Top 8 Reasons to Date, Friend, or Otherwise Hang Out With Single Moms

single mom

#1. We won’t waste your time

multitask

Since every.single.minute. of our time is basically borrowed, we want to make the most of that which we have! Some days, I find myself leaving work, driving the hour commute home, hitting a happy hour get together, and experiencing meaningful (albeit brief) conversations with multiple interesting new people, all in the 33.5 minutes I have before I have to pick up my daughter from afterschool care. We may have short pockets of time, but we make them count! You can absolutely fit a dinner, drinks, and quality time into the 3 hour window that the babysitter is available for on Saturday night!

#2. We know how to take care of you (whether you are sick, injured, sad, or scared, single moms will have a fix for you!)

sickman

My second husband told me that I was nicer to him when he was sick than I was to him normally. I’m not sure about that, but I know that when the stomach flu had him down for a couple straight days, I was a rock star changing out his puke bucket and giving him cold washcloths, sips of flat ginger ale, etc, while he recovered. In the days that followed when both my stepsons got sick from the same bug, and weren’t as great about making it to the bathroom, I was still in mommy mode and taking care of everything calmly, sweetly, and without sympathy puking (a huge feat, ha!) If you are sad, your blood sugar is probably low and you should eat a banana. If you are scared, you probably need to toughen up. Single moms need a real man! 😉

#3. We are always prepared

emergency-preparedness

While my kiddos may be older now, and not require the pack mule supplies of yesteryear, any mom worth her salt will still be packing a couple band aids, Chap Stick, Tylenol or maybe even wet wipes. If nothing else, we are masters of improvisation. Bleeding uncontrollably and no industrial first aid kit in sight? Guaranteed most mommy’s will rip the shirt off of our backs to wrap your wound and start administering first aid, while most bystanders are still trying not to hurl and cry from the sight of your blood.

#4. We appreciate romance

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Let’s face it, most of us moms have been married, or at least in numerous serious relationships. When you have had bad relationships or an apathetic spouse, you come to truly appreciate the little things like occasional candelight or flowers. Opening our car door, walking on the street side of the road, holding the door, we LOVE that stuff. We are not going to be the combative feminist chick who punches you for being thoughtful as if it were an insult to us, instead, we will say thank you. And mean it.

#5. It really IS the thought that counts with us..

serenade

While jewelry is nice and all that, it is totally not necessary (at the early stages at least). A heartfelt note, playing us a song, a single wildflower, helping us put up Christmas lights with a staple gun….that is the stuff that sets our hearts aflutter. Acts of service are hugely meaningful to single moms, and we wholeheartedly appreciate them.

#6. We know how to let our hair down!

partygurl

Like many of my single mom friends, I spent my 20s in an unhappy marriage being the responsible “patterned turtleneck and sneakers” frumpy mom whose excitement consisted of a weekly tv show. Now, in my 30s, I really find that I love to put on a cute dress, do it all up, and get a bit wild out on the town. Sure, us single moms might be taking tequila shots and dancing up on the stage all night, but you better believe we are home in time for our babysitter curfew! And we know how to have fun without making stupid decisions, like some of our younger, less life-experienced counterparts. That brings me to….

#7. We are the “mother hens” when we need to be

motherhen

If you need a safe ride home in the middle of the night because you can’t drive or are in a bad situation, you can call us. We may lecture you, we may be pissed off, but we will come get you and get you home safely. Advice in general? We’ve got tons of the stuff, just waiting to be asked for. We probably have an opinion on just about everything. And we know, because we have birthed children and managed to protect them from all of the bad shit in the world that exists to try and get them: boogie men, snakes, pedophiles, peanuts, mean girls, you name it! We take care of the people around us, because we don’t know how not to!

and finally,

#8. We are in the prime of our life

peak

……need I say more? 

What It’s Really Like to Be A Single Mom (at least in my experience)

It’s like…

  • Living on a cocktail of sugar and caffeine…and worrying it may kill you one day
  • Always feeling guilty about something or another
  • Trying to balance your need for adult interactions with your utter exhaustion at the end of a long work week
  • Feeding your kid fast food out of desperation, and feeling incredibly guilty for it
  • Hearing your friends complain about how awful it was when their husband was singleout of town for a week and they had to deal with the kids all on their own (um, hello, this is my everyday life. Try doing that without the financial support of a spouse).
  • Hearing tons of stories about how ex-wives took their ex-husbands for a ride and got all their money, houses, etc, and wondering why you couldn’t figure out how to even get a reasonable amount of child support from yours for your kid’s basic subsistence
  • Having to constantly feel bad that your kid feels bad that all of their friends have the “right” clothes, the “right” shoes, the “right” bag, and knowing that the only way that will happen is thrift stores if you are super lucky
  • not having bought yourself a new bra in years, and taping down the broken wires in yours with duct tape and hoping it won’t stab you at an inopportune time
  • understanding how the temporary satisfaction of being a gold-digger is appealing to some, but knowing that you could never for a minute choose someone based on their income potential, even if it would in theory make your life easier
  • being the literal only parent solo at school plays, concerts, graduations, etc for years on end
  • not feeling like you fit in anywhere
  • holding your kid while they cry about how they want their dad to be around like all of their friends
  • feeling guilty for not checking your kids social media and going through their phone as much as you should due to utter exhaustion and lack of time
  • not enough sleep….ever
  • feeling guilty that your house isn’t as decorated, clean, organized as some…intellectually knowing that this standard is set by friends who can afford a decorator, housecleaner, professional organizer, but holding self to that standard nonetheless
  • having to worry that men who try to date you could be pedophiles targeting you to get to your daughters
  • knowing that the example you set in your dating life, is the role model your daughters will emulate when they start dating…no pressure
  • valuing how your boyfriend interacts with your kids more than how the two of you get along…but knowing that isn’t right
  • having to deal with your ex helping with kids’ activities based on what his current girlfriend thinks he should help with
  • knowing that your ex has every new techie gadget known to man, but can’t provide his kid with a laptop that she desperately needs for school
  • having to deal with bribes by the ex of puppies if your kid goes to live with him
  • feeling the satisfaction that if your kid is a kind and amiable person, that it had mostly to do with something you are doing right
  • feeling proud when your kid says thank you to other parents, especially when you realize how many of their friends always neglect to say it to you
  • wishing other moms would invite you to moms’ gatherings, but understanding that most of their friend network is other couples
  • trying to constantly volunteer to host sleepovers, in the hopes that other parents will reciprocate and give you a much needed night off where you aren’t rushing to get home early
  • feeling guilty on dates because you have your phone out and on to respond to your kids text messages
  • feeling guilty on dates because you should be home with your kid
  • feeling guilty on dates because you probably talk about your kid too much
  • feeling guilty on dates because once you know there is no future, you just want to get home to your kid and not linger over the evening
  • when your kid has a sleepover and you have a much needed night off, being too exhausted to want to do anything, and then missing the kid..
  • when your kid is visiting their other parent, looking forward to that break forever, then once it’s happening, feeling at loose ends without your kid
  • wandering into your kids room when they are gone and feeling sad and missing them
  • looking at pictures of your kids when you were still an intact family, and feeling guilty that that happiness was ripped from them
  • intellectually knowing that divorce was the right thing in your situation, but still feeling tremendous sadness and guilt that it happened to your kids
  • wondering why some couples get to be so happy and in such healthy relationships
  • hoping that your kids will have healthy relationships more than anything, when they grow up
  • always feeling judged by everyone
  • feeling misunderstood
  • still trying to volunteer and serve as much as you did when a stay at home married parent (at kids school, as girl scout leader, at church), even though you know you don’t have time and it’s too much stress added to your stress cocktail
  • feeling frustrated in your volunteer positions that you struggle to get help from other people who are stay at home parents, don’t work, and don’t really have much else going on
  • trying to still be the cool mom who takes your kid and their friends to all kinds of events and activities that you really can’t afford to, because back when you were married, you USED to be able to pay for all that stuff, no problem
  • not being able to buy groceries for the rest of that month that you splurge on movies or manicures, or whatever, and then feeling like you should have known better
  • the realization that each time you do a mini splurge like starbucks, by the end of that month you will have to be selling stuff from your house to be able to make ends meet
  • only being able to take your kids on a once every 5 years vacation if you stay with friends for cheap and use your entire tax refund for plane tickets
  • always managing to make it through each month somehow, but living beyond the definition of paycheck to paycheck
  • watching your friends go to nonstop concerts, charity balls, fundraisers and traveling, and not being able to even consider any of that unless your friend covers your ticket or you get asked on a date to one of those things
  • becoming mega depressed scrolling through social media, where it seems no one struggles financially, has fights with their teenagers, or is left out of anything
  • having many friends more than a decade younger than you because they are fun and go out, but them not being able to relate to almost any aspect of your life
  • having your friends your age all have their kids and get married a decade after you did, so they are financially secure, just having babies now, and pretty much can’t relate to you at all
  • having people come to you thinking you are the poster child for divorce, when in actuality you are dead against it unless in the case of abuse…and having them and you feel misunderstood when you try to discuss..
  • having your friends think that you will be sympathetic if they divorce their husband for reasons such as being “bored”, “not feeling like he gets me”, or “he doesn’t help enough around the house.” I’m not.
  • Being over hearing the sound of your own voice talking about your dating and relationship misadventures…but talking about them nonetheless because everyone seems to like your stories…
  • Having everyone assume that you are done having kids because you have teenagers, and not understanding how you could possibly want more
  • Feeling like a woman with a scarlet D on her chest at church…
  • Always feeling like you have to apologize for something
  • Feeling grateful when people invite you or include you in any way…feeling kind of like a lost puppy getting adopted
  • Never-endingly worrying about finances and money
  • Struggling to keep the faith each time life knocks you down, but always trying
  • Feeling simultaneously proud of being a “superwoman”…and guilt over what this is probably costing you and your family
  • Not having patience when people complain about their issues, because you are always thinking to yourself that yours are worse
  • Feeling guilty for your lack of patience in general
  • Not having tolerance for grown men you date who act like babies and whine about not having your full attention enough
  • Being more impressed by a date who worries about what your kid is eating for dinner than what the two of you are
  • Constantly dealing with unexpected expenses (school pictures, brakes for the car, fees for youth group retreats, emergency room co-pays, cheerleading shoes)
  • Feeling like a date to the grocery store is at times way more intimate than a fancy dinner
  • Appreciating friends who give your kid babysitting or easy cleaning jobs so that she can have some spending money that doesn’t come from you
  • Wanting to be a minimalist, because you just can’t handle dealing with all your stuff anymore
  • At times feeling like a crazy person alternating between bouts of hysterical crying and being productive
  • Letting things build up until you just have to resign your volunteer positions
  • Wondering when it will ever get easier
  • Wondering what is the point of it all
  • Being up at night with anxiety over things you can’t control
  • Always having to be the watchdog, staying up all night when you feel like there could be a threat
  • Making sure your kid gets braces, wears sunscreen, doesn’t talk to strange people online, and eats fruit and veggies
  • Feeling bad when your kid tells you they wish you were still a stay at home mom
  • Hoping that struggling through your degrees after your divorce shows your daughters that education is super important, and best when done pre-family
  • Being a PhD dropout because it was too hard on your family, and trying not to feel like a failure because of it
  • Having to give yourself a reality check when comparing yourself to others at work- are any of them single parents dealing with a fraction of what you are dealing with?
  • Eating WAY too many of your meals standing up at the counter
  • Eating cereal for far too many meals when your kiddo isn’t with you
  • Knowing that you would die for those little people, and anything that you can do for them you are going to happily do.
  • That you were put on this planet to be their mother.

Bottom line…it’s not easy.  Hugs to all my other single parent lovelies.  You are amazing!

Fear, Faith and the End

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“If today was your last day
And tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?”-Nickelback

~~~

The world I know has always had evil, war, and bad guys.  Lately though  it has seemed to hit me more profoundly than ever before,  that any given moment might be my last.

Sitting in one of those mega-theatres waiting for the premiere of Mockingjay Part 2 to start this past Friday, I was uncomfortable.  I was uncomfortable because my mind kept thinking about the atrocities that have happened in movie theatres in the past few years.  In that moment, due to all of the issues in our world, I felt raw and exposed.  I could feel the frustration and desperation that seemed to be reverberating among all people. It is scary, and sometimes I let myself become scared.  The theatre on Friday was suddenly a trigger for me.  I’ve never been the victim of a theater shooting, but one of my friends has, and was in the Aurora theater in 2012.  The likelihood of a shooting incident happening in MY theatre on Friday night, of all the 5700 in America, is not likely.  But I’m sure the victims (16 killed and 80 injured) in the 3 theater shootings in the past 3 years assumed the same thing.  They thought they were safe.

Theaters are one of the last remaining venues bringing in large crowds that does not have any type of security. There are no searches, no metal detectors, and you can really bring in whatever you like. (I know, because my daughter and I routinely smuggle in water bottles, our own popcorn, and candy bars.  With minimal guilt, I should add).  Throughout the movie, which was definitely action and has some times of gunfire, etc, I noticed I was definitely tense.  I found myself looking up to examine each person who went down the side aisle.  I found myself plotting an escape route and trying to figure how best I would protect my daughter and get her out of there if something went down.  However, I stayed and enjoyed the movie.  Even though I felt vulnerable.  Staying was my protest against the evil in the world.  And of course the movie passed without incident.

~~

On Sunday, I was at the Cathedral downtown for an afternoon volunteer training.  When I walked in, I noticed a man who by his attire and items he carried with him, appeared to be experiencing homelessness.  This is nothing new for the Cathedral, which is located right near the Capitol in downtown Denver.  The man though, appeared to be hugely agitated, and was saying strange things.  He vehemently insisted on speaking with a priest right away, and finally a priest came out.  They ended up speaking for quite some time.  When they were done, we all watched the man, expecting that he would then leave. Instead he approached our group of about 15, and spoke loudly at us for a while, interrupting our training.  It was the words he spoke that shook me.  He assured us that we would “see him in the news”, and that “he was going down in history today.”  That alone was enough to get my nerves going.  Was he just mentally ill, or did he have some vendetta against the church, and aimed to settle that score with some act?  He eventually left, and all was peaceful again.

Not 3 hours later that same day, I was back at the Cathedral for evening mass.  Before the service started, three young men in their early twenties came busting down the main aisle, and approached the altar.  They all appeared to be wearing clothes that I would say are worn often by the gang related population in Denver, based on the colors of clothing, etc.  2 of the men went up and made some gestures and signs, while the 3rd man videotaped the other 2.  It was so bizarre and out of the ordinary, that I just watched them until they left, along with a handful of others.  I felt that same feeling of being uncomfortable and unsafe again, the third time now in 48 hours.

The thing is, I’m used to fearing for my safety at times.  As a victim of crime in the past, and as someone who feels the primal need to protect my children with my life, I tend to be hyper vigilant far more than the average person.  A sound that a normal person thinks nothing of, sends my heart rate spiking and I enter fight or flight mode in a fraction of a second.  But these moments of fear from this weekend were different… rather than based on fear of being attacked or my home broken into, I feared being caught in an act of random violence or terrorism.  In the attacks in Paris, and on 9/11, the victims were people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  There was nothing specific about them that put them at greater risk than anyone else around.  That to me, is the most terrifying aspect of attacks such as these.

So what is the answer?  I prayed about this a lot on Sunday.  Do we just turn a blind eye to the risk and desperation that seems to be growing each year across the world? Do we just assume that it won’t happen to us?  The answer that came to me involved my Catholic faith.  If I walk the talk, then I live my life ready to be done on this earth at any given moment.  I need to be ready to meet Jesus, and account for the way I have lived, the decisions that I have made, and the reality of who I have been.  Moving forward from this day, while still being aware and vigilant about my surroundings, I plan to focus more on readying my soul for the end, whenever it shall come.

~~~

“I’ve been such a mess
But now I can’t care less
I could bleed to death

Oh Lord I’m ready now
All the walls are down
Time is running out
And I want to make this count”
-Plumb 

 ~~~

“And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna”- Matthew 10:28

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son”- Colossians 1:13

I AM the woman at the well

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I don’t remember what the exact date was.  The church bulletin that day somehow found its way to the recycle bin, as have the many others before and since.  I remember that it was sometime during Lent 2014, and with this general info I let google do it’s magic, and can now share with you that it was March 23, 2014, the third Sunday of Lent.

The responsorial psalm was “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”  My heart was already wide open.  I was already a puddle of mush.

Just a few days earlier on Thursday, March 20, I had participated in “The Light is on for you,” a night where parishes across the Archdiocese open their doors for confession, specifically geared towards those who hadn’t been in a very long time or had fallen away from the church.  Both applied to me. For about 5 years, I had only set foot in a Catholic church possibly for Christmas and Easter, if even then.  I had projected my treatment by a few misguided Catholics during and following my divorce, as a judgment by the religion as a whole.  My defensive response was to say “fine, who needs this,” and leave the church completely.

On Ash Wednesday, a few days prior, something had called me to take my daughter to get our ashes.  Then, a few days later, I said yes to a mass invitation from a friend, and found myself attending  the first Sunday of Lent mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Downtown Denver.  The Cathedral is exceptionally beautiful and awe inspiring, but it was a Deacon at the front of the Cathedral walking around lighting candles and such, that caught my eye.  “I went to high school with that guy,” I whispered to my friend and my daughter.  Neither were super impressed, I think I might have gotten a “cool” response, or something like that.  At the time, I had no idea what his role was up at the front of the Cathedral, but I for sure recognized the Deacon immediately as Jason Wunsch from my class at Boulder High School.

When it was time for the Homily, I was completely surprised when Jason went walking on up there.  For the life of me, I can’t remember what his homily was about, but it was AMAZING to me, and struck my heart.  After mass, I found Jason’s email, and discovered that he remembered me from high school as well!  We went to get coffee, and I found out that he was in his last year in Seminary, and was studying to be a priest!  We had so much in common, a biggie being that we had both entered the church through RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults).  As a Deacon that year, once a month he gave the Homily at one of the 4 Sunday masses.  The chance that I came to the exact mass where he was giving the homily …none of that was a coincidence, Deacon Jason said with conviction.

With Deacon Jasons guidance and support, I went to confession (and took my girls to confession), for my first time in 5 years, and for their first times since their respective first communions.  It was incredible, and amazing, and such a gift, to have GRACE.

Back to the 3rd Sunday of Lent…during the gospel reading when they told the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman, I felt my face grow hot.

Jesus said to her,

“Go call your husband and come back.”
The woman answered and said to him,
“I do not have a husband.”
Jesus answered her,
“You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’
For you have had five husbands,
and the one you have now is not your husband.
What you have said is true.”
The woman said to him,

-John 4:16-18

Tears sprang to my eyes, and I could feel myself shaking.  Sure, I haven’t had FIVE husbands….but I have had two. And was no longer married to either…

Tears poured down my face throughout the reading, and didn’t stop during the preparation of the gifts.  I dabbed at my face with the corner of my white sweater, which to this day has black mascara stains on the left sleeve edge.

When it was time to approach the altar for the Eucharist, which I could now participate regularly in for the first time in years, I was trembling.  As I consumed the body and blood, the tears started pouring anew.  I could feel a pulsing throughout my entire body.  Is this what the Holy Spirit is, I wondered?  I hope so, I thought!  It was a combination of regret, but buffered and wrapped up with hope, love, and a joy that I could feel almost tangibly.

In those moments, a mantra kept running through my mind.  “I AM the woman at the well.”  It came back to me this month, well over a year later, when I was rereading the gospel of John.  I am STILL the woman at the well.  Will I ever not be?  Do annulments change that status? Does it change in my heart?  Do I recognize the work that Christ is doing in my life, and am I properly thankful?

I am grateful to Father Jason, whose ordination as a priest I was privileged to attend in May 2014, to my partner in our family faith building efforts Kylie, and to my network of friends and family, both Catholic and non-Catholic, who have supported me throughout this journey towards faith rejuvenation and growth, throughout the past year and a half.  I appreciate you, I love you, and I pray that I can be as good of a support to you all someday, as you have been to me.

I am the woman at the well.


“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;
but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst;
the water I shall give will become in him
a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

-John 4:13-14

Somebody get me an Epi-pen! or, “Niech ktoś mi epi-pen!”

“She’ll probably grow out of it”

I’ve always been a voracious reader, so when I became a new mom at 22, I quickly amassed a comprehensive library of child development literature and books about infant and toddler health. Everyone knows that you don’t feed kiddos nuts until they are at least 18 months old, to make sure they don’t choke, aren’t allergic, etc. So at 18 months I put baby A into her high chair, lathered up her toast with a little peanut butter, and we went for it! A few hives after only a disgusted lick of the PB later, we were at the Doctor’s office being told “keep her away from nuts for now, but she’ll probably grow out of it.”

Fast forward a few years later. Baby A was 4 years old (not a baby anymore!), we were living in Germany on an Army base, and road tripping to “middle of nowhere” Poland to attend the wedding of our College buddy to his Polish wife in her hometown. As the honored out of town guests that we were, we were invited to her parents’ home for a pre-wedding reception. I spent the evening chasing after A’s sister 1 year old K trying to keep her out of trouble, since of course ours were literally the ONLY children there.  A sampled some food from the huge Polish spread, and then stopped abruptly.

Right away I knew something was off, when A came over to me making a strange chicken sound in her throat, and my first thought was that she was choking. I encouraged her to drink some water, thinking she hadn’t swallowed a bit of food all the way. I looked down into her hand and saw the culprit….NUTS on some sort of chocolate dessert. Peanuts, to be exact. I had my confirmation about 10 seconds later when hives started spreading from around her mouth to EVERYWHERE, and she projectile vomited what seemed like a trillion peanuts (but really couldn’t have been more than a couple) all over the poor Bride’s parents house.

“I can keep her airway open”

At that point, other people seemed more concerned with cleaning up the pukage than my daughters condition, but I was feeling very hopeful that she had gotten it all out of her system, and that would be the end of it. I tried to help clean up as best I could, and some of the other American’s were making a big deal out of the fact that we used up an entire roll of paper towels to cleanup, when that is like a months’ worth for a Polish family, or something equally insipid while I was dealing with a crisis. Did I mention that almost every single adult besides me at the house was drunk? Yeah, fun times trying to get people to listen to you when they are utterly trashed. At one point I asked A’s father if we should take her to a hospital. He said “No, let’s just watch her. I can keep her airway open.” Yep, 6 months as a teenage Army medic certainly gives you the same credentials as an MD, absolutely….and no, when the airway closes, about all you can do is a trach….which I’m sorry but a drunk Army signal officer who had a 5 minute stint as a medic is NOT going to be doing to our 4yo daughter…yeesh!

Soon after the night ended with us driving the 40 minutes from the Bride’s parents house to our hotel in the town where the wedding was to be held the next day. We got back to the room, and A and K’s father went down to “socialize” with the Bride’s polish brother and other relatives. I was alone in a hotel room with my 1yo and very very sick still, 4 yo. She was coughing quite a bit, still had hives on her face, and was wheezing sporadically.  After about 1/2 hour of this, I decided we HAD to get medicine of some sort. Even with my limited food allergy knowledge, I knew we needed Benadryl.

It took me about an hour to track down my husband, since I couldn’t really leave the kids in the hotel room for more than a minute, and I didn’t know where he had gone. I tried talking to the front desk guy about the option for an ambulance if A took a scary turn with her breathing, and he told me in very halting English that “sometimes ambulance come 1 hour, sometimes not come. Never know.” I ended up literally knocking on random hotel doors at 11pm at night. What I wouldn’t have given for a freaking Wal-mart! The key thing about this day back in 2005, was that Poland is not like Germany. Of all the people we dealt with in Poland, almost no one but the bride and her little brother spoke any English whatsoever. We were full on in the country, in a FOREIGN country.

I finally located A’s dad by following the sound of very loud American voices, and was very insistent that we needed to find an open pharmacy. We loaded everyone into the car, and set off. It felt like a wild goose chase, and it pretty much was. We must have driven for an hour, and finally we found a place. The bride’s brother had come with us in the car, because we needed his Polish skills badly. Him and A’s dad went into the pharmacy and were gone close to forever.  After all of that, they came back to the car with some sort of drops in a little glass bottle. We had to figure out the dosing etc, and they translated as “allergy drops.” I basically think it was like a Zyrtec or Claritin type of thing. 64 drops was what we had to give her. That was FUN. Anyway, back to the hotel, and after about an hour the puffiness had gone down, the wheezing was better, and we got some much needed sleep.

The Wedding Morning came and we were dressed up at the church on time. The chapel was AMAZING and full of gorgeous scenes that reminded one of the Sistine Chapel. During the full Catholic wedding high mass, (which goes FOREVER btw), A’s eyes starting swelling shut and the hives were head to toe down her body. She was really uncomfortable, so I took her and her sister outside to walk around the very ancient cemetery and kill time. We got through it, but I missed the whole wedding and it was NOT fun watching her suffer. The drops helped a tiny bit, but only took it down a notch.

“Eat, drink, dance, repeat”

Later on at the reception, I was a basket case. All the food they served (and served, and served, and served if you know Polish weddings) was suspect. I couldn’t identify items as meat or bread, much less know what had nuts in it at all. We had no other food, but I barely let her eat much besides crackers and cheese because I was so scared she would have a secondary exposure on top of her first one. After the first meal, she was really too sick to stay down at the reception to dance eat drink, dance eat drink, repeat, so we went up to the prison box, er, hotel room, and I tried to put the kiddos to bed. After a couple hours of very sick kiddo, and getting worse, I decided the only option at this stage was the hospital. I didn’t feel safe leaving A alone in the room, as sick as she was, so I poked my head out the window to look down into the back patio where I could hear the drunken wedding attendees partying it up. Some were smoking, so I yelled to them to please find A’s Dad. The American sister of the groom saw me, understood me, and assured me she would find him. 30 minutes later and still no husband, so I started hollering out the window again. I finally saw him, and got his attention. Apparently drunk groom’s sister had never said a word to him, and in her drunken state didn’t remember that she had even spoken to a crazy screaming woman who was yelling out the window. I was beyond irritated.

A’s dad grabbed the brother of the Bride again, and we set out around 2am to find a hospital. The fun and awesome thing about where we were in Poland is that there is not just a general ER. There are smaller, more specialized units, each having one thing that they do. We found one hospital, but it turned out that they only handled broken legs and head injuries. Found another, waited to be seen, only to have them look at her tell us “yes, she is having an allergic reaction, but unfortunately we don’t treat children.” 2 more ridiculous stops later, and we finally found a children’s hospital type place. Went in, looked around, and could NOT FIND A SOUL!!! It was like the apocalypse had come, and no one was left! At this stage I was frustrated, puzzled, scared, and freaking exhausted! Finally the bride’s brother started opening doors and found a nurse sleeping in an exam room. She got up from her slumber, went to find a DR for us, and FINALLY poor A was seen.

At that point, it went by fast. They gave her a big ole shot of something in her butt cheek, a breathing treatment, and seriously that kid was as good as new. She was herself again, and like a million times better! I was so happy I could have cried. I was so grateful we had finally found help, and SO PISSED that I had let her father convince me to wait over 28 hours to do so. The hospital staff were awesome, but could not speak even a lick of English. Because of the issues with foreign health insurance, the non-digitized Polish medical records and billing system, and the fact that none of us could understand each other, they didn’t have us pay or provide any insurance info. “Tell all of your friends that Polish people are very nice to Americans,” is what the Bride’s brother translated that the hospital staff said to us. I hugged them and effusively thanked them repeatedly, and then we left. At that stage it was almost 5am, A’s drunk father had sobered up, and the wedding festivities had pretty much wrapped up at the hotel. It was a crazy weekend, not fun for me or my kiddos in the slightest.

“No excuses”

If we had been in America, we would have headed straight to the ER when it happened and they would have nipped it in the bud. We have learned since then that she is SEVERELY allergic to peanuts (and also shellfish), and we have been epi-pen carrying folks since that day. Why the Dr’s we originally saw when A first had her reaction to PB at 18 months old did not prescribe her an epi-pen then and there is still a mystery to me; it’s common sense folks! If you or your child has EVER had a bad reaction to a food or insect sting, you should from that point on never be without an epi-pen and Benadryl, no excuses. My kids carry them with them wherever they go, I keep them in my purse, and school, after-school care, extended family, and any other who is around them knows where they are, how to use them, and is prepared to do so. I’m thankful for each day I have with my kiddos, and that we were very lucky that our experience in Poland wasn’t any worse. Kids die each year around the world from something that is benign to the rest of us, like a peanut or sliver of almond. Scary stuff, and education/awareness is the answer!

My little PA (Peanut Allergic) girl

(My little PA (Peanut Allergy) Girl in Germany)

www.Foodallergy.org  and www.peanutallergy.com are both great resources for folks who want to learn more!

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The requisite New Years Resolutions Post

I’ve decided that the act of declaring a new years resolution involving exercise just sets you up for failure.  Especially when you put it out there publicly, you’re destined to fubar it completely. 

My new years resolutions for years have included “be a runner.”  It sounds so easy, the reality is so very hard!  I had coffee last week with an old high school boyfriend and his lovely wife, both of whom are runners, the hard-core kind.  Facebook is always showing me how they are running this race and that race, training for a half marathon, you name it.  “Just lace up your shoes and go,” they told me when I explained to them my running aspirations.  Oh that it were that simple for this girl!  Running for me involves gear, the perfect playlist, mace (depending where I run), not to mention the perfect weather conditions.  If it’s too chilly, my ears hurt, if it’s too hot, I wuss out.  To my bones though, I know that the key to skinny ass and happy heart are the kind of cardio that running can give to a girl.

The problem with exercise goals is that there is “always something” that seems to stand in our way.  I have spent that last 3 straight days sick in bed with bronchitis, and only today seem to be on the mend (thanks, Z pack!).  Running today would be idiocy, yet I’m on fire to start the new year right!  See, it’s always something!

So my actual, public, goals for 2014 that I will endeavor to accomplish are these:

1)            Save $$ and visit my best friend and her family in Romania, since I have missed visiting them so far in Peru, Dominican Republic, AND Washington D.C. and really am an awful excuse for a best friend.  This visit WILL happen this year!

2)            Run the Bolder Boulder again, even if I haven’t trained enough, even if I have crap times, even if an asteroid falls on my building, I will do my best and git er done!

3)            Blog at least once a week, even if it’s crap, even if no one reads it, and even if I have nothing interesting to say, I will say it publicly!

4)           Most importantly, take the time to laugh and be silly.  Nothing makes me happier than goofing around with my wonderful people.  I hope to laugh with many of you during this next year!

All my best for 2014 friends, I hope it’s amazing!Image

December 31, 2013

As I bid adieu to yet another year, I can’t help but ponder New Years Eve’s of past.  Where I was, what I was doing, and most importantly, who I was with.

Of course the most recent one comes to mind first.  After having spent Christmas week of 2012 in Vienna with my errant Australian husband to see if our relationship was salvageable, and mutually deciding with a most emphatic “NO” that it was not, I was crashing on the couch of my good friend Maria, another Army ex-wife who took pity on my facebook plea for last-minute shelter abroad.  After cancelling the second half of our European “Marriage hail Mary” trip that was supposed to continue on over New Years in Budapest, the Aussie and I had parted ways amicably; him safely in a Frankfurt airport hotel, and me cocooned in the embrace of Maria’s CBD (central business district- you WANT to live there!) Wiesbaden flat with her, her children, and their entourage of interesting and welcoming expat friends.

Although I was sad to miss Budapest, there is nowhere quite like Germany for New Years.  The fireworks start days ahead of time, randomly popping sounds causing you to pause and listen for a moment.  From Maria’s very upper floor vantage point, the fireworks echoed through the narrow cobblestone passageways all the way up, amplified by the closeness of the building across the way.  The plan for that night was a nice dinner, bottles of wine and bubbly for us three wild mothers of children ranging from roughly eight to twenty years old, and to set off fireworks with the younger kids that were too young to hit the clubs.

Close to midnight, we headed down and spent a couple of hours at the Marktplatz, toasting the new year with hundreds of Germans, tourists and expats of all ages, nationalities, and sizes.  I have to admit, the combination of alcohol fueled strangers and fireworks together had me watching the young ones in our group quite closely due to horrors of eyes and fingers gone missing (you’ll shoot your eye out).  After about a half hour and no missing digits, I forced myself to relax and just enjoy the moment.  I was in Germany, facing my second divorce in the past four years, but I was OK…I was surrounded by amazingly loving and supportive people, had a job I loved to head back to, and my two amazing daughters to pick up at the airport a day after arriving home.  My eight-year-old boyfriend for the night was pretty cute too (takes after Maria!)

Fast forward to a year later.  I’m still in Denver.  Better apartment, different job.  One big time post Aussie relationship down, and I’m still standing as strong as ever. Woody Allen said “if you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” I think I would rather laugh and make those around me laugh than do almost anything else in the world, so I’m going to keep on planning the next great thing in my life. It may just happen while I’m busy making those other plans…

Fiat 500....best car on the Autobahn

Fiat 500….best car on the Autobahn