The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Posts Tagged with ‘elizabethnewlin’

The Other Side of “Running”

I’ve gotten out of the habit of both running and writing. I’m not trying to make excuses, but work has been intense, I’m pretty sure I have at least 12 kids now, and I’ve been super busy thwarting terrorism, coming up with a solution for world hunger, and staying caught up on Catfish and Teen Mom: OG (Oh, Amber. Get it together, hun.).

I started running again last week because I’m planning to hike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim again in September, so I need to get my cardio back in shape. Also: Swimsuit season’s imminent approach + The joy I get from eating an entire bag of ranch flavored croutons by myself  = Stress nightmares where I have to submit my tax info before a panel of judges while wearing a super unflatteringly cut mismatched bra and underwear set. The judges first look over my financial information disapprovingly and then circle my fat and stretch marks with a red sharpie. Obviously I really needed to start logging some miles both for my physical and mental stability.

My first couple of runs went surprisingly well. I got through my normal, 4-mile route slowly, but without walking. I was able to keep mostly out of my own head and felt really positive when I was done. I was strong! I was confident! I was killing it!

Of course, for every beautiful, empowering run, there are two that make feel like an emo teen on the downslope of a misery binge. Like, I just shaved my eyebrows off and dyed my hair black because beauty isn’t a thing. Only suffering.

This morning I woke up crabby and unmotivated. I made the mistake of stepping on the scale before I left, and despite the fact that I ate salmon and chicken and goddamn mother-fucking salads yesterday, they apparently didn’t cancel out the Magnum bar, Fig Newtons, and wine from the day before. The scale straight up laughed and gave me the middle finger. Suddenly it was obvious my thighs were billowing from of the bottom of my shorts and my belly was oozing out of the waistband at the top.

You’d think this would spur me to run more miles, wouldn’t you? Redouble my efforts! Burn more calories! Sometimes it goes the other way, though.

By less than a mile in I realized I had forgotten to pee before I left. And it was warmish; like at least 75 degrees. And the breeze was blowing. Right. At. Me. AND I wasn’t even wearing my belt that holds my phone, so I had to hold it in my hand. MY HAND HAD TO HOLD MY PHONE WHILE I WAS RUNNING.

That was it. I could not deal. I’d started out giving maybe two fucks and my supply of fucks had diminished at a rate of at least three per mile. It was inevitable. Demand was far greater than my resources. I was simply out of fucks to give.

I stopped running right then. I vowed not to post this “run” on social media. I took a shortcut and walked the rest of the way home. I strolled, even, except when I wanted to get across the street before the light changed, and for a little while when the path sloped downhill and I was bored with how long it was taking to get home; then I jogged. I JOGGED, I tell you. I didn’t “run”. Running is for the proud. It’s for athletes. It’s for people with willpower and goals. I jogged, like the guy 5 steps away from walking into Starbucks behind you, so you hold the door open for him, and he doesn’t want to be a jerk and have you stand there for too long. SO HE JOGS to grab the door.  I jogged.

Then I got home and had a spoonful of crunchy peanut butter, a tiny bag of Cheetos, and a piece of sourdough toast.

I hate myself.

A Plan Gone Wrong – Jonas and the Mason Jar

So… did I ever tell you the baby quail didn’t make it? The crazy bird lady emailed me the next day and said the little guy was dead by the next morning. I felt like at least we’d done all we could.

What happened today, on the other hand, I feel more responsible for.

This morning Jonas came running inside and said, “I have a new plan!” But Jo without a plan is like my hand without a glass of wine (just unnatural), so I didn’t listen particularly carefully when he went over the details.

“You know those tubes in our front yard? The holes in the ground?” he asked.

I thought he could mean any number of holes in the ground from the drainage tubes to the prairie dog burrows or the holes they’ve dug themselves, but I was distracted by my computer and making breakfast and again, this is just sort of how conversations with Jonas go, so I said, “I guess…” and he continued on.

“I saw a lizard run into one of them. So I’m going to take jars and put them in the holes and wait, and then when a lizard runs into them I’ll flip it up and put the top on it and I’ll have caught a lizard in my lizard trap!” he said enthusiastically.

This is when I should have said, “Why don’t you show me?”

But I actually said, “Sure,” and went back to returning work emails (and by ‘returning work emails’ I mean ‘reading Jezebel’).

A little while later he came back inside and said to Gray, “I really think this is going to work!”

At that point, my ‘Jonas is doing something weird’ spidey sense started to tingle a little bit and I said, “What are you using as bait in these traps?” to which he replied, with a little bit of disappointment, “Nothing,” and I calmed down. He clearly wasn’t going to catch anything with jars stuck in holes and no bait. Even the dopey lizards around our house wouldn’t get caught like that.

Gray agreed this was not a viable plan. “Jo, what if a lizard does go in the jar, but you’re not around? How will you get it?” he asked. I nodded. This seemed like a obvious flaw to me, too.

Jo looked slightly miffed and said, “I’m going to go back out and check on the traps,” before dashing into the heat again.

As I was starting lunch for the kids he came back in through the garage door with scarlet cheeks, poured himself a glass of cold water, took a big gulp and said triumphantly, “It’s working! There is a lizard in my trap.”

I’m no spring chicken. I’ve been around the block a time or two and I’ve been Jonas’s mom for six and a half years. I know if he says he has a baby bird in the garage, there’s a goddamn baby bird in the garage, and if  he says there’s a lizard in his trap, there’s a motherfucking lizard in the trap. This was when I could tell I’d made an error in judgement. Whatever contraption he’d designed had probably trapped a gila monster or a rattlesnake and now I was going to have to deal with it.

“OK,” I told him, “take me to it.” Ben came with.

He led us down to the end of the street where there’s a medium-sized desert wash. At the house right next door to the wash he pointed to a drainage tube that was sticking out of some decorative rocks in the yard. There was a green glass mason jar shoved in the tube.

dead lizard 3

And inside the green glass jar was a fairly large, horned lizard.

“I haven’t tried to take it out yet,” Jonas said. He was obviously a little nervous about the size of the creature he’d managed to catch. But clearly, having an audience was bolstering his courage, so he reached down and began to carefully pull the jar out. I caught this part on video:

After this it all started to make a  little more sense. I’d thought he was going to put a jar in the hole with the open side up, like an old fashioned net in a pit type trap, but instead, he’d sealed off the entrance with the jar, assuming there was another end to the tube (in the backyard maybe?). Actually, though, the tubes are just buried so the water flows more easily forward, I guess, and only open on the front end. So the lizard he’d “caught” was already hiding in the shade of the tube when he put the glass jar in, and had either suffocated or cooked to death (probably the latter) after the jar had been attached.

Ugh. I know life is treacherous and death lurks around every corner for these creatures, but I’m sad we were party to the end of this little guy’s existence. And cooking to death in a glass jar? Who can imagine a more horrible way to go (besides maybe being eaten by rabid beavers, that might be slightly worse)?

I’m trying not to get too worked up over it because I know Jo felt bad and that he’s just a kid interested in animals and wildlife. I like that he’s out and about exploring the neighborhood. I’m proud he’s brave enough to sleep in the backyard alone and tries to save injured baby birds. But I guess next time he has ‘a new plan’ that involves the neighborhood wildlife I should walk it through with him.

By the time I was finished cleaning up lunch he’d caught a new friend (this time with his hands):



He named her Keiko. So clearly he’s not as traumatized as I am, and the wildlife hasn’t learned its lesson. Ah the circle of life.

Summer Break – A Nervous Breakdown in Four Acts

Summer Break – Act 1 (The First Day)

Mom (eyelids popping open at 5AM on the dot with terror at the realization): THE KIDS ARE OUT OF SCHOOL!!! Shitshitshit. I need a plan. It’s going to be ok. Everything will be ok with a plan. And plans start with lists. I just need to make a list.

*Gets out paper and pen and writes Things to accomplish this summer at the top.*

First needs to be ‘Go to the Dentist’ because that’s one of those things you do in the summer to get it over with, right? Although we didn’t go last summer… or the summer before. So the point is, we really, really need to go to the dentist this summer.

Also, the little one still isn’t swimming by himself. And he is definitely too old for that shit. But every time I put him in lessons he screws around and snows the teacher and learns nothing. So I pay $175 for a month of bullshit. OK, I’m taking this into my own hands. I taught swim lessons for years in high school and college, there’s no reason I can’t teach my own kid how to swim, right? We’ll just go to the pool every day until he can swim across the pool. NBD.

What else? The middle one needs tutoring for reading and writing, so I need to get that set up and confirmed. And they each need a regular physical activity and a creative one. There’s a skateboarding/parkour gym not to far from us. I’ll look into classes there. And Mesa Center for the Arts has ceramics classes for all ages. That should work.

We also need a family “Summer Project”. I know! We’ll make a Lego/origami stop-motion movie together! It will be so fun! We’ll probably get famous after it’s done and have our own reality show about how we make movies together as a family, each using our own individual creativity and skills to create great collaborative works of art.

And of course we need to clean out and reorganize their bedrooms. Plus there will be absolutely no TV or video games until after 4PM and we are definitely not eating out. I’m going to plan all of our meals for the week and grocery shop on Mondays so we can have wholesome, inexpensive meals all summer.

I think that’s it!

  • Go to the dentist
  • Teach the youngest to swim
  • Reading tutoring for the middle
  • Parkour classes for the oldest
  • Skateboarding lessons for the other two
  • Ceramics class for all
  • Family Lego/origami stop-motion movie
  • Clean out and reorganize bedrooms
  • No TV/video games until after 4PM
  • No eating out

I don’t know what I was freaking out about, this summer is going to be great! If I just calendar everything out and allot the appropriate amount of time for each activity, we’ll be able to enjoy the summer in a fun, creatively stimulated, healthy way. This is going to be the best summer ever.

Act 2 (The end of week 1.):

Mom: Huh. So going to the pool every day is not only exhausting and time-consuming, but creates more laundry than Lindsay Lohan on a press-junket for an ill-fated made for TV Movie. And now I don’t have time to do any laundry because when I’m not driving one kid to an activity, I’m entertaining the others because I won’t let them watch TV or play video games. AND THE FEEDING. My god, the feeding. I get up and make breakfast. Once that is all picked up it’s roughly 19 minutes before it’s time to start lunch. And before I can even think about walking away from the kitchen the fruit needs to be cut up for snacks and it’s time to start dinner.

So far the skateboarding and parkour is going pretty well, but those classes are in direct conflict with my workout schedule, so that’s out the window.

Oh shit, and we haven’t worked on the stop-motion movie in days. In fact, we haven’t gotten past setting up the camera and the lights. Fuckfuckfuck. I’m instilling in my children the habit of starting projects that never get finished. I’m raising failures right now. That’s what I’m doing.

Can’t forget to clean their rooms. When will I have time to do that?? We don’t even have time for the tutoring homework!

And I haven’t made the dentist appointment yet.

I need to redouble my efforts.

Act 3 (Three weeks in.)

Mom: OK, guys, I’m going to swing through In and Out Burger and get food for lunch. You can eat it in the car if you promise you won’t spill on the upholstery. You need to pause your video games and look at the menu to tell me what you want me to order. I need to run into Walgreens on the way home really quick so I can get more wine.

When we get home you can watch TV if you want. I think there’s a Dirty Jobs marathon on. I just need you to leave me alone for a few hours. I have to send some emails and then I really need to take a nap. I’m physically and emotionally exhausted from you people and fulfilling your wants and needs every moment of every day. It’s summer, right? Naps are ok. I think naps are a summer thing. Please just don’t talk to me until it’s time to get ready to go to ceramics class. Please?

Act 4 (The end of summer.)

Mom: I’mneveraloneI’mneveraloneI’mneveralone. I just want to be alone. Like more than I want to breathe. I’m being crushed to death under the warm, suffocating weight of family-togetherness. It’s almost over, right? I think it’s almost over. I looked at the calendar and I’m pretty sure they go back to school soon. Even though we didn’t finish the stop-motion movie, they ate more fast food than pregnant Britney Spears and no one in our family has qualified for the XGames yet, I haven’t murdered any of them, so I’m pretty sure if I can just finish this out, I win at summer. Winning is what I’m doing right now. Winning in the non-homicide sense. And what more, really, can be expected of a parent?

… oh shit. We never went to the dentist.




A Mysterious Illness and a Neurotic Walk Into a Bar…

Monday night Jason was working on some stupid work project and didn’t have time to pay attention to me, so I fell asleep on the couch watching TV by myself. When I woke up to go to bed, my knees were broken. They didn’t hurt when I fell asleep, but somehow, an hour later (15+ hours after I’d done any kind of physical activity), they felt like someone had taken a mallet to my kneecaps. I hobbled to bed and hoped it was a weirdly realistic bad dream.

In the morning they still hurt. Because I hadn’t fallen or injured them during any kind of activity I could think of, I could only assume I had bursitis from loneliness and the fact that Jason didn’t want my help with his project. It seemed like this should pass fairly quickly if I pretended it didn’t exist. I proceeded to bend my knees as often as possible throughout the day and tell myself, That doesn’t hurt, you dopey girl. Those are your pretty muscles just telling you your knees are looking super great today.

Later, I went to a workout class that’s designed to make every part of your body cry tears made of bacon grease and wine (or at least that’s what my body’s tears are made of). My knees hurt during the class, but um, hello, working out is inherently painful. I just assumed that meant I was doing it really well. By the time I got home, my knees had stiffened and swelled and I could barely get up the stairs to go to bed. That night I had trouble sleeping because bending them at all woke me up.

The next morning, in addition to the swollen, miserable knees, I had what looked like red sharpie dots on my legs and around my eyes.

rash post 1

First I tried washing them off in case Jonas had gotten more creative with his graffiti. Then I decided we had bedbugs, which would require burning down the house, of course. After 10 minutes of standing next to our bed staring intently at the sheets and then Googling, Are bed bugs visible to the naked eye? (the answer is yes), I put away the lighter fluid and the novelty bass* lighter we keep handy for such situations.

You thought I was being hyperbolic, didn't you? Obviously you should take me more seriously.

You thought I was being hyperbolic, didn’t you? Obviously you should take me more seriously.

At this point, it seemed the only logical conclusion for the soreness and rash was that I’m approaching 36 but still acting like a 16 year old, so my body is decaying at an increased rate. Obviously I would, at any moment, fall into a decrepit pile of inflamed cartilage and leprosy on the bathroom tile.

When I broke this unfortunate news to Jason, he was understandably distraught, but assured me in the event of my impending putrefaction, he would go on living and find someone new and young to keep him happy in my absence, as he knew I would want him to. Then he told me I should probably make an appointment to see a doctor because rashes are weird.

I considered this approach, but eventually decided it would either get better on its own and I wouldn’t need to go or get like a whole bunch worse, and it’s really a lot more satisfying to walk into a doctor’s office with a super horrifyingly visible malady that makes the doctor flinch than one you have to point to and say, No, right here… do you see it? And there’s another one right here- oh wait, that was lint. So I decided to give it another day.

Wednesday night Jason went to his workout class (designed to make his body cry tears of steak sauce and gin) and I made chicken enchiladas for the kids and me. When I sat down to eat, I tapped my left ankle on my chair and winced in pain. I looked down to find it had joined the club of Elizabeth’s Joints Who Think It’s Funny To Freak Her Shit Out.

I think it's not supposed to look like that.

I think it’s not supposed to look like that.

Of course I immediately texted Jason pictures of my swollen ankle, because if there’s anything you can do while working out 25 miles from home, it’s make your wife’s swollen ankle better. When he got home we conferred and concluded a doctor visit was in order, despite the fact that the rash hadn’t really reached the shock factor I was holding out for. After that I spent the requisite 2 hours Googling rash images to see just how strong my stomach really was (turns out, not very) and rash + swollen joints so I could spend the rest of the night lying awake in bed, wondering how I had managed to pick up a rare form of Malaria only found in Yugoslavia, back when it was called Yugoslavia.

And that’s how I ended up at Urgent Care yesterday morning, being seen by a very nice nurse practitioner who took blood and advised me to make an appointment with a ‘normal doctor’ to review the results, but refused to speculate on what could possibly be causing this.

Nice NP: It could be a lot of things.

Me: OK… but like for instance what?

Nice NP: Well there’s just a really long list of possibilities. We need to do some tests.

Me: So, but what are just one or two of the possibilities? You don’t have to tell me all of them.

Nice NP: There are just so many. I wouldn’t want to guess.

Me: Not even like one tiny guess? Like any random guess at all? What if I guess and you blink twice when you think I’m getting warm. Are we talking infected hangnail or terminal Sarcoidosis? This is about all the wine and Diet Coke I drink, isn’t it? I mean my blood must be at least 70% composed of wine and Diet Coke at this point and you’re totally going to see that when you do your test, so I might as well admit it right now-

Nice NP: We’ll call you with the results. Probably Saturday. This is weird. I’m not saying it’s not weird.

Me: If you’re making an attempt to impress some kind of gravity of the situation on me here, you’re going to need to use different language. I hear that about my life choices every day.

Nice NP: I have to see some other patients now.

Me: OK.

He did, however, recommend I use heat on my sore joints. Obviously his intent was to write me a prescription for this:

rash post 4

I always follow doctor’s orders.

*I’ve been informed it’s actually a novelty trout lighter.

Channeling The ‘My hair just burnt off.’ Girl

Well then… that last blog post was a wee bit more controversial (and read) than I expected.

I’ve never really been popular enough to have trolls before, so that’s been an interesting development the last couple of days. Some guy on Twitter said:

This article made me genuinely mad

“Yeah, you can have abs, but you’re sacrificing a cheeseburger, leading to depression” (Paraphrasing)

and then, The human race is worthless

I wanted to give him a hug and ask him if he was taking all his pills.

Apparently I’ve been doing it wrong this whole time trying to build an audience with all the flailing around spending hours constructing a humorous narrative or building an elaborate satirical flowchart. I clearly should have been funneling my energy into writing about stuff everyone’s already super worked up about. Therefore, next on the agenda: Obamacare and breast-feeding; I heard they both cause cancer. After that I’d like to talk about twerking and why I think it should be taught to all seventh grade girls.

But really, I think what we’ve learned through this experience is there are two distinct types of people in this world: those who dip their pizza in ranch dressing, and those who do not. Even though we both have strong feelings about our positions and we’ll never see the world from each other’s perspectives, I think we need to work towards respecting and accepting each other. All we need is love, people (and ranch dressing).

This post doesn’t really have a point except to get something else on my site because the other one was stressing me out. So, in other Friday news:

Jason’s taking me to a work function tonight and I was going to wear cute pants and a sparkly sweater, but then I heard it was ‘cocktail’ but ‘not tie’ attire, so I had to try on everything I own and take selfies to send to my friends this morning to decide what to wear. No man should have to bear the burden of having the wife at the fancy company management dinner who has blue hair, is excessively chatty after 2 cocktails and is underdressed. It’s just not fair to put him in that position.

I also got overly aggressive with my round brush and hair-dryer this morning and singed off a chunk of my bangs. It was like that video of the girl, but with fewer teaching moments. I haven’t decided if it’s unnoticeable enough or I need to cover it somehow. I feel like if Jason has to be the guy at the work dinner with the drunk, blue-haired, underdressed wife who also has a merkin glued to her forehead, he might just be better off hiring an escort.

Gray (9) has his first orchestra concert next Monday. Last night at dinner, he and Jonas (6) were discussing it:

Jonas: Gray says he’s going to have a concert at school during that day, too, that I’ll get to see him play at.

Me: Oh yeah?

Jonas: Yeah, but he’s not allowed to wave at me.

Me: No?

Gray: No, my teacher said we can’t wave.

Jonas: But he said he’ll go like this when he sees me *gives a dedicated gansta nod*.

Gray: *also gansta nodding* That’s what I do to say hi when I don’t want to wave.

So I haven’t learned exactly where it is that men learn that Joey-from-Friends ‘how you doin’ head nod, but it obviously happens early in life.

That’s it around these parts. Carry on.