Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Winter Sunset in the West

The evening is uneventful until he suddenly starts complaining that he's freezing and his stomach hurts. Within minutes, he's curled up on me, shaking, groaning, while Jevo covers him with a thick blanket. He moans and trembles until he becomes listless, only to start up again. I hold him, try to saying soothing things, and with my free hand, I grab my phone, hit the WebMD app and try to figure out what the hell is wrong with my child.

He goes from asking how many books we'll read in bed to telling me he doesn't want to read at all to asking to go to bed (which has happened exactly once before, no joke), where he immediately tries to fall asleep even as he continues shaking. His temperature is 102.2, mid-grade, and I ask him if anything hurts now, or if he needs to poop or vomit. He tells me know, just that he can't stop shaking, and is so compliant and vulnerable that my heart can't help aching for him.

It'll get worse, with the trembling continuing for more than hour, an hour capped with his vomiting all over his bed. This is the first time - ever - that he vomits (not counting regularly spitting up the first four months), and he is so confused that he asks me what's going on and why he did that. I take him to the bathroom and help him clean up, then return to his room to clean up. He curls up on his beanbag and passes out. A short while later I return him to his bed, where he promptly falls asleep, still trembling a bit. Before sitting to write these words, I checked his temperature (up a tiny bit) and gave him another dose of medicine, praying he doesn't puke it up.

I'm so unused to Max being sick that when he is, I am capable only of imaging every worst-case scenario possible. I am outwardly calm and methodical, administering medicine, kisses and hugs, checking temperatures, rubbing whatever aches, but inside, I'm fighting to quell the panic, and looping in my head, over and over and over again, is "please don't let him die, please don't let him die."

I am lucky that Max's illnesses have always been the same, ear and/or throat infections, with all the accompanying symptoms. His first two years were marked with semi-frequent upper respiratory tract infections and croup (which he still gets at least once a year), but since he's about three-and-a-half, he's been truly sick once, at most twice, a year. I am lucky, he is lucky (and I credit in large part all that breastfeeding I did for this fortune).

But it is precisely because he's so infrequently sick that a night like tonight always freaks me out - I'm not used to these symptoms, not used to my child being so out of sorts. In the face of symptoms I have no experience with, even though I know they're normal under the circumstances and that he has no truly, extremely alarming symptoms that require a mad dash to the ER, I worry that he might be dying, and not only can I not really tell, I also can't do a thing about it. Ear and throat infections are crappy and bring discomfort and fever, but they never affect his personality. He's still active and chatty and resistant to sleep and other responsibilities. To have him shaking so crazily, complaining of a stomach ache (and earlier in the day he went to the bathroom a lot and had a headache), and to have him feeling so terrible he can't finish an episode of SpongeBob (and I'm telling you, this says a lot about how awful he felt) and is begging for bed, is like having someone else's kid. He is completely foreign to me, and I am beside myself with fear.

And so, I worry. I imagine the worst then beg the universe to not let this be it for my child. I leave him to rest only to hover over him 10 minutes later, checking to make sure he's breathing and not in any distress. I leave him, then return. I touch him, check his temperature, kiss him. Lather, rinse, repeat. There will be no sleep for me tonight, though I will do whatever I can to keep his fever down and the shakes abated, to somehow foresee vomit and diarrhea, should there be any, and get him right to the bathroom. I will conjure whatever magic I can to help him sleep.

Come morning, I hope my child is himself again. I hope he is his usual exhausting self and that I may get at least a nap in before he runs me into the ground.

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Posted by Tere @ 12/29/2011   | | | links to this post

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!



Posted by Tere @ 12/24/2011   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I Used to Be the Person I Now Hate on FB

I've been railing against Facebook Timeline since I first heard of it in the fall. My reason was simple: I didn't want my past coming back up to haunt me with a simple click of "2007" or "2008." When I joined FB, I was married. I didn't use it much, but still. While I'd deleted pictures when the marriage ended, there were posts and stuff that now threatened to come back.

Worse than being married, I was more active on FB when the marriage ended. Did I really want to relive that, or have people clicking around on that?

There was also a less worrisome thought of Jevo, and applying the same to him and his profile. Was that shit I really wanted to see?

This Timeline thing sounded pretty dreadful to me, so when it became available, I jumped right in to weed my profile out. If it was inevitable, I wanted to control it as much as possible.

It took me two days to delete or hide things, and honestly, it wasn't so bad. Because I'd long ago unfriended my ex, all our shared posts had disappeared, and so it was minimal what I had to delete. A lot of it was more me venting or being vague about all the crap I was going through.

The real shock of it the whole thing has been realizing how annoying I was on FB. I mean, seriously, by February 2009, I couldn't stand myself. I lost count of how many "I'm starving" and "I need a nap" posts I wrote. And - worse even! - how many times I wrote such inane crap as "Hitting the supermarket!" Uuugghhhhhh. I hang my head in shame.

By mid-2009, my use of FB changed. Perhaps it was my mental state, or just a natural evolution of things, or my growing bored of the novelty, but I began then to post less inane, dumb things. Maybe my view of what FB was or was good for changed - I'm not really sure, I recall no conscious thoughts about any of this.

Looking over how my use of the site's changed (and for that, I'll admit switching to Timeline was an interesting exercise), I realized that the annoyance I've felt at how so many people use FB comes from my own expectation that others would also alter their use, too, as time's passed and it's a less new experience and its features change and - I don't know - you hopefully grow conscious of how you come across when all you do it post attention-seeking nonsense or the mundane things that make up your day. Like, I get that when it's all brand new and we were all figuring out just what FB was and how to integrate it into our lives, but three, four years in, do you seriously still get a kick out of posting about your aches and pains, how much work sucks, etc.? Now you should hang your head in shame!

So now that I've done it and have felt mortified and have had a good laugh at myself, I'm curious to see how others will feel when they make the switch.

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On a related note, from this month's Real Simple magazine, a great feature about FB and how people use it. I recommend it.

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Posted by Tere @ 12/21/2011   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Snippets

Our Christmas tree is an ugly little thing. It’s about four-feet-tall, plastic and spindly. I can't say I love it, but I definitely have some affection for it. I grew up with a plastic Christmas tree (until Hurricane Andrew obliterated the tool shed out back where it was stored), so I guess the feeling is rooted there. This tree is very similar to the one from my childhood.

This particular tree is only a few years old, and I bought it because it came with the lights already strung around it, which sounded like a total bonus to a lazy person like me. I like that it's short, as my living room is small and a big tree would look out of place in it.

But the problem is that it's not full enough. No matter how much I try to fluff the branches out, it really just looks thin and sad. I noticed it for the first time this year, and it bugs me enough to consider getting a real one from here on out. Or at least a fake one that looks better.

Even so, I can't help having some warm feelings for this crappy tree, especially since this year, I left it to Jevo and Max to hang all the ornaments up and it totally looks like something a couple of guys did. There's no symmetry, no conciseness, just a bunch of balls and meaningful ornaments thrown about randomly. While I had to rearrange a couple ornaments to fill in a big gap right up front, the haphazardness just adds to its overall cute oddness. It seems very right for me and my life.

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Which calls to mind how much I've been thinking lately about the ways my life has changed these last couple of years. Jevo's moving in has prompted this reflection, because while we've always spent a lot of time together (all my non-Max days and then over this last year more and more on Max days), this is completely different. This is the true, concrete blending of our lives, the building of a home. And while there is the typical adjustment one would expect, I've spent the majority of the last almost-two months feeling over and over again how this is everything I used to wish for that I came to believe did not exist. So much about this relationship, about the kind of person he is, about the way he loves me and holds up his end of this partnership feels as beautiful as it does foreign. It's too many times now where I've caught myself thinking about something (big or small, it doesn't matter) and find that I'm stuck thinking over and over again about how I never thought it could be like this. I'm blown away over and over again at how we work through things, how we can and do discuss so many things, openly and honestly, how much we laugh together, how hot our passion is, and how it all adds up to something so sweet and good and strong and healthy (oh, I can't state that last one enough). I was joking tonight with him that he was the man of my dreams, but I had to quickly correct myself and tell him he was not, because while I once wished for a guy like him and a relationship like this, I haven't believed any of it existed or was realistically possible in so, so, so long. A lifetime, really.

And then I have mornings like this one, where I woke up from a great night and sound sleep and my first thought is, I am a woman who is loved. And then like two seconds later, I was like, what the hell was that? It was bizarre but true and yet another example of being assaulted by all these lovely new truths that kinda freak me out.

And in the midst of the freaking out I'm hit yet again with gratitude - gratitude that I have this new life, gratitude that I have him, that I have this, that my son gets to benefit from our love, that we bicker some days and have full-blown fights others and every single time we come out of it stronger and better. Oh, and I'm not imagining any of it, nor am I in denial or making poor choices for the wrong reasons. Mind. Blown.

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All this love-awesomeness aside, this year has been a bit of a struggle, health-wise. I started out the year intent on finding the cause of some bothersome, persistent symptoms that were totally ruining my ability to eat and enjoy food (and yet, I'd also gained some weight, which is baffling when you're eating only three to four bites of every meal because one more and you're sure you'll puke your guts out everywhere). It took a few months and various blood and diagnostic tests, but by late spring, I had it: Leaky Gut Syndrome. That was it. I was a near-textbook case, and it explained every single thing wrong with me, even things that don't at the outset seem at all connected. I immediately got on a vitamin and mineral plan that alone has caused a complete turnaround. Within a couple of months, my symptoms were gone and I felt great for the first time in ages. I mean, even the persistent back and knee pain I've had since I was 18 only shows up now if it's going to rain or I sleep in a bad position. Otherwise, it's gone. So is the ankle pain, the blood sugar issues, the thyroid issue - all of it. I've been slower about making the complete dietary changes I need to make (this is so much harder than I thought it would be), but at the very least, I have cut out the worst foods, have added to my diet some better options, and have learned how to eat well in situations where almost all the choices are bad for me.

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But given that I've been inconsistent about a regular exercise regimen (and I don't care what anyone says, between my child, work and school - to not speak of other responsibilities - exercising regularly is hard, man, hard!), the weight issue persists. Actually, after making those changes I mentioned, I dropped some weight and it's stayed off. But on the flip side, it seems like any time I have a couple of bad eating days, it's instantly noticeable on my body (I judge this by how my clothes fit). I don't know if it's because this problem involves an inflamed immune and digestive system, or what, but it sucks. Clearly, I need to get the belly pooch under control. It's a goal, I swear it's a very real, important goal.

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But surprisingly, with Jevo's love and support (and inability to keep his hands off me), I've found that I'm not devastated by this weight gain, nor do I stress about my body or dislike what I see in the mirror (And sure, he helps, but it's not just him. This weight/body image crap was essentially a problem created in my marriage, and I've had to fight long and hard to break through it and get back to my previous healthy sense of self. And I have.). I've been more forgiving of myself than I've ever been about anything, and this has really helped me cope with whatever feelings a changing body leaves me with. I'm stunned that I don't think I look *bad* and that I'm back to not feeling self-conscious or giving a crap what others think of me and to being overall accepting of myself and my body. I totally lost this part of myself in that marriage, and honestly, I was sure I would never get it back.

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The point was driven home a few months ago, when I was on the hunt for those Levi's Curve ID jeans. I'd seen an ad for them and was intrigued by the premise. Could there really be jeans out there that wouldn't gap at my back or give me plumber's crack? That would work with my curves? Wha?? I took the online test but wasn't sure I was answering correctly (exactly how small and/or defined is my waist in relation to my hips?) and decided I needed to go to an actual store and try them on. Even so, I suspected that the result of the quiz - Congratulations! You are a Supreme Curve! - was correct. I just needed to try them on and be sure they were comfortable.

Supreme Curve, by the way, is Levi's nice way of saying "you have a huge ass." The styles range from "slight" to "supreme" curve, and really, when you're last in the range, you know it's bad.

So on a weekend when Jevo treated us to a night out in Miami Beach and stay in a hotel, I went to the store at the beach and was immediately greeted by a nice salesguy. I tell him what I'm there for, mention my certainty that I'm a Supreme, and he very nicely checks me out and disagrees, saying I look more like a Bold. I don't tell him so, but I think that he must be following some company line, to not make any woman feel like a fat ass and let them discover on their own that they are one. He grabs a couple of Bold pairs while I grab some Supremes, and I head into the fitting room, where I go straight for a Supreme and pull it on. It fits. Beautifully. They are soooo comfortable and flattering (no "fat ass" whatsoever, just some sexy curves) and affordable that I'm instantly in love. But for fun, I try on a Bold just to compare. I'm sure it would have been a fun comparison, except that the Bold doesn't make it past my hips. I start laughing and in the process lose my balance and almost fall through the curtain.

Supreme, indeed.

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Posted by Tere @ 12/14/2011   | | | links to this post

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Accomplished

Today is a rare day for me in that I feel utterly accomplished.

These last weeks since my last post have been stressful, with me studying for a final exam and writing a paper. The last of it, the paper, was due tonight, and I finished most of it on Friday and submitted it this morning. So that's a check.

I finished decorating for the holidays. Another check.

Christmas shopping? Total check! I'm DONE and I did it all online (first time I do that).

Add to these big projects the various social functions we've had these days, and I feel like I've completed 20 things in two-and-a-half days, which is really quite a winning feeling.

So winning, in fact, that it's easy to ignore the fact that this house is still topsy-turvy from Jevo's move, and that we have, like, a week to finish up because we're hosting our immediate family on Christmas day and the house has to be pristine by then.

But I'm feeling so high on the "I'm getting shit DONE!" trip that I'm all READY and EXCITED to tackle the remaining chores. Oh, and wrap everything, cook and bake, and redo Max's room in a whole new theme, too. All by the 25th.

I love the pressure of a looming holiday that will bring 30 people into my house (immediate family = 30 people? Yes, yes it does.) It's the only thing that forces me to get my crap together and get things done.

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Posted by Tere @ 12/11/2011   | | | links to this post