, Colin got in more trouble, as Colin is always capable of more trouble.  This time Tom was home and he led the calistenics.  He was a little more rough on him.  He had him doing sit-ups, push-ups and sprints up and down the stairs.  Despite the fact Colin usually enjoys physical activity, he was worn out by the end and not pleased with this form of punishment.  Of course, the rest of the day any time he stepped out of line, all we had to do was threaten him with any one of the exercises and he fell into line.

A few weeks ago, my mom was watching the kids and my she texted me that Colin had just informed her he does two hours of meditation each morning.  I had to laugh just imagining Colin, the newly crowned King of B.S., telling my mom this with complete sincerity.  While Colin doesn't typically do two hours of mediation, he had been known to sit cross legged with his hands on his knees, eyes closed and chanting "Om."  I know he got this notion from the "Buddies" movies where one of the dogs named "Buddha" practices yoga and meditation.  Still, the fact that he picked up on this particular dog's actions instead of the one who plays sports, is interesting to me.  Of course, there is another dog, "Butterball" who eats a lot that Colin likens himself to when he asks for bacon and bacon for breakfast.

Last week I found Colin doing push-ups in the family room, without punishment.  I asked him what he was doing and he said he was going to start with the push-ups, then do his sit-ups.  Then, he was going to do his meditation, followed by yoga and finally practice his karate chops.  His meditation lasted about five minutes, versus two hours, but the fact that he sat still and focused for that amount of time takes true discipline for a four-year old any way you slice it.  He asked me to do some yoga with him and I obliged despite the fact it has been awhile since I've done any.  I walked him through a basic flow that lasted about ten minutes and then he wanted to move on to karate chops.  He was using the furniture for his practice and I thought it might be a better idea if he used my arms instead of the arms of the chairs we just dropped a small fortune on.

He completed his practice and seemed quite please with himself in the end.  I also notice that his behavior for the remainder of the day was better than most.  It reminded me of his biting and overly aggressive phase.  The pediatrician had recommended playing rough with him, doing exercises where I pushed on his joints and having him do jumping exercises.  It is typically used for kids with sensory issues, but they offered it up and a suggestion before we left the house so he could better handle social settings.  The bottom line, this boy needs discipline, focus and to be worn out.

We recently had Colin in hockey and the coach was a real ball-buster.  Colin actually responded well to him, and I honestly wished this guy babysat in his spare time.  However, Colin was not to fond of the game "Shoot the Ducks" where the coach shot cones at the kids while they skated. After he completed his last session, he left the ice and proclaimed he was, "never coming back to this hockey class ever again."  I supposed getting knocked on his ass half a dozen times sealed the deal.  He told me he'd rather play soccer where he can score goals without the whole skating thing.

Our other plan is to put Colin back in karate.  Based on his most recent "zen approach," I think karate would offer the right combination of discipline, focus and the ability to learn when hurting people is okay and when it is not.  So far he is focused on kicking people down, hitting people and breaking things in two.  It would appear some clarity and direction is in order.

I find watching Colin's multi-faceted personality unfold completely amazing, entertaining and puzzling.  It is clear he is smart---probably too smart for his own good. He it constantly asking questions, expressing his opinion and offering up his own philosophy in his own little world.  Now, I just have to figure out how to convince him to believe in God even though he can't see him, and figure out how he developed a penchant for heavy metal music.  But that's another subject for another blog.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

You Can't Make This Shit Up

I think I might have to change the name of my blog to "You Can't Make This Shit Up."

I sometimes wonder if people think I am making up some of the stories I tell about my life and my children. If I didn't live through it, I wouldn't believe it myself.  This morning was no exception.

It is pretty common for Tom to wake me up at 5:00 a.m. to ask wardrobe questions.  Despite 10 years of dressing him and explaining time and time again that you absolutely may not wear black shoes with navy blue pants, he still has the nerve to ask.  Other days it is the eternal argument of whether his pants are grey, brown or green.  I'm pretty sure he's color blind but won't admit it.  Therefore, we have an impossible conversation where I have to convince him that his eyes are playing tricks on him and to trust me.  Other times he asks for my opinion and then complains about what I end up picking for him.  If he asks me more than three questions, it is pretty much a given that I will not be able to fall back asleep.  He is able to pay money at work towards a charity in order to wear jeans for certain months at a time and it is worth every penny.

When Tom woke me this morning, I figured it was a question about whether or not he had clean boxers, but instead he asked if I had seen his phone.  I was puzzled because he usually has his phone attached to him, but he said he plugged it into the charger before he went to bed and it wasn't there.  We looked everywhere and were still left scratching our heads.  It appeared someone had broken into our house and only stolen Tom's phone.  Seemed unreasonable since we have an alarm system and most seasoned crooks would likely opt for more quality and quantity, and not just an iPhone 4 with a cracked case.  I joked that perhaps the Tooth Fairy stole it since she visited Maddie last night.  I finally suggested Colin as the culprit, and Tom found it hard to believe our little sound-sleeper would wake up in the middle of the night, unplug the phone and bring it up to his room. I decided to check anyway since we had exhausted all our efforts, and the only thing more ridiculous was the Tooth Fairy theory to fall back on.

 I entered Colin's room to find him under the covers, with Tom's phone and a flashlight, watching Netflix. I snatched it from him and brought it down to Tom so he could get to work.  Tom heard Colin crying and ran upstairs to console him.  Surprisingly, Tom was very calm and understanding.  I think he was actually more impressed than anything.

I told Colin he could come sleep in my bed for the rest of the morning, but still couldn't figure out why he was up in the middle of the night.  I asked him if he was trying to catch a glimpse of the Tooth Fairy.  He crawled into bed with me and a few minutes later proclaimed he wanted to go back to his own room.  I told him he had to go back to bed and not stay up an play.  Within a few minutes he was back again, curled up and fell asleep.  Luckily, after all my super sleuthing, I was able to fall back to sleep as well.  

When I woke up about an hour later, Maddie came downstairs and reported that the Tooth Fairy had not come.  I went up to help her look for the money, I myself planted the night before, and it was nowhere to be found.  It only took me a few moments to realize where the next place to look was.  I marched into Colin's room and found the money under his pillow.  In short, my four-year old had lifted electronics and cash in the middle of the night.  This does not bode well for his future.

I still maintain that all the money we are saving for Colin to go to college will end up going towards bail money some day.  Looks like we'll have to save his Tooth Fairy money too, just in case. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Batshit Crazy Defined

If you look up "Batshit Crazy" in the dictionary, I'm pretty sure you'd find my photo.

Let's face it.  We've all been there.  We have had those moments, or even days, when we lose it.  Our heads spin, our eyes bulge out of our head and we scream like banshees.  We say things that we regret and hope to God no one heard us.  Then we feel guilty and bad about ourselves.  At least I hope we've all been there?  I'd hate to think I am the only mom who stops everyone in their tracks at Target screaming at her kid.

It seems like with all the changes in our life lately, everyone is on edge and everyone's behavior is a little off, including mine.  My fuse is typically pretty short, but my fuse has completely disappeared at this point.  Colin has been more of a pain in my ass throughout the last several months. It is either the cause of my shortened fuse or he is being affected by it.  I can't decide, but one thing is for sure, shit is about to explode around here.

Let's just discuss the general state of affairs in my current life.  We moved three weeks ago and not only had to pack and move our house into Tom's parents house that we bought from them, we then had to help pack and move all of their stuff to their new house.  We lived in relative squalor for a good two weeks, and let's just say they have accumulated a great deal of "stuff" over the years.

Once we moved their stuff out, were all ready for our new furniture to arrive only to find out that it won't be delivered until the end of September.  The good news is our painter doesn't have much furniture to work around. The bad news is at the end of the day that includes battling to keep the kids entertained in between teaching classes,  unpacking, back-to-school shopping and keeping Home Depot in business thanks to daily visits, I have nowhere to park my ass at night. We also had to live three days without cable or Internet, which meant even if I wanted to retreat to the basement, where we actually have furniture, I'd have to stare at a blank wall.  

In the midst of all this, we had to get an Invisible Fence for our dog since the new house doesn't have a fenced in yard.  She kept breaking free from the lead in the yard and/or wrapping herself around trees, bushes and Malibu lights every time she went outside.  I had to chase her through the neighborhood in my pj's numerous times. Just to make things a little more exciting, she would go outside and be so distracted, she wouldn't do what she was supposed to do.  Instead she chose to do it in the house.  The other day the Invisible Fence trainer came just as it had started raining, and I got to train her in the pouring rain. As luck would have it, the once piece of furniture that was ready to be delivered came at the exact same moment.  I think the Invisible Fence trainer was about to save me like a stray dog from the shelter.  I was soaking wet, cold and looked miserable.

Let's see, in addition to moving not once, but twice, I had to get Maddie get registered at her new school and get her ready to start this week.  The other day we tried to go back-to-school shopping at Target.  I figured it was a good excuse to get out of the house since that was day the painters started.  The fumes were starting to get to me so I gathered my list, my coupons and the kids in hopes we could just knock it out and get gifts for three of the birthday parties we had over the weekend.  Immediately, Colin started whining that he wanted a toy.  I could barely get to the school supply section, when he ran off toward the toy aisle.  I told him to pick out a toy for his friend's birthday party and he kept picking things out for himself.  I continued to say "no" and he continued to throw temper tantrums.  I finally got him away from the toy section only to have him run back there five minutes later.  When I grabbed him and led him back to the cart in the clothing section, he told me I was "stupid."  I grabbed his little red, snotty, sobbing face and gave him my best teeth gritting mom voice.  I reaffirmed that I was not buying him a toy and he had better knock it off or he was not going to be allowed to go to his friend's party.

We exited the boys section and I was trying to find Maddie some clothes when he got completely out of control and kept screaming, "I WANT A TOY!!!!" At that moment I decided to ditch the cart and the kid and told him we were leaving.  I figured I could just come back at 10 p.m. when the kids were in bed.  The way the day was going, by that time, instead of grabbing a Starbucks, I would have to bring a flask.  Better yet, perhaps heading to the wine aisle and popping open a bottle for this particular trip would be better?  I figured that would just make matters worse since I was pretty sure DCFS was already on their way.

He followed behind screaming and crying, "I WANT TO GO TO THE PARTY!!  I went into what I call "hushed batshit crazy."  Which means, I didn't scream nearly as loud as I am capable of, but enough where at least 15 people stopped in their tracks to stare at me. Let's call it screaming like a banshee in an "inside voice." 

He seemed to get the point and once again we were off towards the school supply section only to have him continued on with his temper tantrum. Every 30 seconds he would whimper, "I want a toy." Do you know how hard it is to concentrate on the proper size glue stick, the difference between single-pocket folders versus plastic, 2-pocket only folders, College rule notebooks versus wide ruled all while making sure they have a peace sign or Hello Kitty on them with that kind of distraction?

In my estimation, Back-To-School Shopping alone is grounds for us moms to completely lose our shit.  This would explain the spontaneous support group that was formed in the school supply section of both Meijer and Target.  Throw in a crabby, constipated four-year old, and I just have to give into the fact that some things are just insurmountable.

I finally got at least three more things on the supply list and we headed to the checkout line.  He had been in tears for at least 74% of the shopping trip and as I was frantically loading the conveyor belt with no less than $100 worth of Target merchandise (because let's face it, it is NEVER less than $100), and suddenly Colin walked up with a smile through his tears.  It was a smile that said, "I just pulled a major dick-move on you, mom."  I figured he had snagged some stupid toy from the checkout line and smuggled on the belt.  The checkout lady said no, but there is no proof that Colin didn't slip her a $20 to keep his secret safe.

As soon as I swiped my Target Debit card and my 5% savings was deducted, Colin asked if he could have his gun.  Now, being that Colin is the spawn of Satan, I could have just brushed this comment off as something that Colin says on a regular basis.  Then he pointed to the bags and said, "the one with the bullets." 

I dug through the  bags and found a mini Nerf gun.  I promptly marched him to the Customer Service Desk and returned it.  When I got my $5.13 back, I handed it to Madelyn who had behaved for exactly 100% of the shopping trip.  We high-tailed it out of there and Colin went straight to his room when we got home.

The weekend rolled around and I was able to hand him off to Tom, who he is actually afraid of. His behavior improved and I was relieved Tom took Monday off for one extra day of help. However, come Monday we were right back where we left off on Friday at Target.  We tried to have a fun day with our old neighbors at a local park/petting zoo. Within 15 minutes of arriving, I was ready to call Tom to pick him up.  He refused to eat his lunch, and headed for the playground.  It wasn't long before I noticed him doing a potty dance.  Since it had been three days since he had pooped and he had a dose of Miralax that morning, I knew it was pretty likely had had to drop a deuce.  Besides, playgrounds and libraries usually do the trick when a stubborn bowel movement is in question.

He refused to go potty and even made me chase him up the jungle gym.  I saw red, my temper flared as he merely laughed at me as I not-so-gracefully made my way up the ladder.  And in a blink of an eye, out came the good old "Batshit Crazy." This time, I let it all out.  We were outside, after all.   I finally scared him along with every other kid on the playground enough to march him up to the bathroom.  He still didn't poop, but he peed and then I had to apologize to not only my friends who we were having our play date with, but some poor woman who had removed her children from the playground and was hiding a few feet away.  She looked a little scared of me, but said, "I've totally been there! I completely understand!"

And I think that seems to be the general reaction I get.  Sure, I occasionally get the dirty look like, "What is wrong with your heathen of a child?" or "Why can't you get your shit together, lady?" But for the most part, I get looks of pity followed by an unspoken knowledge that all of us lose it at some point in time or another and SOMETIMES it just so happens it is in the middle of Target and not in the privacy of our own homes.

I've tried methods like "1-2-3 Magic" and "Love and Logic," and have had some success.  However, when your kid basically gives a look that is the equivalent of the middle finger when you reach "3" and escapes even the time outs that include a locked door, there is no logic and certainly no love.  I try so hard to keep it together, remain calm and controlled. I know that I am the parent and I need to be mature and not throw my own temper tantrum, but they wear me down along with my wick and then BOOM!!! Batshit Crazy.

I did look up "Batshit Crazy" in the Urban Dictionary. Here's what it said: A person who is batshit crazy is certifiably nuts. The phrase has origins in the old fashioned term "bats in the belfry." Old churches had a structure at the top called a belfry, which housed the bells. Bats are extremely sensitive to sound and would never inhabit a belfry of an active church where the bell was rung frequently. Occasionally, when a church was abandoned and many years passed without the bell being rung, bats would eventually come and inhabit the belfry. So, when somebody said that an individual had "bats in the belfry" it meant that there was "nothing going on upstairs" (as in that person's brain). To be BATSHIT CRAZY is to take this even a step further. A person who is batshit crazy is so nuts that not only is their belfry full of bats, but so many bats have been there for so long that the belfry is coated in batshit. Hence, the craziest of crazy people are BATSHIT CRAZY.

Here's the kicker, after a miserable trip to the park and petting zoo, I dropped Colin off at home, and Maddie and I headed out to run some errands while our cable and internet were installed.  He called to tell me that the cable guy found a bat in our attic.  Tom was concerned about how long it had been there and even mentioned all the shit that might be up there.  Hmm.  Perhaps I've been absorbing batshit crazy through osmosis? Yeah, let's blame it on the bats. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

B.O.B. Days Are Over

As if my life is not in enough turmoil right now, I had to say goodbye to the love of my life...B.O.B.

Now before you go thinking that the reason for my move was due to a torrid affair with a dude named Bob, let me clarify.  "Bob" is my B.O.B. double jogging stroller.  In an effort to purge more unnecessary items in our house, I finally caved and put the stroller on Craigslist.

As an avid runner, getting out for a run is my therapy.  It is my time to clear my mind, feel good about myself and in those post-baby months, a way to shed the lbs.  I was worried that I would never run again once I had kids.  With Maddie, I packed her in the Graco Travel System and walked until she was old enough for the single jogging stroller.  I was addicted to that time I got to do something for myself when everything else I did was for someone else. When I couldn't run, I was able to sneak away to the gym during my lunch hour at work. When she was big enough for single jogging stroller, I would run with the empty stroller to the daycare that was was about 2 miles away, pick her up, and then run home.  There were plenty of times people looked at me like I was nuts running with a stroller sans-baby, but it allowed me to multi-task by picking up Maddie at daycare while I worked out and snuck in some quality time with my baby.

Once I had Colin, I thought as long as I got a double jogging stroller, I would be fine.  Some women get diamond necklaces, earrings or bracelets as "push presents." This girl got a $500 double jogging stroller.  I had it ordered even before Colin entered this world. I told Tom this was the only way I could remain sane staying home with two kids.  As soon as I could get out, I walked with the kids.  Just prior to my 6-week appointment when I got my "clearance" from the doctor to workout again, I was trying to do light runs.  Of course, I learned early what "pushing it" with my push present meant--lack of bladder control and returning home from a run having peed my pants. Sad, but true.

I conditioned my kids at an early age to withstand at least a half-hour ride in the jogging stroller. When I faced resistance I bribed them with DumDum suckers, Goldfish crackers and fruit snacks.  I know, kind of counter-intuitive to strive for physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle while I pump my kids full of snacks while they sit in a stroller, but if I've said it once, I've said it a million times--Happy Mom=Happy Kids.  Plus, it taught them to get along in a confined space, got them a daily dose of vitamin D and set a good example of physical fitness.

Along the way, we had lots of fun in our jogging stroller.  We did mini-safari's looking for "wild animals" in suburbia.  While squirrels, bunnies and birds are pretty lame compared to lions and tigers, we did encounter a deer on one of our runs.  We also played games like "I Spy" and Alphabet game where they would have to go through the alphabet and find something with that started with each letter of the ABC's.

I often let the kids pick our course.  We had a few standard courses that we would follow and they got to the point where they knew which ones were not only the most interesting, but the ones that ended at a park.  So many times our runs would end up being a tit-for-tat scenario where I would swear that if they could just let me get my run in, we would go to the park on our way home.  I even went so far as to video tape one of our runs, put it to music and put it on Youtube.  

Santa Run for the Kids 5k with my reindeer.

I ran two 5k races pushing the jogging stroller and still placed in my age group in one of them.  There was a huge sense of pride I felt running with my two kids in that stroller.  The 5k I ran that had built-in fans cheering me on, but even on my daily runs I often got honks, waves and even a "You Go Girl!" from strangers driving by me while I hoofed it up and down the streets of my neighborhood on any given day.  It empowered me, motivated me and made me one bad-ass mama from all that extra resistance! It also prevented me from having three kids because I knew that a Triple-Jogging Stroller just does not exist.

Many times I would have friends from my neighborhood mention that they saw me running with my bright yellow stroller and would marvel in my determination and tenacity.  Most people said they couldn't imagine running at all, let alone pushing two kids in a stroller. Not gonna lie, that made me feel good. 

Eventually, the kids got older and the bribes had to get bigger.  Finally, I couldn't afford the bribes any longer, but more importantly their combined weight made it physically impossible for me to continue to run with both of them.  Tom mentioned selling my jogging stroller and I refused.  With the move, extra expenses adding up and our lack of desire to move any more than absolutely necessary, I finally agreed.

Within two days, I had a bite and sold the stroller.  I literally had to fight back the tears as my baby rolled away.  And no, neither of my kids jumped in the stroller unexpectedly on its departure.  Why so sad?  That stroller represented a major part of my identity for 5 years of my life.  I was the "crazy lady jogging on Miller Rd." in the neighborhood.  I was the mom who refused to throw in the towel on her running habit just because she had two kids.  I was the mom who got her kids up and out each morning instead of sitting in front of the television.  I was the mom who sang songs to her kids while she ran.  It turns out, it wasn't just "my time." It was "our time."

I'll leave you with this link to the video I made three years ago.  I hope you get the idea of why I shed a tear for our friend B.O.B.  So many miles.  So many memories.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

Movin' On Out

Six years after growing out of our house, we are finally moving.

We bought this house ten years ago when Tom and I weren't even married.  We were engaged and neither of us had a home or apartment of our own.  He had lived in D.C. for two years and then moved back in with his parents when he came home.  I was staying with my brother and sister-in-law after living in the city and decided it just wasn't for me.

We were anxious to start our life together and needed a place for all of our wedding shower gifts!  It seemed at that time, that most of the people our age who were buying homes were heading further and further out in the suburbs because you could get so much home for your money.  We followed their lead and realized that if we wanted something we could afford, we would either have to live in a shoebox, buy a fixer-upper or move to the sticks.  We chose the sticks.

As luck would have it, my other brother and his wife and family were looking to sell their house to move to Arizona.  We had some friends in Lake In The Hills, where my brother lived and they sold us on all the benefits of living here.  We were able to work out the details with my brother and sister-in-law and before we knew it, we were homeowners.

The housing market at that time was on fire.  It was the time where people actually made a living flipping houses.  We took out a 5-1 Arm Loan and figured we wouldn't have to worry about refinancing because we would only live in the house 4-5 years.  Then, the market went to hell-in-a-hand basket.  By the time we were ready to sell, all the reality shows about house flipping were cancelled and it was just about the time all the baby toys, contraptions and stuffed animals from our first-born were starting to close in on us.

Our biggest problem was a lack of a basement.  The more toys that appeared, the more our living room looked like Romper Room.  We started to put our exit strategy together, but the outlook was bleak.  Houses were just not moving and despite the fact we were both working at the time, any offer we got just didn't give us enough equity to purchase another home.

In the meantime, I quit my job and got knocked up again.  We knew once we had two kids that it would make more sense for me to stay home instead of paying an arm-and-a-leg for childcare.  Tom had just got a promotion and while that conceivably meant he would make more, it still left a great deal of uncertainty where income was concerned.

We finally decided to take the house off the market, turn third bedroom from an office into a baby's room and stick it out for awhile longer.  After all, we loved our house despite the lack of space, and most importantly, we loved our neighbors.

You really could not ask for a better living situation, well except for the asshole teenagers across the street.  We all hung out together on weekends, the kids played together and we helped each other out way beyond a cup of sugar here and there.  We had somewhat of a commune living situation where we all knew each other's garage codes, let each other's dogs out, babysat each other's kids and celebrated birthdays, anniversaries and Baptisms together.  We were more than neighbors.  We were more than friends.  We were family.

We also knew that we were in a great school district and in the end, our house was manageable, affordable and kept us safe.  So for the next five years we hung in there, but knew that at some point we would revisit our desire to move.

In the meantime, Tom's parents who had moved out to this area around the same time we did and bought a larger house as "an investment" were ready to downsize.  They had retired,  bought an RV and spent half the year traveling.  They wanted to sell their house and move to a low maintenance retirement community nearby.  Since we are in the business of buying our family members' homes, they asked us if we were interested in their house.  Their house had already lost some value and rather than give it away at a lower price to a stranger, they figured they would rather sell it to us.

My stipulation was that we get this transaction completed before Madelyn started first grade.  As it stood, we would have to change her even after she got situated in a school for Kindergarten, and I didn't want to wait any longer to switch schools if we could help it.  We sat down and hashed out the details, put our house on the market and away we went.

Now, if you have ever sold your house, you know the stress of keeping your home "staged" for showings.  If you have ever done this with children, you know it is like brushing your teeth like eating Oreos. (I stole that from something I saw on Facebook)  Before we could do anything else, we had to move half of the stuff out of the house.  Prior to putting the house up we had to move out all of the train sets, car tracks, large trucks, three bags of stuffed animals and copious amounts of Legos.  I purged the closets, packed up Winter clothes and repainted some of the walls that had been nicked, scratched and colored on.

I power washed the outside of the house, painted trim and railings on the front porch and put new house numbers up over the garage.  We had all of our landscaping freshened up, trees trimmed and new mulch put down.  Despite a minor meltdown while the landscapers turned my "privacy bushes" into Bonzai trees, the house was finally ready to stick a sign in the front and start showing.

Our traffic was relatively slow.  The first weekend we put the house on the market was Father's Day weekend, so we only had a couple showings. One of which, they called a half-hour before they wanted to come see the house and ended up coming ten minutes later.  Let's put it this way, we fled the house and headed to Yumz for frozen yogurt with Colin in his jammies and me without a bra.

In our haste to leave the house, I also realized later that day that someone had forgotten to flush the toilet.  And by that, I mean, Madelyn took a man-sized poo and left it to simmer.  I asked her specifically when she had done this and she informed me it was before the showing.  I almost lost it and all Madelyn could do is stare at me in wonder and amazement.  They had already seen me go ape-shit on the landscapers pulling a Mr. Miagi on my shrubs and now this?  Our normally "lived in" home was no longer.  I am not a neat freak and there are plenty of times I don't bother cleaning up Legos because I know they will just get dragged out again.  There is usually a syrup stain somewhere on my kitchen table and try as I may, there are always dishes in the sink and laundry to be folded or put away.  So, imagine my kids' dismay when their mommy turned into some sort of OCD freak running a vacuum at their heals each time they dropped a crumb.

Alas, after only a week on the market we got a call that we had an offer.  The odd thing was the people who placed the offer hadn't even seen the house yet!  They made an appointment to see the house the following day, but were so impressed with the photos online, they wanted to put an offer in to make sure they didn't lose it. Even more shocking was that they offered us our asking price.  Now all we had to do was wait for the inspection, appraisal and for their financing to hold up.  No big deal, right?

WRONG!  The inspection revealed we had mold in our attic that needed to be remediated along with the half a dozen windows that we already had marked for completion.  That meant pouring another $2,000 into the house.  Then the appraisal came back way lower than our asking price and the buyers refused to come up any higher than the appraisal price.  Long story short, while the market is picking up it isn't picking up fast enough.  We knew going into this whole process that our neighborhood, littered with foreclosures and short-sales, meant our value had a lot of ground to make up.  Unfortunately, we were led to believe we would still get more than what the home ended up getting appraised for.

In the end, either we accepted the offer or we ran the risk that they buyer could walk away.  Of course, that would put us right back where we started--showing the house and waiting for another offer.  With the knowledge that the house could still appraise for the same amount with the next round, we really had to come to the realization that the market is just not on our side no matter what someone offers for our home.  My other concern was getting Madelyn registered for school which starts in a just over a month.
The process has been nothing short of stressful and Tom and I have "challenged each other" through several of the steps.  Most of the time, outside circumstances cause these bumps in the road. We finally determined that we were taking things out on each other that were out of our control. We needed to just ride the storm out together.  It reminded me of why I married Tom in the first place.  Good or bad, there is no one I'd rather get through things with than him.
At this stage in the game we are just over a week from closing.  We have already moved a good portion of our belongings to Tom's parents house/our new home.  I have no idea where anything is.  I am having a hard time finding things for the kids to wear between what has been packed and what is in the laundry.  Once we close, there will be a two week window where we will living with Tom's parents until they close on their new home a few miles away.  In the meantime, the new house looks a bit like an episode of "Hoarders" and I pray that neither of the two cats involved in this move perish along the way.
Soon, we will be pulling away from our home for the last time.  I get kind of nauseous at the thought, but I know it is time to start a new chapter in our life.  Soon we will all be settled in our respective homes. We will make each our own with some new paint, furniture and décor.  It will be hard when we come over to our current neighbors' houses for parties or play dates and won't be able to just run in the house for whatever we need or meander home after an evening of cocktails.  I am sure at some point I will go to drive "home" and find myself in the wrong place unable to recognize the car on the driveway. 
So many wonderful memories were made in this house.  So many "firsts" happened here. All the milestones met, all the tender moments shared.  Home is where the heart is and we will surely leave part of ours' here. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mystery Diagnosis

Just when I thought my life couldn't get any more interesting, chaotic or comical, it seems a new saga begins.

It all started Wednesday evening.  I was teaching my evening class at one of the gyms I work at and while doing bicycle crunches at the very end, happened to notice the lymph node behind my left ear was swollen and tender.  As a person who is usually running at a standard pace of ragged, I am no stranger to this occurrence.  Ever since I was a child, whenever I was run down, tired and my immune system was on the brink of disaster, this would happen.

Seeing as how I had just had strep throat 3 weeks prior, my son had a fever on Saturday, my daughter was diagnosed with an ear infection on Sunday and my husband tested positive for strep on Monday, it was no surprise I was fighting something off.

I felt fine and not even a sore throat or stuffy nose to speak of.  Still, the next morning my lymph node on the other side was swollen and both were pretty tender and sore.  I decided to call the doctor to make an appointment in order to be proactive.  After all, I had a jam packed weekend with the kid’s combined birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, teaching classes, a 10k and a meeting at work.  Tom and I were even going to try and squeeze in a date night.  I was hoping to nip this thing in the bud before it got worse.

As the day went on I started to feel worse, and despite my efforts to lay down and rest before my doctor’s appointment, my children had other plans for me.  I started to feel like I might be running a fever so I checked my temperature.  99.1 degrees.  I was slightly alarmed since I had already taken Advil 2 times that day to help with the pain the swollen lymph nodes were causing.  After letting the kids play outside with the neighbor, we got ready to head to the doctor’s office. 

As luck would have it, it started to rain on our way to the doctor and we got relatively soaked on our way in.  Even more luck, they had the air cranked in the doctor’s office and I sat there shivering in the waiting room.  My true luck was that I still hadn't dropped off the Good Will bags from cleaning out my closet earlier in the week and I had an old sweatshirt in the car.  We sat there for over an hour because the doctor had an emergency and it gave me a chance to think.  It occurred to me that this was a bad case of Karma.  I had made fun of Tom earlier in the week when he first came down with strep throat.  He was being a typical man when he was sick and got to sleep for an entire day-and-a-half and when he was awake he did a lot of moaning and groaning.  He also woke up one night with the chills and was literally rattling in our bed, complete with teeth chattering.  I informed him the next day he was annoying.  Then he was annoyed with me.

So, there I was suffering my payback with teeth chattering, body rattling, annoying everyone around me.  Meanwhile, my kids were climbing all over me and Colin was giving his stuffed animal a ride on the wheel chair in the waiting room, then hopped in and was wheeling around in it himself.  Despite how miserable I was, I was pretty impressed with his upper body strength.  I finally gave him my iPhone to play a game and he used a drawing App to make me a get well card.  He said it was a magic dinosaur that would make it so we didn’t have to wait so long.

When the doctor finally saw me, she must have asked me 10 times how long I had my sore throat and each time I had to explain my throat was not sore.  She finally gave me at throat culture to see if I was getting strep again, gave me two Tylenol and a prescription for an antibiotic for whatever infection I was battling.  I stopped at Little Caesar’s on the way home to get the kids some dinner, threw it on the table for them to have at it and climbed into bed where I proceeded to sweat profusely while I broke my fever.
That evening, Tom picked up my prescription and I could barely get it in me because I was so nauseous and hadn't been able to eat much.  On the second try I finally got it to stay down.  The next morning I felt about the same. My head and neck were sore, I could barely eat and I somehow had to get Maddie fed, dressed and ready for school.  I finally got her out the door to walk to the bus stop with the neighbor. Colin and I snuggled up for some movie time while I napped and continued to sweat.

Maddie got home from school at 11:30 and I had just enough energy to make lunch and then made my way back to the couch.  Maddie had been pouring on the drama queen routine from the minute she got off the bus making me feel guilty that she had nothing to do all day.  You would think that any other day I dress up as a clown and make balloon animals and have pony rides in the backyard to entertain them.  I finally got the chance to sleep and sweat some more in the afternoon and felt a little bit more human.  Human enough, that is to do dishes, a few loads of laundry and make dinner.

I promised the kids that if I felt better after dinner we could go to Party City to get their party favors.  That seemed to perk them up.  As soon as they saw me doing laundry, they knew things must be somewhat back to normal.  Tom came home and after dinner we all ventured to buy bubble wands for 30 kids.

That pretty much tapped all my energy for the evening and I found myself right back on the couch.  I mustered up some additional energy to get the kids ready for bed and shortly after, went up to get ready myself.  While washing my face I looked in the mirror and noticed that my forehead was slightly swollen.  It was right at the spot where I had a minor breakout a few days earlier.  Tom suggested I was growing a unicorn horn.  Then offered up, “Well, it is the summer of the cicadas.”  Great, now I can look forward to becoming the urban legend of the woman who hatched cicadas out of her head.  Then I had a flashback to the summer of the cicadas when I was in junior high.  My family and I went to a family reunion at a forest preserve that was teaming with cicadas.  My darling older brothers told me that the cicadas would crawl into my French braid and lay eggs and then hatch in seven years.  It’s been longer than seven years, but you never know.  On the bright side, if I give birth to cicadas, I only have to take care of them every seven years, right?

I started to get concerned and tried to figure out what was going on.  I began to think of all the things that this could be based on my experience.  My first thought was I contracted something from the Tough Mudder race I did a few weeks prior. Was it a staph infection? MRSA? Was that where my one-night-stand with a cicada took place? It also occurred to me that this could be the result of hairspray.  A few years ago I ran a race with a hat on and developed a sore on my scalp from the combination of hairspray and sweat.  As a result, my lymph node swelled up and eventually went away on its own without any antibiotics.

I rarely use hairspray, but happened to use that hairspray on a whim last week.  A day or two after I used it I noticed a small breakout on my forehead, but nothing to speak of on my scalp. I am generally sensitive to a lot of hair and skin products, so it would be no surprise that something as simple as hairspray could irritate my skin.  That, combined with the fact that I am a massive head-sweater could only make matters worse.

And worse matters got.  I woke up Saturday morning still not feeling great, but better than I had on Thursday and Friday.  My whole head was aching, especially my scalp. I had found substitutes for my cycle classes and tried to rest up until it was time to pick up the cakes for the party and get the kids ready to go.  I was feeling self-conscious about my forehead, and was worried the moms of the kids coming to the party would think I had a bad Botox injection.  I made it through the two hours of Chuck E. Cheese extravaganza and was beat by the time we got home.  Tom went to a bar to watch the Blackhawks game with our neighbors and I sat with the kids while they opened all their presents. I was hoping to lay down for a bit, but by the time I picked up all the wrapping paper, got the toys out of their Ft. Knox boxes they came in and put AA and AAA batteries in everything from a My Little Pony car to a bug vacuum, the kids were hungry for dinner.

Saturday evening at Immediate Care. Fever of 101 and protruding forehead and slowly
 making its way down to the left side of eye. I'll call this look "Bad Botox"
I happened to go into the bathroom and noticed that my forehead was worse.  It was now more swollen and appeared to have traveled down my face and was now just above my eyebrows.  Not to be disrespectful, but I looked a bit like Rocky Dennis from the movie “Mask,” at least in my mind.  I had already Googled a million different illnesses regarding “forehead swelling” and “swollen lymph nodes” and finally thought perhaps I was having a reaction to my antibiotics.  Turns out one of them was swelling of the face, tongue and lips.  I texted Tom that I was heading to Immediate Care and he said he was coming home to watch the kids. 

When I got there, I sat in the waiting room.  Despite the freak show going on with the other people waiting, it seemed even the strangest of the strange were staring at me.  Thankfully I didn't have to wait long and they brought me back to see the nurse practitioner.  He asked me a series of questions and finally told me he was stumped and sent me to see the regular doctor.  The led me back to another examining room and the doctor came in a few minutes later.  She took one look at me and gasped.  She proceeded to ask me several questions and finally informed me that she has never seen anything like this and that my presentation was “very unusual.” I felt like I was on an episode of “Mystery Diagnosis.” She also told me I was running a 101 fever, which I was not aware of.  She told me my next step was to go to the ER where they could run more tests.  I heard her on the phone with the hospital from my examining room as she very dramatically described my condition to the ER doctor.  I started to get scared and felt very alone.  I began to cry just as a nurse came in to give me some Tylenol for my fever.  She tried to comfort me and said it didn't look that bad and just like I had some bad Botox.  What a bedside manner.

I called Tom to inform him that I was on my way to the ER and he said he would get the kids settled in bed and then call me back.  When I arrived at the ER at the hospital down the road, there were even more sideshow freaks, and I was their ring leader.  I thought I would have to wait there in agony with barely any battery left on my iPhone, but as luck would have it, they took me almost immediately.  They drew blood and the doctor didn’t seem overly concerned, but wanted to see the results of the blood work to rule out any major infections or viruses. 

Luckily, everything came back negative and I waited longer for him to contact my primary care physician than anything else.  He thought that I had suffered dermatitis from the hairspray but was not related to my swollen lymph nodes.  He also used the word "irregardless," so I didn't take what he said too seriously being as irregardless is not even a word. His explanation didn't seem very logical or conclusive, but at least my blood work was good.

They sent me on my way and finally arrived home at 10:30 p.m.

Sunday: Avatar Day

The next morning I woke up and found that the swelling had slipped further down my face.  Now I went from looking like Rocky Dennis from the movie “Mask,” to one of the blue creatures from “Avatar.”  I skipped my 10k run, but had agreed to sub a class at a local gym.  Despite my looks, I felt fine and needed to get out of the house.  I also felt the need for a disclaimer sign around my neck saying, “I don’t usually look like an Avatar.”  I went to teach the class and since I had never met any of the people at the gym that I was teaching at, I felt obligated to explain the way I looked.  The whole time, the song “You’re So Vain” kept running through my head.  I taught the class and felt better afterwards, but still had to go on with my day which involved taking care of the kids, picking up and cleaning the house in order for our real estate agent to come over for a meeting.  Much of my usual duties had fallen at the wayside due to my illness and the kids had all their new birthday gifts strewn about the house.  Needless to say, crawling into bed was not an option.

We got everything done, had our meeting and then it was time for me to make dinner and then head to an all-staff meeting at one of the other gyms I work at.  By the time I got home I was ready to just go to bed.  I was able to enjoy a brief moment of rest and relaxation after the kids went to bed, but soon found myself hitting the hay wondering what my face would look like in the morning.

Monday: Battered Wife Day

On Monday morning I awoke to find my swelling had moved slightly further down my face and was now around and below my eyes.  I looked like a battered wife.  I’d have to change my disclaimer sign around my neck to, “No, my husband does not beat me.”

I had a guy coming to give an estimate on our windows and then took Maddie to the bus stop.  Once she was off, I had to get Colin to the neighbor’s house so I could go teach a class.  In the midst of all this other nonsense, I developed yet another infection that is common for women on antibiotics and we’ll leave it at that.  I got the proper medication for that phenomenon and returned home to get Colin from the neighbor’s house, get Maddie off the bus and make lunch for the kids.

My regular doctor who I had seen on Thursday called me to follow up and requested I come in later in the afternoon for an appointment.  Once again, I had to drag the kids to the doctor, but at least this time our visit was limited to about a half-hour.  She offered absolutely no answers and asked me what if I thought I should stay on the antibiotic and if I wanted to see an allergist.  Last time I checked, she’s the one with the doctorate, right?  I told her I’d prefer to stay on the antibiotic and I didn't think seeing an allergist was necessary at this point.  Mainly because my children were, at that point, scaling the walls and I had no desire to see drag my kids with me to see another doctor.  She prescribed a steroid and sent me on my way. I decided that frozen yogurt would be a good post-doctor activity since I clearly needed some active cultures in my diet. Good thing I’m not a doctor because that would be what I would prescribe all my patients!  In the meantime, I got a call from another window place I had called and was ready to come out to give me my estimate.  We arrived home in time for the kids to play outside with the neighbors and for the window guy to measure my windows.

I fed the kids dinner and we were off to the gym where I had to teach my Monday evening cycle class.  I had to open class by explaining why I looked like I had been hit by a shovel and took solace in the fact that the cycle studio is dark. 

Once I put the kids to bed, I finally decided that after five days of having at least 5 swollen lymph nodes, 3 days of fever, 2 trips to the doctor's office, 1 to the Immediate Care, 1 to the ER, 3 different medications and a deformed face that has had me looking like everything from Rocky Dennis from the movie "Mask," to an Avatar, to a battered wife and do diagnosis, I would pour myself a glass of wine.  Seemed like the best medicine to me.  Yet another reason it is a good thing I'm not a doctor.

Tuesday: On the mend.  Must be the wine.