Category Archives: Learning

We always think we have more time…

Here’s the thing about life, the toughest lesson to learn. Ready?

We always think we have more time.

So we squander the time we have. We put off until tomorrow what could be done today. We hold off on reaching out and making an effort in relationships because we erroneously believe there will be this magical later.

Or at least that’s how last week came crashing down for me.

The boy was scheduled to leave for bootcamp on September 12th. We were prepared for that date. It was comfortably in the distance. We watched him graduate and patted ourselves on the back for having three whole months to be with him, to enjoy him, to treasure our togetherness. The reality is, with the military, they own him.

When July 12th arrived, I remember thinking…okay, so we have two more months. Only then on July 17th, we didn’t. He sent me a series of text messages while he was out with his girlfriend.

I took a deep breath. Then I grew needy.

So I waited and worried and knew in my gut this was the beginning of the end. And it couldn’t come at a worse time. Life was already crazy with trying to fix Kenna’s insurance and the painters had been there all day every day since the Friday before. It was a zoo. Everything was crazy. Now we were adding heartbreak to this too.

All of my friends have been incredibly supportive. They tell me to thank him for his service. They remind me that I have raised an incredibly giving young man. They tell me I must be so proud of him. One even suggested I needed this sweatshirt:

Ignore that it says Army, while my boy will be a Marine. The sentiment is true. Only, the boy became my hero long before he ever decided to join the military. Keenan was the original boy who lived. He was here before Harry Potter. In fact, he’s the reason I started reading the series. Rachel needed to be challenged. She was six and reading years beyond her grade. Keenan was home sick. We picked up the first book and were completely hooked. That line resonated with me: the boy who lived.

Keenan has done very nearly everything early his whole life. He was born ten weeks early, he still had teeth by four months, and managed to have multiple surgeries before he was even a year old. That his military career would start early shouldn’t have surprised me at all. It didn’t, really. I just wanted more time.

I never had a chance to really tell him how much he matters to me, to our family. I never could find the words to explain how much I valued I valued our relationship, his quiet ways, his easy devotion, his constant love. Keenan never complained aloud, would simply do as he was asked. Maybe I’ve been grooming him for this life. He had Rachel, his second mother and first drill instructor.

Determined to make this week count, I tried to ensure he had time to see everyone, do everything, say his goodbyes, and relax some too. We planned, despite the chaos, to have a dinner here with his girlfriend and her family on Saturday night, whether I had a kitchen or not. We’d make it happen.

When Saturday arrived, I decorated because…I had to. There were blue plastic tablecloths on the tables set for twelve. There were patriotic paper plates and red cups with stickers everyone could etch their name on.  The food from Olive Garden’s catering menu was great, but I enjoyed the company more. For the first time all week, I had stopped to breathe. For once, after being ruled by the clock and calendar all week I hadn’t worried about time…how little we had, how much there was to do to prepare.

The past few days had passed in a flurry of appointments: bringing him to the recruiting station to go off for his final pre-ship stuff, then picking him up the next day, then going back to meet with the recruiter. Finally, we could just be.

And when it was over, long past Kenna’s bed time, Keenan thanked me. Out of nowhere. Without prompting. Simply because that’s the kind of young man he is. He wrapped his arms around me and planted a kiss on the forehead.  I did what I do, and put on my brave face. He didn’t need to know that the night before, I had cried when he came home from dropping off his girlfriend as I considered what life would be like around here without him. How could I tell him I’d stood in the kitchen while Sam held me, leaving big wet spots on the chest of his Under Armour shirt while pouring out all my thoughts, fears, and sorrows? Barely hidden beneath the surface, Keenan is the most loving and sensitive guy I’ve ever known.

Raising him has been such a pleasure. Being there for him every step of the way has been an honor. Sharing him with the military…that’s hard. Still, I want him to be happy. I want him to follow his dreams.

Somehow the boy who refused to ride rollercoasters and feared waterslides, the boy who was once backed into a corner by an ant, the one I’d never let play with guns…has now joined the Marines. This is what he wants. So, I’ll support him every way I can.

This morning, his girlfriend met me at the house and we went to the ceremony where he swore in and signed in. Then we hugged on him, kissed him, and cried. Yeah. He cried too. I told you he was sweet.

We congratulated ourselves on not being big sloppy messes. Then we drove away. It was anticlimactic for sure. In the meantime, I’m going to hang in there and stay strong, be tough for him. I’ll be sharing tons of happy stuff with him through letters. I’ll give him roots and wings.

Hopefully, I’m through the worst of it. Unlike the girls, being pregnant for Keenan didn’t nearly kill me. I mean, the emergency c-section wasn’t a picnic, but the pain was manageable. It was nothing compared to this broken heart. Unlike the girls, I had no idea how to raise this little boy I never knew I always wanted. I did my best, following my special brand of loving him through it. I suffered the bullies with him. I took him to Tae Kwon Do. Thankfully, he was never much of a joiner, so while Rachel had me running the roads for all her activities, Keenan mostly hid in his room or played with friends. Truly, the hardest part of raising him has been this: letting go. Saying goodbye, knowing it will be hours before I hear his voice, knowing it could be weeks before I hear from him again.

So be patient with me for a little while. It’s not easy functioning with a hole in my heart.




It’s a constant fight…

So…I really wanted to write a happy post today, but I’m a little frustrated. Instead, I’m going to vent.

There’s a reason so many families with special needs children end up divorced or in therapy or both. Marriage is hard enough, but add in a child who needs extra attention and loads of medical and therapeutic intervention and the challenge multiplies. It’s not just the obvious stuff.

Sure, some of it is. The husband feels financial pressures from being the bread winner because sometimes the mother can’t work outside the home. Kenna came home from the hospital on oxygen, a heart monitor, and a feeding pump. She wasn’t going to any day care. She didn’t need a babysitter or a nanny. She needed a nurse.

Luckily, I was able to supplement our income as an author. Then I saved money by learning to market my books, and other authors started hiring me to help them too. It worked enough. Over time, with the fluctuations in the market, my income has increased and decreased, but it’s getting better again. I’ve found my groove. I think. I hope.

Even now, I couldn’t go back to work if I wanted to. There’s no way I could make enough for it to be worthwhile, for one. And what employer would offer me the flexibility I need, for the other. This is one of the many things Sam doesn’t consider. Three days a week she has school and I have to drop her off at 7:15am and pick her up at 2:30pm. There’s no busing for her. She couldn’t handle it with her sensory issues. I carry her into the building every day. She gets freaked out and refuses to walk. Then there are all the doctor appointments. Sooooo manyyyyy appointmentssss! Now we’re adding in therapy with OT and PT on Mondays and we’re not sure which other days, plural, for speech. Suffice to say, on Mondays, I’ll leave the house at 9:30 and probably not return until close to 12:30 or 1pm. There’s half a day right there.

Smiling, happy Kenna. <3

Ah, but aside from the money arguments and your basic who does more and works harder argument, for which he doesn’t have a leg to stand on because if he goes to work and comes home and I do everything else…it’s me, there’s also the rearing of the child. See, raising a special needs child is different. Discipline is different. Expectations must be adjusted. One of us isn’t so good with that and teeters between frustration and over-indulgence. *raises hand* Not it. Yeah, I spend a lot of time trying to teach him how to parent. It’s a good thing I get roughly four hours sleep a night.

Most of all…there’s that. Kenna’s meds have stopped working. We had a glorious three month run. Sam, whose sleep is not impacted at all from her being up from 3:30am on, argues with me on a daily basis. I’m tired of hearing about it.

Sam: You need to go back to the sleep doctor.

me: We already have an appointment.

Sam: Well, it’s probably not even the right diagnosis.

me: We had a sleep study. It’s the right diagnosis.

Sam: The meds aren’t working.

me: Obviously. We’re going to have to increase her dose.

Sam: No. They need to give her something different.

My blood is boiling by now. I go to all the appointments. I meet with all the therapists and doctors. That he doesn’t understand isn’t because I don’t share with him, but because he mostly doesn’t want to be bothered with things he believes I’m handling. So…let me handle it. I don’t need to be micromanaged. It irks me. And I say this because I’m normally too polite to say it pisses me the fuck off. Only now, with little sleep…I’m starting to slip. My normally refined and controlled demeanor is cracking and my edit button is on the fritz. Because this is how the rest of the conversation went down the first night of the argument.

me: Do you have any idea how many meds there are to treat her?

Sam: No, but they need to try something else.

me: Two. There are two meds.

Sam: There has to be something more. They can just give her something more.

me: We’ll be changing the dosage.

At this point he began talking over me and continually repeating himself while I was trying to get Kenna to sleep. It just kinda slipped out…and yet I meant it completely.

me: Shut the fuck up, Sam.

See, I added a curse word, his name, and the phrase I never use and raised my kids to believe was horribly mean. I’m going to hell. Oh, but he stopped talking. I think it was the shock. I think he realized how strongly I felt about the situation. And the shock and silence lasted for all of one night. Because the next few nights we’ve had the same argument and I don’t even respond because I’m not only tired of listening to him spew the same non-sensical, uninformed crap on a nightly basis, I’m tired of trying to counter it with reason, logic, and information. What do I know? Um, pretty much everything when it comes to caring for Kenna in every way, shape, and form. I’m in the trenches.

Luckily, I think the fight finally came to a head this morning before he left for work. He started the same argument again when I mentioned I’d been up since 3:30am. It’s not all bad. You have no idea how much I can accomplish once she falls back to sleep around 5:30am. I managed to get in a workout (three days in a row), and do some of my social media sharing. I invoiced authors. I picked graphics for projects. And now, I’m writing a blog post. I’m an animal.

Sam: She needs a different medicine.

me: There’s only one other medicine.

Sam: Well, she needs to be on that then. They need to try something else.

me: Stop. Enough. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

Sam: Will you just listen to me?

me: Sure. Then will you listen to me?

Sam: Fine. So…they need to try different meds. Maybe Lunesta, or Ambien, or Clonidine.

At this point he’s naming off all the meds he’s ever been on to treat his undiagnosed sleep disorder. Very helpful.

me: Are you done?

Sam: Yes.

me: Good. She can’t be on Clonidine. It’s meant to lower blood pressure and she has a heart condition. They need to be careful of drug interactions. The other two are meant for adults. They don’t give kids all the same meds as adults.

Sam: They can try a small amount. Just cut a bit off a pill and try it.

me: Really? *sighs loudly* The FDA has to approve meds for use.

We went through this with Kenna in the NICU. The doctors had to get FDA approval before they could give Kenna some medicine that escapes me. And I remember thinking how strange it was that the FDA would have to decide if my baby could have what she needed to live. Scary stuff. Yet at the same time, necessary. I get it.

Thus, I’m frustrated. He doesn’t understand the system. It feels like he doesn’t understand Kenna. And often, I wonder if he’s not questioning my ability to handle the situation. Still, I’m not backing down. I’ve got this. Sleep doctor on April 15th. We’ll get Kenna’s sleep figured out. Maybe I’ll get back to holding my tongue. It could happen. As for Sam, he’s gonna have to figure it out. I can’t do it for him. I’m being as patient as my sleep deprived, overwhelmed self can be.

So what’s my blessing? It has and always will be Kenna. She’s worth the sleeplessness, the stress, the fights, the appointments which force me to wear something other than yoga pants, and all the rest. Kenna.

Have you ever noticed how it’s everything at once?

So this. And pretty much more of this.

Once again I have failed to maintain frequent posting habits. I’m waving my white flag because I’m seriously surrendering to my life.

It has been totes cray cray on all fronts. Whoa. People don’t even say that anymore. This is how out of touch I am. Forgive me? See, I have big real stuff going on.

The boy moved back in and while I love having him, it’s a change. He comes and goes. He forgets to flush. He eats and I shop more. He hasn’t embraced our laundry schedule so…there’s more of that too. Still, he gives me hugs and snuggles with me and Kenna on the couch during the day while Sam works. His little sister lights up at the sight of him. It all balances out.

Then there’s the ongoing saga of our switch to Verizon. If you’re considering it…don’t. I mean it. Walk away now. Hell, run! Remember the adage about if something seeming to be too good to be true, it usually is. That. All of that and then some.

We started our switch on January 31st because Sam needed to add a work line and we were supposed to get this discount because his company is a preferred partner or some jazz and it would be cheaper. Check your calendars, people. The drama from this has lasted longer than some of my relationships. There’s a fun fact for you. We started it at 5:45 on a Sunday evening, thinking we’d have plenty of time since the store closed at 7pm and we’d have time for family dinner at a restaurant. It went badly…like we didn’t leave the store for the final time until 9:15pm. I even left and took Kenna to eat around the corner after this little exchange with the woman working with us.

me: Are we close to being done? It’s 7:30 and I need to feed her before bed.

woman: What time did you get here?

(Please note, I didn’t get an actual response to the question.)

Sam: Quarter of.

woman: Oh, you’ve only been here forty-five minutes. That’s not bad.

me: Quarter of six. We’ve been here an hour and forty-five minutes.

woman: Oh.

Then I picked up Kenna and left. Sam was supposed to meet us. He did. Long enough to order a drink and realize the new phones weren’t working. Then he left. We ate. And when we caught up with him again and finally left, 9:15. No working phones.

I could give you the long version of what has since transpired, but ain’t nobody got time for that.  So, the condensed version involves me making roughly a dozen phone calls to various numbers provided online and in their paperwork over the next six weeks with breaks while I waited for them to process various items and get back in touch. Their entire phone system is designed to hang up on you if you don’t use one of their options. If you do use their options, chances of speaking to an actual person is about the same as winning a Powerball Lottery Jackpot. In fact, when you do get a human, it feels much like winning, until you realize you actually know more about the trade-in/switch process than the person employed by Verizon.  Suffice to say, it has been a complete nightmare. No one who works for them knows how to do ANYTHING. The trade in department helped me to complete the trade in online…incorrectly. They have one job! The number I called to remedy that told me I’d called the wrong department and proceeded to give me the same number I had dialed to speak with them. I can’t make this stuff up. Oh, and I had to email the final bill AGAIN and they never responded. I had to call five days later to make sure they had received it. This brings us to last night.

guy: What email did you send it to?

me: The longest email in the history of emails.

guy: Well, then you sent it to the right one.

While we were talking, Kenna dumped her new bubble mower on the couch. Bubble juice…everywhere.

me: Oh my word!  Kenna!

guy: (chuckles)

me: Trust me, this is only funny because you don’t have to clean it up. Now can we check to see if this is fixed before I lose it? Trying to switch to Verizon has become an actual job for me.

So this may be fixed. Finally. We just have to mail in our old phones. To say I’m skerd is a gross understatement. There are so many ways this can go wrong, as Verizon has effectively proven.

Mostly, I don’t have time for this because Kenna has roughly three to five therapies a week on top of preschool three times a week. I’m now spending all my time driving her everywhere. I hate driving. I’m bordering on anti-social. Hell, half the time I no longer care if I leave the house. This is what three years of holing up every winter to keep her healthy has done to me. The anti-social comes from raising a special needs child. People have no idea. They don’t understand. And they are quick to judge what they know nothing about.

Her future’s so bright, she has to wear shades.

Take yesterday. Leaving preschool. Kenna managed to walk out of the classroom with a Peppa Pig book that belonged to the school. The teacher took it from her before she left the building. Now picture it. Kenna’s literally the first child to leave out of five preschool classes with roughly ten to fifteen kids per class. Lots of kids. Lots of parents. For a child with sensory issues, this can be challenging to begin with. Add in the confusion of why she couldn’t have the book along with her inability to communicate it, and we have a code red volatile situation on our hands.

I’m picking her up and walking away while she first whimpers, then cries, then explodes into a full blown tantrum in my arms while people are watching and I’m trying to keep her from hurtling herself out of my arms onto the gravely tarmac. Good times. Getting her board stiff self into a car seat, even better.

me: Kenna, the book belongs to the school. It has to stay there so all the kids can read it. You have lots of books at home. You can read the book again tomorrow.

Oh, and when that didn’t work.

me: Pull it together, girl, or no french fries.

Yes, this is her after school treat. We pass a McDonald’s on the way home. For fries, she’ll do almost anything. In this case, she dried her tears, and offered a half smile.

Kenna: French fries.

All was well with her world. And when she’s well, everything is so much better with mine. We’ll get through this. Soon this Verizon crap will be a distant memory while I count down the days until we can go back to AT&T. Soon Kenna will be all caught up and we’ll forget how hard we worked to get her there. I look forward to this and cling to this imagined future because right now, reality is kicking my butt. (Don’t worry, we all need a good butt kicking now and then. It keeps us alive and focused and reminds us what matters.)

Most of all, I feel guilty for complaining at all. Our reality is a million times better than what could’ve been. Kenna is worth it. I’d rather be running her all over the city than visiting a grave and staring across the hall to an empty bedroom. I’ll take my crowded bed with her cold feet at 5 every morning with no Sundays or holidays off. I wouldn’t know what to do with all that extra space on the couch. I treasure my life, even if it is equal parts crazy and overwhelming because all of that is overshadowed by the love.

I’m going to take a breath and get back to work. May your days be filled with enough crazy for you to appreciate the peace and enough love and friendship to take the pain away.

Take time to appreciate the wonder in your life.

Proceed with caution: the potty training post

potty chair

Kenna’s throne. It’s empty in every sense.

I love my husband. It’s a good thing I love him because most of the time I’m convinced no one else would. It take a special kind of temperament to deal with someone who truly believes he is king of the castle and lords over our life. He likes to think he’s in charge, but really Kenna runs the house.

Sunday morning, Kenna climbed into bed with us at six in the morning. I asked if he could keep her, since I was planning on grocery shopping at seven.  It’s Super Doubles at Harris Teeter, which is my version of the Olympics…if the Olympics only lasted three days and was all about shopping and saving massive amounts of money. Still, there is a skill level involved, a great deal of planning, preparation, and training. A comparison can be made. Oh, but no. Sam grunted. He had only had a meager eleven hours of sleep. How could he possibly function and be expected to care for an exuberant toddler? So, I packed her up and took her with me to not one, but two grocery stores since I couldn’t find everything I needed at the first.

Good times. Oh, and they only became better because during the first stop, I picked up Dora Pull Ups. They were originally $11.99, but with a sale and coupons, I picked them up for $4.99. Yes, Kenna is four and still not potty trained. It has become a battle of wills no one is winning. Oh, maybe Sam. He’s at work. Ah, but don’t worry. He still manages to run our lives. After all, I’ve only potty trained two kids to his none. What do I know about potty training? Hell, I even managed to potty train one boy and one girl so you’d think that would give me extra cred, but apparently it doesn’t.

Not quite two years ago we began the slow descent into hell with the potty chair purchase. It’s a super special potty, with sensors…and sings when/if she tinkles. She has used it in the past, but that was closing in on two years ago while we were getting her off the feeding tube. I had trouble managing eating and potty training at the same time. I can only have so many fights in the day.  I’m sure plenty of women would feel the same way. At no point in time did I look at the choice to get her to eat by mouth before potty training her as a failing. Now, however, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have powered through. Water under the bridge…and pee all over the floor. At least that’s how this morning began.

Oh, but I’m jumping ahead. In the past year, we’ve tried the three day potty training method which mostly had her in tears. I declared the misery not worth it. Wouldn’t want to damage her psyche while trying to potty train her. Then we tried to build in a reward system. Stickers. Kit Kats. Nothing worked. Built in a punishment system. No television until she goes on the potty. (This is why she’s lying on the couch face down right now kicking her feet. After all, how could I expect her to play with her room full of toys and books when there’s no ambient television sound?)

A month ago, at Sam’s urging, I sat Kenna on the potty one morning and waited for her to make magic on the potty for TWO HOURS while he went off to work. There were videos on my phone and books and then I started to get hungry and she wanted to get up. She can hold it because the minute I put the diaper back on…she peed. Clearly, this is a choice. We’ve tried lots of different things. Oh, and by we, I mean me. At that point, I had a very grown up discussion with him where I pointed out she wasn’t ready yet, we couldn’t simply do this on a whim, it took planning and preparation and…time.  My suggestion was that we wait for summer when she was home with me seven days a week instead of having our potty training broken up by preschool. At the time he agreed, but I suppose I can’t expect him to remember this discussion forever, or even four weeks. And I suppose it is partly my fault because I try to keep him happy. I’m an idiot. A miserable freaking idiot.

So yesterday afternoon…around five…practically evening, he decided it was time to potty train again. He laid down this edict from his throne. It looks remarkable like the couch, but whatevs. There would be no more more diapers. (Good thing we picked up an entire box from Sam’s Club last weekend and have used roughly one quarter of it.) Pull Ups only. She would sit on the potty every twenty minutes. I was in charge of timing it, of course. I couldn’t expect him to follow through since it was his big dumb idea at almost dinner time, right?

PS. I was already sour because after I went to two grocery stores, picked up a movie, unloaded the car, put everything away, showered, did Love Kissed Book Bargains, ran to Sam’s Club as a family, fed Kenna lunch, clipped coupons, researched my posts for Monday, managed to get her down for a nap, and ran to Walmart with him, he had the nerve to carry in three bags of his purchases and unlock the door while proclaiming himself ‘Daddy Do It All.” In my mind, I may have altered it slightly. Daddy Do Nothing had a nice ring to it as did Daddy Know it All. There may have even been one or two more colorful nicknames, but just one or two.

By dinner, which he made (chicken wings in the fryer), Kenna had peed in her Dora Pull Up and brought us a diaper. Then she had pooped in her new Pull Up and taken it off. Sam discovered her and the mess in our bedroom. I was at the table working when the screaming began.

Sam: Nickiiiiiiiiiii! Niiiiiiick! There’s poop everywhere!

Yeah. That’ll motivate me to come rushing to his aid. Sure, part of me thought King Do It All should just…you know, handle it. Then the sensible side remembered he had no idea what doing it all entailed and clearly wasn’t cut out for it anyway. So, I calmly swooped in and had Kenna cleaning up her own mess in no time.

By bedtime, I mostly liked him again. Kenna slept in a diaper. It was dry this morning. We popped her on the potty. She refused to sit, or use it. And an hour later, after researching what methods to use on ‘potty training stubborn girls’ (This is an actual search in Google. it’s not just me!) I was pretty pissy and then…pissed on as Kenna wet all over the floor while standing next to me and spraying me in the process.

I don’t have time for this now. I’m sure one could argue if I have time to write a grumpy fourteen hundred word post, I have time to potty train, but honestly, when I’m this aggravated…the words flow, dripping in snark. Obviously. Whereas the pee…may flow on my floor, but not in the potty. Today, the blog tour for my new release begins. And I have more groceries to buy. Don’t judge. It’s stock up on a dime time. And Kenna just filled her Pull Up.

Summer. This is a job for summer when my work slows down and I’m less stressed, when school’s out and I don’t have a crazy schedule, when she can run around half naked outside and pee in the grass and I’m not left to wash every square inch of the floor every twenty minutes on my hands and knees. This summer…potty training will happen. Mommy has spoken. My foot is down. Thus endeth his reign…and my rant. You’re welcome.


Motherhood changes things.

Yeah, I know it’s a bathroom selfie. Also, I said I’d lost weight, not reached goal. #StopHating

Please note: when I say motherhood changes things, I mean me. I’m the thing.

Once upon a time, I was cool.  Okay, I was cool enough. I was accepted. People liked me and we hung out together…in public. No, I was not a secret friend. Then I had children…young. I was twenty-two when Rachel was born, twenty-five when I had Keenan. My friends changed because the cool friends weren’t hanging out with babies.

Hell, I even dressed nice before kids. Then I had a few rough years. Losing the baby weight is hard. After baby number three and at age forty-three, it’s even harder. Being self-employed, I’m mostly glued to a computer while I work. As I type, the laptop is on the counter and I feel less guilty, since I’m not on the couch where I usually sit. Let’s face it, that cushion could use a break.

Not so long ago, my mother was here for a visit. While I buy clothes for Kenna every stinking season, I may have gone roughly…twenty seasons in between buying myself clothes. Yeah.  Just snuck by…while I was hiding from mirrors and anything that wasn’t jersey knit and incredibly forgiving. She made a comment about a hole or two in my yoga pants, like she doesn’t understand what happens to inside of the legs when chicks don’t have a thigh gap.

Now that I’m eating healthier and trying to get exercise here and there (mostly there), I can fit back into the old jeans. Yeah, they’re five years old. After going shopping the other day, I’m convinced if I hold onto clothes long enough, they will come back around. I’ve seen it.

Needless to say, I’m doing that thing where I try to get back to me. It started this past fall when I went to Ulta with Rachel. She’s still a reasonably cool mom who takes care of herself. Between her and this incredibly gifted makeup artist, I was conned into purchasing $60 worth of makeup. For some of you, it may sound like a bargain. What if I told you it was only a beauty balm and a liquid eyeliner? Did you flinch yet? Because I did. The buyer’s remorse set in by the time I reached the car. Then Sam saw me at home and complimented me. So I had to keep it. And wear it. I went from applying makeup roughly never to at least once a week or so, which means I can probably avoid another major makeup purchase for a year.

For Christmas, I asked Sam for perfume. Naturally, the one we picked out together, but never purchased was discontinued. So he found one I now love. This is apparently a limited edition scent, so I may be on an annual perfume hunt for the rest of my stinking life. And seriously, who has time for this? I promise you, I don’t.

My idea of exercise is a walk on a nice day. I can do them with the little one, sort of, as long as I’m willing to tilt the stroller back every time she starts dragging her feet and ruining the toes of her shoes, which happens roughly forty-three times during a twenty minute walk. I can't seem to motivate to exercise when I'm alone because that's a stupid waste of uninterrupted work time. Click To Tweet

Over the last almost eight years, I’ve been acutely aware of the changes in my life, mostly because I have Sam, who is quick to remind me of said changes. I find myself doing things I never expected, both good and bad. Sunday, we had our first date of the year. Yeah, it was kind of a big deal, but not remotely romantic in the traditional sense. We didn’t do a meal and a movie. We didn’t even do a meal. We ran errands. Sam bought us clothes. Yes, both of us. I have pants without holes. They could stay that way if I get a gap before too long. I have shirts that I’m proud to be seen in. We drank Starbuck’s hot chocolate, the sign of a true date, and that we’re wildly cool. (Finally!) We drove the car through a car wash, bought new wiper fluid and a collar for Pepper, since she broke the last one. Nothing exciting, still wildly awesome. These are the highs, which I balance out with plenty of lows, like the cookie.

The cookie is actually the reason for the post. Yup. My behavior vexed me, so naturally I had to share it with the world because I want to believe I’m not alone. (Tell me I’m not alone!) So, after running around cleaning and tending to the preschooler’s needs all day, I’m hungry and tired. I gave her homemade chocolate chip cookies for a snack. She ran off with them before I managed to lock her into her seat. Again…too tired to chase her, confident in my ability to clean up from whatever mess she created I let her go.

A bit later, I notice she had zero cookies, no obvious signs of a mess, and only a few crumbs around her mouth. So, I handle it. I wiped the crumbs feeling pretty proud of myself. And then I walked into the kitchen. There it was: a perfectly good cookie. She had taken one bite out of it and left it on the floor. I’m not sure if it was the diet or the exhaustion, but somehow, I ended up bending over, picking it up, and blowing on it. I have no idea how long it had been there. Yet suddenly the cookie was in my mouth. It tasted too good to spit out.

This was when it hit me. Years ago, I’d have been wildly grossed out. The cookie had a bite out of it. The cookie was on the floor. Still, I ate it. Ew. Yuck. Younger me was judging the hell out of older me. Ah, but older me is practical, and mostly exhausted. Older me knew there was no wasting a perfectly good cookie. Older me even considered the squat to retrieve it exercise. Older me was really good at justifying things. It's a special kind of cool, the kind that doesn't care what others think. Hell, older me is even a little impressed I could do the squat in the jeans. High five. Click To Tweet

Thus endeth my day. And the cookie. Plus pretty much any guilt or angst I felt about the situation. I've changed. Not all the changes are awesome, but I'm embracing the good ones, changing the bad ones and accepting I'm still a flawed person deserving of love. This is growth. Click To Tweet

Now go be awesome and leave the guilt behind. 

How much of life is about dusting ourselves off and carrying on?

Read this. This is hope, a reason to keep trying.

That’s what I’m doing this morning.

In theory, today should be awesome.  Last night, my Panthers beat the Arizona Cardinals and are now headed to the SuperBowl.  I had a reasonable amount of sleep.  Kenna spent the entire night in her bed.  Our sink is fixed.  We have water.  My latest book released today.

Oh.  There it is.  The book release.

Book releases are stressful.  It’s rough for so many reasons.  After weeks of writing a book, working with beta readers, editors, cover designers, bloggers, and putting together tour packages, teasers, selecting excerpts, creating a play list…and so much more…the book is live.

It should be an exciting time.  This one…isn’t.

My apprehension started yesterday when I received a message from a blogger who couldn’t get into the book because it was written in third person.  Um.  Okay.  Now this is how the bulk of the traditionally published write: Nora Roberts, Danielle Steele, Nicholas Sparks…the list could go on and on.  So, I had a conversation with the always lovely and wildly knowledgeable Nicole Edwards.  She’s a big deal, New York Times and USA Today best seller.  We discussed making the change because…I’m not writing for art.  I’m writing to earn a living.  And the first rule is to give the readers what they want.

So, I started rewriting the second book in the three book series.  Luckily, I’ve only written the first fourteen thousand words.  Still, it’s quite the undertaking.  And I have to do it.  The reviews are already rolling in.  (I should be thrilled.  Reviews aren’t easy to come by.)  Yet, it seems people couldn’t connect to the book as well as I’d have liked.

This is the part where I have to dust myself off.

I’m trying to be all philosophical about it.  After all, I’m blessed to have such amazing resources at my disposal.  I’ve recently found a great beta reader who is quick to make helpful suggestions  and call me out.  (I need this.  All authors need this.) I should be looking to the future and feeling wonderful because the next book will be so much better.  Ah, but instead, I worry that people won’t make it past the first book to read the next two.

Trying to shake the dark and step back into the light takes practice.

Being an author is a marathon, not a sprint.  Few of us ever become best sellers off our first or second book even.  It took me a couple of years to achieve that status.  I’m thrilled.  One day I may even aspire to New York Times best seller or USA today best seller, but for now, I’m content to make it on Amazon.  But not this time.  Not with this book.

So, I’m going to smile.  I’m going to practice smiling, forcing the smile, until the smile is real.  I’m going to work on making Second Chances and Three Wishes amazing.  I’m going to work my butt off because in so many ways, I’ve done really well so far this year.  I found an incredible cover designer I mesh with.  I have a plan.  And a calendar.  And post its.  I’ve built a huge blog list and my tours are growing, bigger and better than ever.  All this is awesome and I can’t take it lightly.  I have a book marketing and promotion company that is moving right along.

I’ve adapted nicely to working independently.  It shouldn’t surprise me.  I was the kid in school who hated having partners because I grew tired of carrying people, or getting graded on their efforts.  Of course, as we grow and mature, we learn we can’t do everything all by ourselves.  It’s true.  For those of you who have supported me in so many ways during this journey, I thank you.

For those of you who are struggling right now in your own ways, let’s shake it off.  Together. Dance party.  Right now.  Think of a happy song.  Start tapping those toes.  Get the head bob going.  You’ve got this.  Wrap yourself in sunshine and rainbows so thick that nothing can mess with your head and wreck your inner peace.  It’ll get better.  It’s better already because our focus is on being positive.  This is how it’s done.

We survived!

Because if a day starts with preschool and fire drills, it should end with cake.

Because if a day starts with preschool and fire drills, it should end with cake.

Somehow I think I’d built up my preschool fears until they were bigger than my hopes.  It was a terrible mistake.  Sure, my concerns were more than valid, but at the same time, they could’ve robbed the moment of serious happiness.  Luckily, I powered through, and so did Kenna.

After I drove away from the school yesterday morning, I was proud of myself for not falling apart.  There had been a few moments.  It was challenging leaving her there with the unknown. I’ve seen her with other children.  I’ve seen her in a variety of situations.  It was always having me there that helped her pull through.  There are some sensory issues there.  She doesn’t like being touched by strangers and kids.  What would happen all day surrounded by both?  Plus, I had the looming fear of the fire drill, since she has issues with loud noises.

Luckily, she has a wonder teacher.  (Yes, my adoration for the woman simply grows.  You’ll see why.)  She knew and anticipated my concerns.  So I went home and prepared to keep busy.  My list was long, that wouldn’t be a problem.  Right next to me on the table, I had Kenna’s schedule.  It was comforting to be able to see what she was doing any given moment of the day.  Of course, I couldn’t anticipate all the extras…given that she would see three therapists a week: OT, PT, and speech.

2015-08-27 08.33.40Suddenly, as I was working on the laptop, a picture flashed across my phone.  There was my sweet girl, sitting in a chair.  I couldn’t have been happier.  All of sudden there was this foreign liquid just leaking out of my eyes.  Somehow, I managed to turn off the waterworks long enough to respond to her and share it with Facebook, and Sam.  Even though he was working, I wanted him to feel included.

Sam: She looks just like you in that picture.

me: You think so?  I think she looks annoyed.

Sam: Like I said, she looks just like you.

me: I look annoyed?!

Sam: A lot of the time.

While this may be true, I feel like I owe you an explanation.  For some of you, that I’m married and we live together should be explanation enough.  For others, I need to be more specific.  How about this?  Take last night for example.  He comes home minutes before she needs to go to bed and plays with her.  I know, not a terrible offense.  It’s a loving dad thing.  But he wore her out the rest of the way until she was a crankasorous rex by the time we put her to bed half an hour later than normal.  He made bacon.  (Yeah, he sucks, right?!)  And managed to flood the house with smoke.  Then he washed the pan.  (That jerk!) In the course of doing so, he dirtied the clean dishes and told me I’d have to rewash them.  So maybe I do get annoyed.  I’m tired.  The house is neat and quiet and orderly.  He disrupts it in mostly wonderful ways.  (Um, loving on us and making bacon.)  Still, I can’t hide the emotions.  They always land on my face.

Back to the story.

2015-08-27 09.00.00A little while later, there is a second text.  This time, Kenna is sharing a table with another little girl.  She looks fine.  Focused.  Interested in her play.  It made my heart happy.  I sent the picture  to Sam and went about my business.  There was another text around nap time.  Should Kenna take her glasses off to sleep?  Yes, please.

Then silence.  And it didn’t worry me because she seemed great.  Naturally, I didn’t want to be late, so even after killing time getting a sweet tea at McDonalds…I ended up being there fifteen minutes early.  A glance at neighboring vehicles told me I wasn’t the only one.  I was now part of the sisterhood of preschool moms.  We all gathered by the door the kids would exit.  Most of them sat and tried to act all relaxed.  We discussed my face earlier?  Yeah.  I don’t even pretend. I stood and leaned against the brick wall.  I wasn’t going to waste precious seconds standing up before I could hug on Kenna.

Hers was the second class to be dismissed.  Suddenly, there she was, face pressed against the glass she struggled to push the door open on her own.  The minute the teacher let her out, Kenna rushed to me and climbed into my arms like a spider monkey until she was riding my hip.

Kenna: Mama!  Mama!  Mama!

Seriously, she said it about fifteen times, just in case anyone wondered who she belonged to.  Me.  All mine.

teacher: The minute we left the room, she bolted for the door while waving and shouting ‘bye’!

me: That sounds about right.

When I looked at my toddler, she had snot running down to her mouth.  She had clearly been crying not long ago.  So I hustled her to the vehicle and cleaned her up.  I took a picture of her to send to Sam, let him know she was safe and happy.  We drove home.

2015-08-27 14.33.20Once there, I opened her bag and started our new routine.  Stick the lunchbox and cup at the sink, read through her papers.  Thankfully, the teacher supplies us with a paper that tells us all about her day.  We were happy to see she had done well in center and with her peers.  It was no surprise to discover she cried during the fire drill and again at lunch.  Apparently one of the kids had a meltdown, so she cried too…and then threw her lunch.  Also, of greater concern, she was tired coming in from the playground.  It’s an hour, about half an hour longer than her body can typically handle.  Speech came to observe her and the physical therapist worked with her.  According to her teacher she was very compliant with scheduled activities.

The true test will be Tuesday…when she goes back.  I know this is good for her.  I believe this teacher is wonderful, and the assistant.  I still have high hopes.  And given the degree of communication, I’m confident that they will take good care of our precious little one.  She seems bigger now.  In all the best ways.  She’s already trying to be more independent.  So I guess I’ll learn to be more independent too.

Time for us to be awesome.

Finally, the call.

I can never get enough of this.

I can never get enough of this.

The phone rang yesterday afternoon and I almost didn’t answer it.  After all, it was from NY and we live in North Carolina.  You know what I was thinking.  Telemarketer.  So, I answered with hesitation and soon deciphered the caller was actually Kenna’s preschool teacher.


Still, our conversation rocked my world.  See…it’s like everything else in life.  I thought I had more time.  Really.  The last letter I received from the school assured the parents that preschoolers would begin September 1st.  Imagine my surprise to discover that instead, she’s going to start next week.

Her poor teacher.  It was just supposed to be a friendly ‘meet your teacher’ call.  I turned it into the Spanish Inquisition.  Seriously, most moms I know would have done the same thing, right?  Soon I had confirmed Kenna wouldn’t need a uniform.  Wahoo!  And I set her schedule.  Apparently because it’s a three day per week schedule, I was able to select the days.  I went with Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Sam’s fall schedule is supposed to be Sundays and Mondays off.  We need family time.  She doesn’t see him much at the moment.

We set a conference for next week.  Monday morning.  Hoping Sam can join us.  Most of all, though, I’m hoping to make sure the teacher understands all of our concerns.  Our many many concerns.  When she eats, Kenna chokes.  With alarming frequency.  When she plays, she over does.  All. The. Time.  Both of these experiences can result in illness.  Oh, and Kenna rarely gets just one.  It’s pneumonia and hand, foot, and mouth disease.  It’s pneumonia, the flu, double ear infections, and strep throat.  It’s the flu and double ear infections.  It’s bronchiolitis and I can’t even remember what.  Shoot, she even had pneumonia and RSV together a few times.

Still, I have to balance out my need to protect her, shield her from the world with all its germs, with her need to grow and stretch her teeny tiny wings.  This is what we’ve been working toward for so long.  She needs speech, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.  We want her to catch up.  This is the best way to do it.  The only way to do it.  Unless she’s sick too much and then we re-evaluate.

So, I’m struggling to hold it together, all while knowing being a nervous wreck will only ruin the experience for everyone.  I’m working to make sure the teacher is informed and watches out for her when we’re not around.  We can’t have her wearing out her heart during playtime.  We also can’t have me being overly protective, keeping her from having the normal childhood she deserves.

It’s close.  Closer than I was prepared for.

Somehow, I’ll pull myself together.  There’s only one way I’ve ever done it.  It’s time to focus on the positive.  There’s plenty of that.  Kenna will have the opportunity to play with more kids her age.  She’ll have the chance to learn from professionals.  I may have a master’s degree, but it doesn’t mean I know a thing about early childhood education.  What I know to do is simply love her through it.

It’s what I’ve always done, what I’ll keep doing.

Watch out world.  Kenna’s ready to go be awesome.   Of course, even as I say this, she’s running a low grade fever that feels like foreshadowing of what’s to come.  We’ll be laying low today, hoping tomorrow is better.  That’s when we’re supposed to meet big brother, Keenan and his girlfriend for lunch.  And we’ll hope Friday she’s right as rain because we’re supposed to have a playdate with Lindsay and Isaiah.  Then we’ll have the conference on Monday morning, with school starting for her on Thursday.

I have to believe we’ve got this.  We’ll fake it ’til we make it.  This is life.  It’s a series of challenges and opportunities.  It’s moments where memories are made and character is defined.  It’s day after day of learning and growing and being.  It’s making the most of the time we have.  For now, there will be lots of snuggles.  On the first day of school, there will be lots of tears.  (Mine.)  And hopefully, we’ll reach the end of the school year and wonder what we ever worried about.  In the meantime, I’ll take all the words of encouragement you care to share.  Hugs.

Sometimes it’s so bad it’s good.

Yesterday was one of those Mondays to the nth degree.  Keep in mind,  I work from home, so one day pretty much looks like the next to me.  I’ve been creating routines that will help me maintain my sanity.  The only true differences come in the form of the errands I have to run.  Since Sam fixed the 220 outlet for the dryer, I won’t have to go to the laundromat anymore.  Thank goodness.  I’m not sure how much longer I could’ve managed that.

So my day pretty much started hopeful.  New week.  Feeling rejuvenated from Sam’s day off.  Sure, I had blown a book deadline, but since I hadn’t been promoting it, I’m not sure anyone noticed.  Shhh!  It’ll get done.  I have just a few more weeks with Kenna before she heads off to school three days a week.  Once I have more uninterrupted time, I’ll be more productive.  Or at least that’s the plan.

The day began with Rachel calling multiple times.  And I mean roughly five times before noon.  She was having trouble with her tires, locating the place where she was getting new tires, and fretting about money.  We’re about to start our version of the Olympics on Wednesday.  It’s Super Doubles for couponers where Harris Teeter will double coupons up to $2.  We’re killing ourselves preparing.  These times are precious for growing our stockpile for tough times.  Sam hasn’t had a paycheck in two months.  We know a little something about tough times.  Ah, but he was at work, and was expecting his first check.  Keenan and his girlfriend were coming over for dinner.  Aside from cleaning, running to Fresh Market for the meat for the sauce, and my usual work load, it was a light day.  😉  Cue the hope and optimism.

Before lunch, Sam called.  His schedule was light.

me: Great!  You could be here for dinner.

Sam: Nope.  I need to get extra jobs if I can.  We have a lot of catching up to do.

me: Okay.

Then he called back a little later.  I still get excited when I see his picture on my screen.  The fact that he was calling again so soon should have been my tip off.

Sam: I have a flat.

me: What can I do?

Sam: Nothing.  I’m just sitting here waiting for a roadside assistance.  Apparently our free roadside assistance expired so it’s gonna cost money.

me: Of course it will.

I’ve come to expect this kind of thing.  It no longer surprised me.  After all these years, I can’t even get worked up over it.

Sam: So, I finally get paid and it’s all gone.

me: At least we had it.

My mother used to read me this book as a child, It Could Always Be Worse.  It stuck.  I know it really could always be worse.  And today, my brand of sunshine seemed to be working on the husband.  Of course, then he called back three hours later, the rim was bent.  He was using the spare.  We’d need more money so that part of the repair would have to wait.

me: At least you have the spare.  And we have more money coming in.  Don’t worry.

Sam: So, I’m coming home.

I was torn.  On the one hand…I was wildly excited.  He was going to be home for dinner with Keenan and Kristen.  On the other…we clearly did need the money.

me: Is it because of the tire?

Sam: Nah.  No work.

This is one of my favorite prom pictures of them.

This is one of my favorite prom pictures of them.

He arrived just before Keenan and Kristen.  They are so damn cute together.  I can’t even explain it.  They have been together for nearly two years and now that he drives, I’m finally getting to spend more time with them.  He’ll be starting his senior year of high school, while she’ll be a junior.

I gave them the grand tour, then he took her around to show her the neighborhood while I made dinner.  By the time they came back, it was almost ready.  We had barely sat down to eat when there was a knock on the door.  It was a couple of guys from across the road.  That house has renters, we have learned not to get too attached.  Since we’ve lived here it has been home to a slew of crazy and questionable characters.  This time, the guys were here to announce they had hit Keenan’s car, which is actually my ex-husband’s car.  So yeah.  Karma.

Regardless, Keenan had to deal with it.  And I sent Sam with him.

Sam: I don’t know what to do.

me: Call the police.  You need a report so the insurance will cover it.  And have Keenan call his dad.

Inside, Kristen and I talked and ate.  Because…dinner.

Can I just tell you she’s wonderful?  Really, she is.  I’m thrilled she and Keenan found each other.    We shared our ‘how we met stories’ and we discussed her hopes and dreams because I’m a hopes and dreams kind of girl.  When the guys returned about forty-five minutes later, I filled Sam in, right in front of them.

me: Well, Keenan has about as much game as we thought he did.  And Kristen’s mom is a couponer, so she comes from good stock.

Kenna had tons of attention, even when she didn’t want it.  She’s still holding a grudge because brother leaves.  Needless to say, she has decided not to get too invested.  Apparently she’s shed her last tear over his departures.  When they left at 8pm so Keenan could be home before his driving curfew of 9pm, Sam and I put Kenna to bed then talked.

me: I think today was perfect.

He just looked at me for a moment.  I’ve grown used to the blank stares where I know he’s convinced I’m insane.

Sam: I’m glad you think so, but how can you say that?

He runs a hand down my hair and pulls me closer on the couch.  He’s indulging me now.  I’m used to that too.

me: Your truck is fixed, kind of.  We had money enough.  Keenan wasn’t in the car.  You were here for dinner.  And you made tonight absolutely perfect.  Thank you for that.

Sam: How’d I do that?

me: You helped feed Kenna.  You helped wash dishes.  You helped Keenan with the accident.  Perfect.

Sam: I just wanted you to be able to relax and enjoy the night.

me: I did.  See?  Perfect.

I know how he thinks.  I know he spent the day tallying up everything that went wrong, but I choose to look at everything that went right.   Every day is a fresh day.  A new opportunity to earn money.

me: I know you’re stressing about finances, but look how well we’re doing despite your lack of income.  Nothing has been turned off.  Our mortgage isn’t late.  We’re going okay.  And it’s only going to get better.  You’re about to get paid every week.

Sam: Yeah, we do know how to downsize our life.

See, even there we disagree.  I think we’re living large.  Sure, I’m tired.  I’ve accepted I will be forever.  Sure, things could be better, but they could also be so much worse.  We have each other, a roof over our head, food in our bellies, and so much more.  We’re rich with love.  In that, I find plenty of joy.  Life is good.

Now go be awesome and seek out the happy.

This is life.

An icy pop in the afternoon is our version of happy hour.

An icy pop in the afternoon is our version of happy hour.

When last I wrote, I brazenly believed I could out-tough the pain.  Really, I did.  I mean, I have a history of success in that department.  My first pregnancy was nothing short of a near death experience.  No exaggeration.  Then the same with the second.  I spent three hours in silence as I focused on breathing during the labor for Rachel.  While recovering from Keenan’s c-section, I only took three Percocets.  So it has really been disheartening to discover that lately, I’ve had to dip into the hydrocodone.  (I’m on it now…)

It wasn’t an easy day, but I’m used to that.  I’ve grown accustomed to Sam’s long absences. Being alone with Kenna from dawn past her bedtime doesn’t bother me.  I cherish our time together, despite the challenges brought on by her delayed speech and the subsequent frustration.  Most of the time, the toddler tantrums are a minor inconvenience.  Curling up with Sam at the end of the day still fills my snuggling needs.  Having him wrapped around me as I drift off, still one of the best parts of my day.

Kenna woke again at 2am Wednesday morning.  This time, it took another three and a half hours to get her back to bed.  At 5:30am, I dropped her back in her bed after spending forever on the living room couch.  Then I curled up in our bed as Sam was getting up to leave.  I have no idea how loud he was because I was simply too tired to notice.  I vaguely remember him kissing me goodbye.  Then I woke at 8:30am to Kenna pushing the garbage can around the house.  Yes, she pulled it out of the cupboard and was scraping it across the hardwoods.  Good morning.

As you can imagine, I never quite managed to get into my happy morning mood.  Stopping roughly fifteen times to attend to her every need during the first hour and a half I was up didn’t help.  Discovering she peed on the floor in the time it took me to throw out her diaper while preparing her bath finally snapped me out of my funk.

me: Kenna, what’s all this water?  Did you tinkle?

Kenna: (nodding vigorously) Uh huh.  Uh huh.

Well there.  The good news was there was no plumbing leak.  And I laughed.  I had to.

For me, it’s funny that I just kind of reach what should be a breaking point and it becomes humorous.  Life is exhausting lately.  The lack of sleep.  The pain.  Sometimes, I’m so deeply ensconced in life, I don’t even realize that what I’m feeling is pain.  I just keep plugging along, pushing, powering through.  I’m busy wiping up puddles and feeding her growth spurt.  I’m focused on progress, completing my list of projects and daily duties.

Suddenly I’m forced to stop and analyze.  The signs are all there.  I’m snappish.  Am I tired or hungry?  Maybe all of the above, but even more…I discover I hurt.  A pill, thirty minutes later, and life is manageable once more.  After all, this is what I signed up for.  Not the gallbladder.  Assuming it’s the gallbladder.  The toddler.  The puddles.  The messes.  The sleepless nights.  This is life.  It’s all part of the package.  This is what I wanted.  I wanted Sam and all that a life together would entail.  I wanted just one more baby.  I wanted this family.

Honestly, I have everything I asked for and more.  It looks perfect on paper, but the reality of it is nothing like I imagined.  Who could have predicted I’d have such a special little one with so many needs?  Seriously, my OB/GYN couldn’t.  Who would have known how many job and career changes Sam would have experienced?  Who could have guessed the direction my self-employment would have gone?

This is my life.  I’ve learned to embrace it, the crazy, beautiful mess it is.  It wasn’t always this way.  It takes practice.

How many times have you been overwhelmed with your life and grumbled about it not being what you signed up for?  Everyone does it.  I had that discussion with Rachel just the other day.

Rachel: Mom, this is not what I wanted.

me: Sure it is.  You rushed to grow up.  This is what you get.  This is life with a toddler.

Rachel: Oh and my job!

me: Well, you have to pay for the life.

Maybe I should be more sympathetic, but I feel like I warned her.  Sometimes we joke.

me: What?  Did you not watch me, or did I just make it look too easy?

Rachel: Easy.

Then I laugh.  I have to laugh.  Life is as easy or hard as you make it.  I find the happier I am, the more I accept and make the best of my life, the easier it feels.  This is where the pain meds come in.  Life seemed really rough for a little bit this afternoon.  The dryer was still out of commission.  The husband can’t make his third attempt at fixing it until Sunday.  Out of options for clean, dry clothes, Kenna and I had to run to the laundromat.  We also needed to go to Sam’s Club because the husband was out of his Kit Kats.  Naturally, it was the day of the toddler meltdowns.  I wouldn’t buy her goldfish from the vending machine because she had just eaten a Cliff bar at Sam’s Club.  We couldn’t stay at her beloved laundromat because it was crazy crowded.  Tears and tantrums.  The day was bordering on completely unmanageable, then the pain meds kicked in.

That’s all it took.  One tiny change.  One little break.  All of it followed by one phone call.

Sam: Hey, babe.  Sorry I haven’t called, but it’s been busy.

me: No, I understand.  Your girls miss you.

Sam: I know.  Miss you too.  I don’t have much time.

me: That’s okay.  This is enough.  Just knowing you care.

Sam: Of course I care. I love you.  See you tonight.  Late.

me: I’ll rest.  I’ll wait for you.  Love you too.

It felt like I had been holding my breath and I could finally exhale.  Before I knew it, it was bed time for Kenna.  We survived another day.  It was a close one.  And today, the ultrasound and some answers.  Life is looking up, challenges and all.  Just like I signed up for.