Me and Snakes, Snakes and Me

Let’s go back to Arizona, circa 1996.

I was 10 or 11 years old.  My dad and I were away on a father-daughter backpacking trip somewhere in one of the numerous mountain ranges of Southern Arizona.  It was a warm night, so we slept in just our sleeping bags under the stars.  In the morning, we woke up and broke fast together on a big rock.

As we ate, our peaceful meal was suddenly less peaceful.  A loud bug — was it a grasshopper? a cricket? — started chirping annoyingly behind us.  Not so much chirping, more of a chicka chicka chicka.

What the fuck was that noise?  Finally my dad turned around to investigate the racket.  And he startled immediately.  “Shit, RUN!” He shouted as he jumped up and started sprinting away.  I looked back and, to my horror, saw the Western Diamondback rattle snake, coiled up in attack pose, rattling ferociously in my direction.  So yeah, I jumped up and started to run off towards my dad.  And immediately, I fell to my knees.  With my butt in the air, pointing right back at that venomous snake.  I somehow found the strength to lunge back up and keep running, reuniting with my dad about 100 feet away.

What happened next was a blur.  After a while, we must have found the courage to make our way back to our campsite.  We packed our things up and set out back to our car — but not before aggressively shaking the fuck out of our sleeping bags.  What on earth were we thinking, sleeping out in the open?

Every step on the trail back was torture.  Was there a snake waiting somewhere in the fringes, about to bust out and bite me?  What the fuck was that noise?  What the hell was moving under those leaves over there?

And even when we were back in our car and driving back towards home, I was haunted by what had happened.  I somehow convinced myself that maybe the rattler had bitten me while I was down, and that I just didn’t feel it yet because, you know, adrenaline.  I even pulled my pants down in the bathroom of a restaurant where we ate lunch, checking my ass out in the mirror to see if there were fang marks.  There weren’t.

Safe to say, the whole ordeal left me a little traumatized.  And that was just one episode in a whole childhood full of venomous snake encounters of one kind or another.

By the time I was a young adult, my fear of snakes had gotten a little out of hand.  I thought about it a lot.  I refused to go hiking.  I did anything to get out of yard work.  For my 22nd birthday, my parents took me to a dude ranch down near the border of Mexico.  I couldn’t enjoy a single horse ride, I spent the entire time scanning the surrounding landscape for snakes. Those little fuckers.

And then I moved away from the American Southwest, to colder climates, and snakes weren’t really a part of my life anymore.  And by that I just mean, I no longer had chance encounters with them.

That’s not to say I didn’t think about snakes from time to time.  Oh no, if ever I saw a snake on TV, that was almost certainly followed by a night chock full of vivid snake dreams.  The kind where you see a snake, and you kill it, and then you realize that your entire surroundings are actually covered in snakes and there’s no way out.  We’ve all had that dream, right?

So fast forward to yesterday.

There I was, playing innocently in my back yard with my two little kids.  We’ve lived in Upstate New York for almost a year now and I haven’t seen a single snake.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t kept a watchful eye on my surroundings at all times — I am traumatized, after all.

K-Man was playing in the grass by the raised deck, I was next to him, and Ell-Bell was on the other side of me.  Suddenly, I heard a very familiar rustling.  “Oh shit, what was that?” I said, as my eyes frantically scanned the darkness under the deck.  I didn’t have to look too hard.  Within a split second I saw it, the long, slithering body moving slowly about two feet away from K-Man.  My eyes followed the body up to it’s head, and I swear to god, the snake’s cold black eyes were staring right back at me.  Fucking taunting me.

“SHIT!” I said again, much louder this time.  I grabbed K-Man with two hands and basically threw him up on to the deck.  Ell-Bell followed.  I peered at the snake some more, noted it’s grey coloring and totally non-angular face.  Probably not venomous, but shit.  SHIT SHIT SHIT.

“Oh my god oh my god oh my god,” I muttered loudly as I paced back and forth.  And I’m not proud to admit it . . . I proceeded to lose my damned mind.  Like, I started bawling.  I ushered the kids in to the covered porch, bent over, and cried loudly into my hands.  Hyperventilating, heaving, the whole enchilada.

My two kids watched my little melt down bemusedly, until K-Man finally had the wherewithal to try and soothe me.  He hugged me and repeated, “it’s okay, don’t be sad.”

Through my violent tears I tried to explain to those poor sweet little children that I was okay, that snakes are really nice, but that mommy was just irrationally scared.  I’m sure they totally appreciated the distinction.

Eventually we went back into the house, and I put the kids down for nap/quiet time.  My heart continued to pound.  I didn’t trust any covered spaces.  I jumped when my watch buzzed.  When I went for a run on our treadmill in the basement, I watched the ceiling panel the whole time, just waiting for a snake to suddenly ease through and drop down on my head (as they do.)

Basically, I was a mess.  I still am a mess.  And I’m super embarrassed.  Embarrassed that I cried about a harmless garter snake in front of my children.  And maybe also my neighbors.  Embarrassed that I cried again as I re-told the story to my husband, hours later.  Embarrassed that I am too scared to go back in my yard again.  Embarrassed that I sent Hubby out to buy and plant marigolds with his only free hour of the day, because I read on the internet that maybe somehow marigolds keep the snakes away.

It’s time to move past this phobia, right?  Is there a way to do that without immersion therapy? Because I am 100% not doing that.

Until next time,

Vee

 

 

 

We Scarred Him For Life

So this is embarrassing.

Disclaimer:  Things are about to get real personal.

It was a Friday.  Hubby had a rare early exit from work, and so was miraculously home before nap time.  And you know, Spring was in the air, so things were feeling a little –shall we say — frisky? between Hubby and I as we started to get the kids ready to go down for the afternoon.

(Did I mention that this is embarrassing?)

So I rocked Ell-Bell into sweet dreamland.  Baby girl is a piece of cake to put to sleep these days, thank god.  Meanwhile, Hubby set K-Man up in his own room with some Paw Patrol.  (Little dude has “quiet time” because he officially really truly doesn’t nap anymore.  I don’t want to talk about it ok?)

When K-Man is in his room for quiet time, he almost never comes out.  I mean, he’s watching TV, so he’s pretty much dead to the world, right?

Which, I guess, is why Hubby and I felt ok about acting on our adult urges in that moment.  I gave him my “meet me in the bedroom” eyes and he certainly wasted no time in following my lead.  We’ve got two young kids and he works 80-hour weeks, he wasn’t about to say no to a little mid-day love sesh!

So there we were, getting pretty tangled up in the sheets — and holy cow my face is burning as I type this — when we heard a noise.  A very distinct noise.  The sound of K-Man’s door knob turning.

Did I mention the door to K-Man’s room is approximately two feet away from the door to our master suite?

K-Man yelled, “Hey mom and dad!” as he started to push open our door.  And at honest-to-god-super-hero-speed, Hubby jumped out of bed and threw our comforter over my entire naked body.  Covered me from head to toe in one fell swoop.  (Pretty talented, no?)

So yeah, my son walked in to our room and encountered … my Hubby … standing seemingly alone in our room … naked.

K-Man said, “I need to pee.”

“Um, okay.”  Hubby said back.

“I need help taking my pants off,” said K-Man.

“Um, okay.”  Hubby said again.

Hubby then proceeded to help K-Man take his pants off.  Because, you know, he needed to pee.  Even though every other day of the week he took his own damned pants off when he needed to pee.

“I’m just going to leave these here.” K-man said, gesturing to his pants as he threw them in a heap on our bedroom floor. (Why tho?)

“Okay.” – Hubby.

“I’m just going to close the door now.” – K-Man

“Okay.” – Hubby.

And then K-Man disappeared back into the obscurity of his own Paw-Patrolled room.

So yeah, that happened.

He’s only three, and I don’t even know if he knew I was in the room.  But he was super awkward and insisted on closing the door when he left.  So maybe he felt a weird vibe.

I actually still remember walking in on my parents having sex during nap time when I was 3 or 4.  So that’s good news, right?

Did we scar him for life?

Until next time,

Vee

 

 

Good Friday (Grateful Friday)

I’ve been super grouchy lately.  It could have something to do with the fact that we are still very much in the endless throes of winter here in Upstate NY — is it too much to ask for the thermometer to break 40F on Easter Sunday?  It could also have something to do with the fact that I got trolled hard in a mommy group on Facebook yesterday — why are virtual peeps so mean?  Or it could have everything to do with the fact that, after four years of sweet bliss, I am finally suffering from the girl flu again.  (But can I really complain about a four-year break?  Prolly not.  Thank you, back-to-back pregnancies and breastfeeding gods).

Regardless of my grump, today is Good Friday.  Now, I’m no religious scholar, but I’m pretty sure the “good” in Good Friday doesn’t have to do with good feels (because I googled it).  But, hey, I can take some creative liberties.  So, in the spirit of good-ness, and in an effort to boost my crappy mood, here are 5 things that I’m grateful for today:

  1. Easter is upon us.  Which means Easter candy is upon us.  Now, I told Hubby the same thing I tell him every year: all I want is a freaking peanut-butter-filled chocolate bunny.  Every year he forgets.  Every year I let it go, because come on, I have 32-year-old metabolism.  But this year … this year I was cleaning out some kitchen cabinets and stumbled upon it.  A peanut-butter-filled chocolate bunny that he must have purchased behind my back, and is hopefully saving to give to me on Easter morning.  I know it’s only March, so is it too early to award him Hubby of the Year?  (Please, for both our sakes, let the bunny actually be for me.)
  2. Zzzzzzz.  Because I have no regard for my well-being, I am going to go ahead and disrespect the sleep gods here:  Ever since last week’s bitch fest about Ell-Bell’s atrocious sleep habits, baby girl has been sleeping much better at night.  I mean you guys, last night honeyboo didn’t even wake up for the first time until 5:30 in the morning! What? Of course she’s just trolling me, lulling me into a false sense of security so that I fall that much harder when she wakes up 5 times tonight.  But still, I’ll take a few nights in a row of good sleep!
  3. Things are about to get romantical.  The in-laws are coming for a visit next week.  Ugh, I know, there’s nothing romantic about that.  But of course, the silver lining is that they provide free and relatively safe-ish child care, which means Hubby and I are about to go on our first date in four months!  I am way excited, and I don’t know if I’ve ever spent so much mental energy planning a 3-4 hour block of time in my life.  I’m thinking sushi and a movie, but my god, the possibilities are endless!  (Side note: can somebody teach me how to hire a real babysitter?  I’m guessing it would be a good thing to not wait four months between dates).
  4. I’m basically an Olympian.  Okay, I’m not, at all.  I am actually that mushy-armed person at the gym who only ever runs on the treadmill — the one who everyone looks at and says, “girlfriend, you need to get off that treadmill and do some actual push-ups.”  But hey, I’ve been back to running pretty consistently for the better part of a year now and I am feeling really good about it.  I’m getting faster, I’m running longer, and gosh darnit, I might even get brave enough to run outside one of these days.  I just need a babysitter real quick.
  5. I get to spectate all the sports.  I don’t care what you say, I like to watch golf on TV, ok?  It’s relaxing.  For me, April (snow) showers mean only one thing:  it’s time to watch some golf hotties navigate the Augusta greens at the Masters.  Of course, my in-laws will be in town during coverage because OF COURSE THEY HAVE TO COME during the Masters basically EVERY SINGLE YEAR.  But whatever.  I’m also giddy for NBA playoffs and more golf and tennis tourneys on the horizon, for those keeping track.  (Holler at me if you are also secretly in love with at least half of the men’s tennis field, we might have to be besties).

So there you have it.  What’s on your grateful list this Good Friday?  Wishing everyone a happy passover, Easter, or whatever else you may be celebrating in the next few days.

Until next time,

Vee

 

 

Sweet Dreams ’til Sunbeams Find You . . . or Your Daughter Wakes You Up

You know that moment you’ve been looking forward to since you first woke up in the morning?  That moment when you finally crawl into bed and relax under your covers after a long day?  When your head hits the pillow and you prepare to surrender yourself to sweet sleepy bliss?  When every muscle in your body starts to give in, and your breathing gets deeper, deeper, and your eyelids get heavier, heavier . . .

Yeah.  That’s the exact moment that my daughter Ell-Bell wakes up screaming.  Every. single. night.  And it doesn’t even matter what time I go to bed.  She manages to pull it off whether it’s 10 p.m., midnight, or anywhere in between.  What on Earth did I ever do to her?

Am I embarrassed that my 15-month-old is still not sleeping through the night?  You betcha.  Do I feel guilty that I’m still nursing that sweet little demon back to sleep because it’s all I can do?  100%.  Is the end in sight?  God I hope so.

I remember with K-Man, we were sheepishly admitting to the pediatrician that he was still waking up in the night at his 18-month check-up.  But then a few weeks later, he miraculously started sleeping through.  And it was everything.  (Well, it was everything for four months, and then we had another baby.  That was dumb.)

So maybe my life is about to get a whole lot better?  I can do this for three more months, right?

Until next time,

Vee

Oral

My son K-Man was not an oral baby. I mean, sure, he was obsessed with his pacifier, but he was never one for putting foreign objects in his mouth. Which, I now realize, was a blessing. I never had to fuss about what potential choking hazard or foul object might be lying within his sticky little grasp.

Safe to say, I was not adequately prepared when my daughter Ell-Bell basically came out of the womb eating things off the floor.  She is orally fixated to the max and will try to put anything and everything in her big fat gob.  It’s cute, of course, but sometimes can be annoying as fuck! Like that time at 5 months old, when she pulled a pile of tacos off the table and onto my lap, because she was trying to snag a spicy bite.  Or that time (all the time) she was obsessed with her big brother’s super ball and carried it around in her mouth like a dog.

Or that time at the playground, yesterday, when I couldn’t let her roam free for one second because she insisted on trying to put every single wood chip from that wood-chip-laden plot directly into her pie hole.  It was exhausting chasing after her, prying wood chips out of her fists, and scolding “no no, icky, that’s not food!”

As I tiredly pulled my two chunks home from the playground in their little red wagon, I thought to myself, “maybe I could blog about this issue?” But alas, I resolved there wasn’t a ton of there there.

That all changed just two hours later.

Fast forward to dinner time. I let the kids run a little wild while I put everything together. As I was dishing up some baked chicken, rice, and flaccid broccoli stems (anybody else constantly duped by the luscious-looking broccoli florets on the cover of frozen produce bags?), I suddenly noticed that I hadn’t heard Ell-Bell for at least 45 seconds. Wuh oh.  I quickly sashayed towards the living room–where I thought she was–but a shadow caught my eye as I passed by the bathroom. I backed up — idiot! Of course she’s in the bathroom!

There she sat on the bathroom floor, next to the kitty litter. One hand holding a small brown object. The other hand batting at her tongue. A pile of other small brown objects scattered across the floor. Brown smudges all over the corners of her mouth. Do I need to say more, you guys? She was eating fucking cat poop! “Holy shit!” I thought as I scooped her up and batted the turd out of her hand.  I frantically grabbed about 200 wet wipes, crumpled them into a ball, and smashed them repeatedly against her face, tongue, and hands.  After texting with Hubby to confirm that Ell-Bell was not about to die, I set her down for dinner. What else was I supposed to do?

So what do you think, do I win the Mom of the Year award?

I guess, in spite of everything, there are some upsides to having an oral baby.  For instance, Ell-Bell absolutely devoured those broccoli stems at dinner.  That could have been a desperate attempt to wash the kitty poo taste out of her mouth, though. Who knows.

Until next time,

Vee

I Almost Started a War

I think I have gift PTSD.  As I’ve documented here over and over again, my mother-in-law’s gift-giving leaves a little something to be desired.  I’ve realized over the past few weeks, as my son’s third birthday approaches, that I am starting to dread present-receiving opportunities.  How sad is that?

Lately, the in-laws have developed a habit of sending Amazon gifts for birthdays, without any gift receipt included to identify who the package is from.  No shame in the Amazon game, obviously, but the gifts they choose to send are just weird and inappropriate.  Case in point, my poor sister-in-law (whose Amazon wish list is abundant with cute ideas, by the way) received a stuffed Teddy Bear from her parents via Amazon for her 35th birthday.  Oy.

So for weeks, I’ve been steeling myself for the inevitable Amazon package containing some random present for K-Man’s third birthday.  And yesterday, when I opened the mailbox, there it was.  A big fluffy Amazon envelope addressed to my son.  I groaned as I carried it inside, groping it all over in an attempt to decipher its contents.

After a few deep breaths and a shot of tequila (just kidding), I ripped open the package.  And pulled out … a pair of pruning shears.  And a thirteenth-century theological treatise written in the form of “a dialogue among allegorical figures who represent the nature of the relation between the soul and God.”  No receipt of any kind.

My blood ran cold.  And then very, very hot.  I couldn’t be sure who the package was from, but come on.  Obviously it was some kind of sick joke from the in-laws, because my father-in-law loves to garden, and my mother-in-law is a classicist.  Some kind of sick joke, or they were going senile.

I honestly felt sick to my stomach.  This was a new low for them.  My sweet little son is turning three and actually understands what it means and is excited about presents, and they send something that I literally can’t even give to him? What the fuck? Do they secretly hate him?

I shot off some angry texts to Hubby and my sister-in-law, looking to commiserate.  Hubby groaned along with me, though he was excited about keeping the pruning shears for himself.  We briefly discussed instituting a “no more presents” rule that only applied to his parents.  And we agreed that we would go out and buy K-Man one more present to replace this mess.

My sister-in-law expressed genuine confusion, and couldn’t believe that her parents would actually send this garbage to a child.  She suggested we check with them and confirm that they sent the present, since there was no receipt.  Fair enough, I guess, but who else would possibly stoop so low?

So when Hubby got home from work, we called the in-laws.  My heart was racing as he dialed the number, but of course as soon as we got on the line, my mother-in-law dominated the conversation for 10 minutes straight.  When Hubby finally was able to ask whether they sent K-Man a pair of pruning shears and a philosophical text for his birthday, my MIL burst out laughing.

“I knew it,” I thought to myself.  “She thinks this shit is funny.  It’s not fucking funny.”

More laughter.  “That went to your house?” She asked.  And then more laughter.  And then it slowly dawned on me, just as she was eking out her own explanation.  Yes, the in-laws had purchased these items.  No, they had not intended to send them to my son.  Their Amazon default address was apparently set to K-Man from a long-ago purchase, and they forgot to change the default before ordering themselves some gardening tools and what sounds like the worst book I will never read.

Holy heck.  Was this some crazy conspiracy to give me a heart attack?

So this time, I must admit, I was wrong.  My in-laws did not give the worst imaginable gift.  Not yet, anyway.  And as much as I’m still reeling from that emotional roller coaster, I am relieved to know that their gift-giving awfulness knows some bounds.  Thank the Lord.

Until next time,

Vee

Hate is a Strong Word

Hate is a strong word.  A strong word, but the right word* to accurately describe how I am feeling about winter right now.  Fuck off, winter!

It’s our first cold season here in Upstate NY, and I knew it was going to be bad.  In fact, I expected it to be at least this bad. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still … bad.  We moved to the snowiest city in the U.S., and it’s living up to its name.  I mean, at the beginning of the year, we had a 66-hours-straight snowstorm that accumulated more than 20 inches of snow.  What? And that was just the worst in a month chock full of snow days.  After a December that broke some other snow records.

And all the snow, it’s not just crushing down on our sad little roof.  It’s also crushing down on my sad little soul.  Though I’ve lived in snowy places before (hello, university in eastern Canada), I’m realizing for the first time that the very sight of snow piles gives me significant anxiety.  When is it going to melt?  What if it never melts? What if the snow piles on the side of the driveway get so high that I can’t manually shovel anymore on top of them? What if we can’t leave the house?  After further introspection, I’ve decided that I have an unhealthy fear that we may be entering a new ice age.  You never know, right?

Winter with little kids is kind of the pits, too.  We’re trying to embrace it as best we can, but I really can’t take my little one-year-old munchkin outside much when we have things like 13-day streaks of sub-freezing temperatures (most of which are actually in the single digits – Fahrenheit).  And if you even know where to buy snow boots for size 4 toddler feet, let me know.  Because I have been unsuccessful on that front, and I’m not about to let Ell-Bell run around in the snow with just her cute little sneakers on.  She would totally do it, too.

I guess the real problem is that I’m totally over winter, but it’s nowhere near over.  The internet says it will snow here until at least April, but maybe as late as May.  Gag.  And we keep having these random warm stretches where the mountains of snow all but melt, and I’m like, yaaas, grass, there you are, I missed you! But sure enough, after a day or two, here comes another day with 5-8 inches of snow.  Can I just tell you how sick I am of spending my entire naptime break (what’s left of it, anyway) shoveling the freaking driveway?  My arms are so sore!

And I’m totally sorry for complaining so much about this, but I can’t whine to my husband about how much these winter months are getting me down.  He is the reason we moved here, and every time I so much as hint that I’m not loving all the cold and snow, he feels guilty AF.  So here you go, blog, have all my pent up frustration and disappointment about the fact that we basically live right below the Arctic Circle.

On the literal bright side, we do have a beach trip in our sights, a nice little something to look forward to.  We’re heading to sunny Mexico to see my dad in a few weeks.  Yaaaas.  Since there will still be more winter to come after that, I can’t exactly call the trip a light at the end of the tunnel.  But maybe it’s a little hole in the top of the tunnel, halfway through, letting a few rays in?

Until next time,

Vee

 

*Due credit to Boss Baby for that sentiment