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Archive for the ‘Chief Complaint’ Category

May is chaos. I was whining to the mom of one of Carla’s classmates recently about busy I feel, and she said in a gritted-teeth, long-suffering voice, “That’s just how May is. And it will get worse as the kids get older.” So that was cheering. 

It feels like I was just chugging along, doing my thing, and then suddenly realized that I have fifty deadlines heading my way and I am only partway through each project.  Luckily, this isn’t true (at least in the paying work sense; I am on top of those at least). But it FEELS that way. Worse, it feels like everyone else has alsosuddenly had the same realization. My email inbox is jammed with teacher conference requests and reminders to schedule my gutter cleaning and invitations to end-of-year parties and check-ins about summer swimming schedules and gently scolding messages from camp to fill out my kid’s many, many forms already and notifications to update school payment plans and on and on. 

We had, in the past week, an invitation to a musical performance at Carla’s school literally three days before the performance itself. And then a notice, seven days ago, from Carla’s teacher, that the class has themed days all this week – and require things like sandals that I had not yet purchased. Then we had to schedule a meeting with one of the teachers to review Carla’s goals for next year. And I (stupidly) signed up to volunteer at a big end-of-school carnival. Not to mention, we get alerts near daily about Covid cases in Carla’s grade. Plus, Carla’s been working on her big Eleanor Roosevelt research project. IT’S A LOT.

I have not felt up to most things lately – reading, cooking, planning meals, blogging – but I miss those things (except planning meals). So let’s try a random info dump. I will try not to complain TOO much, but no promises. 

Zoom Awkwardness: While I am deeply, sincerely grateful for the ability to meet with people virtually, I wish someone would figure out how to solve the end-of-meeting awkwardness. You know what I mean. When you have all already said goodbye, but then you have to fumble around to find the button that ends the meeting. I realize that this awkward moment lasts maybe five seconds, but I find it excruciating. Often, I find myself distracted in the last moments of the meeting itself because I am trying to plan my exit in the quickest possible way. But no. Even if I can find the “end meeting” button ahead of time, I inevitably fumble it, or forget that I’ve carefully hovered my cursor over it for exactly that purpose, or the “are you sure?” box pops up and I just want to die of embarrassment. I realize this may not be as big a deal to some people as it is to me, and obviously I have lived to zoom again, but I HATE IT. Just let me out of this virtual discomfort! 

End of Year Teacher Gift: Every year, our Room Parent (i.e. Room Mom) collects money for a class gift. Every year, I dutifully send in money. Every year, I fret and worry and scour Etsy for an additional gift that my kid can give to her teacher, personally, on top of the considerable amount we have already sent in. Every year, I decide that the collective gift is BETTER – usually it’s a gift card, and I’m guessing it is much more useful/appreciated by the teacher than whatever dumb crap I could come up with – and exit Etsy without buying the personalized water bottle/bookmark/coffee mug I was pondering. And yet, despite going through this for SIX YEARS NOW, I inevitably find myself in the last week of school, fretting and fretting about the possibility of being the ONLY person who doesn’t double gift with a physical gift in addition to the cash contribution.

Road Trip: I am doing a right terrible job of Not Complaining, so let’s talk about something positive. My husband and Carla and I are going on a Road Trip this summer!!!! Aside from the astronomical cost of gas, I am really excited about our Road Trip. (Yes, I am capitalizing it.) We finalized all our hotel stays over the weekend, and so now I am gleefully shopping for Road Trip Necessities. This is what my father refers to as a “Tool Buying Opportunity,” which is part of what makes the planning portion of something (an event, a hobby) as enjoyable as or more enjoyable than the actual thing itself. My husband is researching the best family audiobooks to buy (or check out from our library) for our trip, and I love that this is the way his trip planning excitement manifests. He has already played a few samples to Carla, so that they can figure out whether she’ll have trouble understanding the accent of the narrator. 

Birthday Planning Stagnation: Despite ALL of your lovely suggestions, I have made ZERO progress toward planning Carla’s birthday party. Zero. This fills me with dread and anxiety. However, I will say that with every confident, encouraging comment about hosting a party here, I grew more and more entrenched in my certainty that having a party in my home is NOT the right way to go. So that was extremely helpful, and I am so appreciative. I genuinely envy those readers who are so easy-breezy about hosting an in-home birthday party. You make it sound so easy! And fun! And like the better choice! But my gut was clear: NO. So whatever we end up doing, it will be somewhere else. Your kind, helpful suggestions also clarified for me something that I already knew – but did not know I felt with such stringency – which is that I loathe trampoline parks. We used to take Carla when she was smaller, because it was a great way to release her endless reserves of energy in the dragging months of winter. But even then I always felt like I had to be careful not to touch ANYTHING, and I would always through Carla in the tub and her clothing in the washing machine the instant we returned home. Perhaps this speaks more to the cleanliness of my local trampoline park than to anything else, but since that’s what we have available, I am going to skip it. So I suppose even if I haven’t made any forward progress, I am at the very least narrowing the field. Thank you so much for your help, even if you may feel like I am ignoring your very helpful recommendations. Your advice is helpful nonetheless. 

Handyman: In other good news, I finally finally got a handyman to not only return my call, but to come over and look at my long list of projects!!!! He seems great. He reviewed things and took measurements, and was very clear on things he can/will do and things he cannot/won’t. The most important result, though, is that he CAN and WILL repair our ceiling. I don’t know if I’ve described our ceiling hole in this space, but I am going to do so now in case you want to skip to the next equally riveting bullet. It is not a hole, per se. It is more like a place where the plaster has declined to provide its normal coverage. The plaster is peeling away from whatever material forms the ceiling, and so it looks like a hole. We have had the spot examined several times by a plumber (and by our fathers), and it does not appear to be a leak. And it’s been there for YEARS, so I think we would know by now. But this stupid plaster lapse makes me so self-conscious about our house. It looks terrible, and it’s right above the kitchen table, and I hate it. And now it will be fixed!!!! Of course, there is no scheduled date for the fixing; the handyman warned me he is booked out for several weeks. So I guess now I am just hoping he really will send me an estimate and offer some dates. I almost don’t care what it will cost because I want it fixed. But then again, I have no idea what this kind of thing should cost, so… I will report back on whether it is a swallowable amount or something that kicks me in the gut and forces me to live with the stupid hole for longer. Like I said, we’ve been living with it for YEARS, so it shouldn’t be such a big deal to keep on living with it. But at some point in the past few months, I have reached some sort of tell-tale heart level of complete inability to co-exist with this thing for one second longer. 

Calendar Bedlam: Recently, I am having an issue that makes me think my mind is on a steep decline. I keep making plans, putting them in EMPTY SPOTS in my calendar, and then realizing – sometime later – that I have double booked myself. Example 1: A friend invites me to a performance. I check the calendar and see I have plans that night. I decline. Later, a friend invites me to dinner. I check the calendar and see I am free, so I accept. The next time I talk to the performer friend, she mentions the day of her performance… which is on the day I originally had free but now do not. Example 2: I set a playdate for Carla. The next day, I notice that she in fact has an orthodontist appointment that day, so I have to reschedule the playdate. Example 3: I have to do a mandatory nicotine test per our insurance, so I schedule it in an empty spot on the calendar. I get a reminder for the test at the same time I get a reminder for a meeting with Carla’s teacher, because I have scheduled them in the same time slot. WHY AM I DOING THIS AND HOW CAN I STOP.

Dirty Martinis: I recently learned the joy and beauty of a very, very dirty martini. My whole life, I have been staunchly anti-vodka, but it seems that may be because I have only ever had cheap vodka? I recently had a martini with really good, smooth vodka and it was delicious. Then I made one at home, with the fancy expensive vodka my father-in-law drinks, and it was also delicious. I am now out of olive juice.

Jury Duty: My stint of jury duty went GREAT. The summons said that we needed to be available for five days, beginning on a Monday. So I prepared to be gone that entire week. When I did jury duty several years ago, I went in on a Monday, sat around all day, and then was called to a courtroom near the end of the day. I wasn’t selected for that jury, but I was released from jury duty for the rest of the week. This time, you call a number in advance of your service and figure out if your jury number has been selected for that day. I got to miss two days, but my number was called for Wednesday. Then I arrived at the courthouse, sat around all day, and… was released. I didn’t have to go back at all! It was… kind of pleasant? Of course, the anticipation was the dreadful part. I had to worry about childcare for Carla for the whole week, and then I had to worry about driving on a freeway during rush hour, and I had to worry about parking downtown. But once I had Carla stowed at school, had made it downtown, parked, and successfully made it to the courthouse, it was fine! Pleasant, even! It was a beautiful day and we got ninety minutes (!!!!) for our lunch hour, so I got something from Starbucks and walked around downtown. I was even a teeny bit disappointed that I didn’t get selected for a case – I think it would be interesting to serve on a jury. The biggest inconvenience of the week, it turned out, was that I kept having to email the school to let them know that Carla would or wouldn’t be arriving early for babysitting services. 

Step Off: My watch has developed quite an overblown sense of its own roll in my life lately. Constantly telling me to stop and breathe, or noting that I am usually more active at this time of day what is up????, or advising me that I can “still do it!” if I just take a brisk 20-minute walk at 11:15 pm on a weekday. And now this??? Stay in your lane, watch. I am doing the best that I can.

Keto Stall: I feel the need to give you a keto update. During my extravagant jury duty lunch hour, I ordered coffee with cream (despite the fact that I hate coffee) and a pre-made lunch kit that seemed to be fairly keto-friendly: salami, cheese, and some nuts/dried fruit that I ate even though I’m sure it was full of sugar. I did not eat the crackers. Anyway: I continue to follow a low-carb plan. And I have completely stalled. It is SO frustrating. I am doing the plan, I am eating the high-protein/high-fat foods. I am in ketosis. And yet my weight has gone nowhere. It wouldn’t be so terrible except that I HATE it. Food is not fun or enjoyable. I do not look forward to meals, and in fact actively dread them. I cannot stand to plan meals, because they are inevitably some variation on meat + veg, or else they are complicated and frequently end up tasting awful. I am constantly asking my husband what I should make for dinner. I am not having fun, I am not losing weight, it is all awful. And yet any time I LOOK at a carb, I instantly gain two pounds. So I don’t think I’m ready to quit keto either. At least I am maintaining this not-quite-ten-percent-of-my-bodyweight weight loss. ARGH. 

A Good Salad: I did make a really good salad recently. It was arugula (yum) and spinach (yuck), heavily weighted on the arugula side for me and on the spinach side for my husband (who dislikes arugula). I added goat cheese, blueberries, strawberries, a sprinkling of sliced almonds, and grilled chicken. And then I added balsamic dressing because I love dressing as much as I love sauce. (Perhaps this is causing the stall in the previous bullet, perhaps indeed, although I don’t eat salads often because of the dressing factor.)

Strawberry Marketing: The strawberries in the aforementioned salad were PINK. My grocery store had a big display and they had a lot of marketing to assure customers that the strawberries are fully ripe! And taste like pineapple! I had to try them. My husband wondered if they might taste like underripe strawberries and indeed they did. They were fine with some goat cheese and balsamic dressing though, but NOT worth $6.99 per container when I can buy actual ripe strawberry tasting strawberries for $3.50. Between these berries and the miniature iceberg lettuces, produce marketers are really working hard for their money, let me tell you.

Garden Inertia: Let us turn to another pleasant topic, which is gardening. Of which I have also done ZERO. What the hell am I doing with my time, if I am not cooking or gardening or planning Carla’s birthday party? I am fretting and wringing my hands and going in circles is what. We have people coming for dinner this weekend, so now I am suddenly feeling Very Urgent about having at least some flowers in pots. It’s not like my “garden” is anything impressive. But I do like to have a few pots with flowers and I need to do that. Perhaps Carla and I will go after school. 

Spring Shopping Syndrome: In addition to fretting/hand wringing, I have been struck by Spring Shopping Syndrome. You are familiar with this yes? The point at which the weather begins to edge carefully toward warmth and suddenly you hate every single item of clothing you own? I have been buying (and then returning) things with great abandon. Loft has been my latest obsession, and they know it: they keep emailing me with adorable dresses front and center, and so I order the dress and then it doesn’t fit and I take it back. But, to get free shipping, I added on a cute blouse, and that DID fit, so now I have that sweet, sweet dopamine rush of clicking “buy” alongside the possibility, however small, that the item I bought will be cute, which makes me want to repeat the process all over again. Interesting how I am able to analyze this behavior and see it for what it is and yet I still can’t stop/won’t stop. 

All right, that’s it for now my dear Internet.

What’s clogging your calendar this month? Have you made any springy purchases? Tell me which deer-proof flowers to buy for my garden. 

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Carla’s birthday is a little more than a month away and I have NOTHING planned. Usually by this point, I have fretted all over this little blog about theme and where to find theme-appropriate napkins and how difficult it was to pin down a venue and which cake I’m going to make. But this year, I have… nothing. 

(Not even a cake request, which is very un-Carla! And perhaps… perhaps this is the year I outsource the cake baking????)

Part of the problem – maybe the MAIN part – is that Carla doesn’t have any sort of specific desire for a party this year. I mean, she wants A Party. But she hasn’t said “I want a tea party” or “let’s all play LEGOs” or “I want to paint pottery!” or whatever. I am not a creative person, when it comes to birthdays. All my creativity crumples into dust beneath the anxiety of planning an event and executing that event and then attending said event with multiple other humans, all of whom I am expected to interact with. 

The only things at all that Carla has expressed interest in are a) a sleepover and b) a party at our house, featuring a treasure hunt. 

Treasure Hunt: When Carla’s cousin was here recently, I made a treasure hunt for them. I’ve done one another time, when I hosted three other families and did a treasure hunt for the kids. I LIKE making treasure hunts. But the older the kids get, the more challenging it is to create clues that won’t stump them, but will take more than five seconds to solve. 

Plus, while I am fine chasing my one niece and my one child around our very safe cul-de-sac while they look for clues, I don’t know a) how I would feel about chasing multiple nine-year-olds around the neighborhood or b) how other parents might feel about their kids being let loose into the wild.

It is almost more challenging to come up with prizes for this age group. Although I suppose if Carla lands on a theme, I could find something that works. 

The biggest challenge of all with treasure hunts is making them long enough. You can make 20 clues and have the kids run up and down the stairs and around the cul-de-sac and it still ends up taking them under 15 minutes to finish. Which is quite deflating when it takes MUCH LONGER THAN THAT to create the clues and hide them.

Party at Our House: The main issue, though, is that I don’t want to have a party at my house. I find the idea of a bunch of kids invading my space SO stressful, even though it shouldn’t be. 

All my birthday parties when I was growing up took place at my house. And they were wonderful! I remember, when I was really little, playing games like Pin the Tail on the Donkey, or drop a pin in a bucket while blindfolded. My mother made treasure hunts, which is probably where I learned to love them. 

My mom was fantastic about birthday parties, my whole life. She always did something fun and delightful. My favorite childhood birthday was the one where she bought a little Troll doll for each guest and we all sat around my kitchen table and decorated them. I seem to remember that it was a contest, but… I’m sure she found some way to make it so that everyone won. 

(Is there a Troll-doll equivalent that today’s nine-year-olds would like?)

There’s also a bit of Keeping Up with the Joneses going on, I can admit. Carla’s classmates often have very impressive parties – think bouncy houses and country clubs and backyard pools. Most of Carla’s friends live in enormous homes with beautiful properties. When we’ve been invited over for parties, there are gorgeous decorations and catered food. Our backyard is (currently) a marsh, and gets so incredibly hot in the summer that it’s not really comfortable for guests. Our outdoor furniture is old and mismatched and we don’t have the ziplines or stone patios or pools that many people have. Our house itself is smallish and somewhat in disrepair – both facts that seem glaringly obvious when we have other people over. Plus, after hosting Carla’s first two or three birthday parties here, I find decorating SO stressful it’s just not even worth it. I want the Instagram/Pinterest-worthy party, but I am not great at executing that level of creativity/cuteness. I suppose I could pay someone else to do it, but that sounds pricey.

If I could be certain that all the parents would just roll up to our driveway and toss their kids out the door and leave… I might feel a little bit better. Kids in general aren’t super judgmental – I don’t remember noticing the décor or size or quality of furniture at any of my friends’ houses – and I think as long as they got to roam around and eat cake, they would be okay. Maybe this is the age where parents would feel okay dropping them off? Maybe this is the perfect time for me to get away with a banner and a couple of balloons and maybe a colorful tablecloth and not do anything else???

I don’t know. Even if it were just kids, I think I would find it very anxious-making. I much prefer going to a specific place that has employees who entertain the kids or supervise an activity and then going home to my quiet, clean, one-kid-only home.

To recap: it feels like having a party HERE would require a) outsourcing and spending a lot of money or b) doing things myself and becoming very stressed AND probably spending a lot of money. I want to avoid it… but I don’t have any alternate ideas. It feels like we’ve exhausted the typical birthday party venues… and I’ve tried looking for others with no success. 

The new Jurassic World movie is coming out around her birthday, and Carla is desperate to see it. Our local movie theaters were allowing people to rent them out for birthdays… but I haven’t looked into whether they are still doing that. Plus, I don’t know how many of Carla’s friends’ parents would allow them to see a Jurassic World movie (nor how many of her friends would actually want to see it). That may be something the three of us do as a family. 

Sleepover: Probably the best compromise would be hosting a sleepover. The reason this feels like a compromise is that I would limit Carla to one or two friends, so it would be less stressful. Presumably. But… then she would have to choose just one or two friends, and she’s a kid who has a LOT of friends, so I don’t know how she would choose. In this time of Covid, would anyone even be comfortable with that (not that they aren’t sharing the same air every day at school)? And my beloved child is a person whose energy level escalates in direct proportion to how tired she is, so I am imagining that NO ONE would sleep at all. Not that you are expected to sleep much at a sleepover, but… no sleep sounds pretty dreadful for all involved, including the poor parents who would be collecting their exhausted children the next day. 

Plus… what do you DO for a nine-year-old sleepover? The only sleepovers I remember (and, bless my parents, sometimes I had MANY friends sleep over) involved activities like calling boys on my phone or watching scary movies or playing with my Ouija board… all of which seem a little mature for this age group. 

A few of my friends-who-are-parents don’t do a party at all for their kids. For some, this is just the way it is. For others, maybe some years it works out and some years it doesn’t. I wish we could go this route! But I know Carla LOVES a party, so I’m not sure she would roll with it. 

As usual, the VAST BULK of this stress is mine. I know Carla wouldn’t really care about any of the things that bother me. I know her friends wouldn’t really care, I know even the most judgmental of parents would only turn up their noses for a few seconds before forgetting about me entirely. And yet I cannot talk myself out of feeling the stress. 

So here I am, doing nothing but fretting, as the weeks tick by.

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Some people mentioned an interest in my current Keto Experience, and since – as when on any diet – I think about Keto a lot, I am happy to oblige. 

However, I keep feeling blocked when I try to talk about it. I feel like I have to have an explanation for trying Keto again. And the explanation (I want to lose weight) feels unsatisfactory to me. 

For one thing, the subject of weight is so FRAUGHT. My experience of my body should have nothing to do with anyone else’s experience of their body, and yet weight is so comparative. It is almost impossible to say that a person who wants to change her body is not passing judgment on someone whose body is different from her own. I think we all know that both things are true: I can look at myself and find fault, while seeing absolutely no fault in others. I can know that, experience that, but also feel judged by others who are on their own personal paths. I would never want my decision to lose weight make someone else feel bad. And I don’t want to TALK about weight a lot, either – I had an acquaintance who recently lost a lot of weight, and I am very proud of her for achieving a goal she set for herself and happy for her that she feels so good, but literally EVERY conversation we have includes weight talk and I cannot handle it. So beyond a few posts, which I will clearly label as Keto adjacent, I promise to avoid weight talk. Maybe I will come back and update you on progress, if there is any, but maybe not. 

Another thing that makes me feel conflicted about Keto is that I have tried – so hard – these past two years to love my body the way it is. I’ve tried to accept its changes, to eat intuitively, and to buy clothes that fit me. I feel like I should love my body. But I don’t. So wanting to lose weight feels like a failure. 

But the fact is, I DO want to lose weight.

Plus… I feel like I’ve been instructed to lose weight, which makes me feel both resistant and ashamed. When I went to my new gynecologist earlier this year, she told me I needed to lose weight. Those weren’t her exact words – and I don’t think she even brought it up. I think I may have made a comment about gaining weight during the pandemic, and she said something about how it would be a good idea for me to lose [obscene amount] of weight. When she said that, I felt crushed with despair. I think we can all agree that it’s one thing when you know that you need to do something “for your health.” But it’s entirely another when a medical professional tells you the same thing (especially when she is suggesting it to you in a reasoned and compassionate way). 

When I went to my new primary care doctor, I mentioned what the gynecologist had said. My new doctor (I love her so) shrugged and said that the gyn was going by OLD rules, and that I was really fine. There is a wider range of “healthy” weight/BMI than medical science previously prescribed, and I was within that range. But then she said I might be more comfortable if I lose [less obscene amount] of weight. 

She was the one who recommended Keto. And because I am nothing if not A Rule Follower, I felt like I had to at least give it a try. (As I explained it to my husband: if I ask for advice in solving a problem and then don’t follow that advice, I can’t complain to you later about the same problem.)

I told her that I had done Keto before, and that I hated it in part because – as with all diets – you had to think about food all day every day. My husband and I went All In, the first time. We were super strict. We tracked all of our macros – protein, fat, and carbs – and made sure we were getting the prescribed amount of each. It was a constant battle to get enough protein and fat without drastically overreaching one or the other. It was just as bad as calorie counting, and I hated it. It feels disordered to me, to be constantly wondering if you’re eating enough or too much. I never wanted to do that again.

My doctor claimed that she didn’t track every little thing. She simply stays under 20 grams of net carbs per day. 

I was suspicious. But it sounded appealing, to only think about the carbs. And I wondered if maybe I could fit Keto/low-carb to my needs rather than the other way around. 

I have been much more relaxed, this time. And – not surprisingly – the weight is coming off much more slowly. But it is coming off. (It went right back on when I ditched Keto over my vacation, though. So I will have to figure out how – or if – I can ever add carbs back to my diet without gaining everything back. But that’s a problem for the future.) 

The first time I did Keto, I lost about 10% of my bodyweight in about six weeks. 

This time, it took me about six weeks to lose 6% of my bodyweight. BUT I was taking at least one weekend day “off” of Keto during that time. 

It’s clear to me that if I want to supercharge the results I want, I need to stick to it more strictly. But my husband thinks that it might be more sustainable to do it the way I am – slowly, without feeling overly restricted.

I don’t know. It still seems like early days – especially since I took a week off for vacation and it feels almost as though I am starting from scratch. We’ll see how it goes, I guess. 

Here are the main “rules” I am following this time around:

  1. I try to limit my intake of net carbs to 18 grams per day. I use the free version of Carb Manager to track my carb intake. I think it’s a very user friendly app, and the database of foods is vast and fairly accurate. 
  2. I try to eat foods I like as often as possible. Salmon vs. eggs, for instance. And I am trying to continue to make and eat recipes I like. For example, I will still eat stir fry, just without so much sauce and with no rice. 
  3. When it comes to veggies, I try not to be too restrictive. One cup of raw broccoli, for instance, is 4 grams of net carbs. If I have only 8 grams of net carbs available for dinner, but I want to eat a third cup of broccoli, I eat the extra broccoli. 
  4. I prioritize protein over fat. True Keto is a balance between protein, fat, and carbs. But when I did Keto before, I found myself forcing down things I didn’t want in order to get the “right” amount of fat. I would add MCT oil to my tea, for instance. It was awful and made me feel sick. Now, if I don’t get “enough” fat, oh well. 
  5. I try to drink a LOT of water. I have found that I feel more full if I start the day with a glass of water than if I go straight into tea/breakfast. 
  6. I do not think about calories. When I look at my Carb Manager app, my caloric intake is all over the map. 1400 calories one day, 1100 the next, 1500 the next, 584 calories the next (which obviously is not sustainable or healthy, and the low calorie content was certainly not intentional), 1350 the next. The carbs are my focus, not the overall calories. This helps, I think, keep me from the feeling that I am constantly thinking about food and tracking food all day long. I mean, I do track my food. But it’s much less of an ordeal than it was either in 2020 or when I’ve done things like calorie counting and Weight Watchers. My attempt to be less consumed by this diet is, so far, working pretty well.
  7. For the most part, I try to stick to “real” foods, rather than processed snacky things. For the most part, because I definitely have bought some pre-packaged helpers, which I will tell you about next time. But I find that I feel happier and more satisfied when I am eating things like shrimp and zucchini noodles or pork tenderloin and asparagus than when I am eating 100% hot dogs and freeze-dried cheese. The cheese thing is interesting to me, because one thing that’s great for Keto is cheese. But I eat a LOT less cheese this time than I did in 2020. 

Okay. That’s enough. If you are still reading, first of all, bless you, and secondly, let me know if you have any questions. 

I will do another post about the Keto purchases I have made that I like. And maybe a post about what I eat in a typical week (mainly for Future Me). And then I will stop talking about it. (Mostly.)

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My hands are still shaking from a horrendously embarrassing experience, so I am trying to distract myself with some fun and fluff. 

Oh, you want to share in my humiliation first? Okay. 

I texted the owner of The Kitten to see if Carla could come visit him (“him” meaning the kitten; the owner is a woman). I had recently put her number in my phone, at Carla’s request. She’d (the kitten owner, not Carla) texted me so I would have her number, and I’d added her to my contacts. I tend to add people to my phone as “FirstName LastName,” and then never include any other identifying details… and you are well aware that I have a terrible memory… so there are multiple people in my phone who are now complete mysteries to me. One of these days I should really go through my phone and delete those people. 

I clicked on the kitten owner’s name – noting briefly that there was no prior text from her; I must have deleted it – and texted her: Hi, this is Carla’s mom. Is there a good time for Carla to come visit The Kitten?

A few minutes later I got back a series of question marks. 

As you may have intuited from my expert foreshadowing, I texted THE WRONG PERSON. Apparently, I have two people with the same first name in my phone. A fact which I have long since forgotten. The one whose name popped up when I started the text was the wrong one. 

And I have NO IDEA WHO SHE IS. 

Is this an old work contact? Is this someone for whom I’ve done freelance work? Is she a fellow parent from Carla’s school? Is she a board member I’ve interviewed for a writing project? Is she someone I went to grad school with? Is she a friend of a friend I’d connected with at some point? Is she some sort of service provider I have employed at some point? ZERO IDEA. 

I typed back, So sorry! I must have the wrong number!

But what I REALLY should have typed back was, So sorry! I must have typed the wrong FirstName!

Because if she is in my phone, there is a real likelihood that we know each other, and have interacted via phone before. Which means that there is a real possibility that she is sitting there wondering a) why I am contacting her about a kitten she doesn’t know and b) why I am pretending it was a wrong number and c) why I haven’t asked her how her work/family/life is. 

But I have no idea who this person is, or why she is a contact in my phone. I even googled her and I swear I have never seen her before in my life. But she was in my phone. So we must have known each other at some point! 

All I can do is hope that this person has as terrible a memory as I do, and has long since removed me from her phone, and isn’t feeling hurt/miffed/weirded out by my faux pas. 

LET’S MOVE ON TO LESS HORRIFYING TOPICS.

I have some questions for you. 

Weigh In #1: What food do you hate, but wish you didn’t? While I am a very choosy eater, I don’t feel particularly bad about it most of the time. I eat enough of a variety of foods that I’m pretty confident I can go to any restaurant or any friend’s house and find something to eat. I’ve never once thought, “I wish I enjoyed lamb. Or beets.” But there are a few foods I hate that I really wish I didn’t. 

Tomatoes. I hate tomatoes so very, very much. But they are one of those wildly ubiquitous foods that show up all the time, in places expected and not. (I cannot tell you how frequently I have encountered tomatoes on a Caesar salad, when they have no place in a Caesar salad.) Life would be so much easier and more pleasant if I just liked tomatoes! Or could at least tolerate them! Even friends who kindly ask about food preferences before they invite us over sometimes have tomatoes in their offerings, and I am just so very weary of being that picky person who doesn’t like tomatoes. 

Oatmeal. I cannot bring myself to enjoy oatmeal. Outside of oatmeal cookies, which are the sole exception. But lots of people genuinely enjoy oatmeal, and it seems like such a hearty, healthful food. I really wish I liked it. 

Eggs. Outside of scrambled eggs – which, even then, I only like a specific way – I avidly dislike eggs in ALL FORMS. But they are versatile and easy and full of protein. I want to like them. 

Weigh In #2: What is the best seat on an airplane? I prefer the window, myself. I like being tucked in next to the wall, I like being able to look out during turbulence to reassure myself that we are not in fact falling out of the sky, I like being able to lean my head against a solid surface. But when I fly with my family, my husband is the one who gets the window (although sometimes he swaps with Carla) and I get the aisle. I do not care for the aisle, because it puts me in close proximity to people, and those people tend to be very oblivious to the boundary between their space in the aisle and my space in my actual seat. The only benefit to the aisle seat is easy access to bathroom breaks. But then again, you have to be the one to pop up and down while the middle- or window-seater squeezes past you to the bathroom. I still remember the time I flew and a woman in front of me refused to swap seats with her row-mate’s spouse, because the spouse was in a window seat. “I have a bum leg, and I prefer the aisle so I can stretch out my leg,” she said. But… you aren’t supposed to stretch your leg into the aisle, right??!?! Isn’t that a tripping hazard? Isn’t that begging for a new leg injury when the drinks cart slams into your shin? 

Weigh In #3: What is your worst time-wasting habit? I am already terrible about spending too much time on social media. But more recently, I have found new depths to my time wasting online, which is that I have gotten sucked into watching gender reveals on Instagram. There is literally nothing beneficial about this habit – except that I derive occasional joy from the rare parent that shows true, unbridled joy at the result. Okay, and usually only if that unbridled joy is coming from the male parent, and in response to a pink result. These videos are fascinating, though. There are a bunch that feature the same bearded guy, who must run some sort of company that offers and records these sorts of reveals. There are a bunch where the timing is off. There are a bunch where the couple have other children, some of whom seem very disaffected by the whole event. 

The worst – and most fascinating – ones are the ones where one parent is CLEARLY disappointed by the result. I am not faulting someone for being disappointed: when I was pregnant, I was SURE I was having a boy, and I pictured a tiny blond copy of my husband. I got very attached to this fantasy. When we found out that Carla was a girl, I was disappointed. I hope you know that not a single cell of my body is disappointed NOW, now that Carla is a real wonderful human and it has become clear to me that everything I love about her is completely unrelated to her sex. But I get the disappointment. What I find perplexing is recording that disappointment and then posting it for the world to see. Perplexing and fascinating.  

Anyway. That is how I have been wasting far too many minutes of my one wild and precious life lately. I blame spring break. 

Now it’s your turn. Please weigh in. 

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continue to feel like a planet whirling so fast it is about to spin off its axis. The frigid vacuum of space sounds pretty pleasant right about now. I wouldn’t be able to breathe, but it would be so quiet

I had a meeting this morning about the school project I am working on. My project partner and I are so lucky a) to have each other (well. I am lucky to have her. Remains to be seen whether I will be useful for anything but flailing.) and b) that the previous head of this project has made herself available to us for questions and coaching. But today’s meeting was… well, let’s say it is A LARGE PART of why I am spinning so fast. It seemed like we would ask a question about how best to execute Task A. And we’d talk through it and get to the end, and then an unrelated topic would insinuate itself into the conversation briefly, and then, BAM, by the way, Unrelated Topic is actually crucial and you need to do it BEFORE you can execute Task A. Like, you’re digging away at this nice deep hole, and then when you get to the bottom, someone yells, “WAIT! You were supposed to dig to the left of this hole first!” So you go back and dig the new hole, but the dirt you displace from the new hole crumbles and fills up the hole you already dug, which you are now going to have to dig again, but in a slightly different way.

Funsies. 

Speaking of meetings! I met with my potential client yesterday. And by “client” I mean one organization, but multiple people. As I mentioned in my previous fret about this encounter, I had no idea what to wear. Not only have I had very very few business encounters since I left full-time work SIX YEARS AGO OMG, but I have also put on quite a lot of weight since then, rendering any very old, out-of-style business wear wholly unwearable. I have this beautiful cream silk blouse that I have kept all these years, so I tried it on, but my boobs kept trying to make a break for it. I figured that boob wrangling would add a layer of stress I didn’t need to my meeting, so I scrapped that idea.

I was to meet the client(s) for coffee, and my Fashionable Friend told me that I could wear jeans and a blouse or a nice sweater for that type of meeting. (Do you have a Fashionable Friend? She is very nice to have around. For lots of regular-friendshippy reasons, but also because she always knows the right answer to style questions.) So I found a nice top and a blazer and wore those with dark jeans and heels. It was the right call: the clients were wearing a range from jeans/leggings to dresses, so I felt nicely in the middle. And I was comfortable, and my boobs behaved themselves. 

The meeting itself was very nice. The organization is one I am familiar with and I love its mission and product. And the people were friendly and smart and totally the type of people I would want to be friends with. It was a little intimidating, being in a room with multiple people, unmasked. But the strangeness of that faded quickly. The single drink option during the meeting was coffee. Which, as you may recall, I do not drink. I am SURE I could have asked for some water, but by the time I had the opportunity, it would have been A Big Pain, so I just went with the coffee option. I AM BREEZY. By the way, not only was it coffee, it was black coffee, which I have never even tasted. And WOWZA did it ever go straight to my head! For a few deeply uncomfortable minutes, I felt sure I would throw up or pass out, which is surely not the best first impression to make upon potential clientele. You will be pleased to learn (as I was) that I neither vomited nor swooned, and made it through, hopefully leaving them with the feeling that I am friendly and competent and not a weird socially awkward mole who hasn’t been around people in two years. 

I am getting more and more excited about our upcoming travel. But oh Mylanta there is SO MUCH LAUNDRY. I wish people would just stop wearing clothing so that I can get allllllll the laundry done and folded. Then we can set aside the things we want to pack for the trip, and make do with whatever remains. 

Also, my husband – who is legitimately WILDY busy at work, and never gets home before seven anymore – did a couple loads of laundry over the weekend. I discovered today that he had left the clean clothes in the laundry basket. A, I appreciate that he did some laundry; that is awesome. And B, I am constantly leaving laundry in the basket, or on top of the guest room bed, sometimes for many many days. But it still made me feel betrayed and petulant. 

Speaking of betrayed and petulant: Poor deprived Carla wailed at me today that she has no clothes!!!! and I never do any laundry!!!! and look at her overflowing laundry basket!!!!! The same child who has an entire closet full of dresses, and an entire drawer full of jeans and corduroys that she begged me to buy for her at the beginning of the school year. 

What did she end up wearing? Leggings and a t-shirt. And because it is still chilly here, I dredged up a sweater for her to throw on top. 

WHERE are all her sweaters, I wonder? Perhaps in the overflowing laundry bin, which I must once again put through the wash. I did notice that the bottom drawer of her dresser doesn’t close all the way, and it seems to be because there are some shirts that have fallen back behind the drawer, into the empty space of the dresser. But I cannot for the life of me get to them! The dresser is bolted to the wall and the bottom of the dresser doesn’t have enough room for me stick even a pair of kitchen tongs under. I guess the shirts will stay there until we move someday? Or perhaps we will have to figure out how to take the drawer off its track? But who knows how many shirts and sweaters are hiding back there! 

I am stressing about the keeping-keto portion of our vacation. Part of me wants to just give it up and eat as though I am on vacation… but part of me is deeply reluctant to cede the small amount of ground I have gained. Fortunately, most restaurants (YES, we will be eating in restaurants!!! Ahhhhh!!!!) offer things like steak or salmon. I will simply have to resist things like mashed potatoes and baked potatoes and French fries and desserts. Sounds doable, if not fun, but I suspect my resolve may crumble when everyone else around me is eating something delicious that I “can’t” have. My biggest hurdle, I think, will be hamburgers. I LOVE a hamburger, and I LOVE a nice buttery toasty bun, and I LOVE ketchup, none of which are keto-friendly. Well. We’ll see how it goes. 

Speaking of keto, I have ZERO IDEA what we will eat for dinner this week. It seems wholly unfair to have to keep planning and preparing meals when I am already planning and preparing for a trip. Maybe we will do a stir fry, using one of the MANY delicious ideas you suggested on this post? Maybe a pizza night? Maybe… a salad? I feel like I have some veggies I want to use up before we leave. Some sort of… roasted veggies smorgasbord? 

This period of Too Much Too Much Ahhhhhhh! has served as a valuable reminder to me of just how critical my daily workout it. I am not winning any ab competitions or even doing any sort of visible toning (perhaps there is a LOT of tone beneath the fat and skin; hard to say), but working out is almost the only thing that makes me feel tethered to reality. Sweating for a half hour, grunting my way through a bunch of awful squats, hefting weights over my head, focusing only on the directions/encouragement of the coach while I grind out another rep – whatever it is, it helps my thoughts slow their frantic dash around my brain. (And I know I have recommended her before, but I just adore Lindsey of Nourish Move Love. She is extremely kind and supportive and offers tons of modifications if you don’t have weights/don’t want to bend your knees so deeply/don’t own a booty band. And she does all the exercises with you, panting and groaning over the tough parts, which makes it all seem doable.)

I am going to leave you with some flowers. As per Swistle, I did not wait until my previous flowers had perished to replace them. Instead, I bought a new bouquet and added it to the original group. Carla requested white tulips, so white tulips it is. 

Last week’s batch are definitely looking a little faded and saggy. But you know what? They have their own beauty despite their age. And they are still standing

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I had to go into Target TWICE recently, and both times I was super annoyed. I think to the point that it is no longer fun to go there. I will continue to use the option where someone brings my purchases out to my car, because sometimes Target is the best place to procure certain items. But I no longer enjoy shopping IN Target. 

First, the shelves are so intermittently empty that I get that Early Pandemic panicky feeling in my chest. I went in well before Valentine’s Day – well, a week before, which seems like it should be fine – and the Valentine’s Day section appeared to have been looted by mauraders. It was a mixture of chaos and empty boxes. I found a giant Hershey’s kiss for Carla and a pink bath bomb and that was IT. 

Well. I also found a whole section of Easter candy, which makes zero sense. But they had a large stack of Reese’s peanut butter eggs – the best candy – so I bought myself two boxes. I was there for VALENTINE’S DAY loot though, so I remained unmollified. Plus, I now have to go to a separate candy store (barf), inside the mall (extra barf), to get something for my husband.

Second, the Valentine’s Day card selection made me grumpy. Perhaps this is less a Target-grouse than a card-designer/producer grouse, or maybe even an It’s-2020-Yet-Everything-Is-Still-So-Gengered grouse, but a) it happened AT Target and b) I do have more Target-centric grousing to do, so I don’t want to interrupt the flow of my Target-directed irritation.

Carla loves dinosaurs, and dinosaurs are a Very Common Kid Passion, so it seems reasonable to expect that there would be dinosaur-themed Valentine’s Day cards. And you would be right! But they were directed at boys. Because only boys like dinosaurs. 

Except for this one, which was gender-neutral. And also $8.99. I am not going to pay nearly TEN (10) U.S. dollars for a single-use card, no thank you. It is hard enough to choke down the normal $4.99 price tag, which I do only because I love cards so much. 

I know – I KNOW – that you can’t expect there to be something for everyone. You can’t. It’s not possible. But… maybe there could fewer gendered things? 

I bought a card. And altered it slightly, for Carla. 

Stickers to the rescue!

Back to the Target-specific grousing.

I know I have grumbled about this before. Target often – I am saying often, because it happens almost every single time I go to Target – has discrepancies between the price listed on the shelf and the price that rings up at the register. HOWEVER, it is nearly impossible to discover the discrepancies because it is impossible to read the register as the checker rings up your items. I am willing to give Target the benefit of the doubt. It is a big corporation, and errors happen. Plus, maybe there is a big price difference to the company between ordering computers that show the prices only to the checker and computers that show the prices to the customer as well. I don’t know. But the two issues added together make me feel like Target is trying to pull one over on me. 

What I have begun to do is take pictures of things on the shelf. If they are on sale, and I am buying them purely to get the sale price, I take a picture. If there is a discrepancy between the price on the shelf and the price in the app, I take a picture. And then I try very hard to squint at the computer screen during check out. 

The screen looks impossibly small in the photo and seems impossibly far away in real life. I can see the TOTAL without too much squinting, but that requires instantaneous math which is not one of my core competencies.

It is too far away and the font is too small to see, though! I got right up in there this last time, right up in there, and then backed away because I felt like I was intruding upon the checker’s plexiglass-enclosed space. So I had to ask the checker to doublecheck the price of the items I was concerned about. One of them was fine, but the other rang up for a dollar more than it was supposed to, so I showed the checker my photo, and they reduced the price. 

I realized that I sound more than slightly unhinged, here, hawk-watching over the computer just to prevent Target from getting even one dollar extra from my clenched fists. But it makes me really mad.

The last time I posted about this, I wrote a frustrated email to Target about my experience. I got a response, too, from someone at my local Target:

Hi Suzanne,

My name is NAME, and I’m the Service and Engagement ETL at the CITY Target store. Thank you for sharing your experience. I sincerely appreciate your feedback about the checkout process at Target stores. We never want guests to feel like they are being taken advantage of or that Target is hiding anything. Our checkout advocates are here to help so they can relay the prices as they ring up for you. If there is a discrepancy they can get a price check and change the price for you as well. Also, if there is ever a need we can retroactively make price adjustments at Guest Service for you as well. I will share your feedback with my immediate boss so that it can be directed to the appropriate channels. 

I want to make this right both for you and for all Target guests in the future. If you’re open to further discussing how we might do that, please reply to this email. You are also welcome to call me at NUMBER.

What a very nice and sincere-sounding email, right?! I mean, no way am I going to ask the poor checker to read every single price as it rings up, which seems to be what this nice person is suggesting. And also, I am overlooking the fact that this person does not seem to understand that it is next to impossible to identify a discrepancy in the moment. And you KNOW I am wary of price adjustments based on prior experience. But it was a good start, I think. 

I haven’t yet responded, because I didn’t know what to say. But now I know. I have a SOLUTION. My solution is that they should increase the font on their computer monitors. And maybe – although perhaps this is asking too much – they could angle the computer monitors toward the customer. 

I am not asking for their prices to be accurate. I am not asking for their prices to match, between shelf and app and register. I am not asking for them in install new monitors at the credit card machines, or replace the credit card machines with machines that list the prices as the checker rings up each item, or even to figure out some way to show the total you are about to pay ON the credit card machine! No. I am simply suggesting that they increase the font, so that a non-eagle can see it while standing near the checkout. 

What do you think? Is this a good plan?

Or perhaps I should simply… not set foot in Target. Probably that’s the best choice.

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I have done it! I have done the thing I always think I should do, and never do, which is to GET UP when I awaken in the middle of the night and do something more useful than lying awake, counting how many hours of sleep I could get if I fell asleep right then.

Lest you think I am no longer susceptible to the patterns of the past: I woke up at 3:00 a.m., almost on the dot, and then lay in bed/read soothing blog posts until 4:00, and then lay in bed in the dark, telling myself I should just GET UP ALREADY and start the day until 4:37. That’s when I finally Did The Thing and put on my glasses and came downstairs. I deserve a Sleep Award. Although, now that I think of it, a Sleep Award seems more appropriate for sleeping restfully through an entire eight-plus hours, so perhaps I’ll have to relinquish my claim.

In lieu of an award, I am drinking tea, as I do when I wake up. My stomach is a little uncomfortable with this idea – it thinks it is Sleeping Time, rather than Accepting Sustenance Time. It is also a little concerned about what time we will want lunch. 

If only the grocery store were open now, and I could get that over with! Oh well. I will blog about random nothings instead! 

  • Carla has been having extra trouble getting to sleep lately. Firstly, I feel just terrible that she has apparently inherited my fraught relationship with sleep. She has had trouble falling asleep her entire eight-and-a-half years, and that doesn’t bode well for the remainder of her life, which I hope is very long. At least, I suppose, she seems to be able to maintain sleep once she gets there. While I occasionally have trouble getting to sleep, my main issue is staying asleep.
  • Well, I suppose my brain is smoothing over the many, many times that Carla has come into my room at 3:00 or 4:00, or that I have awakened to learn that she had been awake for hours already. BUT, it seems less frequent than her troubles drifting off. The power of posting about something of the internet will immediately ensure that she wakes up at 3:00 every morning for the next month.
  • The only thing that comes close to the frustration of not being able to fall asleep is the frustration of one’s CHILD not being able to fall asleep. Last night, my husband and I were watching the first episode of Sex Education and I kept hearing suspicious thumps coming from upstairs. It was quite windy outside, and my husband felt that the thumps might be exterior noises, while I was quite sure they were human. And then we had one of those mildly irritating conversations I imagine happen frequently in any longterm partnership, where he said, “Do you want to go check on her?” and I said “yes,” because I’d HEARD “Do you want ME to go check on her?” And then he had to correct my misperception and I had to glare at him briefly before I went to investigate the source of the thumps. 
  • Thump source: Carla. Instead of reading quietly or thinking about sheep or doing deep breathing – all of which we have discussed AT LENGTH in regards to their soporific powers – she felt the best way to induce sleep was to get out of bed and gather some toys and play with them, in the bed. On the bed. Preposition the bed. Exasperation! Incredulity! How did she think this was a good way to get to sleep? And yet she seemed very sincere that she thought it would help. Trying to turn down the scold volume on my lecture, I removed the toys and reminded her of all the other options that we have discussed for helping lull our brains to sleep. Count backwards from 100. Count backwards by 5s from 1000. Imagine yourself, in great detail, walking along the route to somewhere you love. List 50 things you are grateful for. Go through the alphabet and name an animal beginning with each letter. Do some deep breathing. Read a book. Recite a poem over and over in your head. When I went back to check on her about 20 minutes later, she was fast asleep. Sometimes it seems like the BEST way to induce sleep is to scold her about it. Which seems… not right. 
  • Carla mentioned to me that she cannot see pictures in her head, so the “walking along the route to somewhere you love” isn’t a viable option for her. I love that she’s so aware of what it’s like inside her head. I don’t see pictures in my head either, but I guess my internal travel writer is so descriptive that I can still make that option work. Or I can drum up a feeling of a place that is almost as vivid as an image. 
  • Also, it is unfair of me to expect that she remember these techniques when I am terrible at remembering them myself! Only when I am DESPERATE for sleep do I recall most of these strategies. The one that I use most often – mentally reciting Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” until I fall asleep – sometimes doesn’t even occur to me in the middle of a 3:00 am wakeup. Instead, I turn to my phone, which almost certainly makes it HARDER for me to sleep. 
  • There was supposed to be a secondly somewhere up there. I suppose you have forgotten about it as well. But on the off chance you were waiting on tenterhooks – “You did the ‘firstly,’ what’s the ‘secondly’? WHAT’S THE SECONDLY?” – I cannot remember. 
  • I have finished my first book of poetry for the year. One of my 2022 aspirations is to read a poem every morning, and I have been keeping up with that so far. However, I may not have chosen the best book to start out the year. I selected a book at random and came up with The Seven Ages by Louise Gluck. She has an umlaut over the u in her surname; I don’t how to do that on my computer. I adore Louise’s poetry. (This makes it sound as though we are on a first-name basis, which we are not. I did meet her once, though. We went out to lunch and she is as fascinating as one hopes a famous poet would be.) But The Seven Ages is all about her contemplating her own death. That’s all fine and good, and it resonates, and I appreciate reading her thoughts from the perspective of being 50ish because I am nearing that age. But it was also a little depressing. Perhaps I will try a Billy Collins book next; I own two of his collections, but I don’t think I’ve ever read the poems; my impression is that they are lighter and sometimes attempt to be humorous.
  • One of the Gluck poems has really stuck with me. It’s called “The Sensual World,” which, in my opinion, mis-implies what the poem is about or how to read it. But poems are very personal, so you do you, boo. Anyway, the poem is about how the world will grip you in startling and unpredictable and inescapable ways. There is this moment of exquisite beauty that the narrator recounts, in the kitchen of her grandmother. A tiny moment: a glass of juice; its taste; the way the light refracts through it. But it leads the narrator to offer an urgent warning about the trap that life has set for you: “you will never let go, you will never be satiated. / You will be damaged and scarred, you will continue to hunger. / Your body will age, you will continue to need. / You will want the earth, then more of the earth – / Sublime, indifferent, it is present, it will not respond. / It is encompassing, it will not minister. / Meaning, it will feed you, it will ravish you, / it will not keep you alive.” It makes my heart pound, it resonates so deeply. I am so familiar with those moments – of shocking beauty that flares suddenly out of the mundane, of intense love provoked by the smallest, most inconsequential thing (a kitten at the pet store, butting its head against your hand; a child seeing you in distress and trying to soothe you with the very techniques you use to soothe the child; an unexpected kindness from a stranger; a moment of private humor with a spouse; a child, asleep, with hands folded beneath the chin as though posed). And I know the exact feeling of wanting to clutch those things with both hands even as I know – we all know – they are not ours to keep. It is not our lot to hold them forever, but only for the short time we have on this plane of existence. You will never let go. It will not keep you alive.
  • Yesterday, I experienced one of those moments of satisfaction/guilt that seem to be a hallmark of parenting. Carla was really anxious about returning to school (who knows why?!?! Is it the constant barrage of contradictory information, such as “Covid isn’t a big deal since you’re vaccinated; don’t worry too much, it probably won’t affect you too much if you get it” but also “make SURE you wear your mask and don’t breathe on anyone and for Todd’s sake, please don’t let anyone breathe on you!” Is it the fact that she hasn’t been in school for a month? Is it the fact that “school” could mean home/not home at any given time?) so I had to bribe her to even get her out the door yesterday morning. The bribe is not the satisfaction/guilt part, although perhaps it should be; it worked. I bribed her with a chocolate chip cookie for dessert (we are reverting to a “desserts on weekends” kind of schedule) AND with “something fun.” (She claims she never ever gets to do what SHE wants, all she does is go to SCHOOL.) I told her she could pick anything non-screen related, and she picked playing Barbies together. Sigh. I haaaaaaaate pretend play. It is the worst. But I agreed, and after school we played Barbies for 30 minutes exactly. Which is nothing. A tiny amount of my day. Then, when we were doing our bedtime mindfulness routine, and we got to the part about “what were you grateful for today?”, Carla said, “I was grateful that I got to play Barbies with Mommy.” No hesistation. Awwww. What a worthwhile way to spend our time together! But also: guilt, because I HATE playing Barbies. And yet it is such a simple way to make my beloved child so happy! Ugh ugh ugh. Well, I am not promising anything, but I will TRY to do more Barbies with Carla. 
  • A thing it turns out I DO enjoy is playing Sleeping QueensDo you have this game? I ordered it on a “my child is not doing enough math” whim last weekend and it is QUITE fun. There’s a video on the product page that describes how to play; it seems much more complicated than it is. And it’s a much faster-paced game than I anticipated. The basic object is that you want to get as many queens as possible. To get the queens, or to keep your opponent from getting queens, or to prevent your opponent from getting your queens, you need special cards. Your only chance to get the special cards is to discard a card from your hand. And – here’s the math element – you can draw more cards if you have an equation. So if you have cards in the values of 1, 5, and 7, you can only discard one of them and pick up one new card. But if you have 2, 5, and 7, you can make an equation and discard all three; then you can draw three cards. If you have/know a child in the young elementary age group, I highly recommend it. Because the number cards only go up to ten, the math is quite easy for Carla (although there’s no harm in keeping up with basic addition and subtraction), but it would be ideal for someone who is just learning to add/subtract. We also do multiplication, when it’s possible. I really wish there were an expansion pack with higher-value numbers. Anyway, I find it to be a really fun game and we have already played at least a dozen times. BONUS: This is a game that you can easily play with two people, which means that we don’t have to wait for Daddy to be home. 
  • I made my first foray into baked oatmeal. I am a little reluctant to post about it, because I didn’t love it. And I WANT to love it. It was both better than I thought it would be and worse than I hoped. But I think I chose the wrong (for me) recipe. It called for coconut oil, which – to me (though not to my husband) – ending up being the predominant flavor. I wanted an APPLE flavor. Also, I don’t think I put in enough nuts. The nuts were my favorite part. I need to do more experimentation before I can make a firm decision about not liking it. I think I will try this recipe next. 
  • I had a mildly negative interaction the other day that is still gnawing at me. It’s one of those things where the situation felt very fraught, almost purely because I am overly concerned with what people think of me. And the rest of it was fraught because it involved Covid, and I am caught in a wildly swinging internal pendulum of “you can’t control it and you need to find some way to live with it without forcing your child to be a miserable hermit” and “it is perfectly reasonable to continue to take precautions for the sake of those who aren’t protected/in order to keep Carla in school ” and “if you allow Carla to go to school, then how is this situation different” and “it is okay to have boundaries and limits even if they seem arbitrary; everything seems arbitrary right now” and “you and Carla are both vaccinated, you really can relax a little sheesh” and “arrrrrggghhhhhh.” I fervently wish I were the type of person who a) knows the exact right thing to do in any given situation and b) doesn’t care what other people think of me. I am neither of those people though, I am me. And as much as I try to be breezy, breeziness is not in my nature. And I DO care what people think, and I hate that about myself but I do.
  • Totally related to the above point: It is not fair to present a situation in one way, with clear parameters, and then to change the parameters in the moment. It is especially not okay to then pressure people into accepting the new parameters. 
  • Gah.
  • We have a new addition to our Dinner Plan this week. My husband requested Taco Tuesday. I think you know that I will never turn down a request for tacos. This is the beauty of planning out fewer meals than one intends to eat. You can just slide tacos right into the mix, no biggie. It is especially helps when you haven’t yet made it to the grocery store.
  • That reminds me that I have my check-up this morningIt is a totally normal check-up, so it should be fine. But it’s with a new doctor, in a new office, in a new location. So I am a little anxious about all of those things. Will I find the office okay? Will I get there on time? Will I like the doctor? Also, will I meet her for the first time while naked? That’s never fun. And then I have to do it all over again in a couple of weeks, because my PCP is retiring and I had to find a new one. (Hopefully I won’t have to meet her naked, though.)

Well, that’s it. I am already painfully aware that today is going to be a grind to get through; my 3:00 a.m. alertness has eroded into fatigue. But blogging is a much better way to spend the early hours of the morning than tossing and turning next to my blissfully sleeping husband, waiting futilely for sleep to bless me with its presence. 

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I have been having a hard* time getting into the Christmas Spirit, this year. We finally put up our tree this weekend, did some wrapping. Maybe that will help? I have been applying Christmas music – but sparingly, more of a gently waft of spirit in my general direction without further vexing the inner grump. I haven’t done any holiday baking at all – nothing for Hanukkah, nothing at all so far for Christmas. I am letting that slide because even thinking about it drives me further toward the grinch side of the spectrum. But maybe a nice batch of cranberry crumble bars would do a body good. I painted my nails in holiday colors, but they look like perhaps Carla did it. When she was three. With her left hand. My efforts leave a lot to be desired, it seems.

Well. Either the spirit will come or it won’t. 

In the meantime, I have been steeped in self-loathing. I have had three (3) Super Awkward Social Encounters this past week alone, and I cannot stop thinking about any of them, and cannot stop berating myself for being a mere simulacrum of a human person, and not even a passable simulacrum at that, and cannot stop feeling like I should really never leave the house, and yet also I have two/possibly three social encounters planned for this week and am having to do Deep Breathing and Soothing Talk-Downs to prevent myself from canceling. (They involve Carla, otherwise I might give in.) 

Encounter 1: Carla made personalized bookmarks for most members of her family. (Somehow we forgot two people, and I feel TERRIBLE about that, but I already shipped their gifts so I told Carla that she can make the bookmarks over her winter break from school and hand deliver them to the left-out family members when we see them this spring.) We took the first two to a local office supply store that rhymes with a group of syrup-providing trees to be laminated. And the lovely staff person who did the laminating refused to charge us for it. 

We were properly grateful, I think, and mentally I figured that we would make it up somehow by coming back and laminating the rest of the group. Maybe two bookmarks isn’t worth a whole lot in terms of time or laminating supplies. But the rest of them, I reasoned, would require more, and we would insist up front on paying. 

You know where this is leading, surely. The same staff person was there when we went back, and not only did she remember us but she asked cheerfully if we were back to laminate more bookmarks. And I said yes, and as she handed us the final product, I asked her what we owed her and she said, “No, I can’t charge that little girl for this.” 

Well, A. The little girl in question was not paying. And B, I wanted to pay, so I insisted a little and she insisted back and then walked back behind the counter to help another person in the growing line. 

When we got home, I called the store and asked for her name, assuring the person who answered the phone that I wanted to let her manager know that we’d received special service. And I called the number I found online and went through a tiny bit of rigamarole to talk to someone in customer service so I could leave a compliment. Here is where I assure you that I never told anyone that she’d given us something for free. As kind as it was, and as much as it endeared me to her, I think that her employer might frown upon it. I simply gushed about how kind she was, and how she treated my daughter’s art project with respect and reverence, and how she was prompt and efficient and friendly. 

But I have been WORRYING about the whole thing ever since. First, that I accepted this service for free – not once but TWICE. I mean, I shouldn’t have gone back there, right? Did she think, when she saw us again, that we assumed we’d get another freebie?

And what if her colleague told her that someone called and asked for her name, and now she is worrying that I tattled to her corporate office about giving us something for free? What if she pre-emptively owned up to it and got into trouble? What if I totally ruined a very nice gesture that she made the first time and have soured her on doing anything nice ever again?

Encounter 2: Carla, as you know, makes the rounds of our neighborhood to see everyone’s dogs. Well, unbeknownst to me, she had been chatting with one neighbor about her cat, who sometimes sits in front of the glass door and looks out upon his domain and stranger children riding their bikes in search of his enemy. So Carla came back to me the other day, breathless with excitement: the neighbor had invited her inside to see the cat! It had to be inside, because the cat was an indoor cat. Could she go inside?

I mean, you KNOW that mind goes instantly to murderers. So I accompanied Carla to the neighbor’s house and then stood Extremely Awkwardly in her front hall while Carla played with the cat. 

The neighbor was very gracious and lovely, but OMG. It was the absolute EPITOME of discomfort, because I felt that a) I had invited myself into her home, even though she nicely asked me to come in when I walked Carla over and b) I needed to make pleasant small talk, enough to allay some of the discomfort but also confirm to myself that she wasn’t a murderer. The thing is that I am terrible at small talk, and so there were long stretches of silence where we could both FEEL me evaluating her for murdery tendencies and where her desire for me to leave was EMANATING off of her. I got Carla out of there as quickly as possible, but she didn’t want to leave, and there was that thing — SURELY other parents deal with this dilemma? — wherein she was Acutely Aware that I was in nice mom mode, and I was incredibly reluctant to use a Mean Mom voice, and I wasn’t going to go deeper into the neighbor’s home to physically remove my child, which is of course nowhere near as easy as it was when she was two or three, so I had to wheedle and exercise patience much longer than any of us wanted.

It was horrific. 

And then, because I have never met this woman before – or, at least, I have no memory of meeting her before – I asked how long she’s lived on our street… and she’s lived here longer than I have, and I have lived her for A DECADE. So I felt awkward for being so antisocial and unaware of my surroundings in addition to feeling awkward about standing just inside her door.

She is never going to talk to Carla again, so reluctant will she be at the prospect of having me join them. And poor Carla is going to ask and ask and ask about the cat and it will be my fault that she is catless, both at home (I am allergic) and with our neighbor. Ugh ugh ugh.

Encounter 3: Carla and I went to an after-school event put on by several moms, and they mentioned something and (I apologize for being vague) I responded in a way that was both blunt and also kind of passive aggressive. It was not a well-thought out response: it just flumped out of my mouth and onto the floor without thought or plan, and I could have been much more tactful about what I said, and also – the thing that really burns my muffins – is that I didn’t even MEAN to be passive aggressive. I was simply surprised that a thing I had thought wasn’t happening was in fact going to happen, and I expressed my surprise in a way that sounded like I thought it was A Very Bad Idea Indeed, when really I do not. 

But the thing is, I said it the way I said it, and I said it in front of other parents who were not part of the immediate conversation, which of course makes everything worse. Once I had collected Carla, and come home, and sat down in silence for a few minutes, I was able to gather my thoughts and I emailed the organizers and apologized and spelled out my actual intention and apologized again. They were very nice and I think they understood and were fine with it. But of course I feel like an ASS. And then to put a nice juicy cherry on top of the whipped cream pile of my blunder, one of the other parents sent out an email to everyone who attended, praising the organizers and taking the position completely opposite to what I had. So not only was I an absolute jerk of a human, but people took note of my jerkery, and needed to Take A Stand against it – which is a kind, compassionate response! I am not faulting this person for publicly backing the organizers! – and it all just makes me feel awful. 

WHY must I be the way that I am. HOW have I so completely forgotten how to have normal interactions with other humans. WHAT can I do to be less awkward, aside from holing up in my house and never communicating with people beyond my immediate family. WHEN will I figure it out, because it seems to be getting FAR WORSE with time rather than getting better. WHERE can I move because that seems like the best and only solution.

Well. I can’t say that spelling it all out has made anything better. But I’m hoping that, at the very least, these encounters will stop playing over and over in my masochistic brain. 


* Listen, I know that it sounds so petty and dumb to be complaining about something so small when there is so much going on in our country and around the world that is Really and Actually Devastating. Please know that I am in no way trying to put my own tiny, lucky complaints up against anyone else’s. I am just blogging on my blog, about trivial and meaningless things, as I do. I think most people who stop here know that, and possibly – like I do – enjoy reading about the everyday ups and downs of people’s lives, and find it comforting and even a respite from The News, but I have been scrolling endless photos of neighborhoods and city centers flattened by this weekend’s tornadoes and I feel like I need to occasionally acknowledge that I fully understand my “worries” are nothing in the grand scheme.

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Apparently there is a chicken tender shortage????? 

Okay, maybe there is, maybe there isn’t; I asked All Knowing Google and got three headlines of varying levels of certainty:

Article 1: Is a chicken tender shortage underway?

Article 2: US could experience a chicken tender shortage

Article 3: The US is now facing a chicken tender shortage

Time will tell.

Carla, in typical Carla fashion, won’t eat chicken tenders, instead preferring her chicken in nugget form or shaped into dinosaur-adjacent shapelets. But how can the chicken tender shortage not have a domino effect? Well, perhaps this is the ideal time to wean her off of chicken nuggets for good!

And things are looking up, in other parts of the freezer section. I got my hands on some frozen pancakes this week: some of the mini pancakes at Target and some regular Eggo buttermilk pancakes at my normal grocery store. 

I guess sometimes the good lord taketh away and sometimes the good lord giveth.

Carla is now FULLY VACCINATED against Covid 19! And the flu, but that’s less exciting. No less important, though. 

She had a low fever the day after her vaccine, and complained of arm pain and a headache for most of the day. She also seemed a little more subdued than usual. But the next day, she was back to normal, aside from some lingering arm pain. 

I AM SO RELIEVED OMG. 

It’s not like we’re all going to go out and stick our faces into the mouths of strangers or anything (I am picturing those old-timey lion tamers who stick their heads into the jaws of the beast). But I do feel like maybe we can RELAX a little. I mean, we will continue to wear masks, we will continue to social distance. And I can’t imagine that we’ll be attending packed-house concerts or sporting events. I do think I will unclench a little bit? That sounds nice. And maybe we will explore some of the avenues that we’ve considered mostly-closed for the past eighteen months – travel, restaurants, birthday parties, indoor playdates/dinner parties? I suspect we will move very slowly. 

Although…

My husband and I are – possibly – going to eat dinner in An Actual Restaurant for our anniversary this week. We have childcare (Carla will be at a birthday party, full of masked, mostly-vaccinated children she already sees every day at school). We have a reservation. We are both tentatively committed, which is an oxymoron. Tentatively committed to keeping the reservation, not to one another. I mean, one hopes. But despite all these baby steps, we are both VERY NERVOUS at the idea of eating inside a restaurant. Even my husband’s enduring desire for a real steak (as in a steak that I haven’t prepared at home) hasn’t pushed him over the fulcrum of the Should We Eat in a Restaurant teeter totter. 

We have eaten AT restaurants since March 2020. Three, to be exact. Each time, we ate outside. Each time, we were the only people eating outside. Each time, somehow, it rained. Each time, the wait staff seemed totally unperturbed; each time, I assume, the wait staff talked about “the whack jobs at table four” when they were safe and warm and dry inside.

Anyway, we may decide at the last minute to get takeout instead. We shall see. I, for one, am not opposed to eating steak from the cozy if cramped safety of my car, although perhaps we will need to import our own steak knives for the experience. My husband is less enthused at the prospect. But I don’t think anything says “thirteen years of marriage” like scarfing down fancy steakhouse food between the gear shift and the automatic window buttons while your kid is attending a birthday party. 

Let’s come up with some food to eat on the other, less fraught days, shall we?

Dinners for the Week of December 6-December 13

  • Mediterranean Sheet Pan Cod with ZucchiniThis calls for cherry tomatoes, which I may add if I’m feeling generous. It also calls for kalamata olives, which I may subtract because my husband hates them. We shall see.
  • Chicken Tikka MasalaI can’t remember if I’ve tried this recipe before, but it sounds yummy. I will add some sliced bell peppers.
  • Thai Chicken Quinoa BowlsTSomething about this just sounds good right now – the ingredients make it almost summery, maybe? A good change from the fall/winter fare.
  • Ginger Salmon SaladWe have had this once before and I remember it was refreshingly different. I also think it was one of the rare salmon recipes that my husband liked. 
  • Slow Cooker Short Ribs with Mascarpone Polenta: You guys. I am so embarrassed that I STILL haven’t made the short ribs that are hanging out in my freezer. WHAT is wrong with me?!?! (I know exactly what is wrong, and it is that I don’t want to sear the short ribs before putting them in the slow cooker.)
  • Maybe a Restaurant?
  • Takeout or DIY: My family prefer to call “fend for yourselves” nights “scrounging.” But that sounds a little scrappier than what actually goes on. 

What are you looking forward to this week, food-wise or otherwise?

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