Category Archives: Health

Cover your mouths, you animals

It’s been a long, hard winter. A long, hard winter that is barely a third of the way over. And yet, if I’m doing my math correctly, my family has already been sick 1,376 times since November.

I’ve seen things, man. Things not even a mom should have to see. Every shade of vomit. Every consistency of mucus. Pure liquid evil coming out tiny terrified tushies. All of which I cleaned up while dealing with my own vomit, mucus and terrified tushie.

An experience like that changes a person. It hardens you. These illnesses have taken away my family’s health and sanity and our entire NyQuil budget for the whole year already.

sketch1548169631772

But no more. I’m not letting them take anything else.

Which is why I have a message for all the people out there who have passed their germs onto my family…

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I also don’t have are skills, particular or otherwise. Unless you count writing as a skill and even then, these skills I have acquired over a very long career are still mediocre at best. Still, I will find a way to make myself a nightmare for people like you. I will look for you. I will find you. And I will kill you.

Ok, Ok, I won’t kill you. That’s pretty illegal, I think. But I will tie you up and waterboard you with Purell until you’ve learned your lesson.

So you, yeah you, on the subway. The one hacking into his hands and then TOUCHING THE POLE. I’m coming for you. And I will hurl cough drops at your face until you learn how to do the vampire cough, you animal. You know, where you cough into the crook of your elbow so your germs don’t INVADE EVERYONE ELSE WITHIN A 20 FOOT RADIUS OF YOUR DISEASED FACE.  

And to all you parents and nannies and caretakers coming to library storytime with your leaky charges, I get it. I do. You need out of the house. You need to entertain the kid. You need basic human interaction. However, if your child puked that morning but now “feels, like, so much better!” that doesn’t mean they are, like, magically healed. They are still contagious. Go home before I dump buckets of bleach mixed with Emergen-C over both your heads.

Also, to literally everyone who works in my husband’s office…dammit, guys. Come on. I don’t know if there is an office pool or something for who can bring in the most devastating domestic illness but we are done participating. Don’t make me come there and spray you all down with a Nerf gun I filled with Lysol.

sketch1548169774643

Oh, and Sophia P.? I know the cold that I just got over was from when you coughed in my mouth at preschool. Which is particularly egregious since we are not even related. You seemed so innocent. Your tiny hand tapping my arm, to gain my attention, only for me to bend down and then have you immediately cough directly into my face hole. I never saw it coming. A weapon of individual destruction. But still, I’mma give you a free pass, sweetheart. Even I draw the line at harming 4-year-olds. (But like, just barely. The line is drawn in a pale shade of pastel chalk. So watch yourself.)

There’s still a lot of winter left. Technically two more months, calendar-wise. Reality-wise, however, we have two more months followed by a month of just pure sleet, and then a surprise snowstorm and then a week of beautiful weather and then three more weeks of sleet before BOOM, it’s 90 degrees.

So, let’s all work together to try and keep ourselves and, by extension, everyone else, as healthy as we can for the remainder of the season.

Besides, I think all my other solutions might be in a murky gray area of legality and jail will just mean a whole new slew of germs I have to battle.

 

Advertisements

Maybe technology is cyclical

There are a lot of theories out there about the best way to raise children. These mostly come from people without kids, but a shocking amount of parents manage to form strong opinions about this subject too. Which they must do in-between chugging Merlot and crying in the shower, I imagine.

sketch1547494913535

I’ll admit I used to be one of those parents. With lofty ideals about proper nutrition and preschool STEM activities and basic human hygiene.

Pffft.

But that was before. Before the machine. Before…THE GAME.

Now none of it matters. Nothing matters. Nothing except…THE GAME.

Well, I mean, and my children and my husband and our collective health and world peace and our extended families and our beloved dog and protecting the environment and Jeff Goldblum because he’s a national treasure and all our friends.

But NOTHING ELSE.

It started innocently enough, like most of these scenarios that end up spiraling into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. I bought my husband one of those Nintendo Classic consoles for Christmas. You know, the ones with all the games from our childhood? PacMan. Donkey Kong. Super Mario Bros., ONE, TWO AND THREE.

And it quickly became clear once we turned it on that my family is unlikely to do anything for the next 15 years other than play Nintendo.

Like moths to a super pixelated light, my husband and I pressed our noses to the screen, that oh-so-unforgettable music filling our ears. The music of the angels, if angels sported mullets and Jordache jeans and oversized, unflattering eyeglasses.

sketch1547494609816

It was all so familiar, and yet somehow new, considering it had been close to three decades since either one of us had felt those comforting buttons beneath our fingers. Almost immediately we fell into that old trance, eyes glazed and fingers moving like lightning, murdering everything in our path with glee.

Our children, curious as to why we were refusing to feed them or take them for walks or generally acknowledging their existence in any form, eventually wandered over and were also immediately dragged under the spell of the Nintendo. All too soon, requests of “can I play next?” started pouring forth from their lips, eventually escalating into shouts of “IT’S MY TURN NOW!” Which, as their parents, we very maturely responded back “NO, IT’S STILL MY TURN!”

We haven’t cleaned in weeks. Empty pizza boxes are stacked like fortresses around our living room, with discarded juice boxes and wine bottles acting as moats around them. All of our hair has started to resemble the characters on those TV shows about Vikings.

sketch1547494331113

Sometimes, in those brief moments where I blink and remember there is a life outside of rescuing the princess, I wonder if I should be worried about what kind of damage this is doing to us. Especially the kids. Everyone is always yelling about the importance of limiting screen time and how video games are bad for developing brains and that Cheetos apparently don’t contain all the nutrients a body needs.  

But then, happily, it’s my turn again and those silly thoughts shoot right out of my head with the speed of a jumped-upon turtle shell in Super Mario Bros.

Besides, I choose to think of this whole thing as more like how families of yore used to sit around the fireplace, reading classic literature out loud to each other and bonding or whatever. Only instead of a fire we have a magic box that makes little Italian men run and jump and squish evil mushrooms sporting heavy eyebrows. And is there truly any more of a bonding experience than witnessing your 2-year-old finally learning how to run AND jump at the same time as opposed to just walking into a wall for eight minutes straight? I mean…

There is only one thing truly missing from my life right now. So if someone could just leave Doritos and Jolt Cola on my front porch, I’d really appreciate it.  

 

Honest Christmas Letter

Greetings, friends and family and people I barely know anymore but still have your addresses saved so what the hell!

I hope this year has been good to you (she types like she hasn’t stalked over half of you on social media late at night with a glass of wine in her hand…definitely-not-creepy haha!).

It’s been a wonderful year here at the Brandon-Huddle household. At least I think it has. If I’m being completely honest, I can’t remember what it was like before the Vague Plague swept through our house, reducing all of us to coughing, feverish, snotty shells of our former selves. You know, that mysterious illness that hits one family member and then passes through all the rest until the first one finally gets better right as the last one is coming down with it, thus passing it back onto the first one, on and on and on until none of you can remember what it is like to breathe through one nostril anymore, let alone two. It has no name but is somewhere in-between a cold and the flu. Unless, of course, the man of the house gets it, in which case it is a Very Serious Case of Almost Certain Death.

But although our collective health is currently drowning in a tsunami of snot, everything else is a fantastic mixed bag of tragicomedy.

Ryan is working hard as usual. Some would say too hard. And by some I mean me. Awkward haha! Because I reach a certain point in the evening where I simply cannot “mom” for one more minute. But at least he’s smart enough to know that if he walks through that door past six he is to have a bottle of wine tucked under his arm for me. Maybe also a cheeseburger. And a taco.

But it’s not entirely his fault. You gotta make a living, right? Kids are expensive. And he’s really good at what he does. Plus, during those brief twelve minutes we have together in-between the kids going down and us passing out on the couch after watching the opening credits of “Sabrina” on Netflix, we are reminded how much we love each other as we grunt and stare vacant-eyed into the other’s rapidly aging face.

As for myself, I completed a half marathon this year, which has been a dream of mine ever since my friend Emily texted me “wanna do a half-marathon?” and I drunkenly texted back “hellz yesh!” The race was awful. Just truly awful. Why do people like to do this? What is wrong with them?

But the point remains that I did it. Which I now tell anyone standing within earshot.

I’ve also been keeping up with my writing. I’m even trying my hand at writing a book. Which means I rapidly swing from “I can do this, I can totally do this” to “I’m an idiot. What is a plot? Whet r werds?” on a daily basis. I definitely think I need new hobbies.

This has also been a big year for our oldest, Riker, who started preschool this year. He loves it. Now. In the first few weeks there was some atomic-level leg clinging during drop-off but now he can’t stop talking about school. At least I think he’s talking about school. His stories aren’t always coherent. They pretty much start somewhere at the ¾ mark and then jump backward toward the middle with a brief glance at the beginning while the ending has apparently escaped through some window, never to be heard of again.  

Allow me to share his latest. It’s so cute. I think…?

“So then Ethan is a bad guy, but a friendly bad guy, and we chased the ghosts on the swings and Mrs. Ferris says, but Momma, it’s always important to share, and remember, Momma, when you first get to the classroom, we have to do our arrival jobs so we walk quietly and carefully to our cubby and put away our things and then sometimes Elena hugs me too hard and I don’t like it but that’s ok and now I’m a big boy, not a baby, which is why the vampires were hiding in the closet.”

Speaking of babies, our baby isn’t a baby anymore. Mae turned 2 in July. She is just turning out to be a fantastic little person, albeit one who drinks what has to be an unhealthy amount of bath water. We are a bit nervous about her arch-villain tendencies but, as they say, raise the children you have, not the children you want. Even if they scare you a bit.

And last, but certainly not least, is our dog Buffy. He’s 13 now! Can you believe it? I certainly can but then again I am constantly reminded thanks to his old man dog farts, which are numerous and aromatic, to put it politely. But the vet says he is in great shape and super healthy and only charged us $600 to tell us that.

All in all, we realize how lucky we are with our beautiful little family and a roof that only leaks sometimes over our heads. Although if anyone is wondering what to get us for Christmas, a nap would just be fantastic.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

 

I ran 13.1 miles & all I got was this lousy self-esteem

People do dumb things. It’s one of the few things you can rely on. You’ve probably heard that old quote that goes “the only constant is change.” But really it should be amended to “the only constants are change and people do dumb things.”

I should know. I am a people and I just did something dumb.

I ran a half marathon on Saturday.

Not dumb enough for you? Just wait, there’s more. I ran a half marathon during a Nor’easter, which is a wicked storm featuring heavy rain and snow and strong winds.

Still not dumb enough for you? Here’s the best part. I paid not-dumb people $80 for this privilege.

If you would have told me 20 years ago that I would one day sign up to run a half marathon, I would have rolled my eyes so hard at you I would have seen my brain. Shoot, if you would have told me just last year that I would sign up to run a half marathon, I…well, I wouldn’t have heard you over my screaming children. But after I asked you to repeat it four times I would have responded by laughing so hard I probably would have woken up the baby and then I would have thrown a pan at your face for making me wake up the baby.

And yet, there I was. On Saturday in Cape Cod. Running 13.1 miles. In a row. On purpose.

Not only that, I trained for it. For months, I was getting up at 4:30 in the morning and strapping on my shoes and running four, five, six miles in the dark. On the weekends, it was seven, eight, nine miles. All on voluntary terms. All without anything chasing me. And all with no other purpose than I needed to run a lot to get ready to run even more.

Like I said, dumb.

On the plus side, it was also hard and painful and exhausting.

But it was transformative.

For some reason in our society we have this idea that people don’t change. Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. But I do know we evolve.

We evolve with each trial and tribulation we overcome. We evolve every time we learn something new. With every new experience, every new person we meet, we evolve. We evolve every time we fall in love. We evolve with each heartbreak. We evolve when we hold our children for the first time.

And we evolve every time we conquer what we think is the unconquerable.

That’s why I signed up, dumb as it was. It’s easy to think that the way things are, the way you are, is how it will always be, how you will always be. I was a tired, overwhelmed mom who was getting increasingly frustrated at both herself and the way the world was.

But change is the only constant. And that’s why I ran (limped) for miles in a storm. To prove I could evolve. That I could become the kind of person who crosses the finish line. That I can be whoever I want.

And now that I did, I have a whole list of other unconquerables. I want to write a novel. And a children’s book. To become a decent photographer. To buy a house and foster orphaned pets. To be the best mom and wife and daughter I can. And, lord help me, to run a full marathon.

And there are now fewer doubts in my mind that I can do all these things. Because I evolved. Because through this experience, I became a better version of myself.

And look, this could just be the endorphins talking here, but finishing that half marathon gives me just a little bit more hope for all of us. We can be better. We can make this world better. We can do the impossible because history has shown us that doing the impossible is what humans excel at.

All we have to do is try hard. Forgive ourselves. And try harder.

And yes, I realize how naive this all sounds but hey, we could all stand to be a bit dumber that way.

I believe you.

I am angry.

I am tired.

I am sad.

But mostly, I am angry.

All week I’ve been glued to social media, watching how people are reacting to the sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. And realizing just how far we haven’t come.

I’ve also been watching as my female friends and family have come out with their own horrific sexual assault stories in the wake of this news cycle. And realizing just how many people quietly carry these scars in a world that refuses to believe them.

And I find myself left with nothing left to say. Nothing that hasn’t already been said. Nothing that will matter. Nothing that can make this world a place where men don’t rape women and children on a regular basis and never get punished for it.

So instead, I’m only going to write the two following things.

The first is this brief message: To all the women, men and children who have been sexually assaulted, I believe you, I love you and I am here for you if you need anything.

And the second is this list of resources should you ever want or need it:

The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center: www.nsvrc.org

The National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-422-2253

National Teen Dating Abuse Online Helpline: www.loveisrespect.org

GLBTQ Domestic Violence Project: 1-800-832-1901, www.glbtqdvp.org

Take Back The Night Foundation: 1-866-966-9013, https://takebackthenight.org

For further resources, call RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) at 1-800-656-HOPE or go to www.rainn.org.

Ways to unsuccessfully deal with insomnia

 

  1. Watch something. But not something too interesting. But also not so boring that it allows your mind to wander. Maybe something you’ve already seen but enjoyed. Preferably where at least one character has a British accent and is trying to solve a crime.
  2. Read something. Same rules apply.
  3. Eat something. Because, hey, it’s there and what else have you got to do?
  4. Count something. Sheep seem to be pretty popular, followed by minutes (“if I fall asleep now, I can still get 3.5 hours of sleep before the alarm goes off”).
  5. Argue something. In your head. Obsessively. Finally find a way to win that Facebook argument from 2015.
  6. Take something. Tylenol PM, perhaps? Or that melatonin that has never ever worked but yet you still keep a giant bottle of it by your bed? Does children’s benadryl work on adults?
  7. Rearrange something. Because you’ll definitely be able to sleep once all your bookshelves are ripped apart and then put back together in a slightly different organizational pattern.
  8. Worry about something. Like every single bad thing that could happen to your children.
  9. Eat something again. It’s now 3:30 a.m. Screw it.
  10. While you’re at it, watch something else. Maybe a 90’s sitcom will do it.
  11. Pray for something. Perhaps divine intervention from the deity of your choosing. Or an anvil to fall from the sky and onto your head, finally knocking you out. Or modern science to prove that sleep is unnecessary for survival.
  12. Scroll something. Sure, they say to avoid technology when you can’t sleep but you aren’t going to sleep anyway so may as well stalk that girl from seventh grade who used to bully you.
  13. Wake something. Like your husband. Who is peacefully sleeping right beside you in the most obnoxious manner possible. Misery does love company…
  14. How is he still sleeping? If you poke him any harder he’ll likely have internal bleeding.  
  15. Sigh.
  16. Clean something.
  17. Eh, never mind.
  18. Daydream something. Maybe cue up that one about marrying Chris Pratt (after your husband dies and you mourn the appropriate amount of time, of course).
  19. Plan something. May as well use all this time productively. Just a quick 36-point plan to improve every aspect of your life.
  20. Is there any cheese left?
  21. Research something. Like how insomnia causes premature aging. Then get up and slather more moisturizer on your decrepit face.
  22. Drink something? Warm milk? Ugh. Gross. No. Then maybe just a small glass of whiskey? Nah. It’s practically morning.
  23. Write something. Like, say, a list of all the futile ways you can try to combat insomnia.

But I still can’t define irony

You know how when you have kids and you look down for just a second to tie their shoe or pick up their Legos and the next thing you know it’s five years later and everything is different and you have no idea what is going on outside of your living room? Well, I just looked up and somehow, between getting knocked up with my first child and celebrating the second birthday of my youngest child, every single person I have ever met has jumped, to varying degrees, on the personal improvement bandwagon.

Everyone is on the path to wellness.

I mean, I scroll through Facebook and they’re signing up for 5k’s in droves. They’re posting 6 a.m. gym selfies. It’s been four months without a cigarette and two years without a drink and nearly half a decade since that demon gluten has touched their lips. They’ve changed their entire way of thinking about food and diet and sustainability and are consuming whole foods they got at Whole Foods. They’re eating like cavemen and dinosaurs and feeling amazing. AND they lost 17 pounds on whatever a keto is.

The ones who used to complain about people complaining about them smoking are now the ones complaining about the people smoking. They’re meditating and traveling and replenishing their souls. They’re politically active and raising money for charity AND doing it all while raising politically active, charity-minded families.

Because they have all turned into time management GODS. They work eight hours, maybe ten, hell, sometimes twelve, and then go home and record a podcast, or an album, or both, which they do while also sewing quilts, which they sell on Etsy, which they in turn use that money to pay for the food and medicine all the rescue dogs they are fostering need.

If it sounds like I’m making fun, I’m really not. I think this collective transformation I’m witnessing whilst splayed out on my couch is amazing and life-affirming and inspiring. I just felt a little out of the loop because one, I was in survival mode with my small children for so long that it’s hard to imagine everyone else doesn’t also buy cookie dough and wine in bulk. And two, I’m old enough to remember what counted as “wellness” before Goop and Instagram came along.

Sit down and let Auntie Aprill give you a brief “wellness” history lesson, kids. See, when I was a kid in the 80’s, being healthy meant eating giant tubs of pretzels and then burning those calories off by half-assedly participating in one of the 78 VHS workout tapes you owned. In the 90’s, no one even ate food. All our nutrients came from Diet Coke and cigarettes and our only exercise was ripping very elaborate holes in our jeans that we all claimed were from legit wear-and-tear. And none of us could afford therapy so we just watched “Reality Bites” over and over and over again. 

In the early 2000’s, wellness consisted of wearing gaudy pink tracksuits with “Juicy” written on the butt and taking over the recommended dose of those diet pills Anna Nicole Smith was shilling. We also cut down our indoor tanning time by, like, a fourth, because cancer or whatever. By the time Obama was in office, we were mixing our vodka and Red Bull with a dash of vitamin water like the responsible adults we had become and, as long as we were doing less drugs than Lindsay Lohan, we pretty much considered ourselves in good shape.

But now, well, now people are striving to get healthy in actually healthy ways. Long term ways. Scientifically proven ways. In ways that address their physical, mental and emotional needs.

It’s a potent idea. So potent, it’s even rubbed off on me. ME. The person who used to consider binge-watching “My 600-lb Life” as exercise because, hey, I wasn’t ON the show or anything. But, now that I have kids, I want to live forever. Even more importantly, while I am living, I want to feel good and be present and be content. For them. And my husband. And me. (WELLNESS!).

Which is why I signed up to run a half marathon this October. And it’s why I drink more moderately now (although it’s a Boston moderate, which is still enough alcohol to kill your average Californian). And it’s why I cook most of our meals. From INGREDIENTS. And why I’m busy making outlines for the books I want to write. And why this summer I didn’t sign my children up for anything and we just explored and traveled at our leisure. And why I’m saving up my money, not for things, but for experiences. And I’m reaching out to my friends more because loneliness is a silent killer. I’m even donating to the occasional goddamn charity.

22-year-old me would hate 37-year-old me.

But screw her. I feel better. I do. I ran almost seven miles Sunday morning. And then went gallivanting around the city with my family. And then still had the energy to go out to a coffee shop and write for a couple of hours before heading home to put the kids to bed. And then I collapsed on the couch, exhausted. But a good exhausted. Life’s too short for unhealthy coping mechanisms.

All in all, I’m quite proud of myself. Of all of us. We’ve come a long way, baby.

Which is also why I won’t feel guilty when, as soon as I post this, I’m going to mix this can of Diet Coke with some whiskey and watch “Reality Bites.”

You know, for old time’s sake.