That time I thought seriously about politics

Ah, 2016, an election year, in case somehow, someone somewhere did not know that.

The problem with election years is that it is nearly impossible to take 30 seconds away from that fact to process information and particularly this year, figure out the logistics of moving to Canada or Mexico.  I was certain that I found a bastion of solitude: my rheumatology office where literally NO one wants to talk to anyone because the only common denominators among all of us are unrelenting pain and an uncanny ability to recognize IDC-10 diagnostic codes.  Just this Tuesday, I was blissfully playing a game on my phone as I waited to see which vein was going to blow in the lab when a woman 30 years older than me, at least, and dressed in a rather patriotic outfit of red, white, and blue striped jersey sat down across from me.

She took out her knitting and began clicking away as I  continued on my meaningless game, when suddenly I hear, “Well, I just don’t want to see any more political ads.”  I glance up, assuming that she must have a spouse or family member of some sort sitting with her that I missed.

But then it happened.  We made eye contact.  For absolutely no reason at all, this woman decided now was an excellent time to let me know this particular piece of information as though we had been deep in conversation.  I realized as she stared at me over Transitions bifocals that I was somehow in a conversation that I had no memory of indicating a desire for.

I cleared my throat, trying to come up with a good-natured way out of this conversation.

“I honestly wouldn’t know.  The only TV that I watch is Disney Junior, and to my knowledge, my two year old doesn’t have a strong opinion of Sheriff Callie’s seemingly perpetually unopposed run for lead law enforcement of Nice and Friendly Corners.”

It was at this moment that I realized, despite my sarcasm, that I did care about politics.  World politics even.  I found myself ruminating on this issue even as I laid sleepless in bed at 4 AM.  The problem is that the politics of the world I care about seems to belong to Enchancia.

That’s right.  I’ve spent a ton of time thinking about the political terrain of Sophia the First.

First of all, I don’t feel like I adequately understand the overall government structure that is going on here.  I mean, King Roland is the king of Enchancia, which seems to be a giant castle, some land, and then one tiny village which has no where near enough income for what appears to be the royal lifestyle.  Furthermore, since he married Queen Miranda, it would seem that there is a significant lack of available royal brides who would wed for political reasons within the kingdom.  Though, based on breeding alone, clearly his first wife must have been a noble of some sort.  And what happened to her. . .  that question seems unaddressed too.  All I know is that Roland and Miranda shared a pretty passionate embrace for someone he had just met for a shoe fitting.  Foul play?  And it’s not like there are any portraits of her even though her twin children still live in that castle.  I digress.

But then, there are all these other kingdoms that seem to have similar set ups of huge castle, bunch of land, and one major city.

So what I have realized is that Enchancia is one of two set ups.

Enchancia 2
Thing that kinda looks like Australia but isn’t.
Enchancia 1
Some circle things. Good thing everyone seems to have flying horses. Except the commoners.  Hmmmm.

So what is the set up?  I mean is he King Roland of EVERYTHING? or is he King Roland and he is equal to a lot of other King types.  Ok, so that is my first issue.

Second problem.  Let’s assume that all these places are patriarchal in nature, because they seem to be.  Every other state/nation/thing seems to have at least 1 (though often only one) heir based on the kids at Royal Prep.  This brings me to two issues-  are they all going to have to marry each other eventually?  There seems to be a lot more girls than guys.  Is that setting up for a problem?  Also, if your kingdoms had a bunch of land, and you stood to have a bunch more if your kid marries, would it be sensible for you to allow them to do a bunch of crazy unsupervised stuff together?  Like, magic carpets?  Seems shady.  Also, there just happens to be one “wild carpet?” hmmmmm….. I’m watching you Tangu.  And then like North Freezenberg? What about South Freezenberg?

And I’m sorry if you are sitting there making  a case that kids always have absentee parents in these shows, but we aren’t talking Dora here- she isn’t going to determine the future of thousands of lives if she goes missing.  And I keep my fingers crossed that Kate’s parents finally ante-up that she was adopted (Hello biology punnet square- she can’t have brown eyes), and she goes on this crazy pre-teen rage bender and gauges her ears or something, and her parents are SUPER involved with her.   Next thing you know she has a Mim-mim tattoo and is in therapy whispering, “I thought he was real. . . “.  But again, not risking an entire country with poor decisions.  Perhaps the most concerning issue is that Queen Miranda has the most common sense out of any leader, and she spends her days sketching phoenix and delivering pies.  If I had more time from searching for my own child and preventing her from riding the dog like a horse into the sunset, I could tell that the number of times someone says “Where’s Sophia?” or whomever is HIGHLY unsettling.  These are the future leaders of  a nation-  someone should probably know where they are.

I just feel as though the whole political back story needs to be rethought on this show.  Toddlers aren’t stupid.  What am I supposed to tell the nugget when she asks me the hard hitting questions like, “Mommy, do you think the questionable nature of Hildegard and Cleo’s long standing friendship will impact their eventual political marriages and the surrounding economic effects throughout Enchancia?”  I mean COME ON DISNEY JUNIOR!  You have hung me out to dry.  I am lucky that right now she using her obviously gifted abilities to construct towers out of Cheez-its, inspecting the dogs’ ears, and not generating these high impact questions that are inevitable.

But none of this is relevant to the woman in the rhuematology office.  She is sweating the small stuff like the United States elections this year.  I find myself at a loss for much more to say beyond my initial remark and she smiles at me in a kindly “I could be your mom” kind of way.  I’m about to say something to her that maybe reflects my political views, how I feel about my child growing up in this real world with such intense extremes.  I begin to open my mouth when she is called into to have her blood work done.  She gathers up her materials and wishes me a good day and then tells me that whenever I get sick of all these crazy ads, “you need to look up goats on YouTube.”

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities; For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.
-Romans 13:1

Regardless what happens in the upcoming elections, I will always have Enchancia.  And apparently, YouTube goats.



That time I purged the green bags

Somewhere, someone is reading the title of this blog and going on about how I am not an environmentalist.  And that person is unfortunately fairly accurate.  The reality is that I, like most people, love the environment.  I am happy that it is here.  I hope that it remains here for my own daughter and future generations.

Also, like most people, I tend to do the day to day stuff like recycle my cans, glass, paper at home, and normally at a work too.  But I have recently found out that my Keurig is apparently DESTROYING the universe.  Unfortunately, if my Keurig isn’t destroying the universe, I can foresee only one of two outcomes:  murder or naps.  I guess I could go back to drinking ground coffee the “old fashioned” way, but then I have to admit to myself exactly how much coffee I drink in a day.  That thought alone terrifies me more than the fact that I may be single-handedly murdering the rain forest.

I have this theory that most people own green bags for this reason.  I have so many green bags.  Yet for some reason, I still have multiple plastic bags that are filled with other plastic bags- all of which I intend to eventually recycle, but that would require me to remember to bring the bags to the store.  And frankly, I forget the green bags, so it’s not like I am going to remember to bring a plastic bag of other plastic bags either.

Sometimes these things make me sad.  I think back to my youth when I was a middle school student who wore an animal t-shirt every single day and was excessively concerned about cloud leopards because I read on the back of my notebook that they were nearing extinction.

Or I think about bees.


I was drinking a cup of my world killing coffee and staring at the dogs acting like acid-tripping gazelles in our overgrown backyard.  Somewhere behind me, my beloved child was ripping cords out of something that we probably are going to discover later.  I was watching the Florida-size wasps that slowly hover over the porch like angry harbingers of evil because wasps have no purpose except to mess you up.  And they will.  Suddenly, I realize that there is a very unusual bird flying around.  Then I realize that it isn’t a bird; it is the biggest bumblebee (which I know isn’t even a real bee species, JUDGE ME) that I have ever seen in my life.

Bees are super important!  Look at this graph!
Honey producing bees are inversely correlated to juvenille marijuana arrests! credit:

In all reality, I had recently read a study about the necessity of bees and how, actually, honey bees are becoming extinct, and it’s this huge deal.  It occurred to me that this particular bee might have some sort of evolutionary superiority as it was the size of a pterodactyl.  Or maybe it ate all the other bees.  Or maybe it was like a master assassin bee, and it was here to mess up the wasps.  I was really hoping for that option.

This bee comes to the middle of our glass doors and hovers there and sort of looks at me.  I know it was looking at me.  I COULD SEE ITS EYES.  Then it takes off to do, presumably, whatever important things ENORMOUS BEES DO. As I stood there watching one of our dogs chase after it as it zoomed off into the world, I thought about the things that we do to try to protect the environment, and I suddenly realized that I needed to put my green bags in my trunk.  And I should probably put the seven million plastic bags in my trunk too so I remember to actually recycle them.

So I go to the front closet.  The baby follows me, delighted that we are exploring territory that she has been repeatedly removed from.  I open the door.  It is an avalanche of green bags.  Big ones, little ones, colored ones, logo ones, plain ones, spill from the closet in a raining of my organizational failure.  The baby is in heaven.  She is flinging bags around like she has just discovered that we have been hiding Disney World in the closet. It is at this moment that I realize what I must do.  I must purge the green bags.

The thing is, when green bags first became a thing, I, like most people, had one or two that I was super protective of.  Like, “THESE ARE MY GREEN BAGS! DON’T LET ME FORGET MY GREEN BAGS!”

Then the slow evolution began.  Green bags became a gift from charities, what you got if you spent over $20 at a store, the thing you bought when you had a bunch of groceries to carry and you forgot your green bags at home.  Companies like Thirty One happened, and now I have deluxe thermal monogrammed green bags in a print.  Suddenly, I have a closet of green bags that I once used to store my vacuum.

This was out of control.  So I have developed several easy questions that will help, you, too purge your green bag problem.

1.  Is this bag missing the plastic insert?
This one seems obvious, but a green bag with no bottom plastic insert is basically a bread crushing, tomato squishing demon from hell.  It’s gotta go.  Jesus said so.*

*No, I didn’t. -Jesus

2.  Is this bag for a holiday I don’t celebrate?
I don’t know why I have a Hanukkah bag.  We are Christians.  If anything, it will be the bag that I end up putting the Easter ham in, and then I am going to feel like a jerk.  It had to go.

3.  Is this bag for a team I don’t like and/or recognize?
I had a bag from the Patriots.  I don’t have anything against them.  I just don’t care.  I feel like an impostor.  It’s out.

4.  Is this bag from a charity that I have never actually sent money too?
Do I really need bad green bag karma?  Sure, I keep meaning to send them a few dollars, but in the mean time, I look like some sort of really eco-friendly good Samaritan. I’m not.  I am a borderline hoarder who can’t remember to send a few dollars.

5.  Is this bag needed?
I had seven different bags that hold four wine bottles each.  I got them free from times I bought four bottles of wine.  I have too many of these bags and probably a drinking problem.

6.  Is this bag a size that I can support with my current body weight and composition while also, probably, carrying a small child?
Let’s be real.  If I can’t sling it over my shoulder, full, while hanging onto the nugget and my iced coffee, it’s not really serving a purpose.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

In the end, I kept 6 green bags, two of which where my custom ones, and one large bag to store them in.  I recycled 19.  In the end, I think that bee would be proud of me.  Now to kick that coffee habit…..

That time the dog’s ear wasn’t a quesadilla

This year, Christmas has been a time to reflect on so many of the important life lessons I have learned over the past three years.

Lessons such as the following:
1. Sometimes, what you really want for Christmas is for everyone you know and love to leave you alone so you can dig a hole, sit in it, and cry. Thanks Mirena!

2. If you have ever asked yourself, would the holidays be more special with a child, perhaps now is the time to contact New Zealand about taking in an orphaned Tasmanian devil. With Rabies.

3. If you are ever a linguist who has asked herself the ultimate paradoxical question: is there really such a thing as a novel utterance?, I can assure you that,in fact, there is.

For instance, just yesterday, I was playing, -read: lying on the floor attempting to make the 76th hour of Sophia the First entertaining and moderately educational because we are locked in a ten by ten room because new flooring installation do-it-yourself is cost effective but insane, and Mommy cannot come up with any more enriching games for the Little People Farm right now- with my daughter, The Crazy Nugget, on the floor. I have to watch her carefully because she earned the crazy in her moniker. Just last week, she went in for what I thought was going to be a hug and she bit me. It was like she learned I was made of meat and has since then been attempting to discover what other things are made of meat too.

The Crazy Nugget is, it would seem, a petit gourmand. For a child who very nearly killed me a slow death of starvation while I was pregnant, she is an exceptional eater now. Her first table food was mashed avocado. At 5 months, she decided to help herself to my plate of salmon with roasted red pepper quinoa. At 10 months, she will officially eat anything though Lima beans, peas, and green beans are a high ranking favorite along with spinach and feta periogis. I don’t know where human flesh fits into the hierarchy of exotic pallets, but we aren’t encouraging it.

The one thing that Nugget loves more than me, daddy, and food though is one of our dogs, Sasha, who is currently in the running for most good natured animal on the face of the Earth. Sasha has been rewarded with all the things she loves the most in this world, mostly cuddles, because she will let the baby do nearly anything to her. The baby, on the other hand, at this point, simply likes to give Sasha hugs. (Most of the time.)

Before anyone calls the ASPCA or DCFS, all dog-baby interactions are carefully monitored. SO BACK OFF.

Needless to say, Sasha was hanging in the prison playroom with Nugget and myself. Nugget had been “talking” to multiple toys, climbing all over me, and being particularly sweet. Sasha and I had a mutual agreement that we could share the Boppy as a pillow, and I was getting super annoyed at the logical fallacies of the Bubble Guppies. Suddenly, it occurs to me that I don’t hear the baby, which I have learned, is ALWAYS BAD!

I turn just in time to see my daughter, who has lovingly caressed and flattened the dogs ear, about to take a hearty bite out of it as she is smacking her lips.

And novel utterance in 3 . . . 2. . . 1. . .
Sweetheart, I know that you love food very much, and you have worked very hard to turn the puppy’s ear into what vaguely resembles a quesadilla, but we cannot bite the puppy, eat the puppy, or chew on the puppy.

I cannot imagine another time/place/universe in which someone has had to say that exact sentence.

Nugget just smiles, puts down the ear, and crawls away to chew the plastic cow from the farm. I can understand that. She stops, gives me her bottom two teeth tiny barracuda grin, and smacks her lips once more in a menacing manner, and then goes back to sweetly playing.

Be of sober spirit; be on alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5 : 8

And if you live in a home with a food obsessed baby, just be super vigilant all the time. Because it might not be the devil. It may be a toddler. Or that Tasmanian devil you adopted.

That Time I Broke the Rules

I sat down the other day to write a blog. And despite the fact that I had acquired a rare moment of silence and alone time. I was comfortable in my new pajama pants; I had a huge mug of still hot coffee; I was focused. And then it occurred to me: I have nothing to write about. There is not a single funny story to write about.

That isn’t to say that funny things had not happened as of late. They certainly have. But they were moments, maybe instants, of funny. Nothing that could be crafted into a story that I could really write about. Additionally, I have three rules that I follow when writing this blog that are holding me back. Rules like the following:

1. Do not write excessively about the baby.

This is not a baby blog — BUT IT COULD BE. I think my daughter is hilarious. She cracks me up, but the reality is, unless you actually know me, you don’t know that she is potentially the most amazing baby ever. So I have to avoid the mom-speak and craziness.

I mean I could write at least six posts about poop—like how I laugh for at least 20 minutes when her father gets stuck with the poop of the day. Just this morning, I got a text that read, “WHAT CAME OUT OF OUR DAUGHTER THIS MORNING?!?” “DEATH… DEATH ITSELF! IT BLEW OUT HER DIAPER, HER JAMMIES . . . “

And while I feel bad, kinda, I really don’t because any other time, it’s me cleaning it up.

But let’s say I was going to write about her, I might tell you this story.

So the other night, the nugget was hanging out on the floor and rocking out with this fake piece of candy corn that has crinkle paper in it. At first I thought my mother-in-law sent her a cat toy, but then it came in this stuffed pumpkin that had all sorts of baby (maybe cat) toys in it. The label says “baby-genius” so I am assuming there is some sort of brain science behind it. All I know is that the spider rattle is my favorite thing ever because nugget attacks it and tries to eat it and I keep picturing her in my head as some giant vicious but insanely adorable iguana thing.

Back to my story, so she is going to town on this toy and one of the dogs is chilling on the floor next to us. I am talking to my husband and our friend when I hear Sasha (the dog) sort of sigh and put her head back down. It was stormy though, so I didn’t really think about it. About 5 minutes or so later, our friend looks at me and says, “Uhm…. Not sure if you know about this and it’s cool with you or whatever, but your daughter is snacking on your dog’s tail.”

I kind of roll my eyes, because what 65 lbs pit mix is going to let a 7 month old teeth on her tail?

Apparently, mine.

So I take Sasha’s tail away from the baby and realize that about 5 inches down to the tip are completely soaked with baby drool. Dripping, even. I look at the baby who is completely engrossed with her pumpkin now, and back at the dog who is gently thumping her drool soaked tail against my thigh like she is trying say, “Nope, it’s cool. It’s totally cool with me. She can totally chew on my tail. Treats?”

I looked at my husband and just said, “I am really not going to win Mother of the Year. . . ever.”

The baby just laughed.

2. Do not write too much about work.

I work in a middle school. Every day of my life, I could write a blog about the epic-ness that is my job. But honestly, it would get old or unbelievable because what middle schoolers do would be too much for anyone who doesn’t deal with them day to day. And you may have 1 or 2 at home and be nodding your head, but we have 1000 and the crazy increases exponentially, because on top of making really bizarre choices for LITERALLY NO REASON, they lack the common sense required to be sneaky or even smart about it. But I don’t write about it, because if I did, I would tell you this story:

On morning duty, I was watching a group of boys who are also youth football players hang out and discuss the game. In a jovial manner, they kept pushing and bumping each other. I walked over and said, “Gentlemen, no horseplay. I don’t want to see anyone accidentally get hurt. If I see it again, you are going to have to explain it to the Dean.”

I look away for 10 seconds at a group of girls, and turn back to see one of the boys demonstrating a leg tackle which involved a second boy OVER HIS SHOULDERS HELD BY HIS ANKLES.
STUDENT 1: “Showing him the tackle that broke this kid’s leg.”
Me: “ Do you not see how this demonstration might result in an injury?”
STUDENT 2: “What? We aren’t on the field.”
Me: “So you don’t see how the CONCRETE MIGHT BE WORSE?!?”
Upon securing him to the ground, I sent them to the Dean, as they argued the whole time about why they shouldn’t be in trouble and were just playing. Finally the assistant principal asked, “What is the ROOT OF HORSEPLAY??” One boy thought for a moment and said, “Play?” Wait for it . . . . “Oooooooh, yeah that makes sense, Miss. Sorry.”

Every day of my life. I am not kidding.

Or two days ago on the walkie-talkie, I was trying to figure out the best way to word, “Are students allowed to wear wizard robes?”
I never figured out a way to say it without sounding insane, so I gave up. If you are interested, the answer is no.

3. I totally cannot remember rule number three. But there was a third rule at one point.

The truth is that when I sit down to write, I like to have a theme, a few asides and anecdotes, and ultimately, the final product centered on those items—one cohesive blog.

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting. Job 8:21

I guess my life is pretty funny, but sometimes, it isn’t what I want to write about.

Dog in a Graduation Cap that says "I still have no ideal what I 'm doing."

That time my daughter ate a coaster

I am a control freak.  I have embraced this fully as part of my type A personality.  I love my home organized.  I write a weekly meal plan and grocery shop all in one day.  I get my ironing complete in one shot.  I have lesson plans done for an entire quarter and copies all set.  My outfits match, and I am fully aware of everything on my to do list.  Furthermore, I have an action plan to complete it.  I use words like furthermore in my thoughts.

Oh wait—that is Reese from two years ago.

I found myself staring at an excel spread sheet last Thursday.  I was trying to figure out how to put kids into classes to help them succeed.  And by kids, I mean approximately three hundred.   The fact that I cannot even begin to explain the process of what I was trying to do should be an indication of how well the project was going.

I looked up at my college pennant on my wall.  And this image came to mind:


Dog in a Graduation Cap that says "I  still have no ideal what I 'm doing."
How I feel all the time

That being said, the problem in my life is that I am still a control freak, but I have completely lost control, and my attempts to embrace that are failing miserably.  Basically, I am now an out of control freak who needs to learn how to make mistakes gracefully.  Or if not gracefully, at least with a sort of jovial attitude that invokes the appearance of unflappability.  Or if not that, without tears.  Let’s go with that for now.

I have a friend who can do this.

Her version:  Oh the roast was burnt?  Ha ha ha (<– Carefree laughter ) I guess we are having pizza!

My version:  OH MY GOSH THE ROAST. THE ROAST  BURNT! THE ROAST IS BURNT!  I AM A FAILURE AS A WIFE AND AT LIFE IN GENERAL. I QUIT. (Insert expletives here)  I just can’t deal with this anymore.

I really wish that was an exaggeration, but it’s not.  I tried to make stuffed brussel sprouts a few weeks ago.  That turned into an epic failure and was transformed into a casserole of sadness as I swore vengeance on the original pinner as well as the vegetarian-has-too-much-time-sadistic-freak who decided brussel sprouts are stuffable to begin with.  (That’s right… I am coming for you, you monster!)

When I was in school, even the smallest failure felt like a monumental hit to my psyche.  Those failures drove my need for control to an all-time high.   So I did what any psychologically well-adjusted adult does–  I became a perfectionist.  In everything.  This was working out pretty darn well for me, and then I had my daughter.

Nothing will teach you to embrace chaos faster than having a child because at some point you learn a new vocabulary word:  prioritize.

I do know women who do it all: work, have spotless houses, happy husbands, well-dressed children, nails done, dinners on the table.  Frankly, I suspect that they have outside help or an amphetamine dealer, because unless they have discovered three more usable hours of the day or an alternative to sleep, I am a firm believer that something is going to get sacrificed.  I am also waiting… always waiting… for the crack in their façade to appear when they become like the rest of us.  Those who sniff six day old left-over meatloaf and then eat it cold for lunch because it’s that or a cheese stick and the remaining baby food peaches.  Again.

My own sacrifices came bit by bit…  maybe the menu wasn’t done, or we ate frozen pizza one more time.  The ironing got done- eventually.  I took cereal for lunch to work because that was all I had in the house.  I managed to convince myself that I hadn’t given up too much control until last Saturday.

Now, I cannot “control” a sixth month old.  Nor would I want to.  Her foibles in personality are just starting to emerge and are still as adorable as the rest of her. She is an angel 97% of the time.  I still hesitate to take her into restaurants because I dislike bothering others, and frankly, she has discovered her ability to reach and get to food, which makes my expensive eating experience much less enjoyable.  Nonetheless, my husband persuaded me, with the help of a gift card, to go to Olive Garden for lunch.  Nugget found instant fascination with no other than a coaster.  My exhausted mommy brain decided that it seemed harmless enough, and I handed it to her where she sat delightedly passing it from her left hand to her right hand as though that was THE GREATEST THING EVER!

She giggled away as my husband, his friend, and I chatted over breadsticks and the menu.  I was patting myself on the back that my child is so calm and relaxed in the restaurant.  I had just decided on my entrée when I looked over.


She was super happy about it, smiling as I attempted in vain to fish any part of it out of her mouth.

I was freaking out.

I could feel the tears welling up behind my eyes.  I wanted to scream.  It was about the coaster but not entirely.  I switched jobs and felt incompetent. My body isn’t what it once was, nor is my health. My ability to hold an adult conversation without discussing developmental milestones and poop has faded away along with my dye job that used to be an every six week thing.  Then I stopped, as the waiter approached the table.  The waiter asked what we were having, and I choked back the desire to say, “Well, my daughter will have the coaster.”  Suddenly, it didn’t seem like such a big deal.  It was funny.  It was okay.  I was okay.  It was going to be okay.

Interestingly, as my husband’s friend quickly Googled, we learned that my daughter is not the first to eat a coaster, and perhaps I should be thanking the Higher Power that she didn’t eat the wrapping paper off a gift which doesn’t break apart so easily.

She spent the rest of lunch in my lap, gnawing on a breadstick and eyeing the remaining piece of the coaster.  I explained to her that this is how people end up on TLC’s “My Strange Addiction” and that mommy couldn’t take that kind of negative exposure.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.  Proverbs 19:21

I doubt that it was God’s purpose that my daughter ate the coaster that day, but sometimes our reactions to things need to reflect a trust that ultimately in God, everything will be okay.

That time I realized Everything is Awesome with Lyrica

After many, many months off my lupus and fibro medications, I had to make the difficult decision to give up nursing and begin back on the drugs that allow me to do human things, like, you know, pick up my daughter from the floor.

If you have never known anyone with these diseases, then you may not be familiar with some of the medication options available. I am quite familiar as I am on practically all of them.

First off is prednisone, which for some people causes agitation and rage. It can also make you super hungry.

Plaquenil, or hydrochlor— something, is originally an antimalarial, and no one really understands how it works, but my favorite theory is that it tricks your body into believing it has malaria and therefore attacks that instead of itself.

Celebrex is an amazing nsaid (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) and is basically super advil.

Savella is a snri that was meant to be an anti-anxiety drug but they found it messes with the crazy part of the brain that decides to read minor pain as a serious injury.

And then there is Lyrica. If one were so inclined to go online and read about Lyrica, you would learn that it is a controlled substance. It is used for a few different things, and people will write that it makes them sick in all sorts of ways.

I love Lyrica. First of all, it works for me. Secondly, for some reason, it makes food taste REALLY GOOD. My husband and I were out to dinner when I started it, and I order a roast beef sandwich au jus and eating it and going on about how it was THE MOST AMAZING sandwich ever. And that was the moment I realized that what I actually had was the munchies, and Lyrica was making me high as a kite. (This effect mellows after about a month as my body got used to it.)

I stayed on Lyrica until we began our pregnancy journey, and then had to go off it. I started my full dose again one day into the school year. At my new school, in my new position. Hilarity ensued.

So the third day back, I go into my Assistant Principal’s (Amy) office. We were all feeling SUPER stressed for any number of reasons, but she seemed irritated. Long story short- it was a tech issue. (And you should be thanking me for shortening it; there are a lot of techie details you are missing.) We determined ultimately that she needed to reinstall the driver. So we went hunting in the closet of technology death for the install disc, which we found was a mini disc.

At this point, the Lyrica in my system was making me high to the point my pupils were dilated, and I could feel hysterical laughter coming on for no reason, but I stifled it.

I don’t understand mini discs. Is it really that much cheaper to make the disc an inch smaller in diameter?

I should also mention that for teachers and ESPECIALLY adminstrators, our computers are our lives. Like everything you hold dear and love professionally is right there, and we never back anything up. Why? Because we are really busy trying to make sure your kids have the best education possible we are renegades, and it is our equivalent to a black biker jacket. Teachers gather in social places, pound back a glass of sangria and ask each other, “Yo, when did you last back up your U drive to CD” And whoever says the longest time ago gets mad props and street cred and adds a small tattoo of a usb storage device under their eye or something.

Ok, I totally made that up. Except the part about storing stuff and never backing it up. That is true.

We return to her office.
Amy: Do you think it will work?
Me: Sure, why not?
Amy: I am not sure my computer can use a mini disc.
Me: All computers can use a mini disc.
— I would like to take a moment to acknowledge that I know only enough about technology to be dangerous. However, my Lyrica high was giving me delusional self-confidence. I has zero idea if this was true; it’s not, but I said it with a lot of authority.–
Me: Where is you cd spot?
Amy: It’s on the side, it’s a side loader.
Me: Let’s do it!

It is about this time that we look down at the pale blue disc and prepare to insert it, when I notice in microscopic white writing:
Do not use in a side loading bay: Will cause severe damage.

I stopped, showed Amy, and for some reason, began laughing hysterically. Between laughing, I hold up the disc, and somehow gasp out, “This mini-disc nearly destroyed your entire world.”

Which despite being not exceptionally funny, at that moment, it was the FUNNIEST THING EVER! I couldn’t stop picturing the mini-disc as an evil villain plotting against Amy’s powerpoint.

My verging on insane laughter was then making Amy laugh which was then making me laugh harder. People would stop by and ask if everything was okay, but how do you explain that you are laughing like mad women over a mini disc that nearly took out a computer. Finally, I ended up crawling from her office saying, “Must escape, cannot breathe, be back later.”

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  Proverbs 17:22

I am pretty sure that this story was brought to you by Lyrica, but maybe it heals by making everything hilarious.  Some days we all need that cheerful heart, especially, when dealing with mini discs.

That Time I Took a Bucket of Ice Over the Head

So, unless you have been living with your head in the sand, I am sure that you have seen at least one ice bucket for ALS video.  If somehow you missed this, the ALS foundation has found a way to make the absolutely stupid viral challenges of Facebook, Instragram, Twitter, and YouTube into something positive and productive.  Good for them!    I really didn’t want to watch another one of my students show me a video where he or she nearly died inhaling cinnamon for no purpose beyond chlorinating the gene pool.

When the challenge first came up and went viral, I had my doubts, and to be fair, my husband chose to donate since I went with the awareness route.  But, I chose to do the ice bucket for an important reason– I can empathize.

I have written blogs in the past about having Lupus, Sjogren’s, and Fibromyalgia.  It sucks.  But one of the worst feelings in the world is to have an illness that people do not understand; often, even the people closest to you are left confused, scared, and wondering if there would be a day where you are no longer you anymore.

So I want to step back in time about the 2 years and eight months ago, when, a few days before Christmas, my husband appeared from the bedroom as I had just swallowed my morning medication– 4 pills– and followed it with my traditional first cup of coffee.  At the time, I was feeling pretty amazing.  9 pills a day can do that to you.  A beautiful cocktail of prednisone, Lyrica, Savella, Celebrex, Plaquenil that made me feel like I was human most days.  And he asked me a question that changed everything– Was I satisfied if this was all we ever were?

The answer shocked even me– No, I wasn’t.  And so we began a journey that unfortunately had to start with me getting off almost all my medications.  Each time a dose was dropped or a pill taken away the pain came back more.  Starting with tapering Savella, the fatigue crept back in, amplified even more and joined in by aching body parts as the Lyrica was taken out, followed by excruciating joint pain as the Celebrex was the next to go.   Finally, I dropped the Plaquenil which was a choice I had to make to feel comfortable becoming pregnant.  I hid it, as best I could, and sometimes no one knew, and other times everyone did.  I couldn’t always hide the noticeable limp or shuffle that comes with the joint pain.  I had planned that this would be a 10 month process once I was off the meds.  I would clearly become pregnant IMMEDIATELY because that is how it works because I am an idiot and thought that is how it worked for everyone.  I also had failed to prepare for the idea of breastfeeding sans medication since you can’t take those drugs while nursing either.

I am sitting here now, two years and eight months after that original and fateful question was asked.  The most profound question ever asked of me even more than “Will you marry me?”  And my nearly sixth month old daughter is sound asleep in her crib.  Her belly is full of sweet potato and formula, (hopefully, her diaper is not currently equally as full) and sitting next to to me on the counter is my trusted pill case (the night time one has 5 pills).  I have had to make a terrible choice and surrender breastfeeding to go back on these meds so that I can be the mother my daughter deserves.  I realized that this choice had to be made the day that I realized I could no longer pick her up in her infant carrier because the pain in my hands was too intense.

So what does all this have to do with a bucket of ice so lovingly dumped over my head?  ALS is not a common illness, but it is a debilitating, and ultimately, lethal one.  A friend recently commented on my Facebook that the fact other people suffer does not diminish your own suffering, and I agree, but at the same time I believe in perspective.  My husband worries all too often that Lupus will cause my untimely end.  Probably not.  Yes.  It is painful.  No. It won’t kill me.   ALS is painful emotionally, physically, psychologically, and ultimately, it is a disease that takes a life but not before it robs one of his or her life.

Sometimes the most painful part of Lupus is that people do not understand it.  Questions range from, “That is acquired immune disease? So it’s like AIDS, right?”  — Uhm, no, AUTOIMMUNE disease and it is the exact opposite of AIDS– to “Wow, I am surprised you could have a child.”  What?!?

So I took an ice bucket over the head for ALS.  Out of solidarity.  Out of the hope that maybe they won’t have to wait 50 years like the Lupus community for a new drug.  Out of the hope that maybe one conversation about it won’t start with “so what is that exactly?”

Maybe the Lupus community will start their own viral trend…  probably not.  But if we do, I will participate as long as it isn’t the damn cinnamon.

And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.  Mathew 14:14

Take an ice bucket, make a donation, read an article, be aware– but show compassion to all those around you because too many times, we do not know what suffering affects those nearest us.

That time I thought goats and sheep were the same thing

There is something you should know about me: I am pretty smart.  People who know me usually use smart as one of my primary descriptors.  A good friend calls me Reesipedia because it is pretty rare that I don’t know something.  You want to take a ringer with you to trivia night?  I am your girl.  Unless it’s about goats or sheep.

I am going on record to say that I believed sheep and goats were the same animal — UNTIL  I WAS 27 YEARS OLD.  Normally, when I start this story people tell me that they thought dogs were boys and cats were girls, or something like that, until they were, you know, 5.  I did that too, I got it straightened out.  My two female dogs are sitting in front of me right now.  Cleo is judging me.  I can tell.

No matter how smart you are, two things you cannot avoid:  somewhere, there is going to be a glaring knowledge gap, and somewhere else, there is going to be a certain level of crazy. 

I have always been a curious person.  I like to know things about everything.  And so I will read a book about pretty much any topic.  I just finished a book about the history of Salt.  Not kidding.  We were at our church group and our pastor referred to the “salt and light of the God” and I went into a lengthy explanation about how that was a result of salt being so valuable and a matter of life of death food preservation and after about 5 minutes, my husband, who is honestly used to this by now, looked at me and said, “Why in the world do you know so much about salt?”  It was at this point that I realized everyone was staring at me with the same question.  The next question I got was, “Did you seriously just say you read an entire book about salt?”  Yep. I did. (AND IT WAS THE NUMBER 1 BESTSELLER IN THE MINERALOGY DEPARTMENT OF AMAZON- cuz that’s a thing.)

Sometimes I don’t realize that everyone doesn’t  care about random things as much as I do.  BUT THEY SHOULD.   This is why I love history teachers, particularly older male history teachers, because they appreciate me.  Yesterday, I found myself explaining the linguistic history of how profanity came to be and why we call cows “beef” and chicken just chicken to an interested audience of two history teachers. It made my day.

Despite my vast stores of completely useless information, there are some things I just don’t get.  One of them is how to drive a tank- which ,you know, is really important for me to be able to do.  The other is rooms that have two light switches for the same light. 

My husband and I used to play Mario Party all the time.  I love Mario Party- 2 buttons, one control pad- I can handle it.  Except the one level in which you must drive a tank.  Because you have to use two control pads to make the treads go different directions in order to turn, and I JUST CANNOT HANDLE THAT.  My sweet husband, who is also a teacher and infinitely determined to make me understand this concept, first modeled it for me.   When I didn’t get it, he held my controller with my hands and showed me, which was fine but the minute he stopped, I got confused again.  The next time we were in the pool, he tried to demonstrate using a raft and my hands as paddles to turn, which ultimately ended with him saying that we were never going canoeing. 

Much like Mario Party, I don’t understand why the two switches can never change what they do, so if they are both down or both up the light is off, but if they are in different positions the light is on.  This makes me insane.  I don’t know why.  Growing up, my mom’s master bath had these switches, and I used to run back and forth trying to get them in the same position when the light was on.  Nope.  After being yelled at to “Stop messing with the  *(&$ light,” I eventually gave up the pursuit. 

Until one night at work.

I used to work with this awesome team of teachers that totally supported my crazy.  And I was telling them this story, when Ali looked over and realized that the room we were sitting in had the same type of situation.  It was then and there, fueled by being at school until 9 pm for an event after a full day of teaching and caffeine, that we decided to solve the problem forever. 

Judy took one switch; Ali the other, and we counted down.  The rest of us sat in tense anticipation of finally learning the outcome. At precisely zero, they both hit the light switch. . .


So now all of us are sitting in the dark, laughing like maniacs, and I still have no idea how or why that happened, or how the circuits of two switches work, but I do know that if you try to mess with it you cause tremendous problems for your school custodian who really wanted to know how we managed to burn out 8 ballasts at once.  I think in spite, she refused to fix it so we had one working floor lamp in our conference room for 3 years which was always fun to explain to new people.

Back to the goats, despite all these scientific pursuits of knowledge, I think there are certain things we tend to accept as facts and just go with it because there is never a time where we need to stop and reconsider our world view.  I don’t think about goats or sheep ever.  I grew up in an urban area.  I didn’t see goats or sheep, so when my husband and I went to a theme park in Florida and saw mountain goats, and I asked, “But where are the sheep?” and he looked at me like I had grown a second head, I was really confused. 

Our conversation as follows:

Me:  Where are the sheep?
Him:  Uh. . . . probably in their own enclosure somewhere else?
Me:  Why do they keep them separated? Do they not want more goats?
Him: (Looking really confused) Because they are different animals so they keep them apart.
Me: No, sheep are female goats, right?
Him: Oh my God.  Are you being serious?
Me:  What? Aren’t they?  They AREN’T?? Are you kidding me? 
Him:  (Hysterical laughter)  Oh my God, we found the thing that you don’t know!  (More laughter)

While this conversation comes up anytime my husband wants to remind me that I am not perfect, it isn’t a story that I frequently think about, but then, THIS HAPPENED!!!!


It’s A GEEP!!!!

So in my newsfeed on Facebook, I see the birth of a GEEP or a goat/sheep chimera.  To which I say, maybe Goats and Sheep aren’t the same thing, BUT THEY COULD BE!!!!

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God,who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5  

I may never drive a tank (or a canoe), but God help me, the Geep has validated my entire existence to this point.  

That time a squirrel decided it lived with us

This is a throwback from Facebook, but I feel it deserves a wider audience.

There are people in this world who would argue that marriage is just a sheet of paper, legitimizing what two people feel between each other. A nice touch, but unnecessary. I argue that marriage is completely necessary. It is the tie that binds two individuals allowing them to question the other’s sanity without fear of break up.

I admit that as a creative nonfiction writer, I do, occasionally, exaggerate. For example, when I scream at Chris to come quick because “it is the biggest bug I have ever seen” what I really might mean is “it is the biggest bug I have ever seen in the last hour.” I argue that the superlative -est is really relevant to the time frame surrounding it. But that is another blog.

When Chris and I were first married, before we moved to on to our great Florida adventure, we lived in a northern Illinois town in a small two bedroom apartment on the top floor of our complex. Being a college town, the apartments were typically neither new nor well-kept, but this apartment was much nicer than the one previous to it, where the only thing scarier than the drug addicts next door were the cockroaches that threatened me with a knife.

One early morning, as I lie in bed next to my newly minted husband, I heard a noise above our bedroom. I said to Chris, “I think there is something in the attic space above the apartment.” He mumbled something incoherent and went back to sleep.

The next morning I heard it again and looked out to see our two cats staring very intently at the little room with our water heater in it. I cautiously opened the door, but there was nothing. I told Chris again that I thought something was getting into our apartment, but he didn’t seem enthusiastic about hunting down the intruder that he had yet to hear for himself.

Finally one morning about a week later, I was certain that I had heard the noise again, only this time it wasn’t a quick scampering and disappearing. It was a consistent scratching sound. Chris was preparing to leave for an airsoft game, and I told him, again, that there was something in the attic/water heater area. He gave me the “really Reese?” look and left for his game. It was about this time that the cats became plastered to the bi-fold doors. I mustered up all the bravery I could, and peeked inside. And there it was. . . the squirrel.

If you have never seen a northern red squirrel before, they aren’t the small cute gray ones you find in the south. They are the size of medium cat with enormous tails and pretty interesting teeth and claws. They will mess you up.

Naturally being the confident, independent woman I was, I screamed like a maniac and slammed the door shut. I immediately called Chris.

“There is a squirrel . . . INSIDE THE APARTMENT!”

“What do you want me to do about it?”

“What do you mean what do I want you to do??? I want you to come home and get the *(*ER out of the apartment.”

“Reese, I am an hour away. I am sure that you will be fine until I get home.”

I was pretty certain that I was going to be in the fetal position crying by the time he got home that evening.

I hung up and called the emergency apartment number.

“I have a squirrel inside my apartment, and I need you to send someone immediately to get it out.”
“Uhhhh…. sure …. okay.”

It was at this point that I realized my husband didn’t believe me and that the apartment complex answering service thought I had eaten the mushrooms that grew by the dumpster. They sent someone anyway.

By someone, I mean they sent a chubby kid who was maybe 18 if he was lucky, to my apartment. Did he have a net? No. Did he have a cage? No. What did he have? A POTHOLDER AND A RAINBOW BRITE BEACH TOWEL

I opened the door and stared at him. He smiled and said, “I hear you have a squirrel.”

I should note that in the time it took him to arrive, I had built a fort around the opening of the water heater room. If you don’t know about Illinois squirrels, they have intense training in escaping and in bird feeder invasion techniques. While I didn’t know if this squirrel had the technology to open the bifold doors, I wasn’t willing to take the risk.

I led him to the doors and crawled back into the bunker. The kid opened the doors, where the squirrel was still calmly sitting. He screamed like a school girl, slammed the door, and crawled behind the fort.

“What do we do?” He whispered.
“Well, while I am sure that it is intelligent, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t speak English or I would have asked it to leave. So . . . we probably don’t need to whisper.”

We locked the cats up to avoid further carnage, and then opened the door to the outside world. Using a broom stick from behind the bunker, we prodded open the door to the water heater room. The kid was prepared to do something with the blanket, and he was wearing the oven mitt. I still don’t know why.

The squirrel was still sitting there. It looked at us peering at it over the coffee table which we had turned on its side, scratched its ears, and sauntered out of the apartment. The kid leaped from behind the table and heroically slammed the door shut. I called Chris and left a message about being safe now, so any guilt he had about leaving his new bride with a rabid-maybe wild animal would be assuaged.

The squirrel really never came up in conversation again until we were preparing to move two months later. We called the office for some replacement blinds and who do they send up but pot holder boy. I was thrilled to see him. I dragged him into the living room and cried out to Chris, “THIS IS THE KID WITH THE RAINBOW BRITE BEACH TOWEL!” Chris looked confused for a bit, so I clarified, “The one who helped with the squirrel.” The kid was looking (rightfully) embarrassed and sheepishly nodded his head. Chris looked at me for a minute and said, “So what you are telling me is that that whole story actually happened?”

I could only stare at him with shock and awe. I admit that I have some good guilt tripping technique, but inventing a story about a squirrel to get him to come home was beyond my creative imagination. I mean really, you can’t make this stuff up. It was at that moment that I realized why people get married. It guarantees me a lifetime of “remember the time you didn’t believe me about the squirrel . . . ” usage. I don’t use it very often, but it sure helps me when I am trying to make a case for the “biggest bug ever.”

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Unless there is an animal in your home. . . Then you can be a little terrified.

That time I nearly broke the toilet thanks to Pinterest

This is one of those post titles that sounds like it’s going to be disgusting, but it isn’t really.

So, because I am a somewhat shoddy housekeeper we live in Florida where the water is almost always questionable, our toilets get the black ring of death around the inside.  Mold grows in this state faster than you can say, “Wow, look! Some idiot in Florida is in the news again!”  So no matter what I use or how I try, our hall bathroom toilet ends up being a petri dish in what might be my discovery of the latest super antibiotic.

In an attempt to clean out the mold, I have used a variety of offensive tactics – my personal favorite just being straight bleach.  But then I found this pin:

that pin

Now, if you click the pin, you will find that this pinner suggests that you can put the corner of the magic eraser in the toilet overnight, and the black ring will somehow “magically” disappear.  But I am impatient. So I tore off half an eraser and dropped it in.

(On a semi-related note, why is this pinner storing her erasers in a wicker basket?  That’s strange; they aren’t a decorative item.  I should have been wary of the post from the onset.)

This technique may actually work; however, I don’t know because I may have mentioned that I am really freaking impatient? So I decided that I would use the toilet brush and toilet bowl cleaner as well, so I begin pushing that eraser around the bowl like a luge player with a broom and a medal on the line, and it worked, kinda.

Unfortunately, I have what is known as mommy brain ,which is more accurately and less adorably called sleep deprivation, and because I used the toilet brush, when I was done, I automatically FLUSHED THE TOILET.  And the eraser disappeared into my plumbing.  I stood there staring down at the toilet, thinking about the situation, realizing for the first time that my toilet has internal plumbing so I cannot just take out the trap to retrieve it.  And I make a decision.

I walk away.  I will tell no one.  It will just go away.

Which worked out great because no one really uses the hall toilet anyway, until about three days later when my husband mentions, “Have you noticed that toilet running really slow when it flushes?”
Me:  What? How odd!  (My husband should know at this point that when I start sounding like I am having a conversation with Mr. Darcy that I am clearly lying.  I am a horrible liar.)
Him:  Yeah, it has been like that for a few days.
Me:  Do you want chicken for dinner?  (Mental high five!  Deflect with food!)

We went out that evening and came home with a couple of palm trees to plant in our front yard and as I am walking through the house I see him attacking the toilet with the plunger.

Me: Honey!  I can do that! Why don’t you go deal with the trees, since I can’t really do that.  (HE MUSN’T LEARN OF THE ERASER!!!  HIDE THE SHAME!)

So he leaves me with the plunger, and I am on a mission from God.  Except after 45 minutes of plunging and sore arms and an aching back, there is still no eraser.  And Biblically speaking, I don’t think God sends people on missions to unclog their toilets from cleaning supplies that should not have been flushed in the first place.  (Although that would be awesome if in a modern twist, God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden because Eve dropped a homemade fig leave scrub brush into the spring when she was trying to clear out the algae and permanently clogged it, and God was just so over it, he was like, “THAT’S IT!  GET OUT!” and it wasn’t an apple at all, but Eve trying to be helpful.  Hmmm…. #maybegettingtothetruth #goingtogetstruckbylightning)

I pop my head out the door.  I need to buy time.

Me:  Chris, I think it’s a Drano problem, I will get some at the store tomorrow.  Just don’t use that toilet.

So around 3:45 AM, I finish giving the nugget (previously referred to as the Wereloaf) her bottle, and suddenly panic about the toilet.  An obscene level of anxiety grips me.  He must NOT find out about the eraser. I go back in my bathrobe and begin plunging with renewed vigor.  After a half hour, I realize that he is going to find out about the Magic Eraser.  I need to confess.  But it is now 4:30 AM, and I am pretty sure he is going to be more angry about my waking him up to confess my stupid than the stupid itself.  So I do what any smart wife would do.  I leave a note on our bathroom mirror.

Dear Husband-
I must confess to you that I know the cause of our bathroom blockage.
It is a Magic Eraser.
I would prefer that you ask me no further questions about this situation as it will probably result in my crying hysterically.  Simply know that I am sorry for my stupidity, and  I love you.

Also, I do not know how to fix this problem.


Then, first thing in the morning, as he was blissfully sleeping in, I took nugget to a friend’s house for brunch when I received a text: Toilet is fixed.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.  -Galatians 6:9

I am pretty sure that this quote has nothing to do with reaping a Magic Eraser from the depths of our plumbing, but I am thankful for a patient husband and realize that I probably need to learn a little bit of that myself.  Now back to my Eve theory . . .