Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Buck up Cowboy

I have a phrase that I use sometimes called my "Buck up Cowboy" moment. It's that moment when you tell yourself, "Self, knock this shit off. It's time to pull on your boots and kick some ass." I FINALLY had that moment this morning. I woke up still all pissy, and just decided that I was done feeling like shit and acting like a spoiled princess. Poor C has been so sweet and patient, despite the fact that I was acting like a raging bitch. Seriously, I just glared at him for two days, willing him to be as stressed out and crazy as me and resenting him for not being. Like I said, crazy.

I took off work a little early and went to look at cars. I think I found one that I like, definitely found a dealership I like, and have a Plan B in case the new car doesn't work out. I brought the kids home after school instead of running errands. We played together, hung out, and ate an actual dinner. The kids got a bath and were both in bed by 7:30. I saw a client today who is experiencing a pretty textbook depression and my work with her centered on getting back to the basics. Get up, wash your face, go to breakfast. One foot in front of the other. Consistency and predictability. That's what we all need when things get crazy. Predictability and consistency.

I'm feeling much better. The van is still parked in front of the mechanic and the kids are still loud and my house is still a wreck, but we sat down together for a spaghetti dinner and my kids both smell good and Eli and I read Animalia snuggled up on my bed before he went to sleep. Back to basics.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I used to know this girl...

But then her head exploded because 1) she was crazy and 2) see number one. Seriously. I don't know how much of this I can handle. Logically, I can tell you this: My world has been very LOUD lately. Syd does this awesome screaming thing all. the. time. Eli talks constantly. At work, the women are doing a lot of psych hospital type yelling and also some verbal assaults. I forgot how desensitized you can become to being called several creative and not so creative slurs. I'd been called a bitch several times by the end of Monday. I've got a couple of cases at work that are getting attention from higher-ups, not necessarily in a good way but in a "not sure we're confident she knows what she's doing" (though I totally do) way. Though my caseload is low (thank you Summer!), the clients I have are very demanding right now. AND I have no car and no plan to remedy that situation. Also, though I totally refuse to acknowledge that it might have something to do with anything, a certain *something* came back for the first time since Syd was born, which if you count is the first appearance in over two years if you count the miscarriage before Syd.

I can say all those things logically, but I've got to say that I feel just one step away from losing it. I went back to the dealership, where I had a lovely hour with a salesman and then was given a price higher than the one yesterday! Syd, with the screaming. And if she does, by some miracle go to sleep, she's usually got one hand down my shirt like some teenage boy at his first basement party. And there's so much talking. And for the past two days I've eaten stale cupcakes for dinner. And there are lists, and lists, and lists of lists. The stupid van is still stupid and the borrowed behemoth took $25 in gas to run errands tonight. So using it for the 1800 mile road trip next week? Will. be. awesome. OH! AND one of Eli's friends mothers wrote me an "informative e-mail" suggesting that Eli hit and punched her daughter before calling her stupid and therefore causing her to never want to go to school again. Um. No. I'm the first to acknowledge that Eli's a little different and that he marches to his own beat, but I can say with at least 95% certainty that that shit didn't happen. And I can say with 100% certainty that if it did, someone would have told me about it. So back the f off, chick.

I know I'm the one responsible for my attitude, and generally I'm pretty good at staying optimistic. I hate getting in this rut because I know what I'm doing (perpetuating my frustration and ruining my overall sunny disposition) and yet I can't seem to kick myself out of it. I tried to visualize what it would be that would make me feel more settled, but I'm in such a funk that I can't even imagine something working out in my favor. This place is so pathetic, and yet, here I am.

I think my first step is going to be to throw out the cupcakes...


So I FINALLY got ahold of the mechanic, who turned out not to be the mechanic but some guy who was "just cleaning up the shop." I asked when the mechanics would be back from vacation and he said "I don't know. Maybe August? Also, they asked me to call you to get your van before something bad happens to it." WTF? I cannot write that bigger. WTF!? We went and looked at new (to us) cars last night and I found a super-cute one that called to me. Low miles, great interior, awesome gas mileage, and a noticible lack of duct tape. Sporty and sassy even. People, it had reclining back seats. Can you imagine how that felt, staring down the eve of a 15 hour road trip with a five year old, to imagine that I could RECLINE HIS SEAT? And there was a plug for my iPod. Not a cassette adapter with an MP3 attachment, but an actual USB, built in. There were blades on every single wiper. Eli kept saying "Mama, can we take this one home? I love this car!" Me too, Baby. Me too. Sat down to negotiate price, which was going well, and then some stuff happened, a low price was demanded, said price was shot down, and we were escorted out quickly and efficiently. I LOVED this car and I'm still trying to figure out how I can go back while maintaining my family's dignity and my negotiating power. I don't think it's going to happen. I am seriously just one cluster-fuck away from banging my head on something.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

One of those days

8:00 ENTIRE family wakes up, after staying up until 11:00 last night all hopped up on cupcakes
10:00 Hustle family out the door so we can meet up with old friends for lunch. Old friends I haven't seen in ten years and who are at this moment less than an hour and a half away
11:00 Trying to get in touch with friend to tell her we'll be late, but then make up time by passing the elderly joyriders doing 50 on the highway in their convertible.
11:01 *POP* *SQUEEL*
11:01.5 Oh shit oh shit oh shit. Realize I no longer have power steering and I'm doing 60 on a mountain highway
11:02 Make it to the side of the road and see smoke pouring out of the engine. Which C quickly diagnoses as a busted hose.
11:30 Hose is fixed with a garbage bag, as for the first time ever I have no duct tape in my car.
11:31 Mention to C about the power steering. Discover there is also a loose belt with no home.
11:40 Find out AAA membership is expired, of course. Spend the rest of our cash for the week on the premium membership, since we are in the boondocks and need towed more than 5 miles. Congratulate self on not using credit cards, even though we'll have to eat Ramen and cupcakes all week.
12:00 Tow truck driver calls and says AAA called the wrong people
12:45 Find out we lost our "priority" spot due to the mistake. The boys try to throw the football on the curb without falling into a) traffic or b) the pricker bushes full of bees. Syd's eating Cheerios out of a cupholder.

1:45 Tow truck driver appears, and thankfully has enough room for all of us. Load up kids/crap/van.
2:15 C jumps out at a stop light to literally run home to get the car so he can pick me and the kids up at the mechanic
2:30 Pull into mechanic's parking lot to find a tarp across the gate spray painted "VACATION" Succinct, right? No answer at their number with an indication of how long of a vacation we're talking here. Truck driver looks around nervously and says "He'll be here pretty quick, right?" Unload kids/crap/van. Wave forlornly to the driver as he leaves.
2:35 Remember that the stroller is in the van and silently celebrate at least one thing working out today. Walk kids to burger joint down the street and let Eli eat a milkshake and fries for lunch.
3:00 C arrives, eats lunch. Talk to brother, who's got my dad's car at his place in LA. He agrees to meet us halfway so we can "borrow" it.
4:00 2 hour drive to Bakersfield.
6:00 Family reunion in the 7-11 parking lot.

I love these people.

Note how the kids are totally phoning it in though.

8:30 Home, finally. Dinner of PB&J and carrots.
9:00 Eli went to bed right after his bath, but Syd's been sleeping all day.

11:00 Finally just corral her between us in bed and hope for the best.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Party Time! Excellent!

Today was Eli's school friend party at a local bounce house place. The only party I ever had outside of the house was at McDonalds (remember when they used to do that?) and so I wasn't sure how it was going to work out, especially given that it was a bit more than I'm used to spending for two hours of entertainment. It was TOTALLY worth it.
So proud of this kid! I looked over and he was flying down the big slide he's avoided every other time we've come here.
The joust was pretty popular. Like American Gladiators: Preschool Edition
The kids had a blast, I didn't have to clean anything, and someone else made sure everyone was where they were supposed to be. For a socially awkward control freak like myself, it was perfect. And the adults had just as much fun as the kids.
I flew right off the end of this slide. It was pretty impressive.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Edited to add that, Dude. This is one rambling post. Really. You should probably just skip over it. I'd delete it, but I'm guessing it will be really funny in a couple of weeks.
Y'all. It has been a LONG week. The kind where you wake up Wednesday morning and for a brief second you think it's Friday, but then you realize it's not and you come crashing down miserably. Except my Wednesday was on Tuesday. The unit has been especially crazy lately, lots of fighting and yelling and just overall requiring a lot more attention than usual. I'm stressed out waiting to hear about lots of different opportunities, stressed out about money (what's new, right?), and dealing with family stuff. I've got Eli's birthday party tomorrow and I'm so so excited but I needed to bake four dozen cupcakes and go to Costco for the bounce house approved snacks. And on top of that I had to take Syd to a VERY last minute doctor's appointment because she got sent home, again, for a serious of "questionable" (read, came home with no pants) diapers. Again. This thing has been going on for weeks. She thinks it might be some kind of carb sensitivity, so this weekend Syd's feasting on meat. And I get to try to retrieve stool samples. Wish me luck!

But it's good busy (mostly. I could live without the diaper stuff). I really am excited about Eli's party. Our plan is to do big parties for the milestone birthdays, and family parties for the rest. So this one is at a place with rooms full of inflatable bouncers. The kids run crazy for two hours and I have no clean-up. It's a win-win. Work is crazy, but it's also challenging me to 1) keep an eye on my mood/level of functioning, and 2) to work in such a way that suggests that I am worth the money that they pay me. Lately I've gotten sucked into complacency and I don't like that. I need to feel like I'm putting in 110%.

I am so ready to go on vacation and read a book and play with my kids with no laundry/house/dog/work/and on and on and on. It's going to be AWESOME. And I will sleep and sleep and sleep.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I was going to do a side-by-side of Eli as a tiny baby and now, but when he was born we didn't have a digital camera. THAT'S how long ago five years is. So instead, here are five pictures, all taken this month, that show the many sides of this crazy person I have had the incredible privilege of getting to watch turn into a truly amazing human being.
Kiddo, it drives me crazy, but I love that you are so sure of yourself and so confident that you have absolutely no problem throwing me attitude or saying exactly what's on your mind.

When you get an idea in your head, you don't let anything stop you. This water was probably 35 degrees, but you happily jumped right in so you could fish in the exact way you had imagined. And not one complaint. You would've stayed out there for hours had we let you.

There's something about you, something special. Something that there isn't quite a word for, but that makes people you meet take pause. The best way to describe it is how your teacher put it. "Eli's a kid that's going to change the world someday." You have a power, Kid. And I have to believe you know it. How else did you talk this guy into letting you climb all over his bike, and then be so happy about it that he took pictures? Kid, you stepped on the pipes. With both feet. When you're older you'll get what a big deal that was.
You are a crazy person in the best possible way. You still love to dress-up and look like (but not pretend to be. That's important. You're still Eli. Just in a costume.) superheroes, cowboys, ninjas, and occasionally Frankenstein. You would wear a costume everywhere if it was an option. I love that, and I will miss it so so very much. There's nothing quite like grocery shopping with Spiderman or hitting the movies with a ninja.

Happy Birthday Big Guy. I love you with all my heart and more than anyone else in the whole world. I hope you always remember what an awesome, unique, amazing person you are and that you are always oblivious to anyone who would dare say otherwise. I am so grateful that I get to live in your world. I can't wait to see what you're going to do.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day, C! We make really cute little monsters and
you're a amazing daddy to them.

This picture cracks me up, every single time. Rarely, if ever, do my dad and I take a quasi-flattering picture simultaneously. And the one time we do, Syd's picking her nose.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thank you Bruno Mars

Scene: Tonight's bath
Actors: Mama and Eli

Eli, singing: I don't want to do aaaan-y-thing. I just want to lay in my bed. Meet a really nice girl have some really nice (mumble mumble)
Mama: What, Buddy?
Eli: Meet a really nice girl have some really nice sects. Sec. S.
Mama: Bud, I think it says "Meet a really nice girl have some really nice eggs" (please believe me please believe me please believe me)
Eli, softly: Meet a really nice girl have some really nice eggs. Meet a really nice girl has some really nice legs.
Eli, louder: No Mama. It says "Meet a really nice girl have some really nice SEX." Sex Mama. Mama, what's sex?
Mama: shitshitshitshitshitWTF. Hippy/realist internal conflict. Well Bud, when a GROWN man and woman love each other very much they take off their clothes and make a baby. Hey! What flavor cupcakes do you want?
WTF? I most certainly am not ready for that conversation. In part because, obviously, my son has an uncanny ability to repeat EVERYTHING verbatim.

Friday, June 10, 2011


So this week I already spent a whole day addressing the issue of "poo" and it's role in a mental health environment. Despite all the wackiness on my unit, that's not typical. Usually it's a lot more angst and not quite so many bodily fluids. And yet. Today was just as crazy, if not more.

I was caught in the blow-back of a pepper spray incident. The officers occasionally have to use pepper spray when a situation is getting dangerous and the inmate isn't responding to direct orders ("STOP!" "Get down!" etc.) It's pretty concentrated, but if it does get sprayed you can definitely feel it. Usually I'm able to book it when I see that a situation is getting to that point, but I missed it today. And that stuff SUCKS. It feels like you're breathing hundreds of teeny tiny knives that get stuck in your throat. You cough but it does nothing. And the poor women who were sitting too close and actually got sprayed.

I had to go talk to the woman who had been sprayed, to make sure she was safe to be let back out. She was in the shower, rinsing off the spray, which means I got to talk to a soaking wet, naked woman about why she shouldn't throw things at other people.

I got a call a few minutes before I was supposed to leave that one of my new clients was screaming in her cell. I'd just met with her this morning and we seemed to make a connection. By the time I got over to the unit she was in the shower, soaking wet (I'm seeing a theme), banging her head and screaming like Linda Blair.

Two hours later I finally left the office and picked up the kids. In the car on the way home, I heard a tell-tale gurgle, and in my rearview mirror witnessed poor Syd puking her guts out, only she had so little energy behind it it was more like a slow leak. I pulled over, assessed the situation, cursed myself for cleaning out the car so well, and apologized profusely to my poor baby who now had to ride home in vomit.

I'm really hoping the rest of the weekend is less drippy.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


So I had this whole post drafted in my head about how working in a women's prison is exactly like working with high school kids. They're cliquey and angsty and self-centered. Trends pop up in seconds (eg braids, threading, stuffed animals made out of towels and t-shirts, snorting coffee) and die out twice as fast. Authority figures are "obviously" clueless, spiteful, or just stupid. Insecurity is hidden behind judgement and mocking. They prey on the weak, disregard rules, and are quick to burst into tears. In short, it's Mean Girls with more tattoos and fewer shots of the mall. At first it was hard for me, since high school was one of my less-than-finer moments. If you have any buttons, they will find it and push it. Over and over and over and over. This week alone I have talked on and on about my propensity for cardigans, "why are your arms red?," "why do you smell like that (good and bad)?" "why do you roll your eyes? (I wonder...)" and a myriad of personal questions, "why don't you..."s, and "you never...!"s. That's what I was *going* to write about.

But then today I spent all. freaking. day. talking about shit. "Fecal matter." Poop. Who had it. Why they had it. What they were doing with it and who may have witnessed said acts. I heard the most bizarre statements coming out of my mouth. Statements like "Is it hard to poo in a can?" "I think it's called a 'Dirty Sanchez'""Where'd you keep it?" and (brace yourself) "What did it taste like?" This doctor thing is glamorous, I'm telling you.

So yeah, prison. A lot like high school. Except for the shit.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Feeling better

So the whole "home" thing has still been marinating and, if I'm being quite honest, has been making me a bit crazy. I have no interest in finding another job, but I also don't want to live somewhere where we don't feel like we belong. Also, my head explodes if I don't have some sort of stress-out every six months. But still, I've been desperate to find something that made this place special. C had a rare weekend off this weekend, and we had big plans to go camping for the first time in a couple of years. So of course we woke up yesterday to pouring rain and a forecast of more. So I hit the internet to find something we could all do, and there was nothing. NOTHING. The best I could do was a library sale. But we left the house, and it turned out to be a great day. Bunch of books, delicious onion rings, and a yummy dinner. Today I woke up to sunshine, and breakfast, at 8:00 (OMG! The last time that happened was 2007) and feeling pretty optimistic. We loaded up the kids and headed for the mountains. It was awesome, and tonight I'm feeling much more content.

C and I have been talking about buying our first house (pretty sure that's where the freak-out came from). Now we're thinking that maybe we're not as tied to the city as we thought. It's opened up a lot of options for sure. We're still probably about a year away (need to pay down some debt, put away a down payment, make some big-ish decisions, etc.) but I'm feeling both excited and motivated, which means that hopefully we'll actually start moving forward. It's such a weird thought, given our nomadic nature over the last ten years. It could be fun...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

That's a new one

Eli and I played hooky yesterday after his 5 year (!) check-up (BTW, he's practically perfect in every way. Of course.) In the car on the way to lunch he tells me, from the back seat, "Mama, I have a trick. I can talk without moving my lips or whispering!" Then I see a look of sheer concentration on his face. I ask him, "Buddy, are you trying to talk with your brain?" He lights up and says "YES!" Laughing, I tell him how awesome he is, because really, whose kid says shit like that? Then he goes on to explain, "I was talking with my brain. My testicles were talking to my brain!" And then I lose it. Uncontrollable laughing. Then he asks for clarification about what exactly his testicles are. I tell him where they are (using totally appropriate and accurate terminology, thankyouverymuch) and he says, "Well then, my testicles should talk to my BUTT instead of my BRAIN." So many jokes. So little comprehension.