Taking Stock Again

Thanks to TimeHop I realized that I wrote a simple "taking stock" blog 2 years ago this June.  Read it here.  I'm noticing that my depression peaks in June every year. Such an odd time. But I do think I'm coping better. I thought it would be fun to write this again.

Taking stock 2016

Making:  Preparations to move in one month. OMG. I can't wait and I'm terrified.

Cooking:  Constantly. Why do we have to feed our children!? Ha!

Drinking:  A glass of wine, or a beer, every night. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

Reading:   "The Shoemakers Wife" - again. It's so good. Read it.

Wanting:   To be back in shape. Peace. To get settled in my new house. Healing for those I love. A vacation with Seth. Fall! London. 

Looking:   At possible big changes in my life.

Playing:    Go Fish. Every day with Millie.

Wasting:   Energy on things I can't control.

Wishing:   That Matilda would stay this age. She's perfect right now. Just perfect.

Missing:    Romance.

Enjoying:  My amazing daughters and how delightful and unique they are.

Waiting:   For life to feel a bit easier again. But I keep waiting for this, maybe it's time to stop.

Liking:    Summer dresses, Louie, the feeling of butterflies I get when thinking about London this fall, sweet potatoes, Hamilton.

Wondering:  What other major changes could come this year?

Loving:  That Matilda is SUCH a momma's girl. She's clingy. She only wants me. But she snuggles and kisses me and I LOVE it.

Hoping:  I can get my act together and run the 1/2 marathon in September.

Marveling:  At the amount of love I can feel for my family. It's consuming and wonderful. 

Needing:   A night away with Seth. 

Smelling:  The stale smell of air-conditioned air.

Wearing:  Clothes that feel a bit too snug.

Following:  A lot less. No Facebook has done wonders for my mood.

Noticing:    That I control my happiness. It's all me.
Knowing:   Everything is going to be ok. 

Thinking:   Of all of the things I need to do. And wonderful how in the hell we are going to pull this off.

Giggling:   With my coworkers over our verbal abuse and Michael McDonald impressions.
Feeling:  Good, in spite of all of the shit that has been taking place around me.  

She Used to be Mine

It's not simple to say, that most days, I don't recognize me.

It's not easy to know, I'm not anything like I used to be.

Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror and think, "Who are you?" You don't seem to resemble the old you. Neither in appearance or in personality. You've become a shadowed version of yourself. It happens so gradually that you don't even notice it at first. But one day, bam! You start self reflecting and realize how much you have changed. Sometimes for the better, but lately for me, its been for the worse.

Tonight I was leaving a get together with some girlfriends. For the first time in days I felt relaxed and content. I didn't feel like a pile of stress, anxiety, anger and nerves. I was alone in my car, driving on the freeway during the pinking hour. Marveling at the view of the mountains that I see every day, but rarely see at this time of night. I was listening to my music for a change, and not KUER. "She Used to be Mine" is my current favorite song. I sang along, as usual, and realized how applicable the song is to the way I feel. Life has swept in through the backdoor and carved out a person that I no longer recognize.

Life, as of late has made me angry. Jaded. Sad. Both just the world and current events (Orlando shooting, a possible Trump presidency, etc.) but mainly my personal life has made me angry. I don't need to go into everything that has been happening in my life, and in my family's life but it has hurt us all. It has pitted sibling against sibling. Parent against parent. I've felt and experienced moments of fear, anger, sadness and despondency. All of these emotions have turned me into a person that I don't like.

When I think back to what the "old Becky" was like I think the most descriptive words would be: happy, positive, empathetic, social, loving, kind, silly.

I miss that girl. This girl isn't any of those things right now. This girl feels more: depressed, caged, angry, tired, ugly, negative. This girl writes blogs about how much she despises summer and then gets upset when people call her out for being angry. Old Becky would never have written something so ridiculous. And her dear friends would never have to call her out for her shitty attitude. This version of me has become so enraged by people's comments and opinions on Facebook that she wanted to jump through the screen and clock neighbors, friends and family in the nose. This Becky is not me. I have allowed largely external events in my life carve me into a person that is largely unrecognizable. And I'm tired of it. I'm ready to start the transformation ... to rise from the ashes ... and become "me" again.

This has been and will continue to be a difficult year and I can decide to let it pull me even further away from myself, or I can do better to rise above it. I'm not sure what to do about my family situation. I'm looking for a reasonable way to deal with the pain and the fear. There are no clear answers.

Today I was lucky enough to see the Dalai Lama speak. Hearing him couldn't have come on a more perfect day. I felt so burdened as I walked to the event. I just needed to feel... light again. His message was simple, we need to be more compassionate. We can't simply pray for peace, we must be active in achieving peace in this world. We are all the same. We all deserve love and happiness.

As I contemplated his message I realized that I can't bring peace to the world. But I can bring peace within myself. I can't just sit around and expect life to calm down and for peace to once again settle upon my life. I need to actively search it out. In the past I have found peace in yoga. I have found peace in running. I have found peace in my beautiful daughters. I have found peace in letting go of control. I have found peace in forgiveness. I have found peace by offering love to another. I have found peace by consciously making an effort to control my negative thoughts and expressions.

This current Becky is crap. I'm ready to disassemble her piece by piece until I find the old Becky again. Because under the layers of bitterness, negativity, self-consciousness, and anger is that happy and positive girl that I once knew.

So here's to finding her again.

Making Peace with Summer

It's June 15th today. It's a hot and windy evening. I'm sitting in my air-conditioned house thinking about summer. I have began my early morning runs that I usually start regularly in May and the mornings are already warm. The sun starts to rise around 5:15am, and my girls wake early with it. I grudgingly remove my summer clothes bin from the garage and put away my cute sweaters, boots, coats and scarves. Our backyard neighbors begin having weekend parties on their back deck until the wee hours of morning. The girls go to bed at 7:30-8:00 and our street fills with people walking up to the park for the summer night movies in the park just as I start making my way downstairs to enjoy some TV. And just as I start to drift off to sleep, someone lights off fireworks...in June.

I hate summer.

I know people think I'm crazy but I just don't love summer. As a kid it was awesome. No school. No responsibilities. Hanging out with friends all day. Spending so much time at the pool that my hair turned green. Night games. Sleepovers. Camping and vacations. Summer as a kid was awesome.

Summer as an adult without kids, still pretty great. Festivals. Vacations. Hanging out in the canyons. Rock climbing. Staying up late with friends. Fourth of July in Boise.

Outdoor concerts. Long bike rides.

Summer with young kids...not fun. I think eventually I'll love the summer again. Maybe when my kids are older and going to the pool means "taking the kids swimming while I relax and read a book". Right now going to the pool means making sure the girls aren't burning, drowning or getting splashed by the big kids. Most summer activities require an insane amount of planning and packing for an activity that lasts maybe 1-2 hours tops and is just a lot of damn work.

We don't really go to festivals. Festivals mean crowds. Crowds and strollers don't mix. Festivals mean heat...which I hate. I don't even stay up late anymore because the blasted sun wakes my kids up at 6am or earlier. And my kids really just need to go to bed at a decent hour. Last night we were late getting the girls to bed. They both went to bed about an hour later than normal. They were both a mess today. It's just not worth it. So we bring them home. We leave the barbecues early because it's just not worth a full day of fussy kids because they are tired.

Vacations? Ya, vacations with little ones are not fun. They are trips. They are exhausting. I can't wait until my kids are about 7 and 10. Road trips will be a blast. Right now, Matilda just screams in her carseat. Right now I see people posting pictures of their vacations and I practically cry with envy. Seth and I haven't had a night away together in 16 months. 16 freaking months. The need I have for a vacation is intense. The jealousy is palpable. I seriously can't stop thinking about this trip with my friends...and wanting to be there so much that I almost can't stand it.

My biggest gripe about summer though is the heat. I hate that I can't take my girls to the park in the middle of the day because it's too hot and the slides could potentially scald their legs. I love the idea of barbecues with family and friends, but it's often to hot to enjoy being outside until the sun goes down.

Sleeping in the summer is tough because it doesn't cool off enough at night to sleep with the windows open. Trying to run any later than 8am usually is impossible because it's too hot. Boo for heat!

And can I talk about something that I absolutely hate that goes hand-in-hand with this awful season? Fireworks. Now, let me be clear, I don't mind them on the 4th and the 24th. I get it. Have fun. Light them. Go to overly crowded parks and witness the shows. That is fun (again my kids are too little to take there) But why, oh why do we have to have them all damn summer? I don't know if it's just my neighborhood but I start hearing them at the end of June and they last through Labor Day. Late at night, in the middle of the night, those huge ariel ones keep me awake and pisses me right off. I want to punch fireworks in the face because people are so inconsiderate. I can't put in earplugs so it just interrupts my sleep. Stupid fireworks make me irrationally angry.

So yes. I hate summer. You know the best part about summer? The anticipation of autumn.  Seriously, I'm already excited for fall. I get butterflies thinking about fall. The crisp days, the brilliant colors, the smells, the baking, the fashion, pumpkins, football, Halloween, etc. Autumn is the best season. It comes too late and leaves too soon but I love it so damn much.

Ok now that I have my hatred of summer off my chest (holy cow I really just went off there didn't I?), I really need to start thinking of ways to make peace with it. I can't change summer. So how do I embrace it? I see so many friends that just dread the coming of school every August. They hate the schedules and routine...and I crave that. How do you teach a type A, OCD personality to enjoy the carefree days of summer?

Summer, I desperately want to love you. I want to look forward to you. I want to enjoy the heat and get a nice tan. I want to stay up late with my kids watching movies in the park. I want to go camping and to the firework shows.

But I ... just...can't.

So do I just come to terms with the reality of my summers for now? Do I just bask in the glory of Netflix binging? Do I blow up inflatable pools, put my baby in a cute swimming suit and sit in a lawn chair while drinking a beer and call it good?

That's my reality right now. Summers aren't relaxing. Summers are just seasons that make me insanely jealous of people with more freedom than I have. But summer won't always suck for me. In about 3-4 years I will probably love summer and despise fall. I may discover what the big fuss is about. But for now, I have to simply make peace with this blasted season.

This year I vow to buy fireworks to shoot off in my driveway. And invite a whole group of family and friends to come and enjoy with us.

Our new house has a covered patio, so I will have barbecues often, and at 6pm and won't die of heat. I'll take the girls swimming and be completely ok with leaving after 45 minutes. I'll plan a couple of small weekend trips with my little family because that's what you do in the summer. You go on vacation. Boise, here we come! I vow to put the girls to bed and to spend some evenings sitting outside with Seth, enjoying summer nights (which are pretty spectacular - and the only redeeming part of summer here) while we drink wine.

And maybe, just maybe, I'll get a babysitter a couple of summer nights so that Seth and I can walk up to the park and enjoy watching Goonies with 400 other people.

Summer. I'm here to embrace you. I can't change this situation. Rather than hate you, i'm going to try so hard to find ways to love you.

Maybe that simply means eating more tomatoes? Challenge accepted.

At Least I'll Have That

I don't claim to be a great mother. I would actually claim to be a decent mom but certainly not a great one. I let Millie play with the iPad too often. I turn on shows when I'm exhausted and need to shower. She survives on a diet of mac-n-cheese, quesadillas and pancakes. I lose my temper. I say things in front of her and then cringe as I hear her repeat them, "Ugh it's so freaking hot in here." "Mom, that's it. I'm done. I'm done with you." When she says things like, "Mom, do you know what a wiener is? (whispering) it's a penis!' I bust up laughing rather than chastising her. I arrive at work on Monday just skipping and happy because I am away from my girls after a long weekend. I look forward to bedtime each night. I secretly resent the kids for taking away my vacation time, sleep, romance and fun. Hell, I'm usually dead asleep on my couch by 8:30 or 9pm each night.

Sure, we play. Sure we read and read and read together. We go fun places. We bake together. I sing her songs every night. We play dress up and act out The Wizard of Oz. I tell her at least 15 times a day that I love her. I kiss her to death. She knows she is loved. She's my buddy. My best little friend. She's my right-hand girl.

Yet one day changed me. No matter how shitty of a mom I am, there was the day that I made my girl's dreams come true. At least I'll always have that.

But before we get into the best day ever, lets talk about my quirky daughter a bit shall we? Lets not forget the wide range of odd things she has been obsessed with over the years. Nutcrackers. Mr. Big Guy. Stop signs. Wizard of Oz.

Enter kangaroos. I'm not entirely sure how she first learned about them, but lets just say, in true Millie form, once she heard about this animal...she was hooked. It started innocently enough, "Mom! Did you know that kangaroos have a pouch?!" Then she started learning all about them, and informing people of basic facts, "Did you know that this muscle kangaroos like to kick box? They puff out their chests and scratch their chests and then they punch!" "They use their big strong tail as a kickstand to kick the other kangaroos!" "Did you know that they call their babies Joeys!?"

She knew they were from a far away place called Australia. I'm not entirely sure how she got the idea in her head, but apparently Australia is a whole other planet. If you ask her what she wants to be when she grows up she will promptly answer, "I want to be an astronaut so I can go to the hot planet Australia and get a kangaroo!"

My favorite part of her obsession was the way she played kangaroo. She was always the momma kangaroo and her little doll Jasmine (yes she is also obsessed with princesses like most girls her age) became her "precious baby kangaroo." Jasmine stopped wearing clothes, because she is clearly a kangaroo, and found a place in Millie's shirt. And that is where she has resided for nearly a year now. If you accidentally refer to her baby as Jasmine, she will quickly correct you, "It's not Jasmine. It's my precious baby kangaroo."

We made up a song about her.


We played games where Millie would ask me to be the momma kangaroo, hold my arms out and she would hop into my pouch. She gets an ornament every Christmas, so of course, Etsy provided a custom-made kangaroo ornament.

For Valentine's Day she received a special kangaroo necklace, complete with her birthstone. Precious baby kangaroo even joins us on vacations...but fear not...she's secured in the carseat.

Santa even brought her a kangaroo stuffed animal for Christmas. Complete with a baby that you can take out of the pouch. Did this replace her precious baby? Of course not.

Millie's favorite letter is, yes, you guessed it "K!" She has an animal memory game. Forget about putting the kangaroo match inside the game. Nope, that belongs in her special drawer, or propped up on her night stand, "so they can watch me sleep".

It's serious business, loving kangaroos in the Youkstetter household. I keep expecting this phase to pass but we are nearly a year into this. And I love it.

Millie has asked often to see a kangaroo. I had to regretfully inform her that our zoo doesn't have a kangaroo. But maybe we can make a trip to San Diego ("Seth we really need to take her to the San Diego zoo this year") and see one there?That was the plan. We would try and make it there someday. Hopefully her kangaroo obsession would be in-tact at that time.

I talk about my kids a lot. I'm sure I drive everyone crazy with my Millie stories. The other day I was at a work event. A donor and I were discussing our little 4-year-olds and how funny they are. I mentioned that Millie was crazy about kangaroos. My donor says, "Oh how funny. My little girl got to meet a therapy kangaroo at the VA nursing home last week."


When I told this to Seth he said, "Oh come on Becky. You were drunk at that event (partially true). There is not a therapy kangaroo!" I swore I heard correctly.

Sure enough, thanks to google I quickly found out that there is a therapy kangaroo. And it resides just down the street from my office. BEST. NEWS. EVER. The following Monday I called, "Hi. I heard you have a therapy kangaroo. And I hate to even ask this, but my little girl is 100% obsessed with kangaroos. Is there anyway I can bring her by sometime to see it?"

Much to my excitement they agreed!

I was so excited I couldn't stand it. I tried to wait and tell Millie the day of, or the day before. But no, I told her a fully 6 days before we were set to go. Her reaction went exactly the way I hoped. She screamed and laughed and clapped and yelled, "Mom! I can't wait to bring it home as my pet!"

Wait what?  Oh no. No no no no no.

"Oh honey, we don't get to keep it. We just get to go and visit it. And pet it!" Of course she broke down into hysterics as I desperately tried to backpedal and convince her how awesome the visit would be.  Ha!

She calmed down and was still very excited to go.

The big day finally came. Can I just say that this was the best "good behavior" tool I have ever had in my arsenal? Anytime she started to act up I could casually say, "I guess you don't want to see the baby kangaroo after all" and she would promptly get in line.

We arrived at the nursing home walked excitedly down the hall. I admit I was nervous. I was nervous that it was going to be a huge let-down for her. I was worried she would be scared. I was worried that they owner/staff would be annoyed that we were there, not to visit our grandparent, but to see the damn kangaroo. Yet, it turns out I had nothing to worry about. Absolutely nothing. Millie was smitten.

Little baby Lulu was just 17 weeks old and was so tiny and sweet. The owner was incredible to Millie. She let her hold her. She got to see her hop around a bit. And she was told she could come back anytime to visit. Because apparently it lives there 5 days a week.

I got big hugs from Millie that night. Big hugs. She was so happy. On the way home from our 30 minute visit I asked Millie what was better, when Santa came and brought presents, or when we got to visit the baby kangaroo. She didn't miss a beat and happily exclaimed, "Holding the kangaroo!"

And that was the day that I made my kid's dream come true. No matter how crappy of a mom I may be, at least I'll have that day. At least I can look back fondly on the day we met a kangaroo. When she's 16 and claims I don't give her anything I can say, "Not true. I gave you time with a baby kangaroo. I freaking make magic happen kid!"

At least I'll have that day. No matter how hairy things may get.

Precious baby kangaroo.....she kind of looks like Jasmine too.....