Catnip for Kids

Published January 5, 2019 by ia84

About a week ago, I agreed to something crazy. I said I’d babysit my two nephews (ages 5 & 4) and niece (age almost 2) for 1–2 hours yesterday. All by myself. The only time I’d ever babysat them by myself before was one night when their mom was gone and their dad needed to run to the store. They were already all asleep at that point, so I was basically just making sure there was a responsible adult in the house.

I was really nervous. Much as I want to be a mom, I’m not great with kids. I blame the fact that I grew up a very sheltered only child. I had cousins, but they all lived hundreds of miles away. I was constantly surrounded by adults. I always feel awkward when talking with kids. I either talk way over their heads, or I talk down to them. So, the prospect of being alone with three small children, two of which can be quite strong-willed and rambunctious, was daunting. I had agreed to do it, so I pushed through the anxiety and showed up at their house yesterday morning.

And I discovered something really weird.

I had thought the kids would like the GoNoodle videos. I was introduced to them a few months ago by a teacher friend. The music is so fun, and the dances are really easy. My idea was to wear the children out. Turns out Aunt Malia was the only one who was dancing.

The boys requested to watch a video that was nothing but hands opening packages of little dinosaur transformer-type figures. That was the entire video. The hands held up a package, opened it, showed the toy to the camera, and then moved onto another package.

I had heard that unboxing videos were super popular with kids, but I had never before witnessed it. The rumors are true, kids are obsessed with them. It was while watching a video of a jungle animal toy set being unboxed and put together that I realized all three children were sitting quietly, entranced by the scene before them. Who are these children, and what have they done with my nephews and niece?

I was genuinely baffled by how fascinated the kids were by watching a stranger open and play with toys. Even more bewildering? These videos had millions of views. Which means my nephews and niece aren’t the only ones obsessed.

Today we’re going to talk about the…Oh look, Squirrel!

Published January 4, 2019 by ia84

My suspicions started a while ago. One of my friends is a special ed. teacher, and she regularly shares on Facebook different articles she’s found that relates to her work. One day she posted an article about an adult getting diagnosed with ADHD. I was intrigued, and hopped over to read it. As I finished the article, it struck me that it could easily have been written by me, but I didn’t have ADHD.

Did I?

Curious, I began to do a little research, and while I didn’t fit every single symptom of ADHD , I realized I had most of them. It took me a few months to work up the courage, but I finally got myself to the doctor and into therapy.

Last August, I was officially diagnosed with ADHD, and I started taking an antidepressant that is supposed to help with both my depression and my ADHD. I can track the ADHD symptoms and anxiety back to childhood, and the depression has been fairly constant companion since I was sixteen.

Do you have any idea how relieved and angry this diagnosis made me?

The relief comes from finally knowing that I’m not stupid, lazy, or just plain losing my marbles. It comes because I finally am getting a treatment that actually is doing something.

So, if I’m feeling all this relief, why am I feeling anger?

When I was growing up, I was taught that ADHD (and autism, and schizophrenia, and a whole raft of other mental issues) wasn’t real. I was told that ADHD-and pretty much any other mental condition-was one of two things. Either it was bad parenting, or it was demonic.

Now, I do believe in angels and demons, God and Satan, Heaven and Hell. However, I also believe in science and the fact that the brain sometimes doesn’t quite do its job right. To me, the brain not being able to produce enough neurochemicals is no different than the pancreas not producing enough insulin, or the heart having a valve that doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to.

What else was I raised to believe? Antidepressants are evil. They will turn the taker into a zombie. People don’t really need antidepressants, they just need to try harder.

I’ve spent years trying hard. And I’ve failed hard. Over and over and over again.

I’m angry because the symptoms were present for so long. I’m angry that those who saw the struggle never brought up the possibility that I might have ADHD. I’m angry because when I’d say, “I don’t get this.” for the twentieth time to my teachers I was told it really wasn’t that hard; I just needed to apply myself more and study harder. I’m angry because when I’d say I was having trouble focusing, or I couldn’t function because of my depression, I was advised to just power through it. I’m angry because when I’d say I was really having trouble with my memory I was advised to just spend less time on my phone (to be fair, I probably should spend less time on my phone, but the memory problems started years before I ever had a smart phone). I’m angry because this last August was the first time since I was a little kid that I genuinely didn’t feel exhausted the second I woke up. While I’m thrilled that I awoke feeling good, I’m angry because I should not have gone 26-ish years without a decent rest.

I could keep listing things, but I think you get the general idea.

This has been a huge adjustment period. I’m still wrapping my head around the diagnosis. Even though I had been suspecting it for months, it’s a whole different thing when it becomes your reality and not just a suspicion.

A few weeks into starting treatment, I told my husband that I had realized just how bad I truly had been doing. It scares me that I was in that terrible of shape for so long. I also told him he’s an amazing man for loving me and hanging in there with me.

Since I was a teenager, I’ve been living in a brain fog. Going through the motions of life. Making decisions, most of which I regret. The only thing I don’t regret? Marrying my husband.

I’ve spent so long wandering. Most of the time my goal has been to survive the day.

In the last few months the fog has started to lift. Really, truly, lift and clear. It’s like when I put my contacts in every morning. The fuzzy world around me is suddenly clear.

I feel like me, the real me, is crawling out into the sunlight. I’m meeting this girl that I haven’t seen since childhood. I’m trying to figure out how to balance the childhood me with the adult me.

I looked in the mirror a few months ago, and the woman staring back at me was different. There was happiness, joy, optimism radiating from me. My face didn’t just look like a fat blob with eyes, nose, and a mouth. I looked human. Genuinely human. I feel human. I feel present. I’m suddenly here, on planet Earth.  I’m not just sitting on the sidelines watching my body go through its day. I spent decades being detached, so it’s very strange to suddenly find myself connected to my body. I didn’t realize until the last few months just how long it’s been since I’ve been present and involved.

I’m learning to take ownership of my life.  I’m actually thinking for myself, not just relying on others to tell me how to think.  I’m realizing that it’s okay for me to admit that I love coffee, and make-up, and that I’m a dog person.  These may not seem like big things, but up until December, I never would’ve been able to say these things.  I’ve even started being able to make “simple” decisions (the first time I was able to decide within 15 minutes that I wanted Taco Bell for supper, I wanted to cry due to joy.)  I feel like I’m finding my personality.

This healing process is just that.  It’s a process.  Some weeks it’s really rough, some weeks I’m actually getting normal things done (like laundry and dishes), and it’s not feeling like quite as much of a herculean effort.

I’m feeling better than I’ve felt in decades.

Back to the fields, you peasant!

Published January 3, 2019 by ia84

This Christmas, I received one of those 23 & Me DNA testing kits.  I hadn’t ever planned to get one, because I know that I’m not guaranteed super accurate results.  However, since it was a gift, I figured it didn’t hurt to give it a try.

Now, as far as ancestry testing goes, I’m expecting to see results that place me as being mostly European.  I’m definitely built like someone you’d expect to see working the fields hundreds of years ago.  From doing genealogy research, I know that there’s German, Czech, English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish in my background.  I’m curious to see what results I get regarding Jewish, Mediterranean, and African ancestry.  I have my suspicions, but so far haven’t turned up anything concrete in my own personal research.

I have absolutely no idea what to expect from the health report.

I sent in the kit last week.  I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally spit that much in my entire life.  As of yesterday, according to the app, my specimen is currently in the genotyping stage.  Sometime between January 14th and the end of the month, I should have my results.

If you’ve done this type of testing, I’d be curious to hear what your experience was.  Did you find out anything surprising?  Meet any new family members?

I’ll fill y’all in once I get my report back.

A Colorful, Crafty Year

Published January 2, 2019 by ia84

I’m diving into 2019, throwing all my energy into my crafting.  There’s a possibility that later this year, I’ll be trying to sell some of my creations at craft shows.  However, if I do that, I have to have some inventory.  Which…at present…I don’t.  Over the next several months I’ll be slaving over a hot iron, as I make piles of fuse bead key chains, magnets, and ornaments.

As if that wasn’t enough to keep me busy, I’m also wanting to make myself a blanket.  Earlier this fall, I was on Pinterest, and I discovered something called a temperature blanket.  Basically, over the course of a year, you put a blanket together.  You use colors to indicate the daily temperature.  I decided to crochet a granny square blanket, because it’s an easy and beautiful pattern.  It was a bit cold yesterday.  Supposedly, it was only 15 degrees Fahrenheit, but it felt so much colder!  Here’s the start of my blanket:

IMG_20190102_103908.jpg

I’ll be updating the Temperature Blanket section of this blog daily so that everyone can see my progress.  And if you’d like to join in, I’d be thrilled to follow your progress as well!

It’s the end of the year, as we know it.

Published December 31, 2018 by ia84
photo of fireworks

Photo by Anna-Louise on Pexels.com

Here it is.

New Year’s Eve 2018.

Oh, 2018, what can I say about you?  You’ve not been a particularly good year, but you definitely haven’t been the worst year.  I’ve learned a lot this year, and as cheesy as it sounds, I’ve definitely grown as a person.  I’ve learned so much about myself.  I’ve stepped up and taken ownership of my life.  It’s been a scary, exhausting experience, but something that needed to happen.

I’m looking forward to 2019.  I have plans for this blog.  I have plans for my life.  I have plans to drink a ton of coffee.

You may notice a few changes to this site.  I’ll be documenting my jigsaw puzzles, and I’ll be keeping a daily log as I try my hand at making a temperature blanket.  I know that every year I make the pronouncement that I’m going to keep this blog more up to date, but this time I actually have a plan.  Crazy, right?

Finally, we’ve been talking about it for years, and have finally tried it. We have a podcast! Tom & Malia Have A Podcast. That’s right, the Boy has a name, and it’s only taken me almost five years to reveal it.  There’s only one episode, so far, and I know it’s a bit rough.  It’s fifteen minutes of us talking about the new Aquaman movie, and because I’m easily distracted, Spiderverse comes up as well.  This will be a learning experience, but should be a fun journey.

And that’s about it for now.  It’s almost time for the annual New Year’s Eve Diablo 3 gaming session.

See y’all in 2019!

The blog isn’t dead, but it may be moving.

Published September 21, 2018 by ia84

I realize that over the last couple years I’ve written less and less. By some miracle y’all have stuck around and read my long rambling musings. Thank you for that.

I’ve actually been writing more, but I’ve been experimenting with a new platform. One where I make a few pennies whenever people like the things I write. There’s a Katamari game coming out for the Switch and Fallout 76 in my near future, and I’d like to be able to buy them when they’re new. I’d also like to contribute in a small way to the general income of our home. I realize that’s more important than video games, but currently I’m more excited about the games than I am the water bill.

So, if you want to read my most current writing head over to Medium, and check out my latest.

Bonus, here’s some adorable, sleepy animals:

You may be weird, but are you ‘make a fake baby announcement to celebrate your new instrument’ weird?

Published July 17, 2018 by ia84

I’m so exhausted right now, but the house is making weird noises, and the dog is restless, and it’s all very unsettling. It was really unnerving when she sat on the bed and stared at the door and refused to budge. Thanks, dog, I need more anxiety…

Here’s a fun fact about my youth that quite a lot of people don’t know. I mean, the people that were around in my youth know, but anyone who met me after summer of ’03 is unaware of this. Actually, I just realized I have to start this story back before I was born.

I was born into a musical family. My mom plays piano, drums, and autoharp, and she has one of the most beautiful voices in the world. My dad played the tuba in the Navy band, but he was also in a country western band that the Navy sent out to play gigs. He and my mom had their own band as well. This all was years before I was around.

Growing up my folks played and sang together a lot. Once I got old enough, their duo turned into a trio. Mom played autoharp, dad played guitar, banjo, and mandolin. We’d sing together at all kinds of things. Churches, town festivals, nursing homes, etc… After I moved out to go to college, we didn’t really play and sing together anymore. Every great once in a while we’d do a number, but it was a rarity.

Recently, the instruments have come out, and we’ve been practicing again (with a few new additions to the group. We’re now a quintet).

Dad rocking the banjo

Mom makes it look so easy (it’s not)

A little over a week ago, I got to rehearsal early, and I was watching my dad play the banjo. A thought suddenly struck me, in my nearly 34 years of life, I’d never asked to try the banjo. I’d tried every other instrument in the house, but the banjo always seemed almost sacred to me. I think it had something to do with it being such a part of my dad, I didn’t want to accidentally damage it. Besides which, I’ve had years of epic fails trying to play stringed instruments (I have fat, small, stubby hands which doesn’t help at all). The closest I get to even minor success is the piano. I’m a brass and woodwind girl. Give me any of those instruments and I’m golden. I’m not tooting my own horn (pun definitely intended), I really do have a gift when it comes to brass and woodwind instruments. They just make sense to me.

Anyway, back to my story…I’m sitting there, and I asked my dad if I can try the banjo. He handed it over to me, equiped me with picks and gave me a very brief lesson on how to pick. And y’know what? My fingers understood. My parents were thrilled.

I didn’t think much more about it, until last Saturday. Last Saturday, I was given a precious gift. My own banjo. I was given it, with the explanation that “You need to get the music back in your heart.” Which was much more true than I wanted to acknowledge. I’m realising that I’ve tried to purge almost everything to do with music from my life, which would probably shock those who knew me years ago. I don’t handle emotional pain well, I box it up and hide it deep inside myself.

I’ve been practicing everyday. There’s something very soothing about practicing the picking pattern dad taught me. Trying to play the assbutt C chord is less soothing. D isn’t much better. A7 is awesome, but open G is my current favorite. Yesterday, in an attempt to be funny, I posted the following image to Instagram:

Kermit, of course, is in honor of Kermit the Frog; and Martin is because of Steve Martin. Two very important banjo players (apart from my dad).

So, now I play banjo. 2018 has definitely had it’s fair share of surprises.

Let’s redo the floor ourselves, we said. It’ll be fun, we said.

Published May 30, 2018 by ia84

I am not skilled when it comes to any kind of house or auto maintenance. Fortunately, I married someone who is.

Years ago, when we got married, we discussed eventually redoing the living room. There was a pointless wall, and awful carpet. The goal was to remove the wall, pull up the carpet, and lay tile. We’ve never had much money, so this whole plan fell into the category of “Someday.”

Then came the Saturday, early last fall. We had gone to the ReStore (think thrift store meets Menards). We needed a doorknob, and as we wandered through the store we stumbled across our dream tile. The tile we’d spent years planning to place in the living room. Not only did they have the tile, they had enough for us to be able to redo the living room, and maybe even one of the bedrooms. Even better? We could actually afford to buy it.

We made several trips with my father-in-law’s pick-up, and brought the tile to our garage. It would spend the next few months sitting there, collecting dust. During Thanksgiving weekend, the wall came down. Then we ripped up the carpet.

The furniture all got moved to the dining room and the basement. The piano moved into the kitchen.

The boy’s job takes him out of town for 3-5 days every week. The only time he’s typically home is on the weekend. His job is exhausting, so by the time he gets home he has little energy to do anything. Which means progress on the floor has been slow.

Six months of this has been a bit wearing. Fortunately, though, I can see the light at the end of this tunnel. We spent all of Memorial Day weekend grouting. I can best describe it as feeling like we’re icing a cake we’ll be looking at for the next 15-20 years.

The grouting isn’t perfect. There’s so many mistakes, you can definitely tell it was a diy project. There’s one spot that’s so bad, we spent hours trying to fix it, and eventually agreed that we’re going to put furniture over it and never move said furniture.

I’ve taken numerous showers, and am still covered in a layer of grime that I fear will never come off unless I figure out how to shed my skin like a snake.

The cuts, the dirt, the sore muscles, and the exhaustion are all worth it. We’re going to have a beautiful living room. It won’t be perfect, but neither are we. I wouldn’t feel at home if it were perfect.

Drumroll Please…

Published March 24, 2018 by ia84

To quote Professor Hubert Farnsworth, “Good news, everyone!”

I had my fasting blood drawn this morning and after several stabs…

(That’s four, four painful sticks of a needle. I’m a nightmare draw.)

…my blood was drawn. And this afternoon I got the result of my A1C (and of my chem 14, but I wasn’t nearly as anxious about that result).

At the end of December, my A1C was 10.2. That was the A1C that got my surgery cancelled. The A1C that legit scared me.

I’m pleased to report that as of this morning, my A1C is down.

It’s not 9.5.

It’s not 8.5.

Wait for it…

….

It’s 7.8!

You have no idea how excited I was to see that number. Especially since I know I didn’t apply myself nearly as much to the getting healthy process as I should’ve. But, as much as I blame the flu for me falling off the wagon of eating right and logging of food & blood sugar numbers, I’m thinking the flu actually deserves my thanks. See, I spent almost all of February sleeping, and when I ate, it wasn’t tons.

Now, I just have to try even harder to be good.

The only bad news? I’ve lost no weight. Zero. So, I’m sure that’s not going to thrill my doctor, but she should be happy about that 2.4 point (really hoping my mental math is right) drop of my A1C, right? Hopefully, this’ll keep me from having to go on insulin. Plus, since I’m below 8.0 my ob-gyn is going to be willing to consider doing my surgery again!!!!

I’m still trying to figure it all out.

Published March 21, 2018 by ia84

I was going to write this whole post about how frustrated I am that I can’t maintain a “normal” body temperature, and constantly run on the cold end of the thermometer. However, I was boring myself as I was writing it. Which means all you lovely people would be equally bored. So, I’m gonna set that post aside for awhile. It’s kind of funny, but it’s taking too long to get to the funny.

Instead, I’m going to take a moment to assure the world at large that as of right now I am NOT pregnant, and not adopting either. Maybe someday. Apparently, a previous post from a few weeks ago was a bit misleading, since I mentioned that there were some changes ahead in my life. Said changes are more of the “I’m trying to figure out what I want ro be when I grow up” variety.

There’s this thing about being married. You have to take the other person’s needs and wants into account. This isn’t always the easiest, especially when I spent the first twenty-nine years of my life being very single, and my choices really only affected me. Having the flu and then bronchitis and now bronchitis again (it’s not officially been diagnosed this time, but this is not my first bronchitis rodeo) has provided me with a ridiculous amount of time to think. There are things that I know the boy would like of me (his top love language is Acts of Service). They aren’t difficult things, and certainly nothing that is wrong of him to expect and want. I’ve come to realize that those things are far more important to me than so many other things. I know I’m being a bit cryptic, but that’s cause things are still kind of in flux. I just know that I want to be a good wife (especially since he’s such an amazing husband). I want to have the boy want to come home at the end of the week. I want to get healthy.

And my chest is really hurting, so maybe I should go to the doctor and get this bronchitis officially diagnosed…