Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ain't Life Grand?

Today, I turned 35!

My day started much as it does every other day, with Super Man waking me with a kiss.

He then invited me to join him downstairs to open my card from him. Inside the beautiful card was a separate sheet of paper, folded.

And inside that was the secret itinerary for my day. :)

Super Man sent me to The Waters Spa in Kohler, Wisconsin, for the bulk of the day today. Once there, I received a 50-minute massage, a 50-minute spa manicure, and a lovely spa lunch.

And the whole experience was amazing. I felt SO relaxed, so peaceful, so... so... zen when it was all said and done.

It was the perfect way to thank my body for getting me through 35 years (not to mention bearing Super Boy!), and the perfect way for Super Man to honor me and my special day.

It was, in a word, sublime.

To celebrate the start of another year of a blessed life, I've decided to update the look of my blog - again (I hope you like it!) - and you'll also notice something else that's NEW: Average Everyday Super Woman and I were accepted into the exclusive BlogHer Ads network! As such, you'll now see cool graphic ads on the right-hand side of the screen when you visit AESW.

Thank you, readers, for sticking with me and reading about all the things that occupy my mind and my life. Here's to another great year!

XOXO
SW

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"On the eve of this historic event..."

Just kiddin'. :)

I'm such a joker!

In all seriousness, this is the eve of an historic event for me.

Tomorrow is my birthday. My 35th birthday.

Happy birthday to me,
Happy birthday to me,
Happy birthday, dearest darling meeeeeeeee......
Happy birthday to me!

I'm totally cool with turning 35. I really and truly am.

In fact, I'm GRATEFUL to be turning 35. I think of all the people I've known or heard of through family or friends (or strangers) who were NOT fortunate enough to live to this age, and I think about the health scares I've had in the past few years, and I truly get how blessed I am just for being alive.

Have I achieved everything I wanted to achieve by 35? Hm.

No, probably not.

But that's okay.

Speaking of, that's a topic I'm going to explore at some point in the coming days. A few months back, an old high school friend of mine created a list of 35 things she wanted to accomplish in her 35th year and posted it on her Facebook page, and it inspired me to give some thought to that, as well.

It really seemed appropo to me to spend some time pondering that subject at this stage in my life, considering that this could very well be a mid-way point for me (though I hope it's not!). Still, you never know.

A few things I know will be on that list, off the top of my head and in no particular order...

* learn Italian

* take a photography class

* finish my book

* learn a new instrument (violin, guitar and piano are all on my short list - I already know how to play the flute & piccolo)

Anyway. So, yeah. I'm turning 35 tomorrow.

Life is good.

Lots of love to you all, readers!!

SW

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Million Little Pictures

Super Man and I have a problem.

We love photography.

We love taking pictures.

Of the kids, the skies, the dog, our friends, our families, cool cars, cute animals. The list goes on, and on, and on... And on.

Thus, we have literally thousands of photos - digital and otherwise - crammed into all the nooks and crannies of our house, and all the nooks and crannies on our hard drives (both internal and external).

All, I might add, in no particular order or in any way categorized.

Nice, yes?

When we went through our enormous (and exhausting) house-purging exercise in the early fall of '08, I at least made a good faith effort to gather all of the paper photos into one area. Now, we have these nifty built-in shelves all along one wall of our living room, and we cleared out one double-doored section specifically to house all the photos. Unfortunately, we were only able to fit about 2/3 of the photos in there, so the rest are still scattered hither and yon throughout the house.

What are we going to do with all those photos, you might ask? Well... Well...

We have no idea.

Once upon a time, I had grand visions of scrapbooking all "the best of" photos into lovely little books, complete with witty journaling and artsy embellishment. And then I realized the SHEER VOLUME of photos we possessed, and those visions went down the crapper.

At this point, our only goal is to corral them all in one spot!

If we're ever able to accomplish that - and it's a BIG if, trust me - we will need to go through each and every envelope and each and every photo to toss out the bad shots or duplicates, and then scan the rest into digital format.

THEN we will have to organize the photos in some meaningful way. God help us.

As for our ridiculous bevy of digital photos, let me just toss a number out there for you: 12,000. Yes, 12,000. That's how many digital photos Super Man and I have between two laptops, a desktop computer and an external hard drive.

It's sick. It's a sickness, I tell you!!

Just last night, I finally started going through the digital pictures on my laptop hard drive and assigning keywords to the photos, so that we can at least start sorting them based on what we're looking for. I think I made it through about 500 of the 5,000 on my hard drive alone.

Oy...

Anyway, moving on! (I'm going to give myself a migraine if I keep thinking about the 12,000 pictures sitting willy-nilly on our computers.)

Super Girl was with us over the weekend, and happened to be looking through photos on Super Man's computer, trying to find a recent photo of she and I together to use for a birthday present she wants to make for my birthday later this week. Super Man was doing the same exercise on my laptop. Sadly, we could find NO pictures of just the two of us that are newer than 4 years old, even though I'm certain - CERTAIN - that there should be at least a few, somewhere.

It made me realize that while I have gotten better at carving out time for just Super Girl and me during her time with us, I haven't prompted Super Man to take pictures of us alone.

She's going to be 13 in a month. And she'll be 16 in three short years. And then she'll be 18 just two milliseconds after that. And the opportunities for us to have pictures taken together will gradually dwindle down to a holiday or special occasion here and there.

We need to get on this! We need to fix this!

On another note, while Super Girl was perusing the old pictures on Super Man's computer, she came across a great one that I don't recall ever seeing. It was a picture of her and Super Boy, taken by Super Man when Super Girl was 8 or 9 and Super Boy was almost 2 years old. They were snuggling on our bed, facing each other, and it was one of the sweetest pictures I've ever seen. I plan to have it printed and framed, along with a dozen others we came across.



We are blessed, truly.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's a Beautiful Day...

The sun is shining.

There is nary a cloud in the sky.

The temperature is above zero. (Hey, I gotta take it where I can get it.)

And Barack Obama is being sworn in today as our nation's first African-American President of the United States. My eyes tear up just thinking about it. I am so excited for this new chapter in our nation's history, and I firmly believe that he is the person this country needed to turn the ship around and get us on a better, safer and more prosperous course.

More to come later...

HAPPY INAUGURATION DAY, AMERICA!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wow, it's a veritable heat wave...

Hip, hip, hooray!!

The temperature has really SOARED here in Wisconsin over the past two days. It's CRAZY.

Yeah. We're pretty lucky to live here in mid-January.

Remember my last post when I talked about how COLD it was here? As in sub-zero temperatures with -30 degree wind chills?

Well! Guess what?

A heat wave rolled through. Today it was a balmy 17 degrees.

Yeah, I'm thinking about breaking out the summer clothes.

It was just SO WARM today that we decided to go ice skating and enjoy the warmth. I was tempted to go in my shorts and a tank top, but Super Man talked me out of it.

Here's a few pictures of our ice skating adventure in the practically summer temps.



Don't we look warm?

And... And.... Aren't you jealous that you don't live here, too?

Yeah. I thought so.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Winter Wonderland

What a crazy week!

Can I just tell you that my son's school closed yesterday and today NOT due to excessive snow, but due to excessive cold?

Our temperatures here in Wisconsin have been well below zero since Wednesday night, and the wind chills have been even lower. Right now, the temperature is -21, and the wind chill is -34.

No, those aren't typos.

Poor Super Dog - every time she has to go outside to go potty, you can see the look of weary resignation on her sweet little dog face. The minute I open the backdoor she SPRINTS across the yard to do her business and then SPRINTS back to the door.

This from a dog who typically will dilly dally outside for at least a good 5 minutes anytime you let her out, and only reluctantly comes back when you call her. She only sprints when she knows you're holding food of some sort.

Poor girl, this morning she raced back to the door faster than usual and was actually lifting one of her front paws off the pavement because it was so cold. She had frozen dog slobber hanging form her mouth, too. And she was out there only about 1 minute. :(

With having these two unexpected days off of school, I've been struggling to think of things to do with Super Boy. It's obviously too cold to go outside and play in the snow, and it's also a bit cold to just go out and do random errands, etc. without a damn good reason.

Like today. We HAVE to go get a birthday gift for a birthday party we're attending this weekend, so now I'm trying to think of what else we can do while we're out.

Super Boy desperately needs a haircut, so that's high on the agenda. And, I'm sorry, but Mama needs a Starbucks.

What else...? Hm.

Well, wherever you are, awesome readers, I hope that you are much warmer than we are here in southern Wisconsin. If not, bundle up and stay safe.

"Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful..."

(I hate winter.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Talk about it, and it will come...

Vomit, that is.

It's funny. It really is.

Last week, the thing that prompted me to write about my vomit-phobia was this: My son had a playdate with one of his best pals from school, and then came home from school the next day saying that his friend hadn't been at school because he was sick. I knew - I KNEW - what he was sick with before I even asked. But I had to ask. I emailed his mom to ask if her son was okay and if I should be watching out for anything with Super Boy, and she confirmed my worst fear: Her son had been throwing up all night.

Ugh....

For the next 48-72 hours (the general incubation period of stomach viruses), I was in my usual "puke patrol" mode: Reminding Super Boy to wash his hands all day long, reminding him not to drink out of my glass, setting him up with a bucket beside his bed each night, and generally stressing myself out waiting to hear the sounds of him gagging and retching.

Surprisingly, all of my patrolling was for naught: Super Boy never got sick!

It was nothing short of a miracle!

I mean, these are FIVE YEAR OLD BOYS we're talking about. Boys who pick their noses and eat their boogers without a second thought and then grab a toy or two and keep on playing. Boys who feel compelled to show each other their wiggly teeth, with their icky-germy hands in their mouths.

And my son had been around his friend ALL DAY: the entire school day PLUS the playdate after school. How could he NOT end up sick?!?

So I spent my weekend breathing a loooonnnnnnngggg sigh of relief that we had seemingly dodged the stomach bug sweeping through our area, yet again (because you'll remember that my brother-in-law had it at Christmas, when we were all at my parents' house).

And then.

Ahhhhh, yes. And then.

Super Man wakes up this morning and tells me he's staying home from work because he's not feeling well.

I'd heard him cough a few times during the night, so my first thought was actually that he was coming down with a cold or maybe the respiratory flu (he never gets flu shots, but Super Boy and I always do).

Then I come downstairs to get breakfast for Super Boy and do a load of laundry. And I hear Super Man in the bathroom.

I hear him throwing up.

You've GOT to be kidding me. Seriously?

SERIOUSLY?!?!???

But.... But...

He's SUPER MAN, for Pete's sake! He's an ADULT! Where the hell would HE pick this up???

Who the hell knows?!?!?

I tell him constantly that he doesn't wash his hands often enough. I'm guessing that right there was the problem.

So, essentially, all this time I've been focusing all of my anti-stomach-bug thoughts and efforts on Super Boy while Super Man was sneaking it in the backdoor of my house, behind my back.

And the worst part?

I spent my evening snuggled up with Super Man last night, giving him hugs and kisses, all evening long. I missed my husband after his long day at work, and I wanted to be near him.

So guess who's probably going to be sicker than a dog at this time tomorrow?

Aaaarrrrrrghhhhhhhhhhhh......!!!!!!!!!

It's so not fair, not right, not good.

If there is any upside to this - ANY upside at all - it's that Super Man has a business trip next week, so I'll be single-parenting. If we're all going to be felled by this insidious, vile stomach bug, then I guess it's better that it happens THIS week rather than next, especially since my Super Mom will also be out of town for most of next week and wouldn't be able to come help me out/take care of me/take care of Super Boy!

I'm so pissed. I hate winter. I hate all the stupid winter illnesses.

And I really REALLY hate the stomach viruses.

Grrrr....

Wish me luck, readers. Please pray that I'll dodge this through my super hand-washing & super disinfecting. And, if that's simply not possible, then please pray that this will be quick and not-too-bad, and that Super Boy won't get it until after me, if at all. PRAY.

XOXO

Friday, January 9, 2009

Super Woman's Treatise on Vomit and Emetophobia: Part Deux

WOW!

Who would've thunk that a post about my "quirky" phobia would generate more comments than ANY of my other posts on AESW?! Not this girl, that's for sure.

But I'm GLAD that it has. Because I've spent SO much energy and SO many years of my life trying to hide the severity of my phobia from those around me out of shame and embarrassment, and I see now that there's no need for me to hide it. In fact, talking about it openly seems to be helping me a little bit, probably because not having to hide it at least takes some of my anxiety away.

As I said in one of my response comments on the prior emetophobia post, everyone seems to have a significant fear of something; mine just happens to be of vomit and vomiting.

It always made me feel like a walking freakshow, but the fact is, I'm not the only one who has something akin to a shock reaction when I'm exposed to something that others find relatively benign.

What I love about finally opening up in earnest about this is that it's also caused me to bring it up in conversation with people I know "in real life," and their responses have been amazing. Many of them have never heard of this particular phobia (not so surprising), but they find it fascinating - not just the phobia itself, but the lengths to which I'll go to try to "protect" myself and mitigate my exposure to it. And nearly EVERYONE has expressed compassion over the obvious difficulties presented in trying to TREAT a phobia such as this.

And believe me, no one finds it more amazing and fascinating than me: I have a BA in Psychology, and phobias were one of my greatest areas of interest in the realm of psychology, for obvious reasons. ;) Honestly, I would love nothing more than to participate in real research on this subject, both in the hopes of understanding it better myself AND to help and educate others.

Alright. So in my last post on my emetophobia, I promised to delve into two areas:

1) What I believe may have caused my irrational fear of vomit and vomiting;

and

2) How I manage to function when I or Super Boy or Super Man vomit.

So here goes. :)

CAUSES

I need to start out by saying that my Super Mom and I have discussed this ad nauseum (pun intended) of late, and she feels VERY bad for her possible role in creating this phobia in me.

I know my Super Mom reads my blog, so for the record, I FORGIVE YOU AND I DON'T THINK YOU WERE OR ARE A BAD MOM!! You know I love you dearly, Mom. :)

Moving on....

I'll start out by telling you what my Super Mom thinks caused it, which I have absolutely NO recollection of whatsoever. Then I'll tell you what I think caused my phobia, based solely on my own memories.

MY SUPER MOM'S THEORY

As you may recall, I have a Super Sister (for the sake of clarity, I'll refer to her as "K"). K is almost exactly three years older than me, and was born with a problem with her kidneys. As a result, she suffered from frequent and severe kidney infections as a young child, pretty much always resulting in hospitalization for at least a few days. More often, it was a week or longer.

Apparently, when I was very little and my sister and I shared a bedroom, there were times when K would develop a kidney infection and she'd spike a REALLY high fever that would trigger serious vomiting, pretty much all of which I apparently witnessed given that we shared a bedroom.

I have absolutely NO recollection of that, but that's not all that surprising - I know that I've blocked out memories of other traumatic events in my life. And I don't think it's an issue of me being too young to remember it, because my Super Mom has told me that I've talked about memories of OTHER things from that same age.

What's also interesting - and I'll talk about this more in the "HOW I COPE" portion of this post - is that when my sister would end up in the hospital, it was always my mom who would stay with her, which meant that she was NOT at home with me (this is important, so don't forget this!). My dad worked shifts at the local paper mill, so one of my grandmothers would usually stay with me when my mom and sister were at the hospital.

So, to sum up, my mom thinks that the earliest cause of my phobia was, as young as 2 years old, witnessing my sister be frequently violently ill and not understanding it, coupled with the fact that those episodes always ended up with my sister in the hospital and my mom being away from me for days on end.

MY THEORIES

First, I remember being VERY young (maybe around 2-1/2 or 3 years old), possibly when my mom was pregnant with my little brother and had bad morning sickness, and I walked in the bathroom to find my mom throwing up. I don't think I really understood what I was seeing, but I'm sure I was scared to see my mom looking so awful, not to mention that puking can be a rather violent-looking and violent-sounding act that's just plain scary for a young child to witness.

Second, when I was maybe 5 years old, my sister (then 8) developed appendicitis. All morning she'd been telling our mom that her stomach hurt, but Mom made us all go to church anyway. Then all of a sudden, as we were walking to our pew (me behind my sister), my sister threw up and I nearly stepped in it because I wasn't paying attention. Then my mom sent us outside to sit on the church steps while she cleaned up the vomit, and my sister got sick again on the sidewalk, with me sitting right next to her. Of course, since she had appendicitis, my sister then ended up in the hospital to have her appendix out, and was gone for like a week (and my mom was with her most of the time). I'm sure that scared me, both because it was vomiting that happened right in front of me AND preceded yet another of my Super Sister's hospital stays, and because it resulted in our mom being away from me.

Lastly, when I was maybe 8 years old, I came home sick from school one day. I told my mom my stomach felt weird, and she told me that if I felt like I was going to throw up, I had to make it to the bathroom. As you can probably guess, I didn't make it to the bathroom. In fact, I didn't even make it out of my bedroom: I puked all over the bedroom floor. And - I think because she was frustrated that I hadn't gotten anywhere near the bathroom - she made ME clean it up. And I remember it being A-W-F-U-L to clean up. This memory in particular is VERY vivid for me, and still gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Ick. Yuck. Blech.

So, in summary, my belief is that those three things together resulted in me being afraid of other people vomiting, of vomiting myself, of vomiting in public or encountering vomit in public, and of having to clean up vomit. And obviously the things my mom remembers - that I should remember but don't - also tie in to all of that.

Duh - see, it's not really rocket science, is it? Who wouldn't be traumatized by all of that?

HOW I COPE WHEN I OR MY FAMILY ARE VOMITING

This is a tough one. It really is. But I'm at least proud to say that I really believe I have gotten - and am getting - better at dealing with this, at least as it pertains to myself and Super Boy and Super Man.

When I am sick with a stomach virus, and when I had severe nausea during the morning sickness phase of my pregnancy with Super Boy, it really is a situation of MIND OVER MATTER. I will do whatever I can in my head to talk myself out of being sick. But if it seems that puking is inevitable, I will do deep breathing to try to stay calm enough to just let it happen as quickly as possible, since I have definitely found that the more worked up I am, the harder it is to get it out. I just hate that I'm naturally a very violent puker, I really do.

Unfortunately, I have a tendency to get so panicked that I have come super SUPER close to passing out as I'm about to be sick, so obviously I prefer to not have a large audience in those instances. BUT - even though I don't want a LARGE audience, I DO want someone with me. And, for all of my childhood and early adulthood prior to meeting and marrying Super Man, that someone I wanted with me was without question my mom (see, this is what that foreshadowing in the CAUSES section was all about).

I *think* it's because my mom was always gone with my sister when my sister had to be in the hospital. Whether I felt that way because I felt abandoned by my mom when she was at the hospital with K or because I know it was comforting to K to have our mom with her when she was sick and I wanted that same comforting, I don't know. Maybe it was a combination of both.

And, to be honest, if I had my choice, I'd still prefer to have my mom nearby when I'm sick today, at almost 35 years old. (How embarrassing is that?!??) But since my mom lives an hour and a half away now, Super Man has had to fill those shoes. And I'm happy to say that he does an admirable job of comforting me and staying right by me when I'm sick, puke and all.

God bless that man. Truly.

Now, when Super Man or Super Boy are sick...

Super Man likes to be left alone in privacy while he's being sick. And I'm totally fine with that. Couldn't be more fine with it, actually. (Come on, you're not really surprised by that, given the circumstances, right?)

I have no problem bringing him water or ginger ale or whatever, or taking his temperature, or just checking in on him while he's recuperating, but I'm really, REALLY glad he doesn't want me to be there next to him while he's being sick.

While I'm sure I *could* do it and I'd survive, I can't guarantee that it wouldn't make me puke to watch him puke. And I can guarantee I'd be shaking violently and hyperventilating the entire time.

Super Boy is a whole other animal...

One of my readers, Wicked Stepmom, asked in a comment on the last emetophobia post how I handled it when Super Boy would spit up as a baby. And trust me, that boy spit up A LOT as a baby. The answer is: For some reason that didn't bother me. Maybe because I knew it was normal for a baby to spit up after eating and it was NOT actual vomiting from a virus or illness, so I wasn't at risk of "catching" it from him.

That said, I didn't LOVE having curdled breastmilk running down my back/front/sleeve, but I could deal with it just fine. And I also had burp cloths pretty much ALL OVER me to catch it, since I hated the stink of baby urp on my clothes! ;) (I'm no dummy.)

But it wasn't ALL spit-up; Super Boy absolutely DID get stomach viruses. In fact, I think his first year in daycare he had the stomach flu THREE DIFFERENT TIMES. And he's generally had it at least once each year since, although we somehow managed to dodge that bullet last year despite the fact that the stomach flu blew through Super Boy's school not once but SIX FREAKING TIMES last winter.

Can you say Lysol and hand sanitizer? I practically bathed the boy in both from October until May! And - thank God - it worked.

Here's the worst though: I believe that boy has puked DIRECTLY ON ME at least once each time he's had a stomach bug. And at least twice he's gotten it in my formerly long hair, requiring me to actually take a shower to clean all the puke off.

Uggghhhhh... (huge shudder of revulsion)

So, how do I deal with that? As best I can.

Yes, my usual symptoms kick in immediately, and on full-blast. I start shaking from head to toe, my stomach clenches and churns, my mind and heart race, and I'm completely and totally repulsed.

But I will do what I have to do to get it and myself and Super Boy cleaned up as quickly and easily as possible (all while wearing rubber gloves, of course). I spray the hell out of all inanimate objects with Lysol, after cleaning the surfaces with bleach.

And then, for the rest of the time Super Boy is puking, I will sit wide awake and stiff as a board right next to him with a bucket in hand, ready for the first sign of a gag to catch whatever comes up. Until he's all done puking.

And even then I insist that he keep a bucket near himself for a good 12 hours, just in case.

And I insist that he wash his hands any time I see him pick his nose or wiggle his tooth or WHATEVER.

And I will use Lysol sanitizing wipes to wipe off the door handles, the remote controls for the TVs/DVD player, etc. until we're 72 hours without any more puking from anyone in the house.

Crazy? Maybe.

But I do what I have to do.

The upside is that we rarely share stomach bugs between us anymore, most likely because of the thorough cleaning and hand washing, etc. that takes place immediately after the first puke mess happens, and because any further puke messes are caught in a bucket and not getting all over everything.

Oh, and you have to give me credit for this, too: I've known many people (who DON'T have a vomit phobia) who will actually THROW OUT sheets or other things that puke has gotten on rather than clean & wash them -- but I DON'T do that.

I might be slightly nutty, but I'm not wasteful!

Of course, the sheets or whatever get washed in BLEACH, but they get washed and used again.

So, that's it. That's pretty much everything I have to say about vomit and my emetophobia.

If you want to learn more about it, Google "emetophobia" sometime and see what you come up with. In the meantime, here are some other links that I've found helpful.

Wikipedia's entry on emetophobia

The International Emetophobia Society's website

Suite101.com's article on Understanding Emetophobia

Web Healthguides page on Emetophobia

Lastly, thanks again for reading my blog, for sharing your thoughts on my posts, and for being all-around awesome. Love you all!!

SW

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ugh, I could just puke...

Have I mentioned before that I have a little problem with emetophobia?

I'm pretty sure I have, actually.

Still don't know what it is, hm? Well, here's a definition for you:

EMETOPHOBIA (from Wikipedia)
Emetophobia is a fear or anxiety pertaining to vomiting. This specific phobia can also include subcategories of what causes the anxiety, including a fear of vomiting in public, a fear of seeing vomit, a fear of watching the action of vomiting or fear of being nauseated.

The root word for emetophobia is “emesis,” from the Greek word emein which means “an act or instance of vomiting” with “-phobia” meaning “an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation.”

Emetophobia is not limited by age or maturity level. There are cases of emetophobia present in children, adolescents, as well as adults.


For me, all of the above applies. I experience major anxiety and fear at the thought of throwing up myself, and at the thought of anyone around me throwing up. I can't see it, hear it, smell it or even KNOW that it's happening anywhere around me, even just on t.v. or in a movie, without instantly feeling nauseous myself. I experience major anxiety and fear at the thought of being vomited on, of possibly vomiting when I'm away from home (whether at work, traveling, out shopping, driving around, etc.), and of having to clean up vomit - mine or anyone else's.

So, pretty much anything related to vomit or vomiting freaks me out. ANYTHING.

What happens when something triggers my phobia?

My palms sweat. My mouth waters. My stomach instantly starts churning even as all my muscles clench up in anxiety. My mind and my pulse both start racing. I can't breathe. I instantly feel sick. And if it happens to be triggered in the evening or during the night, I cannot - CANNOT - sleep once this reaction starts, no matter how dead-tired I might be.

Why am I writing about this again? Because this is one of those stories from my month in virtual absentia that I promised a week or so ago. And because I want to try to help people understand this better, because there are a surprising number of people who have this phobia.

Most of the people who are near and dear to me know about my "little problem" with vomit, but the problem is that I think the majority of them think of it that way - that it's just a silly little quirk of mine and that I "just don't like" vomit or getting sick. And I've unfortunately helped perpetuate that by joking around about it and poking fun at myself over it, in an attempt to not seem CRAZY. But that just makes others think that it's not that bad.

Only it IS that bad. It's worse than "that bad."

And it seems to get even worse over time, not better.

It's embarrassing. Really, horrifyingly embarrassing. Because it's so unusual and most people don't understand it, because they can't relate to it.

As a result of that, there have been a few people who've ridiculed me over it. Which only makes me feel even more humiliated and embarrassed about it.

Thankfully, and surprisingly enough, I've come across about a half dozen others who share my phobia of vomit and vomiting, and they all seem to have it just as bad as I do. That's comforting for me - and for them - to know, because this is such a bizarre and - at times - isolating phobia.

Why do I say that it's "isolating?" Because so few people really do understand it, and because it has actually caused me to avoid going to certain places and being around people, and - more specifically - it has caused me to leave places and people I care very much about. Which leads me to one of my stories from December that I wanted to share.

Super Man, Super Boy and I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning at home this year for the first time since Super Boy was born (we usually travel to be with my family or Super Man's family, but we put our collective foot down on the subject this year and insisted on staying home). It was a lovely experience, and we had a nice, peaceful time.

We had plans to travel to my parents' house on Christmas afternoon, where we'd stay for the long weekend, along with my sister and her family. That was all fine, in theory.

However, I'd been hearing for weeks about the vicious stomach illness making its way around our geographic area, and it was in the back of my mind going into the holidays, wondering if my sister's family was healthy considering we were all going to be staying in close proximity for 4 days and our 5-year-old sons would be playing the whole time (and then picking their noses, sticking their hands in their mouths, etc.).

Now, my sister knows that puke freaks me out, so when we last emailed before Christmas, she casually mentioned that she was glad they were all healthy going into the holiday, which put my mind at ease. I was excited to see them, and happy to know that everyone was in good health.

Then we got to my parents' house. The first day and night were fine. But the next day, my brother-in-law kept saying that his stomach felt "off."

Now I should mention that my brother-in-law has some issues: he's obesely overweight, he eats a lot of fried & fatty foods and junk, and he's diabetic to top it off. And while I'd observed him drinking several regular sodas and eating a lot of cookies and chocolates on Christmas afternoon and evening and early the next day, he certainly wasn't eating as much as he usually does. So I was paying close attention when he said his stomach was "off."

To make matters worse, my stomach was feeling "off" that day, too, so I was already anxious that maybe I had picked up the stomach virus and brought it to the family gathering myself. Throughout the day I nibbled here and there, and avoided anything that would really get my stomach going, just in case. And as the day went on, I actually found myself feeling a little better. I honestly think that, for me, it was just that I had eaten A LOT on Christmas Day, which I'm really not used to doing, and my body was having a tough time keeping up!

But it was obvious that my brother-in-law was feeling WORSE as the day went on. He was sleeping a lot, in the bathroom a lot, and he kept saying he really wasn't feeling well. He sat down to dinner with us (pizza), only to get up and leave the table halfway through to use the bathroom. A long while later, he emerged. I asked if he was sick sick, and he said, "Not yet."

Uh-oh...

My stomach was starting to churn and clench. I was already thinking of packing up and leaving, just to be safe, but the practical side of me - who loves my family and wanted to spend time with them, as planned - told me to chill out and deal with it.

That was all fine and good. Until 9:45pm when my brother-in-law came bolting out of their bedroom (right across the hall from our bedroom, where I was trying to get Super Boy to sleep) and ran into the bathroom (which is right next door to our bedroom) and started loudly throwing up.

Oh. My. God.

My heart started pounding, my mouth started watering like a faucet, and my stomach was a giant knot. I couldn't breathe. I could hardly think. I felt a sudden urge to vomit. It was AWFUL. (God, just writing about it now is making me feel sick!)

I knew there was NO WAY I was going to be able to stay there, sleeping in that bedroom right next to the bathroom, where I was going to have to listen to my brother-in-law be sick all night long.

It just wasn't gonna happen. No way, no how.

I wouldn't be able to sleep, I'd feel sick all night, and I'd be lucky if I didn't make myself sick from the anxiety (I've been known to do that before, sadly). So I did what I had to do.

Within a span of about 15 minutes, I managed to single-handedly pack up ALL of our crap - clothing, toiletries, presents, winter gear. I loaded up the minivan, got Super Boy out of bed and into his car seat and woke Super Man from his "nap" on the couch. And we hit the road to drive the hour and a half back to our house.

At 10:00 at night, in a dense fog advisory.

As all of this was unfolding, my sister came running into our bedroom to tell me that she was going into "the hot zone" (jokingly referring to the bathroom where her husband had puked his guts out) to clean everything - with bleach - so I could rest a little easier. She tried to assure me that her husband is the type who gets sick once and is then fine, and that she didn't think he'd be up all night puking.

She was trying to make it okay so I'd stay.

Only she couldn't make it okay. Hell, I couldn't even make it okay. Because once my phobia is triggered and my mind starts down that path, I just need to get away from whatever is triggering it.

I started bawling. She started bawling. My mom - the only one who really seems to understand just how bad my phobia is - watched all of this with a look of sadness, because she knew there was no way I could stay and "be okay," and she knew my sister would feel awful and guilty about us leaving, even though it wasn't her fault, or her husband's fault, or ANYONE'S fault.

We drove home, in the dense fog, at 10 o'clock at night. We got in to our house just after midnight. Thankfully, I was able to follow a UPS truck the entire time we were on the interstate, so even though the fog was really BAD, I was able to stay on the road by following the truck ahead of us.

I was exhausted, mentally and physically. But once we were in our own home, near our own bathrooms, my stomach finally unclenched and my mind relaxed a little bit. At least if we ended up sick, too, we'd be in our own home where there were enough bathrooms for all of us and we didn't have to pray that one was open when we needed it. I knew I wasn't going to have to listen to my brother-in-law puke all night.

And I felt a profound and ashamed sense of sadness for having left my family after just one day over something as silly as my brother-in-law having a stomach bug.

That's the thing: I KNOW how silly this seems to others - hell, it even seems silly to me when I'm finally able to stop and look at the situation from a rational point-of-view. The problem is that when my phobia is triggered, all rationality and reason disappear: All that exists is a strong and overpowering desire to flee as far from the source as I can get.

And isn't that the case with all phobias? All you can think of is how to avoid the object of your terror. Whether it's spiders, or flying, or bridges, or drowning, or public speaking... it's all about avoidance.

Unfortunately, where a vomit phobia is concerned, it's so unpredictable that you simply can't proactively avoid its triggers - you can only react to them and try to mitigate them as much as possible after the fact. Which sucks.

If there was anything I could do to "get over" this phobia, I would do it. Unfortunately, the unpredictability of it - and the fact that very few studies have been done on this particular phobia - makes it very difficult to treat effectively. A few of the other people I know with emetophobia (all women, interestingly enough) have tried things like hypnosis, but it didn't help. If you think about it, when people have a fear of flying, they can gradually be desensitized to it through gradually increased exposure; but you can't really DO that with emetophobia because you can't control when or where someone is going to vomit (unless you deliberately MAKE them sick, but who wants to go through THAT?!?).

Interestingly enough, Wikipedia's explanation of emetophobia really hits the nail on the head in a number of areas. They say that a lot of women with emetophobia will avoid pregnancy - or they have a great fear of pregnancy - because of the risk of morning sickness. And I will be the first to tell you that the ONE THING I fear about the idea of getting pregnant again is going through the horrible weeks of nausea I felt when I was pregnant with Super Boy. And I even consider myself LUCKY because I didn't actually vomit when I had morning sickness with Super Boy - who knows if I would be that "lucky" again with a second pregnancy! Surprisingly enough, it IS a risk I'm willing - and happy - to take. THAT'S how badly I want another child. ;)

Wikipedia also mentions that this phobia can severely interfere with a person's ability to live their life normally. It can affect their career, it can make travel virtually impossible, and it can even lead to anorexia or overly strict eating habits. I can absolutely relate to all of that.

Where career is concerned, when I was pregnant with Super Boy I was working full-time, and I was constantly afraid that my nauseous morning sickness would eventually become vomiting morning sickness while I was at work. The good news is that my cubicle happened to be right outside a bathroom, which was one of three in the general area. The bad news is that it was often occupied - along with the other two bathrooms - and then I'd feel anxious if my nausea was particularly bad and there wasn't an open bathroom "just in case." I kept a little bucket in my car for my drive to and from work, "just in case." (I still keep a bucket in my car, because I'm always afraid that Super Boy or Super Girl will get sick in my van.) When after a few weeks my boss finally said, "You look AWFUL - go work from home so you can be comfortable," I came damn close to kissing him with gratitude. I felt so much better knowing I was in my own home, near my own bathroom, in the event I did start vomiting with my morning sickness. I should also mention that I sought medical relief from my nausea sooner rather than later, too, after losing 5 lbs. in a week due to the nausea destroying my appetite.

Where travel is concerned, I absolutely obsess about this before and during every single trip I take, whether by car, plane, train or boat. I hate riding in backseats of cars because I've come to feel more and more motion sick the older I've gotten. I have to drive or ride in the front passenger seat, and I can't read while in the car anymore, again because of motion sickness. When I fly, I have to take Dramamine because the side-to-side motion of the plane makes me feel sick. And I always worry that someone around me will be vomiting from motion sickness, so I have to have my iPod or something in my ears to block out sound, just in case. I'm a wreck every time we fly with Super Boy in fear that he'll get motion sick, but so far, so good (knock on wood). I've only taken the train once, and while it was okay, the bathroom situation is similar to an airplane, which sucks. Surprisingly, the motion of the train didn't bother me, so that was a plus. Lastly, I've been on exactly ONE cruise in my life - and I'd never do it again. I took Dramamine around the clock and STILL had horrible nausea at nighttime. I would never again pay that kind of money to go sit on a boat and feel sick for several days when I could just as easily go somewhere ON LAND and NOT feel sick.

As for anorexia and strict eating habits, I've never been anorexic, although I was always very thin growing up and my parents and my doctor asked me about eating disorders more than once. I think the issue for me was more that I was afraid to try new foods "just in case," so I stuck to the few things I knew I liked and that didn't make me sick. Thankfully, I've branched out a LOT as an adult - I even eat things like sushi (and I do so happily, at that!) - and I'm definitely not "very thin" today! But I am vigilant about washing my produce, and I won't eat leftovers that are more than two days old, or food that has been left sitting out, etc.

I've had people ask me what I think caused my emetophobia, and I do have a few theories - but I'm going to save those for another post. This post has gotten crazy-long, and I don't want your brain to explode all because of me and my little vomit phobia. There's plenty to mull over right here! Next time I'll also write more about how I REALLY deal with it when Super Boy is vomiting, or when I myself am sick. Suffice it to say that my mom plays a big part in BOTH of those topics.

How's that for a little foreshadowing and mystery?

So... do you all think I'm a crazy FREAK now? If you do, rest easy - you're not alone. :) But I hope that you don't. I hope it just helps you understand me a little bit better.

You know - so that if we're ever out in public together and someone pukes near us and I bolt from the vicinity white-faced, hyperventilating and shaking like a leaf, at least you'll know why. And that it's not you I'm running from.

Unless you're the puker, of course. Then I'm running as far and as fast as my legs can take me. (Sorry.)

If anyone knows of any good treatments to desensitize someone with emetophobia, I'm all ears. If any of YOU are emetophobes, please know that I'm here for you and I GET IT!

Thanks for reading. And for not thinking I'm a crazy freak.

XOXO
SW

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Undecorating stinks.

I hate this aspect of winter. The undecorating after the holidays.

It's so depressing, isn't it?

Granted, my Christmas tree is SO crazy dried out and brown-tinged that I've been afraid to plug in the tree lights for the past several days for fear the tree would go up in flames like a 4th of July sparkler.

But I can still smell that evergreen scent that I so love. And there's nothing like the soft glow of a few hundred tiny white lights nestled among green branches to warm a soul in the dead of winter.

You'd think that with as much as I love the decorating of the tree, I would at least feel somewhat nostalgic and fondly reminiscent as I undecorate it. But you'd be wrong.

I HATE undecorating the tree.

I dragged my sorry heels all damn day just thinking about it. And even then I cursed a blue streak as I dragged the big storage containers up from the basement and plucked all of our lovely little ornaments out of the tree, triggering a shower of dried out pine needles with each pluck and tug which I'll be vacuuming up later (grr).

And now that my tree is sitting there in front of the big picture window all naked and ugly, I can't wait for Super Man to get home and drag it's sorry ass out to the curb.

I feel a little guilty for saying that, by the way. We had a beautiful tree this year. And I love trees - all trees.

Well, not ALL trees. In fact, I really hate the stupid buckthorn trees that we seem to have all over our yard. I hate the icky black berries they produce, berries that stain our driveway, our sidewalks, our deck. And I especially hate when those berries end up on the shoes of my family -- and then on the floor in my house. I can feel my blood pressure increase just thinking about it.

OK, so I don't love all trees. Fine! But I DO love all Christmas trees.

Naked or not, they symbolize things I love: family, friends, the holidays.

That being the case, I'll make sure that Super Man cradles our pathetic, dried out little tree warmly in his arms as he hauls it to the curb.

(I'm such a smartass.)

Alright. Enough procrastinating. I need to put all the bags & boxes of ornaments, lights and Christmas decorations back in the storage containers.

For the record, I'm going to let Super Man haul the containers back downstairs. It's the least he can do after I wrestled with the tree to get the damn star & lights off single-handedly. I'm lucky I didn't plunge through the picture window along with the tree, to be perfectly honest. It was touch-and-go for a minute there!



Farewell, Christmas & o' Christmas tree 2008. Until we meet again...

XOXO
SW

Monday, January 5, 2009

Time to get serious. I mean it. Seriously!

I had to go in today for another repeat Pap smear, as part of my ongoing abnormal AGCUS Pap smear saga. Not such a big deal in and of itself: I'm really not one who minds getting these done.

Granted, it's not my favorite thing in the world, and I can think of, oh, about a million other things I'd rather spend 30 minutes doing, but there really are far worse things to endure than a Pap smear.

Like an endometrial biopsy. You want something to piss and moan about, something to shed a tear over, have one of THOSE done. Then we'll talk.

No, I don't really care much when it comes to getting Pap smears. So, fine. I had my repeat one done today.

I talked to my ob/gyn about the situation. I asked her why I'm still having these abnormal Paps, and what the next steps will be, since we're now on about 18 months of all but one smear coming back abnormal. She said that they usually will repeat the Paps for a solid two years, since it can take that long for whatever is causing the abnormal cells to clear out.

I should note that she's really not too worried yet, because my endocervical biopsy, endocervical curettage and endometrial biopsy all came back completely fine. She also said that me getting pregnant would be the one big way to put an end to the abnormal Paps, since the process of pregnancy and vaginal delivery are GREAT for causing cervical cell sloughing and turnover.

Unfortunately, I had a C-section with Super Boy nearly 6 years ago, and odds are I'd have another one if I could ever fucking get pregnant again. But you never know. If my next pregnancy (God willing) were to go well and without issue, and if the baby were facing the right way in the end, I'd certainly not be opposed to trying to push the little bugger out.

Which leads me to my next topic: getting pregnant.

My despair over not getting pregnant with baby #2 yet has finally reached a bit of a fever pitch in my heart and in my head, and I'm ready. I'm ready.

All around, I'm ready. I want another baby so badly I can taste it, feel it, smell it, breathe it. I see babies and my body physically aches. Not to mention what it does to my heart. I am so, so ready.

So I asked my good Super Doctor what we need to do next. And this is what she said:

1.) My dude has to get his swimmers checked. At almost 43, it's possible that there's slightly fewer of them and that they might be moving a little more slowly. Doubtful (according to Super Man), but possible. :) My plan is to get this done in the next week.

2.) I will likely need a HSG - histosalpingogram. Long story short, they'll inject some die into my reproductive system to make sure that my fallopian tubes aren't blocked and that everything is getting where it needs to go. To prep for that, she took a few cultures during my repeat Pap today to make sure we're good to go for this test, which I'll have shortly after the start of my next cycle.

3.) Depending on what 1. and 2. above show, she may stop there if we have the answers we need. If not, they'll also do a post-coital exam and make sure that my cervix is allowing safe passage, that my cervical mucus isn't killing the little guys or preventing them from getting to the target, and to see how the little guys are doing in there.

Based on the fact that my cycle is like clockwork and I'm having all the usual signs and symptoms of normal ovulatory cycles, she doesn't think it's a matter of me not ovulating. It's more a question of what else is going on with the swimmers and the pool itself.

I so hope that '09 will be our year. The year we get pregnant. The year we add another little one to our family.

Gosh. Just imagine...

Mmm.

Send some baby dust this way, friends....

Lots of love,
SW

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A New Look for the New Year!

Ta-da!

Courtesy of the awesome FREE blog backgrounds available at Aqua Poppy Designs, I've updated the look of Average Everyday Super Woman in honor of the new year.

So tell me... Whaddya think?

Do you love it?

Do you hate it?

Are you totally and completely ambivalent?

Are you so distracted by the fabulous writing and entertaining posts that you didn't even NOTICE the new background & colors?

Okay, okay. I'll stop.

But seriously, folks - I beg your feedback. I write for you. And for me, a little bit. And for the sake of my sanity. A lot.

Above all else, I care. I care what you think. And I want you to like me. And to like reading my blog.

So share your thoughts, feelings and innermost secrets, and lets kick off this new year in style!

Lots of love.
SW

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year! Yes, I WILL Be the Cliche.

I generally don't care much for subscribing to age-old cliches and often useless traditions, but heck - I'm a sucker for certain things. And making New Year's Resolutions is one of them.

In the spirit of accountability, I'm going to post mine here for all the world to see.

(HA! The whole world doesn't read this blog! Silly Super Woman.)

Maybe someday... Anyway.

Am I going to keep them all? To the letter?

Hm.

Maybe. I sure hope so.

I didn't do too bad last year. At least for the first half of the year.

Really, as far as I'm concerned, the value is in taking a little time out of the daily grind to examine my life and identify the things that aren't working so well, as well as thinking of ways in which I can be a better person and make life better for myself and those around me. Even if I don't manage to completely overhaul the things I'm not crazy about, and even if I don't manage to change the world in some big way, at least this exercise brings those things to the forefront of my mind for a day, or a week.

Or a month. Or six months.

Or seven months and 15 days.

You get the idea.

You'll see that I don't go too crazy with my resolutions. What can I say? I'm a bit of a realist and a pragmatist when it comes to these things.

I know that if I aim too high, I'm likely to feel defeated and exhausted by the scope of my resolutions, and there's NO WAY I'll stick to them. I hate setting myself up to fail like that!

I also try not to aim too low because I want my resolutions to challenge me a little. To get me out of my usual humdrum routines. To really make an impact on my life.

Regardless of whether I keep my resolutions or not, I just have to say that I LOVE this particular cliched tradition. I really and truly do.

I love that it forces me to reflect on my life in big ways, to take stock of where I'm at today and where I want to be one year from today.

I love all of the nostalgia. Remembering all of the milestones, especially those of Super Boy's. It rips my heart to shreds to see how much he grows and changes from one year to the next, but it's also so incredibly cool to see this child that Super Man and I made turn into this whole person with unique thoughts and perspectives and a whole LIFE of his own. He's amazing, and he amazes me.

I even savor the exercise of having to look my failures in the eye and say to myself, "Yep - that did NOT go well." Or, "I completely and totally screwed that up." Or, my personal favorite, "I didn't try hard enough, didn't give it my best efforts."

Why would I embrace that, you might ask?

Well, here's a little secret: I am far too much of a perfectionist for my own good, with oftentimes insanely high expectations, and I've lived a very long time being PROUD of that. So it really does me a WORLD of good to have to admit and own up to my flaws and failures. And then forgive myself for them.

I've gotten a little bit better at it over the years, and it's one of the things I'm finally starting to like about myself.

See, I've seen how my high expectations and perfectionist tendencies kill me - and those around me - by degrees over time. And the bottom line is that it's OK to be less than perfect. It's OK to be flawed. We're human. The important thing is to put forth the best effort we can at the time and in the circumstances. That is something to be proud of.

Now, without further ado, here they are. You'll note that there are seven of them; seven is my lucky favorite number, so it seemed auspicious in the circumstances.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

My 2009 New Year's Resolutions

1. Get back on track with taking proper care of myself.

This means: Getting back to the gym on a regular basis. Getting back into the habit of drinking MORE water and LESS coffee, getting back into the habit of MORE fruits & veggies and LESS carbs. Getting more sleep by going to bed earlier. Making doctor's appointments for the things that aren't as obvious and pressing - like my skin cancer screening and my eye exam. Making doctor's appointments for the things that ARE more obvious and pressing - like seeing a fertility specialist to get to the bottom of my babyless state.

I did SO WELL with this one (in general) last year - until Super Man lost his job over the summer and we had to tighten our belts to get us through the time before he landed his great new job. I let our gym membership lapse during that time, and I didn't go in for my annual eye exam or my annual skin cancer screening, all because I was concerned about the cost. I have no excuse now. Period.

And I felt so much BETTER - physically and mentally - when I was working out 4-5 times a week from January to June of '08. I know I will feel great again once I get back into a rhythm. And being able to get back into size 6 jeans and shorts was freaking AWESOME. While I can still squeeze into some of them, I'm pushing the envelope again, and that's NOT good.

Done. Next.

2. Be a better partner to Super Man.

Like many spouses do, I tend to take my sweet husband for granted at times. If I expect a lot of myself, I expect almost as much - and sometimes more - from him. And that's not right or fair. He's wonderful, talented, hard-working, gentle and kind. He is his own person with his own dreams and goals, his own responsibilities and expectations. And yet too often I make him the unwitting target of my frustration, and it seems I especially do this when I feel that my progress with my own dreams and goals is not what I would like it to be. As though it were his fault. Which it isn't. Which is so not right.

I love Super Man, with all my heart, and I know that I am so incredibly, INCREDIBLY lucky to have found HIM to share my life with. And I'm even luckier that he puts up with all of my shit. :) I can be a very difficult person to love sometimes (just ask my Super Parents, or any of the Super Siblings...), and yet he does it with grace and a smile on his face.

Even more amazing, he considers himself lucky to have found me. I am so... not... worthy! But I want to be. I want to be, for him.

3. Be a more patient mom and stepmom to the Super Kids.

Now, for the record, I consider myself to be a pretty darn good mom and stepmom. But I'm NOT perfect. In either role.

I'm going to start with my relationship with Super Girl, my stepdaughter, because that's where the most glaring itches to scratch exist. (Which is not surprising considering that this is a relationship that is naturally going to be fraught with difficulty, given its nature.)

Considering we were smushed together as a family when both of us were at tender young ages - she was 4; I was 26 and otherwise childless - I think we've done okay. But we could be better.

Here's the thing. I need to remember PATIENCE. This relationship isn't just about me or what I think or feel; she and her thoughts and feelings are half of the equation. And considering that she's an adolescent, that's a BIG half of the equation.

I'm NOT her mom. We're only around each other an average of 4 days a month. I produced with her dad the 5-year-old who is lucky enough to live with her dad all the time and who demands an awful lot of attention, whether Super Girl is here or not.

Don't forget, too, that she's spent the past year adjusting to her mom's marriage disintegrating into another divorce after nearly 10 years, and adjusting to life without her wonderful stepdad and his two daughters and extended family and to living alone with a mom who is now dating again at a time when she herself is wrestling with the whole concept of boys and relationships and HORMONES.

And also don't forget that she's got grades to keep up, homework to do (and do well), and select volleyball and other sports to put huge effort into, in addition to a budding social life.

So, that girl's got a LOT on her plate right now. To say the least.

Bottom line, in my endeavors to try to mold and teach her our values and ethics and build a better relationship with her, I need to dig deep for PATIENCE and I have to try to relate to her more in ways that work with her and her needs and honor them.

I will say that I think our relationship has really grown in positive ways over the past year. I credit her growing up a bit with much of that, but part of it is also that I try to remember PATIENCE. Rome was not built in a day.

Where Super Boy is concerned, I think impatience and high expectations are also my biggest hurdles to being a better mom. I get easily frustrated with him, especially when he's BEING A FIVE YEAR-OLD.

Like when he's dinking around in the mornings before school and taking his sweet time despite repeatedly being asked to speed it up a little bit so we're not late, only for us to end up LATE. Or when I have to ask him a dozen times to get dressed (in clothing I've clearly set out for him) and he doesn't do it because he's too busy watching a cartoon. Or playing with a Ben 10 action figure or a Bionicle. Or he's just got his hand down his pants again.

All of that drives me I-N-S-A-N-E. And it makes me laugh. And I love him dearly for it.

Because he's FIVE. And he's only going to be FIVE once. And it's going to go by so, so fast... I only have to look at Super Girl to see just how fast it goes. She was 4 when I married her father; she'll be 13 in less than 2 months.

So even if we're late for school once in awhile, or I have to ask him TWO dozen times to get dressed, I need to remember to stop and smell the roses and enjoy it. All of it - the good, the bad, and the annoying.

I also need to get a little bit tougher with this child o' mine. He's the kid who still climbs into bed to be by Mommy EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. So, we put him in his bed after he falls asleep; he wakes up an hour later and, with super stealth, comes right back in so I wake up to find him nestled beside me with drool on his cheek and crazy, sweaty curls framing his angelic little face.

Make no mistake: it's not sweet Super Man who gives in to this nonsense - it's me. It's allll me. And it's gotta stop.

I know WHY I allow it: Because he is my ONLY child, and he may REMAIN my only child if Mother Nature continues to be uncooperative. I do it because I can't bear the thought of him getting older and not WANTING to still snuggle with me - I feel like I have to soak it up as much as I can now. I do it because I love him, with all my heart, and I enjoy being close to him just as much as he enjoys being close to me.

Just for fun, I also want to implement a NEW thing in my relationship with Super Boy: Once each week, I am going to set aside time where we will do something of HIS choosing, whether I feel like doing that thing or not. I feel like I dictate way too much of our time together, either because of errands that need to be done or the weather or whatever.

I know this frustrates Super Boy a lot of the time, but being the sweet-natured and easy-going kid that he is, he usually rolls with it. I want him to have this special time carved out to direct as he pleases. I think that's important.

4. In the words of my hilarious Super Brother T, "Get a J-O-B!"

I think this one is pretty much in the bag. But yeah, it's about time for me to reclaim the role of "wage-earning spouse" in this household. While we're doing fine at the mo and all is well on the job and financial fronts for the most part, Super Man is getting restless about crazy things like retirement (and, alright, who can blame him given the current economy), so this will bring his blood pressure back down to a normal range and allow him to worry about other things instead. Like finishing the partial remodel he's decided to do in our kitchen.

Frankly, I'm ready to be doing something more with myself again, with Super Boy in full day school and now that the holidays are behind us. And I would love to have my own paycheck again. Dear lord, would I love that....

The thing I'm looking to do would give me TOTAL flexibility: I could work from home, I could work as few or as many hours a week as I want to, I'd be fully set-up and trained by someone who is already a pro, and I'd still be able to help out in Super Boy's class and have a few hours to myself each day.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

5. Grow and expand my writing ventures.

This means: FINISH THE DAMN BOOK ALREADY!!!

It also means: Make - and stick to - a posting schedule on this blog AND on the TMG blog. Submit a few articles to magazines.

Think of how nice it would be to make actual money doing this thing that I LOVE to do (instead of just doing SOMETHING for pay), and remember that every time I feel lazy and uninspired.

Inspiration is everywhere - if I can't find something to write about, then I'm clearly not paying close enough attention to the world I move around in every day.

6. Figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

This one kind of speaks for itself. My biggest passions (aside from my family) are writing and reading. Can I make a career of them? I don't know.

If it means I have to go back to school to be what I want to be when I grow up, then fine. This is the time to consider doing just that.

I just need a plan. A girl with a plan is a powerful thing.

7. Volunteer in the community.

I used to be better about this. I still volunteer, but it's pretty much solely limited to things in and related to Super Boy's school. That's great, but I have the time and talents to do something more. So I just want to find one thing more to focus on volunteer-wise in my community to make it a better place.

One thing is manageable.

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That's it. Those are my big rocks for 2009.

I welcome feedback on them, by the way. I also welcome you, fellow Super Women and Super Men, to share YOUR New Year's Resolutions. Let's discuss them, let's dissect them - and let's ACCOMPLISH them!

Happy New Year to you all, and THANK YOU for being faithful readers. Love you guys. ;)

Super Woman