Today, I Cleaned

Usually, I treat cleaning like the wretched chore it is. An activity to bear because I dislike clutter, and dust makes me sneeze, and sticky things make me gag. But when my thoughts are scattered, or when I need to work through a problem, or when I’m upset, cleaning is therapy.

Today, I cleaned.

On Friday, June 7, my husband and I said goodbye to our dog Ivan.

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Dysplasia settled into both of his hips at about the same time. We tried giving him joint health supplements, but he hated eating anything if it wasn’t in his food bowl. He ate around what we put in his food bowl. He stopped eating when we crumbled the supplements up in his food.

I just have picky eaters, I guess.

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Last weekend, his right leg swelled twice its normal size. He stopped eating again. He stopped drinking. He didn’t have to go to the bathroom. His fur started falling out in patches and chunks. He couldn’t play. He could barely walk.

We knew it was time.

Not that knowing made it any easier.

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My husband and I process grief differently. Crying, holding hands, sharing memories — those we need together. We also need to be alone to process this grief — him resting in silence or with soft music playing, and me in a cacophony of sound, moving, doing, cleaning.

It took two days to get through the grief to pick up the mess we’d made of our house — the empty pizza boxes, the glasses half-filled with water in every room, the shoes and clothes and clutter. Two days to fix the blockage in the vacuum that had previously felt so overwhelming. Two days to oil the dining room table, do the dishes, sweep the floor, start the laundry. Two days to cry and feel and clean.

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He was our first deep love, our gentle lead. He reached out to us and curled up at my husband’s feet. He loved walks and fetch. He was big, and he was sweet. He pressed his face into the carpet when he slept. He carried the cat around in his mouth. He boofed at the mailman and shadows and squirrels. He loved the snow. He hated the rain. He chased his tail and happy hopped for dinner time. He destroyed every toy we ever gave him. He destroyed his bed and preferred the couch. He loved us, and we loved him.

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Eleven years is not forever, but forever is how long I love you.

A Host of Health Hullabaloo

June begins Month #6 of 2019’s getting our s*** together New Year.

I wish I had better news for you, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Getting our s*** together took a back seat to getting my physical health — and associated sanity — back on track.

I think I went to see a doctor once a week for two months. It was exhausting.

My biggest scare happened the last week of April, when a large, painful lump appeared protruding at the base of my throat.

Two doctor’s appointments, three vials of blood and a sonogram later, and we discovered fluid-filled nodules on my thyroid. Words like “cyst,” “cancer” and “biopsy” were flung about by my primary care physician and the radiology tech.

Eep.

Thankfully, the nodules deflated on their own before my scheduled ENT appointment. The ENT decided that — since they’d shrunk and he saw no solid masses in my sonogram — I didn’t have to have a biopsy.

Hallelujah.

Fluid-filled nodules rarely become solid masses, and solid masses rarely become cancer. However, the ENT said that if the nodules constantly flare and cause constant pain, he’d recommend REMOVING MY THYROID.

No.

I’m keeping that sucker. Stand down, cysts. Stand. Down.

Turns out, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis runs in my family. Another chronic something to add to the chronic list of chronic nonsense in my new normal. (An update on the chronic back pain to come.)

I just sighed heavily.

Filters

Still rocking accident grams.

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Finances

I don’t even know what a retirement account is anymore.

Fitness

Considering I hurt myself doing the most minuscule of movements, I’m giving up on this one. I’m going to sleep in, read books in the evening and enjoy my rolls. I weigh 140 pounds of no-longer-gives-a.

Food

Here’s a win.

No more takeout two or three nights a week. My husband and I cook dinner at home nearly every night. At least four nights a week. Another night is leftovers. Two other nights consist of what a Junior League friend of mine coined as “Snack Dinner” where we fend for ourselves (aka sandwiches).

Here’s an ongoing loss.

My toddler eats six things. “Cackers,” yogurt, Annie’s bunny-shaped macaroni and cheese (Not any other kind of macaroni and cheese. Don’t come at him with some tractor-shaped crap. Only bunnies.), peanut butter sandwiches, “nanas” and toddler pouches.

I see toddlers eating salad on Instagram.

How?

How do you do it?

If you approach my toddler with anything other than those six things, he loses it. We prepare a plethora of different types of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner — and my kid won’t eat any of it.

He doesn’t even eat chicken nuggets.

CHICKEN NUGGETS!

My baby-food baby used to eat soft carrots, mushy peas, blueberries and oatmeal. No more. Last week, I made him a colorful fruit salad of watermelon, blueberries and strawberries for dinner. It was practically dessert. Straight up trash, according to him.

Actual dessert? He’ll eat that. “Coocoos” (cookies), cake, ice cream, chocolate. Loves it.

I guess that’s seven things. I’ll let you know if he deems it necessary to ever eat eight things.

I ate canned beets as a child. They were terrible. But I ate them. Because I was fed them, and you don’t not eat at grandma’s house.

Jeez. This kid.

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Enjoying chocolate “coocoos.”

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

I joined Junior League of Wichita in 2016, and my favorite event of the year is here: Trash Bag Handbag.

Organized by the League’s Child Advocacy Committee during National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Trash Bag Handbag aims to raise awareness for children suffering from abuse and neglect in our community and children in out of home placements.

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Starting Monday, April 8, League members swap out handbags, purses, backpacks and totes with… trash bags.

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Why?

Often when children are removed from a home and placed in police protective custody, they don’t have time to pack a bag. They might not have a bag. Instead, their belongings are shoved into a flimsy plastic bag, or a trash bag. Trash Bag Handbag’s goal is to raise awareness about this issue and funding for bags.

Real bags.

Donations go to ICT SOS in creating fresh start bags, which include clothing, hygiene items, gift cards and comfort items. Fresh start bags can go to any of ICT SOS’s partners to help children.

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Helping us in our endeavor to raise awareness this year are eight community leaders: Annette Lawless, Anchor/Reporter for KAKE News; Claudia Amaro, AB&C Bilingual Resources, LLC; Judge Kevin Smith, Sedgwick County District Court Judge; Sedgwick County Commissioner Lacey Cruse, 4th District; Susan Estes, Junior League Sustainer; Susan Humphries, Kansas State Representative; and Vendla Smith, Owner/Director Zinta Inspired Language. 

Junior League of Wichita Major Fundraisers

We are an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Our focus area is child abuse prevention, intervention and awareness. Much of our volunteering and fundraising goes to supporting that mission and combatting child abuse and neglect.

Holiday Galleria, an annual shopping event held at Century II in Wichita, is our first major event of the year. Net proceeds support the League’s mission. The event has contributed more than $5.8 million and more than $44 million in the form of volunteer hours to the Wichita community.

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Kitchen Tours, an annual home touring event, is our final major event of the year. Net proceeds also go to supporting the League’s mission. During Kitchen Tours, homeowners across Wichita open their doors to showcase their historic kitchens, remodels, local businesses and more. This year, we’re strolling around Wichita’s College Hill neighborhood to tour some of the city’s oldest and most interesting homes.

Our Projects

The League decides on one major project in our focus area to dedicate fundraising and volunteer efforts each year. Sometimes projects last multiple years.

Most recently, the League has partnered with and committed $150,000 to the Wichita’s Children’s Home for a period of three years. Our goals are to help young moms through mentorship, assistance with secondary education opportunities and by stocking the BabyMobile, a van that delivers critical self-care items to young parents transitioning to independent living.

You can help stock the BabyMobile and the Wichita Children’s Home by donating items on their wishlist.

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How You Can Help

During Trash Bag Handbag April 8-12, swap our your usual bag for a sack. We use grocery store-sized blue sacks, but any old sack will do.

Engage people in conversation about why you’re carrying your wallet, phone, gym clothes, lunch, etc. in a sack instead of a bag and talk about what the League and our ambassadors are doing to help children in the Wichita community.

Can’t commit to the bag? Don’t worry. We get it. Wear blue, donate and encourage others to do so as well.

More than fundraising, though, we want to raise awareness about the issue of child abuse in our community. Yes, the funds are needed. Fresh start bags are needed. More, Kansas needs more mentors for children, more CASA volunteers and more foster parents to fill the gap between caring homes and children in need.

Interested?

Disclaimer: Ambassador Judge Kevin Smith is not raising funds. He is an advocate for children in our community and will be a voice for the event.

Alone Moments

Being alone in your house when you’re a parent is… indescribably amazing.

The silence. The stillness. Not being touched. No one’s talking or fussing. Even the mess doesn’t cry out when you’re alone.

It’s just so damn peaceful.

Today, my husband took our son out of the house for a daddy-and-son playdate for two hours and left me alone.

In the house. 

For two hours.

Neither of us is ever alone in the house.

This house is rarely silent, and it’s never still. There’s constant movement. There’s always talking or fussing. The mess is chaotic as it gets made, and cleaned up, and remade, and left for tomorrow.

The cycle isn’t terrible — but it certainly isn’t peaceful.

Unscripted alone moments are rare. Sure, when I drive to and from work, I’m alone in my car — but that’s not a moment. When I’m rushing through a seven-minute shower, I’m alone — but that’s not a moment. When I’m running errands or grocery shopping, I’m alone (with other people) — and those are not moments.

True alone moments are when you don’t have to think about what happened or what’s next or what’s happening now. When your body can take a break from doing, and your brain can take a break from considering.

Thought and action are natural during alone moments. No reason. No consequence.

Just nothing.

I showered, exfoliated, used moisturizer. I let my hair air dry. I ate apple slices with peanut butter without little bites taken out of the best parts.

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Finding — and obtaining — truly alone moments as a parent feels impossible, and I can’t remember being alone for any amount of time when I felt I could allow my brain to turn off and my body to relax its tension.

And my kid is 2.

We’re both overdue, and I plan to pay that amazing man back for those two hours with two of his own.

BABR: January Update

January was the single. longest. month. Ever. Yesterday was January 74. My New Year’s Resolutions for finances, fitness, food and house should be complete since it’s already 2020.

What happened during the longest month ever?

My son played with penguins at the Sedgwick County Zoo. So friggin cute.

 

Fetched a stick. With his mouth. Because that’s what the dog does.

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And turned 2. He’s playing with the packing paper in his birthday present from KiwiCo. The actual present was trash as far as he was concerned.

New Year’s Update: Filters

I open Instagram Stories on accident a lot. Fun filters FTW.

New Year’s Update: Finances

False start. Planning to hot wire this car in February. (Side note: Got the actual car fixed, so we have at least SOME of our s*** together already.)

New Year’s Update: Fitness 

Like every red-blooded American woman in January, I said 2019 is going to be THE YEAR I get back into shape.

Yeeaaaahhhh. Right.

I joined Title Boxing Club in 2018 to slough off pesky baby weight — which came back like a flood when I stopped breastfeeding, rude. High energy. Hitting. Kicking. Skipping… burpees. Sweat rolling down my face and pooling on the mat. Exhilarating.

I’ve never been a fan of cardio, but I loved. boxing. And it was so good for my back.

Until it started acting up again. Until I got busy. Until I couldn’t swing 5:15 a.m. classes because I was so damn tired and in too much pain.

My goal for 2019 isn’t to get back into shape. I want to be pain-free. Fitness is absolutely a part of my road to recovery — I just have to find the right fitness.

I’m testing some options.

Kundalini yoga, which blends chanting, meditation and breath work with familiar yoga poses. The theory behind it is a little hocus pocus, but it’s the only yoga I can do. Most of the work can be done lying down or in a position that doesn’t challenge my back. Think bridge pose or holding a lunge for a long time and “breathing through the eyes.” Whatever, it’s nice.

Thirty-minute fitness classes at work on Tuesdays and Thursdays (which I’ve been proscribed from this week by my physical therapist because they’re hurting me), blending a dash of cardio with strength training and core. Combine these with Popsugar’s Active app workouts, and I’ve got 15-30 minutes scheduled every day.

My physical therapy stretches and abdominal work. The stretches relieve inflammation in my nerves, and the ab work teaches my transverse muscles — the deep abs that got all stretched and destroyed during pregnancy — to activate when I move. After 10 reps, my core is exhausted, but it’s not a workout.

I did pretty well with my fitness resolution for about two-and-a-half weeks. Now, I’m faltering.

False start? More like a stall. Hey, the Jeep needs new tires, too.

New Year’s Update: Food

I lost six pounds between Thanksgiving and my son’s birthday using Noom — counting calories, daily weigh-ins, little challenges. But I was over it. I cancelled that membership (theme?) and gained four pounds back just three weeks later.

Hey, when it’s Christmas break, and you have all the time in the world to plan your meals, go grocery shopping and prep smoothies — well, you’re for sure going to keep that up when you go back to work.

Ha, no.

Fitbit is free, so I’m going to try to use it like Noom — even though it’s not as good, and I don’t really want to.

New Year’s Update: House

It’s been vacuumed.

New Year’s Update: Time

January was 74 days long, and I still don’t have a second of time until 10 p.m. when I write blogs and don’t shower.