The Evolution of Halloween in My House

Trick-or-treating has always had a special place in my anxiety-filled heart.

No matter how good I get at greeting and talking to strangers, there is something about wandering the town that has always made my heart speed up a little and that slight feeling of panic start like an undercurrent beneath everything else I’m thinking and feeling. The anxiety is like the Loch Ness Monster – you know it’s there but if you try and focus on it, you just can’t find the source. It’s elusive, and you begin to wonder – is it even there? Am I just making it up? Is there just excess electricity in the air?

But it remains.

I finally got to the point the year before last where I was comfortable going with my hubby and doing the wander-around-the-block thing. But there were so many older kids that were pushing past my babies that the anxiety wasn’t just an undercurrent. These little asshats that would push preschoolers. Me? I couldn’t really do a thing other than hope my kids weren’t pushed on their asses. I mean, what do you say to a 10-year-old slutty witch? Her life will be what she has coming to her soon enough – she doesn’t need me giving her a memory that lasts to her 40s that reminds her even then that her studio apartment and barfly ways were her destiny long before she found herself in a position to be surprised by it. Or she could grow up to be a senator’s wife. Who knows. But when you lash out at anyone – children or adult – you are leaving yourself in their brain forever.

This year, hubby is working. He’s going to be leaving at 2:30, a full half-hour before trick-or-treating begins. So it’s going to be me and the three kids. Wandering the neighborhood for four hours and filling up bags of candy they’ll never be able to finish before it goes horribly stale. Never knowing what a smarties orsweettarts or pixie stix are because those are the only things I snag from the candy haul, and they last almost all year. (I mean, they’re pure sugar, who needs ’em, right?)

But going alone – with three kids – this is not something I am looking forward to and my anxiety thinking about it – writing about it – is just beyond anything I could describe with something as clear and simple as words.

Once I’m actually doing it, I’ll be fine. I always am. I just hate anticipation. Hate.

I also don’t like being alone for things like this. Not one little bit. I mean, if I wanted to drag a stroller, reusable shopping bags (best trick or treating bag, ever, right?) a baby and two kids around my neighborhood, I wouldn’t have gotten married and skipped straight to a sperm bank and insemination. I put up with the hassle of being in love and compromising with my life partner because he’s supposed to be part of these anxiety-causing situations. You know, to relieve the anxiety. To keep the kids safe from kids who are old enough to think that costumes are stupid but still want free candy so have the audacity to come to MY door in nothing but sweats and a hoodie and try to get some. That happened last year. I not only did not give the kid candy, I gave him a lecture that started with “Oh HELL no.”

He left, and when they crossed back and RE-WENT to all the houses on the block, they skipped my house. No eggs, no muss, no fuss. Because I made sense. I told him you don’t have to buy a costume but if I made the effort to spend my money and my time on candy he could put in the effort to figure out how to make a costume, money or not.

See, I’m a sweetheart. I didn’t shame him. I just called him lazy. Totally different, right?

When the van full of kids showed up in front of my house with nothing but a clown nose and rainbow afro to share between the five of them, they all passed the afro and nose and the one who put it on then said trick or treat.

I gave them extra candy because they put a little effort into it. I really have low standards. It’s why I get frustrated when people don’t meet those low, low standards.

But trick or treating. Yeah. It’s less stressful than handing out candy, I guess. So we’re going to do it. One kid is going to hit the motherlode when they come to my house and see a bowl full of candy – hopefully they’ll just take one or two – but there’s always the gory mask and nothing else kid or the slutty witch or slutty nurse that will take more than they should without a thought to the little kids.

But, to be honest, it’s probably going to be an adult who takes more than they should.

Don’t they always? Push that envelope. Lie about your accomplishment to sound more special than you actually are. Pretend you’re going to hang out with a friend and then ditch her at the last minute. Or just decide you don’t feel like doing something you promised you would. Adults are always the ones doing the truly horrible things – so why get worked up about some kids in outfits those same bad adults let kids wear out in public? Exactly. There’s no reason at all.

Maybe I’ll consider Halloween my New Year for the year. I mean, the government considers it April 15th and companies can have a new year start whenever they like as long as they’re consistent. I don’t need to wait for January 1st to make my life better and keep people that are close to me the type of people I’m proud to be associated with.

Not liars and not people who lie to my friends. (See, those “horrible things adults do” examples up there? Only one of them is from me. The other two happened to people I know, not me directly.)

I know so many people now that I think it’s time to circle the wagons and count up who we have in here that’s worth protecting. Because some amazing people I know aren’t getting the attention they deserve because I’m wasting it on liars and fools.

There may always be liars and fools, one of the secrets of networking is that you don’t need everybody you meet. It’s important to remember that like attracts like and that when you discover a bad apple, they’ll probably only ever introduce you to other bad apples. Honestly, even if they do know amazing people, is it worth the effort and risk and life-force necessary to keep up your connection with the one bad apple?

I think not.

Hopefully we don’t get any bad apples while we’re out trick or treating tonight. We probably won’t. Halloween pretty much rules. Low crime, one poisoned kid ever and that was by his own dad, it’s kind of a free-range parent’s dream. And, as much as I wish I could just keep my kids in my pouch like a mama kangaroo, it’s time for me to be that free-range parent I want to be. That I dream of being. The one that lets my kids be …. less afraid when they grow up.

I used to write crazy-long posts like this. I stopped. I read somewhere no one wants to read super-long posts.

But that’s another thing. I’m writing this for me. I hope you enjoy it, but it’s for me. To look back and remember. To know what I wanted. To know who I was. Because it’s so easy to lose track of who we are.

Girl Scout Leader? Why Yes, Yes I Am…

Or at least I will be after tonight.

I have to decide if I’m going to be a Brownie leader for S, a Daisy leader for A, or both.

There’s an open house tonight where I get to go, potentially get interviewed, and network with other crazy ass amazing moms that want to lead large groups of children in crafts and other enriching activities.

I’ll fit right in, right?

Here’s hoping, because I was a co-leader way back in the day and think that it could have been totally amazing if I’d had the chance to have more creative input and more … MEness in the whole thing. I am not a good second fiddle.

But crafts and stuff like that … that would be wonderful. Being part of something for my kids … I’m looking forward to it!

Update: Ok, there’s a background check I have to pass first. But then? I’m in and should have a troop up and running in a couple of weeks. As a bonus, I ran into someone I met through the Foundation there. Love her! Looking forward to getting to know her better. She said she thinks I should be on the board of the Foundation. Me. On a board. Wow.

We’re Like a Family of Plague Rats

No costumes required or anything. We just carry the sickness with us wherever we go. It’s kind of like magic, except no one is smiling and the only look of amazement is when someone is about to throw up.

Here’s the weirdness: D and A both have the coughing/lung/sinus sickness. Me and S have the tummy/barftastic/sore-throat sickness. Hubby? He isn’t sick at all.

We’re all wondering which of the two sicknesses in the family will be the one he ends up with. You would think the one I have because we, you know, breathe shared air and sleep together and snog and stuff. But he’s also D’s favorite and she’s on him 24/7 rubbing her face on his shoulder and doing the forehead-touch-hug thing and – again – sharing air.

So I’m thinking of putting together a betting pool. I truly hope he doesn’t get sick at all, but if he has to get something, the cough is the way to go. It lasts two weeks instead of three solid days, but also doesn’t include a fever and throwing up, which is a super bonus.

This morning I got my oldest off to school and she was only 15 minutes late. A huge accomplishment considering that I feel kind of like I want to curl up in a ball and die. Or just sleep for a couple of days. Whatever.

On my way back to the car, where my other two were locked in the car and into their booster and carseat while I ran my oldest 20 feet away into the office so she could go to class, I ran into the vice principal. I totally thought I was about to get the “your kids are going to DIE leaving them in the car for 60 seconds like that!” lecture, but it was not. (I should have known. The VP of my kids’ school is really an amazing human being – I adore her.) It was just a warning that they’re doing some crisis testing today so when I pick A up this afternoon there will probably be a whole bunch of cops and fire trucks.

Guess SOMEONE is going to be taking all the kids out of the car to pick up A this afternoon, huh? Yeah. Let’s not let every cop in town see some kids locked in a car. That could go horribly wrong.

Cause, you know, they could DIE in that car. Even when it’s only 40 degrees outside, I hear the inside of a locked car can reach temperatures equal to or greater than the sun.

Cautiously Optimistic About A 4.0

I’m past the midterms and now it’s all downhill.

Only 56 days left until the end of the semester. It feels like I’ve been back in college forever but, at the same time, feels like it’s flown by. Yesterday I was late to a class for the first time, but was able to get into class in time to score the points plus some extra credit. Being old helps, because the moment I knew I’d be late (we took A to the urgent care for her cough) I sent an email letting my professor know I was going to be late. Sending that note made all the difference and I didn’t get dressed down for coming in late.

It’s the same philosophy I used to use with bill collectors when we had them:

  1. They really just want to know what’s going on.
  2. Avoidance never, ever makes things better.
  3. Being honest is the best you can do, because then your story never changes.

I’m really thinking I might pull off the 4.0 – then once I get my DePaul Transcripts released I’ll have that 4.0 to add to it and might – just might – be able to transfer into the UIC Honors College. Wouldn’t that be nifty? I think so.

Now I just have to read the 2008 party platforms for both the Democratic Party and the Republican party. That and an essay on Affirmative Action (I did not pick the topic, I assure you) will get me through this week. Yes, the week my darling hubby is working 36 hours of overtime.

Oh, in related news, today I swept the floors, emptied the dishwasher, AND cleaned the toilet until it sparkled. All while managing to get my kids to school, bring my sick kid home from school, and get everyone home safely.

I almost feel like superwoman. Until I remember everything I didn’t get done. Then I’m all kinds of humbled.

Car Drama! (Super Fun Times)

So…

We’re a one car family. Have been for years. Totally happy that way – really – even when it was a little inconvenient.No car payments is a beautiful thing that has allowed us to make the budget one line shorter and let us worry about one less thing.

This week my darling husband has a week of training that’s not part of his normal Fri/Sat/Sun shift (known hereafter as the “weekend job” or “weekend shift” so it stays clear this is in addition to, not in place of, his business. I could also refer to the job as “health insurance” to get the point across but that just seems like overkill.)

Him training all week and not having any public transportation options to get to his location makes being a one-car family a special kind of how the heck am I going to get a baby and a kid to and from school nightmare.

He is supposed to, I think, work two days of overtime a week in addition to his three day work week after this training week is over. If the overtime is on the overnight shift – like the weekend gig – it won’t affect our one-car lifestyle at all. On the other hand, if it is a day or afternoon shift , well, there needs to be a solution.

Our solution for this week – that may or may not branch out to future weeks depending on how it goes – is to rent a car. We checked all the local places and Enterprise had the best deal by far. We signed up for the e-Plus thing which is great for people who want a special line at the airport and stuff like that, but for us it’s going to be a combination of the elusive “special e-mail offers” (whatever that means) and just being able to hand over the card instead of reciting name/address/etc. every time. I think it even keeps us in the system so we don’t have to show a utility bill every time we rent. The utility bill isn’t for everyone. It’s for the people who rent a car using a Debit Card – which is fine by me. As long as they allow me to live in my credit-free world and still score a vehicle I’m a happy woman and willing to make a little extra effort.

I wish I had already gone through a lot more classes. Especially the one that teaches me how to do a cost-benefit analysis. I’d love to put a couple days of car rental next to buying a used car next to getting a newer used car to see, overall, what made most financial sense. With the grand total for three days of the compact car being a nudge under $80 … it sort of seems like that might be a better option than actually owning another car

#Mamavation Monday: Can I get a Do Over please?

This morning started at 5am.

So it feels like mid afternoon and we haven’t even hit noon yet.

I just want to crawl back under my covers and go to sleep but I have these little people I have to take care of and be all responsible for. Clever Girls Collective had this great “two bottles for ten dollars” wine deal and I snatched it up because…well if you need me to explain it you might just want to skip to the next paragraph, really. But I’m just hoping that today will find the universe has taken pity on me and my inability to get my kids to school today and that wine will just appear – through the magic of UPS Ground – at my front door. (I’m not sure if the deal is still going on, but if it is, I’d snatch it up. You have to pay shipping but it’s still good cheap wine delivered to your DOOR. Total win.)

My weight today is 303.6 – (down 1.2lbs from last week) but I’m SO peeved because my weight was taken after already eating breakfast and a snack and being fully dressed. I usually weigh myself not fully clothed and before eating. So who knows what the actual number is. I’m not going to weigh my pants, bra, and food to find out.

Speaking of crazy.

Has anyone started watching that awful train-wreck of a show about eating disorders What’s Eating You? I mean, it’s kind of on the same Intervention, Obsession track where you get introduced to someone, you’re shown all their dirty little secrets and the skeletons in the far reaches of their closets – then they show them playing with food and/or puking depending on the disorder – and then there’s a ten-week montage and you get the final update in white text on a black background to let you know where they are right before the show airs.

And we wonder why patience is at such a premium. Ten weeks in an hour. I’m surprised we don’t all think people can just change overnight.

But I alternate between being horrified and thinking of it as a “tips and tricks to successful weight loss” show. When I feel horrified I hate myself just a little because I should be watching something uplifting or reading a book or saving lives…but then if I mentally slip into “tips and tricks” mode, I hate myself just a little because really I shouldn’t be doing that and my 1-2lbs a week is just fine thankyouverymuch and really I’m not going to follow in the footsteps of someone with arms that look like a praying mantis anyway. But sometimes, sometimes…. yeah. Just sometimes.

Plus, if I stopped eating except for a cracker and a sliver of celery every day I’d lose weight really fast and then look like one of those hangy-skin dogs and until I have about 6k for plastic surgery I’m not doing anything that will cause me to look like a sharpei. Is that how it’s spelled? I mean, if I lost 100lbs in a year I’d look like a flying squirrel when I raised my arms up.

Very handy if I lived in a tree – or slept in one – but I’m evolved and sleep in a bed and walk on the ground.

Did I exercise this week? Yes. Did I eat healthy this week? Yes.

Do I have any idea how to correlate what I eat with  my weight? NO. I haven’t found any rules that consistently apply to my body. Foods my body retains more easily, weight gain after eating X, Y, or Z. Nothing works for more than a few days and then it all goes haywire again. From three servings of dairy to my dietary plan from being a Mamavation Mom to making sure not to eat after 6pm to drinking a big glass of water (32oz) before each meal. Plus some others I can’t remember off the top of my head right now.

It’s taking TOO MUCH of my time and I truly have better things to worry about. So I’m just going to do how I do and track it and keep eating the healthy food in my house and do portions and leave the rest of it alone. What that means is I’m going back to the original nutrition plan that worked great but I felt wasn’t good enough because it only produced those 1-2lb. weekly results.

Whatever. I’ll get there eventually. It’s going in the right direction. I don’t mind the weighing, I don’t mind the eating, I don’t mind the portions, I don’t mind the exercise. I just don’t want to think about it beyond those basic parameters. I want to concentrate on getting my 4.0 that I want. I have less than 8 weeks to make it happen. We’re on the other side of the middle and it’s all downhill. I have to make this all count so I can transfer – maybe even into the Honors College program. It’s possible right now. That’s what I want to focus my energy on.

I’m having my surgery on Nov 4th, so I’ll be taking a week off after that from weighing or anything because I have to, you know, heal from major abdominal surgery and stuff. I’ll still be here next Monday, it’s the Monday after I’ll be totes MIA.

He Got a What??

Randy went out and got a job.

It’s an overnight, three day a week, 12 hour shift thing.

Because – and I’m dead serious – he loves manufacturing. I’ve been asking him since before we got married what his dream job was…and he finally came up with something … and it’s a warehouse?

He’s all, “Working with  my hands, blah blah blah, man crap, blah blah blah, forklift, blah, management, blah blah.”

I’m not even kidding.

But it doesn’t affect the business and it doesn’t affect school and he will know by January if the “blah blah management blah blah” part is true. If it is…it looks like he’s going to be … that guy.

I’m just trying to wrap my head around it. It would be wicked-cool if it worked out because then I could take day classes to my heart’s content and not worry about taking Calculus OR my Fine Arts requirement OR Statistics and Probability.

It’s tough to go to school when you don’t have a regular schedule, a regular worklife, and one car. We’re on the hunt for a Dave Ramsey-style beater he can commute with that will cost a grand and last a year. We might have to go up a little from a grand, but we’re trying to stick close to it. It’s not for style, it’s not for the kids, it’s just a work-commute car.

So now we’re going to have like eight different income streams coming into the house. I haven’t counted exactly but that’s a roundabout number. It’s just getting insane.

On the bright side? As of Monday we can start doing the “Countdown to Insurance coverage” – way better than a “Days to Christmas” countdown. LOL

If You Need to Feel Good, Stop Talking S**t About Yourself

The problem with the healthy blogging community is that it’s not.

There are some fabulous blogs that deal with health, yes, but for too many people it’s all tied in together with skinny. With society. With acceptable levels of fat or size or measurements.

Sure, I have my moments where I wake up and want to cry because there is fat where my flat tummy used to be. I’ve never been thin, but I’ve never had a “gut” – that was always my benchmark that made me feel beautiful. Even overweight, I had a waist and it thrilled me. But now, even though I weigh pretty much what I did before getting pregnant with my first daughter, I’m shaped differently and because I’m the same weight but a different shape (from being all stretched out from having big ol’ babies) I get to hear people tell me I’m at risk for CERTAIN DEATH. Ok, just kidding. Not certain death…just heart disease and a slew of other fattie diseases.

It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I’m being told that having three children and the natural changes my body made during that time have increased my risk for heart attacks, disease, and death. Because if I weigh the same amount and it’s my waist that makes all the difference…it has to be the pregnancies that are the underlying cause of my now imminent heart disease.

But I don’t remember reading any studies on that.

Also, seeing health “experts” on Twitter that talk about eating half of what you want to have what you want in life…that’s eating disorder talk, period. Because it assumes that in EVERY CASE the amount of food is the problem and not the type of food. It’s an easy solution to a problem that may or may not exist.

People using cute word games and making random guesses as to what thousands of people are doing at their dinner tables is … offensive.

Until you learn how to talk to your body with love and understanding. Until you stop seeing your body as your enemy…the enemy that keeps you from the things you desire: love, trust, happiness, a good job, WHATEVER you want. Until you can forgive your body – even though it has done nothing wrong. Forgive your body that keeps you here, on earth, where there are things like love and hugs and puppies and all kinds of other good things – you’ll never notice them.

What will really change for you if you are thinner?

If it will get you off of insulin or help you to walk without pain, fine, those are real, important goals that will improve your daily life.

But emotionally? I will say this a million times, but if you do not love yourself broken, you will never notice when you are who you thought you wanted to be, because if you hate your body now, you won’t know what love looks like when you reach your goal.

Be good to you. You deserve it. No matter what you look like right now.

Oh, and you know what the unexpected side bonus to loving yourself is? You’ll eat healthier because you will want to give your body the respect and love it deserves instead of dieting and limiting what you eat because you want to abuse your body into a “better” place.

Six Classes or Four Classes or Should I Split the Difference

Spring’s classes are looking like this:

Online

  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Business Law

In-Person

  • Environmental Biology (fulfills a life science requirement)
  • American Music (fulfills a fine arts requirement)

I’m a little nervous about jumping from the four classes I have now to six classes. Six classes is a lot. Part of me really wanted to take the economics classes in person, but they conflict like a mofo with the biology and music. Both the biology and music are requirements to graduate so I have to get them out of the way.

I know I can take six classes. I know I can get good grades in six classes. But can I get a straight up 4.0 GPA taking six classes? That’s the big question. Because if I’m doing this thing I’m doing it right. I’m going to be in every honors society on earth. From the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (already a member) to the Golden Key or Phi Theta Kappa (will be eligible in January) or the eventual Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Epsilon … I’m going to bust my butt to get entry into every one of them. Not just so I have a wider range of cool logo-covered clothing to choose from, either. But because every honors society is one more that might set me apart from my competition on my way to the Cato Institute.

It’s why I’m 90% sure I’m going to finish my degree at the University of Chicago. I mean, if you’re going to get a degree and you live 20 miles away from (arguably) the number one school in the world for your major – not going there will send a very strong message. Either I’m an idiot that didn’t do my research, or I don’t believe in what the school teaches. Of course, since I don’t know exactly what they do teach I can’t make that assessment. I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem like a good idea to go somewhere else, even if the professor from Northwestern just shared in the Nobel glory.

I want to go to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to finish my degree. Pretty much more than I want to breathe air. But I can’t figure out how to make that work geographically. Plus, I have no idea how they would feel about a 35 year old business owner and social media strategist who wanted to go there. I might not even get in.

There’s always distance education, but I’m afraid to know how much that would cost. But you know what, when it comes to having a passion – and you all know I don’t have one – MIT is the one thing that when I think about it, I start getting choked up. It makes me want to cry I want it so bad.

But, back to reality and Spring 2011 classes right here at home. Do I take four classes so I have extra time to study and keep up my GPA easily and start signing those applications for honors societies? Or do I take six classes and have faith that I can get an A in every class no matter what the cost?

Is it time to stay the course or up my game?

What do you think?

Oh, About the New Look (and the curse of funny)

I think most of you know I’ve been funny since birth.

The ability to make people laugh is something I hold near and dear to my heart. It makes me feel special to be able to bring others joy, or to make someone feel better when they are going through a dark time.

But it’s a double edged sword.

When you don’t act the way people expect you to, they don’t know how to react. Instead of offering words of comfort or encouragement, most people say how much they miss you and hope you’re back to the way you were soon. People who assume you’re going to be hilarious again in one, four, seven weeks…whatever arbitrary number they put on you as a normal amount of time. When you’re funny, people think you can’t help but be funny, and so you’ll be better sooner than someone who seems more emotional or deeper in some way.

I just don’t find that much funny anymore. The world is a serious place that I want to have take me seriously. Sure, there are funny bits, and my kids tripping over their own feet always gives me a giggle…but overall, I want to dig in and take my rightful place in the world.

But I do have a hell of a lot more to offer than humor, so don’t give up hope. There will still be funny stuff, I can’t help that and am not trying to.

But yeah, this is my blog and I’m going to turn it into something informative and helpful. I’m raising the bar.

I’m expecting more of myself. Because I’m capable of so much more than I’ve been doing.

No more coasting.