Friday, July 17, 2015

Book Launch, Pizza and Bagels: Three Days in NYC (pt. 1)

(Begin here to read about how everything magically fell in place.)

Whenever something big happens, for good or not, my anxiety tends to ramp up. It's a perfectly normal response to excitement so I'm used to it. I was even amused when I woke up at 2:30 am, shook Adam awake and said, "What time is it?!" fearful I had missed the alarm and my plane.

My husband. He's a good sport.

Needless to say, I did NOT miss my alarm or plane. I was up, dressed and out of the house before six am. I made sure to reward myself for my prompt and early arrival:

Cute story: When I was in line at Starbucks, a mom and little girl were in front of me, chatting away in Sign. I know a few baby signs and couldn't make out anything they were saying but, "Can I have this donut? How about this candy? Or this?" and "No! It's too early for junk!" are conversations that would never need a translator!

My flight from KC to TX was on-time and smooth flying. I read The 100 on the plane and really enjoyed it. It's different from the TV show; enough different that I can't compare the two except to say that if you like one, you will like the other. The flight from TX to NYC was a little bumpy and I learned an important lesson: If you have to pee in TX, don't wait until NY to find a bathroom!

(Adam: You know you can pee on the plane. They do have bathrooms.
Me: I didn't want too! I was by the window and didn't want to climb over people!
Adam:  It's better than peeing on them!)

For the record, I did NOT pee my pants. I just had trouble finding a bathroom when I got to NY and my bladder was not happy.

So. Enough about that.

People say NYC smells funny and I suppose it does. It defiantly doesn't smell like where I live in KS, which, at any given point, could smell like skunk, pollen or people grilling. Mostly it smells like nothing at all, a generic nothingness as if the entire county has been detoxed of any identifying odor. But the city smells like so many things, mostly like my childhood. In a way, it smells like Nana, my aunts and my cousins and so many fond memories of visiting them

And it's loud. So loud! I'm sitting in my bedroom now and it's too quiet. The city never really sleeps and I remember the sounds soothing me when I spent the night at my nana's.

I felt pretty slick taking car service by myself to my cousin's. I mean, ignore the fact that she arranged for it. The driver was really nice and told me he once owned his own company doing embroidery on shirts and jackets for places like Hard Rock Cafe, Disney, tourist shops, etc. It was fun to chat about colors and logos and such with him.

My cousin! Ack, my older cousin and my plus one for the evening! It was so amazing to see her and my aunt. I haven't seen either of them since my uncle's funeral two years ago. My cousin cooked dinner, we walked the dogs and caught up on everything and I got a shower in my aunt's new shower that looked exactly like something out of a "bold look of Kolher" commercial. It felt even better, as if I was bathing in sunshine and rainbows. I'm moving in, just for the shower.

I have one living grandparents, my father's mother that we call Nana. All of us- her children, in-laws and the grandkids- would do anything for Nana. She's an enigma. You do not cross Nana and if you gain her favor you get Spaghetti Pie and cookies from the Italian bakery.

Ah, who am I kidding. She bring us cookies in the white box with the red twine no matter what!

My cousin and I took the afternoon to visit Nana. She ordered real NY pizza and I had two slices and it was .... heaven. It was storming outside and another cousin told me I brought the mid-western weather with me. I agreed and he said he was going to throw me outside to sacrifice me to the weather gods. He was kidding. I think.

Lunch with Nana was too short. Most of the time, I'm okay living where I do and I do love the life I have in the midwest. But it's times like that when I wish I was closer and I could have pizza and cake with my nana more often. I wish my children could visit the city like I did and have memories of playing in a pool in a small, cement backyard with astroturf grass. Many times during the trip I reminded myself to make sure I bring the kids to NYC to visit.

Okay, enough about memory lane. After lunch, it was time for... the subway.

Now, when I was younger and we were visiting Nana, my father put the FEAR OF GOD into me about the subway. I have no idea why. He never took us on it. We were too young to go on it with even our oldest cousins. We didn't live in the city. A few days before I flew into the city, I mentioned to Dad that my cousin and I were taking the subway to the book launch and he was all ZOMGOSH NO SUBWAY.

Of course I had to send this picture:

 With the caption, "I'm on the subway!"
Then I sent this:

To prove I was getting ON THE SUBWAY and not just standing on some dirty old street. Look, I might be 35 and have four kids but I'm never too old to drive my parents crazy.

Oh, and the subway? So not scary. Okay, the stairs were a giant pain. I was sweating and my thighs were burning by the time we were done. It's because I'm from the midwest and everything's flat. I joked that I had altitude sickness by the end of it. I was hot and sweaty and UGH. But stairs aside, it was FINE. I mean, yeah it was kinda dirty and it smelled funny but as long as you don't sit in any wet spots, you're good. As my brother-in-law's friend said, "If it smells funky, find another car." Wise words, that.

We finally ended up in the DUMBO area of Brooklyn. I took many random pictures, just to show the kids the different landscape and how close we were to the water, trains, etc.



We even rode the Carousel! It was $2/ person and so fun!

Me and the city in the background.
I think we spent a good thirty minutes just hanging by the water, talking and admiring the building. Admid the hustle and bustle of the city, it was so calm and peaceful. I told my cousin it felt like home, like every good childhood memory I have of visiting my cousins. I can remember waking up in the car and being so excited to see the bridges because I knew we were close to Nana's.

But then it was time to mosey back and get ready for the launch.


(You seriously thought I could make this one post! HA! Stay tuned for more fun!)

Monday, July 13, 2015

Less than 24 hours from now...

I'm getting stupid excited for the book launch. And it's not even my book! I dunno. I think it's everything- the launch, seeing my grandmother, my cousins, my aunt, my brother-in-law AND meeting his girlfriend. I took the kids out to get presents for some people and we're now home watching TV and waiting for laundry to finish. Just this morning, I have:

checked in early
printed my boarding pass
printed the info for the car service
printed information for Adam on who needs to be where and when
e-mailed workouts for "my" group to the head coach AND printed copies for the other coaches
bought a book
downloaded several books to my Kindle app on my phone AND my computer
downloaded a new album to my phone because heaven forbid I be BORED
got presents for people. Yep, super cook Kansas presents. I am awesome like that.
Bought a pretty new skirt to match my lucky white shirt.
Read this article about the book

Speaking of parenting things, my oldest is hanging out with my parents for 3 weeks. So far he has mowed the lawn, helped my mom in the garden, gone to the barber, helped baby-sit his cousins and gone shopping for the food pantry. If he thought it was going to be all fun and games and SUGAR... poor kid. I'll feel bad for him sometimes. ;) No, really, he's going to have a blast.

I have to run and finish packing. Shoes. I need to pick SHOES.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

It's a .... thing?

It's July one, which means:
1. My oldest nephew's birthday is today! Yay!
and
2. The anniversary of my niece's passing is next week. Um, big booooo.

As a result of number two AND a wicked sinus infection that required drugs upon drugs, I've been feeling a little down in the dumps. I'm tired (thank you, stupid infection), hot (thanks, summer) and agnsty. I'm not as bad as I could be, as I'm taking great care of myself, but everything's just been a little off.

Then Sunday I logged onto Facebook and checked a local preemie charity I follow. They posted a picture of a baby they are helping and he's wearing one of my hats! A hat I donated and made in memory of Miss Who! I was really excited, as I've never seen one of my donated hats on a baby before! (I've made ones for friends and seen pictures but not one I've donated to a local NICU.) It made me feel great to know they are being loved and used!

The next day, the kids and I found a ladybug in the pool. I didn't know ladybugs could swim! When I got close to scoop her out of the pool, I noticed she had alot of spots on her back and some of them were heart shaped. I called my kids over and they agreed; heart shaped spots. She was not happy that I was trying to get her out of the water and scurried around until Camille carried her off to the roses that grow in the nearby garden.

(Ladybugs are always associated with my niece. We see them randomly but always at times that are important to us, like when we did family pictures.)

Tuesday, I fired up my computer to find... and invitation to Deanna Fei's book launch. 

To say you had to peel me off the ceiling is a major understatement! I was so, so excited! I really wanted to go but was fairly sure it couldn't happen. I mean, it will be in NYC and I am so not in NYC. Besides, I don't want to travel around a major city alone... but wait.

I have cousins. Cousins who live in New York.

What happened next was a flurry of texting and calls to my husband and my cousins. My husband found out that we have enough points to get me to New York for FREE if I stay just 48 hours. My cousin is off work that week and I can stay with her. The venue is 15 minutes away from her house and she can be my plus one! I can see my grandmother! The whole trip is going to cost me time off work and food.

I'd like to say it's a God-thing. That there's a reason this random trip resulting from a random comment left on an article is happening now. Is there? Perhaps. It's so easy to say that God (or my niece) had a hand in this trip. I mean, look how everything fell into place! I don't know, though. I think God has a hand in everything and that if this trip hadn't worked out, there would be a reason for that too. (And even though it worked out, the loss of 3 days pay for me has me nervous... hello, trust.)

Maybe this trip is a God thing.
Maybe it is a Miss Who thing.
Maybe it's .... a thing.

But at the end of the day... I'M GOING TO A BOOK LAUNCH!!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Best Laid Schemes

But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
          Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
          For promis’d joy!

This year, I had plans for summer. I was no longer going to put our summer on hold because we "might" travel. I wasn't going to sit around and look at everyone else's pictures of the beach,  mountains and cruises while I was at home, hitting up the neighborhood pool for the millionith time. I wasn't going to be "cruise director" and do ALL THE THINGS for the kids. Nope! Camps were to be had! Swim team needed to be coached and swum! Robotics! The LEGO exhibit at the gardens! A mother's helper to help while I worked! Imma gonna take back summer and have fun, even if my husband is allergic to traveling!

Well. Best laid schemes and all.

I've been working for a swim team that takes place year 'round (henceforth known as the Year Round Team, YRT) since September. I love it and enjoy what I am doing.  This team reminds me why I love swimming and working with the kids. It's just a good situation and a team I would happily put my kids on.

Because swimming can be seasonal and, in the past, my employment has been based off numbers, I am always slightly unsure if I will have a job in the next season. It's just the nature of the beast and has nothing to do with me as a coach. Yet most swim coaches know that if you want to pack in the hours and dollars, you can work for a summer league team. Thanks to my awesome networking skillz, I heard about a possible position with a summer league (SL) team. Long story short, I was offered the job and accepted.

I knew the head coach had a reputation for being... not what I am used to... but I figured I could work with it. I can generally work with anyone. Plus, sometimes people get a bad rap just because of one thing or because their style doesn't work for everyone. I met the head coach, HC, a couple times and could see why her personality was polarizing; you either loved or hated her. Still, it didn't bother me too much and I figured we could work together. Even though I got looks of pity from the other YRT coaches, I figured I could suck anything up for seven weeks.

I couldn't.

It came down to a few things: a) don't belittle me in front of parents and swimmers; b) I will not teach strokes incorrectly and c) don't yell and belittle the swimmers.

The parents were awesome. The place where the SL team is held is very multi-cultural and I loved getting to know people from all walks of life. The guards were great- sweet, funny and professional. I enjoyed the other coaches. It was just the HC who ruined it for me.

I mostly feel horrible. Lots and lots of people I trust- my parents, my sister, my husband and the YRT coaches- have told me it is not worth staying in a toxic situation.Not even for the money- and oh the pay was good! We could use the money but, as my mother-in-law said, most people can always use more money. Based on the events that came to a head, and pushed me over the edge into quitting, I know I pissed off the director and assistant director. I like both of them and am upset that I angered them.

And the money. Sigh. It would have gone a long way towards paying for speech. I was going to treat myself to LUSH products and spoil the kids with a trip to a water park this summer. Between the two teams, I was working 20 hours a week and the house was a mess but I would  have enough money for a housekeeper when Adam has his surgery. Oh, and we could sock it away for emergencies. Not that we can't live off just Adam's salary- we can and do. It's just... extra is nice. (Vacation anyone?)

In spite of feeling horrible, I'm trying to look on the bright side. Do you know how bad I smelled after coaching on a steamy deck? I think my tweens smelled better! (Hence the need for Lush products!) I can spend more time with the kids (yay!) and keep the house cleaner (yay). We can still hit up a local pool and the splash pad, although the water park is out. Since I won't be on a pool deck every two hours multiple times a week, we should be able to go to a late afternoon movie. Oh, and it looks like I will be with the YRT in the fall! That has me the most excited!

While the kids are at VBS this week I am taking back my summer. I have open days now and we're going to do allll the things I had planned on cramming into my days off. My best laid schemes went awry but you know what? I'm not going to let my FORMER head coach destroy the summer for us,




Tuesday, May 26, 2015

So this happened

About 18 months ago, I read an article by Deanna Fei, My Baby and AOL's Bottom Line. It's well-written and sharp but something about the author's tone made me send a message to the author.

Now, I never leave comments in the combox unless it is a blogger I know or I'm entering to win something. And I never, ever, ever message author's I don't know. ComBoxes tend to make me weep for humanity, especially when it comes to articles that might be controversial. As for e-mailing authors... eh. I leave great Amazon reviews. I tell everyone about their books. I favorite them on Goodreads. But I don't e-mail them because I don't want to seem like some pre-teen fangirl even if I am totally fangirling inside.

Yet I did. I have a vague notion of what I said, something about how she is not alone in her feelings. I e-mailed her, I received a short note in reply and that was that.

Until last week, about 18 months after I read the article. I received an e-mail from Fei thanking me for my comment and how it was one of many that inspired her to write a book, Girl In Glass (due in July) about her experiences. A few e-mails later (!!! because who am I kidding, I was sitting there with a dumb grin on my face thinking, "THIS IS SO COOL!") she told me that my initial e-mail to her is quoted in her book! It's anonymous, of course, but still!!!

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get paid nothing. My name's not even in there. BUT. PEOPLE! A real live, honest to goodness writer- like, she's written another novel! She make a living writing!- said that something I (yeah, yeah, yeah, and others) inspired her next work. At swanky dinner parties (that I never attend), I'll be able to toss my hair, casually sip my wine and just happen to say, "You know, when I was quoted by/inspired an author..." Years from now, I'll pull the book off my shelves and show my grandchildren where I am (not) mentioned in a book.

Okay, yes, I am a complete goober. I'm aware this is interesting and super cool to only me. I am also aware that I might be mildly in awe of anyone who is published because I know how long, hard and slogging the process is. But it's funny, you know, how having a preterm infant puts everyone on equal footing: a housewife and swim coach with four children in the suburbs of the midwest suddenly has something in common with a writer in NYC, all because of an intensive care unit. I have a feeling we could sit down over tea (or KC BBQ or, even better, NY bagels piled with cream cheese or butter) and not run out of things to talk about. We have a common ground in our children, their early beginnings and our struggles. It seems we both have a passion for educating people about pre-term infants and everything that it entails, during the NICU and after.

You know what the best thing about this is, though? My words made someone feel better. I never know if reaching out to someone is going to be well received, especially when her daughter was born much earlier than my son. Yet it did and, to me, that's better than any (not) mention in a book.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Well, now you have me mad

Just Tuesday, I was waiting for the speech therapist to arrive when I noticed dog poop on my capris. (Long, not glamorous story about the dog being locked in a closet.) I grumbled about it a bit and the therapist laughed and said, "You are so calm about everything!"

Haha. I am so not calm about everything. Like right now. Right now, I am PISSED.

You see, a kid has a rash. It is a common rash at the tail-end of an even more common virus. A couple nurse-friends looked at him and said, "Meh, it's the rash at the end of a virus.He's not contagious. Don't waste your time at urgent care." I didn't. I told the teacher what it was, kid felt fine, so he trotted off to school.

I got a call saying he needed to come home because the rash was spreading. He came home. Rash looked better today. I sent him back to school.

All four kids were in school at the same time today because of a field trip. Adam and I jumped on the chance to see each other before 9 pm and were out the door to breakfast when the call came. Kid still has a rash and since a physician didn't confirm that he is not a germ infested cess pool, kid MUST LEAVE SCHOOL.

Oh, hell no.

No.

My kid wants to be in school and you want to send him home for no reason? Not gonna fly. You want an MD to confirm what 3 nurses told us- it's nothing, don't worry? Good, you can pay the 75 dollar co-pay at urgent care. What? You have no sympathy that 75 dollars is not a drop in the bucket for us? And then...

"I'm sorry that you don't care about the health and well being of your child or the others in the school."

Excuse me? Excuse ME? EXCUSE ME?! Oh no YOU DID NOT. I just sat there, stunned. One does not play the "you don't care about their health" card. Nope. Nope. I have a therapist, medication and a diagnosis that would say otherwise. In fact, I've spent the past six years working to NOT freak out over every cold and cough.

Me, who will Google what whopping cough or the croup sounds like when a kid has a super-nasty cough.

Me, who has been known to count respiration and look for retractions.

Me, who has done CPR on her own kid.

Me, who has scrubbed up to her arm pits to end the NICU and used so much hand sanitizer in nursing homes that the staff looks at me weird.

I'm going to remember how much I don't care when I pop my anti-anxiety and anti-depressants. When I go to my therapist, when I have my sister and friends talk me down off the ledge and remind me that my kids are really healthy and fine.

The kicker? I just defended this person as a professional to someone else this weekend!

Oh, and the double kicker? Another kid had a low grade fever and was pulling on his ear. They couldn't reach me so they sent the kid back to class! What happened to calling emergency contacts?! Forgive me if I don't take the ZOMGOSH RASH! seriously.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Wonderment of a good job

My drop off in blogging is a direct result of my new-ish job coaching swimming. I work evenings now. It's not for every long, about 3 hours an evening, but by the time I get home, I am so brain dead. I just want to, and often do, curl up in bed and go to sleep. I'm so thankful I am home during the day to take care of the kids and the house because otherwise nothing would get done!
I adore my job. It's not perfect- nothing is- but I like the coaches, the kids and the parents. I have fun and I learn alot from everyone. But, even though I am so happy doing what I love, I have been having horrible anxiety-driven dreams. It took me several weeks to figure out why- I'm happy! Life's good! Sure, there are still challenges at home and stuff but why am I having anxiety over my job??
Then it hit me- I have hardly ever been in a good work situation. My first teaching job was a disaster. I was totally set up to fail. When I coached another team six years ago, I had a great director, until she left for another position. The new director was the one who fired me because I had a baby. In both positions, I would be told to change something, or do something different, and I would. But it was never good enough, it was never right. Maybe I'm older, wiser or my give a damn is still off because when the head coach tells me to do something or whatever, I don't feel like she's trying to make me fail. Or maybe they just like me and want to help me.
It's weird being in a spot where I feel people like me. For me, it's not normal to think of the long term possibilities in a job. So I don't, really, I don't dare to hope that I will be there in the fall or winter. I mean, I want to! How I WANT to be with this team, these coaches, long term! I would be crushed to lose my job. And hope... well, I try not to think that every time I am positive about something, I lose it. I can't. I won't walk around bitter, thinking, "well, I loved my last coaching position and look what happened!"
Instead, I tend to think in the here and now. Through the summer, I have this great job that I love. I will always have wonderful memories of being on deck. I working my hardest, correcting my mistakes and learning. I'm trying not to overthink everything I say or do. It's hard, given my past and the feeling that every time something good happens, the other shoe will drop.
Because, really, that's not a fun way to live.