Back To Reality. Again.

Coming back from vacation is hard. ESPECIALLY when you made a point to disconnect for an entire week. But we came back Friday, I left for Knoxville on Saturday to visit my aunt in the hospital, she died that night so I came back on Sunday to work for ONE DAY and close on my house and then I left again on Tuesday to go back to Knoxville where we had non-stop services and time with family and then we left to come back home yesterday and I woke up this morning having no clue about what day it was or what time it was or what city I was in or what time zone I was in and WHY IS THIS DOG SNIFFING AT MY FACE?

Oh yeah. I’m home. I have to walk my dog.

We all curled up on the couches last night to catch up on our Superhero TV (Flash and Supergirl) and so I stayed out of the world of “reality” for a little bit longer. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on in the news or even in my friend’s and family’s lives. I’ve opened social media just enough to share out photos of family so other family could see and to update everyone on where I was. I was going back and forth so often, no one could really keep up with where I was.

So today I need to spend time tethering myself back to reality in some way because I’m very out of touch. I’m not sure the best or most organized way to do that. I had a routine before two weeks ago: News, politics, blogging, work, home, etc. Now I’m just frazzled. Part of me almost wishes it was Monday because I’m going to start the “re-tether” process and then BAM! it’s the weekend.

But I’m back. It was so great to see family and I wish we had more happy occasions to celebrate so we didn’t just gather at funerals. It was great with cousins and with aunts and uncles and most importantly: I got to see my brother and his wife and kids who drove 22 HOURS to Knoxville. WITH TWO SMALL CHILDREN. CAN YOU IMAGINE?

And it was also great with Nikki. She wanted to go with me. She actually went with me to visit Marie in the hospital last Friday and then I came by myself Saturday and she came back with me to the services. It was great spending that special time with her. She heard a lot of family stories and memories, she experienced a Catholic Mass, she met a WHOLE LOT OF NUNS, it was great.

The one BIG BAD thing that happened was in the chaos, she left her pillow pet at the hotel when we checked out and when we called they didn’t have it. I guess someone stole it? We know that’s where she left it (it was pretty soon after we checked out that she remembered) but they don’t have it anywhere and she is DEVASTATED. And dude – I get it – I still have my “animal” from my childhood and I’m 41. I’d be broken-hearted it if disappeared. She’s too old to “trick” with a new one and hers had been loved too long for a new one to suffice. We’re going to try to get a replacement SOMETHING, but we’re not sure what. But even that idea isn’t appealing to her.

So – please send thoughts out into the universe that the hotel finds the pillow pet and calls me. I’ve lost hope as it’s been several days. And think of me re-tethering, my anxiety is such that it snowballs when I’ve had too much chaos in my life and I can feel myself at that brink now so I need to re-connect to the people and the obligations and the things that keep me grounded as I feel like I’m floating away amidst a whirlwind of travel and sadness and memories.

Here’s to settling in to normalcy. It’s been awhile.

The End Of A Long Saga.

I don’t remember when we first started talking about selling our house. That house was supposed to be our “Forever Home” – we were going to fix it up (like we did our old house) and have maybe one or two more kids in it. But my last miscarriage made us decide maybe we’d had too many losses and we were sick of trying, and we started putting our time and money into doing endurance training and E showed every indication that he’d be getting out of Alabama AS FAST AS POSSIBLE upon college graduation. All of these things meant we had to accept the house was not going to be our “Forever Home” like we had planned. I think we finally had that discussion about 3 years ago.

Long story short? We finally closed yesterday. We no longer own a home.

This has been such a weird stretch of months. I’ve been dealing with a lot of new anxiety following the election in November and then the home sale and 2+ months of delays and now my aunt has died during the month that is ALWAYS terrible because it’s the month my Dad spent in hospice and – OH YEAH – my kid graduates from college in May and he’s trying to find a way to live/work in NYC immediately afterwards. So, you know, he won’t be a weekend drive away any longer. And I’m not sure I’m okay with that.

I’m not sure I’m okay with any of it.

I plan on life settling back down this weekend. I’m driving to Knoxville (again) today for the funeral services for my aunt and then driving back to Alabama (again) on Thursday and THEN! Then I can finally get my shit together and maybe shake off this funk. There’s always the post-vacation funk but add that to the funeral-funk and Month Of Grief funk on top of the Political Anxiety Funk and HOLY SHIT, I HAVE A LOT OF FUNK AND NOT AT ALL THE GOOD KIND.

Sidenote: Speaking of the good kind of funk, I saw George Clinton and the P-Funk Allstars back in 1995/1996 at Montevallo. It hit me that it was in the same theatre where I just watched E do his stuff a few weeks ago. THAT WAS A VERY SURREAL REALIZATION.

So here’s to being free of a mortgage for a little while. And free of cleaning my home. And free of worrying about all of the things that come with all of that nonsense. After the last “delay” of the closing Donnie said, “I don’t want to every buy or sell another house ever again.”

AND I KINDA AGREE.

The only thing keeping us from staying in this apartment forever is the fact that A) We’re sick of walking the dog and B) Nikki would really like to sleep in a room with a door.

So we’ll pay off our student loans (Yes. We still have student loans.) and then we’ll start looking for a MUCH SMALLER home. One that we could actually maintain with our current level of time and money. I’ll avoid travel for a little while (I HATE TRAVELING. I HAVE BEEN DOING SO MUCH OF IT.) and get my schedule back on track.

No mortgage. We’re going to sit on that a bit.

A Real Vacation.

We’re leaving tomorrow for Asheville, North Carolina to enjoy our first ever Spring Break trip. We’ve never used Spring Break for a vacation before but we decided we needed a getaway and we found a cabin in the mountains and we leave tomorrow and come back Friday. We have no concrete plans while we’re there, although we’d like to hike some, tour the New Belgium brewery, and go to Biltmore. But truthfully? We’re taking our D&D character sheets and planning on just spending some good quality time together away from the world.

If I can pull off a huge day today of “catching up” (I’m so behind at work right now) then I’m hoping to make sure my email inboxes are empty in the morning and then not checking again for an entire week. I’m going to take Facebook and Twitter off of my phone and just use Instagram to share pictures from our trip. I can keep up with people on Instagram without getting sucked into the world of politics or local drama. I’m going to read the Washington Post app every morning and listen to the NPR morning news roundup. But beyond that? I’m not keeping up with ANYTHING. I’m going to take my laptop just so I can write about our adventures if I want/need to, and so I’ll have it IN CASE I’m needed.

I’m going to read. Hopefully everything in this stack!

I’m going to walk and sit in the hammock and bundle up in the cold mountain air and drink coffee on the porch and maybe light a fire (I’m a bit phobic when it comes to fires) and just cuddle up with everyone and soak up time together and love. And hopefully just recharge because the state of the world has had me frazzled and I just can’t shake the blues permanently. Time in the sun, time with my friends, time with my family, I get small reprieves but the general feeling of dread just taints everything and I really want to just escape. I know some say, “Don’t even check the news!” but I have never EVERY just NOT checked the news, I have to at least know what made the NPR roundup in the morning, or what made the Washington Post. I can’t hide from the world entirely, not in it’s current state. But I will limit it to the morning coffee.

(If you don’t know this, I check the news/twitter every time I go to the bathroom during the day. I can’t walk down the hall to the toilet without checking in with my news sources on Twitter to see the latest comments on healthcare or immigration bans, etc. I’m connected that that ALL DAY because I PEE A LOT, GUYS.)

Anyway. It will hopefully be fun and hopefully I can shake this funk. I have a lot to do today to “prepare” so that I can truly relax and I hope I can get it all done. In the meantime, if you need me? I’ll be on instagram. I might write here if we have any fun adventures to tell you about, but I also might not. We’ll see how I feel!

Have a great week, everyone. Here’s to friendship guiding us through the darkness.

Photos and a Question.

I did a lot this weekend. I failed at a marathon. Took a girl’s trip with Nikki. And celebrated her birthday with some family. Unfortunately I also have my FIRST DAY OF BOOT CAMP TODAY ACCCK! And I want to try to get there early to run a bit first so I have no time to write about my adventures. I’m going to just give you a FEW pictures as a place holder but there are STORIES TO TELL!

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Finally – unrelated. Those of you who have heard me talk about our behavioral challenges with Wesley (anxiety triggering severe anger) can you email me if you had a similarly challenged child? I have a question I want to pose to the audience but at this point I don’t like dumping his stuff on my blog anymore since he’s gotten older. But I could really use some counsel, so those of you who have reached out with great advice in the past – I’d love to ask your advice! (Especially if you’ve made it through the other side of the war.)

WISH ME LUCK.

The Smartest Camping Purchase I Ever Made

I grew up camping my whole life. It was what I call “car camping.” I clarify it for people who “backpack camp” out in the woods because that is a whole other beast that requires special gear and even more special bathroom skills. I mean, I’m a trail runner, I have done plenty of business in the woods. But I always know that a bathroom is VERY VERY VERY CLOSE BY if the run was no longer a priority. I need a safety net made of indoor plumbing, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

So! Car camping. Or I sometimes call it “KOA camping” because we have hit up a lot of KOA campgrounds over the years.

When E was about 2 years old I met a guy who sold Kelty tents on the side of the road and bought a “family size” one from him which said “sleeps 6” but everyone who has ever bought a tent knows that means “6 sardines” or “4 comfy adults.” E and I took it camping with my Dad in Big South Fork and trying to put that thing back in the stupid bag it was designed for brought back flashbacks from my childhood camping days and Dad constantly saying, “It has to be folded up EXACTLY RIGHT or it won’t fit back in the bag.”

SO! As soon as I could I said, “Screw this stupid too-small tent bag!” And I bought a large rolling duffel bag from Wal-Mart and it was the best decision I have ever made. The tent bought in the late 90s was replaced a few years ago but the bag is STILL IN USE. Not only does it make packing up the tent SO MUCH EASIER because there’s no stressing about getting all of the air out as your roll it up or fold it up, but there’s also room for extra stakes, a tarp and a mallet! AND THE BAG HAS WHEELS!

IMG_7146This is the bag sitting in my garage. It’s definitely much bigger than the original bag but the ease it brings my life makes camping (and packing up afterwards) so much easier. If you’ve ever dealt with trying to get a tent in it’s INEVITABLY FLIMSY BAG, you know my pain. We unpacked the tent to clean it off this weekend as we’re doing a camping night at our botanical gardens in a few weeks. I cleaned/dried every thing and then put the tent, the mallet, the tarp all back in the bag easily and I just thought, “DAMN. I AM GOOD.”

Because if that tent bag had even lasted the years I’ve owned the tent, I would have screamed multiple curse words every time I tried to put it all back together.

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I just wanted to share my camping hack.

Also? My dad use to save yogurt cups and use them as drinking cups on our camping trips. I didn’t continue that trend in life. My kids life it up fancy style and drink out of running water bottles. They’re spoiled.