Utah’s Prop 2 and Chronic Pain

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I’ve always been pretty dang healthy, despite the fact that I could stand to lose, oh, 50 lbs. I’ve also never dealt with anything major with myself or any of my kids outside of a few stitches and broken bones. My 17-year-old daughter has been accident prone since she was tiny, so it shouldn’t surprise me that a pretty strong majority of doctor’s visits involve her. Still, chronic pain is a new for our family. She had ankle surgery last month, and her ortho surgeon just diagnosed her with complex regional pain syndrome. As a mom, it’s so hard to see your child suffer and be told that there is really nothing that they can do for her. She is scheduled for physical therapy to retrain her brain that normal nerve stimulation is, well, normal. Still, we’re pulling our hair out trying to find some sort of relief while she heals. She can’t really sleep at all. I wish I could take the pain for her. I would.

I’ve told people a lot of times over this year that ignorance is a luxury that not everyone has. This is hitting home right now as Prop 2 is a huge issue here in Utah – the effort to legalize medical marijuana will be on the ballot in November. When you’ve literally exhausted all options for treatment in both OTC and prescription drugs, and you can’t find help that doesn’t have serious, serious risks, you better believe that I would consider medical marijuana if it was an option at this point. (We’ve already tried CBD which is legal in all states.) My daughter was prescribed hydrocodone after her surgery. She ended up using 3 pills out of 30 during her initial recovery, and then we flushed them. Utah has an opioid addiction epidemic and one of the highest rates of antidepressant use in the country. These drugs are highly, highly addictive and so dangerous that, as a mom, I hesitate to even consider them for my daughter because several months of intense pain is more desirable than a lifetime of addiction of painkillers. But, what do you do when it’s the only way to find relief? I know of people who pick up and move to a different state in order to treat seizure disorders, obtain appropriate relief for cancer treatment or deal with chronic pain issues like my daughter is experiencing. It seems absolutely insane to me not to provide the option for  treatment that is not only pretty dang effective but also ridiculously safer than the pharmaceutical alternatives.

I am a pretty conservative mama still, despite how much my perspectives have changed. The proposed law in Utah, from what I understand, allows for extracts, tinctures, oils and edibles but not smoking or whole leaf consumption. I’m not particularly excited to see weed all over mine or your neighborhoods but it is unequivocally safer than the alternatives. I understand that there are risks, but, in my opinion, the benefits outweigh the risks, and I will be voting yes on Proposition 2. When the conditions the THC can treat become more than just theoretical, it just makes sense to provide safer treatment options to people who so desperately need them.

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Adult Acne Should Be Illegal

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Do y’all do Influenster? You basically fill out some quizzes and answer some questions, and you get matched with free products to review. I’ve gotten a lot of cosmetic items as well as several general “mommy” type boxes that include things as varied as hair ties, pens and coupons for free sour cream. The trick to getting matched is ticking any box that might fit you, so if you have thin, oily and color-treated hair, tell them all that in the event that the one product they’re targeting fits one of those demographics. Make sense? Well, I think I need to tone down that approach with anything that’s potentially a skincare item.

When I was in high school, I had an AP English class where the teacher had everyone write positive things about their classmates. I’m pretty sure I still have these papers in a file somewhere. I, uh, didn’t fit in during high school. I was “smart” and got good grades, but my family were outcasts in the dominant religious culture, and I happened to grow up in a town with a lot of bitterness about the religious history that made that happen, but I digress. I had a small handful of friends that I ate lunch with, none of whom ever came home to my house or hung out with me after school. (I stopped inviting school friends over in middle school after we had CPS called on us for having too much unfolded laundry in our house. My mom was in college trying to earn her teaching degree so that we could escape poverty and was terrified for months that her efforts would cause her to lose all her kids. True story. Seriously, people, offer to help.) So, having people say nice things about me, even if they technically *had* to for a grade was fun. From what I remember, a good half of these kind words were about how I had great skin.

Had being the operative word. Heh. Because, as soon as I started having kids, adult acne introduced herself, plopped down on the bench and made herself SUPER comfy. She’s pretty much been there ever since. Which sucks. Because, once you hit your 20s, you think you’ve dodged that, right? That’s a teenager thing. Wouldn’t that be nice? (I legitimately once had a BIL ask me if I had chicken pox when I wasn’t wearing makeup. Nice. Nope. Just freaking, stupid, *$&%^ acne!! It’s worse when I was pregnant, so I felt fat and sloppy and like I was walking around with chicken pox face. Good times.) At 41, my skin is stupidly picky about what it likes, and changing that up can cause outbreaks of cystic acne. Yay. However, being that I am, uh, 41, it would also be nice to, you know, work on firming and combat wrinkles.

Thanks to Influenster, I know that is a hard no. Every single time I get something that is targeted to aging, I regret it. Number one, they all smell like a grandma, and not a hip one, I might add. And, they cause break outs every. single. time. Grrr. A few weeks ago I received a Perricone firming face serum. I’m sure this thing is ridiculously expensive and it probably even works amazing, but it’s a hard no for me. My skin has been clearer in the past few months than it has in years. (Like, I’ve only had about one blemish at any given time, and they were healing at a decent rate.) I tried this thing ONE TIME, and, I kid you not, I had FOUR new blemishes within 24 hours of applying it. No. Just no.

So, it looks like I need to stop applying for skincare products, or at least only tick the boxes about having acne prone skin. In case anyone is curious, my go-to skin products are either Origins Foaming Face Wash or Harry’s exfoliating Peppermint Face Cream as well as the Origins Gin-zing Moisturizer. All my peeps with acne go shop for those amazing products (if they were on Amazon, I’d link you up, but, alas, bad skin has expensive taste. Try Sephora. You can get Harry’s at Walmart.) while I alternate between rocking in the corner and reading all the notes from my high school classmates about “what nice skin I had.” I guess the good news is that I naturally have okay aging genes, so I don’t have out of control wrinkling or sagging for my age. I’ll take the consolation however it comes.

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You Had a Birthday, Shout Hooray!

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First, if you get the reference in the title today, you might be a Mormon. (Do other denominations sing that little birthday ditty? I have no idea.)

My son is going to turn 11 in just a few days. We do birthdays understated here. For my husband, it’s a step up because he was raised in a family that didn’t even always acknowledge birthdays. He has several siblings with birthdays close to him, and he was an ADULT before he ever had his own birthday cake. (In a fit of cosmic irony, him and I have birthdays a day apart. Ha ha ha!) In my family, they were celebrated faithfully, but we didn’t do anything big. When my oldest son turned 3 (18 years ago if you want to do the math) I did a “big” birthday party for him. You know, where I had a snack spread and goodie bags (I think?) and invited all his friends (aka about a dozen cousins) to help us celebrate. I don’t remember consciously deciding to never do it again at that point, but, um, I never have. Yes, you read that right. I have never again thrown a party for any of my other kids.

I can just hear the shocked gasps. My kids don’t get parties??! No bounce houses or party bags? No pile of dollar store gifts from their friends? Yea, no. I think at some point after that first trial run, I realized that doing that forever for multiple kids wasn’t sustainable, and I voted no. My kids enjoy going to other people’s birthday parties. (In fact, I think my youngest son was supposed to go to his friends’ yesterday, but I didn’t get home until late, I didn’t have all the info, and my day had already devolved beyond recognition. So sorry he missed it!) Honestly, I don’t think it even occurs to my kids to care one way or another. We always have cake and ice cream and a few modest gifts with our immediate family. If they happen to have a friend playing over that day, I’ll let them stay for dinner and cake. But, I don’t want to track down people to give invitations to or make a presentable cake (I suck at this. For real. A Kindergartner could decorate a cake better than me.) or spend a lot of money. I know this is incredibly #notpinterestworthy , but we’re seriously all so much happier without the stress.

Actually, it’s not entirely true to say that none of my kids has ever had a friend party – just that I haven’t planned or thrown it. My oldest daughters are 19 and 17, and they started planning their own parties when they were in their early teens. This works fantastic for me. They got to have everything how and when they wanted, and all I had to do was pay for a few snacks and provide a few rides. We were all happy with this arrangement.

Lest you think that I’m just too lazy to do cool things for my kids, I’ve sewn for, oh, 20 years? I taught myself when my oldest was a baby. There was a good ten years when I had 1-4 kids that I sewed every. single. item of clothing that we all wore, down to our undies. They had completely custom wardrobes – think things that go for $50- an outfit in Etsy shops today. I have also homeschooled my kids since, well, my oldest was 3. I’m with them all the time. So, I certainly do things for my kids, it’s just not extravagant birthday parties. (Why I feel like I have to put in this disclaimer… Because we moms judge each other? :/ )

I’m a people watcher, I guess you could say. One thing I’ve noticed is that kids almost always take their cue from the adults around them. Children that have helicopter parents tend to experience more fear, in my experience. Parents that have guilt about some specific lack tend to have kids that feel deprived about it. The truth is that my kids aren’t any more scarred by the lack of parties than yours are by being forced to wear clothes from Walmart and Target. I think kids find what’s normal to them, well, normal. And, there’s no need to feel mom guilt if your normal is different than your neighbors. Trust me, you don’t want to be subjected to my pathetic lack of finesse at birthdays anyway.

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Being Busy Doesn’t Make Me Better

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It’s a quarter after 8, and I really should be getting up and in the shower because I have a million things to do today. If I don’t write something, though, there won’t be a blog post for tomorrow. I should stop and do school with my three youngest kids, or I’ll have to text my daughter later and beg her to help me out. (I did. She did.) Monday is my therapy day, and I drive an hour and a half to see someone who has the experience to navigate my complicated life. I still have “homework” to finish for my session. I’m also leaving early today to have lunch with a friend. Last week, I didn’t get home until after 5, and I totally stiffed my sister for our evening walk because I just plain forgot to show up. (Don’t worry, she’d done the same just the week before, so I actually made her feel better about that. Ha ha!)

Busy seems to be the buzzword of my generation. It’s almost worn as a badge of honor to be frazzled and worn out and running around constantly. I know that there are people that actually thrive on that level of activity and can’t stand to have nothing to do. I’m not that person. I like lazy days and low stress and open schedules, so I’m glad that Mondays are the exception for me. I honestly don’t think that running all the time would make me more productive. Don’t get me wrong, I can spend hours playing Gardenscapes on my phone and basically just sitting on my behind. But, I have enough quiet head space that I can also decide on a whim to whip up five shirts in a weekend or make three batches of soap in an afternoon or actually get my laundry done. When I was a younger mom, I tried this housecleaning system (Fly Lady? Is that still a thing?) where I had a schedule of things to do and areas to focus on every day/week/month. I. Hated. It. It was torture to be tethered to such structure all the time, so I quit and went back to cleaning what I wanted when I felt like it. (The standards of cleanliness were about the same.)

Being an “older mom” offers me a luxury that I don’t remember having when my bigs were little – I’m comfortable in my own skin. I appreciate my strengths and don’t try to be what other people may expect. Instead of looking around me and seeing a sea of busy and feeling lacking, I am more than content to float on my little island of quiet and mellow and relaxed. It’s true that I do drop balls, but so do my busier friends. We all do, so it’s silly to look at your neighbors and try to be them. Just do you. You’re beautiful and wonderful and worthy, and you have your unique way of moving in the world. Going against your personal tide just means you have to row harder for the same yardage that you could get easier if you went with your flow. If I’ve learned one thing that helps me to be moderately successful with my kids, my home, my marriage or anything else, it’s that perfection is overrated, and good is good enough.

P.S. I did not make it to the track today. No, I didn’t forgot. My kids often accuse me of “doing nothing.” Well, being gone all day, I couldn’t “do nothing,” and I came home to my house completely trashed because the majority of my kids did actually nothing while I was gone. Yea for busy Mondays!!

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22 Years is a Lot to Lose

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I would not encourage my own kids to marry as young as we did, necessarily, but it’s been a pretty good thing. It’s also been a pretty hard thing. It depends on the day. (We were 16 and 21 when we started dating and 18 and 23 when we married. Oy.) The truth is that, no matter at what age you join your life with someone, it is both everything you imagine and nothing that you could have anticipated. Sometimes, I think that my husband and I have a unique relationship to the extent of the extreme ups and downs that we navigate. There are days that I walk around gushing unicorns and rainbows about how wonderful my marriage is, and days where my closest friends have seen me fall-apart-ugly-crying about how I don’t know if we can make it through the mess. Often, that all happens in the same week, and both extremes are the truth.

Like my #metoo post, this subject is hard to dive into because there’s so much there and it runs so deep for me. My husband is freaking amazing, such a good person and has absolutely stood by me in some of my hardest moments this year. He’s also incredibly stubborn and a black-and-white thinker, so the changes that 2018 has brought have been really, really hard for us to navigate. I think we all come into marriage with unspoken contracts about how our life together will look. Maybe there are actually some lucky couples that hit 25 or 50 years and everything in that basic structure has been just as they expected. I would imagine that it happens. That, however, has not been our experience. At all. Over the past decade and most intensely over the last few years, our entire world has been picked up, shaken vigorously and dumped out at our feet in a mixed-up mess. While we’re in the process of picking up the pieces, we’re both doing it differently and in ways that aren’t necessarily part of our original agreement. My relationship with religion right now is tumultuous at best. No matter how much you love your spouse (and do we ever!), this is a frightening and uncertain process.

I think most couples who have struggled (all of us, probably) have to weigh the risks and benefits to a relationship. This is especially true when dynamics have shifted in dramatic and integral ways. We’ve concluded that, for our marriage, what we’ve built in 22 years would be an awful lot to lose. (My husband regularly talks to one of his brothers who’s gone through a very ugly divorce. It’s like an inoculation every time. I should really send my brother-in-law a gift in thanks for how good it is for our marriage to have that perspective.) What began as two separate (if naive) entities on a warm day in the spring of 1996 has become a huge grove with intertwined roots that weave in and out of every part of our world and that of our seven children. It would be difficult and infinitely more painful and damaging for us to try to take that apart, and we don’t want to. We love each other fiercely. We’re best friends. We laugh a LOT. We’re well matched. We’ve also both changed so much, and that is hard stuff.

This is not a treatise on divorce, so please don’t internalize any unintended shame if you have made the choice to end your own marriage. I respect that decision and understand that not every relationship can be saved and not every couple can move forward in a healthy way. On our bad days, I’m not always certain that we will. Most days, I agree with my therapist that we’ll be just fine and that our foundation is incredibly strong and healthy. (He’s also good in bed, but I promised I would try to not overshare. Sorry, not sorry. Ha!)

I’m sure I will have a lot more posts about my marriage that are funny and witty and come easily for me, but the truth is that my life (and probably yours) is messier than a one-liner or quip. My relationship with my husband is really hard right now. It’s also unbelievably beautiful and worth it. While he doesn’t really do social media and may never read this blog, above all I want him to know how impressive I find him as a person. It’s been a struggle, but there is no one in this world that I would rather wrestle with (literally and figuratively!) and fight for than you. I know things have changed a lot. I know sometimes you look at our life and get discouraged that it’s not at all what you expected. Despite the laundry list of things that are different than what we signed up for, one thing remains the same – I still choose you. I trust you. I have your back. I’m not going anywhere. 22 years would just be too much to lose.

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Some Things are Best Kept to Yourself

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I am not a fiction writer. I mean, I can tell you what good novel writing is – I’m a great editor, but do not ask me to invent characters and plot and believable dialogue. It’s just not my forte. Luckily, I have kids, and truth is SO much better/funnier/more interesting than fiction. Times seven sources, I have stories in spades, but this one really takes the cake. (Seriously, I was laughing until I cried.)

I’ve dropped the ball on a lot of things in all our drama this year, like our insurance paperwork. Heh. Once I finally pulled myself together enough to start picking things back up, all my kids were (over)due for dental appointments. I took the two that had visible issues first who happened to be my 5-year-old and not quite 11-year-old boys. (My 11-year-old had a tooth coming in that was blocked by a spacer and had lost a filling -again, and the 5-year-old had a chipped front tooth from when he had gotten a zipper pull stuck between his front teeth. My husband had to clip it with wire cutters and back it out. I’m legitimately amazed that he accomplished it with such minor damage to the tooth. Impressive, right there. I wish I would have been home to see it, actually.) They both got checkups, follow-up appointments because we’re not awesome enough to be a no-cavities family and, of course, a new toothbrush, toothpaste and floss. That night when we were doing our pretty hit-and-miss bedtime “routine”, I reminded both my boys to please throw away their old toothbrushes so there wasn’t crap cluttering up the drawer. AND, THEN I TRUSTED THEM TO DO IT. This was a mistake – kind of rookie mistake, actually. I should totally know better. Ha!

Fast forward to five days later, and I realized just how much I had miscalculated how wrong this could go. Oh, but, I was about to learn. Upon sending my two youngest upstairs to hopefully brush their teeth well enough to not end up with dentures at 30, I checked on my little boy who had been a little slow “putting on his pajamas” that turned out to be a clean pair of jeans and a t-shirt. (You guys are going to seriously think that I make this stuff up for dramatic effect. I assure you, I do not.) As he picked through the bathroom drawer to decide which of the half-squished toothpaste tubes with missing lids he preferred, I asked him where his old toothbrush was. Picking up a few possibilities, I asked him if this was his old one that needed to be thrown away. He assured me that, nope, it wasn’t. This is how the conversation progressed:

Me -“Which one is your old one? Did you throw it away already?”

5-year-old – “Oh, no. I gave them…”

Me, in my head – “You GAVE them to… Oh, please, no. Tell me you did not.”

Me – “You gave them to…?”

5-year-old – “I had my green one like this and the other blue one. I gave them to [my friend]!

I’m not going to lie. I literally burst out laughing out loud until I was crying. (Noooooooo! WHY would you DO THAT?! Ha ha ha ha ha!) Like, I could not stop. And, then I proceeded to tell on him to my 17-year-old daughter and her boyfriend and my 19-year-old daughter and my husband as I was doubled up almost peeing myself. He was confused and miffed as to why this was not the BEST. GIFT. EVER. to give to your friend.  He finally just outright told me to stop laughing at him. (Because, I raise them assertive! All chiefs and no Indians is actually how I describe our family dynamic to people.)

Then, being a responsible and nice neighbor and an all-around decent person, I texted my son’s friend’s mom and gave her a head’s up that my beloved child had gifted her unsuspecting 4-year-old with his used toothbrushes. I almost want to screenshot our conversation, but I won’t out her without her permission as the parent of the child who accepted used toothbrushes. (You’re welcome.) I’ll just sum it up as a brief description of what my son told me, a heartfelt apology for his grossness and a lot of laughing-with-tears emojis.

Seriously, guys, THIS IS MY REAL LIFE. I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

 

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Dogs Are Like Practice Kids

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Sadly, I am not a pet person. I spend a good deal of my time and energy herding seven people that I grew in my own belly and that, in theory, can be counted on for the occasional Mother’s Day card in thanks. I just don’t have anything left for a fur-baby. (Sorry, that probably means I suck, but, alas.) I do like chickens. They’re the pet that poops breakfast, right? Chickens are pretty low-key and easy to care for, are incredibly resilient and provide theoretically-free food, so we have chickens in our little rural subdivision.

We also have a dog. (That’s not actually our dog. He looks similar, but if I had to actually take a photo of our actual dog and upload it, these blogs would sit in the queue waiting for you for-pretty-much-ever. Stock photos for the win.) He’s a small house dog, though I’m unsure how that happened. We’ve never had a house pet in our lives until Hamilton joined our family. He’s a year old now and still poops in way too many places he shouldn’t and probably has undiagnosed doggy anxiety. (Can you give Prozac to a puppy? Asking for a friend.) He’s both endearing and a little sh*t. Though I try to stay out of it, I’ve decided that having a dog is good practice for having kids. I mean, not for me. I know this drill. He’s my 17-year-old daughter’s dog, in theory, but he gifts these lessons to all my kids. (Lucky them!) He spent months as a puppy keeping my daughter up at night because he refused to be crate trained and would cry for hours on end. She finally gave up and now he sleeps with various of my children depending on his and their mood.

He also, apparently, hates taking medicine. This is a trait he comes by naturally in our family gene pool. My 7-year-old daughter has an unbelievable gag reflex. She used to make herself throw up in the carseat on the way to the grocery store or church (I avoided the scenario whenever I could), and she had to be sedated in the hospital for her dental appointments until she was around six because they couldn’t even clean her teeth properly without her threatening to hurl. Good times.

So, today, our 10-lb house dog came home from his morning romp limping and squealing. There was no blood or broken skin and nothing looked broken, but Hammy was clearly hurting. We think he maybe pulled something running for his life from a larger neighbor dog. (Poor baby. I even felt bad.) Apparently, doggy pain pills are a thing, (I honestly had no idea.) so relief was at hand. Except…we had to convince him to swallow the stupid thing. He’s small and you dose by weight, so my two oldest daughters were wrangling a crying doggy while trying to convince him that the piece of salmon on their finger did not, actually, contain a foreign object that was slightly larger than a sesame seed. (If you’ve ever tried to hide a course of antibiotics in yogurt or juice, you know the drill here.) After listening to them from the other room for about ten minutes, I walked in to find Hamilton laying on his mommy’s chest with her smiling in victory, exclaiming that they had achieved success! Until, as I turned to go, he spit. out. the. pill. on. her. shirt. (Ha ha ha ha!)

After the third, fourth or tenth try, Hamilton finally actually swallowed the stupid thing and will, hopefully, sleep a bit sounder tonight so his owie can heal. They had to change tactics to get it down, but they finally did. You know what worked? Ice cream. He swallowed his pain pill with a bite of ice cream. See what I’m saying? Dogs are like practice kids. Case closed.

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