I won’t adjust to this and you can count on me for this. These are two different things.

I have three different things I need to inform you about today, three totally different and completely unrelated things. I was thinking that a novel way to tell you about three different and totally unrelated topics would be to write three totally different and unrelated blog posts and then maybe even post them on three totally different days, maybe even three consecutive days, but it turns out that that’s just not the way I wobble. Much like I now literally live in the actual middle of the actual desert, so too does this blog exist as a bunch of nothingness with occasional giant blobs of stuff. I guess in this comparison I am the giant blob? I think in my old age I’ve stopped giving even half a crap about whether or not people like me or not because I don’t have time to waste a thought on it when I’m sitting here thoughtlessly analogizing myself to a giant blob. If you’re out there not liking me, take an early lunch, I’ve got it handled.

First, a small thing. I’m adjusting to living here, but it’s in increments, because when you move, it’s not just that you have to get used to a new place and you get used to your new place in a big chunk as a place and that’s that. No, there’s a whole lot that goes into it. You have to shop in new stores and go to a new church and the traffic patterns are strange and people drive like different kinds of everyone’s a total idiot except for me. The washing machine is on the other side from where it was in the other house and Penny’s got toys in her room in this place and she didn’t in the other so she just does not go to sleep at night for hours at a time and I don’t care, just stay in there, because my bedtime is still 7pm. Nothing is in the place is used to be in and this house is arranged in a way that is completely unfriendly to my style of watchful yet gently neglectful oversight kind of parenting. I’m just saying, you can’t just sit in a new state, look around after a couple of weeks and say, “Well, I’m adjusted.” One thing at a time. One small thing at a time.

And sometimes? You don’t adjust. You don’t adjust to everything. And that can be fine, I guess. Not everything is going to be okay in your new place and maybe you’re going to have to come to terms with that, or not come to terms with that, and live with the fact that you’re not going to come to terms with that, and that you’re going to live with a non-adjusted something for however long, until you can get back to the way things should be. Maybe it’s healthy, once in a while, to live for a bit with something that is just not the way things should be, to experience something a little uncomfortable. That’s how people grow as people, right? You get a little uncomfortable and you really face up to what it’s like to — you know what, I’m just going to tell you, low flow toilets are an abomination and I shouldn’t have to live like this. The whole point of the toilet is to remove the evidence of the crime from the scene. I appreciate what you’re trying to do by going low on flow but you can only go so low. No. No. I object. These things leave me feeling like I’m either the world’s worst housekeeper or some mustache-twirling anti-environment villain with a heap of glowing barrels under a tarp in the backyard, just waiting for my next dead of night trip down to the river for a little stealth pollution.

I hate them. I refuse to adjust. I refuse. Whose idea was it? I mean, honestly. I get it. “I have an idea: less water in toilets!” Okay, good. I see where you’re coming from. But something went wrong along the way, or maybe you franchised and got lazy with vetting your franchisees, low water toilet guy, I don’t know, but walk the line once in a while, because it’s ugly out here.

I don’t know how to break between this and the next completely and totally unrelated idea (again, maybe a day would be good, but no), so here’s a picture of something.


Surprise, it’s my kid.

This second thing isn’t so much an actual thing, but something I want to establish now so that we can all lean on it for the future and I can call back to this time that I established it. Remember that episode of Friends where Paolo hit on Phoebe and Phoebe needed to tell Rachel about it, so she made her some cookies and used the fact that she made the best cookies to back up the fact that she never lied? That was killer technique right there, but I can’t do that, because it’s already established on this blog that I actually have made up good lies for fun, good lies that are so good that other people have reported back to me that they themselves have told other people the same lie about me. Oh, and also, when I was in college and for a while after, pre-Tobias, I used to tell people that I hated to be naked so much that I had a mitten that I called my shower mitten, and when I showered, I would put it on one hand and stick that hand outside of the shower to keep the mitten dry and use the hand inside the shower to wash one side of my body, and then I would turn around and put the mitten on the other hand and stick that hand outside the curtain and wash the other side of my body. And people would look at me sincerely and say, “Oh, wow, really?” No, idiot. I definitely made that shit up, what is wrong with you. Even if I did hate being naked that much, why wouldn’t I wear a bathing suit? Why wouldn’t I wear a mitten I could get wet?

 Anyway, don’t worry, I’m older now and I stopped doing that to people. If you think that chastising past me for my behavior is a good use of your time, let me know when your DeLorean is ready and we can go together, because I know exactly where and when my Elvis Zippo fell out of my car at the gas station. Besides, I have a kid now, and I can put way less effort into my lying and the lies come premade, and I only have to embellish some details about exactly how Santa gets into the house and why she found our shelf elf Roland Oriol in the bottom of a packed box in the laundry room. Also some family classics about unscrewing her belly button to watch her butt fall off. And I promise you, when her butt doesn’t fall off, I don’t call her an idiot. I just tell her I must not have twisted enough. This time. The point is, as long as I’m continuing to tell lies, even butt-centric ones to toddlers, there’s no way I’m going to convince you I never lie.

But that’s fine! Because I’m not trying to establish myself as a non-liar! I was just using that Friends example because I don’t remember anymore why. I had a reason when I started. No one made a pass at me, there’s just something about me I need you to know, going forward, so that I don’t have to tell you again – we can all just accept that it’s true and you can believe that it’s a thing about me that is A Thing, and you can rely on it as something that won’t let you down, like the fact that Phoebe was telling the truth when she said Paolo made a pass at her, because she backed up the fact that she never lies with the really good cookies. HA, TENUOUS CONNECTION, BUT I THINK YOU CAN SEE HOW I WAS CIRCLING AROUND THERE.

So, this is the thing: I am really very, very serious about saying something is “just as good” as a more expensive version. That is what I want you to know. In the past, I’ve said something inexpensive that I bought was probably just as good as the expensive version when I hadn’t even tried the expensive version, so I don’t know what I possibly could have thought I was saying. Since then, there have been several cases where I’ve had the opportunity to replace my less expensive things with their more costly counterparts to find that in some instances, more money meant more better. Obviously. Sometimes I had the cheaper option as a temporary measure until I could afford what I really wanted, but other times, I really assumed that there wasn’t/couldn’t be a difference and said as much. I’ve adjusted my stance on low cost/high cost versions of the same item over time.

Don’t get me wrong – I still want to pay as little as possible for everything, always. If you follow me on Twitter, you’re probably aware that I will helpfully enable you to do the same as often as I can. It’s just that I am way more hesitant to dub a generic or drugstore product and its name brand or higher end equivalent to be “just as good” as each other without thorough investigation. You know, like actually owning both products, past self.

There are a lot – a lot – of products where I will only use name brand. Like ketchup. Do not even approach me with watery, grainy garbage. No, I won’t try. I won’t give it a chance. I won’t. I don’t care if you think I’m a great big cents-waster, they’re my cents. And there are also a lot of products where I will only buy generic because I just do not give a crap. I’m drawing a definite line here between “just as good” – like how generic ketchup is NOT AT ALL JUST AS GOOD AS HEINZ – and “good enough for my needs.” There are plenty of types of products that have varietals all along the price scale, and my needs are met somewhere near the lower end. More needs could be met with more money, or someone else’s needs may not be met til closer to the top of the ladder, but for whatever reason, I’m happy close to the bottom with that particular product. Like lip gloss for example.  I buy drugstore lip gloss by the armload. I like it. I like it a lot. There is nothing that lip gloss does that is worth more than $8 to me. This is obviously different for everyone. I won’t buy drugstore eyeshadow. I just can’t do it.

AND LET ME TELL YOU A SEMI-COMPLICATING FACTOR. When there’s a product that is kind of pricey – or not even pricey, really, but just, you know, costs more money than another product, and I buy it, and it performs as promised, I get LEGITIMATELY PISSED OFF. Oh, how dare you be worth your cost. Asshole. I don’t know why. I just get mad. I think it’s because I’m ashamed to report to people, a little. “Yeah, I bought the thing that cost the money… but, guys, it shot rockets out its butt.”

EXAMPLE: The Wet Brush. I’m going to steal a picture from the Internet because mine has hair in it.


Image from The Wet Brush

Okay, so this is The Wet Brush, and it’s for your hair when your hair is wet. It looks like all the other brushes that I buy when I eventually lose my brush. It is the same shape. It has the same black bristles with the same plastic knobbly things on the ends. It is the same. It looks the same. Except this brush costs $9 and a “just as good” Conair brush with the same black bristles and the same plastic knobbly things on the ends costs $5. Is that a huge difference? No. It’s not. But when you’re at Target and you’re throwing things in your cart the way that you do at Target, all those little $4 differences and whatsits are what happens to cause that phenomenon known as “WHY CAN I NOT GET OUT OF TARGET FOR LESS THAN $100?”

I don’t know what happened, though, I bought it. I have so much hair. I just have so much hair these days. I can’t wear it up when I sleep because the size of the knob it forms on my head makes sleeping impossible. So I wear it down, but every time I turn over, I have to raise my entire upper body off the bed and negotiate my sheet of hair to my other side first in order not to inadvertently strangle myself. It’s a whole other misery when it’s wet. I took a shower before taking Brinkley to the vet the other day and threw on jeans and a t-shirt while I ran around getting him ready to go before Phil came home to stay with Penny. I was just putting my hair up in a ball of hot mess when he got home and turned around to ask if my shirt was soaked through down the back from where my hair was laying. Of course it was. Super.  “Don’t worry,” he told me. “It’s muggy out there. People will just think it’s sweat.”


Before you ask, the idea of cutting it short to alleviate these problems has never once occurred to me because simple solutions to daily frustrations aren’t my style.

ANYway, I got this brush, The Wet Brush, and I’ve had it for a while. I’ve had it for a long while, actually, so long that it just feels like a brush to me. It didn’t even occur to me that I should say anything about it to anyone, because it’s just a brush. It’s just a brush with the same black bristles and the same colored plastic knobbly things on the end and I paid nine stupid dollars for it like some kind of idiot who doesn’t know that you can get a brush and wrestle it through your hair after a shower for only five stupid dollars. Because I do have to wrestle it through my hair. I still have to spray detangler and leave in conditioner into my hair and I still have to tug the brush through and if I wait too long after I get out of the shower, I still have to hold the ends in my fist and brush underneath where my hand is, you know that maneuver? So it’s just a brush and the other one is just as good.

BUT THEN I MISPLACED IT. And I grabbed a regular Conair brush – one of the $5 ones, not a fancy one – off the bathroom counter and I put it to my scalp and IMMEDIATELY yanked my hand back. I hadn’t even drawn it down through my hair yet, I just TOUCHED IT TO MY HEAD, and I pulled it back and looked at it accusingly. WHOA, BUDDY, a bit aggressive there, HM? That thing THUDDED into my head. With force. I don’t know what it was trying to do and what its intentions were, but I tell you, there was no kindness in its approach. Not the same black bristles! Not the same knobblys! Not the same AT ALL. After beating me lightly about the skull, it quickly reminded me of what I’d left behind when I jumped ship for The Wet Brush.


 In short, no. NO. Not “just as good.” Not JUST AS GOOD AT ALL.

And listen, you can trust me on that, because I take “just as good” very seriously. I hope we have an understanding on that going forward.


Actually, thing three is going to have to wait until tomorrow, because it was going to be The Main Thing of the post, which I started to write before lunch, but then Phil came home at lunch at there was a Major Development in the thing, expanding it into an even bigger thing.

In place of Thing Three, here is a minor life update:

Before we moved, I gave you a really long but still actually brief summation on what was going on in our lives, including a really sketchy overview on what is going on with the Air Force and voluntary retirements and nonvoluntary retirements.

Well, just before we left Arizona, we got an update on that situation. The timing wasn’t right just then to share this news, but we found out a couple days before the movers came that Phil’s career field has been closed out for nonvoluntary retirements. He will not be facing the Enlisted Force Retention Board this year.

The whole process will be repeated again next year, which isn’t cool at all, but after that, the plan (ha!) is that it should be finished completely. While it’s still not in our plans for Phil to retire next year, it’s nice to have it off the table for this year and to have another year to make plans in case it does happen next year.

That’s it! Meet you back here tomorrow!

Item in drawers: a tale of husbandly betrayal, vanity progress, and the Anastasia Contour Kit-ish.

Before we got married – actually, before we moved in together – ACTUALLY, before we were even officially dating, I told Phil that I don’t move. I mean, I physically move, like my limbs and stuff, if I have to. I meant that I don’t move my belongings from place to place. I’ll pack boxes and I’ll clean the place I’m leaving behind, but I don’t lift them and I don’t load trucks and I certainly don’t lift furniture out of one door and into another door. I just don’t do it. I don’t. And it’s fine if you want to consider this a glaring character flaw on my part, we all have them, but what’s important is that I informed Phil of this flaw BEFORE WE WERE EVEN ACTUALLY TOGETHER. I laid it out there like, here it is. Your call, dude. I would like it known for the record that he didn’t start up with the puns until I was already in Arizona and had closed my only credit card, so I ask you, who is the actual asshole?

Anyway, knowing that fact, he still chose to pursue a relationship with me, and I moved (he moved my stuff) from Maryland to Arizona, and then we moved (he moved our stuff) from one place in Arizona to another, and then we moved again (he hired some guys for most of it) to another place in Arizona, and then we had to move to New Mexico courtesy of the military. He decided to take advantage of the full benefits of a military move and arranged to have the whole deal where people come in and not only load everything onto a truck, but also pack it all up as well. I wonder why.

The day the packers came, I took Penelope to the indoor park one more time, because there’s not really anything like that around the new place, not nearly as convenient, at least, and of course to keep her out of the hair of the guys packing up all of our possessions. The night before, we’d gone grocery shopping for enough convenience food, snacks, paper plates, and cups for the rest of the week, as well as put all of the clothes, toiletries, medications and whatnot that we’d need in the spare bedroom. Since the packers will pack everything that isn’t nailed down, what you have to do is mark off a room that basically won’t be touched at all and put everything you’re going to need in there and you best not forget anything. We took the mattress off of our spare bed and left that in the room as well, since we decided to get rid of it. We were able to kind of eke out a little extra comfort in this way by sleeping on the mattress for a couple of nights before we arranged for a bulk trash pick up to come and get it, then we had to sleep on the floor.

Pen and I left the house just shortly before the movers were supposed to arrive, but they ended up being hours late, so when her energy for playing started to flag, we had to kill time at the mall. Twist my arm. I stopped by Sephora and did kind of a double take when I saw that they had a whole pile of Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour kits which, at the time, had been selling out as soon as they came available online, so it was a surprise to see so many piled up right in the store. I went back and forth about grabbing one, because I’m pretty fair skinned and there are six colors in the kit, so the chances of being able to use all of them are pretty slim. One of my initial reluctancies (I see you, red squiggle) to pick up the contour kit was that I’d use up two or three colors and be left with three useless ones. Plus, uh, I actually don’t know how to contour well at all. However, there’d been a lot of talk about Anastasia coming out with refills in other colors for the kit, and I actually don’t own as much makeup as I do because I’m particularly talented. It’s because I like playing around with it. When I look at pictures of what I could do with makeup at this time last year or two years ago, there’s a world of difference, and it’s only because I’ve spent the time sitting on the bathroom counter working at it. Plus, I can be honest with myself, I’m kind of a hoarder/collector, and I just wanted to have it. So I grabbed it, and SPEAKING OF, this came up on the Anastasia Instagram two days ago.

Click through to ABH Instagram.

So these are all the refills that are going to be available for the contour kit. The six original colors, plus all of these new ones. There’s a lot of information available on the Instagram post, but to sum up: the refills/pans are going to be sold individually for $14 each, but if you buy six, it’s $40 and comes with a palette, so it’s the same cost as the original contour kit. So you can basically put together an entirely custom kit. Some of the shades can be used as correctors like for under eye circles and whatnot, which I think is pretty handy when creating a custom kit because you’ll pretty quickly figure out which couple contour shades and highlight shades you like the best and can pop a couple correctors into the other spots. It also says that these new pans will only be available on the Anastasia site for now. So that’s something.

I bought my Contour Kit while the movers were packing up our stuff, but until now, it’s stayed completely untouched and unopened, because all my stuff was packed, which includes my lighted mirror and my Happiness Hippo and all of my makeup. Don’t worry – when I say all of my makeup was packed, I mean packed by hand, by me, into two enormous boxes and placed into the spare bedroom where it wouldn’t be handled by anyone but me. But still, completely packed and not really usable. And it stayed that way (well, I kind of unloaded it into sinks and a bathtub recently) while I waited for my vanity to be ready for use. I did break into my older stuff, but a lot of recent purchases, swaps, and other acquirements have sat waiting for me to get moving on getting my makeup room slash okay FINE IT’S JUST MY BEDROOM assembled and ready to go. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen that last night, the final piece to my desk was finally installed and I’ve moved my stuff out of the bathtub.


Unfortunately, I only made it so far before I was stricken with ennui.

Also, I realized that there are still a couple of boxes completely illogically missing due to some weird packing, which include my lighted mirror and my Happiness Hippo and my More Than Just a Pretty Face note that Ulta sent me, all of which can be seen in this picture here, and how am I supposed to do my makeup without any of that stuff? Why did I move everything out of the bathtub? What’s the point of it? What’s the point of anything? Oh, I’m thinking about putting a big mirror on that blank wall there, not a decorative one, but one of those big, blank, flat, bathroom slab style ones, what do you think?


So we’re at the mall and I’m wasting as much of Penelope’s time and energy as I can, okay? Look:


Blissfully unaware there are no malls where she’s going.


Ineffective good behavior bribe number eight of undetermined.

When we got home, the packers still weren’t done, of course, since they’d arrived late. Penny and I went back into the guest room where there was no chance in hell of her taking any kind of nap, and Phil and I switched off sitting with her and sitting in the living room awkwardly supervising the dudes putting everything we own into boxes. Eventually, late in the afternoon, they left for the day. They weren’t done and were going to have to return the next day, Tuesday, which was a huge pain in the ass. The estimate was that the whole thing – packing and loading – would take two days, which was why, as I mentioned yesterday, our dogs were boarded Monday/Tuesday. Instead, they were going to be packing alone on Monday/Tuesday and then loading on Wednesday. Ugh. But with moving and stuff like that, all these kinds of things end up having you over a barrel. What are you even going to do about it?

They cleared out for the day and I walked over to the kitchen counter to grab a granola bar. Granola bar. Granola… bar? HUNGRY. PHIL. WHERE GRANOLA. Well. See. The thing is. You know how he had had to stay behind to supervise the packing while I hauled Penelope around all day to keep her out of the way? He actually wasn’t really watching that closely and they packed all the food. All the food we just bought the day before, the food and the paper plates and cups and such that we were going to live on for the rest of the week. All of it. That we just bought. The night before. Gone. At this point, we’d already been eating out quite a bit, and while it wasn’t exactly gourmet stuff we were talking about, it was FOOD THAT COULD BE PREPARED AND CONSUMED IN OUR HOUSE and NO, I did NOT want to order more pizza, everyone put your shoes on, WE ARE GOING TO THE GROCERY STORE. Mama has a ramen habit.

I was slightly – okay, entirely – mollified when Phil had to hike up his pants through the entire store because under his watchful eye, the movers packed his only belt.

We got home and got Penny settled down in her room on the air mattress for the rest of the evening and I came out into the kitchen for my first time to really catch up with Phil in what seemed like days. We’d known we were moving for a long time and things went really slow for a while as we were kind of jerked around by the process, but then everything went SUPER fast, and we just kind of passed each other back and forth for a bit there, with no real chance to even exchange any information, like “Hey, protect our food.”

He came in from the office area and said, “These guys are really thorough, they even packed the stuff in the drawers.”

“What do you mean.”
“You know, those white and orange cabinets in the office, they packed the stuff in the drawers.”
“Do you mean ALL THE DRAWERS?”
“I don’t know, I guess?”

Now, here I need to back up and tell you a little bit more about what I told you before. If you don’t want something packed, like things you’re going to need during the move – medication, clothing, phone chargers – you need to put it in a “Do Not Pack” area. The movers never came into our spare bedroom because that was our designated area. I don’t own a lot of underpants, so I also put all my underpants in there. Because, you know. My underpants. Also, I don’t own a lot of underpants. I needed them all.

But on top of that, Phil told me that when they move dressers and stuff, they just wrap the whole thing, wholesale, in plastic. Just the whole thing, drawers and contents and all, and move it just like that. So I took something of mine – something of mine – and I put it in Phil’s sock drawer. You know. His sock drawer. Where there were already some other things any way. Some other things.

I took something of mine.

And I put it in the sock drawer. The sock drawer.

With the other things.

Back to our screaming at Phil program.


I went running into the bedroom which was FILLED with packed and sealed boxes.

I flung open the sock drawer.


I looked at the boxes.



You guys. I took my turn sitting on the couch while a man packed up our bedroom. I sat on the couch and smiled at him whenever he walked by.

I was told there would be plastic wrap.

And? AND? The same guy, the bedroom packing one, was the one who came back alone to finish up the next day.

You know what, though? By the time we got to New Mexico, we’d been through so much other stuff with the car rental saga, and our dog, and the ridiculous unpackers on the other end that it all seemed kind of faded. Maybe it wasn’t so bad. How bad could it be, right? I mean, sock drawer. There were socks. How meticulous are strangers with other people’s stuff, anyway? You just dump a dresser drawer and then move on to the next one. End of the day, getting tired and hungry, want to go home. I mean, he didn’t even have time to add an “s” on to “item in drawers.” Clearly not detail oriented. It’s fine. It’s fine.


We meet again.

Item hand wrapped in packing paper. That’s all I have to say about that.

Temerity Jane, slightly to the right.

Here are seven things from one timezone and 450 miles to the right.

1. We are settled here in New Mexico, or mostly settled, or kind of settled, or we have a house and we are in it with our stuff. We are in the house and our stuff is in the house, and the doors of the house are closed around us and our stuff. That is a more accurate description than settled, I think. I am, as I am typing to you, literally surrounded by boxes, and you know that I don’t fuck around with the word literally, and also, I’ve moved to New Mexico now, and I’m done pretending like I’m going to make a solid effort to clean up my language because, you guys, I was not prepared for this situation, and we’re all doing our best here and I’m not saying anyone is going to be miserable here and I truly don’t think we are going to be miserable here, but shit. Shit. Shit.


There’s a splash pad two houses down.
Someone weawwy wuvs this house.

2. One of the first steps of “settling in,” which we agree to mean “closing the doors around the boxes,” was finding a vet for Brinkley immediately. You guys. Brinkley. Do you follow me on Twitter? You should be following me on Twitter. I mean, you don’t have to, but I’ve been somewhat more active on Twitter lately than here, though I’ve been more active everywhere than here. I’ve been more active in local politics than I have been here. Anyway, you might remember than Brinkley hurt his leg on Christmas. That was the start. THE START. Then a few months later we noticed that his ear was swollen up like a giant balloon. A skin balloon. A hot, hairy skin balloon. That turned out to be an aural hematoma which you can just look up. It was caused by a massive ear infection that made him shake his head around so much that he busted up his ear. There are a couple of different treatments for that, but for reasons named Sheldon, the best one for Brinkley was $$$urgery. That was in, I don’t know, February, maybe? I feel like the last time my American Express card didn’t have flames shooting out of it was probably February.

When we took him to get his stitches out for his ear, I mentioned to the vet that Phil had noticed something stuck in his eye, and could they please take a look at it while they were removing all his ear stitches (something like 20 or 30, if I had the patience to do some “click this harmless image to be taken to a more graphic one” business, I’d put some here, because it was QUILTED and it looked pretty… interesting). The door had not swung all the way shut before the vet was coming back through to say it was a growth, and they’re common in Goldens, and they just get bigger, and you know, it was up to us, but since his blood work was so good from his recent surgery and he did so well in his recent surgery… anyway, Brinkley had more surgery just a few weeks after the ear one.

That surgery went just as well and he only ended up with a single stitch, and like the vet had said, he was in really good health for his age and size – he’s almost 10 and even though Goldens are considered a large breed, we actually have an extra large guy on our hands, and generally, the bigger the dog, the shorter the life expectancy (THAT’S NOT THE LAW, SO YOU DON’T NEED TO TELL ME ABOUT YOUR DOG WHO LIVED TO BE A THOUSAND AND GIVE ME FALSE HOPES BECAUSE I WILL FIND YOU AND YOUR THOUSAND YEAR OLD DOG IF MINE DOESN’T LIVE TO BE AT LEAST NINE HUNDRED NINETY NINE AND FIFTY ONE WEEKS), so despite the cost, we felt good about going ahead with the surgery right then, rather than waiting to see if the growth, you know, grew, because with a 10 year old dog, there’s just no guarantee that good health is everlasting. I mean, Brinkley’s is. I don’t know about your dog.

So we’re waiting on his one stitch to heal and Brinkley started to cough. I mean this hideous, gagging, choking cough. He would actually get up and find one of us wherever we were in the house, even coming to stand next to the side of the bed, because the cough scared him. We let it go for maybe a day or so, but he was due to have his stitch out, so back to the vet we went. Turns out his stitch had already come out on its own, but the cough was pretty concerning, and we had to do some tests. Some. While we are very responsible dog owners and we will do almost anything for our dogs, I okayed blood work and took home a prescription to get started in case it was a respiratory infection, which seemed most likely. If it didn’t start working pretty quickly, then we could go back and do the skrillion dollar x-rays, right? I wasn’t a terrible person for hedging my bets in favor of finances at this point, just a little bit, right? I WASN’T.

It actually turned out to be the right choice, though, because while it wasn’t the expected respiratory infection, (useless prescription down the toilet), it also wasn’t something that could be seen on an x-ray. Turns out Brinkley has Valley Fever, something local to the area that both dogs and people can catch. It’s an inhaled fungus. So we had to order him anti-fungals from a compounding pharmacy. The plan was that he’d take them for three months and then re-test. Some dogs are cured completely, some need to be on the medication forever, and unfortunately, as we’ve since learned, some die.

Brinkley took to his new medication really well and the cough cleared up pretty quickly. We proceeded with our moving plans, including sending both dogs to Camp Bow Wow to play and sleep for the Monday/Tuesday that the packers and loaders were at the house. We picked them up on Tuesday afternoon, and as we went to get Brinkley out of the car, I noticed a deep cut on his ankle. I was debating with Phil whether or not it would need to be looked at/possibly stitched when we realized his foot was THREE TIMES THE SIZE of the other one. Phil took Sheldon in the house and I immediately called our vet and turned right around without even unloading Brinkley. When we arrived, he collapsed in the parking lot. I almost couldn’t even get him inside. The vets found that his temperature was a frighteningly high 107° and quickly brought in wet towels and fans for him. Now, obviously, a lot of stuff has happened to Brinkley recently, but this was by far the worst.

After shaving his foot and getting a good look at everything, the vet found that there was an abscess under the callus on his ankle and infection had, by then, travelled all the way down into his foot. It was full of fluid and general nastiness. And he was obviously very ill. He’d been boarded at a play/stay camp since Monday morning, but since he’s so furry and these things can actually develop very fast, there’s no way to know when it started. At that point (June 17), even, because of the swelling, they couldn’t tell if there was something in it, like a cactus spine or something that could have caused the initial irritation. It was really bad, though. I don’t even know how I can describe this to you except to say that seeing how concerned the vets were… well, you’ll just have to imagine.


He came home that night with tons of antibiotics and still running a lot of fever. We kept fans and towels on him for two more days. We squeezed in another vet visit (BETWEEN AN AWFUL RENTAL CAR NIGHTMARE, WHICH, YOU GUYS, I WILL TELL YOU) the day before we left and they took off his bandage and left his wound open – and open wound is the only way to describe what was going on. I have pictures again, but they’re the stuff of the kind of Discovery Health programs you only watch with your eyes squeezed half shut. We got Brinkley in to see a vet here within just a few days of our arrival and his opinion was… not good. NOT GOOD. He was actually a substitute vet since the actual vet was on vacation the week of our arrival, and he was of the farm vet, super gruff, super blunt kind of variety. He didn’t seem optimistic that Brinkley was going to recover at all, and to be honest, looking at what he was seeing, I could agree with him at that point. He even reached over at one point and — YOU MIGHT NOT WANT TO READ THIS NEXT PART — pulled a huge piece of dead skin right off. Just enormous. I almost cried. OKAY YOU CAN READ AGAIN NOW. I think that, seeing the state of the wound, he didn’t think too highly of us as owners, either, but once we just laid out there that we were doing what we were told, we were going to continue to do what we were told, we were willing to do whatever was necessary, and that the dog’s comfort was TOP priority, he loosened up. And he also eventually saw that both we and our other vets were just dealing with a really rough situation.

This doctor had some suspicions about the origin of the injury and also didn’t agree with our AZ vets’ method of letting it heal in the open air. They decided to run more bloodwork and on top of that, the doctor said that what he really needed to do was take Brinkley in the back, sedate him, and debride the wound completely and have us pick him up later. Listen. Anytime someone tells you that they’re going to need you to come back and pick your dog up later, just pull out your credit card and don’t look. So we went and ate and Phil took Penny and I home and went back for Brinkley. They asked us to return in a week. When we came back, the tech told us that the super gruff doctor had been excited all day wondering when Brinkley was coming, just dying to get a look at how the wound was doing. I had to admit, so was I. And it was looking much better! Still classified as an entirely open wound, though, just… a healthy looking one. So they rebandaged it, and asked us to come back in a week.


The next week, we met with the actual doctor of the practice, who finally got a look at the wound he’d been hearing about. After some discussion, it was agreed what the cause is – VALLEY FEVER. If you live in the Southwest, especially the Phoenix valley area, LOOK IT UP. DO NOT MESS AROUND. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms and if you suspect your dog is showing them, ASK FOR THE TEST. If you get a positive test and start antiviral treatment and then the vet says that he thinks your dog can stop treatment, ASK FOR A RETEST. Many dogs need to be treated forever, but that’s FINE, because you MUST stay ahead of this infection in order to remain successful in keeping your pet healthy. A lot of healthy pets have inhaled the spores and are fine. You can’t predict which animals will react and get sick, and once they do get sick, unless a test shows that they’re COMPLETELY CLEAR you CAN’T know if they’ll ever relapse. The cost of the treatment has gotten REALLY expensive since awareness of the disease has gone up, which is ridiculous and unfair, but like I said, VALLEY FEVER IS NO JOKE.

We’ve been back to the vet yet again for a bandage change and have yet another coming up. It looks like Brinkley is going to heal up fine – but slowly. And we’ll continue his Valley Fever treatment indefinitely. We were going to retest 3 months after the initial infection and see if we were going to continue, but at this point, we’re just keeping him on the medication. Poor Brinkley has been walking around with an open wound since June 17th. And he’s not done yet.

Valley Fever! LOOK IT UP! I could link you but I want you to actually, physically LOOK IT UP if you have pets that have spent time in the southwestern states.

3. Like I said above, I’m trying to be more active on Twitter and also on Instagram. Maybe it will prevent screeds like those above. Maybe not, since I also said all of that on Twitter. But anyway, both of them are just TemerityJane, and you can follow them, especially if you like makeup, because it turns out that that’s all I want to talk about.


There are lots of dust storms here, so I ordered protection.

4. Age three. Hm. I don’t have a lot to say, other than shit. Shit. Sometimes Penelope is mostly fine for a long period of time, then out of nowhere, she’ll burst into this absolutely crazed laughter and start running from thing to thing, faster than I can grab her, just fucking shit up. Like she’ll grab the mail off the counter and just try to rip it for no discernible reason, and as I’m saying, what the hell, no, and taking it from her and placing it back on the counter, she’s bounding away, arms waving in the air like Furious George, THAT LAUGH coming out of her, I can’t even describe it, it’s all gravelly and sounds like it’s coming from the Penelope on the other side of the mirror in a darkened bathroom, and she rushes over to SHAKE THE TELEVISION, so of course I run over there, because yelling from near the counter is all well and good, but that’s not going to save the television from hitting the ground, and I’m halfway across the room by the time she’s at the laundry basket, laugh-gurgling away as she just Carrot Top-prop trunk flings underpants all the shit all over the place, by which time Sheldon is bounding around like some kind of coked up deer just looking for a windshield ripe for flinging himself through and IF I CAN EVEN CATCH HER, she’ll kick and slap me the whole way up the stairs to her room, LAUGHING HER DEMON-LAUGH THE WHOLE SIXTEEN MILE TREK.



5. I had a makeup bathroom to myself in the old house (I miss my old house for 600 reasons, and this accounts for probably 150 of them), and even though there are 3 bathrooms in this house, it’s just not going to work out here. We’ve decided that the third bedroom is going to be the office-slash-Phil’s area, meaning he can keep his retro gaming collection in here, which is pretty nice since he wasn’t able to display it in the last couple of places we’ve lived and it’s been in boxes and bins for too long. This way, also, I’ll take the master bedroom as “my” room, decorating it how I want and putting a makeup vanity in there, since Phil doesn’t care too much what I do with it (though he did balk at the bright pink sheets for some reason), and there’s good light. The vanity was missing a piece, though, so it’s taking some time to get set up, meaning that the whole creation of my room as I’d like it to be is entirely held up, and also that no one is able to use the master bathroom at all.


6. You know what’s great about moving and also spending a lot of money on your dog? When you also get an opportunity to buy a new washing machine.

7. Information about PJs at TJ’s 2015 is coming soon!

8. I have therapied some really awesome stuff lately like the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette, along with some of the other powders in Mood, Diffused, and Ethereal. I also really added to my Sigma brush collection once I focused in on what kinds of brushes I tend to prefer, AND I recently managed to snag a limited edition Sigma eyeshadow palette that I’m absolutely doing-the-running-man-in-ill-advised-leggings excited about. There were some unbelievably tense moments on Twitter when my offer wasn’t accepted 45 seconds after I made it and I almost chewed through my own wrist waiting. As you can see in my bathtub of storage, I’ve also got the Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit still in the box, waiting for my makeup vanity to be finished and my mirror and Happiness Hippo to be unearthed (I ALSO HAVE SOME WORDS TO SAY ABOUT SOME INCIDENTS THAT WENT ON WITH PACKING UP OUR HOUSE).  OH AND I have some Inglot Freedom system eyeshadow palettes on the way. And the LORAC Pro 2 is here. IT’S HEEEEEERE. I mean it this time, guys. I’m totally making this bonus item into more posts. Here. (Okay, and Instagram and Twitter.) I mean it. I have to tell you about how bad Hertz sucks and Item in Box. At least.

So here’s what happened. Is happening. Will happen. Happenedingo.

So now that I’m done writing all those posts I promised I was totally going to write in the last post and we all enjoyed discussing all those things together and we feel really fulfilled and confident in my ability to do things exactly the way I say I’m going to do them, let’s talk about how things have been going for the last little while. It’s a long story, so this is a me-length post, or probably a double me, so, you know. Park it or bail out now, or scroll down to the big red text at the bottom if all you care about is how this all may affect you, personally.

Anyway, I begin.


Last chance to bail before rambling run on sentences begin.

So the story, it’s actually two stories running simultaneously alongside each other. Wait, three stories. It’s three stories. Two are just pretty closely related. Well, they’re not actually related to each other at all except for sharing similar subject matter if you’re not really familiar with the ins and outs of the subject matter, so really, it’s three different stories, all running alongside each other, all at the same time. Basically starting at the same time, last winter. Well, no, last fall. One of them started last fall. I started really not feeling well late last summer, that’s hardly unknown if you follow me here or on Twitter or anything at all. So that’s story one. I don’t feel well. So we’ll start there. Okay. That’s a good place to start.

After writing out most of that, I changed my mind, I’m starting somewhere else. Okay. In December, which is actually before other posts I wrote here, we got orders, which I think even most people not in the military are familiar with, terminology-wise. We’re moving! Yay! Well, not-yay. Not-not-yay, either. Neutral. Well, not neutral. I don’t know. I’m trying to think back to December. I wasn’t thrilled. We weren’t thrilled. We were negative-thrilled. We were nilled. But we’re long past that now. I’m not saying we’re over the moon, but we’re not feeling bad for ourselves. We’re just moving, it’s not a big deal, and it’s not a bad thing at all. We’re not-not looking forward to it, and my only negative feelings are that I really like Phoenix and I really, really like my house. I love my house. I LOVE THIS HOUSE. Ugh, I love this house. There’s not anything even remotely comparable where we’re going. We’re actually going to be moving back on base for at least a year. WE THINK. HA. HA. HA. YOU’LL SEE.


So, that’s story one. At the beginning of December, we got orders informing us that we’d be moving, and that’s all we knew. Phil got what was essentially an email saying this is where you’re going, and you need to report by June 30th, and that’s it. Literally NO MORE information. A couple of days later, I called my parents to let them know, ONLY because they had mentioned they were thinking about getting a beach house for the summer and whether or not they were going to get it seemed contingent on whether we would come or not. With a move, we definitely weren’t going to be able to make it, so I wanted to let them know in order to make their plans. I called and said, “THIS IS LITERALLY ALL OF THE INFORMATION I HAVE. LITERALLY ALL OF IT. WE ARE GOING, THIS IS WHEN. I KNOW ABSOLUTELY NOTHING MORE.” Yet my mother still managed to ask at least 5 questions and then text me two more. This is part of the reason why I haven’t shared anything online before now. One, I had nothing to say for a long time. Two, I can’t stand answering questions like that. It makes me an asshole. I know that. But seriously, how are you going to ask me fifty thousand questions about information I just told you I don’t have that also has nothing to do with you so you and I both know that you don’t even need to know so you know you are just making me insane right now, COME ON HAVE WE JUST MET NO WE HAVE NOT BECAUSE YOU ARE MY MOTHER AND I AM THIRTY TWO YEARS OLD SO NO WE HAVE NOT JUST MET.

We got that news at the start of December and we don’t have to be anywhere until the end of June (now is a good time to check your calendars!), so we were able to set that aside for a while. Nothing to do about it, except for all the things we kind of had to do about it, and we had other things going on, which are the two other stories, both of which I’ve briefly mentioned here. Let’s talk about the USAF draw down a bit. I’m going to explain this as best as I can and very quickly and very angrily. Basically, the Air Force is downsizing, and they’ve outlined a process for doing so, and after outlining that process, they’ve proceeded to fuck it up in as many ways as possible and dick people over as best they can and make it as absolutely stressful and gut wrenching as they possibly could. Sounds good, right? It’s been a blast. Here’s what I understand, and if you understand better, you can jump in in the comments.

First, they explained that they need to cut down by about eleven trillion people, and that first, they were going to take volunteers. They offered a fairly attractive compensation package for people willing to submit an application to take early retirement. After the process of taking volunteers, numbers would continue to be met by something called the Quality Force Retention Board, or QFRB. USAF members with a negative indicator of some sort on their record (there was a list, including things like DUIs, poor performance reports, etc) would be in a pool that would have their package go before a board and that group would then be culled. After that board met, the Enlisted Retention Board, or ERB would meet. This is essentially everyone else among the enlisted members. It’s broken up by career field and rank. Obviously, you can’t just throw people out willy nilly, so different careers and ranks have different levels of overages depending on manning. For example, Phil’s career and rank has about 200 people and 100 of them are excess, or that was about the number when this all started. In theory, as people put in their packages for voluntary separation and as people met the QFRB, the number who would need to meet the ERB would dwindle or even be erased. But when this all started, Phil was looking at a 50/50 shot of being involuntarily retired from the Air Force after spending his entire career there.



So people start putting in their packages for the early retirement. Not us, because we’re not in a place for Phil to retire right now, even with the bonus for doing so. We’re just not. We have a plan for his retirement, but we can’t speed it up by 8 years, so it’s just not in the cards for us to take this deal. And Phil’s not up for the QRFB. He’s got a solid record in the Air Force. He does his Air Forcey stuff. He’s an Air Forcey guy. He does his job and keeps his head down, I don’t know, he’s a regular guy doing regular things. In digital desert camouflage which is fine until you remember he works in an office and then it’s weird. So he’s in the middle group. Not voluntarily retiring, not being kicked out for being bad at being in the Air Force. Just hanging out and waiting to see what happens. And people are putting in their packages for retirement and… everything grinds to a halt. Nothing happens. A “strategic pause,” they called it. Pardon me while I reuse a gif.


A bunch of people had said, “Yes! Me! I’d like to leave the Air Force right now!” In front of their supervisors and the people they supervise and everyone, and then the powers up above left them hanging there with all their cards exposed. That’s not good. I think you can extrapolate why that’s not good. It’s really not good. It’s happened in the past, and it wasn’t good. It was promised that it wouldn’t happen that way again, because it wasn’t good when it happened in the past, but guess what, it happened that way again! And it wasn’t good! Holy shit! Unbelievable! All the processing of these applications came to a COMPLETE halt. People were trying to make plans for their families. For their entire lives. Still in the Air Force? Not in the Air Force? Are you getting this payment package to retire? Should you put your house on the market? Should your wife quit her job? Should your wife get a job? Don’t know. No way to know, because they’re just going to sit on your application til they’re ready. When are they ready? Don’t know. That guy’s application got processed, why not mine? Don’t know. But here’s the thing. If your application is in there but not processed, that doesn’t mean you’re not still eligible for the ERB, which still means retirement. Just without the bonus package of retiring voluntarily.

So that voluntary retirement thing, it’s called VSP, or a voluntary separation program. And since it was announced, applications got processed on and off, here and there. They’d start up again… and then halt. Some would go… and then nothing. There was a deadline for submitting… but was there? The AFPC, the department running this WHOLE THING, is a giant mess, and is not a place or person or group you can just contact. They just are. They? He? It? Them? Don’t know. At this point, I imagine it as a big silver spaceship object just floating in the sky, with no actual access point BECAUSE NOTHING IS EVER COMING IN OR OUT OF THAT PLACE.



Anyway. This all took place over the last FOREVER. I can’t even go back enough pages in my hardly-ever-posted-upon blog to find when I mentioned that this was all going on, that’s how long ago it was that this all started. And it’s taken us up from way back in last year up until this last week that VSP packages have been processed on and off. And the longer they take for those to be processed, the more the dates for the QFRB and ERB are being pushed back. Different information comes out weekly, at points it has even been daily. Conflicting information about who and how and when. But the basics are understood: the more people who exit voluntarily, the less have to leave under non-voluntary measures. So of course we want as many volunteers as possible. And then we get to this week – the QFRB should be meeting shortly? Now? I don’t know? And something called the “rack and stack” happened for those eligible for the ERB, to make things easier for that board should they have to meet next month (NEXT MONTH, SO THEY SAY).

In short, everyone in an overmanned career field and rank was given one of the following designations: retain, consider, or do not retain. Following that, within that designation, everyone was given a number ranking in their career field, and then a number ranking in the squadron overall. This, along with THREE BULLET POINTS summing up each persons very very best everything, is what’s being sent to the ERB. I wonder what they write down for you if you’re someone who recently indicated you’d like to voluntarily separate! Never mind, I’m sure it’s fine.


The rack and stack letters came out this week, on Monday. That was after a briefing on Friday, where they told everyone that they’d be getting their letters on Monday. Which seems like a really cool way to do things. “Hey, guys, on Monday, we’re going to tell you all where you stand with regards to what you supervision thinks about you and how they think it should affect your future with the Air Force. Okay, see you after the weekend bye!” Phil was, as we expected, in the “retain” group, but he had feelings about his numerical rankings, and while there are reasons behind the numbers that are logical and don’t have anything to do with anything and everyone was instructed not to get hung up on the actual numbers, there’s been a lot of being hung up on the numbers this week, and I can see why he would be.

This whole thing has been really fraught with terribleness, the way it’s been dragged out. It’s been handled so poorly and with no transparency. Phil signed a contract with the military that he’s honored completely, and now we get to sit and wait and see if they’re going to decide to honor their end. It’s disheartening and demoralizing and he actually said, “I’ve always known I was just a number, but I’m actually just a number.” It’s been really hard for him – and he’s obviously far from a unique case in this situation – to keep on keeping on while we just wait and see what happens, but there’s no other option. And this is condensed for the sake of this story (haaaa, condensed), but this part of what’s been going on has been stretching on since the middle of last year. That’s how long this draw down has been going on. That’s how long dates have been pushed back and confusion and uncertainty has been hanging around. Fortunately, numbers have slowly dwindled while we wait, too. I think the number is now something like 89 out of 400 need to be cut at Phil’s rank in his career field, or something like that.

Still unpleasant, still nerve wracking, but we can hope it will be met with more volunteers, and then by the QFRB, where you have people like the one who posted this reddit post I came across the other day. He’s just a Senior Airman, and he’s had a bit of a history with some drunken stuff, and also failed some PT tests, and got some really bad performance reports, and kind of got on the Commander’s watch list, and also had to go through the alcohol training course which “ruined his life,” and had some Article 15s, but! Loophole! His career field isn’t overmanned! And he really likes the benefits and the travel! And was wondering if anyone thought he was going to be kicked out through the QFRB? When someone says, “I hope so,” he replies something along the lines of, “Why would you say that? I don’t think it’s fair because up UNTIL I did all this terrible stuff, I wasn’t terrible. ” AND THEN I COULDN’T READ ANYMORE BECAUSE I ACTUALLY EXPLODED.


No, no, you’re right. You really LIKE being in the Air Force, I see. So since the Air Force really needs to cut people, they should get someone else, not you. The criminal who really LIKES being in the Air Force. That wouldn’t be fair. Because you really like it. I hate everything. And everyone. And this shirt I’m wearing.

Also this week, the results for the promotion to MSgt came out. Obviously with everything going on, promotion rates were low, and it’s not that we were hanging our hopes on Phil getting promoted, but it would have been nice, and it also would have removed him from consideration for retirement this year (but not next year). Anyway, that’s also bad news we got this week. AND he had his going away lunch and they didn’t give him a plaque. Everyone gets a plaque. EVERYONE gets a plaque. What a shitty week.

It would be great if I had a conclusion on the whole retirement thing but that’s where we are right now.


We got orders in December, like I said, but they’re not actually orders at that point, they’re kind of just… informers. Like, okay, we told you. Apparently, there’s a whole other SOMETHING that serves as your OFFICIAL orders. Don’t ask me, because I don’t know the difference. All I know is, we got one in December and then we did nothing for a while. Phil had to do a bunch of stuff on his end, and I didn’t really have to do much until I started to have to do medical stuff, because I see a specialist more than twice a year WAIT LET ME DO THAT GIF AGAIN.


I was going to do the moving stuff now, but I guess I’ll go back to the medical stuff because it ended up getting so ridiculously tangled in the moving stuff for a while.

Last summer around when Phil was away at training for six weeks, right before then, I didn’t feel well. Wait, we have to back up farther, because I just started feeling really bad then. That’s August. August of 2013. I was hospitalized, though, for not feeling wellery, about two years ago now. Around Penelope’s first birthday. So it’s been over two years now that I’ve been sick-slash-seeing specialists-slash under medical care for  something non-deadly yet greatly uncomfortable, but it was last August that I started to get really uncomfortable. I don’t really want to spend a ton of time now or in comments going through a lot of medical history or answering a lot of medical questions about stuff I’ve already been over with my doctors (because I’m talking about the past right now so I’m asking you to trust me that it’s been/is being handled), so for the sake of not being mysterious but not playing armchair medical appointments on my blog, we’ll say that I had really bad headaches coupled with really bad Other Things Too. Up until then, it had only been really bad headaches with really bad other things, little letters, so this required new tests and a hunt for a new diagnosis and a whole new batch of medications which would all end up being a nightmare in themselves, and I think that pretty much ended up being most of the early fall. It was gross. And it was terrible.

And the Internet sent me a TARDIS!

OHWAITThat was great.

The whole of the fall was really a mess as far as medical stuff goes. Back around Penny’s first birthday, I was diagnosed with vestibular migraine, and that diagnosis and the treatment really seemed to hold for a long time. I think. It’s hard to say, at this point, and I think I’ll be able to explain why. Late summer/beginning of fall, things started to get really weird with the headaches getting much, much worse and more constant, and a whole lot of new Other Things Too added in, which lead my neurologist to repeat some tests, give a new diagnosis, and add that new batch of medications I mentioned, which made fall double miserable. It was really hard to know what was working and what wasn’t, and what was medication side effects, but I couldn’t not take my medications because at that point we were operating under the assumption that my condition was both Unpleasant and Dangerous in Ways Not Including Death No One is Talking About Death, so it had to be treated, both for comfort and for safety. I spent nearly all of the fall, through the holidays and into 2014, balled up in an arm chair.

There were two complicating factors here. One was a whole second rack of specialists I ended up having to see. One of those specialists met me for about 15 minutes, said he disagreed with everything that my neurologist was doing, and that I should stop taking all my medications immediately. I’ve been seeing my neurologist for over two years and we’ve been working very hard on me not feeling like crap, but at the moment of this proclamation, I REALLY FELT LIKE CRAP, so it was rather distressing. Especially because that doctor then left the room, offering no alternative anything. The other is something called the Exceptional Family Member Program, or EFMP (sick of letters yet? I AM), a program the military does or doesn’t tell you about, depending on how badly it feels like messing with you. Any dependent who sees a specialist more than twice a year (or is special needs in any way) should be enrolled in this program before orders are ever issued. It seems that rarely happens.

So right around when I’m trying to figure out WHICH DOCTOR IS THE REAL DOCTOR WITH THE REAL ANSWERS, we get orders, which is delightful, because the best thing to do when you’re in the middle of an uncertain time in your medical care plan is up and switch doctors all together. What we did decide is that I would stop one of my medications (THE LESS SIDE EFFECTY ONE BECAUSE MY VOTE DOESN’T REALLY COUNT) and then early this year I began the super fun run around of getting my EFMP paperwork filled out. WHICH we were kind of told wouldn’t affect us being issued our ACTUAL orders. See, you need those actual orders to do things like reserve the moving company that comes and gets your stuff, and oh yeah, also to GET A HOUSE for them to put your stuff into. But the EFMP process wouldn’t hold up us getting the orders, it would just work alongside that process. When I got my EFMP paperwork done, it would be sent to the receiving base, and the receiving base would look it over and make sure that they had adequate facilities to take care of me. Since we’re doing a fairly rare stateside to stateside (in country) move, we anticipated no problems.



Oh, you guys. I can’t. I can’t even anymore. YOU KNOW WHAT WENT ACCORDING TO PLAN? NOTHING DID. SURPRISE.

Guess what. The EFMP process does NOT work alongside the orders thing. No. I had to go through all of that BEFORE they would issue us orders. Weeks for my doctor to fill out the forms. And in the meantime, we decided to change my medication and let me tell you how that went no wait you should guess okay never mind, I’ll tell you it’s horrible. It’s so bad. It’s so awful. I don’t know what’s going on anymore. I spend four out of every seven days in bed, at least. All I do is sleep, if I can sleep, and sometimes I can’t sleep. I haven’t felt well for a long time, and that’s fine, and it’s been fine (well, it hasn’t been fine, but you know), but lately, it’s stopped being fine. I’m not fine. I don’t mean physically, I mean I am just not fine, I just don’t want to do this but there’s no option except to do it, that kind of not fine, you know? I don’t leave the house for weeks on end and I don’t even care. Don’t worry, I have an appointment next week to tell my doctor that this medication is KIND OF A NO. But it’s made me wonder about all of them. How many of them have even actually worked, and how many of them have I thought were working but what I thought was working was just lulls in between feeling shitty that had nothing to do with the medications? WHO EVEN KNOWS. I don’t.

The EFMP process did not work alongside the orders process. The orders went nowhere while we waited on my doctor. DOCTORS, because I was ALSO made to see two other doctors for no other reason than the EFMP process is invasive and up in your business and there’s nothing you can do about it, and then I had to sit across FROM A PANEL and ANSWER QUESTIONS FROM STRANGERS ABOUT MY BUSINESS, UP TO AND INCLUDING POST-PARTUM ANXIETY WHICH HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING RIGHT NOW OH MY GOD.

So that finally gets submitted, and we wait. A LONG TIME. And it comes back just like we thought it would, the receiving base is fine with us. In fact, they have TWO WHOLE NEUROLOGISTS IN THE AREA! Neat! Great. Fine. Give us our orders.

Nope, actually, that’s going to be another week. You should know that by that point, it was April. And we had no orders. No orders means no reservations for the moving company to come and pack and move our stuff, but that’s fine, because they would have nowhere to take it, because without orders, you can’t apply for a house, but who cares, it’s April, Phil doesn’t have to report til June 30th haaaaa.


Moving company reserved this Monday, they’ll be here to pack our stuff June 16/17th. Phil’s final out on base here is June 20th Housing application sent in right away last week, called them again this Monday. Oh, they’re super busy, if we haven’t heard by the end of this week, call again. Called yesterday, since today is a down day. Oh, they’re REALLY busy, but they can MAKE AN APPOINTMENT to SPEAK WITH HIM ON THE PHONE. June 2nd.


So anyway, what’s been up with you?


PJs at TJs is still on for 2015. Jerk.

150 WHATS?

150 what?

150 days since I last posted? No! You might think so, but I actually posted on Monday!

150 days until the next time I post after this time? That’s possible!

150 words in this post? That’s unlikely.


150 lipsticks in these MUJI drawers that finally arrived that I will tell you all about in definitely less than 150 days because I’m in love with them and I’m convinced they’re the solution to my makeup being all over my Safety Bathroom counter (I had had it all nicely organized in the two ridiculously pathetic teeny tiny not actually even drawer-drawers in the counter itself, but I can’t work like that, I need to see everything, so within a couple of days of getting it all nicely stuffed away, it was all everywhere all over again, but now it WON’T BE because it’s in CLEAR DRAWERS, which are definitely the trend in the moderately-sized-makeup-collection world (with IKEA ALEX drawers obviously being the top choice in the mega-collection sector), but it’s a trend for a reason, because people with collections need to SEE THEIR STUFF, I am SAYING)? Anyway, no. There aren’t 150 of anything in there.

NO! None of that stuff.

ACTUALLY, Penelope is 150 weeks old today. I didn’t calculate that. You sign up for all these things when you’re first pregnant and they follow you forever.

So Penny is getting really close to three years old now, that’s next month, but I haven’t been updating too much recently, and I figured if I just suddenly sprang that on you, “HEY, PENELOPE IS THREE!,” you might be shocked at the passing of time or maybe might even have forgotten that I had a daughter in the glow of my MUJI drawers or maybe these new Sigma brushes I was finally pestilence-free enough to touch, but not yet enough to use, it seems the age of approaching-three carries with it deadly accuracy for coughing directly into my eyeballs and up my nostrils and also licking Cheetos before offering them to me as a snack:


Have not yet worked out a brush storage solution.

You can tell which brushes are my new ones because they’re the ones that look like I actually practice what I screech about regular brush washing. It’s okay. I’m excited about all the things I totally promised you I was going to post about, too. (I didn’t forget any of them: the skincare stuff I use, the foundation hunt I went on, the new brushes, the Hourglass powder, the Makeup Geek shadows, and some other stuff I’ve picked up here and there.) It’s totally understandable if you forgot all about Penny in the whirlwind of the entirely too much shopping I did in the start of the year. I left her in an elevator in my rush to Sephora once. That is not true. That’s why I’m easing you up to her birthday with this update on Penelope at 150 weeks old!


At 150 weeks old, Penelope is pretty average size. She’s not very big or very small. We think she’s huge, of course, but she’s not. Since she’s a former “failure to thrive” baby, though, she is always going to look like a giantess to me. I remember after we got her out of the hospital after that first time with the failure to thrive diagnosis (which was actually due to a whole other thing) and she was creeping up on 11 lbs as a 4.5 month old baby, I proudly said to her pediatrician who I really liked at the time, “Isn’t she HUGE?,” and the doctor says to me, “Oh, honey… no.”

ASIDE: When I’m King, probably the ninth or tenth order of business is going to be RENAMING THAT AWFUL “failure to thrive” PHRASE FOR THE LOVE OF SHIT, maybe to something like, “Parents Trying Their Very Very Hardest But Baby Not Making With Growth” or “Parents Obviously Working Asses Off at Trying to Be Parents, Child Already Showing Propensity for Not Going Along with Plans” or “PARENTS VERY CLEARLY GOOD PEOPLE WHO ARE DOING NO WRONG AND REALLY TRYING VERY HARD AND SOMEONE GET THE MOTHER A TISSUE AND A CHAIR AND EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE FINE WE WILL HANDLE THIS TOGETHER” syndrome.

Anyway, I don’t know exactly how big she is, but she’s almost three and she comfortably wears 3T clothing, so I guess about average. That seems about right to me. At her last well check, she was hovering right in the 40th percentiles for height and weight, but setting that aside, she looks good. All her bendy parts bend and her straight parts are straight. She does all the running and jumping with both feet, stacks things and kicks them, and does everything well enough that I haven’t even thought to glance at a milestone chart since she was just turning two, probably. No reason to even think about it. That’s been nice, considering Early Intervention was at our house at this point a couple of years ago. No need to even save that paperwork anymore.

I realize that none of what happened leading up to Penelope’s birth or what happened while I was in labor or right after her birth or her own health issues for her first two years are going to have any affect on her life going forward. Rationally, I know that. We completely closed the books on her kidney issues back in September – we don’t even have to go to the emergency room for a high fever anymore. Well, of course we do for a spectacularly high fever like anyone else would, but we used to have to – anyway, it was a thing. The last thing, and now we don’t have to do that, and I think now I for real really realize that EVERYTHING is done. Technically before now, but right now, at 150 weeks, done DONE. She’s here, full size, no heart issues, no breathing issues, no kidney issues, and just a scar left from surgery that even almost already totally faded away. And everything happened and resolved in just 150 weeks! That’s hardly any time at all (yes it is, it’s forever).


If you meet Penelope at 150 weeks, the first thing she will say to you, almost definitely, is “Wanna see my cool trick?” The cool trick is almost always putting her head on the ground and one leg in the air. Unless you’ve seen that one. If you’ve seen that one, the cool trick is totally improvised on the spot. I don’t know what it might be. She might throw something at you. Definitely ask her to show you the one with her leg in the air again, it’s the safest.

She really likes Toy Story (the first one and the second one, she might like the third one but I’ve banned it when I’m in the playroom because I think it’s dumb and it doesn’t make sense) and Monsters Inc. She also likes Handy Manny and Trotro. But her absolute favorite thing to do is to stream the iPad to the television (Phil and I don’t actually know how she does this – we know it can be done, it’s just that she takes the iPad and does it herself, we’ve never arranged this for her) and watch video after video of this woman unboxing and playing with various PlayDoh and Barbie toys. She somehow locates a playlist from the suggested videos on YouTube, sets it to go on the television, and then goes about her own normal playing in the playroom accompanied by videos of an adult playing on the television. Phil likes video games. I only watch Korean television. We’ve all got our things.


One of my very favorite things about Penelope right now is the way she talks. She’s a pretty decent talker, as I’ve mentioned before, but she has her mispronunciations like any toddler. And like any parent, I’m pretty attached to them and I’ll be sad to see them go. It’s not things like “emergery” for “emergency” that are my very favorite, though. No, these are the ones I’m working my hardest to mimic in order to preserve:

  • pooth taste
  • poilet taper
  • beep death

Of course when I go to write them down, I can’t think of more, but those are some of Pen’s most common types of mispronunciation. Other kinds don’t really stick around too long. She gets very frustrated when she doesn’t say a word correctly and will specifically request help, “I can’t say word, help me say word.” It’s kind of shitty, adorable toddler-speak is supposed to be part of the deal, but I’m hanging on to poilet taper as long as possible.

My other very favorite thing about her is that she is SO into whatever Phil and I are into. She wants to be with us and around us and do what we’re doing and make us laugh and make us happy and she mimics us and acts like us and does things that she thinks we’ll like. None of that is revolutionary or unique to Penny or something that I think my super special kid does that yours doesn’t. It’s just something that’s really great. She loves to sit with Phil and press the jump button while he plays video games. She says, “Mama, can we go in your Safety Bathroom and do makeup?” and it is the genuinely VERY BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO HER EVER when I say yes and I wonder why I don’t say yes more. Ugh, why don’t I say yes more? I should.


At 150 weeks old, Penelope does whatever the hell she wants. I mean, we tell her what to do, and she hears us, but then she doesn’t do it, or she keeps on not doing it, or keeps on doing what we told her to stop doing. Three is really soon, and Phil and I have turned to each other with slow motion horror face and realized three is not going to be any better than two, it’s actually louder and throwier and screamier and people in public can actually hear what she’s saying to us when she’s being kind of awful. And I know those of you with kids who have already gone from two to three are like, I knew it, or I told you so, or I wanted to tell you so, or I’m about to go to the comments because I actually want to tell you so some more, but look, we went through two and it was a challenge and you kind of think, it’s okay, three is coming, and it will be different, and I guess our minds didn’t really ALLOW us to think it might be different BAD, but you know what guys, I think it’s going to be different BAD.

Not bad like my CHILD is bad, because she’s not. SHE’S NOT. She’s fabulous. Look at these pictures. SAY POILET TAPER OUT LOUD. JUST ONE TIME. Penelope is fabulous. But toddlers, man. They will make your (my) shoulders curl down and then your (my) neck bend until your ears just settle right into the little shoulder cave you (I) made and just consider moving in there. Just move into the shoulder cave and live there. For a while. A long while.

Oh gosh. PENELOPE IS A HUNDRED AND FIFTY WEEKS OLD. Can you BELIEVE everything that has even happened? CAN YOU EVEN.

Here, ignore the rest of us in this picture.



Seven things, assuming I get to seven before I run out of things.

Thing One: PJs at TJ’s, which happened.

PJs happened! It’s over. I had a hard time this year, due to things outside my control and things I didn’t see coming, but I think that’s the way of any kind of event, right? Like last year, I had a lot of awesome help, and I think people had a good time. People said they had a good time, and I’m going to assume they weren’t lying, because what would be the point of lying to me? Just don’t say anything at all, and then don’t come back, right? That’s what I’d do, instead of lying, if it were me. Anyway, here’s some pictures that were stolen from other people.

There were arms length selfies:


A bed, of course:


And a cake, because laughing at my jokes alone never stops me from making them:


Like I said, there were a few bumps along the way, and I might have felt like talking about them if I wrote this right after PJs, but first I came home and slept for a week, and then Penelope coughed directly into my eyeballs and I was sick for another entire week, so PJs feels like a hundred years ago. It’s over now, and it was a long time ago, and I don’t feel like rehashing it all. I can try harder to avoid some of the things in the future – I was really blindsided by something that just wouldn’t have occurred to me until it happened, so, now I know. But other things, like two awesome people having to cancel at the last second, well… that just sucks and there’s nothing you can do to prepare for that, and while I felt really awful for them, I’m also a giant asshole, so I felt really terrible for me, too, because I was really looking forward to seeing those particular people, and I admit that with the added stress of other things, I did have a really poor attitude for the first couple of hours of PJs. It was shitty of me and it’s easy to say now, looking back, that I would do things differently, but I was bummed out and stressed out, so to be honest, it went how it went and I can only hope that people had fun regardless of my less than welcoming mood.

This was the third PJs, and there were way MORE things that went way BETTER than previous years. It’s definitely a learning experience every year, and it pays off from year to year. Like okay, this year I still got way too much food, but there were WAY fewer total fails on the food front. And look, if you want to have a large variety of snacks, you’re going to have too much food. I can’t just buy a handful of each kind of candy and chips that I need. And also this year, I hired a makeup artist to come and do demonstrations and answer questions about anything anyone wanted to ask, which went over better than I even expected, and that was a lot of fun. I still have a really good handle on how I like this to… be… and other small details get more and more ironed out from year to year.

Next year! PJs will be on either 2/20-2/22 or 2/27-3/1. More details will come in the summer, as always. I do have some stuff to work out still. I’m really committed to PJs staying the same size. It’s just not going to change. It’s not. Not ever. It’s not negotiable. I’m also really committed to the fact that PJs is an open event. I hope that people have felt welcome to sign up whether you feel like you know me or not. Well, I know people have felt welcome to sign up, because they’ve done it. This year, due to the size and how quickly it filled, people who came in the past couldn’t come. And there’s no one who came this year or in past years that I could imagine not wanting to see again in future years. And there are people I haven’t seen yet that I know I want to see in the future. I want to keep seeing everyone I’ve seen, I want to see people who haven’t made it yet, and I want new people to know that they’re welcome to join in, too. And I want to do all that and still keep it at the same small attendee cap. Is that actually possible? I’m thinking it’s not. So among my things to consider over the next couple of months are which of the “I’m really committed to” this-es I’m most really committed to, eh?

Thing two: open letters.

Can we all agree, worst writing device in the history of ever? Can’t you just say, “here’s what I have to say about ‘current issue’?” Seriously, “An open letter to ______” might as well just say “Here’s a bunch of words to help you accurately picture the smug look on my face as I self-importantly write some shit that’s already been said to someone who is never going to read it and also here’s my back so you can pat me on it.”


Thing three: makeup.

I am on a no buy at the moment, because I did a lot of buy all at once with hoarded birthday money and gift cards and all kinds of stuff, and I hope to get to tell you (who are interested) about the stuff I got pretty soon, if it would all finish arriving already.

The first thing I had to do was get my skin under control, I think I mentioned it in a post probably a hundred posts back, that it was being flaky and weird due to some medications, and since I finally got THAT working (skin care post!), I was able to start the ridiculously needle in a haystack-esque hunt for a foundation (foundation post!), and since I was spending so much time putting on and wearing a full face of foundation to see how it lasted/oxidized/etc throughout the day, I ended up practicing all my makeup a lot more.

Here, ignore my family in this picture, and pretend you’ve been reading my blog since 2007 when there was a very brief time when I posted a video every morning. Eh? Eh? There’s a difference. Aside from the fact that I’m clearly seven years older. With my finely honed-ish skills, you’d barely know it was more than six and a half, six and three quarters at most.


Anyway, it’s not terrible. I’m working on it. I enjoy working on it, at least. Over the past couple of months, I’ve bought a real assortment of stuff, not all of it actually makeup. Some skin care, like I mentioned, which I hope will be helpful information to anyone who is struggling with those flaky bits of skin that aren’t really a bother until you go to apply foundation and then they RUIN your LIFE. I also tried out quite a few foundations, like I said, and I ended up with a couple – some from the drug store, and then I also have some higher end that work when my skin is behaving in different ways.

I also recently bought one of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting powders. I went back and forth a bit trying to decide which one to buy – I don’t know if you’re familiar with them, but there are six of them (there are also blushes now, but those are a different thing) and they’re basically finishing powders, but can also be used as highlighters, and they come in different shades – Dim Lighting, Ethereal Lighting, etc. And they’re kind of meant to be like walking around with your own most flattering light on you all the time. “Dark Cavern” is not an option, so I went with Dim, which is kind of meant to give a gentle blurring effect while a lot of the others give more of a glow or a “lit from within” sort of thing. I’d like to have more of them, but honestly, at $45 each, I was only buying one and if I buy another, it won’t be soon, it was a little splurge. I don’t feel silly or frivolous spending that much on makeup, I like makeup, it’s my hobby, and I spend hobby money on it. But I generally buy more things for $45. Anyway. I was talking to Phil about it while I was sick and couldn’t really do a whole face, so hadn’t really gotten the full effect of it and didn’t know if it really did much of anything for me and explained to him how the different powders worked and he nodded along. A couple days later, I brought it up to him again* and he goes, “Is that the stuff that makes you look like you’re in slow motion?”

The ladies who came to PJs gave me some empty Z-palettes and a super generous gift card, so I ordered some eye shadows from Makeup Geek, which I’ve been wanting to try for a while. I only have my camera phone operational at the moment, so I know you just can’t rely on this picture as super accurate in terms of colors in the pan. I want to use them a little bit more (I’ve only used them for one eye shadow look) and also charge up my regular camera for more accurate pictures before I really write about them, but I can at least say that shipping was super fast and the packaging is awesome. The prices are really good, too, and the colors I did use (the purples) worked really nicely. I also tacked a couple of brushes on to my order and wasn’t impressed with those, so I’d skip them if you have decent eye brushes you like.


Thing four: making makeup into another one of the things.

MORE STUFF I HAVE COMING IN THE MAIL: I have a brush set from Sigma Brushes coming. I really like using entirely too many colors to do what should be a much less complicated eye shadow look because I’m not very good at creating a gradient with blending yet, and I really dislike washing my brushes every single night, so solution? Many, many more brushes! I decided to order Sigma brushes for a variety of reasons, two of the main ones being price and customer service. I made a list of the brushes I wanted, and they were mainly eye brushes, with a couple of face brushes (the F40, the F35). I really dragged my feet on ordering for a couple of days once I had my list, though, because Sigma’s sets are usually a really good deal, and I just couldn’t find a set that matched up well enough with the brushes I wanted without leaving out too many or including a bunch of brushes I didn’t want.

Turns out I delayed the exact right amount of time, though, because Sigma came out with a new set of a YouTube beauty vlogger’s favorite brushes, the Jaclyn Hill Beauty Expert Box. This does include two brushes that weren’t on my original list (the F80, the F86), but I didn’t leave them out because I didn’t like them, necessarily, but more because I was focusing on eyes and trying to keep the price low. This box also includes a pencil brush that wasn’t on my list because I recently bought one and figured I could cut costs by living without one, but there is no way I would turn down another one. What it didn’t include from the list of what I wanted was the F40 I mentioned above, which I decided to go without, and an E40, which I added on. Sigma always has a 10% off code (for March, it’s MAR10) and there’s a free gift included with purchases over $30 or $35 (this month it’s a mini E25). So I was able to keep my order under $100 even with shipping and really only give up on the contour brush. The Jaclyn Hill Beauty Expert Box is only going to be sold for March and you can sign up to be notified when it comes back, if you’re interested. That kind of assumes you need brushes, want Sigma brushes, and want the same brushes I wanted, but… I think it’s a good deal, so I thought I’d let you know.

Mine are actually in my mailbox right now, so I’ll let you know what I think really soon.

Also, arriving tomorrow, I have some MUJI drawers, so it will be easier for me to actually show you this stuff in the decent light of the bathroom where it actually lives, hopefully in decent organization, rather than taking up every single inch of counter space as it currently does.

Thing five: Did you notice my hair went backward in this post?

First this:


Then this:


Thing six: There’s just a lot of things going on.


Tiny body, big feelings.

I don’t remember where I left off, so let’s start from right here.

I’ve spent a lot of the last… recent amount of time – and here I should say that I haven’t been keeping track of time in any sort of real, measurable way. I actually wear a watch sometimes – I mentioned I might like a watch for Christmas, and Phil bought me three, each more exactly in line with my tastes than the last – and I was wearing one yesterday at Ulta and I had to do something for fifteen minutes, that’s a story for a whole different day that both you and I know probably won’t be tomorrow, and the woman who was involved with doing the thing with me said, “What time do you have?,” and we both peered into my watch and I said, “I don’t actually know, I just like the way it looks.” And it’s been kind of like that recently, in that time has been going by and I have had the ability right at hand to measure how much of it has passed, but not really the desire or oomph of effort required to really do it. So it’s been some amount of time that I have spent, recently, in preparation for PJs at TJ’s, which starts, officially, three weeks from today. Are you coming? I’m so excited to see you. Are you not coming? I’m so bummed you can’t make it this year. I’m really looking forward to seeing you next year, especially if it’s our triumphant reunion/first meeting ever. Both of those would be equally exciting for me. If next year is going to be your fourth visit, I’ll point you to the trash bags and dip bowls. You know what to do.

To be honest, though, at this point, most of the planning for PJs is shopping, and a few years in, I have gotten slightly wiser and more of the shopping is done from a chair than in previous years, so that leaves… all the rest of the time, however much that has been. A lot, I assume. It feels like it’s been a lot. What, a year or two, at least? I’ve (well, we, in case anyone thinks I’m not giving my husband credit for his share of parenting, I totally do, but as I’ve said many times before, a person who would like his side of the story fairly represented is a person who maybe should stop registering domain names and then not actually writing his own blog, maybe) been dealing with Penelope and her big feelings in her tiny body.

I know you didn’t think the title was about me – my feelings are small and more than adequately housed in what we’ll call luxury accommodations. They’re in there, they’re comfortable way down in there. I think they’re the same size as when I got them. I think I was probably born with the same size feelings I was going to have for my entire life. I think that makes sense, because I think Penelope has got the same size feelings now as I’ve probably got. Maybe bigger, but it’s hard to tell, since she’s so much smaller.

So she’s got these feelings – happy or sad or whatever, a whole range, really, almost definitely as nuanced as yours or mine but much easier for her to explain or for me to explain to her in broader categories like happy, sad, angry, ascribing to her about four or six feelings in total when in reality, there’s probably about 75 million or so – and they’re very big and she’s very small. Eventually, her body will be in line, size-wise, with her feelings, but for now, she’s got the full set in one size fits all, and that is almost never true, but that’s how they come, so that’s how she’s got to deal. Or how we’ve all got to deal, rather, because she’s having them all, but her small casing is not enough to hold them.

But that’s not really the problem, right, because we don’t expect people to hold their feelings. Well, some people do. I don’t know, if that’s your way, that’s fine, I guess, if that’s how you want to do things, I say, using the most judgmental sentence form possible in order to demonstrate without actually saying that I totally don’t agree with your way of doing things and think it’s kind of weird. No, instead, in general, we expect people to release them or work them out or handle them in some way, and everyone has their ways (except, I guess, if you don’t, which is fine, I GUESS), except for toddlers. Who have feelings, big ones, and tiny bodies, with no little release valves on them. They haven’t developed their ways.

Not, for example, like me, with my small feelings in their luxury accommodations, that are not only totally comfortable, but have beaten a well worn feelings-path out (hint: it’s through my mouth – “YOU ARE A SHIT, YOU ARE A TOTAL SHIT, YOU ARE THE REASON I CAN’T STOP SAYING SHIT.” (Someone won’t stop turning on the air conditioning in the house at night.)) and also a well worn feelings-path back in (hint: it’s also through my mouth).

No, she has got big feelings on the inside and there are no preferred feelings-paths beaten down yet for her. She wakes up from her nap sometimes so weepy. Just can’t stop crying. I ask her, “Are you having sad feelings?” and she wails, “YES!” and I ask her, “What do you think will help?” and she doesn’t know. So I offer her this or that and some things make her cry even more and some things sometimes help and sometimes don’t. Sometimes a hug will help, sometimes it’s the WORST THING EVER. Sometimes she needs to be left alone to gather herself, sometimes I’VE ABANDONED HER and NO ONE LOVES HER. Seriously, she will lay there and rattle off a list of who doesn’t love her, from me right down to our dogs, by name. No one she has ever met has ever suggested for half a second that they don’t love her, just for the record. Anyway, sometimes she just wakes up very sad, and while that happens to everyone, the thing about it that makes it so tough is that she’s just as confused by it as she is sad. And of course we eventually work her out of it and cheer her up and life goes on.

Other times, though, she’s angry. Or excited or worked up. Or upset for some reason. And those less calm big feelings have gotten to be very tough for us. And you should understand that I’m not saying any of this like I think it’s unique to Penelope. No, instead, I often remind myself – and Phil – that this is the age, not our child. I mean, of course she’s our kid, but this is not the entirety of Penelope, this isn’t who she is and who she’s going to be. She’s two and a half and this is what two and a half is (and please, this is not the type of post where you tell me in the comments the horrors of three and four and teenagers, that’s not helpful or kind), and it’s beneficial for us to remember that when we’re coping with this stuff – that what we’re dealing with definitely is not unique to her or to us. That big feelings, tiny body is happening in mini-explosions all around our neighborhood right this second. And with all the parents we know. So I’m not writing this in a “listen to the very special snowflake unique struggles that I’m having with my especially difficult child” way. I’m just telling you what’s happening. And tomorrow (probably not tomorrow), I’ll tell you about what I’ve been doing – pretty successfully – with a kind of difficult dry skin problem I’ve been dealing with. You know those flaky peelies that crop up when you try to put foundation on when your skin looks normal otherwise, right up until you applied the foundation? Yeah, that. Ugh. Awful. Been working at it for a while, really pleased with how it’s coming along.

Anyway, I was talking about when Penelope gets angry or worked up or agitated. That’s when we really struggle with her not yet knowing how to handle her feelings in a more constructive or positive manner. There’s lots of shrieking. Just a wordless shriek at whoever she is mad at. Sometimes she’s not even mad at someone, though. Just mad. There’s also lots of throwing. Dangerous throwing, even. My reflexes are really improving, although as you have probably surmised, I was pretty lithe and catlike to begin with, so there was hardly room for much betterment there. Of course she hits, too, and kicks. I don’t mean to make her sound like a demon. This behavior isn’t constant. She’s actually a fairly good listener for her age, and her public behavior is on point most of the time. It’s just that when she becomes overwhelmed with some feeling, she just can’t control herself. At a point where some people would work through their feelings by talking it out, or exercising, or eating a box of donuts, or saying shit a lot, she just starts behaving in the only ways she knows, all of which are extremely physical.

Obviously, that’s not good. Ideally, we’d figure out why she was angry and address the situation. Ideally. But most of the time, she doesn’t know why she’s angry. We don’t even know for sure if she is angry, or if it’s something else. Upset at something else? Just really excited about something? Luckily, Penelope is extremely verbal (I actually will brag about her for a second on that one, she’s out of control and outstrips every kid her age we encounter with the talking) and I’m getting better at trying to get her to explain what’s going on, but a lot of times, it’s hampered by a trip to time out, because I’m sorry, I just can’t take a kick to the face and then sit and talk calmly about your feelings, because right then my feelings are that I just got kicked in the face and I want to say shit a lot and I’m trying not to do that. In front of Penelope. As much.

In the moment when something is being thrown at you, or you’re being repeatedly hit while you say, “No hitting, no hitting,” it is very hard to remember that the tiny person in front of you might not be doing those things because she is a crazy person with no sense of boundaries or self control (actually, a lot of times it is exactly that), but instead because she has not spent 30+ years perfecting the string of rage-filled invectives that she personally finds instantly calms the feelings and prepares the mind to deal with the underlying cause of said feelings. Rather, the tiny person is just stuffed full of unidentifiable feelings jabbing pokily at a too-small host body with no positive (okay, questionably positive in some cases) way to come out. And it can be really hard to discern the two – crazy/boundary-less vs tiny/jabby feelings – when you’ve just had that frippin frappin toy train whipped at your head AGAIN. And then even once you do have it reliably figured out, then what? EVEN THEN, THEN WHAT?

Penelope is delightful. She is so funny. She will blow you away with her talking, and don’t think I’m not going to demand that the people who come to PJs back me up on that, because I could just BLOW UP ALL OVER THE PLACE with how proud I am of her when people’s mouths drop open in shock. When she and I are talking, if she doesn’t know how to say something, she says to me, “Mama, I can’t say the word, help me say the word,” and then we try words back and forth until we figure out what she’s trying to say BECAUSE SHE’S A GENIUS AND I’LL DELETE YOUR COMMENT IF YOU SAY SHE’S NOT.

It’s just this one part, and it feels big, because it’s important, because I care a lot about helping her express her feelings appropriately, and it also feels big because these loud and throwy periods, even when the incidents themselves are short, expand in my mind to sometimes feel like that was my whole day. But it’s not. I can hear her right now, playing with Phil, and they’re laughing and having fun and these outbursts are not all of her or all about her, or even a giant part. They’re a hard part and I think about them a lot, but like I said about – this isn’t all she is or unique to her, this is just a phase and it’s the one we’re in, and it’s what I’m thinking about today, because it feels important to me. Maybe – probably – when she’s 25, I’ll look back and I’ll realize that how I handled the development of how she handles her own feelings really meant nothing in the grand scheme of parenting, I overthought this and underthought something else. So be it, it’ll probably happen again, too.