A step away from meds

On Wednesday night, Ryan and I went to dinner at the Blue Bird Bistro for their Wednesday Night Table–Four courses with wine for just $40 each!  It was divine.  The restaurant is nationally renowned for farm-to-table deliciousness, and I can say that all the food was spectacular.  The wine?  Tasty.  The company? Wonderful.  We dined with the owner of the restaurant, the hostess, and a baker.

I needed that date night.  It felt good to relax with my husband. But it also felt good to talk about something that brings me great joy–food–and relate to others over a meal.  I wasn’t afraid to just be myself and share.

Of course, I had a leeeetle too much to drink. I’ve become such a lightweight.  I hope my dining partners forgave me, but I think I wasn’t *that* enthusiastic.

Something happened that day, though, that also has lightened the mood around here.  I forgot to take my meds that day. With all the excitement of having grandparents around and getting a date night, it completely slipped my mind.  The next day, I decided to start an experiment. Since I’ve read that cold-turkey abstinence from Zoloft can cause some unpleasant side effects, I figured a half-dose would do.

Just dropping some of the chemical dependency has made me happier.  The side effects I’ve endured–non-stop eye twitching and chronic headaches–aren’t the worst things ever, but I’d prefer not to *need* a daily pill.  We’ll see if I’m successful.

April 15, 2011. Tags: , . Medical avenues. Leave a comment.

For rent

As I’ve mentioned before, we’re under contract on a new (to us) house in the suburbs of Kansas City.  Spending another summer in this poorly insulated house with no yard motivated us to quickly find another place to live.  The downside? We’re bogged down by a lease until the end of September.  Needless to say, we’ve been doing our darndest to find new tenants for the rental.

This challenge has done wonders for my outlook. First off, it’s completely distracted me from my anger over the budget nonsense in Washington.  Secondly, and more importantly, it’s been fun getting the house ready for prospective tenants.  After having lived here almost a year, this place looks great.  Sure, it’s still riddled with holes in the wall (and floor), random odors

The clear, shiny kitchen sink

emanating from the basement, and a lovely draft bringing the outdoors in, but it’s calm. And clean.

Our landlord had posted a bare-bones ad on Craigslist almost a month ago, and no one had come to see the house. So we took matters into our own hands and composed a new ad complete with pictures. Within an hour, someone called to make an appointment to see the house.  And it was the *right* kind of tenant–that is, someone used to living in an historic home with lovely details and…well…quirks.  You don’t want someone expecting a brand new builder grade cookie cutter house.  Not sure if she’ll take the house, but I feel good knowing we’ve got it ready for showings.  And hope to keep it that way.

All this work has got me thinking.  Should I make an effort at the new house to keep it “show-ready”?  I’m not talking about making it beige and blah–ahem, Sabrina Soto, not everyone likes that stuff–it’s more that having a clear kitchen makes me want to cook more.  And then clean up.  My eye twitches less, my smile is more sincere, my gas is less stinky…okay, that’s dumb.  But it definitely keeps my mind calmer.  And that’s what I’m hoping for these days, right?

April 10, 2011. Tags: , . Aspiring to Minimalism. Leave a comment.

Angry politicians and the budget

I have been walking around pretty pissed recently. Not because I’m feeling holed up at home, but because I feel like American politicians are completely oblivious to the troubles of everyday people.  Of course, hasn’t this been a problem plaguing just about every nation out there with representatives?  I bet so.  That doesn’t make it right, though.

Many Congressmen–and I use the term “men” because most are men–are pretty darn wealthy.  And they claim to be representing the views of the people when they stubbornly hold up a budget plan in order to get concessions on abortion funding or the obliteration of environmental protection.  It might be true that a small majority of Americans do not like abortion. However, holding up the funding of national parks, social service agencies, and the IRS (!!!) can hardly be beneficial for anyone.  Without paychecks, federal employees won’t be able to spend. Yet when in the midst of economic crisis, we get messages from the government to get out there and open our wallets!  How’s that gonna work?

Of course, it just came out that spending is up in many parts of the retail sector.  I don’t think this is a sign of growing prosperity, though.  Wages continue to stagnate.  Food prices are squeezing us. Gas prices are on the verge of killing us.  But how many times can we wear the same pair of ratty pants to work?  Many people have hunkered down for so long that they cannot wait to purchase necessities any longer.  I’m in the market for some myself after years of not purchasing much at all.  It hurts to spend the money when things are so tight; however, I’m down to one pair of pants. And they’re maternity wear.

Bureaucracy is notoriously inefficient. And expensive. I don’t see, though, how targeting money earmarked for Planned Parenthood is going to solve our budget “crisis”.  Keeping wages from workers during this time of vast unemployment most certainly won’t.

April 8, 2011. Tags: , . The Angry American. Leave a comment.

Someday…

I am enjoying my house right now.  When I walk around, my blood pressure doesn’t rise, I’m not annoyed by clutter, I am loving my children even more than usual.

Did I mention we’re moving soon?

Maybe *that’s* the reason for my euphoria.  I know that time is limited here.  But that’s not all.

My house is relatively clean.

We’ve been purging left and right.  I got rid of some large children’s toys that the kids aren’t that interested in.  The footrest I’ve been meaning to reupholster finally went to charity.  All those cookbooks are soon to be in the hands of someone else.

I had to let go of the idea of Someday.  As in, Someday I’ll use that Dinner Parties for Dummies book.  Or Someday, that footrest will look awesome and not be spilling out straw.  Or Someday, the girls’ brother will want to play on that rocking horse…even though…we have another…perfectly…good…one.  One was an heirloom, the other a piece of plastic junk.  I think you know which one we kept.   And once it’s done its duty, we might keep it like my mother kept ours.  Or better, we’ll pass it along to my brother for, well, Someday, when he has kids.

Sure, I might *need* some information on dinner parties one day, but the internet it perfect for filling that need.  Or better yet, I’ll get on the phone and call my mother. Imagine talking to someone for advice!  Or going to the playground to use toys!  Or using the perfectly good leather footrest we own!

The possibilities!

March 30, 2011. Tags: , . Aspiring to Minimalism. Leave a comment.

Dairy free blues

Now I have something real to be depressed about.  No, I’m not talking about SAHM ennui, or a broken nail.  I’m talking about poisonous breastmilk.

Okay, that’s unfair.  My milk isn’t poison. But it’s not working for my 3 month old Drew.  He cannot tolerate cow’s milk protein. Or at least that seems to be the problem.

I’ve dealt with several bouts of exorcist-style vomit recently (I know you’re jealous) over the past week, and so I had to figure out what’s going on.  So now I have to cut out one of the main sources of joy in my life other than my family: cheese and milk.

What will I do to fill this void?  Honestly, just stick it out.  I think butter is safe for now–it tends to be the least offensive for sensitive kids–but there’ll be no cheesy casseroles, no tall glasses of creamy milk, no Alfredo sauce.  The upside? Maybe my waistline will benefit.  Maybe I’ll pass a little less gas.   Maybe my arteries will clear a tad (although saturated fat has not necessarily been linked to clogged arteries…that’s another post).

In the meantime, I’ll settle for peanut butter.  Or chocolate. Oh wait, he can’t tolerate those things either.

Bread, however, does not seem to be a problem.  Dreams of a 24inch waist have now gone out the window.

March 24, 2011. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Couch potato madness

So…why am I couch potato mom?

Well, I love television. It is probably my biggest vice.  I will watch trash, so-called reality, home improvement, documentaries, primetime, british drama…I feel like I learn a lot.  Even intellectual programming like Biggest Loser has something to teach us. Okay, it’s not intellectual.  But I’ve definitely learned that I don’t want Jillian Michaels as an enemy.

I really enjoy watching television while reading a magazine.  I keep an eye on both, preferably while the computer is on, too, so I can see if an email pops up.

And really, I think it’s all become a drug for me.  I need a new distraction constantly.  this can’t be healthy.

I think some of this stems from having very little time just for me.   Carving out time to focus can’t be a bad thing, so starting this week, I’m going to begin working on my couch potato ways in earnest.

The first to go? Multi-tasking. It just doesn’t work.  I’ll watch tv when I wanna watch, but I won’t write email or read the Times  simultaneously.  Expect a report soon.

March 21, 2011. Getting happy. Leave a comment.

Closet minus 10

Prowling around the webs for some minimalist inspiration, I’ve recently come across Becoming Minimalist, a site devoted to helping folks clear out their lives of excess garbage. Whether it’s mind trash or actual, physical stuff, there’s tons of information out there to help people get rid of it.   A post from earlier this month was particularly striking to me because it gave some very concrete, and rather simple, suggestions on how to simplify life a bit.  The first one I’ll tackle is suggestion #3 to rid the closet of 10 items. Right now.  So I’ll be doing that today.  I won’t even miss these things I bet. I have some shirts in mind. Can’t do pants, though, because I only own 3 pair.

Are you suffering from an over-stuffed closet?  How much of that clothing do you actually wear?  Do you buy cheap shirts from Kohl’s *just because*?  I’m going to commit to buying quality pieces from now on. Those that won’t clutter my closet. And when I add something, I’ll take an article away, too.  No need for a walk-in with me.  Not that I have one anyway.

Will this change my life drastically? I don’t think so. But facing an ordered closet certainly doesn’t cause stress like a messy one does.

March 20, 2011. Tags: , . Aspiring to Minimalism. Leave a comment.

Being a goof

Accepting adult responsibilities can be so dull.  Being a parent requires even more careful action.  I can’t just be a silly bum all the time because my children do, in fact, need a few positive role models.

That doesn’t mean, though, that I can’t goof off.  And recently, I’ve been doing it a lot.  It feels great.

Can you tell I’m not the only one?  Katie insisted that Drew needed to wear the crown.  Because he’s a prince.

I actually have quite a collection of crowns in the house. Two competition crowns I was gifted by my mother and then a bunch of plastic tiaras.  Doesn’t everyone need one?

Okay, scratch that. Not everyone needs a tiara.  But everyone does need the chance to unwind and be a goof.  Some people are not easily prone to doofus-hood, but anyone without a quirk is a dull boy or girl. Bor-ing.  And maybe even devastatingly unhappy.

I like to dance like a maniac. Preferably to the song Maniac (you know, that “Flashdance” song where Jennifer Beals spins in wild circles shaking her head like a…well…maniac).  I like vulgar humor.  I like watching fat people reality shows (usually while eating fried Chinese food).

At a book club meeting recently, I brought an Augusten Burroughs book that features funny essays. One of them is particularly disturbing and includes a bit about hardcore pornography.  I realized while talking about how hilarious I found the book that I have a pretty liberal sense of humor.  That I’m tickled by things that might horrify others.

But that’s okay.  It’s my own thing to like that kind of humor. To cackle like a madwoman, enough to frighten my children into uncomfortable laughing of their own.  While they wear their tiaras. And dance like maniacs.

March 19, 2011. Tags: , . Getting happy. Leave a comment.

Why are Americans so angry?

This question has been bugging me for awhile now.  Why is everyone so pissed at each other?  There is so much ranting and raving on television, the internet, and in pretty much every periodical I read.  Liberals yelling at conservatives, the rich whining about “socialists”, crunchy moms venting about ignorant silky moms, people hating government, government hating the poor, whatever. It just goes on and on. I’ve even noticed that the advice columns in the paper have become filled with rage.  Over dumb stuff. Over serious stuff. It’s all up for grabs.

So what is making us so mad? And yes, I mean MAD.  As in crazy.  Why are people shooting each other on highways?  Why do people constantly feel the need to tell others how to parent?  And when folks disagree, why are they ANGRY?  Hell, I can’t even function nicely without a daily drug, and I know I am not the only one. Not even close.

I know one thing that makes people stressed and more prone to angry.  Finances.  While many companies are posting record profits, worker salaries are being hammered down.  Some people take real pay cuts in order to keep their jobs. Others have to swallow enormous increases in healthcare costs.  Wages are stagnant for all but the super wealthy.  I read in the NYTimes recently that the really rich have actually done better during the recession than they had before.  Uh, that doesn’t smell right.  Especially now that grocery prices are going up, gas prices have risen, and yet we’re still expected to support the economy by spending.

My husband and I have a very modest income.  We’re right at the median, so we’re actually lower than average.  It is not easy to make ends meet and manage to save or do much at all.  I can’t complain because at least we CAN meet our needs and manage to have an ice cream every now and then, but it certainly is stressful to think we really should be saving about 30% of our gross income for rainy days, emergencies, and retirement.  That is completely out of reach at our income level.

Yes, drugs have helped.  I’m not as anxious as I was before. But maybe that’s the problem.  People are medicating themselves rather than facing the music.  It’s so easy to put your head in the sand about funding your future.  At least before I was angry enough to take action. Does medication crush that active spirit?  Should I wean myself so I’m a little MORE pissed?  Nah, we don’t need another raging maniac.  I certainly am, however, thinking about what I can do to protect myself and possibly help others.  Pinching pennies every day.

I know this is not the only reason we’re angry.  I’m going to continue thinking about this issue because I don’t get it.  I don’t know why grouchiness is the little black dress everyone owns these days.  Makes me want to hide in my room. And be mad.

March 18, 2011. Tags: , , . The Angry American. Leave a comment.

Schedules and Routines

I used to think I thrived on chaos.  Go with the flow.  Roll with the punches.  Turn the other cheek. Wait, that doesn’t work. But you get the point.  I had myself fooled into thinking I was flexible.

I am not the most flexible person.  I am someone who likes to be on-time.  I hate being late. I hate it when people I know are late. I especially hate it when someone calls me to say they’re late when they’re *already* late.

Being home with the kids has been a challenge for my rigid needs.   It is very very difficult to have all children ready in a reasonable amount of time.  It is even harder to get anything done when you stay home all day long.  Everything can be put  off. That sounds liberating, right?  Instead, it’s stifling!  I can’t stand it!  It makes me a grouch!

So I need to get off the damn couch and create some sort of routine. Right now, it consists of:

6am Wake up

630am Eat breakfast

700am-445pm Entertain children, make snacks, change diapers, pray for        naps, and watch the clock

Not much of a routine, right?  I need to make time to exercise a little. To have a teeny bit of structured play time with the kids (I am not that gungho about that one since they are better at teaching themselves, honestly).  To have a dinner plan before lunch.  I don’t need to do any of this because someone else thinks it’s necessary. If you knew me, you’d know I think most advice like that is bunk. You do what works for you.  I know I need more structure than I have.

So another goal for me to tackle is setting up some kind of flexible routine. Not a strict schedule. That doesn’t work with three small little ones. But having a plan always makes me feel calmer. Less anxious. And maybe less reliant on medication. Yes. Hopefully.

March 15, 2011. Tags: , , , , . Getting happy. Leave a comment.

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