Come Play With Me

My husband called me this afternoon at an odd time and for no reason. I immediately thought something happened at work and he was done (his last day is supposed to be July 8th), but he just said he was bored. He plays an adult well in the real world but in real life, he’s a dorky five year old. And this is why I love him.

We’re on the downhill slide to 50. We are OLD. But Ron still makes me feel like we’re teenage kids together, faking our way through life like we have no idea what we’re doing. I mean we really don’t have any idea what we’re doing; who does? We have a modicum of a plan but day to day stuff? We still occasionally eat chips and queso for dinner (not as an appetizer) and vegetables just aren’t as prevalent as they should be at our age. We bicker over whose turn it is to do various chores. We laugh and giggle and play like kids.

I know that at work, my husband is strong and capable and smart and an adult, dammit. But with me, he still gets toddler face when he has to do something he doesn’t want to do, like mow the lawn or take out the trash. He randomly makes funny noises. He makes up songs to the cat. He wakes up with his hair sticking up and is plain adorable. I can easily imagine him at age two, or five, or even 15.

He works hard to cultivate his adult image and I’m sure I’ll get crap for marring it, but he is ridiculously child-like with me. He keeps me young because he makes me laugh. I’m often torn between wishing the entire world could know how awesome he is and wanting to keep him a secret all to myself.

Our marriage has had its ups and downs (like hell level downs) and there were a few times we weren’t sure we would make it, but the past two and a half years have been amazing and it doesn’t show signs of stopping. Since we learned how to communicate, we are stronger, happier, and more fulfilled. If there was one single thing I could wish for my children it would be to have this level of communication with their future partners. There is no passive-aggressive manipulations. If I want something, I ask for it. He’s still learning to do that but he has drastically improved.

I think the other thing we’ve learned that has made us both happier is acceptance. I love him for exactly who he is and I don’t try to change him. I do make him stretch his comfort zone now and then but I don’t expect him to suddenly start bringing me flowers.

Having someone to play with, who makes me laugh and who laughs at my horrendous “your face” jokes is a relationship goal that I never knew to aspire to. My first marriage made me feel old and worn out. My second marriage made me feel like I had a third child. But this baby bear is just right.

 

Love Without End, Amen

It’s Father’s Day today. This does not hold the same traumatic emotions that Mother’s Day does, thank goodness. Not that I had a good father, neither my biological nor my adopted one. Even my first husband was a shitty dad when we were married and he’s even worse now. He hasn’t had any contact with his children since 2005, in spite of living less than two miles from our current house. I can only wonder what kind of relationship he has with his stepson. Shudder….

No, my actual fathers were crap, but I had some amazing male role models and both my second and my current husband were and are both inspiring dads. Although Jon was only part of our lives for four years, he gave us a normalcy that I and the kids had never had. We had a beautiful home, fantastic home cooked meals, and he was always up for playing games and having fun. He and Aubrey are still in contact although not as often as they used to be. I am so happy that he now has two daughters of his own to spoil and be a great dad to them.

Ron is everything a dad should be. He’s supportive without being overbearing. He takes care of all us without question. He works hard and comes home to work even harder, be it cooking, cleaning, or studying so he can move forward and take even better care of us. He gives the dogs their meds twice a day, makes me coffee every weekend morning, and tries very hard to not punch Aubrey’s boyfriend in the face. He does almost all of the grocery shopping, all of the laundry, all of the dishes, cooks almost every meal that we eat at home, takes care of the yard, and makes us laugh with his little idiosyncrasies. And all that is just the tip of the Ron iceberg. Every day, he amazes me with how incredible he is and I know exactly how blessed I am to have him.

Unlike with mothers, I’ve never wandered around grasping onto male father figures and asking, “Are you my father?” But there have been some truly special men in my life. I think the first one was Delbert Rowland, the Vice Principal at Alamo Heights High School during my time there, although I didn’t know it then. He reported my mom to child protective services because he cared about me. Of course, my mother has fictionalized it as he was persecuting me, which I believed at the time. As an adult, I know better. He actually believed I deserved better than what I had, and while I didn’t recognize it then, it has helped me in my trauma recovery as an adult. I cannot thank him enough. He wasn’t out to get me, he was out to get her, and he tried his best to make a difference.

Also from AHHS was Mr. Paul Foerster. He was the only teacher who ever gave me in school suspension for missing class. He knew I was capable of more than what I was giving, and he expected better from me. Even then, I knew he punished me because he cared, not because he was mean or being an asshole. I think he loved all of his students equally (and he was there FOREVER, so that’s a LOT of students), which was also a great lesson; love is infinite and there is plenty to go around if you let it. He never ever ever played favorites, unlike almost every other teacher I’ve had.

Which leads me to Glenn Boswell, affectionately known to all of us as Boz. He also never ever ever plays favorites. Ever. He makes every person (not just his students) feel special, and worthy, and capable, and accepted. I remember he told us that he had to fix his ex-daughter-in-law’s car and we all thought that was crazy. But to Boz, she was the mother of his grandchild and would always be part of his family. That set a shining example for me of how love should be; unconditional.

Boz always underrates his importance in changing lives. So many kids go off to college broken in some way, both minor and major. At a junior college, the rate is even higher. I was more broken than most; in an abusive and controlling marriage after surviving an abusive and controlling childhood. Many times I floundered, to say the least. But Boz was always there to pull me through. He didn’t have to do anything special…he just was THERE. When I was knocked down, he lifted me back up. When I said I couldn’t, he told me I could. He gave advice with no expectation of it being followed. He offered comfort when my life was at its worst. Most of all, he believed I was amazing, and he made me believe I was amazing, too.

Without Boz on my side, I would likely have stayed in my miserable marriage for much longer because I wouldn’t have had the means to support myself and my kids, both financially and psychologically. Not only did he teach me everything I know about computer architecture and half of what I know about programming, he gave me glowing job recommendations. I always got the job. Not only was I able to leave my abusive husband, I was able to provide a good life for my kids when they were young.

Even now, Boz is still the angel on my shoulder. When I don’t blog often enough, I get a gentle nudge reminding me to post something. I think a quarter of my entire blog is due to Boz’ nudging.

It’s been 20 years since he came into my life. While I don’t get to see him often enough in real life, he is still a major influence for me. Although he never signed up for the job, he’s the closest thing I have to a father and that is more than a lot of my friends have. For that, I will always feel blessed.

 

That’s What Friends Are For

18 months ago, my life was so much different. I had a slew of what I considered to be good friends. I was knitting in a different group every day and considered myself somewhat popular. Then I made the mistake of becoming close to the wrong person and when the schism inevitably happened, just like in any divorce, friends took sides. I. Lost. Almost. Everyone.

It was HARD to cope with the sudden changes. I went into a major depressive episode and returned to therapy. Oddly enough, a miracle occurred and I gained a new perspective on my need for people to like me. For the first time, I truly was able to say, “Fuck it,” and concentrated on spending time with the people who actually do care about me rather than chasing after the ones who don’t.

Every once in a while, I come across an FB post that is evidence of my non-importance to those I called friends and I admit that it does sting for a moment or two. But then I remember the real people who matter and it’s like aloe on a burn.

There is one person that I particularly miss, though. J.S. was someone who soothed my troubled soul, whom I thought loved unconditionally, whom I loved unconditionally. Even when we didn’t see each other as much as I’d have liked, she would randomly text that she was thinking about me. Then she stopped responding to my texts. I was ghosted. It hurt because I loved her.

Months later I received a single text that she wasn’t upset with me, but that she was dealing with stuff and didn’t feel up to socializing. I accepted that because I’ve been there. I never heard from her again. But today I saw a selfie with her hanging out with someone I don’t like, to put it mildly. That’s cool; I never begrudge someone else’s choice in friends. However, I can’t help but think that I was easily replaced by someone she considers to be better in whatever way. My heart broke a little to know that it’s not that she doesn’t want to hang out, it’s that she doesn’t want to hang out with ME.

So today, I am sad. Heartbroken, even. I miss her. And that is OK.

After grieving for a bit, I will go back to being excited that my best friend is moving all the way from Connecticut back to Texas. She will be within easy driving distance. Leigh is more than a friend, she is the closest thing I have to a sister. She is the other half of my heart. While losing a friend can be devastating and leave me feeling unwanted and “less than,” I think of Leigh, who swore she’d never move back to the same state as her mother and sister, saying, “I need to be near you more than I need to be away from my family.”

me and leigh

Leigh and Me

I am loved. I am wanted. I am enough.

 

 

From My Kitchen Pantry. Rich and Luscious Crème Pâtissière.

Ron and I are making eclairs this pastry weekend. I had never made pastry cream before, but have made curd numerous times. I was thrilled to find out they are equally easy. I used this recipe and followed her instructions exactly and my cream turned out perfect on the first try!

The Paddington Foodie

Creme Patisserie

This weekend we’re celebrating my husband’s birthday, and as always I’m baking a celebratory cake. Last year we embarked on a serious chocoholic indulgence with a Chocolate Mousse Torte with Candied Morello Cherries and Hazelnut Praline, this year it’s to be something lighter – a berry and cream filled Pavlova. Of course for my family one regular sized pavlova just won’t do so I doubled the recipe. What to do with eight left over eggs? Make Crème Pâtissière; an idea initially inspired some time ago by Ana over at her blog Delicious By Ana.

Crème Pâtissière is a ludicrously rich and luscious French pastry cream or custard that can be used to fill all manner of desserts, tarts and cakes. Think simple fruit tarts, choux pastry puffs, mille feuille, éclairs, Napoleons and layer cakes.  In my family it is also enjoyed inelegantly and stealthily; by the spoonful, straight…

View original post 444 more words

Bright Lights, Big City

Migraines suck. It is a special kind of hell.

Before I was diagnosed with interstitial cystitis (IC) and fibromyalgia, I was just sick. No one could tell me what was wrong, just that I wasn’t dying. I couldn’t leave the house and hardly left the sofa. That went on for months until I just happened to come across an article on IC as well as a treatment (hydroxyzine). Finally I was free from the bounds of my living room and bathroom!

Fibro is awful enough on its own, but at least I was able to knit, watch tv, drive to appointments, and sometimes even meet a friend for a movie. When I’m flared I can be stuck on the sofa for days but I feel confident that the flare will end and I’ll get back to what I consider normal. As I’ve had fibro since I was 14, I was able to figure out how to still have a life.

With migraines, it’s just not possible. Not only do I have noise and light sensitivity, I have other, weirder symptoms. Some are easier to live with than others; smelling marshmallows or baked cookies is much nicer than feeling dizzy and nauseated. Driving means I have to turn my head from side to side, not to mention I can see the road whizzing by me, all of which makes my head spin. It’s like being rather drunk and that light feeling you get when you shake your head.

I spent three days this week trapped in my bed because I didn’t feel safe being alone in the house and walking around. Twice in the last week, I have blacked out and fallen. The first time took out my right knee when I landed on it. The second time I just got a bruise on my leg. But I’m terrified that I could hit my head and if there is no one home, I’m screwed.

Sometimes I can’t even watch tv because I have an auditory version of blurry vision; I can hear sounds but can’t translate those sounds into speech. It just sounds like garbled noise. That means I can’t have a conversation with my husband. I get nauseous and shaky. It’s hard to knit when you don’t have much fine motor control. It’s difficult to concentrate when you’re worried you’re going to heave, not to mention dealing with the blinding pain.

While fibro is debilitating, it is nothing compared to chronic migraines. I never thought I’d long for the days of “just” having fibromyalgia. If I had a doctor’s appointment, I could suck it up for an hour, knowing I could come home and go back to bed. With a migraine, things get cancelled. I don’t know 24 hours ahead how I will feel; I could feel perfectly fine ten minutes before needing to leave to go somewhere then get hit with blinding pain and nausea and not be able to leave my bed let alone my house. As much as I hate to pay $40 for a missed visit, it’s much cheaper than dealing with a car accident. I wouldn’t drive while drunk so I’m certainly not going to drive while migrainous.

I am incredibly lucky because my family is sympathetic. My husband gets (bad for him) migraines and has to just sleep through them so he knows somewhat how I feel. My daughter gets aura without migraine, so she realizes just how awful all the accompanying symptoms are. That means dinner still gets made, floors are still swept, and laundry still done even when I’m out.

About the only thing I’ve found that is a useful preventive is cranial sacral massage. While it’s not a good rescue solution, it can prevent or abort an attack. I can easily lie on a table and let someone massage my head and neck as long as I don’t have a raging migraine. Of course then I end up with crazy Einstein hair, also known as the post-fornication look. I’m sure all the shops around the massage therapy school think that people are having mad sex in the parking lot as I’m not the only one walking around with crazed hair and a satiated glazed look in my eye.

I have hope that I’ll eventually get this figured out. It took me years with fibro before I figured out how to still have a life. It’s only been seven months since the chronic migraines started; I’m still learning what the question is so I can’t be expected to know the answer yet.

Meanwhile, I have set up a nest on my bed. I have my computer, phone, knitting, and tissue all within hand’s reach. My mp3 player is loaded with cello music as I’ve also learned that low frequency music works with my rescue meds to shorten an attack.

Ugh. Even as I type this, I can feel a migraine wavering in the background. My left eye feels tender and pressurized while my left brain has a dull ache. I already know that our plans to go out for dinner are not going to happen. Like I said, migraines suck.

 

 

I Can Hold On Fine

I received an email from a dear friend/surrogate parent asking why he hasn’t seen any posts since January. I guiltily admitted that I had not written anything. To be fair, I had no idea it had been that long. I swear yesterday was Christmas; I blinked and tomorrow I turn 47. Only 8 more months of shopping days until Christmas again. No. Someone please stop the tilt-a-whirl for a minute because I feel a bit dizzy.

I think I’ve slept through a lot of the past three months thanks to my ramped up migraines. I still have another month before I finally have an appointment with a neurologist, but thanks to a four day hospital stay after being admitted through the ER, at least I know I don’t have any tumors and my spinal fluid volume is normal. On the plus side, I did find out that I have an aneurysm (very tiny and in a spot that very rarely hemorrhages). I swear this is karma biting me in the ass for when, 25 some odd years ago that I first had pray-for-death level migraines, I joked about it being from an aneurysm. While some types certainly can cause migraines, mine is not one of them. Rather than a neurological problem causing migraines, my migraines are causing neurological problems. It’s a better situation, definitely.

That’s not the only way that karma is working overtime around here. All my younger (much, much younger and much more evil) days of flirting with married men now sees me on the other side of that equation. Intellectually, I know that my marriage is safe and sound (thank goodness this didn’t happen even just a couple of years ago), but psychologically, I know exactly how insidious attraction can be. Add in a whole lot of insecurity from being chronically ill and it’s a formula for misery. Oddly enough, this has been a positive thing. In spite of our weekly fight cycle, we’ve been spending some great quality time together, partly due to my husband’s attempts to reassure me that he’s not going anywhere. It helps that we finally have a mutual hobby.

In February at a knitting retreat, a couple of other knitters started talking about a baking competition reality series called The Great British Bake Off. Initially I was watching it with Aubrey but after passing through the living room while it was on, Ron got caught up in it. What started as simply watching episodes turned into talking about baking, and eventually we attempted our own. It’s exciting because there aren’t any local gluten free patisseries so we can’t just go buy pastries. Nope, if we want to eat this stuff, we have to make it.

I’ve always loved cooking with my husband. Making frittatas on Saturdays is one of my favorite things that we do together. But this is different. We’re both decent cooks but novice bakers so we’re learning it at the same time. Yesterday was our first go. I found a recipe for cherry-lime curd and figured it would be great in crepes. Since curd only uses egg yolk, we had four whites left over, so Ron decided to make meringue cookies as training for future macarons. I wish I’d thought to snap a pic of him looking up into the bowl of meringue as he held it upside down over his head to see if it was thick enough. He flavored them with Grand Marnier but thought they tasted too boozy. I thought they were delicious, even if they did have the texture of packing peanuts. Unfortunately, we also learned that we’re both sensitive to sorghum flour. Although Ron can have gluten just fine, sorghum gave us both a gluten-like reaction. Being sick sort of took the shine off our morning but now we know to avoid it.

In addition to migraines and baking, we now have Aubrey living at home again. Her roommate had a major health issue and had to move much earlier than expected. Rather than moving in December, she found out at the beginning of March that she needed to be out by April 1. Of course that was right when I ended up in the hospital…worst possible timing! Somehow we managed to get everything packed up during her last week and hired movers to get it all down the two flights of stairs.

Having her here is both good and bad. She’s easy to live with and I love seeing her every day but we are crammed in. If it weren’t for all the KonMari work we did in January and February, we wouldn’t have had room at all. As it is, all of our KMing came to a shrieking halt just when I was almost done with the craft studio. We managed to do our bedroom, the bathroom, the office, the kitchen, and most of the living room. The unfinished craft piles were moved from the studio into the office. The first few days after Aubrey moved in were rough because crap was piled everywhere and boxes were stacked in the living room. I ended up making her put the living room boxes in her car until she gets a storage unit.While that still doesn’t solve the boxes in the kitchen and the ridiculous amount of clothes in her room, at least my living room is clean.

In case you’re wondering, our bedroom is still clean and uncluttered!  All of our drawers are full of perfectly folded clothes stood on end. My nightstand is occasionally in need of purging and our pillows tend to stay piled on a chair since I go back to bed too often to warrant bothering to make it in the mornings, but the floor and our dresser tops are all clear. During the days of disaster in the living room, it was my safe haven so I didn’t go crazy.

Considering that tomorrow is my birthday, I’m glad I got a sort of end-of-year clearance post done. Hopefully age 47 will see me not gain 300 lbs as I eat all the carbs that I swore off last fall. I also hope to finally (after five years!) get rid of the shit brown paint in my kitchen. Yup, those are my two main goals for this year and trust me, they’re huge. After all of the leaps and bounds of progress during age 46, I think 47 is going to seriously kick ass. Happy birthday to me!

Around My Neck (and on the wall)

20160118_184708 (2)

I have been following the KonMari method to declutter my house and the main tenet is to only keep the things that bring you joy. I have a rather large collection of dragonfly necklaces that my daughter and husband have bought me over the years and they definitely bring me joy! I wanted a way to display them on the wall so I could see them all, but after shopping for a week, I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for. As I was drifting off to sleep last night, I had a brilliant idea to frame them but have them still be accessible.

It was easy, too. I used a cheap wooden frame from IKEA, a piece of cardboard cut from an Amazon box, and a scrap of scrapbooking paper that matches my bedding. I started by removing the glass then used it to trace out the size on the cardboard and paper.

20160118_191539[1]

Some double tape glued the paper to the cardboard. I measured across the top and marked in 1/6 of the way from each edge, then cut down half an inch at each mark. I put it inside the frame, cardboard side up, and traced across the top on the inside.

20160118_192318[1]

Cut across the line between the marks and flip it over.

20160118_192725 (2)

Put the chain into the slits created from the downward cuts and adjust it so the pendant is centered.

20160118_192837 (2)

Pop it into the frame without the glass and done!

20160118_193022 (2)

I was so excited to try this out, I did it before I even repainted the frames so just ignore the chippy bits. Now I have beautiful and meaningful art for my bedroom walls and I get to see my favorite necklaces and enjoy them all, even when I’m not wearing them!

20160118_184708 (2)