Happy truths with unhappy (also true) addendums

By Mir
July 5, 2013

The accusation that bloggers tend to give only the happy, shiny bits of their lives—or, conversely, only the tragedies—is a valid criticism. It’s easy to be all YAY FLOWERS AND SUNSHINE and equally easy to be all BOO WAH DRAMA DESPAIR. As for me, I feel like I’m… well, sort of like that in real life? Clearly my black-and-white, all-good-or-all-bad apples didn’t fall all that far from the emotional dysregulation tree, is all I’m saying. Also, stop looking at me like that.

I try to strike a balance, both online and off. I know that shades of gray are (generally speaking) more “true” than black and white (and not THOSE kinds of shades of gray, either, you pervert). I also know I have a tendency to either see something shiny or not quite know how to feel about a particular detail of a situation and then I kind of leave you hanging. I’m not doing it on purpose, I’ve just sort of wandered off or marinated in my own delicate feels and gone silent. Upon reflection I can see where this would make the average reader want to punch me in the face, sometimes. I apologize. Please don’t punch me, because I’m a delicate flower.

So, without further ado: Allow me to attempt to catch you up!

Happy truth about the leaky pool: A couple of you have asked about the resolution of our never-ending pool saga. Your curiosity is warranted, because I bitched endlessly and then went silent without announcing “HEY, IT’S FIXED,” and as everything that could possibly go wrong DID go wrong, assuming all was well and I just forgot to mention it would’ve been silly. So: after over a dozen visits from the pool guys and a leak detection specialist and a metric ton of “pool putty,” the leak was determined to be in a location along the steps (not in the liner itself), and after MUCH back and forth, it seems to have been rectified. At the very least, Otto has been doing this thing called a bucket test which involves trying to gauge water loss from evaporation vs. loss due to leakage, and even though it’s really unclear that there was ever a definitive, final fix AND it’s been raining and raining so it’s hard to check for real, it would seem that our amount of water loss is now “within tolerance.” Also, the pool place hasn’t asked for payment yet. So that’s all good.

Unhappy pool addendum: So about a week ago, between storms, Otto and I decided to go for a swim! If you religiously read the comments on posts here, you may already know that Otto then discovered that there are at least two objects underneath the pool liner in the deep end which do not belong there (probably rocks). One assumes that in the course of removing the first, defective pool liner and putting in the second one at breakneck pace, the guys didn’t bother to check and make sure nothing had been knocked into the pool in the interim. These objects could well rip the liner. We’re waiting for the pool guys to return Otto’s call. So… yeah.

Happy truth about my crazy garden: The season of endless blanching/freezing of beans and peas and roasting of tomatoes for sauce is in full swing, and like always, I am absurdly pleased that with not a terrible lot of effort, food sprouts right outside my door. I’m making some tomato sauce RIGHT NOW, in fact. The house smells amazing.

Unhappy garden addendum: I have battled bugs, I have watered from rain barrels, I have composted and fertilized and over the years learned how to combat most planting problems in some fashion, but this year has me stumped. Half my plants are dying, and I think it’s because they’re drowning. What’s the fix for excessive rain? I have no idea.

Happy truth about my pantry: Over the last few days I posted a few pictures dubbed “pantry porn” for my friends on Facebook to ogle, because Otto decided he was going to clean out and organize us once and for all. We have a pretty wide/deep food pantry closet, but it was overflowing and messy and crock pots were constantly falling off of piles of things and it was basically a disaster area. Plus, we were storing “overflow” food in the laundry area, because not everything even fit in the pantry. Otto cleaned it out, organized, installed sliding racks (I KNOW), and basically made my Facebook friends green with envy.

Unhappy pantry addendum: Although the pantry looks great now and my husband is awesome, in the course of cleaning out he found so much expired food—some of it from my move down here, six years ago—that I now feel like we are far too wasteful and disgusting to deserve this lovely, organized food space. Also, the children keep taking things out and putting them back in different places, probably because they hate me.

Happy truth about summer math hell: Today is the VERY LAST DAY of the class designed to kill its students, and if you’ll indulge me in a quick brag, my kiddo is not only completely rocking it, her teacher recommended her for a peer tutor position, which I gather is kind of a big deal. The final is next week and then it’ll be high-fives all around.

Unhappy math hell addendum: Sounds fantastic, right? The flip side is that this has been five weeks of UTTER TORTURE for everyone involved. While the teacher cannot gush enough about how completely awesome Chickadee is—and don’t get me wrong, she is—Chickadee has managed to lose access to her cell phone, Facebook account, email, and even her iPod through various, ah, shall we say, creative interpretations of house rules for the duration of this class. It has been a long slog of frustration on both sides, and I think we’re all ready for it to be over.

[WTF addendum to the math hell addendum: Things got so crazy in here that Chickie’s therapist ordered some additional testing based on a “hunch.” Mind you, this kid has had two supposedly complete neuropsych evals in the last couple of years, so imagine the surprise of everyone involved when the results of this recent testing came back as “Oh, hi there, terrible parents, did you know that your child has a raging case of ADD? No? PAY ATTENTION MUCH, JERKS?” (For the record, “Oh, look, something SHINY!” is not the right answer to that question….) We are still trying to fit this latest puzzle piece into the big picture (amidst much confusion and swearing, true), but… um, I have to stop thinking we’re running out of curveballs, because my kid is turning out to really be the special-est special snowflake that ever flaked. Or something.]

I think that’s everything. Maybe. I really don’t know. Fair and balanced! Or at least balanced. For the moment.


  1. Aubri

    ADD, huh? Every time I read a Chickie update I feel like she is the younger, wittier, more math-inclined version of me. ;-) I went through MANY of the same issues at her age. It does get better!!! Or at least it gets different. Also, thank you for bringing us readers up to speed! I’ve been wondering about the pool especially.

  2. RuthWells

    OY. There is nothing more to say.

  3. Korinthia Klein

    But where are the cute pictures of LICORICE?!? I miss the dog.

  4. Kristen

    I’m going to pretend that they said, “Oh hi there, amazing-wonderful-loving parents, did you know that exceptionally bright adolescent girls can be really tricky to diagnose, and we think we just might have found one more piece to the ever-changing puzzle – which has turned out to be a 3-D version that requires complex math equations to solve, …..so good thing you did that math class!”

    • Mir

      You’re my favorite.

      • Kristen

        You are very sweet, but I think we are just on remarkably similar paths with remarkably similar daughters. And as hard, challenging, heartbreaking and difficult as it is, I wouldn’t trade mine for all the tea in China or dollars on Wall Street. I see and feel love in every word you write.

        • Valerie

          Here, here! LOVE Kristen’s response.

    • Annie

      Yeah…I’m actually kind of jealous of Chickie. I didn’t get diagnosed with my own raging case of inattentive ADD until I was 31.

      • Meri

        I wasn’t until I was 28 and couldn’t focus long enough to write one page at a time of my master’s thesis. That’s the only time I’ve had to take meds, thankfully, but I did get it written!

        The other part that is really hard for me is that I have no sense of time passing, which often makes me late. I use a lot of timers, alarms, reminders and mostly do okay now, but I need to do better.

  5. Leslie in Toronto

    “specialist special snowflake that ever flaked” … that just made my day, totally and completely.

  6. crazyjane

    ‘specialist special snowflake that ever flaked’
    I snorted.

  7. dad


    As Tevya so eloquently said: “On the other hand…”

    Math is hard! So is everything else.
    Keep coping and dealing.

  8. Kyre

    Show us the pantry here? I am a ‘no facebook, no, no, no,’ kinda gal. Photos please? I want to be jealous while feeling like a lazy sloth staring at Otto’s mad organizing skills.

    • Mir

      Your wish is my command!

      • Chris G

        Again…I love Otto…he could do this as a side job….haha As for the pool what a mess..I don’t like the sharp things that fell in before the second liner went in….

      • Little Bird

        I’m having a serious jealous over here!

      • Arnebya

        I want to rub those jar tops all over my…hands. Seriously having palpitations over here because of the neat and the clean and JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL, SLIDING SHELVES.

      • Elle

        WHERE are the racks from? Brand? Price? My cupboard needs them!

        • Samantha

          I’d also love to know the brand of the racks and where you purchased them. They look awesome!!

  9. not supergirl

    I’m with Leslie and crazyjane, loved that line. Also, though I may seem overly invested in someone else’s life, I do like the updates. Thanks!

  10. Karen R

    My genius-level son had moved out and been on his own for a few years before I realized he has ADD. And it was only because we were in the process of getting his ten-years-younger sister dxed, and I had to attend a class on what ADD could look like.

    Suddenly, all those battles over getting homework done (and then discovering that it had never been turned in…), all those times I had wished I could shut him into a tiny room with no distractions so he could get his work done, all those pointless lies (Yes, I cleaned my room), all those times he spent more time trying to get out of doing something than he would have spent doing it, finally, it all made sense.

    And the guilt is crushing. Maybe if I had realized it earlier he would have gotten better grades (top test scores, dragged down by homework undone and/or never turned in). Maybe he wouldn’t have given up a scholarship that covered everything — tuition, fees, room, board, and books — and dropped out of college after a year. Maybe, maybe, maybe…

    He is successful and doing well, but I still wonder how things might have turned out for him had he been dxed much earlier.

    So, good for Chickie that you have discovered this now. She can shine even more brightly.

    • chris

      Oh don’t let the guilt crush you momma! It is a tricky thing to recognize if you don’t know what to look for. My husband was dx’d with ADD at age 28. His parents also felt a lot of guilt about it. Isn’t it amazing to see the light clicked on with the dx as well as how he learned to cope with it all those years with no meds? We are on the look out now for the signs in our 7 year old son. Hopefully we can spare him and ourselves the years of struggle my husband went through!

      • Karen R

        Night and day for my daughter. My son agrees that he has it, but hasn’t explored a formal dx or treatment. He is an adult, so it is his decision. DH was dxed after our daughter was, but has not been able to find a med that works without impacting other issues. Currently he is experimenting with a green tea with ginseng, which helps him feel more alert. He has recently retired, and giving up the work stress also helps.

  11. Lucinda

    ADD is a pain in the ass but it is frequently missed and misdiagnosed, especially in girls. So there’s that. I like to think that these kids just have so many brilliant ideas going on in their head at once that how could they POSSIBLY be expected to focus on just one? Oh and Squirrel! Totally the joke around our house because although my daughter and I have never been diagnosed, my dad has and I’m quite sure dd and I both have it as well. Eventually you figure out your own mojo. My dad always sat in the front of class. I sat in the back with my multi-colored pens while taking notes. Look, pretty! My daughter…well, she’s still in the drive us crazy stage. The catch phrase around here is “I got distracted.” Happens to us both all the time. But she’ll get there and so will Chickie.

  12. Brigitte

    If I take various (and I’m sure totally inaccurate) online quizzes, they tell me I have Asperger’s, ADD, GAD, PTSD, Depression and who knows what else. I just think the symptoms for a lot of these are remarkably similar, and it depends on the individual doctor’s leanings as to how they interpret the data. I think Chickadee’s already being treated for the most important issue, and everything else stems from that anyway, so don’t change what you’re doing!

  13. js

    The moral of the story for me is, I never want to own a freaking pool ;-)

  14. Mary K. in Rockport

    I HAVE been wondering about the pool but didn’t dare to ask.
    Our 28 year old was home for the holiday without her Adderall, and OMG, how did we live with that for 16 years?

  15. Holly Gault

    Addressing the garden pests. I know garden pests, from the crawling on the belly to flying in and leaving nasty eggs to great clomping four-legged, antlered veggie-shredding beasts. Grrrr.

    Two things seem to work best: 1. floating covers over hoops and 2. spraying with a brew of garlic, cayenne, and rosemary — all ground up, water added, and left to brew for a couple of days before straining and spraying. Even though the deer have left not-so-delicate footprints through the lettuce bed, they haven’t eaten any. They did munch my nasturtiums until we started spraying them also.

  16. bryan

    ADD in girls is hard to begin with. Also, I think with Chickie you needed to get a couple of layers within the onion before those symptoms appear. I mean, if someone has a bajillion zebras raging through the room, it’s going to be hard to identify one set of hoofbeats as a horse. (Oh, and. . .it’s never lupus.) (That’s a House reference, not a diagnosis.)

    • the Iowa Expat

      I mean, if someone has a bajillion zebras raging through the room, it’s going to be hard to identify one set of hoofbeats as a horse.

      Dear God, YES. Thank you bryan!

      And Mir. Big hugs all around.

  17. Kim

    Update posts are good. So is you sharing what you want to share. I like the pantry pics, too. Hurray for Chickie for rocking the math class! Although given what you’ve shared about the online teacher, I’m taking her enthusiasm for the peer tutoring with a grain of salt.

  18. meghann @ midgetinvasion

    As for the garden, I have no idea, either. Stand outside with a hair dryer? I’ve now been in Georgia for 5 years, and I was unaware we have a monsoon season here. I mean, seriously, WTH?

  19. suburbancorrespondent

    I know that there is naturally occurring ADD, as it were; but I do wonder how much the technology use (Twitter, texting, etc) exacerbates it or makes it impossible to cope with? Not for Chickadee, in particular, but in general for teens. I have seen kids so addicted to their phones that they lose track of what they are doing a zillion times a day. I can feel the difference in my own brain when I have been on the Internet too much; I can’t focus the same way I can if I have spent 2 days offline and reading only printed matter. I have a feeling that there are a lot of borderline cases where the teen/adult could learn coping skills/behavior modification; but this whole phone/Internet thing makes it impossible.

    • Mom24_4evermom

      Amen! I definitely see this in myself.

      • deva

        So. Do. I. I know I need to put my phone on the charger for a 24-hour break when I put it down and pick it up 30 seconds later.

        That is also when I go to the library for a lot more books.

  20. Daisy

    Ah, the garden challenges. I’m harvesting lettuce and spinach daily and trying to stop my tomatoes from putting out tomatoes too early (Wisconsin, after all). As for the over-watering that happens when no one can help it, the only solution I’ve found has to happen when you’re planting. I put in a sizable handful of shredded paper before I insert the tomato or pepper plant into its place. This seems to help. Wisconsin clay is nothing like Georgia clay, but we’re close enough to a river that I still turn up clumps that could make a pot every time I turn soil.

  21. Emily

    Swamped garden = not enough oxygen in the soil (because the water compacts the soil, forcing the O2 out) = dead plants. The fix? Looser soil through peat moss or vermiculite. Not much you can do this year, but next year :) watch out!

  22. Dezi Nance

    Holy Moly, you crack me up totally! No wonder I have to check up on your post every once in a while and catch up on the pool/Chickadie/Licorice/Monkey/totally awesome husband there, and of course the attack of the killer math episodes, you make my weeks a better place, really. Thanks and keep up the great comedic timing!!! :)

  23. Chuck

    Well, your life is never boring, is it? I did the same thing once with my Dad’s workbench area, even though he could no longer use it (sliding shelves not included, just organizing) and my mother proceeded to cover it with extra crap she bought at Costco. To her, any blank space was a place to store something. Ah well, it looked nice for a month or two.

  24. Joy

    Nurse practitioner here who gets to see a fair number of weird rashes on adults and kids: did Chickadee’s rash ever come up with a label and a treatment? I would love to know! That’s the update I’ve been waiting to hear!

    • Mir

      Nope; she made the rounds at Emory Dermatology and ended up with the head of the department taking her case, and eventually last year he said, “We’re never going to figure out the cause, we’re just going to treat the symptoms.” She did about a year on an immuno-suppressing oral medication. This summer we’ve been able to keep it in check with just a topical (clobetasol foam) applied as needed. No idea why it’s gotten better, or if it will eventually go away altogether.

      • Joy

        I wondered if they were going to try an H2 agonist…she’s too young to try something like methotrexate. I’m glad for both of you that it seems to be under control!

  25. karen

    I have always had an awful time with math, just not very good at it, except for the easy to do addition, subtraction and general multiplication and division. I think it takes an exceptional mind to be naturally good at that.

    ADD? Do-able. :-)

    Pantry? Can I borrow Otto? *sigh* mine is … well, yeah.

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