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Category: Life

2 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 1 husband – life isn’t perfect, but it is what we make it

And on we go…

We’re now just a couple weeks shy of a full year since the pandemic lockdown started. In the beginning, it seemed like we would be down a few weeks, but here we are a year later still having to be cautious about outings and socializing, and wearing masks everywhere we go.

Time seems to be standing still, yet moving so quickly all at once. It is a strange feeling. I’m experiencing time blindness in ways that I never have before. Even being fully aware of it, I can’t seem to get it under control. I sometimes lose hours without even realizing it – most often in the night/early morning hours. The effect this has had on my sleep schedule is not good. I’m not sleeping well and some nights only make it to bed for 3-4 hours because I don’t realize how late it is.

There’s a numbing feeling that I can’t quite put my finger on. It is a mix of sadness, helplessness, loss, failure, exhaustion, fear, anger, disappointment, and so many other things all wrapped up together. I’m not the only one feeling it. I see it all around me – in my co-workers, my kids, my husband, my friends and family. We are all just done. We’re tired. We’re so ready to get back to a “normal” state, whatever that is.

We throw ourselves into things that we think will make us feel better, searching for that amazing dopamine surge, but after a while even the things that usually bring joy feel a little less exciting. For me, my way out of the doldrums is to create. I’ve been crocheting and knitting almost obsessively since last March. A day rarely goes by that I’m not knitting or crocheting something. The repetitive motion is calming, so much so that I often get lost in it and completely lose any sense of time (see time blindness issues above). I also recently invested in a Cricut machine that is giving me all kinds of ideas of new thing I want to create. There’s something about a completed project that gives me such a sense of satisfaction. It is one of the few things that actually give me a sense of accomplishment right now.

We’re all yearning for change, for the sun to peek through the clouds and shine down on us, for the gray to turn back to green, yellow, and orange. We seek a point of recovery, of normal life, but will we ever truly recover from this? Will our hearts and our minds ever be the same as they once were? Will our relationships with others ever be the same? Will we ever feel truly safe again?

There will be scars for sure, some in places that we can’t see, to be discovered when we least expect it. Others may be more visible and fade over time, but never truly go away. All of the good and the bad of this time, etched into our skin, our hearts, and our minds, shaping who we are for a lifetime.

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Feeling Some Sort of Way

Fitting with my track record the last few years, it’s been a minute since I have updated. The problem with that is that it makes it hard to know where to start.

These last few months have had so many ups and downs and a myriad of feelings that are most often undefinable. While we try to live our lives in the most normal way possible, we remain in the middle of a pandemic. In the beginning there were hard and fast rules as to what we could do, where we could go, etc., but now those mandates have expired and for the most part it is up to us to make the tough decisions. Do we let our kids go to school? Do we gather with family for the holidays? Do we socialize with friends? Do we go back to church? Do we continue to wear face masks, even though those around us often do not?

It is a very fuzzy line as to what is considered safe and what is not. Some people have tested positive for COVID and barely had any symptoms, yet at the same time some are very severe and the death toll increases daily. Deep down, my gut feeling response was to protect my family as much as possible – keep them home and never leave the house. Initially, that is what we did. The kids and I went months barely leaving the house except for necessities. It felt safer to stay in our little bubble. But as time went on, it became very apparent that our mental health was suffering in some big ways. Little by little, as county and state restrictions eased up, we chose to start venturing out more – carefully – with masks and hand sanitizer at the ready.

The hardest decision was whether or not to send the kids back to in-person school. Our district offered a choice of in-person or online. The mama bear in my wanted to keep them home, but virtual school has proven to be a huge struggle for my kids. They all three were adamant that they wanted to be in school and deep down I knew that it really was the best choice for them. Beside the fact that we need the additional support of gifted classes, 504 plans, IEPs and other special services, they needed the return of some sort of routine and normalcy in their day. As it turned out, most families in our district made the same choice, which forced the high school and middle school to move to a hybrid schedule – 2 days a week of in-person classes, and 3 days at home with online activities. Fortunately, the elementary is able to continue a 5 day in-person schedule.

We also chose to allow sports as those opened up. We started back the routine of soccer, volleyball, and karate with practices on weeknights and games on the weekends. With school and sports back on, I started seeing my kids come back to life a little. The need for social interaction was so incredibly important for them. I don’t think any of us are truly back in a good mental state, but the difference it has made at least for my two youngest kids has been pretty immense – enough to know that it was the right choice for them.

We have been fortunate so far that we have all stayed healthy. As allergies have flared up and colds have passed through, it has been a bit nerve wracking. Never knowing exactly when it might be time to go for a COVID test you fret about every cough. We get emails from the school almost daily reporting positive cases, though contact tracing indicates most of those have not been due to transfer at school. I get a little nervous with every email from school, not sure when I will receive one saying that one of my kids has been exposed.

Last weekend was Halloween and yet again came the time to decide whether to proceed with our usual traditions or whether to stay home, hunker down and turn our porch light off. We decided to let the kids dress up and trick-or-treat. The cousins came over and we drove to a nearby neighborhood that was swarming with kids and adults trick-or-treating – very few wearing masks or taking precautions. It honestly made me very nervous and question my decision to let them go. I will not be at all surprised if we have a spike of COVID cases in our city over the next week or so.

The good news, for now at least, is that our sports seasons have finished – except for karate. Less practices and games means less community exposure for all of us. We still have school, work, and Hubby and I have been back to church a couple of times. There are necessary shopping trips and sometimes just a need to get out of the house for a bit. The desire to get back to our regular routines and habits are so strong, but as the COVID cases continue to go up daily it has me reconsidering what is truly necessary again.

Through all of this, I have found myself really struggling with anxiety (and maybe a smidge of depression). It took me a while to really put my finger on it because it doesn’t feel like anxiety in the way that I think anxiety should feel. It hits in waves. Some days it is just this little tiny off feeling that I can’t really define and other days it kind of knocks me over. Sometimes it comes out as irritation with everything and everybody and results in an emotion explosion, and sometimes it shows up in withdrawal. It is in those withdrawn moments that I feel like the depression starts sneaking in – when even the things that usually bring me joy feel more like an obligation. In the back of my mind I hear a little voice saying, “Just keep swimming!” but that constant push and pull of the sinking and then the swimming is exhausting.

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Summer At Last

We are a couple weeks into Summer now, which is feeling a bit more normal. School is done for the year and the stress of online learning is gone. For the kids, the days are much more relaxed – staying up late and sleeping in had already become the norm, but now I suppose it is a bit more acceptable. The only difference for them at this point is that I am home with them during the day instead of going to the office.

A few activities have slowly started back up. Caleb is back at piano lessons and has tutoring a few times a week. One-on-one tutoring has been much better for him than online summer school would have been. The other two kids don’t have much going on yet, but Evie will have volleyball camp in July and Fall team sign-ups will be starting soon. She’s scheduled for church camp if that gets to happen as well. Zach doesn’t have a lot of plans, but will be turning 15 in a couple weeks, so we have printed off the driver’s guide so he can start studying for his permit test. We’re also starting to look into job opportunities for him.

After three months of doing virtually nothing outside of the house, it seems strange now to be making all these plans. My calendar is suddenly starting to fill up again. We’re planning a trip to Texas soon, and while I thought I had a pretty blank calendar, I’m now having to try to schedule that around other things.

As of next week, my office is officially back to regular hours with most of the staff being on-site again. I still plan to work mostly from home for now, but will most likely be back at least one or two days a week. It will feel strange for a while.

Honestly, thinking about going back to a regular schedule after these last few months is giving me nearly the same amount of anxiety that I had when everything started shutting down in March. I feel like things are good right now. I’ve really settled into working from home. I love my home office and finally have it set up to function well. I’ve got my routine down and I’m feeling more on top of things for work than I have in a long time. I am also really enjoying having my evenings free to relax or work on projects around the house. I’ve never really been a fan of change. I guess it will just take a while to get used to our normal amount of crazy again.

In the meantime, I’ve still got a long list of projects to keep me busy and help squash the anxiety for a while. Hopefully, within the next couple of weeks I’ll actually be able to park my car in the garage. We’ve been in our house for a full year now. I suppose it is time to finish unpacking those boxes!

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Day 59

We’re on day 59 of social distancing – essentially two months at home. Our family started a couple days before the official orders came down. We didn’t have any plans really, and with all the uncertainty it seemed best to stay in for the weekend. Things are starting to open up again, slowly, and with restrictions. Some people are ready to just get out there and get back to regular life, but I’m feeling a little more reserved about it – not quite ready to jump back in.

Everything feels different right now. After two months of being home, slowing down, no rushed schedules, no running here and there, and only a very few obligations that require marking things on a calendar, I’m wondering what it will feel like to return to that life. I don’t miss the busy, the packed calendars, the late nights after practices and activities. But then I glance at the calendar and see that Caleb’s soccer tournament should have been this weekend and Evie’s volleyball season should be wrapping up and I am sad for their missed opportunities. I am sad that they are missing the end of their first year at their new schools. They are missing the fun part after working hard all year. There are no yearbook signing parties, no field days, no celebrations for a job well done. It will just be over.

The coming of summer, which normally is an exciting and welcome change every year, seems so anticlimatic this year. Camps the kids were looking forward to will most likely be cancelled, or at the very least be a very different experience than they were expecting. Staying home from school doesn’t seem very exciting as we’ve been doing that already. Travel plans are questionable as we wait to see where things stand in the world.

I feel myself being a little more moody lately, going up and down from day to day. Some days I’m all in and ready to make the best of the situation, and other days I just want to sit and get lost in netflix and video games and ignore the rest of the world. Once I get myself into a project or my work I’m usually good, it just takes a lot of effort to get going. My sense of motivation for the things I *should* be doing is really lacking most days. I’m sure the lack of urgency is a big factor there. There is no deadline. I don’t have a problem completing work tasks or even mowing the yard, but I can look at a sink full of dishes for two days before I decide to actually do something about it. I mean, no one is coming over to see how dirty my kitchen is anyway.

In all of this, I do find myself being so very thankful for the internet and all the amazing ways we have to communicate. I can’t imagine how much more isolated and alone we would all be feeling without the ability to connect to our people online. Between gaming, social media, video chats, sharing photos, streaming church services, and even classroom conference calls, we are all able to connect to the people and the things that are most important to us. Those are the things that are getting us through this strange time right now. As much as I enjoy being alone and having time to myself, I do have to say that I’m realizing just how important that human connection truly is.

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Quarantine Confessions

I’m sure by now we are all realizing life is a little different these days. Maybe some of you are like me and have found yourself doing things that you never imagined you would do. TikTok anyone?!?  Maybe you are even a little bit embarrassed about those things. Well, for the sake of solidarity, I’m going to share a list of things I’ve caught myself doing out of sheer boredom during this social distancing quarantine that I most likely would have never done otherwise.

  • I streamed the entire five seasons of Awkward in less than 2 weeks – often staying up until 2 a.m. or later to get in just *one more* episode.
  • After finishing Awkward, I started in on Vampire Diaries with the same late night streaming behavior. It is taking a little longer – I’m only on season 4, but Evie has now caught up with me so we are watching the rest of it together.
  • I insisted that my husband let me mow the lawn so I could count it as exercise even though he offered to do it instead. I also maybe told him not to buy the new deck he needs for the riding mower so I have to keep push mowing.
  • I’ve spent way too much money online shopping – mostly on clothing of the athleisure variety. I mean, if I’m gonna run and work out I have to look cute, right? Now to get back to those workouts….
  • I got sucked into TikTok watching videos of my nieces and then found myself still there more than two hours later scrolling through the “For You” feed of random people. I am now obsessed with and have followed the stream of a pet monkey who receives a ton of fan mail.
  • I bought my kid a new Nintendo Switch that he has been begging for since Christmas, then proceeded to “borrow” it all night and played Tetris 99 for over 3 hours until my hands were cramping and the battery died. I may have then bought another Switch the next day so I could have my own because TETRIS and who wants to share? (Thank you stimulus check!)
  • I actually said, “I’m so bored!” I honestly can’t remember the last time I uttered those words. Life generally keeps me so busy that boredom is not an option.
  • I got bored enough to fire up Fortnite on my switch and *tried* to play even though I had no idea what I was doing. Then my 8-year-old tried to teach me what to do and got embarrassed when I could’t hang. I think I’ll stick to Tetris…or maybe check out Animal Crossing.

I have actually spent some time doing things I’m not embarrassed about too. Some things I may even be a little bit proud of myself for doing – and finishing. I’m really great at starting projects, but not always so great at finishing them.

  • I started crocheting a “Quarantine Blanket” several weeks ago after the stay at home orders started and I finished it last night. It didn’t exactly turn out the way it was supposed to because I crocheted it way too tight to match the pattern and I ran out of one of my yarn colors a bit too soon. But, since the purpose was to use up yarn I already had, I can call it a success. I’m glad to finish it because I found another pattern I want to start on.
  • With the help of a tutorial I found on facebook, a bunch of old scrap material, and some leftover elastic (from back when I had a baby girl to sew cute things for), I sewed up some face masks for the family. Now that they are becoming mandatory to wear many places, I figured we should have some on hand.
  • I also completed a fun painting project. My friend posted about an online painting party she was hosting with some sample projects and I fell in love with one she posted of the Kansas City skyline. She put together kits with all the supplies needed. I missed the zoom party she hosted, but she included enough directions I could figure it out and I think it turned out really good!Painting of a heart with Kansas City skyline

There are a lot of other things I probably should be doing with my time, but it has actually been a lot of fun to just slow down and enjoy some silly time-waster type things.

So, what have you been up to?

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Well That Was Fun

So last week I posted I wasn’t feeling well. It started off slowly, just feeling tired and run down. Well, and needing to pee a little more frequently then normal. I didn’t think much of it – just blamed it on allergies wearing me down and maybe I was drinking more than usual.

Saturday I went to the store for some groceries and since things still weren’t feeling quite right I grabbed a bottle of cranberry juice thinking maybe I had the beginning of a UTI. I mean, I’ve never had one before that I can remember, but I’ve heard other people describe the symptoms and I thought that could possibly maybe sorta be what I’m experiencing. Maybe. I like cranberry juice anyway so I’ll enjoy it as a “treat” of sorts.

I started drinking the cranberry juice, mixed with a little sparkling water, and had finished off the bottle by Sunday evening. I was really wiped out that night. I was having some pain in my lower back and crashed on the couch for a couple of hours. I thought maybe it was just a sugar crash from the juice. After eating Keto for so long, flooding by body with sugar can have that effect. I love a good nap, but it is odd that I actually fall asleep in the evenings any more.

I made it through the next couple of days, forcing myself to drink as much water as possible and struggling through the things I had to get done. I thought about calling the doctor a few times, but I really hate going to the doctor and with the whole COVID-19 thing, the last thing I want is to be exposed to the virus because of a doctor’s visit.

By Wednesday, I was getting pretty uncomfortable. I was exhausted. My lower back was hurting. I was still experiencing some nausea and nearly every trip to the bathroom (like every five minutes) was getting more painful. After a text convo with my mom I finally gave in and called the doctor.

Luckily, my doctor was willing to see me via a telemedicine visit. I didn’t have to have to worry about exposure to all the nastiness out there, I could do it from my bedroom on my iPad. I got on the call and in less than five minutes of explaining what had been going on, she said she was prescribing me a strong antibiotic because she was sure I had a kidney infection. I didn’t even complain when she said she was giving me Cipro, even though I knew I’d be sick to my stomach for the next week until it was gone. And, as an added bonus, we talked about my anxiety over the last month or so that I’ve been home with kids and she agreed that I could use a little medicinal help with that as well. She instructed me to call Monday and leave a message to let her know how I was doing and that was that.

I was happy knowing that I was going to get some relief finally. What I didn’t know was that Wednesday night I was going to crash hard. I picked my meds up that afternoon but didn’t take the first dose until after dinner. I knew the Cipro wouldn’t settle nicely on an empty stomach. After I took my meds I settled down on the couch with my iPad, headphones, and my quarantine blanket crochet project. I knew I wasn’t going to accomplish much of anything else anyway. My stomach was already turning from the meds and I was so very tired.

Within probably 30 minutes I found myself shaking uncontrollably because I was so cold, yet my face felt like it was on fire. I decided I was better off just going to bed. I grabbed the thermometer on my way to the bedroom. I had been checking for fever, but hadn’t been more then a few tenths of a degree higher than normal. Over what seemed like a short time span (but really I have no idea how long it was) my temp suddenly shot up to 99, then 100, then 101, and finally settled around 102.7 for a bit. Fortunately, my mom had talked me into taking some Tylenol for the pain earlier and I’m guessing that helped the fever drop back down at some point. It was by far the worst I had felt since I started noticing symptoms nearly a week earlier.

Thursday morning I let myself sleep in a little. I got up feeling much better, got through all of the most important things I needed to do for work, helped Caleb with his school work, and by mid afternoon was on the couch dozing off and on. I spent the rest of the evening pretty much in that same spot.

Friday I woke up feeling SO. MUCH. BETTER. After a full day of work and school work, I was suddenly obsessed with cleaning up my office/family room/temporary school room. I spent the evening streaming Disney movies and cleaning, and even unpacked some boxes that have been sitting there since last June when we moved in. I didn’t quite finish, but woke up Saturday morning ready to go again and got it done. It looks so nice and organized now that I just want to sit and admire it.

I’m still fighting with my energy levels being low and the back pain when I’ve done a little too much, but overall I’m feeling so much better. My stomach is still a bit unhappy from the antibiotics, but I only have a few doses to go and that will be done. I’m anxious to get this whole thing behind me and get back to a somewhat normal routine.

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