June 30, 2011

56 days

I just got through 8 weeks without childcare. 56 days. 1,344 hours. And I am still standing. So are my kids. In fact, they were pretty darn fabulous for 8 straight weeks. Cooperative. Cheerful. Eager to help.

I so love my kids when they're like that. I love them all the time, of course, but it's easier when they help.

My friends and neighbors rock. For those 8 weeks, they walked my kids to school and back, invited them for playdates, fed them, hugged them, and even hooked us up with a good sitter.

All that was a lot easier to manage because there was a vacation at the end of it. In Florida, with a beach and a sunset and my fabulous fella. And that part was awesome.

My vacation was also kid-free. It was one of two weeks this summer they'll spend with their dad. I missed my kids. Weird that you can have fun and relax when your heart aches because you left three giant pieces of it back home.

I grew up - at least for a little while - on the Gulf Coast of Florida. We were there for just over a day, and it still feels like home. I don't want to move back there, because I like winter just enough that this barely Southern part of the world is the right part of the world for me. But I want to visit more, and I want to bring my kids.

But not right now.

Two weeks ago, my old au pair came to visit, and to help. Our new au pair came to stay. My kids had a week with their dad. I went off on vacation. Then we said good-bye to our old au pair, with a fanfare of tears. So now we're in full-on transition mode.

You know how my kids do with transitions? It's not pretty.

I don't know why, but my kids keep telling me they're stupid. One little mistake and they go all, "I'm an idiot!" Do yours do that?

Oddly enough, Peabo - the one with Asperger's, the one you'd think would struggle the most with change on this scale - he's the one who's handling it best.

It's the redhead who worries me. But I think he's starting to come around.

I did not get a lot of blogging done in those 8 weeks. I did not sleep much. But the Big Get Healthy is working. I'm not sleeping much, but I'm sleeping more. I'm not moving much, but I'm moving more. And I've lost 22 pounds.

Which means all my pants are falling off while I try to catch up on work, get my kids through yet another transition, and go back to missing my San Francisco sweetheart.

Eh. Who needs pants.

June 14, 2011

Lightning. Seriously?

There are a whole lot of milestones you hit as you pass through the post-divorce aftermath. Some good, some bad. On the bad side ... telling the kids. Spending weekends without them. Spending Christmas without them. Handling the first multi-kid vomit fest solo.

But some of them are of the good, life-affirming, independence-asserting sort. Managing your single-income budget. Actually getting divorced. Reclaiming your name. Going on that first, scary, post-marriage date.

You're taking back control. Moving from a life shared to a life defined by no one but you. You set your own path, create your own future.

Pretty empowering.

For me one of the biggest of these affirmational milestones came about two weeks ago. After nearly a year spent taking charge of my finances, cleaning my credit rating until it squeaked, and making copy after copy after copy of every obscure corner of my financial life, I refinanced my house. And in doing so, I became its sole owner.

I own my own home.

And then lightning struck.

I am so totally not kidding about that. Sunday night, I pulled into my driveway in the middle of a torrential downpour, was startled by a shock and a flash and a smashing boom, and the chimney cap and a handful of bricks flew off of my chimney and into the backyard.

My house, to which I have held sole title for not quite two weeks, was victimized by an act of god.

The lightning went through the phone lines. It blew up several phones, two DVRs, and whatever makes my barely-past-its-warranty desktop computer connect to the internet. It also blew something called a "board" in my heat pump, which is a nice way of saying, "Ha! We know you live in the swampy morass that is the Chesapeake Bay watershed so we are stealing your air conditioning!" (Cue evil laugh.)

You would think that after losing the manny (I don't think I ever posted about that, but the manny is long gone: I was so totally wrong about eventually coming to love him), running through a field of poison ivy, and other assorted disasters, ailments and random folderol that make life just a little more annoying ... you'd think, after all that, the rose-colored glasses would have gone slipping off into oblivion somewhere.

You'd be wrong. Though the poison ivy did test me.

You'd be wrong because all that other stuff, all those milestones, all that empowering control over your own life ... well, damn if it isn't downright cheery making.

Odd how a little empowerment can make you immune to lightning.


(Yeah, yeah, I know. Keep the bad puns to myself.)

June 8, 2011

When Poison Ivy Is an Act of Love

A week ago Tuesday, the kids and I were at my redhead's second-to-last T-ball game. It was screaming hot out. And I mean screaming. Heat index over 100, even after 5:00 p.m. The kind of hot where you sweat just stepping outside.

My redhead is a pro. He ran up to join his team, played all of his three innings, and barely broke a sweat.

My diva doesn't notice heat much either. She found a friend with a soccer ball and spent the better part of an hour running the ball across the field. That girl lives for soccer.

Peabo started well. He headed off to look for a friend of his, and, not finding him, spent some time digging for frogs in the woodsy brush behind the backstop. Found one, too. Little baby frog, and if I'd had my camera I'd have gotten a picture for you.

And then the heat hit him like a Mack truck. He spent the next 30 minutes in a ball on my lap, grabbing my arms and holding on for dear life while he fought waves of heat exhaustion and nausea. We're used to this: it happens every year during the first few summer heatwaves. I fed him water in slow sips, and toward the end convinced him to lie down on the blanket beside me while I poured cold water over his head and neck.

We all went home. He got better as soon as he hit the air conditioning and ate a big old dinner, despite his telling me as often as I'd listen that he was too sick and would not eat a thing. Homemade macaroni and cheese, that's the secret. It's like appetite magic.

Then, two days later, he started to itch.

Three days later he was covered in a rash. A red, blotchy, itchy, uncomfortable kind of rash. So I rushed him to urgent care. Poison ivy. A very bad case. Bad enough that when they said, "Hey, kid, we can make the itching stop if we give you a horribly painful shot of prednisone in your thigh," he said "YESDOITDOITRIGHTNOW!"

So. He had poison ivy.

And that night, I realized, I did too. First in a handprint shape on my upper left arm. Then another handprint on the right. Followed by another. And another.

By this morning, both upper arms were covered in an oozy, reddened rash that was turning stomachs everywhere. The redhead told me quite plainly that I'd have to wear long sleeves or he wouldn't let me hug him. And with good reason: I'm pretty freaky looking at the moment, and all the drying, peeling calamine lotion just makes it worse.

That I disgust a 5-year-old boy is bad enough - who even knew that was possible? But the worst part is that I itch so badly I can't sleep. And my poor body, which just figured out for the first time in years that sleep is not only good but possible, screamed "WTF!" and made me go to the doctor, where I begged and I cried  - they even gave me a tissue - and now I have my own steroids that I hope will soon make the itching stop.

Please. Oh, pretty pretty please make the itching stop. I mean, I'm a silver-lining girl. I can see the wonderful in pretty much anything. But there is no silver lining in poison ivy. That stuff is noxious. It is evil in plant form. I can't think, I can't sleep, I can't focus on anything but the extreme and horrific need to scratch.

So I complained on Facebook. My cousin replied, telling me about how our Oma, the Queen of Gardening, once made the great poison ivy sacrifice and put herself between my cousin and the evil weed (I know, I know, that means something else ... but it should mean poison ivy). My cousin got away scott free, not a rash in sight. Not Oma. She was covered in itchy ick, and I'm sure at least as uncomfortable as I am right now.

But that's what you do, right? I hate this poison ivy. But if comforting my son while he's sick and sobbing means poison ivy ... well, then, it means poison ivy. Because there's no way I'm not holding him when he needs me. Poison ivy and all.

I'm really happy for the steroids, though.