Thursday, December 12, 2013

Why [NOT] me?

I am sick.  I have been sick for what feels like forever, but actually, if we're being completely technical, it's been about 2 weeks of misery.  I was prescribed antibiotics.  They did not help.  My head aches, my body aches, my nose and sinuses are congested, my chest feels heavy and painful. 

I can't sleep at night.  It's hard to get better when you can't sleep.  My baby is sick.  He's had back-to-back ear infections for the past couple months.  Yeah, months.  You read that right.

I have no Christmas spirit.  I'm trudging along, trying to do these fun activities and Christmas crafts with my kids, and I'm feigning a smile, but inside I'm screaming, "I WANT A DECEMBER DO-OVER!  I'm cold!  My body aches!  My head hurts!  I'm exhausted!  I hate this!  I don't want to make snowman handprint ornaments.  I don't care about watching Prep & Landing.  I don't give a shit about a Christmas Eve menu.  I want to sleep and sleep and wake up on January 10, when someone has put my house back together again and my head is clear and my kids are well."

I'm not depressed. 

I'm a crabby, raging bitch.  There's a really big difference.

In the middle of the night, when I am not sleeping and my baby writhes on my chest, I try to remember that these moments are fleeting and one day, my baby will be a big boy who won't need me, and I should cherish these times, misery and all.  But what I am secretly thinking is: "How am I going to go to work tomorrow and function?  Why can't I breathe?  I don't care if it's 2 a.m., I should really call up ____, Ms. Breastfeeding Proponent Extraordinaire and drill her on why my sweet, happy baby boy, who has never had so much as an OUNCE of formula in all 10 of his earthly months, is, and has been sicker, than his brother, who, by this time was on to formula exclusively.  Oh, Client X?  I should call him up and tell him how ridiculous he's being and that I'm sick of dealing with his stupid antics!  I should call my Dad and tell him how I annoyed I am at him for not calling me and asking me how I'm doing."

Today I called the doctor's office to set up an appointment with an ENT specialist.  And the receptionist informed me that the first available appointment was January 14.  And I just completely lost it.  I started crying an ugly, wracking sobs sort of cry, and I went on a diatribe about how I knew it wasn't her fault, but I'm desperate, and exhausted, and miserable and I need help!  Please!  Get me in before that!  Please. Please.  Please! 

[She called me back later, and said I could come in tomorrow over lunch.]

An hour or so later, I called my husband to ask how our baby's umpteenth doctor appointment went.  He STILL has double ear infections.  He was prescribed his fourth antibiotic.  He has some new drops.  He has a referral for an appointment with an ENT specialist on December 27th. 

After that, I called my mom.  And I complained about how Scroogey/Grinchey I feel.  About how I see Christmas lights and all I can think is how abnormal my behavior is this season.  I don't feel any of the warm fuzzies I usually feel about the approaching holidays.  I feel cold.  And sad.  And mad.  And desperate.

After I hung up the phone with my mom, I started to cry.  In my office.  With my door shut.  While I silently raged about head congestion and never-ending ear infections. 

GET IT TOGETHER, I told myself.  You're pathetic!  People's kids have cancer, and you're in your office crying about ear infections.

So I sniffled a little.  And thought of my new December mantra, "WHY ME?!  WHY?!  WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?!"

And then I just happened to open an email from a client. 

A client who has it way worse than I do.

I instantly felt guilty for feeling bad for myself.  "Why you?  Really, Stephanie?!" I thought.  "Why NOT you?" 

I am writing this...

     ... not because I want to pretend that my outlook has magically changed in the last 45 minutes.  (I'm still sick and I still think odds are that tonight is going to be another miserable, sleepless night in a string of miserable sleepless nights.)
     ... not because I want to sugarcoat everything and pretend I can see the silver lining in anything I'm dealt (Some things suck... no way around it.)

I am writing this because, in 45 minutes, when I start thinking "Why me?" again, I can remind myself to try to remember that...

     ... I am not some extra special snowflake who doesn't deserve sickness.  I'm no Mother Theresa.  I'm just a regular person and sometimes regular people and their regular kids get sick.  It sucks.  Get over it.
     ....I have a support network to commiserate with me.  I have my mom, my friends, my sisters, my husband, and my colleagues to vent to and commiserate with.  No, it doesn't clear head congestion.  My chest feels the same when the rants are over.  None of my complaining has drained the fluid from Owen's ears, BUT these people care about me, and I know, if I asked them, they'd help me/us with whatever we need.
     ... I have a husband who loves me and even though we've been snapping at each other because we.are.both.exhausted, he still reminds me every.night.when.I.lament.the.lack.of.sleep that "we are on the same team" and "we are in this together."
     ... I have a good job with job security, and even though I feel like I'm barely keeping my head up these days, I have colleagues who will help me if I ask, and I have the ability to take time off if I need to be home.
    ... I have health insurance that allows my kids to receive great medical care from pediatricians who know and care about our family and want to help us get healthy.
   ... I have a house, albeit a germ-ridden one currently, that we are not in danger of losing, where we can all lay in misery on the couch together watching Christmas movies. 

We're sick.  We're crabby.  We're tired.  We're whiny.  We're clingy.  We're one tiny setback away from having a meltdown in the middle of the Walgreens Pharmacy (oh wait, that was last week), but we are (I know this, I believe this, I say this without one iota of sarcasm) BLESSED. 

Really and truly, if there was a time to throw out a #firstworldproblems... this would be it.  This too shall pass

I just needed this little reminder. 

Oh damnit, I kinda feel a little Christmasy all of the sudden...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Whilst shopping at Ikea (or the story of the #hipsters)

Well, Labor Day has come and gone... which sort of signals the end of summer.  But this is not a sad, reminiscing type-post: I'm not sad.  Summer is wonderful... and this one came complete with beach time, splashing in the pool, adventures in the woods, camping and more... but fall is around the corner.  Fall means Fuegerfest, and cooler temperatures, and boots, and pumpkin flavored things and... that is all very good.  So, happy-day-after-Labor-Day-and-beginning-of-fall-to-you!

This is not about that, however.  This is about yesterday.  This weekend marked the 4th Annual Jaquez Labor Day theme party, and this year's theme was #ZombieApocalypse2013 (the official party hashtag).   There were zombies, survivors, an amazing theme cake, some flippy cup action, jello shots, the Re-Mix to Ignition, some "Free Miley" chants followed up by dancing to "Party in the USA"... and more.  In short, it was a great time!  We're already looking forward to the announcement about next year's theme!

On our way home from the party yesterday, we decided we'd do an Ikea run since our basement man cave/playroom/SOON-TO-BE-NICEST-ROOM-IN-OUR-HOUSE is headed toward completion and we're in need of furnishings/decor/etc. from the Swedish king of reasonably priced items in those categories.  So, we arrived at Ikea at 11 a.m., eager and excited about the adventure that awaited.

First of all, yesterday was FREE FOOD day at Ikea.  (It was also Labor Day - so you go figure how many people were there.  5 point 9 million, or something.  A day off work + the enticement of free food = just too much for most of suburban Chicago to resist).  Basically the gimmick was that you could eat as many Swedish meatballs and other delicacies served up in the Ikea cafeteria as you could fit in your stomach, and, so long as you were spending $150, they would subtract your food bill from whatever you spent when you checked out.  And DUH!  Who goes to Ikea to spend less than $150?  I would venture to guess that you don't set foot in that store (it's not worth the trouble) if you're buying a few hand towels and a picture frame.  So anyway, we started our adventure with a stop in the restaurant section.  We ate our hearts out (I even ate some delicious chocolate cake!) and then we started checking things off our list.

So... I live in Iowa.  The Land of Cornfields.  A land that is peacefully oblivious to trends until they arrive here 3-5 years later.  Most people drink Busch Lite, and if they're feeling classy, maybe a good 'ole Potosi (from a nearby brewery in Wisconsin).  I'm not making fun of us.  I AM ONE OF US.  AND I'M PROUD OF IT.  I'm just trying to explain why I was really blown away by the infestation of hipsters everywhere I looked.  Is this a thing?!  Is this "trend" coming soon to Iowa?!  Because I hope not.  The most pretentious thing I've ever seen was the guy with the half shaved head, SIPPING ON A HEINKEN while strolling through Ikea with his emaciated girlfriend, discussing whether to buy a chaise lounge or some other stuffed chair.  I mean, really?!  I wanted to drink a beer at Ikea, too... but for entirely different reasons.  (It seemed like a semi-appropriate way to cope with the aforementioned).  Is it because I have kids now, and no time to keep up with all the effort that the hipster lifestyle entails, that I just don't "get" it?  Or was I never cut out for it anyway?  Other questions I have:

(1) Why are you wearing a plaid shirt with skinny jeans and boots in 90 degree weather?
(2) Did you get lost on your way to a hippie music festival, or why are you wearing that band around your forehead, sister?
(3) Did you paint those spandex pants on just for this furniture shopping excursion?  Or is this is an everyday look?
(4) From where can I, too, acquire a vast collection of fedoras? 
(5) Prior to going out in public, do you find an old "vintage-looking" t-shirt, rumple it up, roll it in the mud and then wear it out?  Is that part of this trend? 
(6) How long did it take you to grow that crazy pedophilia-like mustache?
(7) Are denim studded shirts/shorts/vests SERIOUSLY coming back?  Like, for real?  Like early 90's denim clothes with silver studs in them.... they are coming back?  From the grave?  WHY?!

Let me just say, that with respect to (4), I have to admit that I love hats, and I do want to know if there is a place where I can, for a relatively small amount, purchase 1-2 fedoras.  But I digress.  If you know the answers to any of these questions, please let me know.

I won't bore you by regaling all the details of our very long (but very successful) trip to Ikea, except to say that if I never see the inside of that store for the next year or so, that will be just fine with me.  I do, however, need to share the following tangent with you.  At the culmination (or what we thought was the end-but that's another story for another day) of our shopping adventure, John ran out to get our car to drive over to the loading area.  I waited with the kids and all of our packages.  So - picture me... sort of tired, sort of hot/sweaty, baby strapped to me in his carrier, pushing a rolling dolly-style cart with a bunch of crap (and my toddler) piled on.  And remember: every hipster and his girlfriend are there, too, so there are very few open spaces for us to park in and load up our things.  It's taking John a while to drive back from the parking lot to the unloading area, and I am promising ice cream and other treats to Jack so that he continues to sit calmly on the rolling dolly cart.  And while this is going on, I happen to notice hipster couple with a tiny box the size of my arm standing in an open spot, arms around each other, making out like it's that scene from Armageddon.  The girl is wearing one of those leather strap hippie headband pieces (similar to this), a battered old t-shirt that has a typewriter on it (of course), and a studded jean jacket (like so).  And her mustachioed boyfriend (I seriously just googled "hipster mustache") keeps stroking her hair and kissing her... all the while bogarting this one open spot that could have been used by my husband.  Now, my dear husband, being the defender of all things right and good, with a clear head and an eye for swift justice, sees these two canoodling and starts to back into the open spot, hoping they'd get the hint... LIKE... MOVE your skinny asses and your make-out party to the nearest bench, please.  Better yet, pick up your tiny box, walk to your restored Mustang, and be on your way.  Instead, the hipsters turn ever so slowly around, as if in slow motion, really, and mustache man holds out his hand, flips the bird to my husband, and goes "Bro! Bro! Dude! Dude! This spot's taken, dude.  Sorry."  Each word took about ten seconds too long, drawn out in such a way, that, had I not been within view of my two impressionable offspring, I might have gone over there and said something about how annoying this was.  So - my husband drove away from the spot... and hipster girl backs up, and with a force I did not anticipate after watching her lackadaisical, mellow, hipster-ways, sort of run-leaps and high-fives the mustache guy saying, "Good job, baby!" ... as if the two of them had really done something important for humanity.  Ok, score 1 for the hipsters.  You DID totally and selfishly hog that parking spot for yourself.  

So that, my friends, is the story of my weekend.  A zombie apocalypse party... followed by a zombiehipsterapocalypse at Ikea.  Hope you had a good one, too.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

6 months old!

owen william is SIX months old tomorrow!  can you believe it?!  it's so cliche, but... i just can't.  the time has FLOWN!

Monday, July 22, 2013


It's been awhile since I've shared any Jack-isms, but don't let that fool you.  This cutie still talks our ears off, and he's gone from sharing sentences to monologues. 

Yesterday Owen was napping and John was reading, so we decided to head out to a park for a little one-on-one time together.  As we were driving to the park, we noticed a garage sale and I asked him if he wanted to stop.  "Ok, Mom," he answered, "But just for two minutes!"

We got out of the car, and I made a beeline toward a mid-century style bookshelf that I thought might be perfect in our bedroom.  "Oh, isn't this cute, Jack?" I asked.  "I could put this in my bedroom for books!" 

He gave me a perfect side-eye, looked exasperated and loudly remarked, "We already have a bookshelf, Mom.  And we don't need this bookshelf.  So we are NOT going to get it.  We need to get back in our car, and go to the park.  Right now!" 

And so we did.  A special thanks to the combined efforts of Dave Ramsey and my two-year-old for keeping us on track with our budget this month!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

this might be funny someday.

You know how some days start off HORRIBLY and just go on from there?  Every single bad thing that could happen does, and you end the day with a coffee-stained shirt, a desk full of castrophes and broken furniture?  Yeah, that's my day today.

It all started when I went to make myself a sandwich to take to work.  I opened the fridge and pulled out the mayo, and SOMEONE had forgotten to screw the cap on it so it fell to the floor splattering MAYONNAISE all over the kitchen, all over my shirt, skirt, HAIR, face, etc.  Apparently this was HILARIOUS to my husband and eldest son.  I, as you might imagine, did not find it amusing.  I was filled with rage at the audacity of (1) the mayonnaise can to behave so poorly and (2) my husband and child to mock me with their laughter.

To add to today's troubles, today I am rocking that greasy, wet look on one side of my head.  Maybe someday this will be funny.  Until then - I'm eating all sandwiches with spicy brown mustard that can be squirted from a bottle.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

on being irrational.

Top o' the morning to all (twenty) of my blog readers.  I'm sitting here, sipping a cup of (decaf) coffee before the rest of the house is awake, trying hard not to let an out-of-control to-do list overwhelm me.  You might be thinking, why in the F is she drinking decaf coffee, and I'm with you... it sort of seems pointless, right?!  Lately, though, I'm wondering if the act of drinking coffee, taking a moment to cup the steamy mug between two hands and take little sips as you ponder what the day might hold, is just as important for a re-charge as any amount of caffeine might be.  

Anyway, the Blackhawks are going to the Stanley Cup.  Maybe this means nothing to any of you, but for me it means that some members of my household might be slightly hungover this morning, there are a lot of dishes in my kitchen from late-night celebrations and also the facial hair of other household members will remain unshaven for the next couple weeks.  Go 'Hawks!  

In addition to celebrating the 'Hawks victory last night, I also got extremely obsessed with what was supposed to be a simple Father's Day project for John.  Famous last words: simple project.  A dear friend of mine did this project with her son and as soon as I saw it, I texted her and was like, I AM STEALING THIS PROJECT.  And of course, she was like, DO IT!  AND SEND ME PICS!  AND I LOVE YOU!  AND I MISS YOU!  because she's awesome like that.  So, for a few days, I plotted about the project, deciding how I would set it up, brainstorming ways to get John out of the house for a little while so I could complete it, mentally analyzing the candy reserves I had on hand to coerce Jack's cooperation in said endeavor.  After we cleaned up from breakfast yesterday and John was occupied with lawn care maintenance, I loaded up the boys and headed to Hobby Lobby for supplies.  On the way back, Jack was carefully explaining to me how he was going to "tell Daddy all about the surprise!"  I tried to explain the meaning of SURPRISE to a two year-old, which, as you might imagine, was not the easiest task.  By the time we returned home, however, he was distracted by a bribe involving fruit snacks and the secret remained safe... for the time being.

As soon as John was out of the house running an errand, I sprang into action, dressing the boys in cute outfits, dragging a quilt out to the backyard, gathering candy and a pacifier (to appease my subjects) and doing last minute diaper changes and face wipes.  PEOPLE - we had about a 30 minute window (of course, just before nap time for both kids - which was a FABULOUS time to undertake this project - where's the sarcasm font?!).

This is the final project.  

To get to this point, though, required arranging, hemming, hawing, threatening, begging, pleading, wiping, swiping, grabbing and grumbling.  And some other things.  Seriously.  I don't know why I so often make the mistake of thinking things are going to be SIMPLE with CHILDREN.  As soon as Jack would do something adorable, Owen invariably spit up all over himself.  If Owen was smiling and cooperating, then Jack needed to go pee. right. that. very. second.  I think there's a good reason professional photographers charge you so much for shoots - because they.are.worth.every.penny.  Seriously.  At various points yesterday, I would have paid you any sum of money to complete this project for me.  When I finally adjusted and cropped and spliced the pictures in the way I wanted, I printed them at Walgreens only to discover that Walgreens had cut the top off when I went to pick them up.  I was not pleased and returned home to start from scratch.  (Deep breaths, small sips of coffee)

Here are some of the outtake shots:

  a wave of spit-up followed the taking of this photo...

we moved inside to help boost spirits...

 In the picture below, Jack is hiding under the chair, begging me to read him "Dig, Dinosaurs, Dig" for the 800th time.  I was very, very afraid he'd sit up and knock Owen over, so the entire time I'm pleading with him to keep laying down.

Jack was very concerned that Owen was going to choke on the letter in this picture.  He kept frantically running into the shot, yelling, "Save Owen, Mom!  He is eating the letter!"

Andddd... that was a wrap.  When we got to this final shot, Jack proclaimed, very loudly, "THIS IS NOT FUN.  I want a cereal bar.  I AM DONE."  

Other options that didn't make the cut, but are shown here so you can fully grasp how obsessed I became with getting this right:

In the light of morning, things seem clearer.  I KNOW that John would love any of these pictures, regardless of whether Owen is spitting up or Jack is scowling, or the letter is slightly cut off.... but it's so easy FOR ME to lose sight of the forest for the trees in the midst of an "easy" project.  This project, however, demonstrates EXACTLY why I am grateful for my husband and how I need to remember that not just on Father's Day, but every day: because he helps me (sometimes FORCES me) to let go of the things that don't matter and focus on all the good things all around us.  He lives in the moment, doesn't worry about to-do lists, makes an effort to enjoy himself wherever he is (regardless of projects or jobs that need to be completed or other complications), laughs at himself and the circumstances he encounters, lets go of mistakes and loves his family unconditionally.  He is my perfect match - and always challenges me to live a little more spontaneously.  When I stop focusing on all the details and just think generally about my life, I am always reminded how lucky I am to have him.

So - cheers to my husband!  He doesn't read this blog (or any other blog, for that matter), but he deserves a toast, and I'm raising my morning coffee to him.  Whichever version of this photo he opens next Sunday, I'm sure he's going to love it!

P.S. As I was finishing this up, Jack woke up, looked at the pictures of this project on the screen and said, "And Jack and Owen said CHEEEEEESE! and now we made a surprise for Daddy and he will love it!"  Which is a better and less time consuming summary of this whole affair.

Monday, June 3, 2013

I'm sorry Miss Jackson. I am for real.

I could apologize a trillion times, but instead I'm just going to dump a bunch of cute pictures on you.  They will probably more appropriately explain where I've been...

a longer update is forthcoming.  Soon (ish).  What do I know?!  You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can't predict the weather.