Sometimes, there just are no words

I wanted to try and come up with a funny post that accurately depicted the utter chaos of my life over the last week. And I got about 150 words in and it was going pretty well and then I hit a wall.

And I realized that I had nothing. I didn’t have it in me to write a funny post telling you guys about the all the crap that has been going on recently (literally and figuratively). And I wasn’t going to put anything out here at all about it anyway but a patient of mine (and a friend too, actually) was talking with me about how much it helps people to know they’re not alone when going through their own crap, that other people have been through similar crap and survived.

Because – lets be honest, here – lots of times I don’t blog because I don’t have time.  But sometimes I don’t blog because I don’t think I have anything worthwhile to say that anyone really needs or wants to hear. As the wise man says, “Let me speak because I have something to say, not because I have to say something.”

But talking to her got me thinking about it and I realized that it’s true, I do feel better after reading or hearing or talking about other people’s experiences similar to mine, whether it concerns children, husbands, jobs, or anything else.

So, for anyone interested, here’s what went down in the last 10 days or so. Be prepared for an epically long post that contains multiple references to bodily fluids.

Monday, 1/1, we realize our oven has bit the dust. Thankfully, my sister stopped us before we bought a whole new oven and steered us in the direction of “Maybe it was just the element?” $60 for a new burner is a lot easier to swallow than $425 for new range.  But it takes time to get the part, seriously hampering our food making efforts for the week (even more of an inconvenience than usual, as this was smack in the middle of “School’s closed, enjoy all the enforced family time!” time.) Not to be defeated, the DreadBrewer and I decided to make a delicious slow-cooker habanero beef taco recipe the next day. (Side note: We never make easy recipes. Ever. So not having an oven was a huge issue. Tamale Pie? Out.  Smoky braised chicken and gnocchi? Out. 99% of our go-to recipes? Out. I’m not bragging, I’m just trying to explain why having no oven was super extra obnoxious.) I got the taco recipe ready before leaving for work, a process that involved food processors and cutting boards and about 10 ingredients, and left Buppa and Grandma Kathy to watch the kids for the day. Well, Kathy texted in the afternoon to ask if I wanted our food turned on to heat up for dinner.

WTH? Our food turned on? What had I done in the morning when I turned it to Low?!? Apparently nothing since the crockpot never got plugged in. Chalk that one up to a colossal waste of time and money as we decided to err on the side of caution in the face of food poisoning and throw out the whole recipe.

Then the snow came. And by “the snow” I mean the dusting that we got that shut down the city and the schools. (Granted other areas did get significantly more than a dusting.) Being a nurse, I still had to work but DB got to spend Thursday home with all 3 girls.

Thursday evening, a few minutes after I get home to rescue DB from the tiny tyrants, the Itty Bitty Brewster started vomiting. Woot woot, because kids who are old enough to walk around and throw up but still too young to understand the “get it in the bucket concept” are amazing. So I stay home from work with her Friday, and literally 5 minutes after we pick the big girls up from school, BIT starts vomiting. Repeatedly. Mostly making it in the bucket. Hooray for some common sense. And of course, middle of the night, the Littlest Brewster calls out “Mommy!” and proceeds to throw up all over her bed. (Luckily she didn’t go through the slats onto the bottom bunk like last time. She managed to keep it all in her bed. Score.) BIT and LB alternated vomiting every hour or so through the night, resulting in massive piles of laundry and some very tired parents. And of course, neither DB nor I felt all that well ourselves by the time morning rolled around, though we were luckily spared any actual throwing up. Which was a good thing, since DB had to drive to multiple stores to find space heaters, since our downstairs heat had decided that it may or may not feel like working at any given moment on a day when the high was 20º.

Bright side to kids getting older – at least they are old enough to sit in front of the TV and watch Disney movies all damn day if they’re sick. Sick and entirely dependent is much harder than sick and ever so slightly independent.

Saturday evening around 6, after having heard multiple times that I must not feel as bad as he did, I tucked DB into bed. Itty Bitty had a poop downstairs 10 minutes before bed and not feeling like putting her in a pull-up only to have to change her into a nighttime diaper 10 minutes later, I made a rookie mistake. I left her with a bare bottom while I ran upstairs for the 15 seconds it took to grab a nighttime diaper. When I came back downstairs, she was standing there, poop all down her leg and onto the floor, very upset about the whole situation. (As was I.) I managed to get her and the floor cleaned up, tucked all three girls in, and collapsed into bed, nursing my own tummy ache.

At least by Sunday, all vomiting had ceased. Everyone was still kind of puny and, since we were still having a record cold snap, no one wanted to go outside and do much of anything. Super fun having 3 kids, 2 adults, 3 cats, and a puppy hanging out together inside the small downstairs area of a small-in-general house. I did run away to the beer store for an hour, just to try and regain some equanimity, but I’ve found those gains are always short lived.

Another Side Note: Has anyone else found that, the older they get, the  faster their emotional tank is emptied and the longer it takes to refill it? It used to be that a quick trip to the coffee shop or the Beerded Lady for a brief journal session and I was good as new. Not so much anymore. 

And on Monday, it started with daycare. I picked Itty Bitty up and the teacher tells me, “She had 3 diarrheas today.” Well, I gave this the side eye. Because they have sent Itty Bitty home with “diarrhea” multiple times for what is clearly not diarrhea. God made Itty Bitty to have squidgy poo. That’s it. Doesn’t matter what we feed the kid, she’s got squidgy poo. So I asked if she was trying to tell me Itty Bitty couldn’t come back Tuesday and was told that had to come from administration. Administration says that no, IBB could still come, they just wanted us to be aware of the poop situation since they knew we had complained before about the handling of a “diarrhea.”

“Send me pictures,” I said. Now that got the side eye but seriously, I’m a nurse. Not much fazes me and I want proof if you’re going to send my child home with “diarrhea.”

And what happens? Tuesday she had ONE poop. And yes, they sent me a picture. And called me about it. Of course, as luck would have it, that poo was indeed looser than usual for IBB. But still. ONE.

Wednesday, there is again ONE poop. No picture that time but the director calls me at 3:15 pm to say that they have discussed it and Itty Bitty is more than welcome to come to daycare the next day, provided we get a note from the pediatrician stating she’s not contagious. WTH. It’s 3:15. I am at work, way across town from daycare. If I wanted to take IBB to the doc that day, I would still have to pick up the big girls from school, drive roughly 20 miles in afternoon traffic back to daycare and get the littlest one, and then drive another roughly 12 miles in even worse afternoon traffic to get to the pediatrician, hopefully before they closed for the day. So not happening.

I cleared it with my boss to come in late the next morning, after we did the whole “not contagious” thing. Unfortunately, DB had a work thing in the morning, so he couldn’t take the big girls to school for me. Meaning that everyone got schlepped everywhere. I got up early in an attempt to start the day off on the right foot and did my new God journal and made muffins for breakfast. But as soon as the kids came down, I knew the morning was going to go down south.

All the kids were grumpy. LB and BIT just kept nitpicking at each other, over and over and over until they’re both upset and I’m shouting at them to just leave each other alone. They all inhaled 2 muffins (they were really good muffins, if I do say so myself) and then the big girls also had a yogurt each, as they were still hungry after the muffins. (This is important. I didn’t just put it in for filler.)

When we got close to the doctor’s office, we had a little time to spare and the big girl were whining about how they were starving.  I had packed granola bars, anticipating this exact situation, but I was out of coffee. So we popped in to Whole Foods to get some coffee and some eggs and fruit and a biscuit off the breakfast bar. They also each got to pick out a piece of fruit from the little kids basket and off we went to the doctor.

The big girls ate second breakfast while Dr. McB examined Itty Bitty and agreed that yes, while she did have a stomach bug last week, she was clearly on the mend and no longer contagious. Everyone was herded back to the car to begin the long drive to various child drop offs.

As soon as we get in the car, BIT and LB ask if they can have a snack. And I admit, I was worn down so I didn’t flat out say no. I said, “You just ate a ton of food. If you eat anything else, you are going to give yourselves a stomach ache.” Which apparently meant to them, “Sure, go ahead and eat something.” BIT made it through 3/4 of her granola bar before she said her tummy hurt (no shit, Sherlock) and she passed the rest up to me. LB was making good progress on her apple when we got to daycare.

And this really burned my ass. The daycare directors, after I gave them the note, said that they would like us to buy those rubber diaper covers to put over Itty Bitty’s diapers to make sure her squidgy poo does not leak out and contaminate the classroom. Again, WTH. She doesn’t have blow outs at home. She doesn’t leak poo. If your teacher had a clue, this wouldn’t be an issue. (I feel like I must put in here that we have been at this daycare a long, long time and we usually love them. We have just been having issues lately with the definition of diarrhea and proper diapering procedure…) I was so irritated that I don’t even really remember what I said, but boy was I pissed off when I got back in the car to take the big girls to school.

And literally, 2 seconds after we get in the car again, BIT goes, “I’m hungry. Can I eat my banana?” What?!? No. Just no. I explained (code for “said in a really angry tone of voice”) that she had already eaten a ton of food and given herself a stomach ache, so no. She could not have her banana. At which point I hear a rustle. And I look back and the Littlest Brewster is trying to surreptitiously unwrap her granola bar. And I may have progressed from “explaining” to flat out yelling at this point, when I pointed out that a) she had already had a ton of food today as well and b) she still hadn’t finished her apple and if she was really hungry she had better eat that first. It was just like the last straw at that point. I was just a ball of angry frustration. It had been the world’s crappiest week and I was just fed up with everything.

After I dropped the kids off at school, I went to work and drank multiple cups of tea out of my new mug with its inspirational quote on the side, hoping the zen would rub off on me but I really just made myself pee a lot.

So there you have it. The incredibly long, more detailed than I’m sure you wanted, story of the last ten days. And I even left some bits out because, let’s face it, I’m tired. I’m always tired, but I’m really tired today.

For anyone going through crappy times like this, I hope this helps, to know that you’re not alone. For anyone thinking of saying “I’m so sorry! That sounds terrible!” – please don’t. Yes, it did suck. It still semi-sucks. (Long weekend ahead with everyone up in each other’s stuff? A million errands? Needing new tires for the van and dentist visits for the kids and rain on the agenda? Yep. Semi-sucks.) BUT, when I look back at it, it’s so comically bad that I honestly can’t help but laugh about it.

I will try to be, not better, because that’s not the right word, but at least less anxious about blogging. Because honestly, even if it doesn’t help anybody other than myself to get these emotions out and words written, that’s one in the plus column. And some days that’s all I can hope for.

Run, BrewsterMama, Run!

Last weekend, I finally accomplished something I’ve wanted to do for a long time: I ran my first half marathon! 🙂

I signed up for the Bull City Half in May (I think) and more or less followed the beginner training plan in The Marathon Method by Tom Holland. If you’re looking for a book on how to train for your first half or full marathon, I highly recommend this book. Not only does it give you detailed plans for beginner, intermediate, and advanced training for full and half marathons, but it also covers strength training, injuries, and a bunch of other topics.

My primary goal was to finish, obviously, but my secondary goal was to finish in under 2:30. (That’s a roughly 11:50 min/mile.) A few weeks into training, my friend Emily (the one who convinced me that I could do a half marathon) also convinced me of the sanity to be found in using the “Galloway method” of run/walk splits. I did the remainder of my training running for a little over 5 minutes and then briskly walking 45 seconds to make an even 6 minute cycle. (I like round numbers…) I still have a hard time not adding the caveat “But I didn’t run the whole time, so I’m not really a runner….” to any conversation I have about running. Using the run/walk method, I averaged between 9:45 and 10:15 min/mile throughout most of my training.

Unfortunately the last 2 weeks before the half were complete rest weeks for me, as DB was out of town and that means that I can’t get up and run before work like I usually do. I mean, the kids would probably be asleep the whole time I was gone but nowadays it’s pretty firmly frowned upon to leave 3 children under 6 alone in the house for extended periods of time, even if they’re sleeping. So when I went into the run last Sunday, I knew my pace wasn’t going to be quite up to speed (pun intended, ha!) but I also figured I was well rested and ready to go.

I managed to finish in 2:18, so roughly 10:35 min/mile. 🙂 Not quite as fast as I was running in training, but still a respectable pace. Even if I didn’t run the whole time…. *eye roll*

And I had a really good time. The whole day was a lot of fun, from start to finish, and a totally new experience for me. The vibe was very different than the typical 5K I run – it was a different kind of camaraderie than found at shorter races. I especially liked the fact that runners got 2 free beers from really decent breweries! And the food truck rodeo! Runner math: spend 2 1/2 hours burning 1800 calories, spend 30 minutes post-race consuming 2000 calories in beer and steamed bao.

Now the only question is, what half marathon do I sign up for next?

Pre-race with my friends Christy and Emily

Looking forward toward the start

Looking back at the “slower” runners, many of which would pass me later on

Giant sparkly finisher medal! Makes it all worth it

Well, and beer. Beer makes it worth it too. And no, it wasn’t Bud Light, it was craft beer in Bud Light cups. Thank God.

Hooray for running friends!

Time for a change

For a very long time I have had very long hair. For such a long time, actually, that I had gotten really, really attached to having long hair and even got kind of teary during my biannual trims. It was truly a lot easier to have such long hair than most people thought because all I had to do was throw it up in a pony or a bun and go.

But it started to bug me that I had this long, pretty (in my opinion) hair and I never wore it down. Because when I did wear it down, it got into EVERYTHING. Our food. Our clothes. Itty Bitty’s diapers. All over the bathroom floor. As much crazy long hair as I shed all over, I’m surprised I didn’t go totally bald. So last weekend I decided it was time for a change and that I was going to get my first significant haircut since 2011. (Sad but true.) I was a little nervous because long hair has been my “signature style” for forever, if you can call long hair constantly pulled back a style.

For comparison, here’s a photo from the back before I left for my appointment:

I actually hacked off about 6″ while I was home on maternity leave 5 or so months ago, so it used to be even longer.

And here’s a picture from the back after I got home:

Here’s the front view

I brought my cut ponytails home and am going to mail them in to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program as soon as I get an envelope. (In 2011, when I cut my hair, it was to donate to this program. With my love of oncology nursing, I would rather donate to cancer patients than anything else. Also, I got a nice thank you note from them last time I donated, something I never got when I donated to Locks of Love. I’m just saying that a little thank you goes a long way.)

Now that it’s been about a week, I’m settling into my new ‘do. I can still pull it back into a tiny nub pony for running, which is great. But if I have it down, it doesn’t get in the way like mad like it used to. I don’t really know if I’m going to start growing it out again or keep it trimmed to this length for awhile. For the moment, I’m just enjoying the change from my usual routine.

Tooting my own horn

I’m just proud of myself – the big girls and I ran the Colin Cancer Coalition’s Get Your Rear in Gear 5K this morning. 

And I actually managed to jog the whole thing! I finished in a little over 39 minutes, which isn’t too damn bad considering I was pushing a double stroller with nearly 80 lbs of kid. 

(For reference, my first post-Itty Bitty 5K on February 12 was about 31 minutes.) 

Everyone was super supportive and cheered when they saw us coming, which was so nice. 

I am working on updates for all of the kids and the garden and the brewing – or lack thereof- but it’s a slow process. Stay tuned! 

It’s the final countdown!

It absolutely boggles my mind to say it out loud, but I go back to work a week from today.

I have no idea where my maternity leave and the first twelve weeks of Itty Bitty’s life have gone. It truly seems like it was just yesterday that maternity leave stretched infinitely before me and I was never going to get to go back to work and I was going to lose my mind before the end. Don’t get me wrong – I am so very glad and grateful that I have been able to stay home with my babies for 12 weeks each time. I love not having to put them in daycare until they are a little bit older and sturdier.

But having spent time as a stay-at-home mom and spent time as a working mom, I can tell you that I think being a working mom is much easier than staying home with my kids. Being a stay-at-home mom is, in my opinion, the most difficult job on the planet and one which I am not mentally equipped to undertake. Perhaps it would be easier if my children were older and I wouldn’t find it to be so excruciatingly isolating and difficult if I stuck at it for months and years, but I doubt it. When patients frequently tell me that they’re sorry I have to work and that my kids go to preschool, I always want to reply, “Why? I get leave my girls with people who have nothing to do all day but interact with them and teach them and care for them while I get to come and do a job that I absolutely adore and I’m actually pretty damn good at. If we were all home together, they would not be getting my undivided attention because I would still have laundry and dishes and cooking and cleaning to do, in addition to taking care of them.”

But I digress. This wasn’t actually supposed to be a foray onto my soapbox of “Staying at home with kids is really hard and those parents don’t get enough credit.” This is supposed to be a brief update on Itty Bitty and life in general with three amazing girls.

Itty Bitty is, without a doubt, the smiliest baby ever.

jan-10-17-1 jan-1-17-1

She gets so incredibly excited anytime anyone comes and talks to her or interacts with her. She particularly adores the Littlest Brewster, a feeling that is mutual as LB thinks that her littlest sister is the bee’s knees. Itty Bitty is pretty laid back for the most part, cycling through eat, be awake for a bit, sleep for a bit most of the day without much crying or fussing. Like most babies, she gets pretty frotchety from 4:30 or so onward and doesn’t want to be put down; though as long as she’s being toted around or is on someone’s lap, she’s a happy camper.

I feel like we have been exceedingly lax at trying to get her on a schedule re: naps and bedtimes. I need to go back and look at the monthly updates I did for LB and BIT (something you’ll notice I did not do for IBB) and see if they were on more of a schedule by now or if I’m misremembering. Granted, I know I haven’t really pushed the schedule issue because 1) with the bigger two being in school and having to get picked up and dropped off daily (I don’t do both but I do at least one or the other every day), Itty Bitty and I were rarely home for an entire day, 2) with the holidays and travel, it’s super difficult to maintain kids’ schedules and 3) I knew that whatever schedule I managed to get IBB on would go to pot as soon as she went to daycare. So I sort of went with the “sleep whenever you’re tired for as long as you feel the need” schedule during the day. Nights, we mostly try to do bath, bottle, bed between 6 and 7. She will typically be up once or twice a night and then up for the day between 6 and 7 in the morning. I’m usually pretty accepting of still being up with her during the night, though I get kind of frantic when she has the occasional “bad” night and is up more than that and I convince myself we are doing something wrong and she will never sleep through the night, ever, and I will never be well rested again, ever. Thankfully, she rarely has more than one difficult night in a row and I breathe a sigh of relief the next night, secure once more in the knowledge that we haven’t ruined her sleeping forever through our erroneous attempts at parenting.

On the whole, I feel like life with three kids is going pretty well. It helps that the Littlest Brewster is now old enough to be sort of helpful and sort of autonomous. And both LB and BIT really love Itty Bitty and we’ve been blessed that there has been no actual anger or malicious jealousy over how much of my time and attention she gets. The DreadBrewer, while always an incredibly involved father, has started doing even more with the big girls (if possible), which has definitely helped with the transition. He does baths about half the week and bedtime most of the week for them. They love doing things with Daddy as he is definitely more fun and rough-house-y than Mommy is. (I just don’t play like that. I’ve tried and I can’t do it. I also have serious guilt issues that I can’t take care of everyone in the family all on my own but that’s just my own insecurities talking.) All in all, I feel like we’re settling into our groove as a family of five. Though I’m sure that will all go out the window when I go back to work next week and we have to establish a new routine all over again.

But it’ll be worth it. I could use a break. 😛