Tags: i should only blog the good stuff

June 2011 kids

Tighty Whitey: the new swagger wagon

This is one of those posts that has been brewing in my head for awhile. Equal parts of shame and the refusal to admit all that has changed have stopped me from writing. As most of you know, four years ago Matt and I went through Dave Ramsey's Total Money Make-over. (DEAR GOD. HOW HAS IT BEEN THAT LONG?) 

It was life-changing.

It completely altered the way that we view money and it 90% freed our marriage from arguments about money. Our money works for us, not the other way around. If only it grew on trees, then everything would be peachy. Since it doesn't we had to work together as a family. Together we managed to pay our way out of $28,000 of debt (from credit cards, student loans, and car payments) and save enough to buy our house.

If it weren't for becoming debt free, we would not have our house. I would not get to (mostly) stay home with my babies. We would not have a (partially) fully funded emergency fund. We would not still use cash for all our purchases. I have to keep reminding myself of these facts because after 3 years of proudly exclaiming that we are debt free, things have changed again.

Move over Loser Cruiser, Mama's got a Swagger Wagon:

Our previous van (the Loser Cruiser) was dying a very slow and very sad death. After 125,000+ miles, she just wasn't kicking it like she should. Most importantly, she did not have a working air conditioner. Living here in Kansas, having an a/c is not a compromise; it's a death sentence and not something that I am willing to live without. Multiple estimates came in to fix the compressor around $1800 while the Kelley Blue Book value of the van was only around $3000. Basically, we drove her to her dealth. I am proud of this fact.

Can you hear the justifications that I am making?

We had no choice but to do the responsible and adult-like thing: we saved our pennies, put down some cash, and traded her in for an upgrade but on a loan. We seriously, seriously debated on buying something cheaper with more miles. However, the Toyota won. While cars are not actual investments, SHE BETTER LAST A LONG, LONG TIME because we are back where we started: in debt up to our ears.



Even Cora feels the same way. SAD, SAD, SAD.

Her new name is Tighty Whitey. This was not the name I would have chosen for her. HELLO, I mostly live with a House of Boys, remember? (I was totally out voted.) 

Here is how we ride inside her. Yes, I still make my 8.5 year old ride in a harnessed seat. Safety (much like a working a/c in Kansas) is not a compromise. EVER. I don't care if you call it a "baby seat." It is not up to you, kid. I make the rules around here. 

If you feel like coming along for the ride, buckle up because I will be blogging our way to financial freedom again. Being in debt is not a place that I feel comfortable. It doesn't feel good or right and it feels a whole lot like we "failed" the program by taking out a car loan.

We will get to be debt free again, eventually. I am excited to start all over again because I know we can do it.

Mama's gotta new ride!

I don't like to leave things on a down note, so view this video. I totally am that Mother.

Pics via Instragram. Follow me at the @thepools.

June 2011 kids

Here kitty kitty

Thank you for all the kind comments, messages, and love the past couple of weeks. Life has been good. Really, really darn good. Which is why you shouldn't be surprised at what I tell you next. THE GOOD TIMES COME WITH BAD TIMES TOO. My perfect life? Is not perfect nor is it always good. I get it, Universe. I appreciate the good and could deal without the following CASE IN POINT: my beloved cat, Noah, has gone missing. I know what you are thinking. He's just a cat. Cats are a dime a dozen. Shut up and drive.

As if you don't know enough about me, Internets, but here it is: I LOVE MY CAT. Really, really love him. Like I sometimes love him more than my family. Go ahead call me lame. I can take it. 
September 1 029

Here's the thing- Noah doesn't demand much. A little food, a warm place to relax, and a revolving door to explore the outside keeps him happy. Unlike, you know, the rest of my entire family of small children who have needs that I must constantly fill. The nerve of some people. Butts must be wiped. Baths given. Books read. Carseats buckled. 

Not so much with Noah. His love language is physical touch and a warm lap satisfies all his needs.  

I probably should be ashamed to admit how much I love him. I'M NOT. I can't help it. How many cool cats just hang out with their junk exposed? How many cats become a part of your family and allow small children to drag them around? He's always hanging around, always in on the action. He's been a part of our family for ten years. Ten years. 
Inside house 001

Matt claims that he saw Noah on the front porch Saturday morning. I noticed Saturday night that I hadn't seen him all day. It is completely out of character for him to not come home. Homeboy likes to eat. Homeboy also likes to sleep in our bed at night. We've called the humane shelter twice. I also placed on ad on Craigslist. We've walked the neighborhood. Talked to the neighbors and driven farther than he could possibly walk.

My heart is sad. We are going to poster the neighborhood and place an ad in the newspaper if he doesn't show up soon. We live in the northwest part of Lawrence and are semi-close to many wooded and undeveloped areas. Matt says a fox or coyote could have gotten him. GOD HELP ME. 
Inside house 003
Come home, Noah. Come home.

June 2011 kids

Over it

So, everything I said in my last post? About how pregnancy is so fun and fleeting? How if you blink, you'll miss it? NEWSFLASH: I am SO OVER IT. I changed my mind. I don't want to 'do anything' but have a baby. Not because I have a huge laundry list of complaints, but because I am ready to meet her. (WARNING: THIS POST IS FULL OF EXCESS USE OF THE CAPS LOCK. You have been warned.) 

I am ready to snuggle and smell my newborn.

I am ready to have Matt home for 5 weeks.

I am ready to nurse for hours on end.

I am ready to use all my diapers and pink clothes.

I am ready. I am done being pregnant. I have cleaned every drawer, corner, and closet in my house. I am done analyzing every single kick, movement, and bathroom break. I am done with having nothing to wear. I am done taking substitute jobs. I am done feeling anxious. It doesn't help that I can't call any of my family or friends. "Is it time yet? What's the status? When is that baby coming?"  WHAT DO YOU THINK, SHERLOCK?

I know the fun is in the anticipation but really, come on. We're all bored.

Over it
On Tuesday, I learned that I am ONLY dilated to a measly 1 cm and 50% effaced. Jen, the nurse practitioner, was also concerned because (as usual) I am measuring small and I lost two lbs. (Who's to complain?!)  So I consented to a sonogram. I mean, why not? I am a shame to the natural movement as it is. MIGHT AS WELL INDUCE. (I kid. I kid.)

So baby girl is estimated to be 7 lbs, 3 oz with plenty of fluid. Placenta looks fine. Head is down and she is measuring 38 weeks, 2 days.


June 2011 kids

Boy wonder

A day later and another night of reflection has made it clear that the Internet thinks I am a wonderful mother. If only it were that easy, right? I blog about all my shortcomings, my fears, my insecurities and my mess ups.

My dear readers, in turn, validate me. You fill me up. You wrap me in your arms. You tell me that I'm doing the right thing by pursuing medication and therapy.

I'm trying. I really am. I know that anxiety is genetic. I know that love is enough. I know it's not my fault.

You and Me

It's interesting to me that I had THREE people send me personal and private messages about their own struggles with anxiety. Three people that shared with me what medication they take. Or what therapies they have tried. Or how they deal with the stigma of mental illness. What would happen if we all talked about the struggles we face? Would the stigma continue? What if we didn't feel shame admitting that things aren't always okay? 

Regardless, thank you for sharing with me, friends. I'm committed to sharing our journey as we struggle to make the best choices related to Simon's mental health. I can only hope that some day, probably sooner rather than later, Simon will be okay with the information I have so easily shared. I worry that this will embarrass him or cause him to feel ashamed.

I pray that isn't the case. I haven't arrived yet, Simon. We haven't arrived. You haven't become the boy wonder that I know you're destined to be. I haven't become the mother (or the writer, or the wife, or the sister, or the friend, or the daughter) that I want to be.

You and Me
I'm trying my best. We're trying our best. And if I get it wrong or I mess it up, I'll squeeze my eyes shut and ask for your forgiveness.

June 2011 kids

Please leave a message

I'm right smack in the middle of the mid-winter, skies are gray, it is cold and gross outside SLUMP. Nothing sends me crashing back faster to reality then after Christmas. The decorations are down. The house feels empty. I haven't much to look forward to until March.
(Spring break, anyone?)

Add in a little pent up, post Christmas, passive-aggressive family drama,

plus Simon being given an official anxiety diagnosis,
along with a camera cord left in Colorado,

and a very slim bank account,

that all equals a me who isn't quite herself.

I'll be back (soonish?) when I'm feeling better.

Comments closed.

June 2011 kids

Letting go

About two weeks ago my sister, Eliza, called and asked if Simon wanted to go snowboarding in Colorado. Matt and I wavered about whether he was ready. I called my Mom. I called my other sister, Susannah, who lives in Colorado. We debated and discussed. We asked Simon what he wanted.

Simon decided he wanted to go and so we said yes. It's not very often that an opportunity to take a vacation is thrown in your face. Obviously, Matt and I wouldn't be able to go but Simon love, love, loves his aunt and uncle. The three of them would drive 3.5 hours to Grandma and Grandpa's house, stay the night, and then drive 7 hours to Susannah, Roan, and Rowdy. Simon has made this trip many times. He has spent weeks at Grandma's house by himself. He's also been to Roan and Rowdy's at least once a year since he was born.
We bought ski pants, thermal long johns, gloves, wool socks, and a new hat. We went to the grocery store and bought snacks for the road trip. I did the laundry, packed his bag, wiped out the carseat, charged his DS, and called the school to let them know he would be absent. Matt went to the bank and pulled out cash for his snowboard rental and lift tickets. We looked at pictures of Keystone and we watched youtube videos of children snowboarding.

Everything was ready to go.

Eric and Liza came over last night at 7:30 and Simon wouldn't get in their car. He cried. He begged us not to make him go. He said he wasn't ready to be gone from me. He pleaded for me to go with him. He screamed that his tummy hurt. His face turned bright red and tears streamed down his cheeks.

We all talked. We all remained calm. (Some more than others. I was really close to losing my patience.) We bribed with promises of Christmas presents. We called Roan and Rowdy who each took a turn begging him to get in the car. We threatened to take everything back if he wouldn't go. 

Everything was ready to go but him. 

And so we didn't make him. I couldn't do it. We couldn't do it. Nobody wanted to force him to get in the car. After an hour and a half of negotiating, he was put to bed while still crying. To say that everyone is disappointed is an understatement. He would have been fine in the car. He would have LOVED snowboarding, not to mention staying in a hotel, missing school, playing in the hot-tub, getting undivided attention from his aunts and uncles, and seeing his favorite cousins.

I struggle with dealing with his anxiety. I don't know how to handle his fears. I don't know what to do to make him feel better. He cried this morning and wanted to go to Colorado. It's too late, kid. You had your chance.

After school, we are taking everything we bought back to the Target and Kohls. Even the sour gummy worms that we purchased at the grocery store. He made the choice not to go, so we'll follow through with the natural consequences. We are going back to the bank and depositing the money. After that, we'll come home and make supper. We'll do baths and books and pray that Saturday turns out to be better than today. We'll talk about our choices. We'll laugh and hug and I'll try my hardest not to scream.

Growing up is hard to do and so is letting go.
June 2011 kids

Our Dirty Laundry. Would you like a glimpse?

I've sat down many times to blog this week but inevitably something or, more accurately, somebody needs my attention. This week that particular set of somebodies happen to be my Granny and Grandpa. Also known as the boys' Gigi and Papa.

It's a REALLY long story but the short story is this. My 84 year old Grandpa had chest pains. Two weeks and two ambulance rides later, he is now home from open heart surgery. Thankfully, triple bypass surgery ain't got nothing on that old man.

Unfortunately, the short story is much more complicated and I have dealt with the burden of making arrangements for them both. My Grandpa is the primary caregiver for my Granny. She is bound to her wheelchair, requires 24 hour care, and while her mind is able, her body is not. She struggles with fine motor control and balance, among other things. Until recently, I had NO idea that her condition was that bad. My Grandpa did a wonderful job of protecting her.

Now that he is currently recovering, Grandpa is unable to care for her. So the biggest question remains: who will take care of her in the mean time? Their children (my Mom and aunts) are refusing. To be fair, every one of the children are still working and none of them have wheelchair accessible homes. Nor do any of them live close to Lawrence. More importantly, my Granny isn't exactly a ray of sunshine. One too many outbursts on her part have led to relationships that are severely burned and broken.

(For the record, she has never treated me the way she treats her children. She doesn't yell at me or abuse me in any way. And she loves my children dearly. A fact that has been thrown in my face MANY times this week. I have NO CONTROL over this. We are the only family that visits her on a regular basis. I'm sorry that she only talks about my children. I understand that YOUR children and grandchildren are special snowflakes too.)

(Can you tell that I'm on edge?)

And so, I have been the negotiator between the parties. I have called to set up 24 hour nursing care. I have talked to the social worker. I refilled the prescriptions. I pass on all the details. I'm stressing about nursing homes and their finances.  

It's all sad, really. They don't have any money and so it's unavoidable that they are headed to a nursing home. Probably much sooner rather than later. It's sad that I'm forced to communicate between the two camps. It's also sad that some members of this family find me as the easy target. All I'm trying to do is make everybody happy, which clearly never works.

I'm looking forward to all this drama being put behind me. His daughter (from another marriage) is currently staying at their home. I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow or next week. I do know that I'm done for awhile. I'm done negotiating. I'm done making calls. I'm done being in the middle.

I think you reap what you sow in life. You get what you give. You make your bed and then you lie in it. 

Now I'm off to put my babies in the bathtub and to read their bedtime stories and hope that some day, when my story is almost over, my children will remember. My children will believe that love always wins. 


My happy

Round and round

I think Simon and Bennett's mission in life is to drive me crazy. Really, really crazy. Either drive me crazy or break me. I'm not really sure. I do know that today I yelled many times and wasn't very nice and let's just say that MAMA NEEDS A TIME-OUT RIGHT NOW. Of course, it doesn't need to be said that Matt was working this afternoon, right?


When headed out the door to attend a birthday party this afternoon, Simon took a full bottle of Gatorade, took off the lid, stuck his hand out the door of the loser cruiser, and POURED IT ON THE GARAGE FLOOR because "it smelled and needed to be dumped."

As I'm pulling into the parking garage to buy a gift for said party, Simon casually mentioned that he dropped his shoe as he was getting into the car. I might have had a major melt-down and informed Simon that I'm sorry but that he would be going into the store and to the birthday party with only one shoe because we were going to be late and it would have been helpful information to know that he dropped his shoe a long time ago and it's not my responsibility to deal with lost shoes and that next time he should tell me to not start the van because his shoe was missing. HAHAHAHA, JOKE'S ON ME. He dropped his shoe in the car.

After the birthday party, we went for a quick dip in the pool. Simon is still healing from a sunburn so he swam in his t-shirt. As we are leaving the pool, he tripped and fell in the gravel. Wet swim trunks + wet shirt + gravel + dirty kid = (wait for it, wait for it) GROUCHY MOTHER.

Simon made a gigantic mess with the Legos by pouring out the entire tub of 12,649 pieces. After his early shower, he was told repeatedly to clean up the mess. He continued to play and not listen. I finally shut the bedroom door and said that I didn't want to see his face again until it was clean. He ate supper at 8:00.

After baths, bowls of cereal for supper, brushing of teeth, books, and bedtime I came downstairs. I immediately (seriously, I wasn't even down here two minutes) hear Bennett yelling, "I need go potty, Mama." After hearing the toilet flush repeatedly, I head upstairs to find a half naked two year old with his head over the toilet watching as two plastic glow bracelets go round and round in the water.

June 2011 kids

I see

I see who you are. I see who you are becoming.

One minute you are laughing and wrestling with your brother, the next minute he is screaming. He is screaming and you are looking at me, waiting for my response. Your face is half-hidden behind your DS. I see fear in your eyes.

When you pinched his arm tonight, I got mad. I got really mad. I yelled.

You ran upstairs and sat on your bed. I put the computer down and hugged him, not you. I held him. I talked to him.

Your shaky and scared voice found me in the kitchen 10 minutes later, "Mama, can I get up now and go to the bathroom?"

I stomped up the stairs. "Go to the bathroom. Brush your teeth. Get into bed. I'm done with you. Why would you pinch your brother? Is that something we do? We do not behave that way. We do not hurt other people. I am very disappointed in you."

I did not yell. I screamed. My face was ugly. My eyes stared into yours.

You were scared. You were scared of me. Tears squeezed out.

My voice came down, almost a whisper, "I am so disappointed in you."

Into your bed you went, alone, at 7:30. No bath. No books. No wiggling and giggling in your brother's bed. No goodnight hugs. No asking questions. No Daddy home to rescue you from your Mama's wrath.

Who are you becoming? Are you a child full of love? Are you a kind and gentle child? A child who is spoken to and not yelled at?

I am not really disappointed in you. It's what older siblings do, right? Pinch their brothers? Scratch their sisters? Lock each other out of the house?

I am disappointed in myself.

I'm sorry, Simon. I'm sorry that you were scared of me. I put these words here for you now, in hopes that you will read them later.

Tomorrow? Tomorrow I'll be better. I'll yell less. I'll put the computer down. I'll engage.

I see who I do not want to be as your Mother.
I'm so disappointed.

A bad day

Today was just one of those days. It started with Bennett getting up 3 times. Yup, you heard me, 3 times at 13 months old. I would have simply brought him to bed with me, but Simon was already there. (Matt was at work). Then Simon wakes up at 7:30 while I am getting ready for work and has wet the bed. Not his bed, but MY bed! So I clean Simon up, turn the TV on (bad Mama points) and then finish getting ready. 7:30 is also way, way, way too early for Simon to be up.

I head to my job, which I hate. I seriously hate my job. I am too over-qualified to be a para, I'm stuck with an aggressive/spitting kid, and the room has a long term sub in it. I can't even begin to explain all the reasons I hate my job. Anyways, that's not even the point. Today was picture day and so everything was off schedule. Not a big deal unless you are 3 years old.

I come home to a tired and grumpy husband, a wild child, and a nursling demanding milk. I send 2 to bed and spend the rest of the afternoon entertaining the wild one. Although I have to admit that the afternoon wasn't actually that bad. The weather was beautiful and so we spent most of the afternoon outside. The wild one played really well with the neighbor today too and we found a yorkie puppy while we were outside.  The kids were so entertained watching the puppy in the crate. Luckily the owners came and got him.

So anyways, the climax of my bad day happened after dinner at the park. Simon stuck his tongue out at me. It wasn't a "ha-ha you can't catch me silly way", it was an "I'm mad and I'm not gonna listen" kinda way. It's safe to say that I lost it. We quickly left the ice cream social, headed to the car, and had a BIG talk. I let Daddy handle most of it, although we talked about it again at bed through his tears. I swear this child is going to send me over the edge. He was asleep by 8:15 and let's hope that tomorrow's a better day.