Monday, January 31, 2011

Seen on the street

stuffed car

This car was next to me in traffic this morning. It is stuffed to the roof with stuff. I can’t even imagine how it’s legal to drive this.

Also, check out my answer to the big question over on Life Just Keeps Getting Weirder.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

As if on cue

Yesterday, during therapy, I talked about how I’ve spent the past months constantly braced against the next catastrophe, waiting for the next thing to go wrong. When I looked at my old blog entries, I realized that this goes back to Memorial Day weekend when B broke his foot and Ella didn’t have appendicitis.

Since then, it seems like we’ve been hit with an exceptional string of illness and injury, the worst of it happening in the past 8 weeks. Every member of our house has been sick at least once since mid-November.

During my session, we talked about ways to cope when I start bracing for the worst and ways to reduce my anxiety levels – like knitting for meditation.

Little did I know that I’d get to start practicing immediately.

Yesterday afternoon I got an e-mail from school informing me that Ella has lice. When she and Lily got home from school, I checked both their heads, and sure enough, full infestation. I checked Campbell’s head, too, and found bugs. Elizabeth is the only child who isn’t infested.

I managed to begin the laundry-shampoo-combing circus without falling apart or losing my temper at the kids, despite Ella’s rotten attitude. When I start feeling anxious about it all, I force myself to sit down and knit for a few minutes, and it’s working.

While I’m frustrated at the situation, I’m not defeated by it. I’m feeling a lot more like my old capable self – proof that starting back to counseling was the correct choice.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Meditative Knitting

I have been knitting up a storm during the past few weeks. It’s been a good way to burn up all the nervous energy I have as a result of the prednisone (which I’m almost finished with, thank the baby jeebus), and it keeps me from pacing the floor or fidgeting.

During my first counseling appointment last week, my therapist asked if I meditated, and I laughed out loud. Even when I’m not whacked out on steroids, I’m pretty tightly wound, and my mind whirrs constantly. My efforts at meditation have been absolute failures. She did point out that knitting might be my form of meditation, and I think there’s something to that. When I sit and knit, I can focus on the yarn and the click of the needles and rhythm of my fingers moving. Knitting also forces me to sit still for longer than I would otherwise, because I can’t hop up to do whatever pops into my head without potentially losing stitches or messing up a pattern. Instead, I’ll tell myself that I’ll get up and do whatever when I finish that row or pattern repeat. The next thing I know, it’s been ten minutes and I’m still sitting down.

I haven’t been knitting anything very complicated lately – just hats, scarves and shawls. I’d love to work on socks, but my hands shake too badly to work with tiny needles and thin yarn. I’m running out of friends and neighbors to pawn them off on when I finish. I’m pretty sure that the next time one of them sees me coming up the walk with a pile of something fluffy, they are going to lock the door and pull the curtains.

This is what I have finished in the past eight days.


Ella and I stopped in at Yarnorama in Paige, TX, which is a tiny town between here and Houston on our way to her competition last weekend.  I bought some gorgeous Noro yarn called Kogarashi that was just divine to work with.  I managed to finish a whole shawl while at the comp, but when I got home, I decided I didn’t like how it looked. So I ripped the whole thing back and started from scratch.


I like the yarn as a scarf much, much better. This was the first time I’ve knit on the diagonal, and I like the way it worked with the striping and colors.


Next up, I knit a shawl – the same pattern as I did with the Noro yarn – out of some Ironstone Felicia. This yarn works better as a shawl. It’s hard to see in the picture, but it’s almost lacey. It’s not as big as I would like, but it’s still a pretty little wrap. I do need to block it, though.


Elizabeth approves of the shawl. She pronounced it “toot.” I had to take it away from her before she coated it in slime.


After the shawl, I knit another diagonal scarf out of a skein and a half of Noro Kureyon that I had in my stash box. One of the skeins had three knots in it, which is a common complain about Noro, so the color changes rather abruptly in a few places.

I stopped at a local yarn store on Saturday and bought some Noro Furisode and have already cast on another scarf.

At least all I’m channeling my fidgety-ness into something productive and sitting still at the same time. Maybe I’ll even manage to get all of my knitting for next Christmas done by March.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why I can’t have anything nice–Part 27



As pleased as I am that Campbell can write his name, I wish he hadn’t done it on my kitchen table.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Boulder Bound

On Friday afternoon, Ella and I headed over to Houston for another climbing competition. This one was the qualifier for Nationals, next month in Boulder, CO.

Ella had a great competition. She handled some tough climbs really well, and I was beyond impressed with her tenacity.

The top four in her division qualified for Nationals. Ella placed second, so now we’re negotiating who gets to make the trip. Ella is hoping she’ll get to go skiing while she’s there, but I’m not making any promises.


This was her second climb at finals. My hands were sweating the entire time. I also need to learn not to yell for her when I’m recording her climbs.


Finishing her first climb during prelims.


She had to climb around the corner, which she did without a problem.


And hanging upside-down.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


When I published Monday’s post, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of a response. I didn’t even publish it with the idea of getting responses. I just knew that I had to put it out there. I crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t get any mean comments from trolls, but that was about it.

Almost immediately, comments and e-mails of support and encouragement started rolling in. I have been overwhelmed by the kindness of my friends, both those in real life and online. I have heard from high school friends, moms of my kids’ friends, and complete strangers. I cried many times while reading the messages. 

It is so reassuring to know that I am not the first to go through this and that I am not alone. Which I already *knew*, but it’s hard to remember when depression sets in. That’s the mean sneaky thing about depression – it sneaks up on you and makes you forget the good stuff in life.

I’m taking things one day at a time, trying to find the joys in the little things. I’m also talking to my doctor today about upping my dose of anti-anxiety meds, and I start counseling on Tuesday. Baby steps.

Thank you to each and every one of you who sent a message. I have them all saved and will re-read them on the tough days. I’m still down in the hole of depression, but thanks to your words and kindness, the light at the top is a little bit closer and a little bit brighter.

And I promise this won’t become a blog purely about depression, because that would just be, ahem, depressing. I’ll be back to my usual nonsense about kids and knitting and running and whatever very soon.

Much love and thanks to you all.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Using the D word

This is, by far, the hardest post I’ve ever written. I’ve drafted countless versions and dithered over whether to actually post it. So here I go.

I am officially declaring myself in the grips of depression.

It’s been a long, slow slide down, but having been down here before, I recognize the signs and symptoms.

When I get up in the morning, instead of looking forward to the day ahead, I start counting the hours until I can crawl back in to my sanctuary and pull the covers over my head.

Throughout my adult life, whenever I get stressed and my world spins out of control, I lose my appetite and stop eating. And while I’m still eating right now, it’s a daily struggle. I have no desire to eat at all – I even turned down cupcakes last week AND left another birthday party before cake was served. I never turn down baked goods.

I am a recluse by nature, but when I am depressed, I become even more housebound. Going to social events leaves me shaking and trembling with anxiety afterwards. Two weeks before Christmas, I went to a work meeting and left with my hands shaking and my teeth chattering so hard I could barely talk. I excused myself to the others by saying I was cold, but it was pure stress. It took me five minutes of sitting in the car before I could pull myself together to drive. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t  want to go out with my closest friends.

More and more I’m finding myself short-tempered and impatient with the kids. I know that part of it is because of the prednisone I’m on for asthma, but it’s been going on for longer than I’ve been on the meds. 

This has all been a long time coming. During the fall I kept hoping the next week would be better, and then the next and then the next. Then I pinned my hopes on the trip to New York City and the marathon to lift me out of the funk. And it did, for the five days I was gone. Then I came back to a mountain of laundry and a lice outbreak. As soon as I’d cleared up all the sheets and bedding and such, everyone got a stomach bug, and I had to start over again.

I feel like I can’t catch a break and like I’m barely keeping my head above the water.

I also feel like I’m being whiny and self-indulgent. I don’t have time for this. I have four kids, a husband, a house, a freelance job – I don’t have the time to sit around and feel sorry for myself.  Besides, what do I have to be depressed about? I have a pretty good life. While it’s a bit on the small side, I have a nice, safe roof over my head. I don’t have to worry about where our next paycheck or meal is going to come from. I have four kid who are thriving, current illnesses aside. I have a husband, who, after 16 years together, is still my favorite person to hang out with. I have a loving, supportive family and a wealth of friends. What the hell is my problem?

But here I am. Depressed.

In the past few weeks, two of my closest friends - one face-to-face, one in a kind and thoughtful e-mail - suggested that maybe it was time for me to get some help because it is obvious that I’m not doing well.

And so Friday I made a call to a therapist. It was the hardest call I’ve made in a long, long time.

I hate admitting that I need help, and I really, really hate asking for help.

If I was asked for one word to describe myself, I’d pick capable. I’m the one who can handle things. I’m the one who can wrangle four kids while running a house and working part time. I’m the one who is supposed to be able to take whatever life throws at me. But lately, I can’t.

The funny thing is, now that I’ve taken the steps of admitting that I’m depressed – to myself, to my husband, to my family, to you – and making the call for help, I’m feeling a tiny bit better. What I’m dealing with does have a name and it does have a treatment. And I’ve taken the first two steps to getting back to being a better wife, mother, friend and self.

I’ve been down in this hole before, and I know I can climb out now that I’ve asked for help. It may take a while, but I’ll get there.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

I’d rather have a broken leg (I think)

Fair warning – I’m a big old Cranky McCrankypants today. Elizabeth didn’t get to go back to school yesterday because she was sick. And lord dog, I needed her to go back to school. Then last night Campbell spiked a fever, so he’s home from school sick. And because he has to be fever free for 24 hours, he won’t be able to go to school tomorrow when Elizabeth does. It will be next Tuesday before I get a child-free morning.

Adding insult to injury, my course of steroids for asthma didn’t work, so I have to start over again. Which means I’m back to shaking like Paris Hilton’s chihuahua on meth, not sleeping, and having every joint in my body ache.

Last night I didn’t fall asleep until almost 1 and was then woken up at 3 by Elizabeth, who apparently just wanted to hang out and party because there was absolutely nothing wrong with her. She finally went to sleep at about 4, and I collapsed on the sofa, only to be woken up almost immediately by Campbell, whose fever had spiked to 102.5. I gave him some advil and tried to put him back in bed, but the only place he was happy was on top of me. We dozed together on the sofa until it was time to wake up the girls for school.

To say that I am not a happy camper today would be an understatement. So take all of this into account when you read the next part of this post, provided you’ve made it this far.

Last night, in between bouts with sick kids, I went out to dinner with a large group of running friends. It was one friend's birthday, and we pulled off the miracle of getting 20 of us together for a meal. I have known and run with a number of these people for more than a decade. We have been through marriages and divorces, births and deaths together. I count some of these women as my nearest and dearest friends.

But it was a miserable dinner.

Everyone asked how my running post-marathon was going, and when I said that I’d been sidelined for a week because of asthma, almost every one of them said, “Yeah, my allergies are bad, too.” At the beginning of the evening I’d try to explain that my problem was asthma, not allergies. That it is more than a stuffed up nose. That I can’t walk around the house without wheezing and coughing. That I can’t read my kids bedtime stories without running out of breath.

Then I gave up and just nodded. I didn’t want to be the boring, whiny person at the party.

But their comments and questions, which were genuinely well intentioned – I’m not upset with any of my friends -  just added fuel to the fire for the mean, nasty little voices in my head that have been plaguing me for the past week. These voices tell me that I should just man up and run already. They tell me that I should at least go to the gym and run very slowly on the treadmill. They tell me that I can’t call myself a runner anymore since I can’t manage to run even a few miles.

The little voices are very mean and very persistent, especially at 1am when I’m lying in bed, shaking from the prednisone.

In the middle of last night I found myself wishing I had some sort of visible illness or injury – a broken leg in a cast I could point to or a surgery incision – something definite and obvious. Even a fever would be better; at least that’s quantifiable. Instead, I just have this vague, I can’t breathe right malady.

And I’m tired of it. I’m tired of being tired and shaky. I’m tired of being cranky with my husband and my kids. I’m tired of shaking. I’m tired, tired, tired.

And cranky. And whiny.

I think I’d better go drink some hot tea and eat some chocolate.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year

I was going to do a great retrospective post, filled with memories of the past year and links to my favorite posts and resolutions for the coming year. But I just don’t have the energy. The kids, who won’t share cookies or toys, are sharing germs left and right. Ella kicked off the fun by being sick on Christmas with what the doctor decided was a upper-respiratory virus.

Now Lily has it. I came home from Ella’s climbing practice Thursday night to find Lily flat on the floor, bundled into a sleeping bag, running a fever of 102. Yesterday morning she had perked up significantly, but then spiked a fever in the afternoon. We had invited the neighbors over for our traditional New Year’s Eve potluck, and I had to beg one of the neighbors to host instead. Lily spent the rest of the day ensconced in our bed, reclining on a pile of pillows while watching movies on the laptop, coughing her lungs out.

To add insult to injury, I’m in the midst of the worst asthma flare-up I’ve had in years. It’s bad enough that my normal regimen of medicines isn’t working. So now I’m on a five-day course of prednisone. I don’t do well on prednisone. Instead of making me feel better, the stuff makes every joint, down to my knuckles, ache. It also winds me up so much that I buzz around the house, doing lots of stuff, none of it well. And forget about sleeping. The last time I had to take prednisone, the doc gave me a prescription for ambien, and I made several phone calls I still have no memory of. So I’m skipping that option this time.

All this whinging is a long way around to saying that I’m spending the first day of 2011 hunkered down in survival mode, hoping that everyone is healthy in time for school on Tuesday.


Happy New Year to all of my readers. Thank you for stopping by and leaving comments. I treasure all of them. May 2011 be a happy, healthy year for you.