Well, This Scks

Lets see if I can do this.

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Also

a b c d e f g h i    k l   n o   q r s t    v w x y z

That is all I have of a keyboard tonight. I so sad.  Very sad I cant do Day #3 however I need the letters that are not working right now.

The note above took WAY longer than it looks, trying to find words that didnt contain the vacant letters fro the list above.

Now I say goodbye to Day #3 of How To Be A Cray o.

Fixing the Debates

“Mom, why are those two people fighting?”

“They’re not fighting – they’re debating.”

“But…. but why are they fighting?”

“They’re not fighting, they’re….. oh, heck.  You’re probably right.  They are fighting.  Anyways, remember?  They’re the candidates who are trying to become the next President.  That’s what debate night is:  two candidates get up and argue with each other a couple of times, and then you vote for the one you think won.”

“That’s dumb. They should really fight each other.”

“Well, I mean, that’d be entertaining, but–“

“Yeah!  Yeah!  They could…. they could throw stuff at each other!”

“Yeah!  Like a bag of chips!”

“Boys, I don’t know if that’s the right answe–”

“Yeah, they could throw stuff at each other, until they knock each other down!”

“And then they could be all PEW! PEW! with the chips, or maybe a sandwich, and it would hit the other one, and they’d fall off their table, and then they’d win!”

“Boys, that’s not very nice—“

“PEW!  PEW!  OH NO! TOO MANY SANDWICHES.  I’M DEAAAAAAAD….”

“Yeah!  And then they’d be all, ‘Haha, you fell down. I won!’ ”

*****

You know, I feel like I my boys might be on to something. I’d watch it.

via GIPHY

Stretching Those Unused Muscles

What do you do when the words come back, and you long to write…. but it’s been so long you’ve almost forgotten how?

I guess the best answer is you just jump in and start writing, and eventually you’ll find your groove again .

**************

 

I’m enjoying my children.

 

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When did DragonMonkey get so old?

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I think Squid wanted to pop this pony in the back of our minivan and take her home

What a bland thing to write.  I know.  A good life doesn’t really make for very interesting writing, or stories, not unless you put some real effort into it.  I do feel a small pang of regret that I won’t be able to look back on the twins’ infancy the way I am able to with DragonMonkey and Squid’s.

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Aside from a few Facebook entries chronicling my sleep deprivation, or sharing a couple of pictures of the Kraken crying, I just haven’t really taken down too many of their stories.

I think I realized in the beginning that I would have to make a choice:  Do I chronicle the twins’ infancy – the small details, like the way Magpie would only “talk” at first if she had her dimpled, tiny fingers wrapped firmly around an index finger, anchoring her so the sound could bubble up out of her?  The way I broke down sobbing at six weeks, crying out that I‘ve done nothing but sit on this couch nursing twins for six weeks straight, I even sleep sitting up, people aren’t made to be in a sitting position for this long, I’ve been sitting on my stupid butt for so long I actually gave myself hemorrhoids, please I just want to go outside, I just want to sleep more than two hours at a stretch, please I want to feel the sun on my face….

 

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Shouldn’t I be writing down the intricacies of the Kraken’s cry, the way it starts out sounding like a stalled engine every single time he wakes up, or the silent way he laughs? What about the way his small, warm body curls against mine at night?

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Shouldn’t I be writing about that, so I can have the memories to luxuriate in at a later date?

Or do I breathe them in now, pouring out my love in the small, simple touches of mothering that leave no time for anything but, only to have time and sleeplessness wear away the details until I’m left with nothing more than a vague sense of memory?

In case you can’t tell from the crickets and tumbleweeds on this blog, I went with option two.

 

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I’d like to say I’m doing all sorts Pinterest-worthy mothering to my four kids…. but mostly, I’m just being lazy and enjoying the heck out of them.  I suppose I ought to be doing more – signing them up for some sort of school sport, or reading more to them, or coming up with brain-growing crafts, or something like that.

 

I mean, I’m not saying it’s all perfect.  I yell too much some days.  The older boys get loud and obnoxious with each other.  The babies scream.

 

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Marvelous Magpie

It’s not perfect and I’m not perfect…. but overall?  It’s good.  Real good.

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I find myself sinking into the feel of the babies in my arms, or eavesdropping on the older boys’ playing with all the lazy indulgence of a binge eater nibbling on the last few chocolates in a box.

They say that childhood is fleeting  –  “they” being the people who no longer have access to it as much as they would desire.  If you ask the mother of a cranky two-year old toddler how fleeting childhood is, the answer will invariably be “not fleeting enough”…. but I feel it. I feel the press of time weighing down on me like the weight of the summer sun, and I feel the way this will be gone all too soon, so I drink it in, trying to drench my skin and my soul in the feel of this brief moment before it’s gone.

 

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I’ve always had these moments of joy in my kids – I just never really write about them. There’s something very easy and simple to invite strangers on the internet to take a peek on the funny, embarrassing, or frustrating areas of my life.  It’s a lot more dangerous to invite them to look in on the private things I love.

 

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If I share a story about how am stupid, and someone reaches out to tell me, “Hey, Becky, that’s pretty stupid”… well, obviously we agree with each other.

But… but I don’t know how my heart could handle hearing a similar about something that’s actually precious to me.  Oh, sure, I could get over it, but mostly I think….why risk it?

The thing is, I know why I feel this need, this sense of urgency to just take joy in my babies.

I have a friend.  Had a friend.  Have a friend?

 

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Oh, it wasn’t one of those uber-close friendships.  She was just someone I knew briefly in high school and only reconnected with recently because of the internet.  On the surface we had a lot in common.  Silly stuff.  We’re both tall.  We both grew up in Huntington Beach.  We both went to the same church.  We both had the same group of church friends.  We both loved sports, and the outdoors, and the color burnt orange and Calvin and Hobbes.  We both got married and had some kids.  We both believe in Christ.  We both had twins.  Of course, we have our differences too.

I never had to leave my husband because of…. well, let’s just leave it at irreconcilable differences.  I never had to move cross-country with six-week old twins.  I never got diagnosed with aggressive cancer when my babies were three months old, either.

I’d been following her story for a while – the radiation, the chemo, the sickness, the laughter, the trials… if you ask me, I think it’s easier to be brave in a single moment than it is to be brave through a long, hard slog.  She was brave.  She even had the tattoo to prove it.

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Bravery in the small things seems so much harder to me

 

And eventually it came down to the end.  And that’s where our stories differ, too.  I got to spend my summer snuggling my babies.  She got to spend hers learning how to say goodbye, to watch her babies turn to her parents as their primary caregivers, to be looking to transition to that next stage in life – heaven.

I received the news of her passing via Facebook… which is as it should be.  I wasn’t a close family friend, or someone who was all that close with her in the end…. but her passing still hit me.

I loaded up the babies into a stroller and we all headed out to the park – the boys bouncing and chattering about Pokemon Go, me quiet in contemplation of inevitable mortality, the simple joy of the sun on my shoulders, and the sound of my children.

For the record I’ve decided it’s impossible to be truly sad when you have to focus on herding children down a sidewalk – it takes too much effort and concentration to keep them all heading the same direction.  Besides, there was something healing in just being a mom to my kids in response to her finally resting from her fight, and flying away home.

I know this is heavy stuff, so I guess I’ll end it here.  I just wanted to take the time to say….Julianne, I can’t wait to hang with you in heaven.  And in the meantime…. thank you for making me a better mom, and for reminding me that it’s okay to just enjoy my kids.

 

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Patricia Briggs is Ruining My Birth Plan

Look, I try not to point fingers on this blog, but it’s the truth.  Patricia Briggs is totally ruining my birth plan.

Here’s the deal:

My technical due date isn’t until March 26th…..but, as you all know, I’m pregnant with twins.  Doctors around these parts get real hand-flappy if you go past 38 weeks pregnant with twins. (FYI:  Forty weeks is the standard gestation for a baby, and I went to 42 weeks with both boys.  What can I say?  I like to bake ’em a little longer.)

At first I was pretty disgruntled by this fact. Look, I know they’re just doing their best to avoid terrible situations and outcome.  The placenta is an organ, and by the time you hit the end of your pregnancy, it’s at the end of its lifespan.  It’s like a little 80-year-old woman toddling around, with the difference being that instead of getting to take it easy and do crossword puzzles and watch daytime television, it is being forced to work double overtime with no days off, since the fetus is bigger than ever and requiring more nutrients than ever.  Placentas get old – they give out.  They fail.  They quit nourishing.

I get all that.

But I still get annoyed at what I consider unnecessary medical intervention.  The average fraternal twin birth over in the UK is a little over 39 weeks, and their maternal stats are a lot better than ours over here in the US.

Sigh.  I’m getting preachy again, aren’t I?  Let me get back to the point:  I’ve agreed to the no-later-than-38-week induction for one reason and one reason only:  if I go into labor on my own, there’s a chance that I might go into labor late on a Saturday night, or on a super busy Friday morning, or some other really inconvenient time.  The reason it might be inconvenient has to do with the availability of the high-risk perinatologists over at OHSU.

It boils down to this:  pretty much all the high-risk perinatologists are trained and comfortable with breech births, whereas very few of the regular Ob/GYN docs are comfortable with breech births. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s really common for the second baby to come out breech, even if it’s pointing head down at first.  Once the first baby is out, the second baby tends to sprawl out with all the extra space, and you can get some weird birth presentations.

 

Don’t get me wrong – the regular Ob/GYNs at OHSU  know how to do a breech birth, but they are just much less comfortable with it and much more prone to C-sections if things get “weird” in the delivery room.  Of course, “delivery room” is a subjective term.  When you give birth to twins you actually get to give birth on a surgical table inside an actual surgical room.

Hooray.

The upside to that is if something goes wrong, it’s easy to fix things.  Scary bleeding? Stuck child?  Weirdness you’re not comfortable with?  Bam – you can do an instant C-section, with no extra prep time necessary.

The downside to that is that I have to, you know, give birth on a teeny-weenie, narrow and sterile surgical table with about 400 doctors and nurses staring at my crotch.  I wonder if I should charge admission to any extra bystanders?  “See Becky Bean’s magically fertile crotch spew forth two humans at once! Only $5 a ticket!   Popcorn available around the corner.”

It’s not exactly the feel-good, hippy waterbirth I was imagining when I first got pregnant, but at least I’d make some extra money on the side?

Wait, where was I?  Oh, yeah.  So anyways, if I give birth at an “inconvenient” time, my chances of having a C-section go way, way up, and that’s something I want to avoid as much as possible.

Look, this isn’t a “NATURAL BIRTH IS THE ONLY BIRTH” blog – I’m grateful for the C-section I had with DragonMonkey, because without it we would have had some serious issues.  However, there’s no denying that it’s a major surgery.  I was up and running (or, at the very least, walking comfortably and running errands) 48 hours after giving birth to the Squidgelet.  It took me weeks to get to that point after my C-section.  I would much rather deal round-the-clock nursing of twins and caring for a newborn without having to heal from major surgery, thank you very much.

Besides, I like my perinatologist.  She’s smart, capable, and has slender, tiny arms with slender, tiny hands.  I learned from past experience that when it comes to hands on a doctor, errr, size matters.  It really does. I’d really love to have it be her tiny, delicate little arms rooting around inside me in the event of a breech birth.

So, I’ve agreed to being induced (unless I go into labor on my own, earlier) on March 9th.

There’s just one problem with that:

Patricia Briggs’ new Mercy Thompson book comes out on March 8th.  Have you guys read the Mercy Thompson series?  If you’re at all into urban fantasy, I highly recommend it.  The heroine is kick-butt and intelligent, but not annoyingly so.  It’s one of my favorite series of all times, right alongside Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files.

Anyways, you can see where my problem is.  I’ve been waiting for the book for a year, and it comes out on the 8th.  My perinatologist wants to induce me on the 9th.

This doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for me to stay up until 4am binge-reading, you know?

 

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First World Problems are the hardest kinds of problems.

At my next appointment I am going to have to tell my doctor that we need to reschedule the date to the 10th.  I have about three weeks to come up with a decent reason why I’m requesting this change.  I’m sure she’s going to ask me, even if only to make conversation, and “Hey, I know I said the 9th works and you’ve already penciled me in, but I’m planning on staying up all night binge reading a new book on the 8th, so let’s just reschedule everything”  is the truth, but it’s kind of embarrassing to say out loud.

I’ve been trying to come up with reasonable lies.  So far I’ve come up with:

 

  • The Feng Shui of the date is off.
  • I’m allergic to single-digit birthdates.
  • My other two kids were born on Thursdays, so I wanna keep the pattern going.
  • March 9th is also written as 3-9, and 9 is the square of three, and I don’t want my kids to be squares.
  • I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.

I mean, theoretically I guess I could be an adult and read the book at a nice, sedate pace and put it down at a decent hour to get a good night’s sleep…. but we all know that’s not gonna happen.

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On Writer’s Block and Whining

At this point I don’t even know how many thousands of words I’ve typed into unpublished blogposts that will never seen the light of day.

To save on your eye strain and my boredom at hearing myself whine for paragraphs upon paragraphs, here is the one sentence summary of all the posts you guys will never read:

I’m having twins, and while I’m not excited yet, I’m finally feeling less dread about the prospect.

Yup.  That’s me – I’m making my bid early for next year’s Mom of the Year award.

 

Isn’t that a heck of a thing to admit out loud?  The words “dread” and “kids I’m gonna give birth to” probably shouldn’t ever go together.  I feel a little guilty even writing them. These are people inside me.  People, who for the first few years of their life will think I hang the sun/moon/stars…. and I’m admitting that I’m dreading their arrival. What a terrible emotion for anyone to have, much less their mother.

And for the record, when my twins stumble upon some ancient cached copy of my blog a couple of decades from now and try to use this against me in court to force me to pay their therapy bills… Sorry, guys.  I really don’t mean it personally.  It’s just…. at this point you’re not really individuals to me – you’re just the tiny little invisible people inside me who seem to relish making me sick.

I’ve spent the last six weeks or so alternating between freaking out and feeling guilty about freaking out. Seriously, if “oh, no, I’m bringing two babies into a happy family instead of just one baby” is the worst of my life’s concerns, then I’d say my life is pretty good.  I don’t feel like I’ve earned the right to freak out.

It’s just… two of them.  TWO.  At once. For, like, ever.

It surprised me when The Bean was the first one to climb aboard the “Woo-Hoo! Twins!” Train. It didn’t take him hardly any time at all.  By the time the evening of our first ultrasound rolled around, he was already chugging along and picking up steam and grinning over, “two babies!”

It’s just…. ugh.  Pregnancy has never been my favorite state, and twin pregnancy is just so, so much worse.  It feels a lot like my body has been hijacked, and I’m just being dragged along for the ride.  Plus, it’s honestly a little bit lonely.  I’m too sick to go out there and arrange playdates, so most of the time it’s just me, the dogs, the kids, the living room, and occasional trips to throw up all over the toilet.

I had all of these plans of enjoying my third and final pregnancy, being comfortable with the familiar….  and, well, those plans obviously fell by the wayside.

In case you’re curious, I’m here to tell you that, so far, a singleton pregnancy vs a twin pregnancy feels a lot like the difference between a deer in a petting zoo and a petting an Alaskan moose with rabies.  Also, the moose thinks you’re out to get her baby.  And you’re trapped in an elevator with her.  And oh, look – she just snorted a bad batch of cocaine.

 

I did what I always do when feeling lost… and I tried to make sense of it via the internet.  I’ve spent hours trying to find online blogs about moms experiencing twin pregnancy, but I’ve discovered that twin moms who blog come in three flavors:

  1. The “Fit Pregnancy” Mom:  I admire fit pregnancy mom…. but it’s disheartening to see women in bikinis two weeks after giving birth… or, heck, two weeks before giving birth.  I’m not bitter/jealous of them – I’ve skimmed their blogs, and they’re out there doing hours of pilates while 8 months along.  Dude.  They’ve earned their flat belly.  They’ve really, really, REALLY earned it.  It’s just…. I don’t feel much kinship.
  2. The “I’m Doubly Blessed!” Mom:  I think these make for beautiful blogs, and I’m not trying to disparage them, because I think it’s a great perspective to have…. it’s just that reading them makes me feel guilty. I want to be immediately happy with the news of having twins.  I think that’s a great response.  I know I should feel like that… but if I felt like that already, I wouldn’t be out there Googling inspiration.
  3. The “Dead Twins” Mom:  HOLY CRAP, there’s a lot of those out there.  I feel like their blogs should come with some kind of a trigger warning:  “Don’t get attached to this mom’s pregnancy. Trust us.  It ends horribly.”  I try to avoid those for obvious reasons.

 

Anyways, that’s where I’m at.  I’m starting to come around now that I don’t feel so terribly awful all the time – vomiting is now down to only once or twice a week, which feels AMAZING!  I’m 18 weeks along which is kind of considered the halfway point for twins – if I haven’t given birth by 38 weeks along (March 11th, I think?) then they’ll schedule an induction.

I’m not very big on inductions and interventions, but my new perinatologist doctor was very firm but polite on that aspect:  If I disagreed with the “not past 38 weeks” aspect, she would be happy to recommend some other doctors to me who would be willing to see me.

The stubborn part of me considered it, but not only does she seem very competent/intelligent, she is a big fan of “no C-sections unless absolutely necessary, even for twin moms” (HOORAY!)… AND she has tiny, slender little arms.

The last part is important, because here’s what happens a lot of the time when you give birth vaginally to twins.  After the first twin comes out the second twin is usually (more often than not) not in a good position for giving birth.  Either they were breech (feet first) to begin with, or transverse (laying all sideways across the top), or they rotate into a weird position once they find themselves with all sorts of legroom after their sibling comes out.

Luckily for me, my doctor is very skilled at breech extraction.

Isn’t that a nice, scientific term?  “Breech extraction” It sounds so much better than “I’m very well trained at putting on the LONG rubber glove and plunging shoulder deep into your nether regions in order to haul out your stubborn, sideways unborn child.”

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Like this, only sexier. Because nothing says sexy like an entire arm up your crotch.  

At my first appointment with my new doctor she was trying to gain momentum in order to talk me into an epidural (I really didn’t want one with Squid, but finally gave in after the first 31 hours)… and I had to cut her off.  “Look, lady, I’ve watched the Youtube videos.  I’ve seen how far you’re going to go spelunking.  I do NOT want to feel that without epidural.”

Anyways, that’s the glamorous reality of my new life:  I watch Youtube videos of doctors shoving arms up women in order to haul out slippery, screamy children, I get nauseous every night, I collapse in bed by 9pm every night in a sleep so deep it might as well be a coma, and I lay in bed awake from 3am to 5am every night (morning?) for no particular reason.

I also spend a lot of time trying to put off making difficult, soul-wrenching, adult decisions:  Do I try to find someone to lease Caspian for me, or do I simply put him up for sale?

The lease makes the most sense to my heart, although writing the Craigslist ad is still surprisingly difficult.  It’s necessary though.  I’ll be going down to only 10 hours a week at my library job, which means a 50% reduction in pay at a time when we’ll have more expenses than ever.

Selling Caspian makes the most sense, but tears at my heart in a way I try not to think too much about.

It helps if I think of numbers:  I won’t be able to go to the barn without hiring a babysitter (an impossible extra cost) or depending on my mom – The Bean’s only home by 7pm three or four months out of the year – the rest of the time he’s home around 9pm – way too late for me to go riding.

Board (plus farrier, plus feed) averages out to $350 a month.

And then there’s the numbers of actual horse time: the chances of me getting any significant, regular horse time with a set of twins (not even factoring in the fact I’ll have four children.  FOUR?! ) before 2017… or heck, 2018?  It’s not that great.

If I’m considering numbers it helps for me to pick a date at random:  let’s say 18 months after giving birth.  By a year and a half the twins will be toddlers – hyperactive but more manageable in terms of having a schedule and sleeping through the night and not relying on me making milk for them 24/7.

That’s 22 months from now, give or take.

If Caspian sold today, in 22 months I could be saving $7700 in horse board… at a time when we’re really, really going to be needing the money. That’s money which could be applied towards our new vehicle (we have to get rid of my Scion XB – it doesn’t fit four car seats), towards diapers (I’m going to try to do some cloth diapering, since twins use about 500 diapers a month, but still, it’s gonna cost!) or most importantly, it’s $7700 which could be spent on catching up on some of our debts.

Then again, if we’re thinking about numbers….

It would be 2017 or even 2018 before I seriously considered buying another horse.

2018 before I could own a horse again.

That’s such a terrifying thought to me that I do my best to just put it out of my mind, a la Scarlett O’Hara.

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If I leased him, even a half lease, I could apply the money made from my library job (the money left over after babysitting expenses) towards half his board.  But what if the lease went sour?  What if they injure him by hot rodding him around the arena?  What then?

Wait.  Hold on.  Waaaaaaaait.  Seeee???  Do you see why I haven’t been blogging?  I have no interest in becoming Twin Mom Variation #4:  Mom Who Only Sees The Dark Side Of Twins And Complains A Lot.

Anyways, that’s what I’ve been up to lately.  I’ve been going through the house and making Goodwill trips like crazy as I try to make room for the impending influx of baby accessories.  I’ve been eating… and then puking, and then eating again.

On a shallow side note – all of the twin books like to emphasize how hard it is to gain weight while pregnant with twins, and I am here to tell you… they’re absolutely right.  Between the puking and my food aversions and the simple fact that there’s two tiny little people inside me sucking out all my nutrients, I’ve only put on 9 pounds… and that’s WITH me deliberately eating high-fat items like fettucine alfredo with butter steak on top.  I think I gained 9 pounds in the first week with my previous two pregnancies, so it’s kind of a nice side benefit.

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I’ve also been getting regular ultrasounds – my next one is on November 6th.  So Twin B’s gender is still up in the air, but it’s been confirmed that Twin A is definitely a boy.

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Unknown gender Twin BB using his/her brother like the world’s most comfortable beanbag.

 

So, now I’ve got this whiny post out-of-the-way, and you’re all up to date.  I can go through my drafts folder and delete the rest of my “what am I going to doooooo” type posts and move on with writing about things that make me happy.

What have you all been up to?

 

How NOT to Have A Third Kid

My saddle finally arrived a couple of weeks ago. (Edit:  It arrived back in July – this post has been a long time in writing, for reasons you’ll see in a bit.)

I’ll go into all of its details and story behind ordering it later, but for now the short and sweet of it: it’s a 17 inch Eurolight and it fits my butt like a glove…. Which is a terrible simile now that I think about it, because a glove wouldn’t fit a posterior very well, but you know what I mean.

 

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It arrived in the mail and I took it down to the barn the next day, only to discover that the cinch (girth? I can never keep that term straight) didn’t fit.

I really had nobody to blame but me – I could have measured at any point in the 1+ year I ended up waiting on the saddle…. but then again, that would have been the behavior of a responsible adult, and if I were a responsible adult this blog probably wouldn’t even exist.

I indulged in a pity party on Facebook (I wanna ride my saddle but the cinch/girth won’t fiiiiiit) only to have it cut short by amazing people offering to help me out.  I’m firmly convinced that endurance riders are some of the nicest horse people around.  “My horse is in the hospital and I’ll be making a five-hour trip home tomorrow, but I’ll stop in a parking lot on the way home just to meet up with you so I can give you this obscenely expensive girth for free.”

That kind of charity is mind-boggling to me and something I aspire to.

So, naturally, being me… I was a big fat jerk and was 15 minutes late to the meet up. SIGH.

In my defense I did leave in time. I just didn’t account for the extra time it would take me as I stopped four and five times along the way to retch and gag and vomit on the side of the road.

 

11873514_10154322539757281_3562155888506053575_n

 

I think I’ve ended up becoming Facebook friends with most of you guys, but in case I’m not, yeah.  I’m pregnant again. Yes, it was on purpose.  Yes, we’re happy.  No, it wasn’t an accident.  Yes, I know what causes it.

So, now you know where I disappeared to.  I meant to type something up before I fell off the deep end of morning sickness…. but holy crap! One day I was doing okay, and the next day I was absolutely disabled with nausea.  I’m not exaggerating:  I was borderline disabled – any time I moved too fast I gagged.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to take care of a house and chase after kids without moving?

For those of you who have followed this blog, you know that me and puking during pregnancy is no new thing…. but this was ridiculous.  In case you’re curious, at some point during the horribleness I made a mental list of terrible things I’ve put up with, with “1” being the worst, and “5” being “still really crappy, but survivable:

 

  1. P.U.P.P.P :  had this with DragonMonkey, and there’s no way to describe how bad it was.  You can block out pain and push it to the back of your mind – you can’t block out itching.  And this wasn’t really itching – it was “itchy” in the same way you can compare a skinned knee and the late stages of labor are both “pain”.
  2. Morning Sickness: ‘Nuff said.
  3. Rheumatoid Arthritis:  I think the worst part of this is you never know how long each flare up is going to take.  The overall pain is less, but it just NEVER ENDS.
  4. Migraines: I’ve only had two, but they were so bad that sound started having a color (and not a pretty one.)
  5. Appendicitis: Self-explanatory – it was bad but not TERRIBLE until till it started leaking inside me.

You get the point.  My morning sickness was really, really bad this go-round.  Somewhere around 7 weeks pregnant I gave up toughing it out and tried to call the doctor to get some medicines.   I say “tried” because it took me almost an hour to make the call, because I literally could not stop retching long enough to place the phone call.  Even after I finally made the appointment I couldn’t quit.  I vomited on the way to the doctors, which was less than half a mile from my house.  I checked in to the doctors and then waited outside for them to call me back, where I could gag and puke without witnesses.
My doctor, who is normally “let’s try to take it naturally” took one look at me (when I came back from puking yet again during the middle of the exam) and prescribed me Zofran.

Sweet, sweet, beautiful Zofran!

The downside to Zofran is that, unbeknownst to me, my insurance will only cover so many pills in a single month.  Still, with the magical help of better living through chemicals I was able to keep the vomiting down to a reasonable 2-3 times a day, instead of 20 plus times a day.  The nausea was still there, but the vomiting was a reasonable amount.

Still – I remember laying there on my couch a couple of weeks ago (I think I was 8 weeks along?), thinking that I would never, ever, ever, EVER wish anything bad to happen to my baby…. but if I miscarried, I would be okay with it, because I could finally get a break from the unrelenting nausea.

Of course, the next day the nausea eased somewhat and I was horrified, convinced I’d magically willed my baby into dying.  I was a terrible, horrible, worthless kind of a person who didn’t even deserve to live and HRAAAAUUUUGGGGGHHHH…. the vomiting returned and for once I was actually relieved to be miserably sick.

So, now you know what I’ve been doing since late July, when the morning sickness kicked in:  I’ve been laying on my couch, occasionally stumbling to the bathroom to vomit, occasionally vomiting into towels, into trash cans, in my car, on the side of the road, in grocery store bathroom stalls, into my hands….vomiting so hard I routinely peed my pants like a two-year old resisting toilet training… and then vomiting some more.

It started to feel like I was living in super gross version of a Dr. Seuss book.  Would you, could you, in the rain?  HRAAAAUUUGGH.  In a house?  HRAAUUUUGGGH.  With a mouse?  HRAUUUUUUUGH.

Oh, I’ve also been going through 2-3 spit towels a day.  In case you’re curious what a spit-towel is, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a towel I spit into.  For some stupid reason my body decided it would be really fun to make 4x the amount of spit it needed.  It was even grosser than it sounded – my mouth was literally filling up with spit (to the point my cheeks would start ballooning if I held it in) every single minute of every single hour of the day.  I could only swallow so much spit, so I had to start carrying around a spit towel – in public I downgraded it to spit napkins.

Pregnancy and me:  it’s seriously the sexiest thing ever.

Right around the time my Zofran ran out and I discovered my insurance was unwilling to refill it, we were all hit with the stomach flu.

In case you were curious, the difference between the stomach flu and morning sickness is that with the stomach flu you have to worry about it coming out both ends, so to speak.

Sexy.  SOOOOOO, SOOOOOO very sexy.

I survived, but barely.

Three days after the stomach flu hit our house…..it was like a switch flipped inside me and I began to feel better.  I was still nauseous, but it was just normal waves of sickness, and there were 1/2 hour to hour-long stretches where I actually felt almost normal.

I know that doesn’t sound like much, but it felt like heaven to me.  Ever day since then has been a little bit better – right now I’m only getting sick at night, and I feel almost completely normal during the day.  I’m almost 13 weeks along and I feel good!  Hooray!

Which is why today came as such a complete surprise.

After going way past my due date with both Squid and DragonMonkey my OB decided it would be in our best interest to get a dating scan – an ultrasound where we made sure the baby’s due date was correct.  I didn’t mind at all.  Who doesn’t like to take a peek at the kid in their belly?  Besides, without it I would be stuck waiting to see the baby until we got our big scan done at around 20 weeks along.

I convinced The Bean to come along – if it sounds like he’s not particularly enthused about ultrasounds, it’s because he’s not.  Oh, he’s joined me for every “big scan”, but for some reason he can’t make heads or tails of ultrasound images.  I could probably show him a printed-off picture of a staticky tv screen and tell him it was a profile pic of the baby, and he’d likely smile and nod and tell me it looks great.  I have no idea why it’s so hard for him to see things in an ultrasound, but it is.

In an effort to help him figure the pictures out I convinced him to check out the early scan – with the baby not-so-squished inside me, it’s easier to see body parts, and legs, and arms as the kid wiggles and swims about.

We had to drive to Portland’s OHSU clinic and use their fancy ultrasound machine, as the one in little town isn’t that sensitive, but since The Bean works in downtown Portland, that worked out for the best.  We checked in and were shown back to a little room, where I lay down on a table and the ultrasound tech squirted the goo on my belly.  She  put the wand down and…..

And all of a sudden the room got really, really quiet.

I could see the baby very clearly.  I could also see…..

I glanced at the ultrasound technician, who was sitting very, very still in her chair.

The Bean leaned forward.  “Is that….”

“Yup,” the ultrasound technician replied.

I looked back at the screen, and swallowed heavily before asking, “Are there….”

“Yup,” she replied again.

The room got quiet for a moment – and for a second, I was just overwhelmed with this vague, almost queasy surreal sensation.  It was like… like if I didn’t say the words, it wouldn’t actually be real.  But it was real, wasn’t it? I could see it clearly on the monitor in front of me.

I bit the bullet and said the actual word, just to be certain.  “Twins.  You’re saying there’s two of them.  I’m having twins.”

“Yup!  Twins!”

Upon hearing that proclamation I clapped my hands twice, demurely, and said, “Quite nice, quite nice,” and the ultrasound then proceeded in a normal, classy fashion.

I absolutely did not alternate between tears and hysterical laughter and saying inappropriate things that rhymed with “Holy THIT. THIT, two of them.  Twins.  THIT. Twins.”

The Bean didn’t begin sweating, and his hands didn’t go cold.

I didn’t burst into tears later on in the day when someone asked me if I was expecting.

I also didn’t spend the rest of the day in a daze, occasionally saying “holy crap” out loud from time to time.

And if you believe that, I’ve got some Arizona seafront property to sell you.

I mean, don’t get me wrong – twins are a great thing.  They’re fun.  They’re cute.  It’s just… twins fall into that category of “weird stuff that exists but happens to someone else.”

I guess I just forgot that for all of you, I am someone else.

 

Twin darker color

I think I labeled them wrong – the pink one is supposed to be Twin B (the one higher up in the uterus), and the blue one is supposed Twin A (the one closer to the exit), and holy crap there are two of them, how am I going to keep them straight?  Also, pink really is for girl, and blue really is for boy…. although since I’m still so early that’s only about 85% accurate.

 

Twins, guys.

I’m having TWINS.

 

 

On Fries and Life

I see him there, standing on the corner, with his brown skin gone leathery from too many years in the sun, indistinct brown features, muddy brown eyes peering forth from the cracks and crevices of a face gone hard from life and weather.

He stands there, rocking slightly, cardboard sign that’s nearly as limp and worn as he is, and suddenly I’m not in the air-conditioned driver’s seat of my new car, surrounded by the greasy-sweet aroma of fast food while I wait at a red light.

Suddenly I’m eight, and I’m staring down at the grizzled, unmoving form sprawled on the front lawn of our complex.

 

 

“Is he… okay?”  I want to ask if he’s dead, but I’m scared to say the word.  I’ve never seen dead, except on tv.  I think that’s what dead looks like, but I’m not sure.

“Drunk.  And selfish.  He’s just passed out from drinking other people’s money,” my dad says, and then we’re walking past, and I’m left craning my neck over my shoulder to stare at the retreating, prone figure.

I eye the legs spread akimbo on the lush green of our condo’s lawn, the frazzled beard which hides his face, and I feel my stomach go clammy.   What if he is dead?  I can’t see him breathing.  What if he is dead, right there, on my front lawn?

I swallow and step closer to my dad as my hand steals up of its own accord, finding comfort in the grip his large, calloused palm.

 

 

I come back to myself, and eye the never-ending red light.  It’s a hot day – too hot – which is why I bought a soda.  Normally I’m a water drinker, but hot days and Dr. Pepper go hand-in-hand, and I close my eyes in bliss as I take a sip.  Why are fountain drinks so much better than the bottled ones you get at the gas station?  Who knows?  It tastes delicious, though, and my hand sneaks into the bag of its own accord, finding comfort in the feeling of being nearly-burned by the too-hot curly fries.  I wanted to wait until I was on the freeway to eat, but it was Jack in the Box. I hadn’t eaten curly fries in almost two years.  I mean, if you’re gonna be stupid and break the “no gluten” rule you’ve set for yourself, you might as well do it in a blaze of glory, right?

Out of the corner of my eye I see a flicker of movement, and I barely catch myself before I glance sideways.  He is there, still standing.  It’s not that I am trying to forget he exists, it’s just…. I never know where to put my eyes when I’m beside someone who is begging on the street.

Boy, if that’s not the definition of stupid, self-centered “First World Problems”, I don’t know what is.

I’m curious about him, and I want to look – to take a peek into the life I might have lived, had circumstances or any number of things been different – but I don’t want to look in his eyes, to feel that sizzle of connection as our gazes meet.  I’m scared what I might find.

Besides, what if he feels hope?  What if he thinks I’m looking at him because I’m going to give him money?  Do I shake my head “no”?  That seems…. that seems worse, somehow, than not even looking.  I see my purse beside me, flipped open to reveal the last crumpled dollar bill from this week’s paycheck.  I resist the urge to dart my gaze sideways again as I flip the purse closed, hiding it.

And then, even though nobody is watching me, or maybe it’s because, I drop my eyes to stare at my lap in guilt.

 

 

Beans.

I hated beans.  Hated them.  Daddy loved them, and he felt like they were a treat, but they weren’t.  They were boring, and gross, and even Ketchup couldn’t save them.  We were going to go to the store when he got back from work, but Brandie and I had eaten the last of the cereal in the morning, and the only thing to eat other than beans was a jar of sweet pickles I’d found behind the mustard – well, that and an abandoned can of tuna that was probably older than me.  I knew for a fact there wasn’t anything else, because I hadn’t even known about the tuna until I’d dragged a chair over to stand on so I could search the far corners of the empty shelves.

We weren’t poor – I knew we weren’t.  Daddy just lived on a budget and was very strict about saving his money….. but it was hard not to feel poor when all you had to eat was beans. 

“I’m hungry,” I whined. Again.  It was hot – but then again, it was always hot in August. Garden Grove was too far from the beach for any breeze, and so landlocked it felt like you were trapped.  The sidewalks caught the clean sun, trapped it, and tossed it back at you full of the stink of sweat and too-many-humans.  “I’m huuuuungry.”  I fully expected to be mocked, or told to be quiet.  I mean, there were beans.  And Ketchup.  And a can of tuna. When no “hush” was forthcoming I looked up, confused, and instead of irritation I found sympathy in my older sister’s large brown eyes.

“Me too.  Let’s see if we can find enough change to go to McDonald’s.”

My heart leapt within me.  At 11 Brandie was the de facto parent while my dad was at work, so if she said we could, then we could. We scrounged throughout the entire house – under couch cushions, behind the bookcase that we’d wedged beneath the staircase, behind the toilet, under the sink…

You will never know the meaning of dedication until you have a chance to exchange beans for a McDonald’s hamburger.  Just sayin’.

Somehow, we found enough, and the walk next door felt like a victory parade.  I tripped along after my sister, balancing on the short brick wall that bordered the sidewalk, jumping down to run down the small grassy hill.  I’m not sure what my dad was thinking.  Who? Who purchases a condo built right next door to a McDonald’s and then tries to feed kids healthy food with the scent of hamburgers drifting in all day long? I felt like the Fruit Loops Toucan, floating along in ecstasy on beckoning airstreams of greasy fries. I could have found the door with my eyes closed.

The blast of air conditioning brought blissful goosebumps to my hot, sticky skin.  We waited in line, fidgeting, scuffing our shoes on the cool linoleum.  I was so overwhelmed by the scent, the anticipation, the sweet feeling of not being horribly hot that it took me a moment to realize it.  We were standing next to one of them.  Right next to one of them. I edged closer to Brandie.  There were a lot of homeless in the area, and they all made me uncomfortable, with their scary beards and distant eyes and tendency to pass out on our condo’s front entrance way.

Brandie didn’t seem to notice him. Then again, she didn’t snap at me to quit touching her when I crowded her, so maybe she did.

“Big Mac – wait.  Two big Macs, large coke, large fries, and three of those apple pie things.”  He reached into a pocket and dropped a messy handful of change onto the counter to count out to pay.  It slammed onto the counter with a resounding crash, crumbled dollar bills and quarters mingling together in a wrinkled mountain of wealth.  How much was it?  Five dollars?  Twenty dollars?  One hundred dollars? I stared, sullen, as one of the quarters rolled to a stop, bouncing off the edge of my shoe.  I edged it away from me with a toe, following Brandie to the next register when it opened.

“One cheeseburger, and one small fries,” she said in her pretend-adult voice, carefully placing the small handful of pennies and nickles into the outstretched hands.

I watched the man receive his food and leave, and as soon as the door closed behind him I dashed over and picked up the abandoned quarter.  I considered pocketing it, but brought it to Brandie instead.

She brightened, adding it to the pile of leftover change, and pushing it across the counter.  “I would like to change my order please.  One medium fry, instead of one small fry.”

 

I pop the curly fry into my mouth and chew. Thoughtfully.  He’s looking the other way, having given up on this particular group of red lighters.  There’s a jacket tied around his waist – an impossible blue against the uniformity of his earth tones he’s wearing.  I wonder – do the clothes turn a uniform color from not being washed, or is it something he does on purpose?  Is it chance or an actual uniform – maybe a deliberate camouflage? I’ve always wanted to know, but there doesn’t seem to be a polite way to ask.  Besides, I’m not sure it’s any of my business.

I look at him, at his small backpack and the way his fingers are tight against the limp sign. I bet he makes his clothes less bright on purpose, so he doesn’t stand out at night.  I doubt he wants anyone knowing where he sleeps.  Sleeping is so…so vulnerable.  It lays everyone low, makes us all defenseless to predators, whether they’re the four-legged or the two-legged kind.

 

 

 

F*CKINB*TCHC*NT!  F**KING GONNA F**K YOU UP!  GONNA TEAR YOUR EYES GONNA TEAR IT OFF GONNA TEAR YOU…

It went on.  And on.  He’d been at it for some time.  Most of “the bums” in the area were regular as clockwork – Red Shirt Guy took the east corner, right off of Westminster Avenue.  Crazy Eyes guy would take the opposite corner, on Brookhurst Street, but usually only in the evening.

I swear they had regular shifts. They’d show up, yawning, at the same time, nearly every day.  Morning was for standing on the corner, with the cardboard signs.  Over the years I’d watched them make the signs – grabbing cardboard from the dumpster behind McDonald’s, bending it with strong hands, scuffing it along the curb to make it more worn before writing their message on it.  Homeless Vet.  Please Help.  Hungry.

The liquor store on the east corner would make their change for them, converting the crumpled bills and pocket change into larger bills.  Fives and tens, and sometimes even twenties.  Bad days would be only one trip.  On a good day they’d make 3-4 trips in a day.

And in case you were curious – No. No, there wasn’t anything good on summer daytime television in the late 80/early 90s.

As far as I could tell, they mostly drank it.  There wasn’t a lot of turnover in the population, and they seemed to sleep in the same place every night, with their brown-bagged bottles.  If they were choosing to buy or do anything harder with it, it rarely showed.

Until tonight.

“That’s it,” my dad said, punching the power button the tv with a sudden ferocity of movement.  In two strides he was at the door, throwing it open so hard it slammed into the back of the kitchen table.  Three more steps and he was through the yard, past the ridiculously short gate and on his way to the fence line, three doors down.  

The homeless man on the other side of the fence was mid-tirade, howling out a slippery stream of rage as he’d been for nearly an hour.  He seemed to go in fits and starts – quieting down just long enough to give us hope before launching into another skittering, frenetic river of cussing and anger and incoherent threats, slamming intermittently on the wooden fence that separated the condo from the alley.

The neighbors perked up as my dad strode past – eyeing the angry set of his shoulders, the crisp strides of a man on a mission from behind their drapes. 

“I’M GONNA TEAR YOUR EYES, EYES, AND F****YOU F****CNT***” 

WHAM!  WHAMWHAMWHAM!  My dad slammed his palm against the fence in quick succession.  “SHUT UP.  There’s families here. Get the hell out of here.  Go somewhere else.”  

“WHO THE F***” began Mr. Howl, and kicking the fence from his hidden retreat on the other side with such ferocity I watched the wood shudder.

WHAMWHAMWHAMWHAMWHAM!  “KNOCK IT OFF.”  The slam of my dad’s hand against the fence drowned out the sound, and the sudden silence from the other side had an almost shocked quality to it.  

 

From the safety of staring at my lap I glance back at the man on the corner, through my lashes, trying to see him for who he is, who he isn’t, who he might be, and who I might have been if I’d been less lucky.

And suddenly, I’m so ashamed of myself and my avoidance I can feel it crawling over my skin.  It’s french fries, Becky.  It’s not the winning lotto ticket, or the cure for cancer, or the last doily your great-grandma knitted before she passed away. It’s just $2 worth of french fries, and an ice cream shake, and I’m hunched over it like I’ll lose it and never see it again.

Guilt prickles like acid, eating its way past the barriers I’ve erected to keep the world out, burning through to a hidden place where the only person who has the strength to hurt me is Me.

I roll down my window.  “Hey,” I call.

Our eyes meet.

“I’ve got some lunch, if you want some…?”

I wait for him to approach before I hand it to him through my open window, feeling the waves of heat against my skin, the difference in temperature causing goosebumps to dot my forearms.   I pass over out the brown bag full of fries, and then a smaller bag with the real ice-cream shake. Our hands touch, for a brief moment, a fleeting contact even more nebulous than the touch of our eyes.

“Thank you.”

“No prob,” I say, and I mean it.

And then because I’m me I ruin it by following up with, “Stay cool,” from the air-conditioned interior of my new car.  I wince and wish I could retract it, to say something different, something more, but then the light is green and I’m through the intersection, and I’ve always sucked at small talk so there’s no sense hating myself now.

I merge on the freeway before I take a sip from the Dr. Pepper that stayed in my car.  It stayed because to give him the drink was to give him my lunch – and I wasn’t giving my lunch away, I was sharing it.  It seemed important to me, that distinction – a difference that resonates in my head and my heart in a way which helps me see clearly. Giving implies charity.  Charity implies obligation and debt.  Sharing is just… human, or at least what humans should be.

And besides – curly fries won’t change anything. It won’t change the biases I struggle to see through or the way my life is going, or the way his life is going, where he’ll sleep tonight or or where either of us will eventually end up.

But in sharing my lunch I meet his eyes, and in meeting his eyes I can meet my own in the mirror, and for today, that’s enough for me.

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.44.12 PM

 

What I’ve Been Up To

Holy crap, I’m tired.

Twice a week I volunteer at DHS.  Twice a week I clean stalls at a barn.  I landed gratefully into an amazing, daydream of a job – 20 hours a week as a library assistant, surrounded by the sweet scent of books and knowledge.  Still, it’s work.  I’m kind of amazed how hard of work it is – each shift at the library feels as busy as waitressing on Friday evening at Olive Garden.  I come home happy, but exhausted – brain full of Dewey call numbers and random tidbits from patron accounts.

A long winter bled into a too-short spring, and now all of a sudden it’s summer.  Summer – that gold-green, too-fleeting time of year in the Pacific Northwest.  I should be reveling in it, but instead I feel like I’m living a game of whack-a-mole gone bad.

Clean the house – WHACK.  Clean the stalls – WHACK.  Clean the files at DHS – WHACK. Clean the shelves at the library – WHACK.  I throw food at dogs who long for a walk, food at the too-many-chicks which are now nearly grown, food at the cats, food at the kids, lunches at the husband.  WHACKWHACKWHACKWHACK.

I dash to the grocery store and eyeball the shelves in frustration. I push aside the thoughts of the of the runs I’m not running, the horse I’m not riding, the books I’m not finishing, the friends I’m not seeing, the corner of the kitchen still unpainted, the husband who works too many hours for his sanity, and focus instead on the cost of chicken quarters vs chicken thighs vs whole chickens.  Family of four, gluten-free, snacks for children, low-carb for the adults, quick to cook, and under $600 a month.  I can do this.  WHACK.

This fancy new blog sits quiet and unused.  It’s not for lack of words – it’s just a matter of time.  I love writing here – it’s my happy space, but….. but I would really like a little extra money, so any chance I get to sit down with my computer is now spent feverishly working on my story. I  really, really, REALLY want to pitch and possibly even sell a book at the upcoming Willamette Writer’s Conference.  I don’t know if the Whack-A-Moles of my life are going to let me finish in time, but I’m going to give it all I’ve got until then.

******

I wrote that a little over two weeks ago.  I realized the whole thing just sounded… I dunno.  It wasn’t quite whiny, but it also wasn’t very interesting.

And then today, when I realized I was actually feeling human again, for the first time in ages… I noticed it’s been over six weeks since I last updated.

Six weeks – how can that be?

Well, I know how it can be – I’ll think of a story that I want to write… and then I’ll think, “Oh, gee before I do that I should probably do some kind of an update.  I’ve got that update started, so I can just finish up that, and then get back into the story… Wait.  Wait, Becky.  Think about this:  If you’re going to do all that work, you need to type on your book.”

So I work on my book, and the whole scenario repeats itself again the next day, and the next thing you know it’s been over six weeks since I last posted anything.

So.  Here is my life in a nutshell:

I’ve quit the barn job – it was fun, but it was too much.

I’ve knocked down a lot of my hours volunteering at DHS – it was also fun, but it was too much.

I go to the barn twice a week, even if it’s only for five minutes.

I’m entirely hopeful I can finish my book before the first week in August… but I’m still trying. We’ll see.

I’m doing great now, but this winter was terrible – honestly, one of the hardest times of my life.  I lost Wayne, the gentleman I was taking care of.  At the same time I was tailspinning from that, a good friend pointed out (THANK YOU, AMY, YOU LIFESAVER) that maybe I was struggling with side effects from my ADHD medication.  That night, as I lay in a fetal position sobbing in the bathtub (again), I realized… oh.  Oh, yes.  I remember this.  This isn’t me.  This is depression.

Depression is a tricky thing – I’ve struggled with it in the past, both the normal variety and the medically-induced variety.  The medically-induced variety is the easiest to fix.. but it’s also the hardest to pinpoint.  I mean, when a pill gives you a headache, it’s a pretty obvious side effect.  When life seems pointless, like there’s no point in trying and and who cares anyways, and it’s never gonna get better….

It’s hard to remember that it could be the fault of a pill.  Thank HEAVENS I’m lucky enough where it can be fixed by taking away or adding a pill.  I know how lucky I am.

Anyways, I quit the meds cold-turkey per my old doctor’s suggestion and began the process of teaching my brain how to produce dopamine (happy feelings) again.  It took about six weeks of living with a crazy brain, trying to emulate normal, human interaction before I felt human again.  I’m on a different pill now (Yay, Concerta) – slightly less effective, but without the “fat crying woman in a bathtub” side effective.  It’s a lovely trade-off, I think.

Dang, this post got dark… it wasn’t supposed to be dark.  But, by golly, I’m gonna keep muddling through it.  Heck, I may not even proofread before hitting publish, because if I don’t publish this tonight, it’ll probably be another six weeks before I get around to it.

So, I got the library job (HOORAY!), I love it (HOORAY), my days are filled with sunshine and hard work, and good friends, and a gorgeous horse (HOORAY).

I’ve got a story going in my book, and I feel like it’s a good one.  I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much, because I know how many hoops I need to jump through between writing and getting a check from a publisher…. but I’m not gonna lie, I’m hopeful, and getting a little bit excited about it.

In the meantime… have a few photos of what I’ve been up to over the past few weeks.And yes, this is the most disjointed post I’ve written in awhile… but I made it a goal to finish this post tonight, and I’m trying to learn how to follow through on personal goals even when they’re not perfect.

What have you all been up to?

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Happy Mother’s Day

To my 5’2″ Mexican mother,

 

You may have been the world’s cutest baby.

 

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Although, when you look at your own mom, it’s not really shocking.

 

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My abuelita was hotter than your abuelita.

 

Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and wonder… dude.  I know we’ve got all these photos of you and me together on the day I was born, but are SURE I came out of your belly?

 

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19 years old

 Like, really, REALLY sure?

You’ve done a lot for me, but deep in my heart I’m still a bit resentful.  Couldn’t you have tried a little bit harder to give me your olive skin?  I’m pretty sure I’m the most un-Mexican half-Mexican in the world.  I know you don’t really get a choice as to what your kid will look like… I’m just saying, you could have tried a little bit harder to pass on your genes.  Cuz seriously, woman, you had some great genes to pass along.

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I know you tried to pass on your ability to pose for the camera.  That…. that got lost in the translation somewhere.  Sorry.

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You also tried to pass on how to be feminine, to do your hair, to never wear underwear with holes in them, to sit like a lady, and to always wash your fruit before you eat it.

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As I sit here eating my unwashed apple with a live baby chicken shoved down my bra (how else should I keep it warm while I’m holding it?) all I can say is:  you really tried, and nobody’s blaming you.

Madrisima, you are more beautiful than I think you will ever know, and I love you.  And I promise that by the time you guys arrive today, I will have at least changed out of my chicken bra and into something less germ-ridden, just for you.   I also promise that every time I bite into a piece of unwashed fruit, no matter how old I am, I will hear your voice going “Re-be-ca!  Wash that!”

See?  You did your job well.

…..even though was just selfish of you not to give me more of those gorgeous Mexican genes.

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Happy Mother’s Day 🙂

Chickens! Little Bitty Baby Chicks!

The problem with buying baby chicks is that, well, they’re baby chicks.

And the problem with baby chicks is that they’re addicting.

The other problem is that they’re incredibly fertile, especially at a young age.  You go to the store and you buy three baby chicks, and then by the time you come home those little sneaks have gone and turned themselves into seven baby chickens.

It’s not my fault.  I blame society – all those babies having babies.  Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Before I delve into introducing the chicks, let me catch everyone up to speed on my current chickens.

At the moment we have three adult chickens.

Tanesha, the Buff Orpington.

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She’s… she’s pretty stupid, and that’s really saying something, because chickens aren’t the brightest creatures alive.  She’s not just stupid – she’s stupid for a chicken.

She also isn’t the greatest layer – I think she averages about 2 eggs a week, now that she’s passed her prime?  Maybe three?  She’s been a bad layer from the start – at best she only gave us 4 or so eggs a week.

On the other hand, she’s very sweet, and she’s so big that the other chickens don’t mess with her, so just by being her she keeps the other chickens in line.

My four red hens, Myrtle, Martha, Itchy and Scratchy were all Golden Sexlink chickens – great egg layers (seriously!  7-8 eggs a week, EACH!) who go through chicken menopause early and really decrease their laying production at about 3 or so years old.

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Moaning Myrtle and Martha Stewart (this is Myrtle in the picture) were eaten by raccoons about two months ago.  It was really horrible and heart wrenching and I miss them AND their eggs – although they were drying up, they were still good for 4 or more eggs week (they used to lay 7 a week, sometimes more).  Now that they’re gone, I’ve had to go back to buying storebought eggs, and that’s no fun at all.

That just leaves me with Itchy and Scratchy – who are nice, but not very sweet, and I wasn’t going to mourn them going into someone else’s stew pot…..

Except that Itchy earned herself a reprieve by surviving 5 days trapped under a flower pot.
Seriously.  Five days under a flower pot, and she’s still alive.  How….?

 

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You can see the dark circle to the left, where the flower pot originally was.

Back in April I let the chickens out to go peck in the main part of the yard.  In a perfect scenario they’d be out all the time, but…. but they poop like Chihuahuas.

Who wants to add “scooping up chicken poop” to their to-do list? Not me – so they live in the outdoor coop.

Still, they get out a couple of times a week to peck at bugs and stretch their legs. On that particular day we let them out in the morning, and by lunchtime Itchy was missing.  Poor Itchy is ridiculously low on the pecking order, so it would be odd for her to wander off by herself.  Several times a year I had to isolate her form the other chickens, because they would randomly decide to just try to eat her alive.

She’s not exactly the world’s bravest chicken so it was out of character for her to wander off, but I figured she was just scratching for worms in the empty field behind us and would be back soon.

When evening came and she still hadn’t returned, I went on a full on search for her.  Unfortunately, she really was nowhere to be found.  Had someone seen her and taken her home, thinking she was abandoned?  Had a daytime coyote eaten her?  A daytime raccoon?  A hawk?

I gave up after nearly an hour of searching and locked my remaining two hens in for the night.  I held out hope that she’d maybe show up the next morning… but no.

I said goodbye to her in my heart and moved on.  It sounds cold, but after having to clean up bloody chunks of Moaning Myrtle, a missing chicken wasn’t very traumatic to me.

So, imagine my surprise when the following Saturday, almost 6 days after she’d disappeared, I flipped over a broken flower pot to throw it in the trash, and out exploded a very bedraggled, hungry chicken.

 

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Picture taken about 3 minutes after she came out.

Have any of you ever reached into a bag of feed and had a mouse jump out?  I don’t know about you, but having a mouse suddenly skitter out at me makes me jump, every time, even though I’m not scared of mice.

Flipping over a flower pot and have a chicken explode out at my face, complete with a squawk and a bunch of noisy flapping was a bazillion times worse.

I didn’t just say a bad word – I screamed a cuss word so loud it kind of echoed throughout the neighborhood.  Sorry, neighbors.  After I stared at her in amazement for a few moments I ran and got her some food and water.

I think what happened is that she jumped up onto the edge of the flower pot and because it was empty (it was broken and I was waiting for space in the trash can to throw it away), it flipped over on her.  She survived because the flower pot landed on an old hay bale.  We had some heavy rain mid-week, so I think it absorbed some of it?  I’m really glad I found her alive – if I’d decided to throw away the pot the following weekend and found a dead chicken underneath, I would have hated myself for a long time.

Any chicken who survived nearly a week under the flower pot deserves a second chance at life, don’t you think?

So, in a couple of weeks, when Tanesha and Scratchy go off to “freezer camp”, Itchy will stay with us.

As for the chicks…. while I loved how well the Golden SexLink laid their eggs and how low-maintenance they were, I didn’t like how quickly they shut down on production right at 3 years old, and I especially didn’t like how much they pecked each other.  Supplementing their feed with mealworms and cat food (for protein) helped, but even when they had tons of space, they had a tendency to peck on each other’s feathers.

When the feed store near me got a surprise “whoopsie” order of 300 baby chicks, I decided to go a little hog wild.  My requirements for the breeds were:  good layers, friendly, bears confinement well, and quiet.  (Did you know that some hens need lots of space, or that some breeds are known for being really noisy?  I didn’t, before I started my researching.)

On Saturday we all went down to the feed store to pick out some chicks.  My mom got caught up in the chicken fever and got two of her own…. which she will pay for and I will take care of.  In exchange, she’ll get some of the eggs once they start laying.

I was thrilled when she wanted some, because it meant I would be able to get the two breeds I had really wanted but couldn’t justify:  A golden wyandotte (very pretty), and a Light Brahma (they have feathery feet!!!!  Did I mention I have a thing for feathery feet???!!!!)

Here are the breeds I chose:

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Black Australorp — Although they’re great layers, they lay slightly less than the Barred Rocks….but for some reason The Squid wanted a black chicken for “his chicken”, so that’s why we got this one.

 

 

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Ameraucana – Uh… who WOULDN’T want a bearded chicken that lays blue eggs?!

 

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Golden Wyandotte – Sweet and friendly – decent egg layers but not enough that I could justify them without talking my mom into one 🙂

 

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Barred Rock – sweet, friendly, and egg-laying machines.

I’ve already apologized on Facebook, but I’ll apologize here, too.  If you don’t like photos of baby chicks, you’re probably a psychopath and you should also probably click away now, because it’s about to get all spammy up in here.

Also, before anyone accuses me of being all artsy-fartsy with my black/white photos….

Baby chicks need a heat lamp to survive, and the best heat lamps are red, because they make everything a uniform reddish color (so chicks are less likely to peck each other.).

Color photos are all tinged a really weird red, like I’m setting up some kind of little bitty underage chicken sex shop.

Chicks for sale, and the prices are…. cheep?

So now you know why I take pictures of all the chicks in black and white.

 

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Freckles – the DragonMonkey’s Barred Rock.

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Diva – My mom’s Golden Wyandotte

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The Squid, clearly illustrating his enthusiasm over being asked to “JUST PUT DOWN THE CHICKEN FOR ONE SECOND, AND SMILE.”

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More of Diva – I swear I have other chicks, but she’s so ridiculously photogenic.

 

 

 

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We had to put a lock on the door, because we were scared The Squid would Elmira them to death… or maybe Lenny them? Either way, he’s more into the chicks than I am, and that’s saying something.

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Diva, again

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Henrietta Fancy Pants, a Light Brahma

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Squid and Mr. Lahey (who is hopefully a hen – The Bean just has a sense of humor when naming chickens.)

And, because I know you’re all as obsessed with the chicks as I am…. a video of them eating (complete with nametags, introducing them all.)

For the record, I think I’ve spent 3/4 of my waking hours in the bathroom as of late.  I can’t help it.  I find their sounds, and their silly motions just so soothing.