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Thursday
Jun192014

The things I do are not always smart

Up until fairly recently, my kids would have panic attacks whenever they encountered bugs.  You probably think I’m exaggerating, but a moth would throw Kaylee into hysterics -- crying, screaming, clinging to any adult within grasping distance.  And Robbie followed her lead.

And yet, I still made the questionable parenting decision to take my children to the May Natural History Museum just south of town a few weeks ago.

I vaguely remember having visited this place when I was a child.  My memory consists entirely of seeing a few butterflies pinned in a display case.  I thought my kids could probably handle that, especially since by the beginning of this summer they could exist in the same room with a bug without totally losing their minds.

We arrived around noon on a Friday and paid our nine dollar admission fee, then walked into a room full of bugs -- ranging from “that’s kind of pretty” to “oh my god, we must flee now.”  (By the way, I never want to see another giant moth -- even if it’s dead -- because they always, always make me think of this book, in which giant moths eat people’s faces.  Fuck that.)

The kids were kind of intrigued, but it turns out there’s a limit to how many gigantic bugs they can see in one place before they start to whimper.  Honestly, I couldn’t blame them.

How many of these can you look at before you start to hallucinate that you have bugs crawling around under your clothes?  And then the kids saw a living moth (of normal Miller-type variety) flying around the room and that. was. it.  They were no longer having any of this shit, and I had to concede that we’d gotten our $9 worth and it was time to go.

We made a half-hearted attempt at watching an educational video before calling it a day.  However, since my kiddos don’t go anywhere without begging me to buy them a souvenir, and I couldn’t get out of this one by saying “we’ll just get something next time” because we all knew there would be no next time, they each chose something to bring home with them.

Kaylee bought a silly gag gift, and Robbie bought what has become the bane of my existence:

Robbie now keeps moths as pets.  A couple days after we got this little house, Rob helped Robbie catch a moth at Target, and then Robbie proceeded to clutch it in his fist for the entire car ride home so he could put it in his bug house.  He has also been known to catch a moth and then jam it in his pocket until he can get home and put it in the house -- only to find that it somehow disintegrated into random moth body parts during the journey.  (It’s even better when I forget he did that and do a load of laundry, later finding moth parts in the dryer.)

The biggest problem I have with Robbie’s new acquisition is that he doesn’t generally want to catch the bugs by himself.  Which means I often hear him shouting, “Mommy!  There’s a moth!  Help me catch it!”

So, I don’t know if you all know this about me, but I’d rather do just about anything else than catch a moth with my hands.  I am 35 years old, and I still remember a time about 20 years ago when I woke up to find a moth fluttering around under the covers with me.  This was somewhat traumatic.  I can tone down my disgust when my kids are around because I don’t want them to share my irrational fears, but I have to draw the line somewhere.

It’s just that I’d rather pretend I’m not actually drawing a line, and that really Mommy is an incredibly incompetent bug catcher.  So I get a piece of paper and hold it near the moth, telling Robbie that maybe the moth will walk onto the paper and we can dump him into the bug house.  And then (surprise!), the moth flies away as soon as the paper gets near him.  “Oh darn,” I say with as much sympathy as I can muster, “I don’t see him now.  Maybe Daddy can help you catch him later.”

Despite my raging ineptitude, Robbie has managed to catch a series of bugs, including several moths and a roly poly that he gave to the moths as “dinner.”  He also likes to have the house near him as he sleeps, which is unfortunate because he’s usually sleeping near me.  And so I spend most nights sleeping with annoyed moths flapping within a couple feet of my face.  Until, of course, they die from lack of food and water, and then I sleep a little more soundly.

Tuesday
Jun172014

Let it go

I’ve always had this philosophy -- especially with regard to my posts on social media -- that I can get past any obstacle if I can find a way to laugh at it.  Thus I find myself accentuating the absurd when I explain things like a flooded basement or the difficulties of dealing with a potty-training two-year-old.  “Ok,” I tell myself, “this event was pretty rough, but I managed to write something funny about it on my blog, so I think I can feel better about it now.”  Every difficult situation is blog fodder.  And once I’ve written about it, I can get it out of my head -- with the added bonus that things you say on the internet often immediately cease to be true. 

So please bear with me as I try to get this past year out of my head.  I don’t think I can make it funny, which is a large part of why I haven’t written about any of it. 

(Disclaimer: I know that it could always be worse.  I know that there are babies who are homeless and toddlers battling cancer in the world.  I’m not competing against them, I swear.  I’m also not fishing for a bunch of sympathetic comments, so don’t feel obligated to write any.)

Um … ok, I think a list is the best way to handle this.  And so I present “A List of Shitty Things That Happened (Abridged)”:

1.  My dog Bella somehow injured her knee in January of 2013, and when I took her to the vet we learned that her kidneys were beginning to fail and she couldn’t handle the anesthesia that would be required to surgically correct the problem.  All we could do was put her on pain medication and watch her health deteriorate.

2.  Bella died in May, during my finals week.  We made the decision to put her down after she’d lost about 15 pounds (almost half her body weight) and could no longer keep food down.  She was the first dog I’d ever owned as an adult.  She pre-dated Rob’s and my marriage.  She followed me around the house all the time because she just wanted to be around me.  Even though she was our dog, she was my dog.

3.  On the Fourth of July, we went to watch a baseball game and the after-game fireworks show and had a wonderful time.  (Other than Robbie getting really tired and becoming inconsolable at not being able to go down the giant inflatable slide.  That doesn’t really count on this list, though, because it’s just part of being a parent.)  We got home really late to learn that our house had been burglarized while we were gone.  All that joy I’d experienced as I watched my kids stare in amazement at the fireworks just vanished, because my kids were now terrified.  Ever since, they have been scared that some faceless, nameless “bad guy” will sneak into their house and take their things.  Kaylee is particularly concerned about Wocket, while Robbie is worried about Bear.  The last time we watched fireworks together, out an upstairs window, Kaylee said she preferred watching them from home because that meant no one would rob our house while we enjoyed them.

4.  Around the same time, we had some unexpected expenses like a broken washing machine and a power outage that took out at least a couple hundred dollars worth of food that was in our freezer.  This one seems silly to include on the list, but it was a big deal at the time.

5.  We decided to sell our house and move in with Rob’s mom.  We marketed this to ourselves as a strategic move to save money during my last year in nursing school.  We marketed this to her as a way to save her money because we would be able to help her with expenses.  So we began the process of getting our house ready to go on the market.

6.  In August, exactly one week before my birthday, I took our second corgi, Kody, to the vet because he’d gotten really sluggish over the previous few days.  There, I learned that he had a massive tumor on his spleen and was likely to bleed out at any time.  We put him down that day.  The kids were with me.  They now approach vet visits with a certain wariness because they’re not sure we’ll get to bring our pet back home.  Kody had also been with us since before we were married, be he always felt like Rob's dog, and Rob didn't even get to say goodbye to him.

7.  The Tuesday after that, my car was rear-ended at a red light.  Another minor inclusion, as no one was hurt and ultimately the other driver’s insurance had to pay for the damages.

8.  The day after my birthday, we moved in with Rob’s mom.  This is not a shitty thing in and of itself, because Rob’s mom is actually pretty awesome and we really like her house.  It’s on this list because we never fulfilled the marketing promises we made to her and to ourselves in number 5, for reasons that will be discussed soon.

9.  A week or two later, I started the most stressful and difficult semester I had in nursing school.  I would go into the details, but that would be even more boring than this post already is.  I’ll just say it was busy and stressful and frustrating. 

10.  Within a few weeks of the start of my semester, Rob lost his job.

11.  During the semester from hell and Rob’s job hunt, we were also trying to do some painting and fixing up of our house so we could put it on the market.  Somewhere in here, the basement of that house flooded and set us back at least a month.  Because we were busy, it took until mid-November before we finally listed it.  Luckily, it sold within three days and closed in December.

12.  Rob was out of work for a little over three months, and we never contributed a dime to the household expenses.  (The check from the house covered some past-due bills and Christmas presents, and that was pretty much it.)

13.  At the very end of 2013, Rob started a new job.  We have spent all of our time playing catch-up on the bills that we racked up during the various bouts of unemployment, and still couldn’t contribute to the household expenses.  This summer, when we stopped having to pay for daycare while I’m looking for a nursing job, we were finally about to reach a point where we could help out instead of being carried by someone else.  And then …

14.  Last Thursday, Rob lost his job again.  In both of the two incidents on this list, Rob was part of an entire department that was let go, but he still sometimes believes these job losses were a result of his own failures.

So, I haven’t written about these things because even now, a year later in most cases, I can’t find the humor in them.  I need the universe to let the hell up and allow us to get our feet under us again.  I’m really looking forward to the day when I can look back at this period in our lives and chuckle.  I’m sure it’ll make a great story.  Eventually.

Wednesday
Jun112014

35 steps to getting your nursing license (if you're me)

1.  Decide you want to become a nurse.

2.  Listen to some people tell you that you don’t really want to do that because it’s hard.

3.  Continue to think maybe you really do want to be a nurse.

4.  Apply for nursing school.

5.  Secretly hope that most of the other applicants fail microbiology so you have less competition.

6.  Get into nursing school despite the competition.

7.  Write a thousand care plans of dubious quality because it’s 3 a.m. and you have to be at the hospital in three and a half hours and you just need to finish because if you don’t get at least 20 minutes of sleep there’s a good chance you’ll try to stick a Foley catheter in the wrong hole.

8.  Progress from being terrified of patients and pretty sure you’re accidentally going to kill someone to feeling like you probably won’t.

9.  Meet a patient who helps you realize how lucky you are.  And then meet a lot more.  Suddenly studying doesn’t seem like a burden when you meet someone who went to the ER and said he was going to kill himself just so he would be placed on an involuntary hold for 72 hours and would have access to food, shelter, and desperately needed psych medications in the dead of winter.

10.  Learn that the mannequins in the simulation lab at school have much better-defined … um … anatomical parts than do actual humans, meaning that the fear in number 7 is actually possible when your patient is female.

11.  Learn that you truly are capable of using that “therapeutic communication” stuff the teachers talk about, and that someone who is in crisis can honestly benefit from your presence.

12.  Realize that yes, nursing school was hard, but you can do this.  You really, really can.

13.  Graduate.

14.  Be excited that you graduated.

15.  Begin the interminable wait for you transcripts to be available so you can turn them in and get approved to take the NCLEX licensing exam.

16.  Spend a lot of time on Facebook.

17.  When one of your Facebook friends posts “Transcripts are ready!”, order your transcripts.  (After “liking” their status, of course.  You’re not a caveman.)

18.  Drive your transcripts up to Denver to hand them in personally so you can be sure they arrived.

19.  Pay $8 for parking, and then drag your kids around downtown Denver looking for the appropriate building.

20.  Tell your kids no, they can’t play in that fountain because you’re not even sure it’s actually a fountain because it sort of looks like a water main break and you don’t want them to be swallowed by a sinkhole right now because that would definitely impede your progress toward turning in your transcripts.

21.  Drag them around the block again.

22.  No, they still can’t play in that fountain.  You don’t want to deal with an E. coli outbreak right when you’re trying to study for the NCLEX.

23.  Realize that you had the address wrong and the building was right in front of you the whole time.

24.  Drag your kids across a busy street while the older one freaks out because the younger one let go of your hand for half a second and that means INSTANT DEATH.

25.  Finally make it into the appropriate building.

26.  Get on the wrong elevator because you don’t realize that in highrise-land, not all elevators go to all the floors.

27.  Get on the right elevator and settle a fight between your children over who gets to push the button for the floor you want to go to.  Unfortunately, the winner of the fight is the one who doesn’t know what the number 13 looks like.

28.  Hand in your transcripts.  The euphoria lasts exactly 2.3 seconds before your kids start arguing again.

29.  Begin the interminable wait to get your authorization to take the NCLEX.

30.  Watch as all your Facebook friends post statuses about their NCLEX dates while you wait and wonder why the hell you don’t have your authorization yet.

Note:  The rest of this list is pure conjecture, because I’m still mired in step 30.

31.  Get your authorization.

32.  Study like a maniac until the test date.

33.  Take the test.

34.  Pass it.

35.  Get your license.  Congratulations, you’re officially an RN!  Now get a job.

Saturday
May172014

One-act play: A moment of peace

Alternate title: This is what happens when I try to take a shower with conscious children in the house

Scene:  A haggard, bedraggled woman -- let’s call her Heather -- is taking a shower after a morning full of doing her children’s bidding.  She is clearly happy to be alone for the first time that day.  After approximately 60 seconds of quiet, a seven-year-old girl -- let’s call her Kaylee -- bursts into the bathroom.

KAYLEE:  Mommy!  How many hours until my birthday party?

HEATHER:  (Sighs.)  I don’t know, sweetie.  I don’t have a clock in here.

KAYLEE:  Ok.  When you get out can you tell me how many hours?

HEATHER:  Sure. 

KAYLEE:  I have to go potty.

HEATHER:  Ok.

(Toilet flushes.  HEATHER grimaces as water changes temperature.)

KAYLEE:  There was a piece of toilet paper in there.  Now I’m going to go potty.

HEATHER:  Ok.

KAYLEE, as she is doing her business:  Can you learn how to make a braid bun?  I really want to have a braid bun because they’re so pretty.  I think you make a braid and put it in a bun.  I’ve been playing Minecraft on Daddy’s computer.  I tried to play it on your computer but it wasn’t working, so now I’m playing it on Daddy’s computer.  I can’t wait until my birthday party because Keira’s going to be there.  I’ll probably say hi to the other kids, but I’ll mostly play with Keira.  I love going to Chuck E. Cheese.  I hope I get to see Chuck E.  I hope I get to get tickets from that wind machine thing.  I wonder why Minecraft isn’t working on your computer.

(Toilet flushes again.  Heather grimaces again.)

KAYLEE:  Mama!  The toilet’s clogged! 

HEATHER, sighing:  Ok.  Just leave it.  I’ll take care of it.

KAYLEE:  Ok!

(KAYLEE runs out of the room, turning off the lights as she goes.  The curtain closes as HEATHER sighs again, in the dark.)

THE END.

Wednesday
Jul102013

Return

I can’t decide what to do with this blog.

I’m doing the Worst Job Ever updating it, and it costs $13.33 a month to keep it online.  Granted, I spend more than that on Diet Coke, so the expense isn’t a major issue.  But as often as I update, I might as well take that money, wad it up and throw it in the trash for all the good it does.  (Or if I wanted to put it to work for real, I could take the blog down and donate $13.33 to charity each month or give it to a homeless person … but that’s so much work and the trash can is right there.)

Do I keep the blog online so all of the internets (read: no one) can fondly recall that one span of a few years when I regularly wrote about my kids?

Do I take it down and feel guilty that all my loving chatter about my children is gone for good?  (The guilt, of course, is because I’m too lazy to have kept a baby book, so this is as good as they’re ever gonna get.)

Do I chatter some more and see if it becomes a creative outlet once again?

I can’t bring myself to shutter it for good right now.  But I don’t feel comfortable talking about my kids so openly anymore either.  Kaylee’s in school now and learning to read, and I can’t stand the thought of embarrassing her to her friends.  And I can’t write too much about school because so much of it involves patient care and there’s that whole HIPAA thing where I get kicked out of school and won’t be able to get a job if I violate it, so there’s not much to say there either.

But.  I haven’t been writing for myself for a really long time now, and that just feels wrong somehow.  So I guess I’ll try this blogging thing again and see if it sticks.  We’ll call this the Jackadillo Princess Grand Reopening Project -- Now With the Same Old Management and Even Fewer Ideas.

This was a good start, no?  I wrote more than 300 words and said almost nothing.  And isn’t that really what blogging’s all about?