Thursday, March 04, 2010

what's in you wednesday

Have you ever had that feeling like the sun is shining and you're blissfully bounding through a field of soft green grass and suddenly, without warning, it starts raining and you hit a mud slick and slide head first in to a rabbit hole of despair? And you're dizzy and confused and can't quite tell which way is up?


That's me, today. And no, I'm not "hormonal." Although I wish I was because I love blaming this kind of stuff on that.

Today, I woke up with a sore throat. Didn't I just get over the worst case of bronchitis I've had in who-knows-how long less than two weeks ago? Yep. I did. And now, I'm sick again. Probably because it's a new month and I'm on track to be sick at least once every single month for the second half of last year, and now apparently, at least the first half of this year, too.

Today, I looked around and noticed that although we've got a house cleaner coming in once a week, it really doesn't matter. There are piles of stuff everywhere. Including piles of laundry because our drier broke yesterday. Not to be confused with our invaluable appliance, the dishwasher, which broke last month. And our invaluable vehicle, the van which will probably break tomorrow because the steering column is starting to make a funny noise. When that breaks, that will inevitably make me break our piggy bank because the only thing that costs more than fixing a vehicle is a month's worth of groceries. It is unbelievable how much food these little people can put away.

"Mommy! I'm starving hungry!"

"But ... didn't you just eat yesterday?!"


So just because we have a house cleaner and a gardner, that doesn't mean that we can stop doing things. And that's too bad because I really want to cease and desist doing anything for a while. I don't want to bear the tremendous responsibility of picking up my shoes or flushing the toilet or even throwing dirty tissues away.

(The kids must be rubbing off on me.)

Today, I sat at my dining room table desk and I actually cried when Charlie pulled the van out of the driveway. It was a beautiful blue sky day and he was taking the kids to the museum so I could have a quiet house to work. I cried because I had over 60 high priority and very engaged e-mails to review. I cried because I had conference calls lined up throughout the afternoon. I cried because I was so stressed out that I wasn't going to get everything done that I needed to get done before Charlie came home again and who knows what we are going to have for dinner? And damn it. I cried because I wanted Charlie to go to work and let ME take the kids to the museum.


Today, I talked to my doctor and the blood panel that they ran on me a few weeks ago for a suite of various things, came back positive for the antinuclear antibody test. Which means that it is likely I have an autoimmune disorder. Which makes sense because my sister has an autoimmune disease and these things tend to be genetic and lately, I've been having a lot of the same symptoms she's described to me over the years. Doctor Google tells me that people suffering from autoimmune disorders need to improve their exercise and sleep habits, eat nutritious foods and decrease their stress levels. I'm not really sure how a herd of guinea pigs fits in to all of this?

Perhaps most difficult of all today, Charlie was out of the house at 5:00 AM to register our children for kindergarten. His goal was to get there early because our kindergarten is half day and he was hoping to sign the children up for the highly desired morning session. Which I could kind of swallow because they'd only be gone for a few hours each day and that's not so bad (I convinced myself). But when he called at 7:45 to tell me that kindergarten is now FULL DAY, it felt like a blow to my gut. And a blow to his gut because he could have slept in at least two hours longer. "WAIT. You mean I didn't have to get up when it was still pitch black and sit outside the school for two hours in the bitter cold?"


It's hard enough for me sending the kids to school. And now they'll be gone ALL DAY. I know that people are going to try and reassure me that kindergarten is great! And the kids will love it! And I will love it! And it's wonderful to see their blooming independence!! And yada yada yada and all I want to say is zip it. My babies are growing up so darn fast and I'm so darn busy working I don't even feel like I have time to play with them anymore. Will I have time to volunteer in their class? WHO KNOWS. I certainly hope so, but I just picked up more projects at work and suddenly, I don't feel like I even have time to shave my legs.

When my broken record mantra started playing (again, again, again) tonight to Charlie about how they are growing up so fast and the next time I blink they are going to be going off to college, and ohhhh woe is me i'm missing it all! My husband scoffed and said, "Jen, Come on! Don't you think you're over reacting a bit? The kids aren't going to be heading off to college for 18 more years!!" And he had me convinced for a millisecond before I responded, "They'll be heading off to college in 13 years. They're five!! Do the math!!"

And then I cried really hard because 13 years isn't very long at all.

Except if you're a guinea pig. And then it's like three lifetimes.

But oh my gosh, if I think of my children's growth in the terms of guinea pig lifespans, in only TWO MORE GUINEA PIGS, they'll be going to the PROM.


All this to say, tonight I was planning to bump my spirits up by registering for two 3-Day breast cancer walks this year. One in Washington, D.C. and one in San Diego. But after looking at the schedules and talking with my husband, I've decided (at least for now) that I'm only going to commit to the walk in San Diego. I'm so sorry I won't be making it back to D.C. in October. I really wanted to. I really wanted to take another cross country road trip and bring the whole family with me, but Charlie insists that they can't miss two weeks of school and I can't just fly everyone back for the weekend, because that costs more than repairing a car AND paying for a month's worth of groceries and you guys understand, right?

(This whole school thing is going to really mess me up. It's already chewing me up and spitting me out! Can't you see?! I knew this would happen!!)


I'll still do whatever I can to support you in your walk and if something crazy unusual happens between now and then, I'll be there. I just don't want to commit to something I can't guarantee.

But because I registered tonight, I am guaranteed for the walk in San Diego November 19-21 and I'd love to have you join the team. If you register before March 9 and use the promotional code RESOLVE, you'll save $25.00 on the processing fee in ANY city. Here's a list of all the cities and the dates for the walks. And I think that even if you walk in a different city, we could still have a virtual 3-Day team. Wouldn't that be cool??

Who's in?

Who's not in?

Who thinks that some people are prone to stress regardless of what they do?

Who thinks the author of this blog might be one of those people?

Who thinks that time goes way too fast?

Who thinks it's possible to survive a full year with small children WITHOUT getting sick?

Who likes American Idol?

Who likes the new television show Undercover Boss? (Jeanmarie, I watched the 7-Eleven episode last night and it was AWESOME!)

Who thinks I'm a crazy windbag that needs to be institutionalized?

Wait. Don't answer that.


  1. Listen to yourself, talking about trying to make an event across the country that you just said yourself you can't really fit in. :-) You're such a giver; not to imply that's a bad thing, just make sure you still take care of YOURSELF. Do the one event, not both, and take some time to chill.

    Sorry to hear about the possible autoimmune diagnosis. My fingers are crossed for you that it's not true, or hopefully not something too bad. It seems that things like this tend to show themselves during times of high stress, and I don't know what's more stressful than raising 4 kids while working and trying to single-handedly fight cancer and everything else bad in the world! :-) I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease during nursing school, which was the most stressful thing I'd ever done until I had a kid.

    You're practically super-woman -- I don't know how you do everything you do -- but don't spread yourself too thin. Remember the post you made recently about that very subject and how you were going to cut back on all the commitments you make!

  2. We have full-day Kindergarten here, too, and I hate it. I just think it's way too long of a day for a 5 year old. I'm hoping the backlash will hit by the time my kids start school and they'll return to a half-day format.....

    You sound really stressed, which is probably not helping with your immune situation. I have experienced an autoimmune disorder (autoimmune hepatitis) and it was hellish. And scary. Be good to yourself and try to find a way to relax. Easier said than done, I know, but scaling back on your commitments is a good beginning. You can always do more of the 3-day walks in a few years. I feel quite certain the need will still be there.

    Big hugs.

  3. When you are sick it is impossible to see the future in a positive spin. Get yourself better and don't make any life changing decisions until you are better ( and that will happen).

    Get some rest woman

  4. Jen, Jen, Jen. I totally agree that the run-up to kindergarten was EXTRAORDINARILY stressful. If mine had been gone the whole day, I would have just cried my eyes out. But you guys will get through this. Just try to enjoy your summer. You will be so ready to send them by August. Believe me.

    Now, about this autoimmune thing. I tested positive for the SAME thing when I was undergoing fertility treatments. Did you know that 1/120 people of Irish descent are Celiacs and don't know it? Not all people present with bowel issues. But guess what Celiacs causes? INFERTILITY. You should totally get tested. Lie and tell them that your Aunt or sister just got tested and found out they were, so then you can get your doctor to order the test.

    Anyway, I've been gluten free for a year now. I get my bloodwork done again in April. I will be interested to know how my antibody test turns out now!!

  5. Hi Jen...I love reading your blog - though I rarely comment. Except for today :-).

    I totally get the kindergarden thing. I wouldn't send my kids to a whole day kinder. The school tried to convince us that full day was better but I wasn't buying it. Anyway, we ended up pulling them out just after Thanksgiving and have been homeschooling since then. They are in 1st now. DH is disabled and is with the kids all day and does most of the schooling. I work from home. (situation sound familiar?).

    For exercise - we were trying to get to the gym as often as possible. We would have a good week and then one of the kids would get sick, or one of us would be sick - or school or my work would take too long, etc. So we finally purchased a program called P90X. We are only in the first week, but it is really good. It totally kicks your butt!. And, the convenience of doing it at home has made it a LOT easier. My husband is a type I diabetic so exercise is critical to keep his autoimmune system functioning well. It comes with a diet plan to follow that is really healthy and gives you plenty of food to eat so you can do the rigorous exercise.

    So...remember there are other options for everything. You don't feel comfortable with the kids in school - you can always take them out and homeschool. We use a program called K12 and are really happy with it.

    Having trouble getting your exercise in, think about doing it in your very own living room. Adding resistance training to your exercise will do wonders for you also.

  6. Last weeks American Idol I turned off, this weeks I like the first few people and that was it. I hate to say it, because I love me som e Ellen - but I don't think that she made the show any better. :(

  7. *Hug* I'm sorry things are rough.

    It sounds like you, like me, flourish when you have goals. When I'm focused on the in and out of daily life, I feel overwhelmed. When I add to the in and out of daily life some project that needs to be completed, like planning a trip for a zillion parents and kids to the theatre, or planning a birthday party, or something, I feel better. Life is more manageable. It just so happens that your projects are about awareness- and fund-raising, and you're teaching your children wonderful things while you're at it.

  8. Jen-sorry, I'm with Charlie. What happened to "resolve to be happy". Hon, you can't change it, so why fight it? Unless you CAN change it (this is sounding a lot like the Serenity Prayer, not coincidentally). Your readers, whom you've told to "zip it", who are trying to encourage you by telling you the plus side of your kids getting older, are not saying that it isn't a little sad to see them off to kindergarten, but they're choosing to look at the positive side. Otherwise we should all just bury our heads in the sand, because let's face it, our babies grow up. Whoever said that most people are about as happy as they want to be (who was that, anyway?) was right. A friend and I were once chatting on the ups and downs of life and I was surprised to learn that we had both used the same thought process, and I recall you once alluding to the same...if you think of your worst fears with your family, and then realize how lucky you are now, you realize that if something changed, you'd give anything to have your "old problems" back. Know what I mean? I kind of feel like you don't want to hear from your readers, though. You've made up your mind that this is terrible and that's all there is to it. Well I also agree with your mom, who said live in the NOW. Be grateful for those 12 years you have with them at home. Some people would give anything for that.

  9. Anon - you're right and my mom's right and Charlie's right. I just didn't expect that these kids would GROW UP. Nobody told me that they'd grow up and fly the nest one day. Nobody told me that!!!!

    Or maybe they did and I wasn't listening.

    I have a problem with that, you know.

  10. Jen,

    You might want to read about IVIG Therapy.

    My Mom recently started it and is doing wonderfully! She has a lifelong history of asthma, allergies, recurrent respiratory infections, and even a diagnosis of celiac at one point! She spent this fall and winter with one infection after another. She has felt great after starting the IVIG therapy.

    Good luck!

    Oh, and our kindergarten is full day too! We're hoping our daughter doesn't need her afternoon nap by that time or it's going to be painful on all of us.


  11. I just watched this. Get kleenex and note all the great stages we get to go through coming up.

  12. Since you don't want to hear about the good points of your children growing up - I will encourage you in one other thing.

    Try not to let your kids know you are upset about them starting school. Instead of saying "I'm so sad you're growing up," say "You are growing into such a smart big kid." Instead of saying "I missed you" when they come home - say "I'm happy to see you." I read an article about this when my first was getting ready for kindergarten. It was very helpful in pointing out that kids pick up on OUR separation anxiety during these milestones. The tips helped me make the transition a happy one for my kids; and they deserved that.

  13. PS be glad you aren't in Europe. All day kindergarten at 4. Sigh.

  14. HW: The other day when we took the train ride, I met a woman who was a retired kindergarten teacher and she told me that when children start school, it is ALWAYS harder on the parents. She said it would consistently happen that the children would come in to the class, excited to start school, and it was the parents that were standing outside crying.

    I'm not sure what my problem is?? I've already been through this once before with Montessori. And we did fine. Until three months in to it, when I pulled them all out and kept them in the nest for another year longer.

    It just seems that KINDERGARTEN is such a big deal. It's the start of elementary school. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. My children are starting ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.

    Geez. Look at me! I'm freaking out!!!

  15. Remember when you were nursing Henry for 2 plus years and you were not sick? Ahem---Doctor Mom thinks there might be something there.
    Have you thought of Probiotics?
    Are you living in the NOW?

  16. Mom: Are you suggesting that I need to start nursing again? Or have another baby?

    I think you need to move out to California. I need my mother.

  17. The thing that keeps me from getting too overwhelmed with how fast my kids are growing up is how amazing each new stage is. I never really look back, because I am so excited for what is to come. They ARE growing up and everyday they ARE getting closer to leaving, but it's just so darn exciting seeing it all happen I can't get sad about it (at least not too much!).

    And, we have full day kindergarten here and my boys LOVED it and I could not have asked for a better experience for them. We have taken them on 4 separate skiing trips, to the Grand Canyon, to Legoland, SeaWorld, Disneyland and countless other places and I have never seen them more excited in their life then the night before the first day of school!!! It was soooo much fun I couldn't really be sad that my "babies" were starting school (ask me how I feel when my "real baby"-who is 7 months old--starts kindergarten!).

    And finally, if you DO send them to full day kindergarten next year, you will probably be AMAZED at how much work you can get done while they are gone. Then when they come home, you will be able to spend totally uninterrupted time with them...probably more time all total then you are able to spend with them each day right now. So, that is a very good PLUS for kindergarten!


  18. I didn't have a blood panel done for autoimmune but I had some blood taken for other stuff.

    I was sick from October through January.

    It started off as a cold and developed into bronchitis. Then it graduated to a sinus infection and eventually landed me in the ER for i.v. antibiotics and fluids. I was x-rayed, poked and prodded.

    The ER doc and my doctor both agreed that if adults got Mono, then that is what I had.

    I had an allergic reaction to penicillin (wasn't previously allergic to it) and then ear infections, swollen lymph nodes and tonsillitis that took two months to clear up. Did you know they don't take your tonsils out any longer? Take 'em. Take everything!

    Anyway. I'm better now, though a bit gun-shy every time I wake up and my throat is scratchy.

    My doctor has me on Omega 3, Vitamin D and something called Sambucus (from Whole Foods).

    The Sambucus seemed to help, and I take it when I'm feeling run-down. Could it help you, perhaps?

  19. I've been thinking about your sadness over the kids' growing up, and it breaks my heart. I want you to be happy. I want to run over with cookies... but Charlie's already on that. And there's no way I'm going to give you a foot massage; I don't go there. Luckily Charlie's got that covered too. You'll work through these feelings in one way or another on your own. Maybe through working out your new health issues, which can make a huge difference in one's way of attacking the world.

    For me, I just keep flashing back to my own elementary days, which I remember well. I LOVED being a kid and saw life as a series of adventures even then. But I was also a mature kid who was consciously aware that I wanted Mom to be BEHIND me, not ON me. School was my place to be me, to be on my own, and I consciously savored my days there. Perhaps that has carried over into my philosophy as a parent. I see my role as giving my sons the tools to create their own adventures when I cannot be there to do it for them, either now or when they are grown. I've controlled what I could, steadfastly drilled the lessons home with praise and consequences, and now I feel confident in letting them touch their fingers to the reins of the lives they will eventually have to own. I know: "Shut up, Debbie!"... but honestly, I'm very excited for their new adventures in kindergarten... even if I have to hear those as stories across the dinner table. I happen to dig a good story.

  20. Hey Jen~
    So sorry you're sick!
    I'm with you on the kids going to Kindergarten! It's hard to decide what will work best for the child & family.
    My William is going this fall ~he's been attending a Waldorf school this year & will attend the Kindergarten this fall. You should check out the Waldorf philosophy... I think you'd like it. It's very earth based, spiritual, & like home-school. It's hard to describe but it's the school I wish I had gone to as a child. We love it & it sort of sound like you & your family.
    Take care & hope you're better soon. T