Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Birthday Season by Numbers

Hi! I am happy to report that Part 1 of Birthday Season (the part in which I am the hostess/director/ producer/event coordinator) is now complete (except for one, which I will get to in a moment). And in case you don’t know what Birthday Season is, it is the time between the end of March to the middle of May where there are a ton of birthdays and holidays. . . kind of like Christmas, but waaaayyyyy a tad longer than the Christmas season. I would not say that I escaped unscathed, but I didn’t end up getting invited to stay in a facility that has padded rooms either, so I guess that’s a win for me.

Also, on a pretty big side note, I had an awesome experience with Macomb Patch this last week as Jenny followed me as a Stay-At-Home Mom for the Macomb Patch Spring Tour. Check out the video here. And please be kind. . . I was so incredibly nervous when she asked me what makes a good mom. Also, do not fear, I will not be vlogging anytime soon. Promise.

Instead of going into a long dissertation about the past weeks, I decided to give you a condesnced version in a format that is inspired by the lovely Aunt Becky at Mommy Wants Vodka. (She also has the awesome site called Band Back Together. This month is Mental Health Awareness month, and this site is doing some incredible things about breaking the stigma attached to mental illnesses. Please go check it out).

So without further ado, I bring to you, Birthday Season by Numbers:

7 – the number of family birthdays within Birthday Season

3- the number of Costco cakes I ate (well, not the whole cake, just a lot of it)

5 – the number of gallons of ice cream I bought

3- the number of family parties we did not attend to due to serious illness

1 - the number of events we did not attend to due to our illness

1 - the number of events left to be hosted at my house as a makeup to the said missed dates due to personal illness

1 - the number of events cancelled due to the monsoon season

4 - the number of projected events hosted at my house

2 - the number of actual events hosted at my house

523 - the number of Costco trips for essentials like cake, wine, and turkey rollup party platters

3 - the number of times I ate Mexican during Birthday Season

10 - the number of days Harrington was out of town on business during Birthday Season

250 – the number of near misses for having a nervous breakdown

1 - the number of bridal showers I attended and planned during Birthday Season

14 - the number of days that my Mom and I planned a bridal shower

476 - the number of times that it felt good to see my cousin and his wife-to-be since they live so far away

6 - the number of birthday parties left to attend during Part 2 of Birthday Season

1 - the number of princesses parties that Marie attended in which all 8 guests were jumping on the trampoline at once without a net

1,000,645 - the number of seconds I held my breath hoping Marie didn’t fall off, waiting for the hostess
mom to stop chain smoking long enough to say something, and when she didn’t, I finally told Marie to get off the trampoline

3- the number of parents that stayed at the party even though she said it was fine that parents stayed, but once there, the vibe suggested otherwise

0 - the number of times Marie will go back to that house without me

18 – treat bags of Mommy’s Special Snack mix (comprised of pretzels, raisins, and 1 table spoon of M&M’s) that I made for Marie’s birthday snack for school since I decided to be a kill joy and not bring in pop tarts or cookies since those treats are brought in on a daily basis as “healthy snacks.” (A side note: “Real Fruit Flavor” is not the same as “Real Fruit”)

1 - the number of parties at Rochester Play for Marie’s big 5 year old birthday

373,047,808,3748,374 - the number of smiles had by all the guests because the people at Rochester Play know how to throw The. Most. Perfect. Birthday. Party. Ever.

0 - the number of parties I plan on having at my house after such a successful offsite party. Really, Rochester Play, you are so, so awesome!

570 - the number of times I wanted to blog, but was too tired after planning

1,000 - the number of times I feel relieved to get back to blogging because you know, I love it and it makes me happy.

1 - the number of days we celebrated Easter with an awesome brunch and my brother’s delicious biscuits and homemade sausage gravy

1 – the number of days we celebrated Mother’s Day with my Mom, Mother-in-law, and Aunt Carol

0 - the number of days I planned Mother’s Day

7 - the number of days I wondered when Harrington and my Dad were going to start planning Mother’s Day

245 - the number of times I was thankful that my Dad made the perfect mojito and Harrington got me the book I was so desperately hoping for

5,783,754,870,734,087,021 - the number of I felt super lucky to be a mom to some pretty incredible Babes

1 – the times I went to Chicago with my Mom and Marie to visit my cousin and Aunt Diane to see my cousin’s end of the year project for her master’s program and celebrate the completion of Birthday Season Part 1

1,000 - the number of times I was thankful the the naviagation device on my phone delivered me from my home to Chicago safely and accurately

1 - the number of times we attended Kindergarten Roundup

5 - the number of times I stopped myself from crying because my little girl is Going. To. Kindergarden.

25 – the number of pounds I should have gained during this season (see number of Costco cakes and gallons of ice cream)

0 – the number of pounds gained thanks to zumba and yoga and IBS (mostly, the IBS)

9,578,402,183,659,120,978 – the number of times I felt lucky to have great family and friends

9,578,402,183,659,120,978 - the number of times I was getting down about the drama that often surrounds Birthday Season

Well, I think that pretty much sums up the past month and a half. So, what’s new with you? Anything good? Or not good but want to share? I’d love to hear from you!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


this is a test.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Come link up at Band Back Togther for Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I think this is awesome because if there’s a month, then people are talking about mental health. And if people are talking about mental health, then we are getting closer to shutting down the stigmas that are often attached to mental illnesses.

And the stigmas? They are worse than the illness because they can make people feel shame and isolation, which then in turn, make the mental illness worse. A vicious cycle.

If you have a story to tell or need some support, please go to Band Back Together and share it. This site is so awesome because it shows that none of us are alone.

My name is Erin, and I am the face of PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder).

 I’ve told this story before, but in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I am telling it again.

It’s Nice to Meet You, Celexa.

Everything changes after kids. Everything. I mean how it can NOT be different. I expected that my body would be different after carrying two human beings. I expected that I would be watching a fair amount of children’s programming. I expected that I would be running around taking The Babes to doctor’s appointments and social activities.

What I did not expect is the change of the intensity of PMS. Before The Babes, I would get a little bluesy, a little cranky, maybe even shed a few tears. After the Babes, I became a maniac. In May, I told my doctor, and she said that I may want to look into taking an antidepressant for the week before my period. But she told me to chart my mood for the next couple of months first to make sure it was hormones.

Around day 10, it would start with anxiety, proceed with extreme agitation, and conclude with full on meltdowns. And then, poof, it all went away the nanosecond I started my period. I would spend the next three weeks hating myself for the emotional outbursts and trauma I caused my loved ones.

In September, I remember just feeling like my moods were on this roller coaster, and I was out of control. I yelled at Marie for not getting in the car fast enough. She cried. I cried. I am totally ashamed of myself. I waited to make sure I started my period, and then called my doctor ASAP. I did it because I knew I couldn’t control it. I remember telling the nurse that I need help or I fear that I may turn that occasional glass of wine to a weeklong bender to get through this week. Clearly, white-knuckling it was not working out.

My doctor gave me a script for Celexa. I didn’t take it the first time because I was going to Vancouver and didn’t want to introduce a new drug into my system while on a business trip while 3,000+ miles away from my doctor.

I almost didn’t take it the next month. But there I was, sobbing that Harrington didn’t understand me. I was cranky with The Babes for no reason. And I looked at their sweet, innocent faces and knew they didn’t deserve this.

I went in the bathroom, opened the bottle of medicine, and took a pill. I didn’t care if it would make me tired. I didn’t care if I couldn’t have drink on my birthday. I didn’t care what anyone thought, especially for those who don’t think medication is necessary. I didn’t want my Babes to see me unraveled, thinking they had done something to deserve being yelled at. I didn’t want them walking on egg shells because Mommy might freak the fcku out. That’s no way for anyone to live.

The first day, I felt like I was taking a vacation from myself. I felt free. Free from anxiety. I never thought it possible to feel so relaxed during a regular day. It was like I had a nice, warm blanket on the inside. My muscles and stomach slowly became unclenched. This sensation kind of reminded me of that warm sensation of the epidural after having such strong contractions with Thomas.

I also noticed a change in my daily thoughts and reactions. When I had to pack the diaper bag, I didn’t have the usual trail of thoughts racing through my head:

Did I pack snacks? If don’t pack snacks, then The Babes will get hungry. If there are no snacks and they get hungry, I’ll be a bad mom. I don’t want to be a bad mom. So I better pack the snacks. Hey, why do I always have to pack the diaper bag? It’s not fair that I have to think of everything. Harrington’s here. Why can’t HE pack the snacks? No one’s going to judge him for forgetting snacks. Seriously, I think my head is going to explode that I have to think of EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING!! Now where the hell are those damn snacks already?! Shit, now we are going to be late because I still have to pack the snacks.

I just got the snacks and that was it. It was liberating not to be pulled down by those thoughts.

Through that week, I found that I slept better. I was too tired to stay up and be productive until 10:30 p.m. at night. I didn’t move at the speed of light to get everything done. Because if it didn’t get done, that was alright, too.

When I started my period and put the Celexa down, I did notice that my anxiety was coming back. So I think it’s safe to say that I am hardwired for anxiety. But I also realized that I could be making better choices to lessen that anxiety. For example, I need to get off the computer by 9:30 if I am going to have restful sleep.

I also realized that I let the moods of others slither across my personal boundaries and effect me more than they should. I need to build better personal boundaries to protect my sanity. I guess this is something I already know, but have realized on a much deeper level.

So thank you, Celexa, for showing me what life can be like without anxiety. I look forward to your assistance next month.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Five Years Ago . . .

 Marie turned five this week. I cannot believe it. I honestly cannot believe it. I’m not one to get all mushy when The Babes get older; it’s more sweet (no diapers!) than bitter (there’s nothing quite like rocking a new baby). So I have a lot of feelings about this, but because I am manning the ship alone this week, and I am taking Marie on a road trip this weekend, I have not yet had time to think about all this. The train doesn’t drive itself, you know?

It will probably catch up with me at her preschool graduation ceremony.

Anyway, I liked this post I wrote last year when Marie started preschool. She’s come a long way. I read this, and I can’t believe that was us five years ago.


Suck it, Marge!

Dear Marge:
This is Marie’s Mom, and if you don’t remember, she was a former patient of yours. She was diagnosed with macrocephaly at birth. When I was told that that was a big, fancy word for a big head, I didn’t think it was a big deal. The implications of that, along with a low tone diagnosis at 4months were when I realized that this was a big deal. That and the pediatrician recommended that she see a neurosurgeon for regular visits were a clue that something was not right. We discovered that she extra fluid around her brain (hydrocephaly) and were not sure if she would need a stint to drain it. We were not sure if she would have cerebral palsy because of her low tone. It was a very stressful time. At 9 months of age, she qualified for services. And that’s when you entered the picture as her first physical therapist.

She used to cry whenever you came over to work with her. You seemed to lack that gentleness that is helpful, if not necessary, to work with babies. It was hard for you to accomplish anything with her because she had a hard time not crying with you. You also asked me to leave the room since you attributed her crying to my presence, not your roughness and general crabby demeanor. Being a new mom, I stood in the kitchen peaking around the corner, watching my poor baby girl crying while you tried to execute your exercises. I endured that and a lot more because I was desperate for her to get better. However, what was most memorable about you was when you told me she would be destined to be a leaner because she would never have enough strength to always stand straight and that I would be lucky if she walked without braces and by the age of two.

Well, Marge, that little baby is now three years old. As she RAN into her classroom the first day of preschool, many things came to mind. Most were the normal things a mom of a “regular” kid would be thinking: I was so proud of her for being independent and brave. She looked so cute and happy. But then another thought ran across my mind, and it was, “Suck it, Marge!” I say suck it because here was this baby who you said wouldn’t walk until she was two and possibly with braces and she RAN into that room. And you know what? She RUNS everywhere, and she CLIMBES up the ladder to go down the slide. Oh, and she JUMPS, too! So, Marge, be careful what you say to new moms because it could wind up biting you in the ass. I understand you needed to be honest about Marie’s condition, but perhaps you could take some professional development classes on bedside manner because your ambivalence about her condition was heart wrenching to hear. And if I could, I would forward my therapy bill to you because you did a lot of damage with those comments and telling me to leave the room because my baby was crying because of me. She was crying because of you and your negative energy.

So, Marge, suck it! My baby girl is in preschool and doing great! No thanks to you, of course.

Yours truly,
Marie’s Mom

P.S. Tell Noelle her note about Marie’s “anti-social” behavior is coming soon!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What?! It’s May!

Yesterday I went to do some maintenance on my blog, and I realized that I never wrote a post last week!

How can that be?

Maybe hosting a birthday party for Marie’s 20 + friends and family took up some energy. Maybe taking Marie to a birthday party cut into a big chunk of my day. Maybe I was busy celebrating Mother’s Day.

Which is all true.

Also, I have been spreading my writing wings a bit. I have submitted posts to the Macomb Patch and Band Back Together. I am really excited about these opportunities and proud of these posts.

Please, show me a little love and go check out these posts!!

The Ego Has Left the Building
Blogging and Babies – My Second Act

I’ll be back tomorrow with an oldie but a goodie, in honor of Marie’s 5th birthday!