Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Sister's Birthday

Today is my "sister" Summar's birthday! Here is my note to her, posted on Facebook this morning:

Happy birthday dear friend. I've always been amazed by your artistic talent, jealous of your fashion sense, impressed by your intelligence, awed at your genuine sincerity of others, and absolutely blown away by your strength. I am blessed to have known you for the past 28 (!) years. I am thankful for your friendship and grateful for your sisterhood. I love you, sis!! xoxo

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Farrell’s Travel Tips

So this might be obvious to everyone but me, but I discovered something yesterday. I was OBSESSED with finding a hotel room in Chicago as we wanted to take the kids up for a long weekend this summer. Neither of them had ever been; Sophie was dying to go to the original American Girl Doll store; plus it’s just a fun city and beautiful in the summer time. Bonus, my cousin is living there so I hope to catch up with her as well. Jeff was insistent on staying on or near Michigan Ave, so I knew we would pay a pretty penny, but if this is our only summer vacation, what the hell. (I suggested the beach in Florida and the kids - okay, well Sophie - wanted to do Chicago because “I don’t see a point in going to Florida if I’m not doing Orlando and Disney and all that. Besides, I’ve already done the beach thing.”) SPOILED ROTTEN. And we just found out Ethan is going on a cruise to the Bahamas with his mother’s side (Jealous!) so he’ll get the beach there. Anyway, it’s great that Chicago is so easy: Hop in the car and 5 hours later you are there.

Anyway, I had found several hotels that would work - I was only looking for Suites with at least a kitchenette so that we wouldn’t be on top of each other and we could make some stuff at home. I checked literally like EVERY travel site known to man kind and here is what I discovered:
Travelocity and Expedia are basically the same thing. hotels.com also showed the same pricing. Trivago, pretty much the same. Not impressed with booking.com or bookit.com. Could have gotten a stellar deal on hotwire but they had no suites available, and I didn’t want to get stuck in a typical room with two beds. So I had narrowed it down but the one hotel that I really wanted - one that came with a FULL kitchen - wasn’t available on our dates (literally there aren’t that many weekends in the summer that we have the kids, since it’s every other, then you have things like July 4th holiday and Ethan’s trip to consider as well, plus our work schedules). I didn’t realize that ALL of the hotels I was looking at were owned by Hilton; I called one to ask a couple of questions and then called back, thinking I was calling someone different and the lady was like, “Oh this is Candice again; we just spoke?” Anyway, the short of it all is that I should have just called the fucking hotel to begin with because Candice was EXTREMELY helpful AND she found me the room I *had* been wanting anyway, the one with the full kitchen, which said it was sold out online for my dates. It was the same rate as a suite WITHOUT a full kitchen, that was two blocks away, so no brainer, right? The other thing I noticed was that her rates were the same I found online. 

So, the tip is: investigate online a couple of hotels you think you might want to stay in at your destination. Check prices on either expedia, travelocity, hotels.com or trivago. If many of them are owned by the same group, CALL one of the local numbers and chat it up; see what they recommend - esp. if you are not familiar with your destination area - and see what they can do for you. UNLESS you don’t need anything that specific, then you can for sure grab a deal on hotwire, but you won’t know the name of the hotel you are going to be in until you commit (though you can pick the star rating and general location). 

Candice could have saved me a LOT of time if I had just called her first. 

So that trip is booked. 

Now I am thinking of taking me and Jeff to Vegas for our birthdays, for a long weekend in March or April. I haven’t been since I was NINE. And flights are pretty cheap usually from STL. 

Weekend Update

The sun came out this weekend and it was unusually warm, like in the 60s. It was BEAUTIFUL and we literally spent two days outside all day with the dog and kids. By the end of each day, all of them were exhausted and pretty much passed out. 

The sun was welcoming to me and made me feel much better than I have been feeling, mood-wise. 

On Sunday, we went to the dog parade and met another Wire Hair Fox Terrier, age 13, named Harry!

On Saturday, we spent time with Grandma and Grandpa, and took Kylie who LOVED to explore their yard and pond and chase the ball up and down the hill. We had a long tie out for her but spent most of the time outside anyway and I’m so glad we brought her. 

Sunday morning, Sophie, Kylie and I took a long walk around Creve Coeur lake while Ethan was at Sunday school (we skipped because Sophie’s sore throat came back in the morning, but then it passed).

Jeff reminded me that we usually have fun, family weekends like this. He said it’s like I have a switch in my head and it’s either set to “positivity” or “negativity.” I need to find a way to keep the switch set to “positive.” I actually ordered myself a light therapy lamp - one that is recommended for "SAD" - (seasonal affective disorder) from which Jeff and I decided I suffer. It should arrive any day now...it's supposed to help with energy too.

On the Set

Sophie had the opportunity, thanks to her Aunt (Ryan's wife Tiffany) to film a "commercial" last night for Bethesda, where Tiffany works, which the company will use as a promotional piece for a meeting on Friday, and likely for their Website as well. She did GREAT! Plus it was super fun!
(PS those are fake Justice glasses)

Why Buy Toys?

Scene in our house last night:

Why buy toys? The children are playing "basketball" indoors with scrap paper and a laundry basket while KSHE blares from the stereo (Jeff's idea for the music)...

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Need Professional Vacation Planner

Ugh I guess “professional vacation planners” are called “travel agents” and it’s hard to believe they still exist; that they are still in business. 

How can I plan conferences and weddings with “no problem” and I tend to turn obsessive when it comes to planning vacations? Oh yeah because (a) I have an obsessive personality and (b) I’m usually planning in places I haven’t been and (c) I’m frugal and like to get the best deal. 

Anyway, we are still considering Chicago for a long weekend trip this summer with the children; we would drive (it’s only 5hrs) but Jeff wants to stay on or near the Magnificent Mile which is like $300 a night and one reader did give me a tip on embassy suites which I still have to look up; I would like some sort of kitchenette to slab together some sandwiches and stuff like that, so that (a) we can save money eating out and (b) Sophie is hard to travel with due to her many food aversions (ie. she will eat chicken nuggets or spaghetti at home, but not at a restaurant). 

I am doing a little experiment because I have a feeling that 4 days in Chicago or 4 nights in Florida on the beach is probably going to come out the same. I’m not familiar with Florida and I don’t want to drive because 6 hours is about my limit and I could not handle a 12+ hour trip with the children in the car to say, Destin, which is where everyone and their mother in St. Louis go in the summer (because it’s nice and it’s close enough to drive). So, I’ve been examining Panama City Beach (“Redneck Riviera”) and also considering Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Meyers….we aren’t snobby and places like West Palm just don’t do it for me; I have a friend in Miami but she has a 1 bedroom condo so we can’t stay with her and I hate Miami; my parents were just down in Florida for 2 weeks with other family members (our invite must have gotten “lost in the mail” *cough cough*) but Tom got bored after the first week because all there was to do was lay by the pool or beach, which the women enjoyed but he is like Jeff and likes to get in the car and explore the area; both of them are history buffs; he traveled to Marco Island and was unimpressed; I don’t want to be in an old person’s place; I would like to be somewhere that is kid/family-friendly, where perhaps our children would have the chance to meet other kids at the pool or beach, not just grandmas and grandpas. What say you? Any tips or advice?

I would love to just go to Cali and visit my friend who just had a baby boy but it’s further and more expensive to get to and stay in.

Nobody in my family likes to travel as much as I do; I currently have a fare watcher alert for:
Florida cities
NY (to visit my cousin and her baby girl who is now 6mo old)
Orange County, CA
Portland, OR (Ruelles)

Jeff is the OPPOSITE of planner and stresses about money so he would want to decide like on Memorial Day what to do two weeks later but I think we better get started because places could fill up, no?

Also January is my slow month at work and I’m procrastinating. 

Should we consider elsewhere? Myrtle Beach? North Outer Banks? We do NOT want to do Orlando (Well me and Jeff don’t; the kids would I’m sure).

Thursday, January 29, 2015


A couple of weeks ago, both kids had friends over. Ethan often likes to extra-aggravate Sophie in order to show off for his friends. Apparently he called Sophie a “loser” and she said something back to the effect of: 
Listen! You do not talk to me that way! Do not call me names; I will not stand for it! It’s inappropriate. 
Jeff and I were in the living room and looked at each other. 
Me: Well, I guess that situation has been dealt with.

Sophie’s “Little Sister” Poem

As a school assignment, Sophie had to do a poem. She wrote a “recipe” to make an annoying little sister disappear. Which is interesting considering she doesn’t HAVE a sister. Maybe she was writing from Ethan’s point of view? Who knows. 
Anyway, here it is:
Take a lock of hair from your annoying little sister and put in a pinch of vinegar. 
Put it in a bowl. 
Mix until it shows something she stole. 
Blend it in a blender, 
until her heart is tender. 
Pour a little sadness in her heart. 
Cook at 1,000 degrees
until the oven makes a sound like BLART!
You can tell hen it’s done when you’re annoying little sister starts to go. 
Let it cool until you’re annoying little sister is no more. 
Add a little happiness to hear heart [just to make sure it’s working]
Then cut up sugar and spice and all things nice. 
Taste your annoying little sister’s favorite food until 
You shout YEAH! No more little sister today!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Here’s What PMDD is Like

I will probably regret posting this because by the end of the coming week, I won’t feel like this at all. Later this evening I’ll probably feel worse because it is worst at night though this morning and afternoon were bad as well. I might not even feel this way in an hour but in two hours I may feel the same or worse and I may feel great in the morning or like I don’t want to get out of bed. It’s a roller coaster for sure. 

If you don’t know, PMDD stands for “Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder” and it IS real and it sucks. It’s an extreme form of PMS and it basically makes me want to kill myself once a month. Not like to the point where I PLAN it out or research anything or PURCHASE anything to do it with, but where I don’t feel like I should be here on this Earth.

I FINALLY called my OBGYN Thursday since she and I had spoken about this at my annual in Sept. She prescribed me Prozac, in addition to my regular Pristiq for anxiety, to take for 2 weeks out of the month, at the onset of ovulation. So it will be 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off. But it takes about a month to kick in so I probably won’t notice any effects for at least two full cycles. 

Of course, during this time, you are supposed to exercise, eat well and avoid alcohol. At the same time, my body is craving alcohol, sugar, and I am too tired/depressed to get up the energy to exercise. I have started experimenting with Yoga and Pilates though. I have two beginner DVDs and they are OK; then I looked up some videos on YouTube. I found a Julian Michaels Yoga video for weight loss. I did it earlier this week and started it while Sophie was in the bath. When she came downstairs, I gave her a look and said “Julian Michaels is kicking my butt!” Relaxing yoga this was not. She checked out the video then turned back to me. “You’re not even half-way through!!” Yeah. But I will keep trying. Starting uh, tomorrow.

Anyway, I have a constant stream of negative thoughts going through my head on a normal day to day basis, but they are 8,000 times worse during PMS. The problem is I only have this one mean dude - I named him Carl today - constantly telling me horrible things about myself, and I don’t have the anti-Carl. There is no balancing; there are no inner thoughts to tell him to shut the fuck up and that he’s wrong; I believe him too easily. Sophie had been learning with her counselor how to recognize and push away negative thoughts that cause her anxiety (“what if” type thoughts - “what if a bad guy kidnaps me”; “what if the house burns down” etc.) and the counselor taught her to squash them like “ANTS.” It’s like a theory or something. I read the book she recommended for Sophie but obviously I have a LOT more work to do. Here’s what “Carl” sounds like (below). “Carl” has a nasty, nasty habit of twisting everyone’s words (one tiny comment) into horrible accusations (you disgust them; you are unworthy). I don’t take criticism well. For example, this morning, Jeff made a comment about my coffee mess, the way I took my vitamins, and me spilling my water. That set “Carl” into a tirade:
Obviously you can’t do anything right. Obviously he hates you. Why are you so messy? Why are you such a slob? You can’t even fucking DRINK WATER correctly I mean what the hell? Should we get you a sippy cup like a toddler? Thank God he didn’t say anything about your hair. Coming to breakfast with your hair half done, half up in a clip all frizzy. You look like hell. You know what I see when you look in the mirror? I see an old, worn out lady WAY past her prime. I see pimples and scars and wrinkles and yellow teeth. I mean, LOOK at how old your eyes look. You just look TIRED all the time; worn out. Washed out. 
Your car is always dirty. You are a slob. You don’t work out enough and that’s why you’re so fat. I mean, for Christ’s sake, you can’t even SIT DOWN in a pair of jeans without your stomach fat hanging out over the top - and these are high-rise jeans, not the low-rise shit those teeny boppers wear. 
You buy organic apples and organic spinach leaves and organic bananas but you still smoke. Do you know how ridiculous that is?
Also, have you SEEN your daughter lately? You’ve really fucked up her eating habits, haven’t you? Yeah it’s WAY past the point of no return now. You are a complete and total failure as a mother. 
Oh and the fact that your husband rarely wants to have sex with you? Have you LOOKED in the mirror, Fatty fat fat. You are now TWENTY POUNDS over weight. NO WONDER Jamie left you. You disgust me, you disgust everyone around you. You are weak, you are lazy, you are a slob, you are out of shape, you are old, you are tired, you are stupid, you can’t do anything right, you suck at your job, you suck at being a mother, you suck at being a wife; you can’t even DECORATE or COOK or KEEP A HOUSE CLEAN. 
You have no friends. Nobody wants to hang out with you. Your friends don’t call you back; they don’t care about you; they don’t even want to hang out with you. Who would?? You are a giant mess. You are a negative person. You don’t like hanging out with “Debbie Downer” and that’s who you are right now. They KNOW you’re crazy; Jeff is still figuring that out. He’ll learn soon enough and then he’ll get fed up and find someone better, just like Jamie. 

It goes on and on and on and on. 

And then my own thoughts come back. And they sound like this:
Carl is right. I am a total and complete failure at everything I attempt to do. I AM a bad wife; it IS no wonder Jamie left me; I can barely look in the mirror without wanting to place a paper bag over my head; I can’t motivate myself to get out of bed by 5:30 to do my workout; I’d rather sleep in until 6. My daughter has anxiety because of ME; I gave it to her. How can I teach her anything when I know nothing? No wonder Jeff doesn’t want to have sex with me; I’m disgusting. LOOK at me. I fake it at work; pretty soon they’ll find out I’m a fraud, a complete and total fraud. The only reason I am still on this Earth is because of Sophie; she is the only reason I’m staying; without her, I would have made my exit long ago. The world would be better if I wasn’t here. I might as well be invisible. I have nothing to offer anything or anyone; there is absolutely no point to my existence. No gain, no loss. Nothing gained by me being here on Earth; nothing lost if I leave it. 

And then I see Kylie and she kisses my face, and I am happy for a minute. And then Sophie comes home and I give her a big hug and smile and I am happy. And then Jeff stays in his room reading or watching a show because Sophie is in the living room watching *her* shows and then he wants to go to bed because he stayed out last night drinking in the three seasons room when I went to bed and of course he doesn’t want to hang out with me, why would he? I’m fat and my teeth are yellow and…
And it starts all over again. 

Listen. Logically, I know that nobody else is responsible for my own happiness. Many many times I am completely happy being alone and reading my book or reading my blog feed or checking the news and drinking my coffee - that’s also part of the reason why I get up so damn early even on the weekends - to have that quiet time alone, before anyone else is up. Many times Jeff will stay up and I will stay in bed reading and he doesn’t get all bent out of shape about it and whine that I don’t love him. Many times I *want* to be alone. It’s hard to explain all of this to him because all he sees is “crazy psycho wife” [he’s NEVER used those words; those are my/Carl’s words] and event though I *try* he just says “take a chill pill. Just chill out.” He’s not being dismissive on purpose. It’s just it’s so hard to understand if you’ve never been anxious or depressed. He’s asked what he can do to make me feel better.

So there you have it. That’s about the third week of every month for me. 

And I’m NOT writing this for people to chime in and tell me how great I am. Really, truly. This is not an attention grabber. This is something I’ve been struggling with for a very, very long time. This is just how it is. This is raw, and it is private and I don’t like it being “out there” but I can’t stop it either because I had to get this down. 

And it’s SO STUPID! I have a great husband, and great kids, and a great house, and a great job and the best friends in the world. Three weeks out of every month I feel that way and I recognize it and I embrace it. And then one week of every month I want to crawl into a big, giant black hole and never come out. *That’s* how I know - and my doctor agreed - that it’s PMDD rather than clinical depression. Hormones don’t agree with me. That’s why I was such a God-awful mess during pregnancy and well I guess when Menopause hits, Jeff will have to lock me up because HOLY SHIT.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Winter Blues

This post will not follow a linear pattern. 
I haven’t written for a while because my life isn’t that exciting so I don’t feel like I have anything to say, or I’ve had waves of depression come and go and I know that how I feel in that moment won’t be how I feel in the morning or the next day so I don’t really want to write it down as I might regret it. 
This weekend was pleasant - the weather cooperated and it was unseasonably warm for January; the sun shone and that did boost my mood quite a bit. 
Today is a good day because one of my BFFs is having her baby boy (scheduled C-section due to health reasons)!!! I can’t wait to hear his name (she and hubby are still undecided) and see pics of him!
Recently my home desktop computer died. I wasn’t really surprised because it was a crappy Dell and I had it for 5 years and I could tell it was slowly dying as it started to run slower and slower, and it would turn off unexpectedly, etc. Problem was I can’t survive without a home computer and this was January and I was still paying off Christmas bills. Plus my backup didn’t work correctly so I had to take it into work and have one of our tech guys tear it apart but LUCKILY he was able to get my data back and now I owe him drinks! It pays to work with techies! So anyway, I bought a Mac. It was either that or a laptop with Windows 8 - barf. I’m totally happy with it now:)
Things I’m planning:
Potential trip to Chicago with the family this summer. Sophie would like to go to the American Girl Doll store - the big one - and I’m sure Ethan & Jeff would love to get tickets to a Cubs/Cards game. Mr. Moneybags insists on staying downtown and we need at least a kitchenette because Sophie doesn’t eat at restaurants. It’s EXTREMELY limiting and frustrating to take her anywhere away from home. I am also investigating 5 days in Florida on the beach because I have a feeling that it will end up costing the same as a long weekend in Chicago. I will let you know if my hypothesis is correct. In the meantime, any and all ideas for places to go or stay are more than welcome! In fact, my parents are in Florida (near Ft. Meyers) right now for two weeks with some cousins, aunts, uncles on my mom’s side (I wasn’t invited. Oh well.). 
I also have to plan Valentine’s-themed games for Sophie’s class party. Not my forte. I have to do some Googling on that. 
I gained 10 pounds over the holidays; I had been sick since after Christmas and couldn’t work out for two weeks, and I was 10 pounds too heavy to begin with so now I’m back to being 20 pounds overweight. I believe I have fallen into this pattern for a number of years now and I’m sure I’m not the only one. 
It’s interesting having two kids in the house because I didn’t grow up with siblings; I’m not really sure what is normal or not. I do know that Sophie and Ethan seem to be getting along less and less. Ethan rarely has any interest in playing with Sophie, even though she usually compromises and offers to play things he likes (ie not dolls). On the other hand, Ethan may just be craving quality time with his dad since he’s not here that often, and he is fantastic at getting Kylie all worn out! Other than that I guess they act like normal siblings: They are either arguing, playing together, or ignoring each other. I remember my cousin Kim and I fighting like siblings and Oh God we were SO mean to her younger twin sisters.
Ethan is obsessed with hanging out with the “popular” kids and that is due to his mom’s influence. It’s annoying because I feel this shouldn’t start until 6th grade, and he is only in 4th. 
I am looking for a “nanny” for the summer for Sophie. I crowd-sourced it on Facebook but didn’t get any response. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with her this summer. Marcy creates a complicated summer schedule for Ethan with various camps certain weeks, babysitters certain days, etc. It seems like it takes a lot more time and effort than I’m willing to put forth. I’d rather just send Sophie one place every day where they do activities and field trips, but she’d much rather be home with a babysitter. Jamie’s sister in law already called “dibs” on cousin Amy and the girl who watched Sophie last summer will be going off to college this year…
I feel lonely because I don’t have many friends here; they are busy because they don’t get built-in date nights or weekends like me and Jeff do, or they are divorced but have their kids on opposite weekends. Twice in a row we have had Ethan but I have not had Sophie for one night since Jamie and I split to cover his travel schedule and I have tried to basically ask everyone I know if they want to do something to no avail. And our neighbor friends that we typically hang out with all the time on our kid-free weekends are looking to move to Florida, where their daughter lives. 
I have other stuff going on in my head but that’s all I’m willing to put out here. Only 20 people read this anyway.