The spring break that wasn’t

Today I’m extra thankful that my pharmacy is so devoted to creating a community and friendship with their clients, because these last few weeks have been absolutely fucking wretched and I went through a month worth of breakthrough meds in under 15 days. People are generally not allowed to have a refill of a controlled drug that fast, as it flags you as a drug dealer or something, but the lead pharmacist managed to push some through so I could make it through the weekend.
The thing about pain is that living with it and treating it effectively becomes an art form. A horrible, twisted art form. When you treat the flare-ups properly, it ensures that it won’t continue to get worse, and worse, and worse. It’s kind of like taking antibiotics in the sense that you need to start medicating before the flare-up gets so bad it takes over, and then you have to keep taking your meds even after the worst of the symptoms stop so you ensure you’ve really kicked it to death. If you wake up one morning feeling somewhat better and stop taking your meds, the pain will come tearing back with all of its friends and now you’re really fucked because it’s too intense for you to get under control. When that situation happens, you’ve got to take twice as much to get half the relief, and you’ll end up burning through your pills way faster than you’re okay with… and your doctor looks at you like you’re some sort of addict because you used up 70 meds in like 6 days (2-3 every 4-5 hours, 3-42.x per day for 6 days? That’s a fuckload of pills). But if you do it right, you can get it under control in a third of that. This is why living with chronic pain requires a constant awareness of your limitations, abilities and ego (because nothing will fuck you harder than the, “I REALLY need to finish this because I HAVE TO and I DON’T CARE if it hurts!” thing).

Treating my pain properly is all the more important now that I’m practically a work widow. At least I have been this last few weeks. The restaurant Curtis works in has a chain of command that goes like this: there is one executive chef who runs the restaurant, and two sous beneath him that are sort of like his right hand wo/men. Curtis is one of the sous, but because he was just recently promoted to that he’s sort of “junior” sous, so he answers to both the proper sous and the executive. So, the executive has some sort of seizure disorder that’s been controlled for 20 years until he got the flu and couldn’t keep his meds down. Then had some sort of horrible allergic reaction to them when he finally could. Poor guy was in misery and out of work for weeks.
All of that means he’s been out of the job for over a week, during a very busy period, leaving Curtis and the other sous to run the entire restaurant on their own (which is a job comfortably done with 4 people). That means day after day of 10-12 hour shifts for both of them. It’s been fucking brutal; both for Curtis, and for me. Especially since the kids are just starting spring break, which means they’re home 24/7 for two straight weeks. Now I understand why my parents never looked forward to spring break as much as I did. At least at the end of it all Curtis will bring home some epic tips (which may add enough to our savings to buy the Wii U we’ve been saving up for – woot!). I kind of wish we had it already though, because having something new and shiny to distract the kids would have definitely helped me last through the last two weeks of single motherhood during one of the worst pain flare-ups I’ve had in six months. At this point I do not even care about keeping track of how many hours of screen time they get per day; I need to preserve my strength to make dinner every night and not sell my kids on Ebay.

Speaking of horrible children: Zephyra has officially entered toddlerhood. About a week ago she snatched a Wiimote out of my hands while I was shifting through Netflix and yelled, “No! This is MINE!” and ran off. That is the first sentence she’s ever spoken; prior to that it’s been all single words or random noises that sort of sound like words.
She’s also started tormenting Xan. Her and Tempest get along swimmingly, and seem to always have a good time, but Xan?… she terrorizes him. Xan can be extremely sensitive, and Zephyra has clearly picked up on that: every time he’s having a weakened moment, she tends to zero in on him and start stealing his toys, scratching and pinching him, or just chasing him in circles until he cries. It’s very deliberate, because he gives her what she wants, which is a big loud reaction. Tempest, of course, is secretly enjoying this but pretends like she doesn’t to try and gain Mommy Points™, but it’s pretty obvious when she sneaks in and practically sics Z onto him when he’s pouting about how long it is until his turn on the computer or something.

Z is slowly becoming more communicative as she approaches two; much more so than either of the elders were at this age. We did not continue sign with her, which I regret: we weren’t consistent enough in the first place, and I didn’t think enough about it. Though admittedly part of that was influenced by her becoming more verbal much more quickly than the other two ever did, so it didn’t seem like it was as necessary.
With Baby!Tempest it was literally the only way we could communicate with her, and without signing we’d have had nothing. At one point, shortly after her second birthday, she was completely non-verbal but had hundreds of signs that she could string together into small sentences. She used sign less and less once her verbalize suddenly exploded into being, but the time she spent using ASL seems to be deeply ingrained in her kinetic memory. Even today, at nine years old, I’ll still see her occasionally use sign without thinking. For instance, if she has her mouth full of something tasty and wants another bite, she’ll frantically make the sign for ‘more’ without any awareness of what she’s doing. If I ask her what the sign means, she generally has no idea.
With Baby!Xan it eased his transition to verbal communication, though he didn’t rely on it as heavily nor did he learn even half as much as Baby!Tempest did. Z has two older siblings who are always talking with her and actively spending time every single day trying to teach her new words and sounds, so her ability to verbalize has blossomed much faster once she got over that baby-to-toddler hump and things just magically started making sense (I find this is somewhere around 15-18 months, depending on the kid).
She says a lot of words now, and mimics readily, which makes her a quick study. Though as her vocabulary increases, I’m beginning to realize there’s a universal law about barely-verbal toddlers that states: as their vocabulary increases, the likelihood of all words sounding like swears approaches one. ‘Crack’, ‘back’, ‘quack’, ‘stuck’, ‘duck’ all sound like fuck. She says, ‘stuck’ a lot and it’s become her go-to word when asking for help. Plus whenever she wants someone to come and sit next to her, or if you’re holding something she’d like you to put down (or give to her), she says ‘sit’ and pats the seat. This, of course, sounds just like ‘shit’. So now I have a toddler who appears to communicate almost entirely in swear words. Mom of the year, ya’ll.

We haven’t done nearly as much during Spring Break as I’d wanted to do, largely because of aforementioned pain flare-up. We managed to get some of the flower beds cleared, various yard work, start sewing a Mario hand puppet per Tempest’s request, start a crystal growing project from a Yule present they haven’t destroyed/lost/used up yet, and attempt to make a batch of dandelion honey that failed miserably. The attempted honey ended up turning into dandelion sugar instead, so it wasn’t entirely a waste of time. When I shared this on Facebook everyone was like, “OMG that’s amazing!” and really, I have no idea how this happened. It was a complete accident. It does taste good in coffee, though.
Tempest started ice skating lessons at the rec centre, and half-way through the course she’s doing amazingly well. Anyone with kids on the spectrum understands why this is awesome: generally, these kids aren’t too hot on gross motor skills and coordination. The very first day I dropped her off she took one step out onto the ice and ended up on her butt, then had to crawl on hands and knees over to her instructor. By the time I picked her up 35 minutes later she could get about 8-10 inches in a glide before she stumbled. Four classes later and she can get through an entire 30 minutes full of glides and steps and only lose her balance a few times. That’s pretty fucking awesome; I’m so incredibly impressed with her.
Every so often she finds some activity or idea and it’s like she was born for it; she’ll excel in really surprising ways and barely seems to try at all. When I was a kid I was like this with mathematics and piano… the skill and knowledge came to me like magic and I barely needed to try. Tempest is the same way with cursive: her handwriting is so beautiful and neat that it gets confused for being mine, whereas my actual handwriting is messy and childish. But her printing? That looks like it was done by a five year old. She’s even gone through OT to improve it, with minimal success. Whenever she tries to print, she develops a tremor, but for whatever reason her handwriting remains fucking flawless and continues to improve both in speed and, like… prettiness. There is probably a better word for that but vocabulary is not one of my magic subjects. Every time she randomly writes notes to herself in front of the computer about what games she was playing or what books she wants to take out from the library, I feel like I should be pilfering them away for the “kid’s art” folders.

Marika moved out into her own place about a week and a half ago, and will be looking for employment soon, which means we’ll probably be her main babysitter. She’s concerned about overwhelming me, but not only is Taliah a supremely calm and easy-to-care-for baby, but she’s super happy here since she’s only known this house as her home, and the kids here know her as their baby sister/cousin anyway.
We did a trial run when Marika had a dental appointment that would last upwards of two hours, and it went really well. It’s the first time Taliah has ever been away from her mum, so she was a bit lonely initially, especially once she mistakenly reached for my breasts and realized they weren’t hers, but once I gave her a bottle she was pretty good. Though Zephyra went fucking crazy once she realized I was defrosting and warming up milk. It was impossible to get her to leave it alone. She spent a good portion of her babyhood having bottles of my milk due to her inability to suck, and even though she’s been exclusively on the breast since 8-9 months she does remember it well. So once she glimpsed it she followed me everywhere, whining and grasping at it like she was starving to death. At one point the only way I could settle her was to tandem feed Zephyra on a breast and Taliah in the crook of the other arm with the bottle. Then the kitten came along and started sucking on my shirt. If I had more hands I would have taken a picture. Because seriously.
We all ended up going for a walk to the park later in attempt to settle the elders and get Taliah to nap. I put Taliah on my back, Z in the stroller and the elders ran up ahead. Every single person who passed us made comments like, “Oh my god are they all yours?!” or, “Talk about a handful” or simply, “Oh shit. Er… sorry.”
By the time we arrived at the park, Taliah had fallen asleep. I put Zephyra down so she could wander about and play on the slide. There was an older couple there with their two grandchildren, and for some reason Xan just zoned right in on the grandmother within seconds of our arrival and stood there telling her his life story. He talked about his love of toy dinosaurs, about his school, about Tempest’s friends and his friends, about music and his favourite video game… She was very patient and sweet, even though he literally did not stop talking until they left.
A few minutes into the conversation, Z wandered over to see what was so interesting and the grandmother asks Xan, “Is that your little… sister?”
“Yeah. My sister! She’s a toddler. She’s a year and a half. Her name is Zephyra. The baby in my mom’s coat is named Taliah, but she is not my sister. She was in our house, but not anymore. She is my family, though. Not sure what part of it, but somewhere in the family.”
I say, “She’s your cousin, Xan.”
“Yeah that’s right, she’s my cousin! Her name is Taliah. Her owner’s name is Marika.”
“Her owner, eh? Like she’s a puppy?”
He considers this. “Well yeah, kinda like one…”
“Does she eat out of a dog dish too?”
“What?! No! What’s wrong with you – she’s people!”
At which point this woman and I were absolutely killing ourselves laughing. The look on Xan’s face was hilarious.

Marika came and met us at the park some 20 minutes later, at which point Taliah had awakened from her short nap and looked terribly confused to be on someone’s back while also gazing at her mom. I love little babies so much. Not enough to have another one, mind you… but still love them.

Picture time.

I cut Z’s hair the other day. Well, trimmed it anyway. The ends were becoming kind of ratty and awful, so Curtis helped me restrain her while she screamed and squirmed and I managed to get a little bit off. Now she looks all weird and not at all like the ratty monster baby I had a few days ago. This is part of the reason I don’t like cutting babies hair, they just look so different after.

Mama and boo.

Serendipity and Z: still best buddies.

Angry face.

And one of me, after I re-dyed my hair and made the streak purple (it was pink before). This is as close to my natural colour as I’ve come since I was 13, minus the purple of course.

Quotes of the day:
Every time Xan loads up a computer game and it hangs, he’ll sit there quietly talking to himself, saying things like, “10 years later. Still nothing. 100 years later…? We’re all still waiting. I’ll be dead. I’ll be dust before this loads. Cold, dead, dust. I will actually be a real zombie before I get to load up my Plants vs. Zombies game.”

One afternoon during Spring Break the kids are vegging out during their screen time, and after a very long silence where each of them were heavily absorbed in their shows/games, Xan suddenly says:
“Wouldn’t it be awesome to live on a ranch with 75 cats?”
To which Tempest instantly replies, “Totally.”
And they just go back to vegging out without the slightest hint of context for this exchange.

Curtis caught me in the living room just before bed and patted the couch lovingly. “I think we need to have a lay down on the couch. We’ll call it the casting couch.”
Me: “The casting couch? Are we auditioning for a part?”
Curtis: “Perhaps, but which one of us?”
Me: “That depends on who is in charge.”
Curtis: “Then I’m the one auditioning. What part will you give me?”
Me: “Director of orgasms?”
Curtis: “No, I just produce them.”
Me: “That would make you the executive producer of orgasms.”
Curtis: “I’ve already got that job.”
Me: “A job is it? You call sex a job?”
Curtis: “Handjob, blowjob…”
Me: “When preceded by hand or blow, the ‘job’ descriptor no longer implies a chore.”
Curtis: “… muff job? Rug job?”
Me: “Somehow that just doesn’t have the same ring to it.”
Curtis: “Muff doctor? Rug doctor! I could be the Rug Doctor.”
Me: “I don’t need you to be a Rug Doctor, I can rent one at the store.”
Curtis: “That would lead to some pretty embarrassing emergency room visits. ‘Oh god, that is NOT what they are for!’.

Links of the Day:
WTF happened in Steubenville – Laci Green’s awesome takedown. This is everything wrong all summed up in one place (also a good rundown of what happened in case you live under a rock and have no idea what’s going on). She also offers a really concise explanation on how slut-shaming leads to victim-blaming leads to people feeling okay to assault women because, hey, she was “just a whore” anyway. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “rape culture” and what it means, but can’t sit through reading a multi-page article, try this six minutes instead!
The greatest love story ever animated – In about five minutes, this elderly couple explains what true love feels like. It isn’t about diamonds, parades and love songs… it’s about the little glances and touches, the smile at the end of the day, and the perfect contentment of a single moment near each other.
ACOG – Vaginal delivery recommended over maternal-request cesarean – Via ACOG’s Facebook page: “In new Committee Opinions released today, ACOG says pregnant women should plan for a vaginal birth unless there is a medical reason for a cesarean and that suspecting a large baby is not a medical reason to deliver before 39 weeks.” This is a HUGE victory for women’s birthing rights!
Two minutes of nothing but goats yelling like humans – I grew up in farm country, so we heard things like this all the time. But it still makes me laugh until I cry.
Live action Toy Story – These brilliant people recreated Toy Story, except with real toys and real people, SCENE FOR SCENE. I mean every single pan up Woody’s face, every beauty shot, everything down to the opening Disney castle logo. EVERYTHING. This is pretty fucking amazing.
The secret door – Taking advantage of Google Maps and street views, this incredibly awesome little site has you walk through a magic door and end up somewhere interesting when you come out the other side, where you can then walk around and explore. My first try dropped in the middle of a cave carved out of a mountainside in Japan.
Five Finger Death Punch, “Coming Down” – The official music video. I don’t know this band or this song, but was linked to the video for its content. It’s triggering as all fuck if you were a victim of bullying, particularly if you attempted suicide. But it’s also a very powerful video about how just one caring friend can change a life – can save one.



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