First Day of Pre School

So, today was Zoe’s first day of Pre School.

Breathes out slowly.

It was a bit hard to sleep last night.

It was harder on me to leave her there than it was for her.

She had a great time, she behaved, and they seem to be charmed by her.  I didn’t really do much more than stare at the clock the whole time before going to pick her up.

Tomorrow might be a bit more productive as I start adjusting.

Goodness, it was a serious “next step” realization in this whole adulting and parenting thing when I was packing her first lunch for school last night.

Here’s to the start of a long next stage of our lives.


Overwhelm, my old friend.

I have realized (once again) it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything.  I think many of you have grown accustomed to that at this point.  Even so, my apologies.

While things have certainly gotten better in general, I’m no longer on anti-depressants, and my body is shifting back to it’s own version of “normal”, I’ve been dealing with figuring out just how I want to continue dealing with all of this.

I have started Saw Palmetto, and at the very least it’s helped tame some of the androgen that my body apparently over-produces when I’m not on birth control (which the birth controls I’ve been on happen to target).  I still have some intense mood swings, and the occasional intense pain from my cycle, but at least my skin isn’t as oily, my mustache is going away, and my skin is clearing up.  (Seriously, I started feeling like a teenager.)

Though, the rest of my skin clearing can be attributed to going back on Proactiv.  No, I’m not plugging it, but it’s really the only thing that has ever worked for my couple of stubborn spots.

My weight has fluctuated about 10 pounds, and I’m trying to work on that as gradually as possible.  There’s still some changes to make, and I’m working on those.  We’ve make a concerted effort to changing our evening dining habits, and we’re now in the third week.  We’re also trying to get up and out a little more often, which has been nice.

While a lot has gotten better, I’m still dealing greatly with an over-sensitivity to feeling overwhelmed, and it’s frustrating because I feel like it’s happening for no reason.  So, yeah.  Lots of cyclical emotional garbage, which is nothing new.

The periods seem to come and go quicker, though, which is both good, and a little frustrating.  When things are good, I am pretty productive, but then then I hit the wall pretty hard and it just knocks me so far back.  Trying to power through it as much as possible, though.

But having made a couple new friends and having an amazing friend move to the area has been a big boost for me.

So, here’s to grabbing the sunshine whenever possible and forcing myself to like it.



Obligatory Catch-Up Post

Well, as anyone who has been following me for long enough already knows, I am horrible at posting on any kind of regular basis.

A quick catch-up since the last post:  She’s back into the swing of being pretty darned compliant with nap times and bed times.  It’s certainly quite nice.  And her potty training is getting better as well.  She’s still having some issues with recognizing and vocalizing when she has to poop, but she hasn’t had a pee accident in ages.

We’ve had some busier than normal times in the past month, lots of little visits with friends and family.  A dear friend of ours moved back down to the area from up north and he came to stay with us a couple times before we went to stay the weekend at his new place to help with the absolutely massive yard he now has.  James had a ball using Clint’s new 0-turn radius mower.  Zoe had a blast riding in his lap.  Between the front and back yards surrounding the house, it’s probably a good 2-3 acres, and he got to mow most of the front.  It’s absolutely beautiful up there.

We also got a visit from one of James’ sisters, Shaunacee and our adorable nephew whose facial expressions rival Zoe’s.  It was really nice to have so many visits.  Got to have some awesome sis-time as well and brought her out and popped her karaoke cherry.  Corruption: One song at a time.  😀

I’m now recuperating (read: hermiting aside from karaoke) from traveling two days back down the coast from spending about a week up in CT and surrounding areas to see my family.  It was quite lovely to have all three of us kids and respective loved ones all in the same place at the same time.  We all managed to overlap our visits with Mom & Dad.  It’s been quite a while since that’s happened with us being 3000 miles away until last November, my oldest brother and his family being in Texas, and the other being up in Massachusetts.

Meeting the newest addition to the family (well, human addition at least) was awesome.  We celebrated her 1st birthday while we were there, a bit early.  She is just the cutest little bundle of awesome.  Her older brother has absolutely sprouted into a 6.5 year old bean pole who still has seemingly boundless energy.  A few of us were a bit apprehensive how the meeting of the cousins would go, but within a couple minutes at the airport, Zoe and Fran were two peas in a very bouncy pod.  They were practically inseparable.  And being around an older kid for a little while was very good for her, since last week, her sentence structure when speaking and her communication of ideas has just bloomed.  Her potty training has also taken some steps forward, after seeing (well, not literally) another kid going by themselves and washing their hands by themselves.  She now does both, on the full size toilet with the stool.  She even moves it herself to wash her hands and demands to do it herself.  Though, we are still having some poop issues from time to time, but at least it’s progress.

Our newest non-human addition to the family is an absolutely gorgeous tri-color collie named Moya that Mom & Dad got 3 months ago.  I have the feeling she’s going to be quite a bit larger than the tri-color we had when I was growing up.  I would say her current size at 6 months is rather close to Brandy’s full grown size, just not as heavy.  Her coat is absolutely beautiful, mostly black with a white mane, white legs and feet, pink pads and a hint of tan on her muzzle and underneath.  She has the sleek head structure of the “Lassie” style collie, and looks like she’s certainly going to have the stature.  One of the more adorable things about her is her rather cat-like behaviors.  She adores cuddling, and will circle you and rub up against you like a cat, she climbs up on the couch with my Mom and tries to get up on her shoulders, nipping at her hair.  It’s quite amusing, to say the least.

All in all, a bit overwhelming but has left me in a better mood overall than I’ve been in a while.  Gotta love that introvert need to hermit after that kind of thing.

I’m still alive, I swear!

Greetings and Salutations!

I am indeed still alive, though quite a bit has happened.

I did mention that we made the trek back from Washington State to South Carolina, and the minor debacles we had in that time, so I won’t rehash that.

We’ve found a house, a lovely thing with a decent sized back yard that is fenced in to let the munchkin roam.  We closed on it the day before Thanksgiving, which was an amazing three weeks after we showed up in South Carolina.  Immediately after the signing we left for Florida to spend Thanksgiving with family.

So!  Since then, we’ve been spending time reacquainting ourselves with the area, getting the house unpacked and looking more like a home.  We’ve gotten pretty far, and the majority of the important stuff done, added some fresh new bits here and there to warm things up.  Oh!  And something I’ve not been able to do before…RUGS!  A small handful of them right now since we have a gorgeous wood-look laminate (trust me, it looks like wood!), but I want to get some more as time goes on.

The Hubs finished up a re-finishing of a lovely USA made vintage piece we’ve been holding onto for a while.  It was missing a shelf and the doors at the bottom, so crafty man that he is, he made some new doors and a new shelf.  After a good sanding, he put a lovely light combination of a sandy color and dusty light blue color with a wax finish.  I do believe he used the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint line.  The piece went in our dining room to display our cook books and store our giant mason jars of staples like sugar and whatnot.

Anywho!  Enough about that.

I’ve been very busy with the usual puttering around the house every day, or errands, but largely with getting my shop on Etsy back up and running.  I’ve done a ton of work since we’ve been here, looking into more/better promoting, new products, new techniques, better pictures, and so much more!  I’m pretty excited with the things I’ve managed to accomplish lately, but there is really so much more I’d like to do.  I really want to make this something more than just a little hobby.  I want to make this a more substantial “job” so I can continue to work from home and be home with my little chitlin.

A big part of that is continuing to get our shared office squared away which has largely been the last thing we’re handling.  I picked up an awesome two piece desk that will go in the office once it’s cleaned up, reinforced and lightly refinished.  It will help give me a place to really hunker down and do things, be better organized and to my husband’s glee, less crafting stuff in the living room!

I honestly can’t believe how many more boxes of “craft stuff” I have to unpack from the move.  I’m almost afraid to see what’s in some of them.  🙂

Another thing I’m excited for is to have a place in the office to set up and actually use my lighting set for product photography!  It’ll be a learning experience, one I’ll definitely need James to help me with, and I’ll miss my love for natural lighting photography, but I hope that it’ll really help boost my sales!

Alright, I’ll stop babbling on and on, suffice to say, I’m back, darlings! (Oh, and can I say, I finally like the set up for adding a new post in WordPress!  Hopefully they don’t change things AGAIN!)

Death of Family, Yet a Stranger

As I’ve said in other posts that have had to do with deaths in the family, it is something I’m accustomed to.

It’s an unfortunate truth, but there it is.

Each and every one of them affects me in some way, often in the pretty typical ways.

This one is a bit different for me.

I received a call the other day from my father.  Apparently a grandparent I wasn’t aware I still had just passed away.  My father’s father.  And to be blunt and honest, I stated that I didn’t even realize that he was still alive.  I wasn’t even sure in the moment that I’d even met the man.  (Thank you, morning wake up phone calls.)

My father told me I had, and the last time I’d seen him was at one of my cousin’s weddings, when I was quite young.  I barely recall that wedding, so it’s no surprise that I am having a hard time recalling my father’s father.  I imagine he looked like my father..or more accurately, my father looked like him.  My father and his brothers are all obviously related and I guess I have gone on the assumption that they got it from their father.

My grandmother I knew, even though she died when I was still young.  And my aunt I believe looked like her.  They both had/have the kindest smiles.

There are times, when it comes to death, that I go through a period of initial blocking.  Not always, but sometimes.  My brain decides it doesn’t want to necessarily deal with it, or just deal with it in parts.

This is definitely one of those times.

I honestly don’t know how to feel right now about not being aware he was alive, until finding out about his death.  I hadn’t heard anyone in my family mention him for so long that I just assumed he had passed, and considering when my grandmother died, I assumed he had died before her.

I feel sad because the passing of a life is never a good thing, but I definitely don’t feel the acute pangs of hurt like I do from those I was close to.

I certainly don’t feel any ill will toward not being kept up to date on him, considering no one had reached out to each other for a very long time.  I believe there were good reasons on the part of my parents for keeping their distance, and the decision was theirs.  At a point, it just became normal for him to not be any part of our lives.

Even still, I feel odd having not really known him.

He was family.  He was blood.  Yet he was a stranger.

I feel for those that were in his life, those that did know him and mourn his passing.  I feel for my father, for having lost his father for what I imagine feels like a second time.  I feel for my uncles and my aunt, and hope that they find comfort where they can for however they feel regarding this passing.

I am left with an awkward wonderment on who the man was aside from my biological grandfather.

Dealing with loss as a mother, a wife and as a person…

I’ve personally dealt with a lot of loss of life in my short almost 31 years on this earth.  I’ve experienced deaths in my family from a very young age, and recall bits and pieces of each of those experiences.

I know how I deal with it.

I give others room to deal with it how they’re going to deal with it.

Now that I’m a wife and mother, it’s just not that simple any more.  There has been death in our lives since we have been together for both of us and our families.  And I like to think we’re there for each other as much as we can be, but we also let each other deal with these things in our own ways.

As a wife, especially a Navy wife, I know that there may be times when I have to be the first to know about big things, good or bad in my husband’s family.  It has happened twice now, and it certainly isn’t any easier.  Yes, I am family, I am my husband’s right-hand, I am his best friend, but being the first of the two of us to find out about any kind of bad news coming from his side of the family just has never been easy for me.  I accept it as a part of our life considering his career, though.

Recently my husband was on deployment and it was nearing the end, and I had a friend over for a quick dinner.  Within minutes of getting to my house after we had been out, I received a phone call from his older sister.  I should have known something was up right then and there, since I’m not huge on using the phone and everyone around me knows it.  (Tech kid, what can I say?)

It’s never a good feeling to get bad news about family.  Ever.  But when it is news for me specifically, about someone in my family, for some reason I process it a bit differently.  But when it involves my husband, it is something that just touches me in a far different way.  Having to be the one that has to make a bunch of phone calls to every last person I can think of in order to attempt (yes attempt) to get a message to my husband is not a part of the process I in any way feel good about.  Having to tell so many people something so intimate and personal and important… before ever getting to talk to my own husband about it, it hurts in a way I simply can not put into words.  I hurt for him, and what I simply can not be there to do for him.  I can’t be the one that looks into his eyes or at the very least be the voice on the other end of the line to tell him something has happened.

I had to do this for a second time recently, for the man that raised my husband from a very young age.  He may have been his step-father, but step is something that doesn’t really exist in his family’s vocabulary.  Family is family.  Period.  His dad was in the hospital, dying of a cancer no one knew he had.

I felt numb for a bit upon hearing the news, and slugged through the rest of the phone call, much of which I honestly don’t remember.  Only after hanging up did the first emotional slap hit me and in that moment I just felt incredibly hot tears running down my face and my muscles just tightening up.  I can’t begin to explain how thankful I was for the sheer dumb chance that I invited my friend over on such short notice to have her there with me while I got that news, and for her keeping my child (and hers) occupied so I could gather my wits and start making all the phone calls that I needed to make.

Making the phone calls suck, as anyone who ever has had to make phone calls to family and friends knows.  But there is a cold weirdness to making phone calls to the Ombudsman, the command, to Red Cross…  It’s so clinical and distant, even though people are generally trying to be friendly and sympathetic.

Then there is the waiting.  That limbo of “I don’t f-ing know what’s going on…”  Not knowing whether or not my husband is even going to be given the information.  Especially being so close to the end of a deployment, are they going to tell him and let him off a few days early?  Are they not going to tell him until they get into port?  Fielding calls from the command, from Red Cross, from family.

Something happened, that I didn’t find out about until he came into port, and the details of I didn’t find out until a few days ago, that was really, really incredible.  My husband not only was given clearance to call me, but his mother, and something I didn’t expect… his father in the hospital.  He had been in and out of consciousness, not always very lucid.  Hearing tell of it now, he was incredibly lucid for this conversation with his son.  The amount of relief and joy that came over me when I found out he had been able to talk to him at all was incredible, considering we had no idea if he was going to hold on long enough for us to get James into port and fly out.

Unfortunately, he did not make it that long, but it was an incredible blessing that they were able to have the conversation they did.

And another call I received, was regarding his passing.  James was not yet in port and once again, I had to make my calls, this time foregoing the Red Cross.  It’s absolutely heartbreaking to have to convey news like this in the way we have to.

His Captain approved immediate leave, and has been incredibly supportive throughout this whole experience.

The time of homecoming from deployment is supposed to be a happy one.  This is one that is burned into my heart for very different reasons.  I had absolutely no idea if my husband was made aware that his dad had passed at that point, and being there to pick him up from the busses, words were not necessary.  The embrace we shared was and is the most bittersweet embrace.  It lasted a very long time, and was still far too short.

Fast forward about a month.  my husband’s younger three sisters were all pregnant around the same time, so we decided since dad was being cremated to have a family gathering after two of the three babies were born since they were in different states at the time.

Last weekend everyone who could gather, gathered.  It was a family gathering like we’ve not been able to manage in a while.  Being there for him and our family was a very good experience, if for very sad reasons.  And I hope I’ve been able to give him the support he needs and wants.

Our child is too young to understand any of what went on, but as a mother now, I can’t even imagine how he felt, let alone anyone else in his family, as I have not had a parent pass.  And it makes me think of my own daughter, and how someday she will have to experience death around her from pets, to friends, and family.  I don’t know if she’ll have to deal with it as much as I did, but I can only hope that in some small way I will be able to help her through it, and to help her find her way of dealing and to let her know that as long as she’s not harming herself, or others… whatever way she deals is ok.

It makes me think about what might have been going through my own parents’ minds and hearts with each passing of family and friends as we grew up.  I won’t venture to say it’s the same or even similar to the musings I’ve had as of late, but it certainly makes me curious.  I can only imagine the apprehension, the uncertainty, the possible struggle to find the words, the explanations, the ways to give comfort.

I only hope I am prepared enough to really give my daughter the support she may need when she has her own experiences with death.

My sister had a seizure, and it scared the hell out of me.

I am writing about this recent experience with the express permission from the person in my family it involves.  

For reference, and to foreshadow for a future post; we were visiting my husband’s family in Florida for the memorial and ash-spreading of the man who raised him, his stepfather.  In his family, step is a rarely used term, and from here on out his step-dad will be referenced as Dad, because that’s what he was.

I experienced one of the scariest things I’ve experienced in a long, long time.  The morning after flying in to Florida to stay with family, my husband’s sister had her first (and hopefully only) seizure.  Seizures are something I don’t recall anyone in my family having to deal with, immediate family or extended family.  Seizures are something my husband’s family has dealt with for a time with his Dad, whom had just passed away (not from a seizure).

There was quite a few of us staying with his mother at her house, and many of us were gathered there that morning, with a few additions in the form of other family members and friends of the family.  We also had Zoe, her 18 month old cousin, and her two 1 month old baby cousins.  Shuffling back and forth between inside and out, everyone in some form of getting ready for the day.

His younger sister Shaunacee, who is only a few years younger than I am, had her first ever seizure.  We can only hope that it is indeed her one and only.  Dad’s condition is what contributed to his seizures, and it wasn’t something he simply had from a young age.  It was later in life, due to many things.

I’ll come back to the technical stuff later.

Some of us were gathered outside, some of us were inside, those of us inside had most of the children with us, save one of the toddlers.  One thing I’m thankful for is that Shaunacee wasn’t holding her one month old at the time this happened.  She and I are alike in our coffee drinking habits, and horrible habit of not drinking enough water.  That morning was no different.  Apparently for a handful of minutes, she experienced some tremors and twitches, which she attributed to probably too much caffeine, dehydration from that, lack of water, flying, and other things as well.

She stepped inside after making the comments about the twitching, and that she should probably get some water in her system.  So inside she came, and opened the fridge.  Our youngest sister was holding one of the babies, when all of a sudden that baby appeared in our friend’s arms.  She rushed with a startled shout to the kitchen and as I stepped in a few moments later, I am hit by a feeling I hope to never experience again.

I was watching my sister convulse, her entire body contracting while standing up.  I knew immediately what it was in my head, and oddly everything inside me went quiet.  Shouts were made to get others into the house as we lowered her to a sitting position in the small space we had between the fridge and the island counter.  Much of what I remember from this is in fragments, I don’t recall moving from one position to the next, only that I was suddenly “present” in one group of moments then another.  After we helped her sit, then James was there, getting behind her and lowering her down, and our oldest brother was there as well and just after that, Mom was there.  In the time span that this happened, and looking back on it it seems like it lasted next to forever.  What I had always thought would only last a handful of seconds seemed to stretch on into minutes.

I fully believe that despite moving to her and trying to help, I think I froze more than once.  Having never experienced something like this before, I had no idea what to do, other than a few rudimentary things I’d gleaned from this or that.  It certainly didn’t kick in in any kind of helpful way, that is for sure.  I felt so incredibly helpless.  I hate to admit it but I’m glad that his family has experienced this before, and knew what to do.  As much as I would never wish that experience on anyone, I was thankful that they had an idea on what to do.

Between the babies and the toddlers, thankfully someone had one toddler, and Zoe had come over to inspect what was going on with Shaunacee, it was all I could do, I scooped her up and got out of the way.  I made sure she was ok and not frightened by what was going on and “cheerfully” plopped her down next to James’ best friend who was also holding one of the babies.

911 was called, James held his sister, they managed to get her tongue out from her teeth and thankfully she didn’t seem to have drawn blood.  It seemed to take forever to get her really breathing again, and seeing her eyes pop open was a sight and a feeling that is etched in my memory.  It was a relief to see that, and to see her start to come around, her body relaxing bit by bit.

I honestly can’t begin to imagine how everyone else felt through this whole thing.  My husband had me make some phone calls, which I knew he knew I would handle, but also to some extent I think might have subconsciously been his way of getting me focused on something else.  He knows me well enough.

It wasn’t until after she’d been checked out by the paramedics and was loaded onto the bus to head to the hospital that all of it really hit me in one huge rush.  And perfect timing as he always seems to have, my husband was there to give me a huge hug before heading out behind the bus with his Mom to watch after Shaunacee.

I’m eternally grateful at the calmness that his usually very rambunctious family had through this, and having our best friend there helped keep me as level headed as I was.  Which honestly still surprises the hell out of me, I honestly can’t speak to how I think I’ll respond in situations like that, but the quiet stillness outside I felt was not one of them.  Inside I was going a bit crazy.

This is definitely a big push for me to learn more about seizures in general.  And it turns out that not only can they be genetic, and it’s not just about having a seizure disorder, or some kind of big sickness that can bring it on.  It can be very environmentally influenced, as it was with her.

She was given an array of tests, and it seemed (as it was explained to me) that she had experienced all of the things that can occur for someone to possibly have a random seizure.  And some people indeed do have a random seizure, and may never have another one.  According to what I was told there were around 5 things they discussed with her, and she had experienced all 5 of those things in the week or so leading up to the seizure she had.

As I do a bit of research, I found a term which I think might be possibly applicable, as I wasn’t in the office listening to the doctors.  Nonepileptic Seizure.  It’s certainly something I’m going to be looking more and more into, as well as Epilepsy itself.  It seems that some pretty normal things can be triggers for nonepileptic seizures.  Chronic sleep loss, stress, general fatigue, worry, anxiety, anger, and dehydration can all work to end up triggering a nonepileptic seizure.

And looking at the fact that her father had passed away days before her first child was born, dealing with having a newborn and the very much interrupted sleep (could be considered chronic for a time), being a heavy coffee drinker like me, traveling by plane by herself with a one month old for the first time… looking at all of that it certainly seems like that’s what caused it.  And we’re hoping that the doctors at the ER were right, and that it is hopefully an isolated event.

It is very eye-opening to realize just how many things we consider relatively “normal” in our lives could possibly turn into a seizure for nearly anyone.

And looking at it that way, it scares the shit out of me (pardon the language).  Considering what a lot of new moms go through, it amazes me that I’ve not heard of more new moms having a seizure.  Or perhaps few are open about it with friends.  Which brings me back to when I asked my sister if she would be OK with me writing this.  Her response was “It’s fine with me after the experiences our family has had with them I think people need to be more aware that it can happen to anyone and what to do or at least what to expect.”  And I agree wholeheartedly with her on that.  Speaking as someone who hadn’t experienced it before, and who knows so very, very little about them, it’s a kick in the pants to learn.

While some people may never experience something in their lifetime, I don’t think it’s a bad idea for people to be educated/educate themselves on things that perhaps happen somewhere in their periphery so that should the worst happen, they have an idea of what they can do.  And often, life happens and good intentions fall by the wayside a bit and we’re swept up in everything else.  I know I certainly have.  There are tons of things I’d love to learn and am thinking of making a bucket list of to keep myself on track.  Even if it means just a bit of reading from time to time, it certainly can’t do any harm.