I Don’t Play Barbies With My Kid

Boo! Hiss!

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Yea, yea, I’ve heard it before. You can’t go anywhere on the internet without someone writing an article or posting in a forum shaming moms who don’t “entertain their kids.” Like, look, I get it. There are some moms out there that are super duper hands on. They are never on their phone, they wouldn’t think of cursing when angry, they are crafty and ever patient, they are always preparing breakfast, lunch, and dinner, their houses are immaculate (somehow) and they make it their job to play with their kids.

I’m sure these moms exist. I’ve not yet met one, but these moms are moms first and human beings second. And their way of parenting, is ok.

I’ll stand up and say, “I am a human being first.” And my way of parenting, is ok.

I love being a mom, I wouldn’t have worked so damn emotionally hard to conceive and have her if I didn’t want her. I didn’t want to give birth or grow a baby. But I wanted her and I did what needed to be done to have her. I love her to bits, she is my whole world. I wouldn’t trade her for anything or anyone else in this universe.

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But I’m not playing Barbies with my kid.

Plain and simple, I don’t want to. And while I may not do that, I do lots of other things with my kid and at the end of the day, whether I am on my ass on the dirty floor to play Barbies or not, she knows I love her to the moon and back.

To say that parents today don’t value their children or enjoy them like they should is a veiled way of saying that you believe parents today aren’t good parents because they make their kids entertain themselves and do things for themselves.

Newsflash though, there’s no way to win in a society where a majority of people are out there saying “Don’t give out participation ribbons!” and are the same people saying “You are neglecting your child if you don’t spend every waking moment with them.”

Let’s take a step back and actually look at the life of the mom you’re judging. Take in what she goes through on a daily basis and try to actually understand why she does the things she does – before you lay down the assumption that your way is the only way and her way makes her a shitty parent. That’s a lot to lay on a person. Any person. But especially a person who is doing the best they can, with the tools they have and their own life experiences to guide them.

We don’t need anymore of that bullshit as moms. Nobody’s baby came with a user manual. We are all winging this journey. This shaming and judging one another spans generations. It’s not just the “millennial” generation that are always harping on other moms. It doesn’t start there. It starts with older sisters, moms, aunts, mom-in-laws, and friends who have “been there before you” and have just the right remedy for everything your child needs and never mind that this is a new time and an altogether NEW kid that may require different approaches to thrive and feel loved.

To paraphrase my good friend who said: To disagree with what’s best for a kid, is fine – but to assume different values are inherently wrong, is not ok. To have different values of parenting doesn’t make someone a neglectful parent. To have different goals for your children’s future, doesn’t make you a bad parent. 
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So do I play Barbies with my kid? No. I don’t. Because I think she should be able to entertain herself. She should be able to allow herself to be “bored” and then find something to do. She can find things that bring her joy and not something I told her she has to like or play by my preconceived notions and ideas of what she should play. She can use her imagination and create stories of her own concoction, without the influence or drive from one of her parents.
I don’t play Barbies because inevitably she will want to play as soon as I get off work. I struggle to stay at work with constant anxiety and tenseness for 8 hours. When I get off work, I’m tired. Yea, I only work at a call center and I work in my basement, that doesn’t count? Well, tell my anxiety that. Because I’m still exhausted when I work a full shift at work.
I don’t want to get down on the floor and brush a Barbie’s hair for 3.79 minutes to have to haul myself back up when she’s finished before I even sit down. Which in turn will just make me more anxious and irritated with my kid for forcing me to do it in the first place when I am tired and anxious. It’s not fun for anyone.
To those who think I shouldn’t have had a child if I wasn’t “interested” in playing with her, I send you to a list of things that might happen if you are a mom or parent living with depression and anxiety. To those who say I shouldn’t have had a kid if I was just going to be anxious and depressed, I should have known better. Those people, can go screw themselves. Mental illness is a real thing and it’s something that many people struggle with. It should not and does not define the caliber of parent I am or can be.
So I’m not gonna play with Barbie. You know what I will do? What I will do is encourage her to use her imagination and creativity by suggesting things she and Barbie can do together. This child f mine has FIVE imaginary kids that she plays with on the regular. Since before she could actually play, she was following some imaginary people around. They play hide and seek, tag, and sometimes even musical chairs.
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Imagine 5 invisible children with her as they wonder at the lights on the tree.

You could say that’s because she’s lonely and she doesn’t have anyone there to entertain her. I say, she has an exceptional imagination and she’s a joy to watch as the creativity of the stories she tells of their adventures spin around in her eyes as she tells them. It brings her joy to tell those stories and while I may not play Barbies or participate in the actual adventure, I do set aside whatever I am doing to listen to those stories, to give commentary and reactions. Because at the end of the day, my attention to her creativity and her imagination and what is important to HER is what I am hoping to foster in my relationship with her.
So does my daughter WANT me to play Barbies with her? Of course she does. And I’m not going to sit here and say that I don’t feel bad sometimes when I’m on my computer or watching a tv show instead. Because I do. I feel that guilt every time I do something for myself.
However, realistically moms are human beings. They are people and they need attention, me-time, downtime, kid free time. That’s not wrong or bad.  The point here is, I may not play Barbies with my kiddo or cater to her every need or want at that exact moment, but that’s not a bad thing. I may take time for myself, I may send her to play with those toys so I can have a moment to myself. This is not a bad thing.
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When moms sacrifice everything they have, including their identity, their hobbies, their own self care needs, it causes poor parenting. It causes resentment and regret, guilt and depression. None of these would be a good model of parenting for anyone. Let’s just be real. These things are a real fact of parenting, and it’s not something we like to acknowledge or take ownership for.
Society and earlier generations say you have to be perfect, you have to be attentive and at the beck and call of your child. Being a mom is now your identity. You are no longer a person, an employee, a wife, a sister, an aunt. You are a MOM. You have no aspirations for your life or your family, and it’s selfish if you think you should or can have such notions.
I want my daughter to see what an independant woman looks like. I want her to feel what being empowered to make her own choices and decisions feels like. And come to terms with the consequences or rewards for those actions. I want to foster a sense of wonder and curiosity and that’s not done by playing or doing for her. It just doesn’t.
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My daughter is incredibly impatient. She wants things done, her way, right now. That’s not how the real world works. Does it help her to stop whatever I am doing to do exactly what she wants in that moment? Or is it better to allow her to make choices on her own. Or to control herself and be patient. Isn’t it more realistic to teach her that she can’t have everything she wants and that sometimes Mommy is busy? People are busy.
I let her do all sorts of things. I let her make her own sandwich because she actually eats it when she makes it and I’m right there watching her do it, no sharp objects are involved. Making up a game to entertain herself is just the same. She will learn what she likes to do and what she doesn’t like to do and she gets to decide that, it’s all up to her.As well as knowing that she’s capable of doing things for herself.
It’s about problem solving, critical thinking, curiosity and independence. None of these things are inherent in our DNA, and none of these things are bad. While some people think the problem with the world’s kids today is that they are being coddled to or fawned over all the time. That is likely a true statement. Its an unpopular belief among parents out in the wild to actually discuss and talk about the hard shit that you go through. If it isn’t roses and rainbows 24/7, you must be doing something wrong. But we shouldn’t coddle our kids or they become assholes.
Which way do you want it?
Reality check, people, moms need time and attention too. Period. It’s time we embrace the fact that our little people are in fact, just that, people. They have their own wants, needs, and personalities. They learn from us self-control, patience, kindness, and above all being a decent human being – so that 20 years from now you aren’t bailing them out of jail because they didn’t get their way, or someone didn’t do what they wanted or play with them the right away, and they resolved it by punching some dude in the face.
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So before you tell me to be a role model to my child, think about the perspective I’m attempting to give my child and the kind of life I want to provide for her, before you just assume that I’m a lazy, no good, neglectful mom. Perhaps I’m already the role model I want to be and the one my child (not yours) needs to have.

I’m Not The Right Kind of Mom

I’ve struggled with whether or not to post this. Its been on my mind for a while. But, I do feel like moms get a bad wrap for not expressing “correct” feelings or for not being “the right kind of mom.”

It’s been weighing on me for months, really, this sense of not being good enough. Not being “cut out” to be a mom. Of questioning our decision to have a child and then myself in specific raising her. I’m deep in the anxiety that I was never meant to be a mom, that I am just not supposed to be a good one. I’m not alone. Which is why I’m not going to shy away from this topic any longer.

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And that’s because, the stigma about being a “bad mom” or a “hot mess” mom has a lot of negativity attached to it.  If you don’t love parenthood you are seen as a bad person. If you don’t want to spend all the time with your child, people look at you like you are lazy. If you don’t bathe your child every single night, you must be negligent.

Let’s get honest.

I spend a good deal of my day when I’m not working, being irritated by the singing, the talking, the climbing, the whining, the questions, the chanting of certain words like “mom” and “why.”  I spend a lot of time being annoyed by the repetitive statements or questions. I’m exhausted a majority of the time by finding my 4 year old under my feet YET AGAIN. The consistent need to be entertained and my consistent disinterest, is for sure in direct correlation.

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I’m not the mom that sits on the floor and finds joy in playing pretend with dolls for another time. I don’t want to oversee yet another one color painting and then clean it up. I don’t particularly care about bedtime stories every night or watching her make, yet another mess, with the bath water splashing.

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I’m not the right kind of mom, because we should all be loving every moment of this. We shouldn’t complain about the fact that our children are driving us nuts, that we don’t want to be surrounded by their kisses every second, and we should be grateful to have someone who loves us unconditionally. I find myself more snappy than loving, more stern than soft, more no than yes. And for that, I feel guilty. I feel like I’m screwing up my kid with my annoyance, with my irritation of her generally childlike antics, and my overall disdain for feeling smothered and claustrophobic by my child.

This is a side effect of my anxiety, I’ve learned after several months of therapy. Loud noises, repetitive statements, the endless questions grate on my nerves and I tend to lash out. I try so hard to be the mom I’m supposed to be and smile and bear it. I pick my battles, I hold off the sheer annoyance I feel, until I can’t hold it in anymore. And then for a few days or a few weeks, I withdraw into myself. I spend more time in bed than at work, I am less likely to go on adventures or rock finding excursion. I’m more harsh in my “teaching” and my sensitive little girl takes it to heart.

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I see it in her eyes when she hears “Don’t do that.” again when she’s singing the same sound over and over, louder and louder. I see it in the slump of her shoulders when I shake my head and nip the jumping on the bed, and thus landing onto me in the bud. I see the slight downturn of disappointment in her lips when she asks if we can go for a walk and I’m just not feeling it and instead say “Maybe later.”

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That makes me feel worse. Because I know she’s just being a kid. She’s not doing anything wrong and I love her to bits. I literally can’t even imagine my life without her. I’m in awe that we have a child every time I see her dance around the living room. But more often than not, I question whether I should be a mom at all. I clearly don’t enjoy a majority of it, and that’s a hard thing to admit. I don’t enjoy parenting, but I do enjoy my daughter.

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I feel like I have to justify that, because I feel like these words and sentiments automatically make people think I’m a monster. I’m terrible person, because I don’t enjoy or particularly like the idea of doing the “traditional” mom things. And I have been known to outwardly show it in the presence of my child.

I’m not the mom who enjoys going outside and playing hide and seek.

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I am not the mom who puts every single piece of scribbled artwork on the fridge.

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I am not the mom who watches movies with her without the cell phone in hand (because really? Who enjoys watching the same animated musical for the 60th time?) I am not the mom baking goodies and dessert for dinner. I am not the mom who cooks dinner every night, sometimes we feed her pizza, from the delivery and not with fresh garden products . OH NO!

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I am not the mom who schedules playdates. I am not the mom that does the dishes every night. I’m not the mom who bathes my kid every night and when I do – I leave her to play on her own. I’m not the mom who takes her to the park on fantastic weather days, every time it’s nice outside. I am not the mom who is actively sitting down to teach her how to read or write or memorize her numbers.

BUT. I am the mom who will cuddle her when she is sick, she can puke on me, and she has alot.

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I am calm and quiet when she needs someone to hug her after a hard day of being a kid. The mom that simply says, “I love you anyway.” when she’s mad enough to fling the hateful “I don’t love you!” around. I’m the mom that allows her to say “Mommy, that’s not right,” and she can speak her mind, voice her own opinions and feelings. I’m the mom with the patience for that.

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I’m the mom who stays up til late hours of the night to deck out a wagon that she will only appreciate for 20 minutes.

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I am the mom with the magic kisses for all her boo-boos. The mom who will help her crack the eggs, no matter how long it takes and how many shells I have to fish out – because I have learned this is an area I’m calm about. I’m the mom who fosters her sense of wonder and encourages her to ask those questions, even when I’m tired of answering them over and over.

I’m the mom who surprises her with elaborate birthday gifts like swingsets in the backyard.

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I’m the mom who will allow her to choose her own path – and that includes allowing her to wear whatever she wants,

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Encourages her to reach for the stars.

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Believe in fairies, and never lose sight of her imagination.

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I’m the mom that will open another package of beads that I didn’t really want to share when she asks if she can make a bracelet too. I’m the mom who diligently shows her how to thread the tiny beads onto the wire and teach her how to keep the wire sturdy and easy to work with.

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I’m not a June Cleaver mom and most days I feel like I’m failing at this, that I probably shouldn’t be a mom or I made a terrible mistake and I’m screwing up my kid in the process. If you feel like you are failing, I’m here to be a reminder to you that you are doing a great job. That while parenting isn’t rainbows and butterflies and it’s not all we post it to be; you are good enough. Your version of being a mom is unique. You don’t have to be good at or enjoy every part of it. Being a mom is usually a thankless, low paying, low incentive, morality draining job.

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But at the end of the day, you do the best you can and you know your kid knows you love them as much as you know you love them more than life without them. Hold your babies close and remember, this too shall pass and in the end, all that matters to raising beautiful human beings that you release into the wild to make their own way in this life.

Raise them with as little need of adult therapy as you can muster.

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Our Adventures Thus Far

So, I had every intention at the beginning of the year, to really be more consistent with the blog. I am just not feeling the writing stuff as much as I am listening to Podcasts and I have thrown around the idea of starting my own, with just Punky and I talking. We have some crazy fun conversations sometimes. But, I think since I’ve been following most of the same people here and on Facebook/Instagram I don’t really have anything new to talk about that I don’t already do on Facebook/Instagram.

But, I did come across the most amazing thing this month. It started with me being gifted a Birchbox subscription for Christmas. I love it. I am not a big make-up girl, but I love getting mail that’s not bills and it’s always like opening a present every month. I get stuff for my hair, perfume, and then random make-up things I play with or give away. All in all it’s been a pretty awesome thing. Upon seeing Mommy receive these fun boxes in the mail, Punky expressed that she wished people sent her mail.

So Kim and I looked into subscriptions for kids. There are a lot of them to choose from, but man, this one is my favorite. We got Koala Crate and I’ve been eyeballing it since I first saw it many moons ago in a Facebook promoted post or something. But, I’ve always been kind of skeptical about doing subscription stuff for Punky. She flakes out pretty easily. I bought a subscription to ABC Mouse and while she loved it, she needed a lot of help or had to use one of our computers when we needed it and the subscription soon lost its value. We got her a subscription to an android app for books. And she spent a great deal of time with it, I don’t remember what its called right now, Owl something or another, but it’s just books for all ages and topics and she just had to touch the picture and it read the book her. She played it for about a week and that too went off on the wayside.

So imagine my skepticism when I read I was going to have to spend $20 a month just to send my kid some trinkets in a box. And I didn’t get to pick the topic or the theme for the month. I didn’t know what would be coming until she opened it. I can’t prepare. It’s a bunch of crafts and I’m a crafty mom, but I don’t want to make a mess or have to do too much that I have to be involved in. So, all in all, this seemed like a bad idea, but Punky really wanted mail. They had a special for $10 off the first box and since I pay $10 for my Birchbox a month, I figured, we could try it out and see what came of it. And if Punky really didn’t care for it, or wasn’t engaged enough, I would just say $10 well spent, no more needed.

Our crate came today and I did a huge post on Facebook about how much I love and how awesome it was and it was only after the first of THREE activities. Now, I’m blogging about it, because I needed a better space to give me the time and attention our fun today really deserves.

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Punky immediately noticed there was a package on the porch and while she didn’t know it was for her, she sure loves opening the boxes that come to the house. She just loves it, no matter who it’s from. THEN, I read who the box was addressed to and it said her name and she was so excited that she got a package in the mail. She was just delighted.

We opened it up and found all these neat things she couldn’t stop touching. But, all the pieces were durable and kid friendly. So that was nice. She man-handled the latches on the cardboard for the windcar and it didn’t rip or break, and I was impressed. Because she is good at destroying stuff.

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We put the car together and there are four sails to go with it, made with different shapes, sizes and materials. She was able to follow my simple step by step instructions and put the car together, ‘mostly’ by herself. Which was awesome for me, because while I like to do things with my kid, I am not a sit down and play kinda mom. I really liked that everything came in the crate. Like, literally everything was in there. From the stickers to hold it together, to the oil pastel crayons to decorate. Once I sat at the table with her, I didn’t have to get up again to go get tape or scissors or whatever else might have been needed. It just came with it.

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So, I balked at the $20 a month when I went to check it out originally. But, since the box has come; I realize the $20 is probably a lot less than it should be priced. It’s affordable for the quality, attention to detail and the genius idea they have. It’s tailored to my kid’s age, so I don’t have to worry about it being too big for her or too little. They made WIND fun for my kid.

With the windsock, the second activity we did, she was able to see how the wind outside moves things and in what direction it moves. All the stuff came with it, down to the string you need to tie it to something. Seriously. Every piece that you need for these activities is in the crate. It’s so easy to use and it’s exciting to see her eyes light up when she makes something on her own and then gets to play with it.

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We took the windsock outside and let it blow in the wind, talking about how the wind moves and such. The final activity in the box was a “weather chart”. It has a laminate type surface and re-useable stickers with the different weather on it. Sunny, Windy, Snowing, etc. she gets to change her chart everyday to show the temperature and the weather and then check her windsock to see how windy it is. She’s absolutely delighted.

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As a mom who’s not hands on all the time, this is the perfect amount of activity and engagement for me. The supplies are phenomenal and the quality of the items inside are both kid friendly, simple, and well worth the money. I am looking forward to the next crate to come. I am hoping to blog on this each month, because this Koala Crate is not just teaching my kid about different things, this month being wind, but it’s teaching me ways to spend time with my kiddo that doesn’t involve disingenuous Barbie dialogue or playing an app on my phone.

So, if you are intrigued and you want to try it out, I think you should! They have crates that are specific to the child’s age. We have the Koala Crate for 3-4 year olds, but you can get crates for up to 16 years of age I believe.

If you want to try it out and you want the $10 off your first month. If you are skeptical like I was, use my code and you can get that $10 off using my code to refer you to this awesome company. http://doodle.kiwicrate.com/Refer?i=RachaelF6

I’m excited to go on this Koala Crate journey with my kid and hopefully you will join us! #koalacrate

 

 

My Adventures in Potty Training

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The types of messages my best friend (Punky’s godmother) gets to read from me.

Potty training has been the single WORST part of parenting I have ever experienced. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m loving the idea of my kid not having to wear pull ups anymore and the financial awesomeness that comes with that.

But.

This Kid.

She’s been sitting on the potty for over a year, she knows what it is, and she’s been familiar with the potty for a long time now. We started actively trying to potty train around July. I don’t really remember, we weren’t super consistent with it.

We had tried all sorts of rewards. Stickers, candy, dances, tattoos. Blah, Blah. Nothing worked.

This kid was stubborn or not ready. I’m not sure which. But really, she was completely aware of what we were doing. She knew what it meant to be potty trained. We got lots and lots of panties for her in all her favorite characters.

We finally got around to actually being consistent. Right after the new year and the holidays. We eliminated pull ups during the day and it was sort of working. We removed her panties all together and let her run around with a bare bottom. That worked the best.

She recently asked us for panties again.

We decided to take her lead and use the panties as an incentive.

So she was able to have one pair a day. She had to take care of those or she didn’t get anymore for the day. And this strategy worked for a minute.

Then, we noticed that she was starting to stay dry at night, so when she woke up she would have a dry pull up. So, we thought maybe we would start training even more.

Grammy came up with the strategy that has seemed to work the best. That has has the most longevity.

Money. My kid is motivated by money.

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Introducing our Potty Pig. We all put our change in the potty fund and she gets a “penny” when she pees and a “nickel” when she “number 2” and if she has no accidents all day she gets a “quarter”. I put quotes around the money value, because she has no idea what I’m handing her, but if I’m out of pennies, I may give her a nickel or if I’m out of nickels, she may get a dime. At the end of a period of time (this weekend) we will count up her potty money and she gets to go shopping with her own money and pick out her own stuff.

The pig stays up on the fire mantle, because I have noticed that the idea of having the potty pig in her hand is the incentive mostly. She loves to hold and play with delicate things. She likes to nurture them and kiss them and play with them. (We learned that with the Nativity around Christmas). So I don’t really think it’s the money, but it will be when we finally cash out the money for a special toy. I guess we will see.

So there’s a whole ritual thing we do, because we are all a bit of creatures of habit.

She then gets to dance around with the pig for a minute. Mommy dances and sings and we make a big spectacle about it. So far it’s worked out.

She’s had minimal accidents for about a week. And I have taken her to places for an hour at a time, or visit family member houses with hour potty breaks – with little to no issue. So, I thought, why not take her to the park. She’s started to recognize when she has the urge to go and she is pretty good about stopping and holding it before she has an accident.

Soooooo, I thought, let’s enjoy the nice weather we are having here in the midwest of the US. We have been having great weather. And while I am dealing with my own agoraphobia, it really stems from going anywhere without my kid, so the park was fine. I could take her to the park without an issue.

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We were there for a little over an hour. I would ask her frequently if she had to go potty. She would tell me no. We hit the hour and 15 minute mark and then … disaster struck.

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So that happened. And she had diarrhea for the rest of the day and it was what I thought would be the end of our successful streak. We waited it out a few days and then when her upset belly cleared up, I told her yesterday that if she had a day without an accidents we could go to bed without a pull up and wear panties instead.

She’s been asking for this for a few days and I had been reluctant to do it, because of her issues with diarrhea. But, yesterday, she did really well. She even took a little nap on the couch and had no accidents. I had to wake her up, sit her sleepy bottom on the potty and then she went back to sleep.

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So. we put some plastic down on her bed and bit the bullet. She ran around the house in this ridiculous outfit for quite some time when she realized that she wouldn’t have to wear a pull up to bed.

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She’d been waking up dry for about a week, so I wasn’t super worried about it, but you know – our streak was hindered for a minute, so I got concerned.

This morning, Kim posted this.

Success

I was reluctant to announce it to the world. Potty training really has been the single worst job of my parenting so far. And you know how it goes, you brag about your kid doing something awesome and then the kid proves you wrong and there’s some crazy setback. It’s like the, for real, law of toddler successes. Don’t post it or brag about it, because it is just a fleeting moment! Haha.

Anyway, I’m thrilled with our success, thus far. I am hoping this isn’t a fluke and we can soon announce that she is POTTY TRAINED. We are so close I can feel it, but then, here I am posting about it and bragging about it, so we will see what tomorrow holds in store!

In other happy news, my sister had her fourth baby this week. A beautiful baby girl named Aurora. I will be calling her “Rory”. She’s beautiful and healthy and hopefully her last one, cause my goodness she has her hands full with the four of her kids in her beautiful and very active family!

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And these are the Days of Our Lives…..

I feel like we are constantly in some wackadoodle damn soap opera. The roller coaster of our life just never had a moment to slow down and stop. There are never any breaks along the way, it’s just UP and DOWN. UP and DOWN.

Jeez, life, throw me a damn bone.

I’m super frustrated right now because Kim and I got Punky all dressed up and paraded her around the court house in Kansas to get our application for a marriage license. Literally, just last week, this was a done deal and we found out about it on Wednesday. We were excited, we were so relieved. It wasn’t Missouri, but just the few days prior, Missouri did rule that they would recognize gay marriages performed legally in states that do allow that sort of thing.

So, why not, we said?

We only live 30 minutes away from the court house doing it and we could go up there before I went to work the very next day. So, Thursday, we got ready, we all three got up super early. This was a momentous occasion and one we called all our parents about and pumped up our Facebook friends and family with this adorable video from Punky!

It was pouring down rain when we got in the car, by the time we got on the highway, I couldn’t even really see the cars in front of us. The rain was sheets of water, buckets being dumped on our car. Kim looked at me and said, “You must really want to do this.” And if anyone knows me, I don’t drive in the best conditions, let alone these types of conditions, unless I want to get somewhere. I held it together and kept my cool.

Punky got to press the walk button on the crosswalk and go through the metal detector, all while charming the pants off anybody we passed with her ridiculously adorable pea coat and umbrella.

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We finally found our way to the marriage license window and got the application; after swearing to god that our statements were all true. We got the application and they hadn’t even had time to change the pronouns on the application yet, it’s that new. So we had to cross out groom and we had to change he to she. Normally, this kind of thing might bug me, but not at that moment. I didn’t care. I just wanted to do it right.

11 years we have waited. 11 years we have been patiently watching and silently hoping that we will be married in our own state, or at least close. (Kansas is literally right around the corner from us!)  Who cares if the forms are updated. That time will come. I just wanted it to be right.

We signed some stuff, took our application and went home to wait the three day waiting period for Kansas marriage licenses.

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We were going to make a trip back there on Tuesday. We were going to get married and get our marriage license on Tuesday. The long wait for marriage (and tax benefits and rights and equality) was finally over.

Until tonight.

When we read that the Kansas State Attorney General petitioned a block on all gay marriage licenses. There will be a hearing. Sometime in November. And yes, I know – we will get married eventually. With the way the momentum of gay marriage is sweeping the country – it’s going to happen.

But.

It won’t be Tuesday.

And we are all pretty bummed about it.

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And in other news, we are going to visit my family tomorrow – so that will likely brighten my spirits a bit.

Hope everyone has a good weekend!

Adjustments and Changes Coming Soon

Of all the memories I can think of my childhood, very few would be considered “normal”. Very few would be considered “happy”. I’m sure I had lots of happy, normal childhood moments, and yet, I really can’t remember many. I bring it up, because of all the childhood memories, I remember one so vividly , at least the emotion that it sparked in me at the time – that sometimes I have to wonder if I made it up.

As I come out of Punky’s room after 45 minutes of cuddles, rocking, singing, and back rubbing – it reminds me of a time when my Mom did the same for me. I don’t remember the specifics, I couldn’t tell you which house we were in, I can’t tell you how old I was. But I can remember trying so hard to fight off the sleepy feeling as my mom rubbed my back, skin to skin, for how many minutes, I have no idea.

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I knelt next to Punky’s bed, as she was hysterical tonight, not wanting to sleep, scared, just being stubborn, who knows, but she needed some Mommy time. We are a cry it out kind of family in most cases, but I have been extra sensitive to her neediness since the move. She’s been more clingy, more whiny, just more needy in general. She’s also more busy than normal, she doesn’t want to settle down -there’s too much to talk about, too much to do, too much to see and take in.

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While I rubbed her back, humming and making up the lyrics to a tune I didn’t know – I thought about what my Mom was thinking all those years ago. When she was rubbing my back. When she watched me fight the sleep, shushing me and whispering to me to close my eyes. What would go through her mind as she tried to help me fall asleep? Was she worried about missing what was going on in the room next door? Was she overwhelmed with overflowing love for me in that moment? Was she so exhausted that she didn’t really have a thought or time to think about anything specific?

I don’t remember singing, though its possible that occurred. I don’t remember much other than a slow motion sleepiness that happened when I asked her to rub my back and she would roll me on my tummy and sit on the side of the bed until I fell asleep. As a mother now, I haven’t quite mastered the staying long enough to ensure that Punky is fully asleep, but she’s drowsy enough to get to sleep minutes after I shut the door.

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This isn’t her actual bed, but she looks adorable on the baby shower gift Aunt Ashley and Grammy made for someone’s new baby coming soon!

Punky went back to school today, a banking error on the daycare’s part, but its caught up now, so I won’t protest too much. She was delighted to go to school and I know the adults in the house were delighted to sleep in, take a little break and make the day a quiet and peaceful one. She came home from school full of stories about her friends and playing outside, complete with green paint in her banks and glitter on her cheeks. Its nice to have her back in school.

This is my last week with day shift at work. I will start working 1-midnight and contrary to what other people think – I actually picked the shift! I am looking forward to it. I worked it about a year ago with my interim supervisor role and I loved it. I get to see Punky in the morning/afternoon and can take her on early play dates to the park or the library. Its also a 10  hour shift, which means that I will only work 4 days a week with rotating 1 weekend a month. Its the perfect and ideal situation for us. Kim and I have both discussed it and decided with our many doctor/therapy visits – a day off during the week is going to be great.

It will also give me time to decompress during the week. This Monday through Friday 8-5PM is supposed to be a dream job spot for most people, its just not working out for me and I am slowly, well no …. quickly feeling the candle burn out. So a few new change and routine will do me some good – my therapist agrees.

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The changes keep coming for Miss Punky though and I’m not at all delusional in thinking this won’t be a shock to her system. She’s tough – I know toddlers are more resilient than we give them credit for, but I feel like all the changes are overwhelming her delicate little brain and emotions. She’s just so clingy to me right now – but hopefully, this will mean I get to spend MORE time with her instead of less. I may not be able to put her to bed, but I will be able to come home and eat dinner, maybe read her a story before bed.

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Kim’s health is doing better, thank goodness. It was quite a scare for a while. But she has gotten the use of her legs back and her Lithium levels, I believe, are back in the normal range. We are getting into a routine and its about to change, but we can only do what we can do and so for now – I will be thankful that she is better health wise – as as good as she can be. We are happy, anxiously waiting for Missouri to overturn the ban on gay marriage. I’m planning a wedding for my friend, but I’d really like to be planning my own wedding!

In other news, my Uncle had some sort of stroke on Tuesday, I don’t really have all the details. he’s no longer in the hospital and I talked to him this afternoon. He seems as well as expected, tired but alive.

My grandpa fell off his tractor a few days ago and broke his leg right above the knee. He’s currently in the hospital, my poor grandma has been running around taking care of both of them! He’s been showing signs of dementia/Alzheimer’s for quite a few years now and it doesn’t bode well for his condition. They all live three hours away and I don’t feel like I’m getting enough information to feel comfortable about being away. But they tell me he’s out of surgery and doing as well as can be expected as well. They will be moving him to a nursing home rehab center to get some help with walking, like he doesn’t already have a hip replacement as it is.

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So, while that stuff is all scary and the changes just keep coming, the adjustments are being made and we are rolling with the punches life has been dealing out. That’s all one can really do, right? Hang on for the ride…. we are hanging on ….

Surprise Visits, Starting School Again, and Lots of Playdates

We got a knock at the door last Saturday around 8:00 PM and it was my Mama. I was so excited to see her. She didn’t tell me she was coming and it was quite a great surprise. We were just getting ready to put Punky down for bed and they saved her from bedtime. She got to stay up for another 30 minutes to an hour longer than normal.

My mom and step dad live about 2 and a half, three hours away from us, so we don’t get to see them as often as I would like. I was really missing on my mama too! And, my step dad doesn’t generally venture of his own comfort places, so it was a great big deal that he came with her on their adventure.

He actually played the XBox 360 with Kim most of the night, but my Mama and I got to sit on the beds in our basement home and just chit chat. We played some games. They don’t have internet and don’t have a computer or Facebook or anything fancy on their phones, so when I pulled out the Nook and we played some “brain games” my mama was having a blast.

We didn’t get to bed until late, like 3 in the morning!

We, meaning Peyton, got up around 7:45 this morning and we were watching some TV while the rest of the house slept until around 8:30 or 9. It rained last night, so the wagon was kinda full of water, but Grandpa wanted to take Punky for a ride in the wagon and after much convincing and wiping down the wagon from wetness and she got in the wagon and went for an early morning stroll.

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Miss Punky isn’t really too warm and friendly with men she’s not been around much, but she really took to my step dad and it was a little shocking. I haven’t seen her warm up to a man that quickly. There are very few men she lets take her and do things without needing her Mommy or Mama to be around her.

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My mama and I took her to the bookstore for some new books. I am looking forward to purchasing some of the books we saw online though, where they will be cheaper!

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Before they went home again, we took them to the fountains out by City Hall and let them play in the water with Punky.  Its a great free activity for the kiddos in the heat. And of course, Miss Punky loves it!

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My step dad doesn’t usually come when my mom makes one of her rare visits, so it was a treat to see them all three together! I don’t usually spend much time with him, he’s kind of a homebody and tends to stay to himself during our visits too – he’s just quiet. So, it was awesome to get some time with him as well and I know Punky enjoyed it!

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We talk to my mom on the phone frequently, but she wasn’t really interested in talking on the phone – she doesn’t really know them very well, we don’t get to visit as much as I would like. But since they have gone home, she has been talking about them quite a lot and she can recognize them in pictures which was not the case before.

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So, in the move, we now have a backyard to let Punky play in – so she gets to be outside a lot more than she was before. Not to mention that she starts school again on Monday, and I’m so happy about that.

The other day, Punky’s aunt figured out a way to give her a TBall stand. So we spent a great deal of time outside hitting the ball with a bat. She’s not super great at it, but she’s super cute at it regardless!

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I just can’t get over how incredibly big she is getting. She’s so vocal and she has quite a mind of her own. This morning, she told me “I want to go potty training”. I have no idea where she got that from, but its adorable that she is articulating her wish to potty train. For now, we are not quite ready yet as moms, but we will get there. Right now, she will come to the bathroom with me and she will sit on her potty, so she gets practice.

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We also went to the first playdate of the summer. I know, I know – its halfway through summer. But with all the moving and crap going on, we just haven’t had time to do anything – or rather, Mommy has been too tired. But with Punky being out of school for almost a month, its been making me sad she doesn’t have companionship other than adults and I set up a park play date.  The kiddos in her age group have all been hanging around each other (well Punky has) for a little over a year. Its nice to see her grow up with kids, regardless of how often we see them!

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This week has been full of collages. I love this one of Punky and her very best playmate, I call her Cheeks on the blog. She’s pretty cute and shy, where Punky is more adventurous and loud. I just know they are going to be the best of friends, though I have a feeling …. when they get older, it will be my kid doling out the bad advice and being the bad influence!

Facebook feed was full of some collage challenges, which while they don’t mean anything, I thought the sentiment behind them were nice. I participated in both challenges.

SO, we had the “Super Mom Challenge” – you post pictures of you and your kid or cute pictures of your kid.

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And I don’t know what it was called, but the challenge was to find 5 pictures you thought made you look beautiful, so I had to break into the archives, back when I was a little more interested in having my picture taken. Normally, I’m the one taking the pictures, behind the camera, for a reason.

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So overall, we have been busy, keeping busy really.

I am headed to a baby shower for Kim’s cousin this afternoon, and I’m sure it will be super cute and who doesn’t love celebrating new kids coming to their giant Italian family! Literally, there’s a new baby or three every year. Its exciting and overwhelming the larger the family grows, the louder it gets at family gatherings!! Its so nice that I have seen a lot of these kids grow up though, its pretty astonishing that I have known them since they were little bitty and now there are a few graduating this year or just overall getting bigger! But I suppose when you have been with someone for 11 years, you invest in the family too and I most certainly am grateful for all of them!

The move has been pretty seamless – so far, I don’t have any complaints …. well, except that Punky doesn’t want to eat dinner. We have been asking that she take 1 bite of each food on her plate before she can have dessert. So far, she’s had no luck with this and has gone without dessert more times than she’s had it.  Otherwise, we are getting into a nice routine (I can’t speak for Kim!) and I think its going nicely.

I should have made a summer bucket list like the rest of you, but we have just been so distracted, its not been on the radar, maybe next year!

Oh and PS. If you don’t know the words to the “Hotdog Dance” from Mickey’s Clubhouse, you are missing out! (AKA: I envy you….)

Settling In and Smoothing Out

There are hard parts about this move and the transition from independence to the changes that we have had to come to terms with. I like to think the hardest part right now is that we had to take Punky out of school, because we got so backed up on tuition and it now needs to be caught up. It will get there, but it is a sacrifice that I am so very sad about – she was starting to thrive socially, her teachers kept telling me how much more she was talking and interacting. She’s a shy kid and she’s not exactly a social butterfly – especially when she started school, so to hear those things – made me so happy! And, now, we are back to an only child being at home with adults.

The good part about the move is Miss Punky is sporting the best tan on a toddler I have ever seen. Seriously. Grammy has a small pool and our little fish is out there in her swimsuit as often as she can possibly get an adult to take her out there. She goes on trips to the park with Papa in the wagon.

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Yea, we have a park – literally in our backyard. Do we live in the basement, yea, but we also live in a neighborhood. Last time I pulled Punky around in the wagon – over to the park that is pretty much right across the street, I got to thinking that we didn’t have this when we were living our apartment. We had a cluster of apartment buildings, but we didn’t have ‘neighbors’ or kids playing in the streets. We didn’t have houses to walk past and she didn’t really see lawns being mowed.

Another silver lining, new things to explore. Of course more thing to hurt ourselves on. I fell down one of the three sets of stairs today and busted my knee and threw my camera on the concrete of the garage in the process. I am currently wearing my knee brace, but I think I will live! Punky’s lip is healing up nicely, this morning it was scabbed over, and I was resisting the urge to pull it off, it fell off by itself this evening before dinner.

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My little monkey is such a little curious thing. So it was great to see her be able to explore and enjoy herself. Its super hot, so when we get the chance to make it to the park in the early hours of the day – when it is cooler outside, we take the chance. She finds all sorts of great things to play on and I love capturing the moments. With a pool and a park in our backyard, this summer may be the best yet, no matter where we live!

 

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Another weight lifted off my shoulders this week, when my FMLA was approved for my absences as work. It means that for all things that have gone this last year, my job is being held for me. Thank goodness it was approved. Without it, I likely wouldn’t have a job and I am not dismissive about the fact that there are a lot of things we need to work on and I have a plan in place – but its a weight that makes me feel lighter and a little more free.

With all the weights getting lighter from my shoulders, it feels like someone else is holding onto the reigns and keeping me afloat. My heart isn’t as heavy and for now, I will let someone else push me. (AKA, Miss Punky was insistent that she push me on the swing, no she did not want to sit on the seat, Mommy, you sit and I will push you.) Silly as it is, but being pushed on the swing – really gave me a sense of freedom and it was great to hang out with my little girl in what feels like the longest time we have ever gone since the last time we spent time together.

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We get to spend more time together lately, and with the basement being a smaller space, we spent it closer together. I really do love coming home from work and the three of us going down into the basement and sitting on my bed with  my little girl and talking about what she did that day. We don’t spend all night down there – we sit down to dinner with Grammy and Papa, that’s different for us to, cooked meals and sit down at a table together for dinner, we didn’t do that at our home. So many good things are changing as a result of something that may not have been so good.

Kim and I have things to talk about again. I mean, I can come home and we can just decompress and talk about our day and talk about something other than the mundane and same old thing. We have conversations. We are closer. The metaphor of the small space, the closeness of the basement means we are all becoming closer, bonding and in a way, regardless of what I expected – its a great outcome for us, so far.

 

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Of course, we have only been here for three days – its still the beginning and I have no misgivings that this will be the way this situation will stay. I am sure there will be days when the closeness is the last thing I want, when the lack of private space is the last thing I want, when the constant companionship is something I will want to get away from and have no where to go. But, for now, its just calm and comforting.

We are making new adventures. New memories. We are building new hopes and new plans and new situations. We are exploring, growing and expanding and in all of it, my only hope is that we can bring forth a sense of strength, courage, and determination to our daughter. She doesn’t have to know the circumstances of our situation, the analogies of the bottom in the life we are in right now  – she doesn’t need to know the tears shed behind closed doors or the decisions made in the conversations we have in the dead of night – in the whispers words we speak in desperation of what’s left for us to do.

Instead, she will only know happy. She will only know the memories and the joy. I will only allow her to know the light and the peace and the childhood that she is to have. She is not a grown up and by whatever means necessary, she will not have to be one as soon as I had to be one – I will keep her little and I will let her be a child for as long as I possibly can keep her that way.

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Being a grown up is over-rated and believe me when I say if I could figure out how to go back and make that part stop, be a child longer, savor the playful moments longer, linger in childlike joy and entertain my teddy bears and Barbies just a little more – I would! Alas that’s not allowed, once you are grown up, there’s no turning back and I will not force my baby to grow up. I won’t.

So we are making the best and we are slowly getting out of the holes and smoothing out the bumps. Its not a fix all and its most certainly not the end, but the beginning is looking bright.

Oh and as a side note, all heavy shit aside, I am so proud and pretty darn excited that my kid loves Minnie Mouse and Batman equally! 😉 Its a pretty fantastic thing to me. Raising a kid without stereotypes is my ultimate goal and so far, it’s working out. She thinks for herself and that’s just the way we want her to be!!

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Father’s Day In Preschool When There’s No Dad

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Father’s Day is Sunday. I read about how other people handled Father’s Day in their own lesbian homes and everyone is a little different. Some people are celebrating their day by giving Father’s Day to their partner, while they have Mother’s Day. Or others who don’t celebrate at all. Or some who explain what it is, but just that other people celebrate. And then there are some like our family.

We celebrate the men in Punky’s life. It’s lovingly referred to as “Papa/Uncle Day” and its a super special time. It really does keep in our minds how lucky Punky is. How loved she is and how many male role models she has in her life.

And then there are days like yesterday that squash the ideas and my happy little bubble.

I picked up Punky from school and she had painted a tie picture for Father’s Day. When her teacher handed it to me, I smiled and said thank you. It was super cute and when I picked Punky up in my arms and asked what she made she replied with:

“I made it for Daddy.”

Insert stomach drop here. Heart sinking feeling. Disappointment washed over me.

“Can we give it to Papa, sweetie? You don’t have a Daddy, but you do have a Papa!” I suggested an alternative and tried my best to curb my anger at the tone of my voice.

This whole thing had put me in an awkward position. I was having to vocally tell my two year old she doesn’t have a Daddy. And why? Because all day, or at least while they were painting, the teachers (who know she has two moms) were repeating over and over, what I am sure they thought was a simple and non-offensive phrase, “Let’s make a present for Daddy.” 

I am absolutely sure this shouldn’t be as big of a deal as it is to me. I am extra sensitive right now – I have noticed, with all the stress of Kim’s health and how that has effected us in regards to childcare, finances and just daily life – I’m pretty snappy.

I didn’t bring it up to her teacher at the time and I probably won’t, because by the time she goes back to school, Father’s Day will be over and it won’t matter. It will be a whole year before we have to deal (wishful thinking here) with the whole Daddy thing again. The only reason we are dealing with it right now is because of the holiday that is coming up.

Kim tried to get me to logically see that this wasn’t an issue. It’s Father’s Day. They didn’t think about. Blah Blah Blah. But, its not just Punky who doesn’t have a father. I mean there are plenty of kids who don’t have dads in their lives. They have deadbeat dads, actual dead dads, or any number of other types of families. I just felt like they should have been more vigilant in their wording.

We have a specific way we refer to her donor, and it’s not Daddy. She’s only met her donor once, before she could actually remember meeting him. She doesn’t know what it means to have a donor, she’s fucking two. But, the last thing I want to have to do – is try and explain to a two year old what a Daddy is and why she doesn’t have one and other people do.

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Its probably just because I’m in a funk, and its effecting me more than I should let it. More than it really needs to. But, the last thing I ever want Punky to feel is “left out” – especially on a holiday that the freaking whole nation celebrates in some way. Which is why we came up with Papa/Uncle Day. It’s her way to giving presents still and celebrating the holiday without having to discuss “Father’s Day”.

So, I guess for now, its not as big a deal as I wanted to make it and I am not going to freak out on the teacher. But, it does remind me that our family is different and it also reminded me that people don’t really take into consideration that my child may need different things when it comes to holidays.

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There are a ton of Christian people who ask why atheists get so ‘uptight’ about their religion being taught in public schools or religion being brought up outside of the church. It’s the same concept as what I’m talking about in regards to Father’s Day.

Not everyone celebrates the same. Not everyone believes the same. And while, I have no problem with my daughter being exposed to other things and I’m not asking that Father’s Day be banned from school – I am asking that we take into consideration that one phrase or one belief is not depicted as the only way or the RIGHT way to say the phrase or believe the belief.

When I heard her say “I made for Daddy.” it was a definitive phrase, like there was no one else that tie painting could be for. Like she wasn’t given any other choices. But she has other choices. So, instead of narrowing the field and bringing on just one word in regards to the holiday, expose kids to differences, let them explore and learn different ways to celebrate, include everyone’s beliefs and everyone’s version of the holiday.

So, just like religion being introduced to my kid. I am not upset that she was exposed to “Daddy”. I am upset she wasn’t given another option to consider. Just the same for church. I don’t care if you talk to my kid about Jesus or God. I don’t care if she’s exposed to it, I want her to be able to explore on her own – but I also want her to be given the choice to explore more than just the one choice and be told it’s the only choice there is.

Because in the end, there’s just not one right way in any subject, its all perception and circumstances. She needs to be able to make up her own mind. And, yes, she’s only 2 so this is a little deep and a little heavy for me to be thinking about – but damnit, it really bothered me.

Now, I need to figure out a better way to head this off before it becomes an issue when she’s older, when it may actually effect her in a real negative way.

21/52: Tired, Stressed Out and Broke – These Are The Days Of Our Lives

With each passing day, I’m starting to feel like we are drowning just a little further into the abyss of stress. The full weight is felt on my shoulders, crushing me to the brink of insanity.

Miss Punky has become increasingly more contrary. She’s less than polite lately – almost as if she’s completely forgotten the words “Please” and “Thank You”. She’s up at all hours of the night again, she woke me up at 3AM, 5AM, and then at 7AM. She hadn’t had a BM for three days and was running a 103 temperature yesterday, so silly me, I got up each time.

All she wanted was cuddles and few minutes of rocking before she was out again. But, she screamed like she was in pain. She was crying like she was scared. She broke my heart in a way she hadn’t when she was little and we did the crying it out to start – and believe me, standing outside the closed door while your baby is ‘crying it out’ is its own kind of heartbreak!

We are the type of parents who lay her down in her room, give kisses/hugs/I love yous and when the door is shut, for the most part, unless she’s sick, we don’t open the door. It’s the best way we were able to train her to sleep and it really helped all of us get more sleep when she was an infant. (And I credit crying it out to our little one being a champion sleeper) Suddenly, she’s less of a champion and I’m more of a coddler as she gets older!

With all the health stuff going on with Kim – we just really decided that perhaps potty training isn’t going to happen right now. We tried for a day and a half, but seriously, it wasn’t going as I would have liked. Punky is interested, she loves wearing panties and she loves getting stickers for her chart.

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But, we can’t be consistent right now. Its another stressor on Kim and I that we just can’t handle any more on our plates. So, for now, we wait. We continue with pull-ups and helping her be vocal on the need and want to go potty.

I’m starting to feel like we are “less than” parents though. She’s so interested and she really is taking it to it when prompted. We just … our routine is off, our days are off. I’m taking off work more than normal to take Kim to doctor’s appointments or to take care of Punky when Kim is feeling less than able to care for her. Kim and Punky spend more time than normal outside of our house, at my mother-in-law’s house which isn’t our house which can make potty training difficult right now.

Until we get all the tests run and figure out everything we need to figure out for Kim, health-wise, we just don’t need to take on something else. Even if I sometimes feel like we are delaying Punky’s development somehow.

My therapist says we need some time. We need more support. My therapist is telling me that I need more support. We aren’t really the type of people to ask someone to take our kid for a day or a weekend. Ugh.

This last few weeks have been tough. Someone suggested that I blog the good, the bad, the not too ugly – so well, I’m doing that. Its depressing, complaining and overly not cute at all! I just hope with the doctor’s appointments we have tomorrow and next week will help us sort out what we are looking at with Kim’s health.

Then maybe some of this stress will go away and we will dig ourselves out of this hole and float to the top of this ocean I’m drowning in right now!

Just wish us luck, send us some positive thoughts, calming vibes, whatever to help my nerves be less shot and my attitude be less than snarky!