Lauren Wellbank

One mom and her struggle to survive until bedtime


Tag: Change

Life after death, our new normal

There is a reason why people clean when they grieve.  I think part of it is a need to be doing something mundane and normal.  Part of it also has to do with wanting to be in control of something, anything, when everything else seems so profoundly out of your control.

The honorary hospice nurse

These thoughts are knocking around in my head as I spend two hours walking through my kitchen rearranging flowers and food and wiping down every surface I can reach despite the size of my ever growing belly.

I wipe, I rearrange, I cry.

That’s been my routine since I woke up today, in this, the first day in my new normal.

 

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To my daughter on her final days as an only child

We’re snuggled up on the couch together as I write this.  Your head resting on my shoulder, your arms intertwined with mine.

You fell down earlier while running through the hallway.  I was busy pulling your old bassinet out of the bottom of your closet, as you ran up and down the hallway, yelling with glee.  When I reached you, big wet tears were already rolling down your cheeks and you were clutching your knee.

Photo by Darian Green

And then there were four

After I soothed your tears away you asked to get into your bassinet.  You’ve been too big for it for so long now, but you were still desperate to get back into it.  Instead I rocked you, and cooed at you, and told you about the days when you used to fit into it.  Pretending to suck your thumb with your eyes half closed you smiled, laughed, and said, “I a baby.”  Continue reading

Pregnancy and the horse latitudes, what the last weeks and sailing have in common

Have you ever heard the phrase horse latitudes before?  If you haven’t, don’t worry, it’s an outdated term with several different interpretations that the average person would have no call to know. The origins of the saying have absolutely no baring on what I’m about to tell you.  That is, other than to briefly explain what it is so that you can better understand where I’m at right now.

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my

The horse latitudes is an old sailing phrase that indicated that a ship had reached a location with calm waters and no crosswinds.  Of course, this was prior to the days of two and four stroke engines.  Are you impressed that I know that terminology, because you should be?  With no prevailing winds, large ships would find themselves stalled out in the middle of the ocean.  Supplies would begin to run short and sailors would start to panic.

The inhumane (and insane) fix for this often began with water rationing.  The animals on board, specifically the horses, would bear the brunt of this solution.  When the ships remained moored in the middle of the sea they would begin unloading their least precious cargo, the horses. This would both lighten their load and reduce the use of their finite resources.

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Thirty-Five is the New Thirty-Five

On the 19th I will turn 35, making these my last few dying days in my early thirties.  I thought I’d approach this day with sadness at the loss of my blush of youth, regret for the things that I didn’t do with my life (still haven’t written that Great American Novel, have I?), and dread because now I’m staring down the barrel of 40 (40??!?  How did that happen?!).

That didn’t end up being the case.  Instead, I am spending these last few days making demands (after all, 35 is a big birthday and deserves all the fuss that my close friends and family can muster), and enjoying any extra attention that I can get.

Guys, I’m going to be 35 and my life is pretty awesome.  Granted, I’m not running through the house singing while tiny cartoon birds change my toddler’s diaper (good god how I wish), but this life is better than any life I could have imagined in my twenties.

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When you turn 35, you get excited about getting new dish towels as gifts (thanks, mom!)

Plus, at 35 when people ask you what you want for your birthday, you actually get it.  That’s probably because you are no longer asking for things like a trip to Cabo or a new car (not that I ever asked for those things).  My big wish this year was a writing workshop (thanks hubby) and a fancy bottle of salad dressing from a winery in the Finger Lakes that my parents visited last year (thanks parents).  Literally, all of my wildest dreams are coming true.

***Oh, and I keep telling anyone that will listen how awesome an edible arrangement would be.  Seriously people, one with the pineapples cut to look like flowers… maybe some chocolate covered strawberries… I mean, come on, I’m almost 40.***

This is a much different approach than the one I took five years ago.  The Lauren of my 20’s was a completely different beast.  I am a few years older than my husband and on my 30th birthday I declared that I would spend the next few birthdays aging backwards until my husband and I were the same age, and then we could proceed forward together, as equals (because that’s how aging works).  I think I stuck with it for two years.  By then the reality of being in my 30’s had sunk in and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Actually, it was way better than I ever could have imagined.

Gone were many of the insecurities, struggles, and trials of my twenties.  Financially, I was secure.  I had put my time in as a bastion of light in the dark recesses of the mortgage industry.  Most of what had happened in the early 2000’s had started to rebuild and I had found stability in my corner of the market.  And things worked out perfectly for me to be able to leave said mortgage industry and stay home and wipe butts full time.

Gone are the days of wondering how my ass looks in my jeans or what size dress I’m wearing.  My body is what it is.  Sure, I happen to think I look terrific (thanks mainly to awesome genes and a non-sedentary lifestyle).  I am also not far enough removed from my teen years to remember how I felt about my looks back then.  When I look back at old pictures, I realize that I was perfect.  Same goes for every other period of life.  In the moment, there was so much I wished was different, but when I look back I wish that I still looked the way I did then, as opposed to how I look now.  I assume that trend will continue for the rest of my life.  So I’m going to go ahead and embrace how I look now and save myself the regret in five years when I think, “If only I looked as young, well rested, and fit as I did at 35.  Youth is wasted on the young, waaaaah.”

Obviously, I assume that I won’t embrace 40 with the same devil may care attitude that I have for turning 35.

And I love, and am loved, without insecurity.  My husband and I have a solid foundation that I no longer question (except, you know, when we move because that shit is for the birds).  I don’t have to worry if I’ll ever find love, if I’ll die alone, how many cats I can reasonably have before I begin the descent into madness, I know the answers to all of those things now (six, six is the maximum number of cats that I can handle at one time).

And now I’m wondering what the next five years will bring, and what the years beyond will bring.  Will I continue to feel the same way about my life that I do about wine, that it’s better with food it gets better with age?  Will I continue to embrace my flabby backside as much as my crow’s feet?

Who knows?

Who cares?

Another perk of being closer to 40 than to 30, you just don’t give a shit.

So, happy almost birthday to me.  And here’s hoping that I still feel this way in the harsh light of Thursday morning.  When I’m sure to wake up with a few new grays, a cake hangover, and tiny fingers feeling around inside of my ear canal.

35 is the new 35, because screw every other age. 

Home is Where You Throw Your Dirty Clothes on the Floor

The boxes are (mostly) unpacked, the pictures are hung, and my husband’s dirty clothes are discarded all over the floor.  We are home.

It has not been an easy past two weeks.

I never actually questioned our marriage during this whole process, but I did vaguely wonder at a few points if someday I would have to place my hand on a bible in front of 12 of my peers and explain exactly how my fingerprints ended up on the murder weapon, and no your honor, I can’t account for my whereabouts that night because I was in some sort of moving induced fugue state. 

I kid, I kid.  Mostly.

I think it’s safe to say that we are on the other side of it now, though.  The only casualties were my husband’s cell phone and about a box of glassware.  And a bookcaseAnd an armoire.  Okay, and maybe a bit of my sanity (hence the busted cell phone).

Those losses aside, I did come out of the move with a new appreciation for everything that we have.  Both literally and figuratively.

Seeing everything* you own sitting in a truck is a sobering experience.  Your entire life crammed into one small space like that makes you realize how much you really have… and how it’s way too god damned much.

I vow that before the next move that I am going to get rid of at least half of our crap, maybe even more.  But I can’t think about any of that right now or I will either die of a massive brain explosion or have to start researching defense attorneys. 

And now, if we can, I’d like to take a moment to talk about how #blessed I am.  I am going to do a friends and family brag real quick.

I know most people can’t utter these words with a straight face, but I love my in-laws.  Love them.  They are literally some of the best people out there.  My husband asked them to help us move and they said yes with no reservations, even though my father-in-law was just days home from the hospital and my mother in law was recovering from a back injury.  Yet there they were, unloading box after box of crap, I mean of our precious possessions, off of the truck.  And my sister in law and her fiancé and my husband’s aunt, uncle, and cousins, I really couldn’t have asked for better help (they even stayed and helped me unpack the kitchen, LOVE THEM).  My cousin who had to work at the last minute swung by with beer, water, and snacks (LOVE HER).  And our friends gave up a Saturday morning, that I think most of them would have rather spent in bed sleeping off a hangover, to sweat it out carrying a literally shit ton of, well, our shit.

Like I said, #blessed.

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Our new back yard, where strange screams break up the night (I’m sure it’s just cats or a fox or the wandering ghost of a murdered woman).

It’s been hard saying goodbye to our home and trying to get settled here.  Although I lived here when I was younger, it still feels new.  The noises are new; the way the refrigerator hums, the sound of my grandmother’s oxygen concentrator at 3AM, the weird screams that come out of the woods in the middle of the night (yeah, that’s as terrifying as it sounds).  It’s all new and different but soon it will all be part of the background, part of our new normal.

So here I sit, in my new living room, in front of my new TV, with my same old daughter, about to start a load of laundry and get this show on the road.  This place may not feel quite like home yet, but my husband’s socks are on the floor, and that’s a start.

*Apparently our house was some sort of structural turducken with stuff crammed inside of stuff crammed inside of stuff.  Even though we “moved out” on Saturday we were still finding random things back at the house as late as yesterday while we were there to do the final cleaning. 

Everything Is About To Change

I was pulling up to my parent’s street when I saw it.

It was a sign.

No literally, it was a sign.  It said, “Moving Sale, this Saturday” and it was hanging right in front of their street.  I fought the urge to burst into tears.  I fought it valiantly but, whatever.  I wiped one lone tear away with the back of my hand.

My parents are moving away.  It’s kind of the reason for all of this other stuff.  In the hustle and bustle of everything else that has been going on I keep forgetting that point.

My parents are moving away.

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Fauxmas 2013 making rouladen. If you don’t know what it is, you’re missing out.

When I think about it, I’ve never lived more than 10 minutes away.  In 2002 when I first moved out on my own I was still kind of right around the corner (well, there were like 15 corners between us).  When I bought my first house a year later, I was even more right around the corner (this time there were only like, five corners between us).

Even now when I make my morning trek from my house to their house to spend the day with my grandmother I often think about how we are only about a song and a half on the radio away from one another.  Two songs if I hit one of the five red lights that separate us.

Once they move out, there will be dozens of songs between us, and probably a hundred or more red lights.  I won’t be able to just hop in my car and run over to check out kittens in the back yard.  I won’t be able to call and say that my toilet isn’t working and for the love of god send help!!!!

What if I need them?

Alright, what I need is to get a grip.  You’re a grown ass woman, Lauren.  Get it together. 

In the next few days everything is going to start to change.  Our lives are going to turn upside down and then right side up again.  We’ll move from our house into my parent’s house.  My parents will move into their new place up north.  My long suffering grandmother will watch it all from her favorite spot on the couch.  And hopefully my daughter will be sitting next to her, quiet and not at all underfoot as we try and move one entire house out and another entire house in, in just a few short days.

Wishful thinking, I know.

Approximately seven days left under this roof.

***The blog is on hiatus during the move.  Unless something exceptionally hilarious or noteworthy happens between now and then I don’t expect to poke my head out from under the pile of boxes until mid-September.

So, be sure to follow me on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/lakewidotnet), because I’m certain that I’ll have time to post mocking pictures of how many comic books my husband has or my collection of wine glasses.  Seriously, WHY ARE THERE SO MANY WINE GLASSES?!

Or Twitter (https://twitter.com/Lakewidotnet) if I can ever figure out how to say something in less than 140 characters, which is highly unlikely because girlfriend likes characters.

Or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/lakewi), where let’s be real, you should already be following me anyway.

Until next time!

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Christmas 2010, our family looks nothing like this anymore.

Adventures in Landlording – The Things We Leave Behind

It’s getting real.  The boxes are getting packed.  There are empty nails sticking out the wall, slightly darker paint showing where picture frames once hung.  The home turning back into what it was when I first walked into it eleven years ago, just a house.

So much has happened in the past eleven years.  I go back and forth between thinking that it all seemed like a lifetime ago, but also, just last week.

This is the place where my husband and I fell in love.  Where we lived together for the first time.  In the living room where he asked me to marry him.  In the kitchen where I came running out to him as he was making dinner with that first positive pregnancy test in my hands.  In our daughter’s room where we brought her after we came home from the hospital (but where we were never able to convince her to sleep).

Where we took pictures every month for a year, documenting all the changes she went through in those first twelve months.

There is a dent in the ceiling from where one of our friends shot a cork upon opening a bottle of champagne after he proposed to his girlfriend.

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Another tradition in our house, cups with slanderous things written about Belsky on them.

Where we began the tradition of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Party that changed and grew from a drunken bacchanalia to a mostly family friendly event.

There is a patch of counter top that mysteriously broke off after a particularly wild party at our house (pre-daughter, natch).

The fire pit that is no longer, that we gathered around in support of one another when a friend suddenly passed away.

Where I brought home cat after cat after cat.

All of these things that made our house our home will cease to exist in a few more weeks.  Of course, when I confided this in my husband he very reassuringly, reasonably, and annoyingly told me that those things don’t just disappear once we do.  They will always have happened here and no matter what we are doing with this house, whether it be continuing to keep it as a rental or returning here at some point.  Nothing changes that.

I must add that my husband is a good man for putting up with me, my flair for the dramatic, and my public outing of his antics at almost every turn.  Also, for agreeing to pack up everything we own to embark on this mini adventure, obviously.

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The wreath I made for our shed door back when we drank that much beer in just one weekend.

Also, I need to remember that all of those things don’t just stay here.  They come with me, with us.  Just like the unreasonable amount of cat paraphernalia, countless comic books, and stuffed animals.  It all comes with us, and it will all come with us wherever we end up after that, and after that, and for the love of god no more after thats.

So yeah, I will take all those memories with us and although they may no longer live within the walls of this house (where hopefully someone new will be making wonderful memories) they will just have to live within us and the stories we will tell our daughter (and hopefully, like five more kids) until she grows bored of them.

Godspeed house, I hope you get to see as many great things happen to our tenants as you saw happen for us.

Also, try not to burn down or have any pipes burst or get termites or anything.  You’re our retirement plan now.

Approximately 21 days left under this roof.

The Accidental Landlord

Alright, the title is kind of misleading.

First, we are not yet landlords.  We are still in the god awful showing of the property and screening out lunatics phase.  We haven’t even gotten to the part where money exchanges hands.  We’re just basically unpaid tour guides in the museum of our lives.  And. It. Is. Awful.

As for the, “What?  How did this happen?” part of it all…  well, it was always part of the plan.  Or at least, part of the dream.  Our five year plan involved moving out of our school district before our progeny was old enough to enter kindergarten.  The real estate market being what it is in this town, nay the country, we were going to keep our house on as an investment.  Try and make some of that sweet, sweet rental income while we were at it.

But that plan was for five years from now (well, three years from now because holy crap my daughter is almost two).  Once we had added a second bathroom, painted the living room something other than purple and red (I assure you that it seemed like a good idea at the time), and figured out what we were doing with our unfinished car port… you know, and a few other things.

Instead, life does what it does, and laughed in the face of our plans with a big old HA HA HA.

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Echinacea in full bloom.

Now we’re looking down the barrel of a five week deadline.

This is not to stay that we don’t want this.  Honestly, all the moaning and groaning aside, this has been the kick in the pants that got us moving.  Sure, our five year plan turned into a five week plan and we’re scrambling a little bit, but we’re getting it done.  Slowly but surely.  Yeah, we aren’t adding a second bathroom, but we finally made a decision on that car port (a coat of paint and some minor major repairs to the roof late,r and it’s a… car port… you’re welcome future tenants).

And we’re going somewhere good.  Somewhere where we will be doing good.  And no matter all the other details, that makes it all worth it.

Even being a docent in my own home.

I’m also trying to lean into it a bit.  I’m giving into the crazy, the mayhem, the insecurity of it all.

The first day of showings I scheduled them all perfectly so that I had an hour for each visitor.  That gave us a full eight hour day with eight visitors.  You know, like a noob.

I even dressed nicely, figuring that I was asking these people to trust me as much as I needed to trust them.  I wanted to present myself as someone that took things seriously.  Someone that wasn’t going to get them in here and take advantage of them.  I wore a skirt for crying out loud.

My husband took a different approach and after the last appointment left pulled two knives out of his cargo shorts.  He had one in each pocket, he confided in me, in case something happened and he needed to use one, he didn’t want to forget where it was. 

After an awful day where only half of the scheduled viewings showed up (two cancelled without any warning at all), and one unbelievably unpleasant group of people that I had to tell on the spot that we would not be renting to them.  No no no, not under any conditions, NOT EVER.  I needed a beer and a break.

This weekend the viewings are scheduled for every 15 minutes for three hours.  I’m wearing shorts and a t-shirt.  And maybe I’ll shower.  But maybe not.  Because walking from room to room and giving the same speech over and over again (all the curtains are staying, this bathroom was partially remodeled in 2015, oh this is the original vanity from 1951, blah blah blah, word vomit word vomit word vomit…) is sweaty work.

Did I mention it is also very thirsty work?

So, here we go.  This is our adventure in landlording.  Worst case scenario it’s just a year.  Just 12 months.  This could be a good 12 months, or the worst 12 months of our lives.

Here goes nothing everything.

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