Something happened to me a few weeks ago that I haven't really felt comfortable talking about. After mulling it over for a while, I decided I'm ready to blog about it. I need to get it off my chest so I can move on. Unfortunately, I haven't told my husband, so he'll be finding out from my blog, just like the rest of the world. That might be a little unfair to him.
Never post anything when you're in the midst of an emotional breakdown.
I think the reason for this is obvious. Dangerous things come out when a person is emotional. Well, today I am breaking my rule.
I just came home from McDonald's where my emotional breakdown came to fruition. I sensed it coming, which is why I went to McDonald's in the first place. It was supposed to save me! This morning was rough. All of the kids were "on one," as they say. By 9:00, Zoe and Daisy had conquered these feats:
Feat #1: Emptied the entire first aid box and used up every bandaid, every antiseptic wipe, and every tiny packet of antibiotic ointment.
Feat #2: Painted.
(I shouldn't need to elaborate).
Feat #3: Screamed at each other and pulled out chunks of each other's hair.
(The hair pulling... seriously! Must we really be that stereotypical, girls?)
Feat #4: Got into my make-up.
Now you might be thinking something like, "Why did you leave them unsupervised long enough to do those things?"
"Long enough" is about three minutes. It's not like my girls were unwatched for hours or even tens of minutes at a time. This is how it goes:
I make Nicky a lunch for school.
The result: Zoe and Daisy go in their closet and empty every drawer of their dressers.
Time elapsed: six minutes.
I check Nicky's math homework for errors.
The result: Zoe and Daisy cover themselves in foot cream and roll around in my bed.
Time elapsed: two minutes.
I comb Nicky's hair.
The result: Daisy pushes Zoe down the stairs in a rocking chair.
Time elapsed: thirty seconds.
So pretty much anything I do that doesn't have me 100% focused on my two daughters results in catastrophe. Frankly, it's a dangerous way to live, and thus, I have many emotional breakdowns.
Which leads me back to today. I have a significantly larger amount of homework this week than I normally do, so this morning, I needed to get some crucial reading done so I can stay ahead. After my girls had already proven that the day was going to be rough, I decided I would take them to McDonald's where they could play and eat ice cream (at 10:00 a.m.), and I could use the free Wi-Fi to get some homework done. I assumed this would be great and everyone would be happy.
This is how it went:
Fact #1: My iPad was dead.
Fact #2: Zoe refuses to leave the ground in play areas, a fact I didn't take into consideration when I took her to a McDonald's location that has nothing on the ground.
Fact #3: Daisy hates other children.
So Daisy spent the whole time accusing another little girl of "spraying boogers" on her (while that little girl complained to her mom that Daisy had tripped her), Zoe spent the entire time either screaming at the exit of the slide or sitting on my lap, and I couldn't do anything anyway because the iPad was dead.
And those are the things that made me cry in McDonald's. And when I cry, I don't just cry about the things that are happening right then. I cry about the thousand things that I haven't cried about, even things that aren't worth crying over, like spilled milk. And that's no metaphor. I literally cry over the spilled milk... from three days ago.
I wish I could say that it's just "a pregnancy thing," but I'm so far into pregnancy that I can no longer imagine what it's like to not be this way. Is this how I am all the time? I don't know! I can't remember!
So now my girls are eating granola bars and watching Dora, and I am sipping Dr. Pepper and using my blog for self-therapy instead of doing homework. Everything is going to be okay... I think... as soon as this mess magically goes away...
...as well as whatever catastrophes have occurred as a result of me leaving my girls unsupervised so I could write this.
When I was in high school taking all sorts of career aptitude and personality tests to help me figure out what to do with my life, every assessment I took recommended that I become a secretary. If you're familiar with those tests, you know that they don't usually recommend just one career, so there were a lot of other things on the lists as well, but secretary was the one that always caught my eye.
(One test recommended that I become a lumberjack. I haven't entirely ruled that out).
Being a secretary seemed to fit. In junior high I spent two years as an assistant to one of my teachers. I did the same thing in high school (I may not have been called "secretary," but that's pretty much what I was). I was the secretary for my high school's dance team. Then after college, I spent some time as a receptionist at a dairy (i.e. secretary), and then I was hired at a special ed. school as... a secretary. I started off as the hourly secretary (the one that gets paid less and works part-time), but then I applied for a contract secretarial position and, out of 26 applicants, got the job as Principal's secretary. One of my first callings in my current ward was Young Women secretary. Then a few years later, I was called to be the Stake Relief Society secretary.
When I was figuring out what to do for college, I was originally planning on going to Westminster College, but even with scholarships, that would have landed me pretty heavily in debt. Since I was obviously going to grow up to be a secretary (and because of better scholarships), I decided to go to LDS Business College instead.
I get a chuckle out of that now. What on earth was I doing at a business college? It seems like such a wrong place for me, and yet, it was the right choice.
When I was applying for school last summer, I kept looking at my transcript and thinking, "I should be getting a business degree!" because I'm well on my way. But my desire for a business degree is less than zero.
When I introduced myself to my first class at BYU-Idaho, I said something along the lines of, "Hello, class! I'm Brittany. I graduated from LDS Business College where I studied accounting, so naturally, I am now earning my BS in Marriage & Family Studies." It was supposed to be funny, you see, because accounting does not naturally lead into MFS. Haha. I had obviously done a 180 in my schooling.
Except I learned (from that class) that I didn't!
As I looked into possible careers for a person with a BS in MFS (and a CFLE - Certified Family Life Educator, which I will likely be in the end) I contacted a family-related non-profit organization to inquire about their staffing. I asked them about their education requirements and how they operate. The office manager said things like, "We need people with degrees to do research, we need people with presentation skills to teach, and everyone needs office skills." The conversation was much more detailed than that, but the key was: office skills.
In the field of MFS, many people set out to start their own organizations or programs. They get passionate about a topic, pornography prevention, for example, and they create their own doors by developing curricula and starting their own organizations or programs. This endeavor is obviously enhanced when the people involved have some type of business experience, so wow! Maybe there's a greater reason than I've ever understood for making the choice to go to business school (and guess whose husband has a business degree? MINE!)
At this point, I don't know what I'm going to do with my degree. I haven't ruled out grad school (I'm trying to keep my grades up so I will be a worthy candidate should I choose that route), but I will say that I have no desire to be a marriage counselor like most of the other people in my program. I want to work in prevention, not intervention, and even though counseling can be a preventative measure for many things, most married couples have problems for seven years before they seek help, so when they go to counseling, they are at a point of needing intervention. I want to work with people before that and provide education and skills that can help marriages and families avoid casualties later down the road. There is very little money in prevention, and my path can change at any time, which is why, for the time being, I'll say that I don't know what I'm going to do with my degree. BUT in looking at possibilities for the future, I have found it interesting that my secretarial skills and business education are likely to be needed.
Right now I'm not a secretary, but having been one in my past has definitely prepared me for new experiences, both career-wise and in my church callings. If I am accomplishing anything good as the Primary president in my ward, it is because I was a secretary first. I think the same can be said for whatever my future brings.
This school year I have continued making birthday posters for Nicky's school (see last year's posters here). It's a good assignment, and I have a lot of fun with it. Daisy is my official poster consultant and assistant (there are pros and cons to this). Here's what we came up with for the first half of the year:
For September, we based our poster on Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons. My kids love Pete the Cat. Hopefully a lot of other children at Nicky's school do too. Otherwise they probably thought the poster lady just has a weird obsession with cats and buttons.
For October we did a haunted house with ghosts and pumpkins. Not the most original school poster in the world, but it worked.
In November, I tried to come up with something other than Thanksgiving, and since Charles Shultz was born in November, I decided to do a Snoopy poster. I even added Charles' name on a paw... tiny details no one will ever notice.
December was a fun one - I'd been wanting to post our curly-haired principal's head on something, and when I saw some Elf posters online, I knew what I had to do. When I went to the school to hang up the poster, the upper grades were on their way to lunch, and the poster caused quite a ruckus. The kids' reaction was totally worth any sort of trouble I might have gotten in. Luckily we have the perfect principal for antics like this (this wouldn't have been okay at my son's original school).
Every time I'm pregnant, I wish I had a grabber. If you haven't experienced bending over while pregnant, let me clue you in: it's not fun. There comes a point in each pregnancy where I get down on my hands and knees and crawl throughout the whole house picking stuff up off the floor because it's too hard to keep going up and down and up and down, so I just stay down.
During my second pregnancy, I saw a stash of "As Seen on TV" grabbers near the register at the store, and I thought, "I should get that NOW!" because it's one of those things that you see when you're not looking for one, but if you're looking for one you'll never find one. Alas, I didn't have the money at the time so I decided I'd buy one the following week after pay day.
Because they were gone.
Just as I knew they would be!
Finally, in my fourth pregnancy, I have a grabber! Scotty gave it to me for Christmas, and it was quite timely since I grew increasingly uncomfortable during the two weeks before Christmas.
Now I know this: everyone should have a grabber, pregnant or not. The other day my book fell behind the couch, and I was able to retrieve it with the grabber (otherwise I would've had to move the couch). Today I moved our deep freezer forward a few inches and used the grabber to pick up some stuff that had fallen behind it (I would've had to move the freezer several feet if I didn't have the grabber). Cleaning, in general, is much easier with a grabber. I pick up stuff from under my kitchen table with ease. Garbage, laundry, shoes, toys - all are so much easier to pick up with my grabber, not to mention, it extends my reach so I don't have to walk as far between the items I'm cleaning up and the place where they are stored.
Fact #1: I am officially in the third trimester of pregnancy, and the third trimester didn't waste any time making its presence known. Since Christmas I've been nauseous everyday, and I am starting to get super fatigued again.
Fact #2: I haven't taken a single "belly photo," which is sad because I've been pretty diligent about that in the past. I did see a picture of myself from Christmas, though, that made me realize how unflattering my non-maternity clothes are on my very pregnant body (I might post that picture in another post soon).
Fact #3: Somewhere between 24-25 weeks, I got exponentially uncomfortable. One week I was sitting on the floor at my nephew's birthday party with no problem, and the next week, I could no longer get off the couch in a discreet manner.
Fact #4: I am carrying this baby a lot lower than all of my others. I have always carried very high and have had to push my uterus out of my ribs for relief as early as 12 weeks. This time everything is lower and my ribs are so thankful.
Fact #5: I've been having round ligament pain for the first time, and one of the things that aggravates it is running, so I haven't been running since October (which is fine because I'm not comfortable running pregnant when the ground is icy and the air is bad anyway). The last few times I ran, it took a week for my ligaments to recover. Now I save all my ligament woes for getting up to pee in the middle of the night, which is the other frequent aggravator.
Fact #6: I've never been pregnant in January before. Well... I have... but I was, like, four weeks pregnant and didn't know yet. Turns out that being a pregnant hormonal mess during the most depressing month of the year is kind of a bummer.
Fact #7: I have found it increasingly difficult to do simple things like do my hair and wear real clothes as time has gone on. I had an obligation last night that required me to look presentable, and I was nearly in tears at the thought of having to "get ready." I guess I've let myself go!
Fact #8: Pregnancy has not been kind to the texture of my hair.
Fact #9: I'm due right at the same time as Kate Middleton and Carrie Underwood. I wonder which of us will be in the spotlight the most?
Fact #10: I have been alternating between hot and cold everyday, much like the flu except not the flu. Just pregnancy. I've also been quite achy, much like the flu except not the flu. Just pregnancy.
I didn't mention much about Christmas around here after it had happened. In addition to finding out that we're having a girl, Christmas brought one more change to our household... or three.
Nicky has been asking for chickens for a while, and Scotty and I have wanted some as well, so we thought Christmas would be a great time to get some. It's not every year that your kid asks for something somewhat practical. The gift that keeps on giving, and all that! Definitely better than electronics!
The problem was, we didn't have a very good place to put a coop. Most of the perimeter of our yard is used up. Adding a chicken coop to the yard would require us to move sprinklers or transplant a perfectly good raspberry bush, which we didn't want to do. Then Scotty had a great idea. We ended up removing the picnic table and the sandbox from under our playset and turning that area into a run. We borrowed a house temporarily from my dad which we will replace in the spring with one of our own. This made it possible for us to go from zero to chicken coop overnight.
Boy, was Nicky surprised when he found a note from Santa on Christmas morning saying that he might have left a few gifts outside.
For now, because of being re-located and because it's winter, "the girls," as I call them, aren't laying eggs, but come spring, we will be happy to have their eggs (we've opted to not have a lamp in the coop). Meanwhile, I am begrudgingly buying eggs from the store and looking forward to the day when the chickens start earning their keep (I am also looking forward to the day when we have a lot more vegetable scraps to feed them via the garden. That was always one of my favorite parts of having chickens as a child - preparing them "gourmet meals" from our garden) (Did I mention that I grew up with chickens? And my dad breeds and raises them? And he might have helped Santa with the arrangements for getting Christmas chickens? Cause Santa's workshop doesn't make chickens. It's a supply and demand thing).
Nicky has done a great job taking care of the chickens so far. In fact, all of the kids are quite fond of them. They all love feeding them and playing outside while the chickens are out wandering. Zoe is especially a fan. When she sees them outside the window each morning, she yells, "Dih-dih!" (which is "chicken" in Zoe-ese), and then she goes and gets her purple boots on so she can go outside and bond with the girls. Zoe climbs right in the coop with them, puts her hands in her pockets, and just watches. She also likes to feed them and ride her bike in circles around them on the patio. Whenever we go anywhere, Zoe has to go in the backyard and say good-bye to the "dih-dih" first.
My only complaint is the poop, but that comes with all living things, so we're used to it.
Nicky is at an age where he is starting to take interest in things that I am also interested in. This is great because sometimes I get to watch movies or shows that I like instead of PBS Kids and Dora over and over and over. It's refreshing to have a little buddy who likes some of the same things I do.
Nicky recently discovered the joy of Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. He was so excited when he answered his first Jeopardy clue. It's rare that we can actually sit down and watch together, but when we do, it's a blast! (I need to remember to stay quiet during these game shows and give Nicky a chance to figure things out, but it's so hard! I'm an answer hog! If I know the answer, I can't keep quiet or I'll die of a twitching fit).
When Nicky heard me talking about going to see The Giver, he became very curious about it. He asked me several times if I would let him watch it, and it's a movie that I feel good about my kids seeing (with some follow-up discussion), so I told him he could watch it when it came to Redbox. I knew most of it would go right over his head (and it did), but I loved watching it with him and explaining the story and the themes to him. Nicky was thrilled because he got to watch a PG-13 movie (he's a little obsessed with movie ratings right now).
Several months ago, Nicky and I watched The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe together. It's hard for me to sit back and just watch a movie with my kids when there is something much bigger to the story than they can comprehend on their own. I paused the movie at least a dozen times to ask Nicky questions like, "Why do you think Mr. Tumnus betrayed Lucy to the White Witch?" and "Who else can you think of who died to save other people like Aslan?" He was so great to go along with it, and he never once complained that I kept interrupting the show.
Shortly after that, Nicky started asking me about the Lord of the Rings. He's always been intrigued with LOTR, and I've always told him that he can watch the movies when he's older. Scotty and I were planning to watch them, and Nicky knew, so he kept asking and asking if he could watch them with us. We decided to let him try it out, but first we explained to him that there are a lot of scary-looking creatures in the movies, so we made him promise that if he felt scared that he would tell us and be brave enough to stop watching. I really didn't think he'd make it very far into the movies before he got scared. Nicky has always been very afraid of everything on TV and in movies - to this day, he will not watch Toy Story 3 because it's too scary, and yet, he watched most of all three LOTR movies without flinching. I thought, "Wow! He is being so brave during these movies, but tonight he's going to come into our room sobbing!" We watched the movies over the span of a month, and he didn't get scared once! Orcs? Goblins? Giant spiders? They've got nothin' on Nicky. But toys in a trash incinerator? Nightmares for WEEKS! I don't get it. But I'm so glad I got to watch LOTR with my son (even though most of the story went over his head, and he asked me no less than a hundred times who Frodo was).
Nicky is also showing an aptitude for board games. A few months ago I bought Rummikub thinking it would be a good game for Nicky to learn. I taught him how to play, and he plays pretty well. We've also taught him the basics of Quirkle (without keeping score) and Ticket to Ride (with lots of help). He used some of his birthday money to buy Super Big Boggle. He's getting to the point where he's no longer going to be content playing with his friends on game night - he's going to start trying to infiltrate our system! I need to be prepared for this!
I often look at Nicky and wonder, "Where did this kid come from?" He asks me about the books I'm reading and about every show I watch. He asks about my school assignments and my plans for dinner. I never expected that the person most interested in my life would be my eight-year-old son. I hope he stays this way, and I hope we can share many more interests in the years to come.