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.









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.


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



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.


A, 8 years old, 3rd grade.


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!”


Ellie’s Adventures, Part 5


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?





The Canine Complexity, Part 2

Remember this guy?


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.

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.

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.


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.


But oh man. Today was pretty fucking shitty.

The Novel Anticipation

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

No outlines. No character sketches.

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

Fifty thousand words. Thirty days.

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?

You know I love a challenge…