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All posts for the month March, 2016

Hormonal Momma

Published March 31, 2016 by sarcasmica

Getting older bites, but as the saying goes, “It’s better than the alternative.”

nyuck nyuck nyuck.

Recently i’ve been a guinea pig for hormones. I had developed a pattern of crying at my husband, yelling at the kids, and feeling like a pile of poo all around the same time every month, and never over something epic. Never over money, or kids talking back, or lack of one-on-one time with kids. Nope, it was always over unappreciated dinner. New recipes. Having to repeat myself twelve times over one instruction … ok, that hasn’t changed, but still. I talked with my OB/GYN and we decided to try some hormones.

I didn’t think they were doing much until I went off of them. Holy Rabies, Batman.

It had been so long since I had taken a little round calendar of pills that I forgot when to start… after your period. I was so desperate to feel sane again, I began them immediately after filling the prescription.

Cut to three months later, i’m now trying to hold off and begin the pack at the right time, but three days in, one arm nearly chewed off, and 235 clumps of grey hair pulled out later and i’m beginning to question my plan.

Here is a list of things one should NOT do without proper hormones in their body:

  1. Have a conversation with your 9 year old about why he must shower at night
  2. Have a conversation with the orthodontist about why he needs to put braces on your jacked up mouth, with your husband present for ‘moral support’. (i.e. someone to ask all the insurance/money/payment questions)
  3. Have any conversation with any human about something you might not agree on
  4. Cook a meal start to finish
  5. Go outside
  6. Put 2 kids to bed happy
  7. Go to bed happy
  8. Interact with your horny husband in any capacity
  9. Manage a child proof lid
  10. Look at your sleeping children

In the span of three days, all of the above was done without hormones, after having been on them for three months. I do not recommend it. It can be summed up by a conversation I had last night with my husband after going out for a date night;

Me: “I know i’m in a funk. I know i’m struggling, but the orthodontist thing has me freaked out, and the incessant arguing and proximity to my son has been a constant relentless struggle. Going off the hormones temporarily may not have been the best decision right now.”

Him: “Oooooooohhh. You stopped the hoooooormones. Got it.”

 

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Taking Inventory

Published March 28, 2016 by sarcasmica

Today I was working on condensing some of my photo files – an epic undertaking for parents these days – and realized how often I record my daughter. She’s 5, my youngest, and my girl. She was born in 2010 and by that time I fully understood my iPhone camera. I noticed how many videos included a mostly veiled “mom voice” when my son would appear with her/near her. They are four years apart, so there is a significant change between my sweet patient voice to her and my less patient and exhausted voice to him. 

This sat poorly with me today. Gave me a faint ringing guilt at the back of my mind all evening. This only magnified during times tonight when my son would argue, talk back, or just behave like a 9 year old boy who, naturally, knows everything. I said something about this to my overworked and beyond tired husband who carefully, tentatively chose to use that as a segway to tell me how he’s heard comments from me lately about how our daughter is “the good one” and I need to be more careful. He threw in a “we” after thought somewhere in there so I wouldnt completely choke on my vehemence at such a suggestion. I know he wasnt attacking my parenting choices or judging my seemingly lack of Mom Tact, but it still stung. It stung that place in my brain that was already sensitive from my own observation. My relationship with my son lately has been more homework and duties than play and fun. My husband has been able to do the fun video game, scratch on the couch, fart and joke parenting while i’m all “lunchbox!” and “socks, man! socks!!!!”. 

In hunting my mind for a scrap of credit, I discovered a little reasoning. Pictures and videos do not tell the whole story. Lord knows they should for how many we collect, post, submit and share. It’s hard to remember not to pick up the phone and snap a pic of all activities and moments, but that’s where I found reason.

My son immediately stops being sweet and good when I pick up a lens. If I am recording, he wants to direct or do his Jester impersonation. He is no longer a candid honest subject, but an affected, forced show. While I am able to capture the sweet, silly moments with my daughter, I cannot forget that those same moments did happen with my son, I just dont have the file/film to prove it. He’s an obnoxiously photogenic kid, as is my daughter, so I have wonderful photos. I just don’t have as many videos lf that adorable cute chipmunk voice that’s missing his “r’s”. 

Do I have a favorite? Yes, sometimes. Truth is that favorite changes often. Sometimes it’s the big one who is so intelligent and logical and sensitive and caring and imaginative and creative. Other times it’s the empathetic, goofy, hilarious, smart, charismatic kid who happens to be a great sleeper. Sometimes it’s even the tall grumpy cranky one who gave birth to them both. We’re all just trying to figure out the best way to make this family thrive and succeed with some happiness thrown in every once in a while. As it turns out, you can’t document it all, but you sure do feel it all. To be smooshy about it, my heart certainy has been keeping track of all the special moments i’ve had with my children. ..and my liver can point to all the trying times. 

  

Wanna Be Photog

Published March 28, 2016 by sarcasmica

Since volunteering at the parrot sanctuary, I have been introduced to a new hobby: photography.

I love taking pics of these birds. Who wouldn’t, I suppose, right? I just love getting the details. The unexpected angles. Those eyes and feathers…. all the while watching out for those beaks.

I tried taking a photography class in college, but the first class was making your own camera from a film canister and I did NOT have the bandwidth for that crap. I suppose there was a point, and probably to start people at the very very very basics of understanding how a camera works by building a camera, but that was just not in my ability for attention and detail when I was 20-ish.

So now i’m 39. I’m trying to wade through the extra plump masses of information on choosing a camera, being realistic about the camera I choose, trying not to get bogged down with details and logistics of actually “Where are you every going to actually USE this camera, woman?!” not to mention, “and you’re just going to invest this money to look at pictures stored on your already over-stuffed computer?”

I’ve started a Your Shot account on National Geographic. I could look at those pro photographs all day long. It’s fascinating.

While I fully understand I wont be camped out among penguins on a glacier in Antarctica or hiding under a hidey hole in the tarantula-covered grounds of the Amazon, I work with nearly 300 macaws and African Greys and Amazons every week! (the Amazons are intimidating and crazy, so I have yet to develop a reparte with them as of yet)  I live 30 minutes from a beautiful zoo. I live in the Pacific Northwest. Landscape is literally out my back door .. and front door, and side door and doggie door.

I have enough subjects to get me started… now I just need a camera, a useful class, and some inspiration.

(It’s a very limited collection thus far, but for anyone interested and/or knowledgeable here’s the link to my page: http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/profile/1272414/ )

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Dictation

Published March 24, 2016 by sarcasmica

So I had a job interview on Monday. It was a “working interview”. I applied for a doggie daycare attendant position, and they tried me out as a dog walker. The owner assured me everyone has the same trial interview with this task.

Great.

I’ve walked a million dogs. No biggie. It was the first job interview where I had zero nerves. They gave me the first, which was a pit mix and dog aggressive. She was a sweetheart with people and had bulging eyes. They kenneled her near a door.

They had her in a run next to a door…. where people walk through with dogs all the time… the dog aggressive dog was in a run near a door. Ok. Not my circus, right? This dog had been boarded for 2 months and this was the day she was going home. When I walked her, I had her near me around the other dogs in the narrow walkways, and once we were outside I gave her the leash.

I figured the whole point of exercising the dogs was to let them exercise, right? I had the “pro walker” with me who had no other working experience except at a kennel. She was maaaaaybe 19. She was very self-assured and offered zero advice or information on how they do it. She wanted to see how I would handle it all just on my own. The walk was a good length, up and down some hills. There were lots of squirrel smells, bunny scents, and possibly a deer at some point behind a fence she was really interested in.

Again. This dog has been boarded for 2 months. I don’t know how often they get walked, I think it’s maybe 2x/day. We kept moving, but I let her sniff and smell and, well, walk. I picked up poop, I grabbed extra bags even.

When it came time to put her back, I had trouble navigating the buildings – they were huge and identical. We entered a different way than we had exited. I put her back, we marked the card, and moved onto the next.

The next one was a husky. A VERY excited and eager husky. No aggression issues, but he kept jumping on the girl with me. I got him to walk out and start our little expedition into nature. Same trail as the last, extra poop bags in my pocket, and we were off. Same smells, same excitement, different dog. Again, there were no other walkers around, so I let the dog have the leash. (I realize for some this may seem like I literally gave the dog the leash. I just mean I let him have the length. I was holding the leash, but not keeping him right at my side making him ‘heel’.)

No poops, no pees. Just a happy excited dog. We put him away, I realize now I should have remarked to the girl what I would have marked the card with if I had my own pen…

The interviewer told me she’d discuss everything and get back to me.

Two days later I hadn’t heard, so I emailed. This morning I had a reply:

“At this point in time we are going a different dictation. Thank you for
             interviewing with us.”

I’m assuming details aren’t their specialty and she probably meant “direction” and not “dictation”. .. but what do I know?

It was interesting seeing this email. I was relieved first because after discussing a possible schedule for the summer with my husband, I have a lot I want to do. Secondly, I felt annoyance. I wish they had discussed with me some of my choices, if they felt they were unfavorable, and just had a conversation about it. I’m not an idiot. I made the choices I did for a reason.

Then I thought, “Eh… annoying, but not at all effecting my life and for that, I am very thankful.”

So as it turns out, I am not an automatically employable candidate like I had originally thought. I am not desirable when it comes to walking dogs …. my own dogs would argue that, I hope. I really wanted to tell them, “So I can’t walk dogs, which I wasn’t interested at all in doing, but how about we get serious about the job I was ACTUALLY trying for?”

Maybe this is just too much fabulous to contain within their barky stinky walls.

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You can’t contain all this fabulosity.

That’s ok, I’ll just manage my emotions from the pool in Las Vegas where I’ll be enjoying a cocktail or three with my husband.

 

Aimless

Published March 21, 2016 by sarcasmica

I wish I liked being a SAHM more. I’d say after two kids and seven years, if I’m not doing “it” by now, “it” isn’t going to happen. In my head I imagined slaving over meals, finding fun and interesting ways to clean things, recipes would be a cinch, kids would eat all the things, husband would wash all the dishes, laundry would get done daily.

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Then I actually BECAME a Stay at Home Mom and none of these things happened…. well, at least not all in the same week or month. And the laundry thing? That still eludes me.

The things I DO enjoy about being a SAHM: taking them places where they are entertained, where they learn something, where we all have an experience together. (think zoo, museum, etc) I love dropping them off at school and picking them up. I really enjoyed the Mom Clubs I was in once I got through the initial excruciating ‘getting to know you’ phase. Now that my son no longer turns into a Screaming Homework Banshee who spits lava, that can also be enjoyable. (thank you meds!) I love that after a night of nightmares, late dosed medication induced insomnia, binge drinking, I can catch a few cat naps. If I get a headache, which happens frequently with me, I don’t have to drive on a freeway and deal with other people’s crap on the other side of traffic. I love lunch dates with mom friends, play dates with coffee. There’s lots to love, but I happen to not love all the things I felt I was supposed to be good at.

On the other hand, I chose to be a SAHM, not a maid. Not the housekeeper. While it seems logical these things go hand in hand, if we think more than 5 minutes about it, it makes less sense.

If I hire a housekeeper and pay her, she’s just cleaning my house. She’s dusting, vacuuming, cleaning my fridge. She’s not taking my kids on a walk or doing play doh with them.

Alternately, if I hire a nanny, she’s not washing my dirty chonies or cleaning my bathrooms.

However, a Stay at Home MOM is expected to do all of these things in addition to keeping up on bills, groceries, appointments, and in her spare time jogging 5 miles a day and doing Cross Fit and yoga while baking fondant-covered cakes.

Apparently I live in Nopeville because that is not my reality. Never was, never will be.

So as I ponder this day after my “working interview” at the local dog kennel, I can’t help but wonder what I’m hoping to hear. Do I want them to offer me something? Would I rather hear, “It doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a fit at this time.” Talking to my husband about summer plans, I can’t help but kind of hope it’s not going to work out… but that’s sort of ridiculous. Do I really want to not work just so I can have an open schedule to be able to go camping whenever I want, or meet him in one of the cities he travels to for work, or go on a random road trip?

…. yea, kinda.

Maybe that makes me shallow, maybe it makes me lucky, maybe it makes me aimless. I am blessed to be able to choose this life. We strategically decided on this place so this could be our lives. It is not happenstance we ended up in Washington state instead of California where we’d both have to work and possibly need the kids to work as well. While we lived in CA we were broke all the time. Broke is not fun. Broke does not make for happy family life. “do we take the baby to the doc for that, or do we buy groceries this week?”

No thanks.

So here I sit, waiting to hear what my options are…. I suppose I could do some laundry

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Adventures in Job Seeking

Published March 17, 2016 by sarcasmica

I have been a stay at home Mom for seven years. That seems like forever! Considering i’ve worked since the day after I turned 16 and legally could in California, I’ve not worked half as long as I did work.

It’s like a really bad word problem. If Becky started working at 16, and was a stay at home mom for 7 years, but had purple, red, and black hair every other month, how many groceries does she buy each week?

Answer: None. She takes the grocery money to the bar and isn’t seen for days.

I’ve been volunteering for seven months with parrots and have really enjoyed it. My job has morphed from feeding to feeding and taking pictures, to feeding, taking pics & posting on the Instagram site, to all of that and now starting a social media page for the volunteers. It’s been a lot of fun, actually. It hasn’t felt like a job at all.

This has led to lots of discussions with my husband about going back to work (and getting paid for it) and what I would do, etc etc etc. I found a local job at a dog kennel and decided to just apply and see what happens.

Let me tell you… this whole thing has been like a Twilight Zone episode. First off, it’s making me feel old. Like really old. I’m only 39, but the person interviewing me was maybe 26… maybe.

I had a phone interview first and it was all I could do not to laugh my way through it.
Q: “What would you say is your greatest asset?”
Answer in my head: The fact that I don’t NEED this job.
Actual grown up verbal answer: Something very suave and acceptable.

Q: “If I were to ask your friends about you, what would they tell me?”
Answer in my head: That I joke about drinking too much, and I force them to look at pics of my kids and birds.
Actual answer: “That i’m responsible and boring… but hopefully that I can be fun”

The in-person interview I had today wasn’t much different of an experience. It kicked off by meeting the phone interviewer in person… she’s maybe 5ft tall. I’m 5’10. It was the embodiment of feeling like someone’s mom taking a job from a teenager. Totally bizarre.

After the tour, the sit down interview was just her reading questions off a paper. Standard questions like “What would you say is an important quality when working with dogs?” (Don’t be an asshole, carry treats in your pocket, & don’t wear nice clothes.) I went with something more professional and appropriate, but it hurt. It hurt my tongue to force the BS out instead of the funny interesting answer. I’m taking the fact she only read three of the questions before scrapping the whole sheet to mean I passed.

I was shown around, I got to see the Doggie Daycare area which, to my utter delight, was filled with lots and lots of dogs. And a bunch of big ones – my fave!

I met with the owner, he asked me about some bullet points on my resume, and then he asked about my dog experience.  I’m 39. My dog experience began around 8 and never ended. I’ve never had my childhood experiences be relevant during a job interview. I was not prepared. They wanted to be sure whomever they hire has lots of experience and would be comfortable ‘reading behaviors’. I had to find the words to make it sound like my extensive experience as an 8, 9, and 10 year old being dragged around dog shows, showing my own dog once, and too many lure courses to count was valid behavioral experience. Short of saying, “As my father puts it, I was in every dog’s face and no one knows how I never got bit, scraped, or mauled.”

And that behavior of mine has never changed. If you are walking a dog, holding a leash, tranquilizing a rabid animal anywhere in my vicinity I am going to ninja up to you and ask to pet, play, hug or make out with your animal. It’s just how it is. “reading” the animal is something I guess i’m good at..? I’m not 100% accurate yet, but i’m not below 90 either. My shrink says I get along better with animals than people and I just go with it. What’s that say about my husband? (nyuck nyuck nyuck!)

No one wanted to pull a trigger, but the standard is to have a “working interview” where I will be given a variety of sizes and temperaments and expected to walk them. I will be putting on my best Caesar Milan impression and rolling with it. The challenge will be not to punt the chihuahua or poodle into the nearby woods and see if a bear is nearby.

In the end, if I get it, great, if I don’t, i’ll be posting lots more bird pics!

 

Great Wolf Lodge

Published March 15, 2016 by sarcasmica

My family just got back from a trip to Great Wolf Lodge. I’ve had a few people ask me about it, so I thought I’d just write a review because … well, why not? I don’t want to do laundry, so I’ll do this 🙂

Great Wolf Lodge is a water park with a hotel, or a hotel attached to a water park. However you need to spin it. This was our 4th time staying at a Lodge between going to the Grapevine, Texas location and the Grand Mound, WA location.

This trip included myself, my husband, our 5 and 9 year old, and his 17 and 18 yr old daughters. Our 9 year old has sensory challenges and has ADHD, everyone else is able to run wild with no issue.

The Facts:
You don’t pay extra for the water park, but they will try to get you to spend in many many other areas
Life jackets are provided and come in a huge array of sizes (they are not required, but I would say they are highly recommended) – this was especially reinforced when a tube flipped over with my non-swimmer 5 yr old into the big landing pool on a big slide
Outside floaties/vests are not permitted, but you may bring your own goggles
There is something for everyone
It is very low key as far as dress code requirements throughout the hotel
Someone will puke or poop in a pool and shut it down at least once during your visit
Aside from the slides, there are various pools to play in – wave pool/activity pool with basketball, lily pads, obstacle course

Details:
You can’t check in until 4, but you CAN begin using the water park at 1pm.
Upon checkout, you checkout by 11am, but you have all day access to the water park
The water park has a locker/bathroom/shower area. (We paid $15 for a medium sized locker which you have unlimited access to via a keypad)
The floors in the bathroom are VERY slippery. My daughter has fallen at least once each time we’ve visited
The water park is open 9-9
Seating is semi-limited, so snag a chaise or chair asap and put down shoes or something other than a towel to reserve it
The water park is VERY loud. Extremely loud.

See that bucket dumping water? It’s every 3-5 mins, and every time it dumps people scream. You have been warned. And yes, while you are in line for the slides on that structure, depending on where you are in line, it will dump on you and the kids. (NOT a high point for my kids)

There is an arcade & mini golf range that are extra, but a nice change from water/swimming/water/sliding/water activity

The room you need to reserve is dependent on how many in your party. We have booked the Kid Cabin when we have all the kids. This is a nook with 1 bunk bed and 1 full bed with a table and a mounted TV. There is also a queen size bed and pull out sofa. Their website is very informative and obvious with the pics of rooms.

The lobby has a creepy antiquated animatronic show 3x/day. My daughter liked it, my son was weirded out by it, but the howling wolves saved it for him. I could definitely see a Horror Film being made secretly about these characters. Depending on the time of year, there might be a dance party after story time and i’d say it’s a great way to end the day and finalize the exhaustion you are hoping for by the time you limp up to the room. You would think all day at a water park would tire your kids out… and it does… you just have to convince them to close their eyes for longer than 5 seconds in the vicinity of a bed and you are golden! Sidenote: if you are taking a range of ages, perhaps bring your own nightlight. We had a “too dark!” situation that was kind of a pain.

Wear shoes to the water park. If you are overweight and under-supported like I am, walking non-stop on the poolside type rough floor and pools will kill your feet. I wore padded flip flops just to give my feet a rest from time to time between pools/looking for kids/meeting up with parts of our party/snack stand.

There is alcohol! Hallelujah!

Don’t pay extra for the wand game the hotel pushes. It’s way overpriced, and the tricks you get are really anti-climactic. It’s a cute idea, but they don’t spend any time or money updating, dusting, oiling the surprises. I told my kids, “Sit still long enough near a wand stop and you’ll get to see the surprise, or just follow a kid around, sit back & watch”.

Kids literally run around all over the lobby waving wands, stabbing wands into the air, and jumping in front of you if you are near a wand stop. 95% of the experience is out for everyone to see.

There is a Starbucks on premises, but it’s slow. And everyone is in line to order for a party of people.

Now for my personal experience: As mentioned before, I have a sensory-challenged ADHD kid. From our first ever stay at a GWL he refused to go on the mid-level slide despite it being completely age appropriate. At the time, we didn’t have a diagnosis and this made it all the more frustrating. Between the crowd, the massive bucket-dump at seemingly random times, and the experience of never having been on a water slide, he stubbornly refused and caused many a scene.

However, there are PLENTY of other things for these kiddos to do. The kiddie play area is plenty big, plenty packed, with plenty of activities for a range of kids. You just have to ignore the amount of swim diaper ratio to amount of water. Between that and the lack of line for the bathroom, you don’t even want to think about it.

The chlorine and chemicals will burn your eyeballs even if you never dip a toe into the water

The Texas location has a lazy river the WA location does not have. This was a big downer considering my bigger kid does not like the slides. Texas is a newer hotel also, so it’s cleaner and more ‘crisp’.

The convenience of walking from a water park straight to your room is genius. No cars, no driving, no changing needed. Also, the water park is hiked up to about 85 degrees. After a few hours in the water it can seem cold, so cover ups were appreciated.

If you can get a deal or Groupon to visit, it’s completely worth it. If not, I would wait for something to come up before booking a visit. The full price per night charge to me isn’t worth the stay for all the extras you still have to pay for. No meals are included with your stay to my knowledge and the locations I’ve been to are not built near anything convenient to leave the hotel to do.

Hopefully this is a helpful post of information. We got back today and i’m still a little chemical cloudy from our trip, so hopefully it was concise and consistent. Thanks for stopping by, and please leave a comment with your experience, if you agree or disagree.

 

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