Dull and Dark

Two days ago, Big Daddy and I were sacked out on the couch. The Princess was on the couch opposite. I was reading, Big Daddy was working and the Princess was scanning Facebook.

“Did the guy who did the voice of Genie die?”, she asked. I felt a cold something in my stomach.

“It’s probably a rumor”, Big Daddy offered. I put down my book and googled and the cold something in my stomach kind of sunk a little. It was true. The news agencies were all reporting that Robin Williams had died at age 63. Suicide.

The tears came right away. I took over the TV and launched “Hook”. Williams starred as Peter Pan 1991. I wasn’t really a child anymore, the first time I watched Peter Banning flying off to Neverland with Tinkerbell, but I’ve never really been far from being a child in a lot of ways and that movie sung with magic for me.

But, that wasn’t all. I watched Mork, from Ork and his rainbow suspenders. The cockeyed face in Popeye. The bittersweet of Good Morning, Vietnam. The strangeness of Toys and the magic of the Genie. The brisk adventure of Jumanji and the sorrow of Jack. The bravado of Teddy Roosevelt and the look on his face in RV when he realized the pipe spreader was about to do him wrong.

Robin burst into the spotlight as the 70s kids were making their way into the world and he walked along with us, defeating Captain Hook and rolling the dice to drive the animals and the jungle back into the game board. We quoted the Genie. We knew about carpe diem when he stood on a desk.

I admit, when I heard I cried. For a while. I watched “Hook” and as the little lost boy began manipulating Peter Banning’s face as he searched for Pan, I kind of lost it. I’d never felt this way. Michale Jackson, he was okay, but there was not much in him that I connected to except for owning Thriller on vinyl like every other kid my age. There have been celebrity passing that have made me sad or confused or angry, but as Peter arrives back in the nursery and grabs up his children and throws the windows wide, I was overcome. Robin Williams had been a magic man and he was gone.

Depression is a hard thing.

It haunts me, I admit. My inner voice is mean. “Look at all you have”, it snarls. It calls me stupid and ungrateful. On good days, I know that love and light and happiness isn’t really depressions antidote. That there’s a part of my brain that functions incorrectly, but there are times when the depression dulls the world into muddied colors and I wonder why I can’t be joyful with all the happinesses I know I can name. I’m thankful that my darkness is so comparatively mild. I’ve never thought about hurting myself to end any of it.  It bothers me and frustrates me and angers me, but I’m lucky enough to weather the storm.

Some of us can weather those storms, our darks not as dark and our dulls not as dull but some of us just cannot go on anymore because the darks are blackness are too much to stand.  It’s so sad.  When people take their own life, there is always a cry that it’s selfish or cowardly, but that’s an unfair assessment.  I am a lucky one.  My depression stays mild.  I can function.  Life doesn’t seem hopeless all the time (and it never seems hopeless, just dull and muted and foggy).  I can take a low dose of a small pill and feel okay most of the time.  But, not all people who struggle with depression are that lucky.  Pills don’t help them or the side effects are so bad, they’re not a solution.  Therapy can’t fix their miswired brains. Exercise offers no respite nor does their partner, their jobs, their hobbies, the location or the weather.  It’s sad to me that someone who gave so many people the gift of laughter felt depression so darkly.  If the joy we derived from his work could have lifted him, it would have.

People who commit suicide aren’t selfish or cowards.  In fact, I rather think that following through with a plan for suicide takes more bravery than we can even begin to consider.  People who commit suicide are plagued by a depression so deep that, like any terminal illness, they see no hope at the end.  They feel that they cannot be fixed or saved.

In Jumanji, Alan was trapped in the jungle for 30 years.  When he was brought home he found his parents dead, his home destroyed and the terrors of the jungle had followed him.  He, Sarah, Judy and Peter were able to play the game to completion as they were chased by animals, stalked by a mad hunter, flooded and shot by poisonous plants. I wonder if a deep depression can feel that way.  If Robin Williams hadn’t been trapped inside Jumanji for decades with no hope of a winning role to end the game and turn things back to the way they should be.

 

If you or someone you love needs help, please reach out.  1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK.  Both numbers reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and are staffed by professionals.  The calls are confidential.

 

No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.

I’m pretty sure Littlebit was a newborn when the Wii first released and became popular. Big Daddy got up early one morning to stake out our local K-mart and he came home with a system that, at the time, were in high demand. Big Daddy and I weren’t gamers, but we liked the active aspect of the Wii and it provided us years of entertainment.

Sometime within the last year or so, Nintendo announced it’s new platform, the WiiU and the news came out that they’d be discontinuing the Wii platform. We weren’t really too worried, we weren’t heavy gamers and we were happy with the smattering of games we had, particularly Mario Kart Wii which got heavy play. At the time, the WiiU reviews weren’t great and we admitted we didn’t see the appeal of the giant “game pad” controller.

Earlier this month, with the release of Mario Kart 8 for the WiiU, Nintendo discontinued the on-line play of Mario Kart Wii and our favorite aspect of the Wii was now gone for us.

I mourned, I guess. I was sad. Sitting down in the evening and playing a few rounds of Mario Kart online was one of my favorite wind down activities. And it was gone.

So, the girls and I happened into Game Stop a few weeks ago and the WiiU seemed like a good deal and so now we own one.

I do want to say we also own an Xbox 360 with Kinect and I tought it would be a huge hit and while it’s a bigger hit with serious gamers, the Kinect feature isn’t so great for us. For the Kinect to really work well, you can’t have traffic between you and the sensor bar and in a family with small kids and dogs, it’s just not a realistic thing for us. It leads to a lot of frustration because the game will pause when the sensor is disrupted and the kids get a little testy.

So, on to the Wii U. We bought the package that included Super Mario Bros U + Super Luigi U and purchase Mario Kart 8, Duck Tales and Nintendo Land. All Wii games are playable on the WiiU and your Wii controllers can be used as well. However, you will need motion plus adapters if you have Wii controllers without them. We bought ours from Game Stop for $12 but I did order a couple of new remotes from Amazon because they fit into our Wii Wheels for Mario Karting.

 

WiiU Pros

  • Your Wii games and equipment are compatible, so you can still play your favorites.  In fact, the Wii Fit U is fairly inexpensive if you still have your old balance board.
  • In my opinion, the Wii platform is easy for younger kids to use
  • The eShop allows you to download current, popular titles not just classic or off label games.  This is huge for us as the game downloads onto the Wii and there’s no media to lose or ruin.  We owned three copies of Mario Kart.
  • Wii remotes can be used with the sensor bar to play on the TV OR the WiiU game pad can be used as a sensor allowing you to play the WiiU without using the TV
  • Easy to use parental controls.
  • I will admit that I like playing with the Game Pad.  Big Daddy isn’t as big of a fan.  I use it to drive during Mario Kart 8 and I think I like it better than the traditional remote in a wheel.  Your mileage, of course, may vary.  Mario Kart 8 doesn’t hold the same place in my heart as Mario Kart Wii did.
  • The WiiU is more affordable than it’s competitors.

WiiU Cons

  • Even with creative packages and discount, it’s still a $300 investment.  I’m sure, if you can wait, that the price will drop.  Depending on what you own from a previous Wii, buying new controllers can be pricey as well.
  • Game catalog is currently a bit limited
  • Initial set up takes a long time, which kind of sucks.
  • Downloads of games, similarly, take a long time which also sucks.

Overall, we’re enjoying our Wii U play.  I’ve just downloaded Wii Fit U and am looking forward to giving it a try.  We all enjoyed the Wii Fit programming on the old Wii and I suspect we’ll like this one as well.

The first third of summer is already gone.  Time flies when you’re having fun, right?  That’s always the case.  I feel like I’m digging in my heels, trying not to let one minute slip through my fingers.  The girls have been getting along so well and I’ve felt so peaceful about things.


To make matters worse, the school supplies are already coming out and I know what it feels like to be those people who start fussing about Christmas stuff coming out in the stores so early.  Quit taking my summer, school!  We still have 2/3 left!

I won’t say I’m sorry to see July, however.  We have a lot of awesome stuff coming up and even though I’m trying to slow down and enjoy every single June day, I can’t say I’m super sorry to see July peeking it’s head over the fence.

 

We are having a “clean out the pantry/freezer” sort of week.  I’ll probably buy some fresh produce and some odds and ends to make meals, but overall, I want to use some stuff up.  I feel like we get ahead of ourselves sometimes and buy things we don’t use right away and suddenly the pantry and the freezer are bursting at the seams and we still have nothing to eat.  It’s kind of weird.

Monday Spaghetti with broccoli.  Baby Bee requested this for her birthday dinner, but we had cake for dinner instead.

TuesdaySloppy Toms, oven fries and carrots

Wednesday Southwest Chicken Chopped Salad

ThursdayBelated Date Night Menu (if Auntie Awesome is agreeable) Steak Bite, grilled zucchini and roasted garlic mushrooms.

FridayPicnic at the Park! Smoked pork and other picnic goodies! I have a ton of pasta, so I’m thinking I will probably make a pasta salad.

That is how old Baby Bee turned on Wednesday.  I suppose she’s not a baby anymore, but she’s my last baby so in some ways she’ll be a baby forever.  Baby Bee is small and delicate.  She has tiny features and a little squeaky voice.  Her knees are so knobbly and cute that I could spend hours or even days rubbing them.  She’s covered in bruises because she’s the sort of kid who will fall down, kiss her own boo-boo and get up and do it again.  I feel like I spend all my time running around behind her going “you’re going to get hurt” and then “I told you that you would get hurt!”.

Baby Bee always seems to be okay with the price of getting hurt, mostly because she really does believe that she could fly if she tries just a little harder.

As my kids get older, the struggle of what to share about them gets more difficult.  I blog for two reasons.  First, I like to write and second, I’d like my kids to have a record of what we did and what I felt.  No one understands better than me that words in a bubble can be harmful and I don’t want any of my children to read what I’ve written about them and our lives and have them upset or confused or hurt after I can’t explain anymore.  The Internet urges you to not share or overshare your children’s lives and then the Internet points at your and casts blame on the rosy glow you paint over your family.

So, what does this have to do with Baby Bee?

Baby Bee is an amazing child.  It never ceases to amaze me that mingling mine and Big Daddy’s genes could create three such different people.  They’re all so different.  THe Princess is tall and fair with big blue eyes and golden hair.  Littlebit is lovely and dark and solid muscle.  Baby Bee is willowy and dainty and her hair and eyes are like you put all of the Princess’s light and all of Littlebit’s dark into a blender and she came out.  Her eyes and hair are like honey.  She trips around the house like a little sprite or an imp.  She’s so funny and witty.

Baby Bee’s speech delays have often left her, and us, frustrated.  As she grows and experiences more complicated emotions, her inability to express herself can lead to her melting down.  Baby Bee won’t tell you when she’s hungry and as her blood sugar plummets, so does her mood.  It has taken us five years to discover that it Baby Bee gets tired or hungry, watch out.

Yes, we’ve been parenting for a long time, but this is the first kid we’ve had that would fight sleep so fiercely. And hunger?  Who has time?  I’ve heard Baby Bee’s tummy rumbling and asked if she was hungry.   “No”, she chirps and goes on with what she’s doing.  I hide granola bars in my bedside table.

Baby Bee is an introvert.  I don’t want to say that she hates strangers, but… she kind of hates strangers.  No offense, strangers of the world as Baby Bee spots you at the end of the store aisle and says “Arrraaaaaggh!  Go away!”  She impatient. She can’t wait two seconds for anything, but I understand that, too.  I feel the way she does but at 37, I can’t pull that off anymore.

Well, I can’t pull that off in front of anyone but Big Daddy.

Parenting Baby Bee isn’t always easy, but parenting no child is ever always easy.  As parents, we have to adapt to our children’s challenges and needs and that’s what we try to do with Baby Bee.

Baby Bee, this might sound negative.  It isn’t.  As your speech catches up and you’re able to express yourself, I want you to know that being your Mom is a joy.  You’re so hilariously funny.  Everyone thinks so.  You never disappoint us when we ask you for an answer to a silly question.  You do seven amazing things before lunch and another seven before bed.  “I just love cats!” “Hang me by my legs!”  Nothing is too high or fast, but it can be too dark (Sorry about the Haunted Mansion…)  You involve us in your pretend games and they are so fantastic.  How lucky you are to imagine so much.

I do admit, I worry about you.  I can’t help it.  You’re slow to warm up and I wonder how transitions will work for you as time goes by.  You also really don’t care about doing things for other people and I worry about being able to motivate you enough to get you to want to do well on your own.  I don’t think you’ll care if I wish you’d have gotten an A, but I don’t think people will talk you into things either, which is a plus.

But, I do think you might be the one talking others into things, which might be a minus.  How will you use your power?  For good?

 

First, the summer schedule I laid out a few weeks ago seems as though it might work. Actually, last week ran so smoothly that I’m feeling really positive about the summer in general. In years past, I felt like I had to throw a lot of money at summer to keep the girls busy. And, it’s true that if you throw a lot of money at activities, you’ll probably have a pretty fun time. But, that didn’t seem like the right answer. We needed more balance.

In summer’s past, I’ve also set out with a really ambitious plan that we just kind of petered out on. Some people probably can have fun with a super packed schedule, but that’s not the right answer for us, either. A happy summer, for us, seems to be about the right balance of schedule and freedom and I think I found it this year.

Monday, we took a little walk around town. We ate in the inside of a McDonald’s. So high brow, right? But, it’s something we never really do. We were lucky enough to have Big Daddy join us and I think the girls liked the little change from our usual…

We also visited the library and signed up for the Summer Reading Program. I’ve said this a million times on this blog and about a million more in real life, but the library is such an amazing place all year and especially in the summer. My local library is having activities a minimum of three days a week and they are all free. In addition, you can check out books, movies, magazines and audiobooks as well as spending time in the children’s section. My library has puzzles, toys, crafts, coloring sheets and a computer pre-loaded with tons of children’s games.

Tuesday found us back at the library for an Animal show. It was so much fun and we were all sorry it was over.


Wednesday the girls opted to make Shrinky Dinks. These aren’t quite the kits I played with as a kid. I think my kits were cooler…

Amazon features the same kit we used for just under $20. It bought a solid hour of activity for two kids, so I think the price works out.

Thursday, we were off to bowling. I tout the kids bowl free program every summer and I’m doing it again. Two free games, every day all summer long. Bowling alleys are also air conditioned, so it’s a great place to cool off. We buy the season long shoe rental as well (a little over $30 for all three kids) so it works out to a pretty inexpensive price per outing.

The Princess and I also went to see “The Fault in Our Stars”.  I’ve tortured myself read this book twice and I thought the movie was really well done. Lots of tears, of course, and sniffling.  The Twilight series was pretty popular for several years and, to be honest, I’m reluctant to have the Princess read it.  I did read the series and liked it okay, but Bella and Edward have such a shitty relationship and I don’t want that sort of thing inspiring or teaching my teen.  But, Hazel and Augustus DO have a good, healthy relationship, albeit brief, and I don’t have one problem with her seeing and understanding that sort of a thing.  So, Moms of teens, it was pretty tame in the sex department and heavy with emotion so, it’s a good choice for your teens and tweens.

What awesome things have you done so far this summer?  I’m always looking for new ideas!

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This week, the forecast is calling for warm, rainy days and that means the girls and I will be in the house more than we were last week. It’s tempting, when the weather gets iffy, to end up in front of the tv a lot. I admit to being a tv lover. I think I could probably watch 18 hours of tv a day if I didn’t have kids or a guilty conscience problem. But, I want summer to be a lot more fun than just endless hours of tv and video games.

The girls and I made bouncy balls a few weeks ago. We bought our kit at Five Below (for, well, less than $5), but this kit from Amazon makes a nice amount of balls for the same price. It absolutely worked and was easy enough for Littlebit to use with no help and for Baby Bee to use with minimal help.

Our one complaint is that as the balls dry out, they stop being bouncy, which is a bummer. Even soaking them in water doesn’t restore them, it only makes them slimy,but for me the price for the quiet activity time works out to a plus even when we take the hard balls into consideration.

Ahem.

We’ve also been enjoying playing with kinetic sand. Okay, it’s a little pricey for $20 for two pounds and, to be honest, you’ll need two pounds per kid. I also purchased a tray for playing and some molds, which makes this a pretty pricey activity, but the amount of play and interest far surpasses the price. The sand stays moist and pliable. It’s easy to mold/build with. It doesn’t dry out and since it sticks to itself, it’s easy to clean up. It even tempts adults to play with it and the texture is just…different. I love letting it run through my fingers.

I’ll be sure to share more fun rainy and sunny day ideas as we discover them over the course of the summer.

 

But, for now, the menu plan

 

Monday Grilled steak, baked potatoes and veggies

Tuesday Smoked chicken, mashed turnips and veggies

WednesdayChicken Fajita Kabobs and Spanish Rice

Thursday Date night: Grilled steak bites, grilled zucchini and roasted garlic mushrooms

Friday Family Date Night

Saturday Grilled Chicken and Southwest Cornbread Salad

Sunday Baked General’s Chicken with Rice and Broccoli

Dear Mothers,

At some point in your past, you fell in love with a man. Hopefully, you talked about what you hoped your shared future would be like. If you wanted children, hopefully you talked about that. I know Big Daddy and I did. I sat in the folding chair in front of a flickering screen and tapped hopeful words to Big Daddy about the children I hoped to have. Two children, we agreed. A girl first and then a son. Of course, life throws you curve balls and our family doesn’t look much like the family we imagined in a chat box more than a decade ago. That’s true for a lot of families. Your family probably won’t end up looking like what you imagined it would. Maybe it took longer than you thought it would or maybe it happened too quickly. Maybe the son or daughter you always wanted turned into a child of the opposite gender that you wouldn’t trade for all the tea in China. Maybe the half dozen of children you thought you’d have turned into a only and maybe the only you thought you’d have turned into four.

Life throws you curve balls like that.

But, sitting across the dinner table from you is the partner you chose and with whom you dreamed about the family you created. And, you know what? I bet marriage to him isn’t quite what you thought it would be either. After years romance fades and small annoying habits seem to grow under their own steam until you can’t handle those damn dirty socks that end up on the floor instead of in the hamper.

But, I’m digressing, I’m back to that guy across the table from you. The one whom you chose and dreamed with. Ladies, don’t discount him.

There’s this culture, sometimes, that encourages mothers to discount their partners. In corners of the Internet women are encouraged to ignore the desires of their husbands under the umbrella cause of “you’re the mama”. Ladies, parenting is a partnership and your husband is an integral part of the life of your children.

The children you dreamed of.

With him.

As a young mother, it was hard for me to realize that, while Big Daddy brought different skills and abilities to the table, what he brought was as important as what I did. Even if he did it differently. Especially because he did it differently. I researched. I read. He didn’t. I cared more and knew more!

But, I didn’t.

Big Daddy and I were both vulnerable. We were both trying to make our way through a new marriage and a new baby and I wasn’t kind. I discounted him. I got angry at him. I took the baby off him.

If I had a time machine, I would go back in time, hit myself with my own shoe and order myself to stop being a dumbass. Not only was I creating a situation where my partner, my husband, the person with whom I’d chose to have children stopped having confidence in his ability to parent I was undermining my daughter’s trust in him too.

And, I paid for that and not just in regret. I paid every single time the Princess walked past Big Daddy to have me do some small task because I taught her that I was the only one to come to. I taught her that he couldn’t comfort her. In my actions, I taught her that he just wasn’t important.

I was so wrong.

I can’t fix that mistake. I can apologize, and I have. I can make damn sure that I didn’t repeat my mistake and I did, but I can’t fix the confidence and happiness I took from him. I can’t give back the trust that I took away.

I knew that man. I picked him. I listened to him talk about the kind of father he wanted to be. I knew that there wasn’t an uncaring bone in his body. I knew how much he loved the Princess. I was such an idiot.

We were lucky. I realized my mistake quickly and worked to rectify it, but in some families, that mistake never gets corrected. Mom and the kids form a club that doesn’t include Dad and the family fractures in small ways.

Part of this generational growing pains. Our husbands are stepping out of the shadows of the Provider only Dad and we’re all shuffling around trying to figure out dynamics in our families that don’t always look very much like the ones we were born into. How we create our families will influence how our sons and daughters create theirs and having a partner is so much better than forcing your way forward on your own with the person across the dinner table from you nothing more than a stranger and a paycheck.

Big Daddy drops Littlebit off at dance class.

He gives the nightly baths, scrubbing Baby Bee’s boney back and knobbly knees.

He drives the Princess to school on rainy or cold mornings.

Choose to have a partner.

Happy Father’s Day.

I hope you sang that to the tune of “Piano Man” by Billy Joel.  If not, try it now. It works.

Kids all over the country are in count down mode.  Parents are too (some looking forward with happy anticipation and others with dread).  I admit to loving summer time.  For a couple of crazy weeks, I’m pretty sure I could even homeschool!

And, then Big Daddy reminds me of the million reasons why that wouldn’t even begin to work.  He’d start with reminding how much therapy Baby Bee gets at school (and how much she needs it and how much it’s helped her) and then would end up with him asking me when the last time was the Princess sat down and willingly listening to anything we had to say.

So, I enjoy the summers.  I like the challenge of balancing fun with learning mixed up with ample amounts of quiet couch time.  It’s perfect.

The weather here in Ohio is making us long for school to be out as well.  We’ve had nice warm days (with rain!  So much rain!) with enough sun to make a dip in the pool or the lake seem like a good idea.  The windows are open and the birds are singing and the little girls struggled with bedtimes in the daylight (over summer, I adjust them to a later time to avoid this and to try and gain some sleeping in time for myself).  Just two more days.

The Princess graduated from Middle School last week.  I was more anxious about her transition to middle school than I am of her transition to High School.  The Princess has already been traipsing all over the high school and I feel confident about her ability to handle the changes that are coming.

Last week, Big Daddy and I sat down the Princess and had a Very Serious Talk about her future.  I admit, I don’t like to imagine it much.  I mean, I want her to have it, but I don’t like thinking about the day when our home starts to stop being the Princess’s home.  I know that will happen as she transitions to college.  For a while, this will be home and she’ll be pulled to come back, but as her life expands beyond us, she won’t.  But, I don’t want to spend too much time wishing the Princess away.  She’s only 14 and we have four years to go (Only four?  Wasn’t she just four?  Wasn’t it just a little bit ago that her childhood stretched in front of us so vast and open and now it’s shrunk to less than a handful of years which doesn’t seem like it’s nearly enough).

There are so few summers when your children are at home.  So very few.  Just 18 and I’m trying my damnedest to make every one count.

 

The Menu Plan

Monday Flat iron steak (thank you, Trader Joe’s!), carrots and crash hot potatoes

Tuesday BBQ chicken, quinoa and salad

Wednesday Last Day of School Party (Pizza and Cake!)

Thursday  Crunchy Chicken Salad and Egg Rolls

Friday Chicken Bacado Casserole with Salad

Saturday Smoked burgers, pasta salad and corn on the cob

Sunday Slow Cooker pot roast with balsamic vinegar and onions, salad and some lovely bread from the bakery.

This weekend, the little girl rolled in the yard until their legs were stained green and I called them Shrek. Our feet are bare and things are blooming again. Big Daddy and I have a great project underway that I’m hoping to share next week. Our windows are thrown wide open and the temperatures (at least the beginning of this week) have been in the high 70s/low 80s and I’m spending a lot of time thinking about our summer plans.

Over the years, I’ve tried different strategies to help us manage our summer.  I don’t want us to be strictly planned!  That’s too much, but we have had some summers where I haven’t had a plan and then it starts to feel like we didn’t get to do anything.  Striking that balance feels hard, sometimes.   I’ve tried different techniques in the past, but this year I’m giving the following a try.

Weekly Schedule

Around Town Monday-This is pretty self-explanatory.  We won’t be traveling far and wide on Mondays.  We can go to the park pool, visit the playground, go to the library, go for walks, have lunch or go for ice cream.  I may extend this to a couple of neighboring small communities as well, in case we run out of things to do in our immediate locale.

Yes, we live in a small town and, yes, that’s more than possible.

Couch ‘Tater Tuesday-Another fairly self-explanatory plan.  One day a week, we’ll have a double feature along with a small cooking activity where the girls help prepare lunch.  We’ll be watching old favorites as well as new titles.

Make it, build it, craft it, do it Wednesday-Our activity time will be focused on crafts and other at home experiences.  I have a few building projects in mind for this summer as well.  The girls love crafts and similar activities, so this is sure to be a favorite day

Out and About Thursday -This is probably self-explanatory, too. We’ll be heading out to have fun outside of town. Zoo trips, bowling, Chuck E Cheese, swimming, movies and anything else that sounds fun will make the list.

Fun Friday-To be determined by Mom.

 

I’ve also roughed in a small daily schedule that I’ll share for anyone interested.  It’s not too strict and addresses my need to limit screens, encourage outdoor play AND learning while making sure we have tons of summer fun

 

9:00-Breakfast is served, get dressed and head out to play

10:00-Everyone pitches in on chores

11:00-Quiet time (reading, puzzles, workbooks, coloring)

11:30-TV time before lunch

12:00-Lunch and clean up

12:30-Daily Activities (aka FUN!)

4:30-activity clean up  (the girls will split off here and play until dinner)

The evening won’t really have a time schedule (and the above is subject to change.  I more like to stick to the order of the thing and not the times)

Evening will look like this

dinner and cleanup

family time

showers

tv

stories and tidy

bed

 

I’m hoping to keep screen time to about an hour a day except for couch tater tuesday when we’ll binge watch a little bit.  Limiting screen time is a big issues we struggle with and I don’t want our number one activity this summer to have been wearing a body impression into the couch.

 

What are your plans for summer?   How much structure do you end up seeking?  Do you abandon the schedule entirely?

Anxiety has been my friend again, lately.

It’s sent me to the doctors twice in a week.

It made get another EKG and a holtor monitor.

It’s back to sucking the joy out of things that should be joyful.

It distracts me until I find it hard to function.

It frightens me until I cancel regular activities to appease it.

It corners me in a place where my biggest fears reside and it antagonizes me like it’s the Ghost of Christmas future or something.

And, I withdraw because somehow it seems natural.  I can’t explain it.  It’s like I’m a wounded animal trying to find some cavern or den into which I can retreat to lick my wounds until the storm passes.

There’s always a sign things are heading south.  I guess that’s the best thing about 18 months of therapy, I’m now able to spot the anxiety further out now so I can’t get as far down that particular rabbit hole.  That particular rabbit hole is dark and scary and crowded and uncomfortable and limiting.  It’s ruinous.

I chant the same things like a mantra “Everything’s fine.  I’m okay.  Take my meds.  It’s just my mind.  It’s just my awesome imagination.  What are the odds?  Everyone has this happen to them.  It’s normal.  It’s benign.  It’s nothing.”

I’m not an illogical person.  I am not.  Oh, sure, I still cling to that fanciful imagination I’ve always had and I think one of the things I love the most about myself is the root cause of a lot of panic/anxiety.  My imagination makes things so vivid and real and convincing that my logical mind doesn’t stand a chance.

Poor logical mind.  Poor logical Big Daddy.

Don’t think about it.  Stop thinking about!  Oh, but the more you try to stop the more you go.  You can’t slam on the brakes, no matter how hard you try. It’s demoralizing.  The panic breeds more panic and the cycle is harder to break the further it goes on.

THankfully, a few weeks have gone by and while I’m not yet 100%, I’m better enough to be able to hope the worst of this episode is behind me.

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