The Spanx Solution (or The Frau Experiment, Part 2)

Our parish’s Oktoberfest has come and gone. I could not volunteer as much as did last year since I’ve been working my butt off for the past six weeks in a long term sub position.

Oh, wait. No, it’s still there. Hence the need for Spanx.

Last year at this time I was running at least four days a week, about twenty pounds lighter. I felt very comfortable wearing the form fitting outfit so when my friends asked me if I was going to rock the dress again this year, my answer was no.

It was no until about twenty-four hours before Oktoberfest.

I tried it on in my room while the kids watched movies downstairs. I put on the dress and tugged at it until it showed off the right parts while covering the wrong ones. I slid the petticoat under the dress and watched as the pouf in the skirt made my waist smaller. I saw the slight rolls and thought, “Maybe I should consider Spanx.”

I have never owned a pair of Spanx. I’ve heard about them via celebrities who say they need them when really they’re a single digit prime number size. In my ponderance, I lost track of the time and realized that I was now lying down on my bed in the dark and still in the suggestive outfit.

Suddenly I heard it.

“Mommy, why are you already dressed up for Halloween?”

I should probably start saving for the kid’s therapy now.

In the end, I thought, Fuck it. I’m gonna wear the outfit. I will wear Spanx without shame and without apology.

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I enlisted the help of my college friend T to help me sell raffle tickets. We even snuck in two bottles of wine without… um, paying the corking fee. Shhh!

Withdrawal is an Evil Bitch

Don’t ask me why I wait until the last minute to call in a refill for my antidepressant prescription. Maybe I’m still in denial of being bipolar, if that’s what you can call being on and off medication for over a decade.

I ran out on Friday, called in to find out there are no refills left. It was too late too call my doctor for an emergency refill and waiting until Monday seemed like a lifetime away. I guess I thought if I didn’t care, it would go away.

Today is Tuesday and I got nothing done yesterday because I got called in to sub for a kinder class. I completely forgot all about that.

I called in to my doctor’s office to make an appointment to get more refills. No fax from the pharmacy, the receptionist said. But I called into the automated system twice, I said, and it gave the same reply: we will let your doctor know about your request.

She said to call the pharmacy back.

I hung up in tears, flustered, confused. Why are both places telling me to call the other? Why did I need to do B before I can do A but I can’t do A because there’s B and fuck you very much?

I have been without my pills for four days which translates to basically “Hi there, get out of my fucking way!”

I’m nutty at best and a ticking time bomb at worst.

I exploded with my husband in the bathroom.

I was at a dead end. I didn’t know what to do or what to say. I couldn’t think straight. Withdrawal is an evil bitch.

He picked up the phone and talked to the same receptionist. Our insurance status was changing in a few days because of his departure from the military and we didn’t know how long we’d have to wait before it went through. She said she didn’t realize that.

But what the fuck?

So now it’s more important that it get taken care of because there’s money involved? How about it be important because I’m a goddamned person? How about it be important because the person just told you she’s TAKING AN ANTIDEPRESSANT FOR GOD’S SAKE?

All I can do now is wipe my tears and make a slow withdrawal from society for a bit. Walk in eggshells so others don’t have to.

I wouldn’t care as much if I knew how fucking judgmental people were about depression from actual people I know as if people with depression have the plague or are missing something from life. Uh, yeah, it’s tricyclics. Duh.

Without them I feel like my dendrites have been magnified a gazillion times and made supersensitive which leads me to be wide awake at 3 in the morning and unable to go back to sleep. And then of course, I am a nightmare without enough sleep and the cycle continues. Exhaustion makes me worry about things I shouldn’t and forget about things I should.

Like refilling my medication in a timely manner.

When R was at his PTSD clinic in DC, he told me they had therapy dogs who were retrievers bred to be empathetic. One gentleman in particular had severe symptoms of PTSD. He needed to constantly tap things around him and cringed at the slightest sound. All of the dogs flocked to him whenever he was around. I don’t have PTSD but I know how it feels to have animals try to connect with you on an emotional level. We often curse our collection of animals in jest but we know our children have connected with them on inexplicable levels. Buddy and I went out on a long walk last week.

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Right now with my chihuahua. If I can’t get my pills, then a quiet morning with a warm blanket and puppy will do.

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Everything

Up here in Sacramento, some of the elementary schools are year round. The kids have been in school for eight days and so far, so good.

You really can’t go wrong when you don’t have to worry about Daddy leaving.

I have to say I feel a bit spoiled. Very surreal for the past month. I can sleep in on school days! Imagine that! We can take turns getting the kids ready for school.

I have help. I have a spouse. I have a partner.

Most importantly, I don’t have to do it all.

I was definitely in denial at first. Even after two weeks of R being home, I still felt like I had to do everything. Never ending laundry piles. Dishes galore. Parenting! Oh, the parenting!

My husband had left the Navy a month ago and the tasks he’s completed since then is nuts. Effing nuts!

Got caught up with bills (some military spouses feel me, right?). Found a job. Re-fucking-financed the goddamned house to save 2% interest, translating to a savings of ALMOST $700 a month! What the heck?!

A part of me felt embarrassed about how much he’s been able to do. Why couldn’t I do any of that? I’ve been here for five goddamned years!

But not once has R made me feel that way. Not once.

I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have our family complete again. When R was gone, the kids were amazing. They could teach workshops in resiliency, seriously with all the crap they’ve had to go through.

Today after school I asked the kids what was their favorite part of having Daddy home. Our oldest son M said it best: “Well, he’s never been here so… Everything.”

First day of school. L, 6 years old, 1st grade.

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A, 8 years old, 3rd grade.

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M, 11 years old, 6th grade. I said, “Come on, let’s take a picture together!” He said, “I don’t feel very comfortable right now!”

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Ellie’s Adventures, Part 5

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I’m a little obsessed with a meme making the rounds on the Pinterest humor boards that feature a grumpy cat. Since there are already pics of a misbehaving elf, why not add a cat that swears like a sailor?

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The Canine Complexity, Part 2

Remember this guy?

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He had a seizure late Tuesday night and I brought him to the animal hospital. I was told he could have had a number of issues, some of which involved:

* Possible poisoning (Nope. We have very few toxins which are kept above the washer and dryer and also under the kitchen sink. We have bug spray in the garage but they’re in spray form. We don’t have rat poison; we have cats.)
* Brain tumor (Can’t rule that out but don’t have several grand laying around.)
* Possible epilepsy

We were sent home and given the warning of no more than three seizures in a 24-hour period (Holy moly! No more seizures!) or any seizure that lasted more than five minutes. How would I be able to carry a 70-lb dog having an awful seizure into my car by myself?

I told the kids about what happened to Buddy, about how Uncle J had come over in the middle of the night to stay with them while the slept, about what a seizure would look like and what they should do in case of one.

They needed to go upstairs as soon as possilbe and close the gate. I did not want them anywhere near the dog during the seizure because I knew they would try to comfort him and Buddy might accidentally bite them. I did not want them anywhere near the dog after the seizure because who knows what Buddy would be like when he was recovering from his seizure.

Everything was fine until later that evening.

We were watching a Christmas movie when I noticed Buddy started looking around the room frantically. He got up off the couch where he was sitting next to me and walked toward the front door.

He started to have a seizure. I told the kids to run upstairs and heard the middle daughter burst into tears.

I talked Buddy through the seizure and he recovered, taking less time than the night before. I called the vet and they said to bring him in.

I called my brother once again and right before he arrived, Buddy started acting weird again and had another seizure.

I rushed him to the vet and they said his vitals were fine. They gave me some medicine to administer when I got home.

I did and don’t ask me why I did this but I put him in his crate. I thought he needed time to himself, time away from the little dog.

Then he had his fourth seizure. I was hysterical. His teeth were wrapped around the bars of his crate. He was crying. I called the vet and cried.

“I think I killed my dog!” I shouted. No sooner than I said that that Buddy recovered.

“You didn’t kill your dog,” they said. “But bring him in now.”

I did and they said they’d keep for two nights for observation because it was after midnight. They would count it in terms of fees as one night, thank goodness. They would monitor his seizures and stabilize him.

As I left the building I heard a dog cry and I knew it was him.

Later that morning they called to say he had a seizure immediately after I left. They gave him an injection and he had another seizure after that.

I called my husband to apologize for having so many pets, for Buddy’s bills. I couldn’t understand what was wrong with our dog. If he had that many seizures, wasn’t there something wrong with him? Even more than the possibility of epilepsy? Could he have a brain tumor or hemmoraging, something we couldn’t afford to find?

I had pets because they somehow healed me. I couldn’t understand why I had to heal them. I was already allowing my mind to think about the possibility of having to make the painful decision of euthanizing the dog.

Then my husband, who hates the cats (because they throw up everywhere) and disliked Buddy when he was a puppy (because he tore up the carpet), said, “Maybe it will pass. Maybe it’s just temporary. Maybe he’ll get better.”

That’s love right there.

Someone who loves you, and even though he hates the pets, will still have hope that these furballs will stay alive and healthy for a very long time just to see you happy. Someone who says after every pet, “NO MORE PETS” but still agrees to a puppy for the kids and a long-term puppy-sitting-job-for-family-turned-permanent chihuahua each time.

Just when I thought the worst of this situation, my husband helps me see hope and optimism, never contemplating the worst and never even hinting at the possibillity of putting the dog to sleep.

I continue to give the dog medicine twice a day which he happily ingests with a tablespoon of peanut butter each time. The dog has an appointment to check his levels of something or other to make sure his treatment is ont he right track. His seizures won’t stop completely but eventually they hope to have them down to only one a month.

I hope for good news for The Canine Complexity, Part 3.

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M fell asleep early for the first time in a few days. The boy was so upset, didn’t feel like eating, and didn’t even want to talk to Daddy on the phone! Both dog and boy are much better now.

The Canine Complexity

So this is Buddy.

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He’s three and a half years old, about seventy pounds. A friend of mine had a student who’s dog had puppies and adopted one. (A puppy, not a student. Never mind!) Her puppy was so cute I grabbed one too; our family got the runt.

A runt who weighed forty pounds before he was two months old!

Now he greets the kids with sloppy kisses every time he sees them. He’ll even let both girls lay on him while they read a story. The youngest one has him in the palm of her hand. She’ll park herself right next to him and pull his paws over her legs. “Buddy trapped me!”

Fast forward to tonight. I was reading upstairs in bed when I heard a ruckus downstairs. Eh, probably Buddy chasing one of the cats.

Still too loud.

Probably Buddy knocking down the tree?

No, too loud and taking too long.

I ran downstairs and there he was, all seventy pounds, having a seizure.

Now I’ve never seen one in real life, only what’s portrayed on TV and certainly never an animal. I did what you’re not supposed to do.

I freaked out.

Then I shut up and watched, making sure he didn’t bonk his head on the couch. I ran upstairs to call my brother to come over and watch the kids while I took the pooch to the vet.

I heard movement downstairs. Buddy was growling, foaming at the mouth, disoriented, running into walls.

I called my mom to get my brother. What if the dog attacked me? What if he tried to attack the kids?

Luckily, we keep a child safety gate at the bottom of the stairs to keep the dogs from going up. Nothing real sturdy or anything, just to show the dogs that upstairs was off-limits. I used it to shield Buddy from coming up and for myself in case he attacked. Pretty sure I looked like a dork, all trying to look like She-Ra and shit.

After about ten minutes, Buddy went back to his old self. He made a huge mess and I’m sure he was quite confused. I took him to the vet as soon as my mom arrived.

An hour and three hunded dollars later, if we rule out poison (that’s happened in our town before, people intentionally poisoning other people’s dogs!) and metabolic diseases (test results come back tomorrow night), then Buddy might be epileptic.

Excuse my following rant. I am extremely tired.

WTF?! The last two days have been pretty emotional for me. My husband has surgery on December 5th which means he won’t be able to fly home for two weeks after that so basically it’s all most of December without him.

And I know I should be thankful. I am thankful that he’s alive. I am so thankful we are having yet another Christmas together. I am so very thankful for all of it.

Yet I’m still harboring anxiety over having told our kids that Daddy won’t be here for another twenty-something days, that I utterly failed NaNoWriMo, that I stopped running, that I feel absolutely sick to my stomach some nights that I can’t sleep, that I feel so insecure about so many freaking Christmas presents I truly feel obligated to buy, that I’ve had it with animals getting sick.

Why the dog? Okay, I get it. Humans get sick and/or injured. Humans get surgery, therapy, and yell at you if you just happen to buy the wrong donuts but at least there is a dialogue.

Normal human-to-human convo:
Human 1: How ya feeling today?
Human 2: Pretty shitty. Thank you for asking.
Human 1: And thank you for replying.

…AND SCENE!

Normal human-to-canine convo:
Human: Who’s a good boy? Want a treat? What the fuck? Are you having a seizure?
Dog: *doesn’t say anything but pretty sure is thinking that his human is a dumbass and duh, of course, he was having a seizure!

Look, I am usually an easy-going person. If I’m having a rough day, I suck it up because i choose to. If it’s truly really truly a shitty day, I try to avoid people and social media and blogging altogether because I know I’ll get over it.

Eventually.

But oh man. Today was pretty fucking shitty.

The Novel Anticipation

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Less than ninety minutes to the start of National Novel Writing Month.

No outlines. No character sketches.

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A couple of ideas on paper but that’s it.

Fifty thousand words. Thirty days.

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Can’t take days off from being a mom. Still have to work as many days as I can.

Oh, and did I mention my husband leaves in four days?

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You know I love a challenge…

The Grating Decay

It was very dark when I left for the race. I was excited but truly fearful that I wouldn’t be able to run the entire thing. It’s difficult to accept that the only thing stopping you is yourself.

I hate that I feel the need to compare myself to others and only now am realizing that it’s toxic. I used to say to my husband (it was a quote I had seen on Pinterest), “Hey, at least I’m lapping everyone on the couch!”

To which he’d reply, “It isn’t about that.”

Man, he knows how to steal a girl’s thunder.

We had a good laugh about that but ever since his accident, he sees things in a new perspective. As humble as he was, I know he has commented about how some people he works with couldn’t run even though it is imperative to their job that they are able to.

But he’s more sympathetic now. He’s there now.

I remember before my first 5K he was very supportive and he knew I could do it.

“But what if I’m last?” I asked.

“That doesn’t matter,” he said.

It doesn’t. I see that now.

I ran the 5K last weekend with my head in the clouds or as high as I could see. We ran through a huge park and the first mile flew by quickly. The trees were taller than most buildings in our city. There was no room for the sun to peek through. I watched kids cheering for their parents, people cheering for their significant others. I passed walkers and they passed me.

I was doing okay until the last mile or so. Odd since usually the first half-mile of any of my practice runs is the hardest. I have the trees and the still of the morning to thank for the distraction. The last mile I was acutely aware that it was indeed the last mile and I was feeling the effects of everything.

I didn’t have time to down a protein bar before the run. I thought I would have time to walk back to my car and relax after checking in but it was pitch dark and even though the park was bustling with participants, I listened to my inner voice and did not walk back to my car. My last two practice runs were only two miles and one mile, respectively. I was unprepared. I was hungry.

Then inspiration came in the form of a running coach of an older woman next to me. I heard him say, “Let’s close the gap on these runners here.”

He was talking about me and someone running right behind me. I shouldn’t have been but I was.

I was deeply offended.

He kept coaching this woman and giving her motivation and I was getting mad. I don’t even know why. His voice, although probably very encouraging to this woman, was grating and getting on my last nerve.

One hundred yards before the finish line, he told her, “Okay, time to sprint. Give it everything you got.”

OH HELL NO.

I sprinted like I had never sprinted before. Faster than any day-after-a-holiday sale. Faster than the big dog can get to an unattended waffle on the table. Faster than a toddler with a box of magic markers.

And oh, did it hurt.

But it felt good. I think I might have passed five runners in those last painful yards. I’ve never run like that before.

Even now, two days after the race I don’t even know why I was so upset. I did not have anything against the woman or her coach, who could have been her son for all I know. I just felt so drained, so emotionally and so physically drained, that I didn’t even realize I was thinking. I’m glad I did react in that matter though. I now know that even when that exhausted there is still some fight within me.

If it’s in me, then I know for an absolute fact that it is within you too.

After making this awesome Whovian poster,

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I trudged back through the field from whence I came and passed the mark for the last half-mile of the race. Half-marathoners were finishing a little over an hour after they started. I stared in awe for a few moments, gazing at their slender runner’s builds and wondering if I worked hard enough and long enough that I would ever be able to earn that body. Feeling slightly disappointed with the realization that the answer was NO, I started walking toward my car and thought, “Fuck it, I need to watch.”

I turned around and sat on one of the cement dividers on the side of the road. The runners who finished in record time all had the very sleek build but soon I began to see other body types.

I was searching for my body type.

Then I saw her. A woman who defied the slender runner’s body, who had bulky muscles, who probably had a regular body-fat percentage. She was powerful. She was fast. She was awesome.

I sat for about a half an hour and continued to see different body types. Though they were not as fast as the first runners I saw, thirteen-freaking-miles in two hours is still pretty awesome.

But I’m gonna be honest here. Thirteen-freaking-miles PERIOD is still pretty awesome.

Someone asked me how I got myself motivated to run 10K and a lot of thoughts come to mind.

– I need to make goals to make things happen in my life, otherwise I tend to putter along and make excuses.

– I Google’d major streets in my neighborhood and saw that if I ran to the grocery store and back it was only two miles but if I ran to the other grocery store it was only six miles. Running through my neighborhood with major landmarks in mind did not seem as difficult as running around in a circle twenty-four times.

– My father had a lot of problems with his health, a menu of preventative diseases that I wanted to make sure I didn’t order. He was not overweight but he smoked, did not manage his stress, and abandoned a typical Filipino diet for heartier, carbier fare. I figure it might be easier to change now before I was too old and stubborn. (Okay, I am both but oldER and MORE subborn.)

– I don’t want my kids to become dependent on processed foods and sugary carbs because I know I am dependent on the latter. I do buy the stuff because it’s convenient (Ramen noodles anyone?) but I make sure that I buy say chips OR ice cream, not everything at once. Plus it’s easier to say NO at the store. If it’s in my house, I WILL EAT IT.

– But mostly, my motivation comes from my husband. He’s a stubborn, old fool who once he stood for the first time after the accident, he declared he’d be walking within the the week. He did with a walker.

Then he moved to two canes, then one cane. That fucker did everything he said he would.

I don’t know if I told you that he’s a cheap bastard because he is. It hurts his feelings to pay twenty bucks for a pair of shoes from Payless Shoe Source. (I’m not knocking the store but my wide feet need more support to run.) “My feet only bleed for a week,” he’d say.

Right? (Oops, I think I did tell this tale before.)

But with those stupid shoes, he could keep up with SEALs young enough to be our kids and he’s even lapped Marines on the track with them.

So with all that said, I can’t find motivation to run a 10K?

His presence like that grating voice of the running coach, reminding me of the fight within me that I never knew I had. I will never have a runner’s body. I know that. I accept that. But with the body I have and with the fight within me, I know that I can make it more powerful than it has ever been.

10K next month. Half-marathon in March.

The Stay-At-Home Solution

I am not going to lie. The hardest job I ever had was being a stay-at-home mom. It’s tough and I have a lot of respect for moms and dads who can do it. I even tell myself that I can’t wait until the school year starts so I can start subbing again.

So why did I feel so alone today after dropping off the kids at school this morning? I had a moment of panic while walking back to my car when I realized that I wasn’t holding the baby’s hand.

Only she’s not a baby. She’s five years old and I dropped her off at kindergarten.

I had a moment of panic again when I was walking through Target in search of a 9 volt battery so the damn fire alarm will stop singing the song of its people at random times of the day and scare the shit out of the dogs. My children weren’t behind me. I was by myself.

After that moment passed, I wandered the aisles while telling myself to avoid the books and magazines. I almost paused by the toy section, ready to yell, “Okay, we can just LOOK but we aren’t buying ANYTHING.” But there was no one to say this to.

I took my time in the store, a luxury I have forgotten about. Being at any store without any children hasn’t happened in a long time. Who knew there were so many types of sanitary products? So many options. Wings, no wings, dri-weave, jumbo, even stuff for thongs. So so weird.

I thought to myself in the store, Wow, I could really get used to this.

Then I remembered that their last day of school is tomorrow. Oh, the irony…

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I did not even know she knew how to use the iPad! My other daughter asked me how she could get to the free My Little Pony episodes I downloaded earlier. I started touching the screen to look for it but this one said, “No, Mommy. Like this!” and voila! I’m pretty sure she found it in two seconds.

The Allons-y Instability (Or How Being a Military Wife FUCKING SUCKS ASS)

Ladies and gentleman,

I am in A MOOD.

Kindly refrain from talking to me in real life because I might bite off your head for no reason at all other than the fact that I am so fucking tired of where I am right now.

A couple of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. Okay, maybe four.

Financial restraints as in this budget of ours is making me say no to EVERYTHING right now.

A fucking unfulfilling phone conversation with my husband. Goddammit, when is he coming home already? I would like for him to be home just once when I absolutely fucking need him. Just once.

I’d like to catch a movie by myself without relying on someone else other than who I married. I’d like to hang out with my friends without feeling like I am dragging the kids with me. I’d like to have a fucking week all by myself.

Is that too much to ask?

Unless you’ve been one, it’s hard to understand how being a military spouse does a fucking goddamn number on your head. You have to find the right goddamn balance sometimes when you don’t even know that you’re balancing in the first place.

You have to be independent enough to pursue your goals, especially when it comes to your damn career, but eh, you can’t do anything about them because you’re going to move whenever the Navy gods deem necessary. Or, better yet, you’ve been out of the workforce too long so good luck finding a goddamn job.

You have to be strict enough with your kids so they don’t take advantage of your single-parent guilt but easy going enough because dammit, they miss him too.

You have to be strong enough not to let stupid insecurities or petty differences start a one-way fight in your head but know that fuck, there is only so much I can take in my head right now.

I want to binge on Cadbury but I’m a dumbass and knew that I would one day feel so angry, so frustrated, so exhausted — why, yes, like today — that I would inhale the milk chocolate without tasting it. I knew that at the grocery store I didn’t need it then.

But I so need it now.

I actually feel like throwing up now.

I think I will go to bed, have a good cry, and maybe it’ll be better in the morning. Maybe I’ll dream of the Doctor dropping by in his TARDIS, whisking me away to a year from now. Maybe he will dry my tears and say, “Now, love, see? It was all worth it, wasn’t it?”

Wasn’t it?