overeducated & understimulated

"if you're going through hell, keep going …" -winston churchill

Stint, stunt, stent September 11, 2012

Filed under: Fitness & health,The meaning of life — Aerin Rainey @ 12:31 pm

My father is a liar.  Natural, born.  He just tells lies like it’s second nature to him.  My whole life, he has lied to my sister and me, lied to my mother, and lied to himself.  Not with malicious intent, mind you.  He just tends to say stuff that covers his ass, or even just paints his ass in a better light.  But his prolonged practice of fabulation has had an unexpected result:  He has actually mistaken his great accumulation of falsehoods for fact.

When I was a kid, I had no idea my dad was ever fibbing.  But he should have given my teenage powers of observation a little more credit.  Also, being told by him to lie about certain stuff to traffic officers, neighbours, and even my mother, was a big tip-off.  I won’t bore you with the list of his personal offenses against me — suffice to say, it’s long and myriad.

You’ll notice that one of the things I value in life is honesty — it says so right up there in the upper-right corner of this page.  So his lack of it tends to cause a bit of friction between my dad and me.  It so happens, I am really furious with him at the moment.

Most recently, it has become clear that my father also lies to his doctor.  And lies about experiencing shortness of breath and chest pain when engaging in physical activity.  This new collection of deceptions is not exactly harmless — in fact, he ended up in the hospital two weeks ago for 5 days and nights because his doctor finally saw through all the protestations of:

  • “I’m fit as a fiddle — I exercise all the time” (curling, golfing in a cart, and playing slo-pitch with a pinch runner don’t count as exercise!)
  • “I weigh the same now as when I was in high school” (but then it was muscle!)
  • “I don’t have trouble sleeping — I can sleep anywhere, ha ha” (40 years worth of this one, followed by a diagnosis of severe sleep apnea)
  • “It’s normal to be red in the face and sweating from getting up to get a glass of water, I just got a little too much sun and got up too fast”
  • “I just push through the pain, it’s not serious” (uttered while gasping for air)
  • “I don’t need a break going up the stairs” (he needs two breaks!)

This man is so full of it, it’s not surprising that the bubble finally burst.  I guess my mother, the enabler, finally decided that she didn’t want to end up widowed just yet and forced him to go to the doctor one afternoon after a day of enduring chest pain and not being able to breathe.  Good for her.  I don’t know how she made him listen.  He is usually supremely convinced of his own analysis and judgment, expert opinions notwithstanding.

So they admitted him, gave him tests and procedures and told him he has three huge blockages, one of which was 99%, two very leaky valves, and a worryingly irregular heartbeat.  They gave him a stent, and sent him home.  Now he is on tons of meds and has to lose 25 lbs and follow a very restricted diet.  But he was “just fine” the day before!

Now that he’s home safely and under the care of physicians and following a treatment plan, I feel free to admit that I am absolutely incensed by this event.  Maybe it’s still inappropriate to be mad at your ailing father, but damn it!  Why didn’t he just listen to us years ago?  Decades ago?  I am really mad at him for doing this to himself, because he’s not just doing it to himself, he’s doing it to my mother and his whole family.

My mother sounds almost happy when she talks about my dad’s health now — it’s relief.  Because she doesn’t have to be responsible for convincing him he needs medical attention anymore.  Now he’s got to listen to the doctors.  She’s off the hook.  Of course, she’s also relieved that he’s relatively fine.  But mostly, she’s relieved that she doesn’t have to go head-to-head with a stubborn, sick man who is “as healthy as a horse.”  And who is so determined to cover up any evidence that he’s not.

You can tell when people are lying to you, right?  I can.  Maybe I’ve become an expert at spotting it due to spending so much time growing up in the company of such a consummate teller of untruths.  I don’t know why people bother.  Don’t they know it’s obvious they’re lying?

Other lies that will soon have to be faced:

  • “Your mother doesn’t have a problem with her memory, she’s just getting forgetful, confused, and easily frustrated by simple tasks because she’s getting older.”
  • “I don’t need open heart surgery.”

Ummm, Dad …

 

stent/stent/

Noun   1. A tubular support placed temporarily inside a blood vessel, canal, or duct to aid healing or relieve an obstruction

 

I hope, for everyone’s sake, he’s telling the truth this time.  But apparently he has an appointment with a cardiac surgeon in a few weeks.

 

Gorilla dogs September 6, 2012

Filed under: Food,Life with kids,The meaning of life,Writing — Aerin Rainey @ 10:52 am

I could tell I was sick yesterday when I got a craving for Grill-A-Dogs.  Comfort food calls when the sinus cold hits.  Luckily, my illness coincided with the first day of school, so I was able to rest in a quiet house.  And I didn’t have to share my Grill-A-Dogs with anyone.

So what’s a Grill-A-Dog, you’re wondering?  It’s sort of a cross between a grilled cheese and a pogo.  (Or what I imagine a pogo to be, never having eaten one.)  To make them, you need two wieners, two pieces of bread, butter, and a Grill-A-Dog maker.  It’s similar to a sandwich maker, but instead it molds toasted bread around hot dogs.

Close up of the Grill-A-Dog maker

The hot dog compartments

Tastes just as good as on the campfire …

You can dip them in ketchup and mustard.  Mmmm…

When I was a kid, we used to eat Grill-A-Dogs at lunch time at the cottage.  My cousins, sister and I feasted on them all summer long, as often as our mothers would make them for us.  You can only make two at a time, and subsequent rounds of Grill-A-Dogs pose a bit of a burn threat to the chef.  It’s not as easy to load the bread and wieners when the thing is burning hot.  But our moms had mastered the art of gingerly placing the ingredients and clamping the griller shut.

They were motivated — the moms wanted their own Grill-A-Dogs, too.  This comfort food has a long and revered history in my family:  My mom’s family used to camp a lot when she was a kid and they were devoted Girl Guides and Boy Scouts.  Even my grandparents were involved in Guiding and Scouting from an early age and became leaders as adults.  So, when a local company started selling these Grill-A-Dog makers, it was a great addition to the camp kit.

Eventually, the family Grill-A-Dog maker ended up at the cottage.  Now, for a whole generation of cousins, it is eternally associated with summer, family togetherness, and eating lunch on the dock in a wet bathing suit as fast as you can so you can go swimming again.

When I moved away and started missing summers at the cottage, I realized that at least one element of that summer fun was portable … I started plotting how I could remove the Grill-A-Dog maker from the premises without anyone noticing.  But really, how could I deprive them?  The Internet saved me from becoming a thief, because I discovered that the inventors of the Grill-A-Dog maker are still in business and with several models to choose from!  If this post has inspired you or piqued your curiosity, you can even get your own Grill-A-Dog maker.

Soon the coveted Grill-A-Dog maker arrived at our house and I started making them for my own kids.  Of course, they loved them!  The eldest was convinced I was calling them Gorilla Dogs.  And she still is.  I like it — the 4th generation of Grill-A-Dog lovers is adding to the legacy.

 

Core April 29, 2012

Filed under: Gifted,The meaning of life — Aerin Rainey @ 10:52 am

At the core of my being, there still resides a little girl who just wants everybody to like her.  She is still there, cowering, meek, looking around at everyone and waiting to be noticed, waiting to be invited.  She just wants to fit in and feel like she belongs.  That there are people she can count on, people who would also turn to her in their time of need.  I’ve always had her with me.

When I was a child, I lived with a lot of criticism and self-hatred.  No one took care of that little girl’s need for approval.  There was always something more to do, something that could be better.  Never good enough — what a negative way to perceive yourself.  Always a better grade to achieve, nicer friends to spend time with, more points to score on athletic teams, more prominent awards to win and programs to be accepted to.  I remember one summer when the unemployment rate for Canadian youth was almost 30% and I was having trouble finding a job.  Instead of feeling supported in my efforts and reassured that everything would turn out, I got asked, “Well, you’ve got to figure out what it is that’s wrong with you.  Why don’t people want to hire you?”  Emphasis on the you.  Not the fact that almost a third of people my age were out of work.

It would be easy to blame my parents, specifically my mother who actually thought she was doing everything right and ended up doing everything wrong.  The pattern of self-hatred was definitely established early and it continued into my young adult life.  I was so unsure of myself and my choices.  How could I know if I was doing the right thing?  I had no idea what I thought was important or what I liked.  I was always looking for clues from the people around me to see if what I was doing was a popular choice.  I missed out on a ton of stuff that I would have really enjoyed and friendships with people I could have really connected with because I simply never realized that I would enjoy it and, furthermore, that it would be okay to enjoy it, okay to connect with people who weren’t generally popular and approved-of.

In my early 30s, after my first daughter was born, I experienced an intense period of self-doubt and self-hatred.  I was wracked with anxiety about how to take care of my little girl.  What kind of mother was I going to be?  I didn’t know anything about or have any right to make decisions that would affect this other being’s existence.  Luckily, I found a wonderful therapist who helped me move forward on a journey to self-acceptance.  I learned that the most important little girl to take care of was my own inner little girl, whom no one (except my husband — how did I manage to let him?) had loved properly her whole life.  No longer did I wait for an approval from an exterior source — I learned to soothe my own hurts and listen to the critical voice inside me with objectivity and tell it how wrong it was.  I gained a feeling of happiness and self-worth.  I cut off toxic friendships and opened myself up more to those who didn’t shy away from the real me.

Life was good.

Then I moved to Atlantic Canada.  I was nervous that I would be able to continue my journey without the help of my therapist, since I am really the kind of person whose ideas and problem-solving benefit from being reflected back to me.  I can make leaps in understanding and integration, as long as I am thinking out loud, preferably to someone other than just me. Anyways, turns out I was right to be nervous, because here I am six years later and right back to where I started.

Why do I do these things?

  • Worry whether my neighbours like me, like my children, like my husband
  • Wish that people I meet would invite me to be in their Book Clubs, girls’ night out groups, dinner clubs, running groups
  • Feel left out every time I hear about people doing something fun
  • Wonder if it’s okay to call someone just to chat
  • Question myself for not going to church!
  • Get upset every time I go to the golf club (or even think about it) and see so-called “friendly” people who never invite me into their foursomes
  • Avoid writing on this blog in case someone I know reads it and decides never to talk to me again

Clearly, I don’t need to be friends with everybody.  I shouldn’t be friends with everybody.  I don’t want to be a chameleon who changes spots to suit every last person she interacts with.  In fact, I have never been good at that anyway!  I only need a few like-minded people who would truly stick with me.  I really need to stop worrying about fitting in with the “friendly” Maritimes and all that entails and just worry about being true to myself and what is important to me:  taking care of ALL the little girls around here, including my “inner Aerin,” who needs a huge daily dose of positive feedback.  (Feel free to leave comments below!  lol — I crack myself up.)

 

Success is not in the eye of the beholder March 15, 2012

Filed under: Fitness & health,Gifted,Life with kids,The meaning of life,Travel,Writing — Aerin Rainey @ 12:55 pm

This has been a very tough week.  I am not feeling well, I have one sick child, I had that job interview that blindsided me, my husband is sick, there was a snow day, plus I got my period.  I don’t know whether it is required for me to spiral into an existential depression every time hormones and low iron levels hit me, but that is what seems to happen.

In the words of Tears for Fears, from “Mad World”:

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
And their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow
And I find it kind of funny

I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying
Are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
‘Cos I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It’s a very, very
Mad world

But spring is around the corner and I have a lot to do.  My plan is that carrying out this simple list of projects (in whole or in part, which is more likely!) will help me get back in touch with my focus and let me bring my full attention to every detail and start living in and enjoying the moments of my life again.  Instead of sitting around worrying what those people running in circles think of me.

List of projects for a successful stay-at-home mother

  • Declutter the basement
  • Organize/purge kids’ accumulated art projects/school work
  • Finish painting the laundry room
  • Stay on top of laundry loads
  • Work on Brownie badges with Meghan
  • Plan and prepare healthy family dinners at least 4-5 times per week (prepare semi-healthy meals 16-17 times per week)
  • Help Meghan study for rider level test
  • Complete school’s online Scholastic book orders in timely fashion
  • Declutter my desk
  • Complete photo albums in Aperture and order prints
  • Contact all elementary schools in Greater Saint John area re: fundraiser (as per role on fundraiser committee)
  • Visit and present characters to elementary schools (as per role on fundraiser committee)
  • Purge kids’ DVD collection
  • Work out 5 days per week
  • Keep food record
  • Provide treats for teachers on St. Paddy’s Day (as per role on Special Events committee)
  • Declutter garage
  • Buy groceries
  • Hang hooks in stairwell for backpacks/sports equipment
  • Repair walls in laundry room, front hall
  • Hang new laundry rack
  • Ensure kids practice piano daily
  • Help kids with homework daily
  • Drive kids to and from all extra-curricular activities and playdates on time
  • Get birthday present for Clara’s friend
  • Plan summer vacation camps, trips, etc.
  • Plan trip to London
  • Pursue digital photography hobby
  • Read books I have purchased re: education, giftedness, health & dieting, photography, spirituality
  • Paint three bathrooms and two bedrooms
  • De-mold the upstairs windows
  • Clean all windows
  • Make/order blinds for kitchen windows
  • Install new shelf in Meghan’s room
  • Mail Helena’s housewarming gift
  • Blog 3-4 times per week
 

Setting a good example March 12, 2012

Filed under: Life with kids,The meaning of life — Aerin Rainey @ 5:40 pm
Tags:

I had my job interview today.  I don’t really know whether it went well or not.  Not an ace-in-the-hole, let’s say.  It was tough getting prepared during March Break and with the husband working and then catching up on much-needed sleep all weekend.  Afterwards, I thought I should tell the girls that it went really well, but we have to wait and see because they can only hire one person but there are lots of people who want the job.

Now why would I lie to my two daughters?  I pretty much felt like crying all day after this stressful event so I definitely needed to come clean with them and say I just didn’t get a  great feeling from the interview, and now I am going to have to wait and see what happens.

I guess I just thought it would be easy to get back in the workforce and show these two girls of mine how great the world thinks I am.  I want them to see me being successful.  The only problem is that I can’t seem to figure out how to measure success.  Is it paid work in the business world that I need to be considered successful?  I don’t know anymore.

 

Free to a good home October 6, 2011

Filed under: Life with kids,The meaning of life — Aerin Rainey @ 11:09 pm

This week, I made almost $100 selling stuff on kijiji.  I just took photos of kids my stuff have outgrown, posted ads on the website and soon, I was in business!  I am getting rid of stuff, gaining empty, clutter-free space in my house, and making some money.

At first, I figured I’d give the stuff away.  In fact, I donated a lot of it to a pre-school.  But in the spring of 2010, I had my first and only garage sale, and made enough money for five of us to go whale watching on the Bay of Fundy for a day.  I realized, Hey, I have a lot of good stuff.

The stuff I have now fits into two categories: (1) Stuff that I think members of my family or circle of friends may want one day; and (2) Stuff that has been so carefully chosen and obsessively cared for that I just can’t bear to release it to the whimsies of the universe.  I mean, after keeping track of all those Little People farm characters for so long, and never losing a single one, keeping the cash register in working order, pristine, clean and shiny, with all its play money and basket of groceries intact … how could I now take the risk that in their next stages of existence, these precious belongings would be scattered to diverse locations, no longer a complete set?  Or the sandals purchased with love on a trip to Montreal, an agonizing choice between pink beads or blue sparkles — how to just let them go without ceremony or anyone to recognize the significance of these particular sandals?

No doubt, some people will think this is crazy — who cares, it’s just stuff, right?  Ahhhh.  I care.  I know I shouldn’t worry about material possessions and that the memories and people supported by these possessions are really what is important in life.  But.

Then kijiji.  Users are combing through the listings, hoping to find that perfect item that will be a great bargain and the envy of all their neighbours.  I love selling stuff on kijiji … I know my stuff is going to a good home.  People who will appreciate it and who are willing to drive, sometimes, across the province to get it!  I would give the stuff away free, but the number of takers would simply be too much for me (and my inbox) to handle!

 

Made-up stuff October 3, 2011

Filed under: Life with kids,The meaning of life,Writing — Aerin Rainey @ 10:43 pm

I love our new art room.  All the arts & crafts supplies can be found there.  My kids can splatter paint and spread chalk dust around to their hearts’ content.  There is even a plasma car to ride around on when you feel the need for inspiration.  Finley, the betta, has taken up permanent residence on the table and the iPod is plugged into a speaker and set on a continuous loop of the Tangled soundtrack.

I would have loved a space like this when I was a kid.  Chock full of glue, paper, pom poms, glitter, paint, markers and possibility.

Don’t get me wrong — when I think about the basement at our house when I was a kid, it was all about imagination.  Made-up games, as my girls call them now.  And listening to them play pretend is bringing it all back to me.  In that unfinished space of my childhood, full of carpet remnants and mismatched furniture, my sister and I and our neighbourhood friends spent hours not just playing our made-up games, but setting the scene for our dramas.

First the cast of characters, complete down to their middle names.  An involved family tree and background story had to be conceived and fleshed out for each person and, if the game was a continuation from yesterday at supper time, we had to recap the entire pretend history. This was really the best part.

Next, we had to build the forts.  After all, even made-up people need somewhere to live.  The pool table, a cast off from my grandparents’ house was coveted for its cozy interior and rooftop garden.  Behind the bookcase was also a fab pad, as it came furnished with bean bag chairs.  Last and definitely least, the couch/coffee table combo.  My poor younger sister often got stuck with its sagging afghan roof and skull-and-coaster-jarring low ceiling.

And then we played.  “Say I’m …  in a car accident and you find me unconscious!” “Say I … get fired from my job, but on the way home I buy a lottery ticket and win!”  “Say … we all go to the beach and we get chased by sharks!” “Say … ”

“Say I’m a world-famous author … “