So, braces are a teenager thing, right?

Wrong.

I figured orthodontists and talk of braces wouldn’t be a worry I’d have for at least a few more years, but after being a fly on the wall at a conference full of of dentists and orthodontists last year it turns out a child’s first visit to an orthodontist should occur no later than 7 years old and extreme issues can be avoided with minor intervention now. Which is to say, Addie’s teeth are a wee bit crowded in her mouth, each year I’ve watched them shift around and my worries of her dealing dental issues until she is old enough to have braces are false. A few small adjustments now will make for a happy mouth (and (most likely) no braces) later.

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When we told Vivi we were going to Cleveland for the weekend she asked if he was nice and if he had toys at his house.

downtown
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historical
baseball
garden vivi
garden addie
Cleveland, for the first time.
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garden
Cleveland, for the first time.
jacks
Cleveland, for the first time.
Cleveland, for the first time.
Cleveland, for the first time. jack flaps
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Cleveland, for the first time.
Cleveland, for the first time.
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Cleveland, for the first time.

She’s still wondering who Mr. Cleveland is, and she was a little disappointed she never got to see his house — but all in all she was pretty pleased with him, his museums, his bowling alley, and his pancakes.

We all were.

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Pictured Above: Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland Botanical Gardens, Jack Flaps, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Great Lakes Science Center. Special thanks to the Cleveland CVB for providing us with accommodations, meals, and attraction passes.

“LET’S GO TO THE PARK! I’m going to bring all my bunnies. Can I wear them in my backpack? I want little bunny on the outside. BUNNIES! WE’RE GOING TO THE PARK!”

#BunnyWearing #MultiplyingLikeRabbits

Nothing but smiles and giggles the whole way to the park, no complaints, no signs of distress, nothing but shiny happy toddler. She even found a big rock and declared it “…big enough and clean enough to be my rock.” Whatever, the kid loves collecting rocks. Just ask our washer and dryer. She collected a dandelion bouquet for me and we jumped over all the “hairy sidewalks.”

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PARK! SWINGING! SLIDES! MERRIMENT! JOY! Bark in my shoe. MORE SWINGING! UNDERDOG! SUNSHINE! PLAY PLAY PLAY!

Under Vivi underdog.

“Time to go.” You see, as the mother I am able to calculate the amount of energy needed for Vivi to make it home without a meltdown in the middle of the street or me having to carry her three blocks. Compound that knowledge with the amount of energy already used at the park and divide it by the previous night’s sleep as well as the fervor in which breakfast was eaten multiplied by how much water she drank compared to her last potty break, it was time to go. Parents? You know this math.

Something in my math was wrong and everything went to crap less than half a block away from the park.

You guys? We forgot the rock. The big rock that was clean enough to be hers.

Forget that I managed to keep Vivi alive, pull of 27+ flawless underdogs, and keep all three bunnies accounted for, the rock was somewhere all alone.

I knew we couldn’t go back for the rock, her little tank was emptying fast and if we went back for the rock there would be even more tears, sobbing and my arms full of 35+ pounds of sweaty terror in my arms for five blocks.

There was foot stomping. There was wailing. There were heartbreaking sobs when I wouldn’t let her pick up a decorative boulder from someone’s yard.

At some point during the first street crossing, we lost a bunny — only we didn’t realize it until half a block later.

“You sit here and watch me go back and get your bunny, okay?”

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*sniff sniff hiccup* “Okay.”

The sniffs turned to wild sobbing demands as soon as we started up again “I WANT TO SNUGGLE! I NEED A CUPCAKE! DADDY! MY SISTER! I JUST WANT TO WATCH MICKEY MOUSE!”

I tried to distract her with a dead fish, but she wanted to pick up the dead fish to replace her big clean rock so I had to distract her with a pile of rocks instead.

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With a rock in each hand and two bunnies under her arm (by the way she was PISSED when she saw that little bunny had snot and tears on him. LIVID. “THROW HIM AWAY!”) we were only two houses away from home, Mickey Mouse and snuggles. In an attempt to wipe hair from her tear soaked cheeks she ended up clocking herself in the head with one of her replacement rocks.

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By then she just gave up. Life just wasn’t worth living anymore. In one short walk back from the park she realized how cruel life can be and crumpled into a heap 20 feet from her own front door.

Basically it’s how every adult wants to act when life gets real crappy but we’re not allowed to because we’re adults.

Next time you see a perfectly sane adult lose their mind, think of the sobbing toddler inside them who just wants a clean rock to call their own and a snuggle with their mama.

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When I agreed to write about Schoola it was because I really liked the idea behind it.

But I also believe in using the stuff I write about so I went ahead and signed up for my own donation bag and placed a clothing order to see how the process works.

I requested the bag on Thursday, July 31st and it arrived Monday August, 4. I also placed an order for several items July 31st, received a tracking number Saturday, August 2 with delivery a week later.

How Schoola Works

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Happiest.
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The things Addie does because Vivi asks... #igersindy
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UntitledTiny toy fair. #igersindy
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I love you, ride 'til my children drop day. (One day, all they can ride wristbands, it's become a tradition.) #igersindy
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Another 2 inches and Vivi will be ready to dominate the Midway the way she wants to.

If you suspect someone may be hurting themselves, or considering hurting themselves — either through self-harm or suicide there’s an (I can’t believe I’m about to use the word easy) easy way to approach the conversation.

“Hey, I’ve noticed you’ve been down lately. Is self-harm or suicide something that has crossed your mind? I don’t want you to have to deal with thoughts like that alone.”

You don’t have to fix anything (in fact, don’t even try.)

You’re not going to drive them over the edge by asking.

You just have to give them a chance to talk. Allow them to put into words the thoughts that may be going through their head.

Things become less scary when we talk about them.

So let’s talk.

Indiana State Fair

I don’t want to be the girl who talks about sad stuff all the time, but I’ve read some pretty good stuff today and if you’re here looking for stuff like that I’d like to share:

  • This one from Kat Kinsman about going public with depression. “…I’ve lost too much time and too many people to feel any shame about the way my psyche is built. How from time to time, for no good reason, it drops a thick, dark jar over me to block out air and love and light, and keeps me at arm’s length from the people I love most.
  • This one from a Pastor (not that it really matters, but he has two degrees from Harvard and one from Yale in religious studies) is also a spectacular response to the above mentioned fellow who has rubbed so many people the wrong way. (I won’t link him or mention his name because I don’t want him to get the clicks but he’s easy to find.) “The thing is, saying ‘’no’’ to suicide is evidence that I am healthy enough to say no. But, if I should ever commit suicide, it will not be because ‘’I’’ made the choice, but because my depression would have.”

 

 

The other morning a friend messaged me worried she was going crazy, she and her family had just moved across the country for her husband to begin his residency which left her home alone with multiple kids, one of them a small baby.

“I keep thinking maybe he’s cheating on me. I’m paranoid. I want to go through his phone and his email and I’m just sure something is wrong and it makes me cry and act completely irrational.”

“Yep. That was law school for me.”

“Wait, so this is…normal?”

“For me it was.”

Poor girl was convinced she was the only one who had ever thought her husband was doing something besides what he said he was doing (a fairly common occurrence, especially during graduate school or medical residencies.)

The good news is most graduate students and medical residents really are so insanely busy they barely even have time to sleep, let alone have an affair.

Here’s what I realized at the end of our conversation: everyone needs to be able to voice their crazy without judgement, or it will in fact drive them crazy.

For a long time I never told Cody the truth about the things that were going through my brain, whether it about him having an affair during law school, the dark thoughts during pregnancy and postpartum, or visualizations of self harm during an especially rough patch of depression. Without being able to voice the thoughts in my brain, they slowly ate away at my sanity until I felt as though I truly was going crazy.

Writing things out has helped me the most, no matter what I’m going through, I know I’m not the only one feeling a particular way — and the comfort that can be found in “Yeah? Me too.” is better than any amount of therapy or medication.

Here’s the tricky part, finding people who will listen to your crazy without judging.

being roommates brought us closer.

We’ve probably all lost a friend or two after telling them some deep, intimate truth about ourselves.

It hurts to tell someone you think you can trust something personal and have them react in a judgmental or condescending way. What’s worse is when they take your insecurity and use it against you, or spread it around as gossip.

It’s happened to all of us, and it sucks.

While there are people out there who lay all their crazy out on the table for attention and self-satisfaction, most people just need to put their thoughts into words and have their words be heard by someone else. They’re not expecting you to fix it, they just want you to listen.

Cody and I are to a point where I can tell him anything that goes through my brain and he just listens, no matter how crazy. He doesn’t try to fix it, he doesn’t try to commit me to a hospital and he doesn’t think any less of me. He understands that part of recovery for me is talking about all the terrible things my brain tells me.

The other night I ran my finger along a vein and told him, “This is the one I’ve thought about cutting the most.” It doesn’t mean I was going to do it, or that I’m doomed to become a cutter — it was just a thought that had been disturbing me and by speaking it out loud it lost its power.

My brain is full of words, full of thoughts, and overflowing with ideas — as long as I can keep them streaming out steadily, either through writing or speaking, things stay pretty steady up there. It’s when things get clogged that problems begin. So many words and thoughts build up that they begin to choke out my ability to handle day-to-day tasks.

Had I not told Cody about that vein it would have clouded and blocked the other thoughts lingering behind it — and it would have magnified until I shut down.

There is such a stereotype around self-harm. That those who do it, or even talk about it, are emo loners dressed in black, desperate for attention — which is probably why a lot of people simply don’t talk about it. But therein lies the problem, let’s say from the outside you’re a 30-year-old stay-at-home mom with two little kids and a fondness for Diet Coke. You go to playgroups, you do service work, you like watching reality TV. But you also have un-managed or undiagnosed depression, either because you don’t believe depression is a real disease or you have been shamed into believing depression is not real. One terrible night you think about harming yourself. Maybe you think about driving into oncoming traffic or taking every pill in the medicine cabinet and chasing it with a bottle of whiskey.  Let’s say you don’t do it for whatever reason, the thought is there and it will continue to tap at you, eat at you, and bother you until you say something (or do something) about it.

You finally decide to talk to your husband about it and he loses his mind, convinced you are an unfit mother and he verbally berates you for even thinking about being so selfish. You cry and cry wondering what is wrong with you as you sink into a deeper depression.

You talk to a trusted friend about it, she says you must be crazy. She has no idea how to handle you, you’re clearly too messed up to be friends anymore and she stops calling. Later you find out she’s told everyone at church about how insane you are.

Now let’s say you divulge the same thoughts to your husband, but this time he is understanding. He takes you in his arms and says “I had no idea you were feeling this way, that must be terrifying. What can I do to help?”

You talk to another trusted friend, she says “Oh, honey, if you only knew the amount of times I’ve thought about driving into the cement divider on the freeway. But I haven’t yet, and neither have you — so that’s something. Let me take your kids for the rest of the day so you can take a nap, you must be exhausted.”

I have experienced both, and I can tell you I much prefer the second reactions.

I’ve never expected anyone to fix my depression, but I do expect compassion — even if someone doesn’t understand exactly what I’m going through.

I don’t know what it’s like to lose a child, have cancer or be homeless — but I do know not to be an insensitive butthole when someone voices their own struggles, especially when it is clear they only want to be heard. (Now, to be fair, we all know those people who turn every moment into ‘WOE IS ME’ and it is tiring. I move right past those people, I just don’t have the energy. I’m not talking about those people. I’m talking about the generally pleasant and optimistic people who are sometimes struck with pretty terrible situations and just need to be heard, even if it’s just in a Facebook update.)

Hopefully this helps someone, I felt like it needed to be written — either for someone struggling to understand the importance of being heard or someone who has a hard time just listening and is always trying to fix things.

I hope you have someone who listens to all your crazy thoughts and ideas. Being human is so much easier when you have one or two of those people around.

@lesbiandad

Indiana State Fair 2014

Indiana State Fair 2014

Indiana State Fair 2014

Goats

Indiana State Fair 2014

Indiana State Fair 2014

Indiana State Fair 2014

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midway

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It was hard to tell what was more entertaining: the goats, or Vivi yelling like a goat.