Saturday, December 22, 2012

Jack of No Trades....

When I was young I loved taking things apart. It was not out of curiosity, to see how they worked. It was not in order to see if I could fix something that was broken. I did not like putting things back together, I just liked taking things apart. I think I had a "need to destroy" streak in there, and taking things apart filled that need.

As I got older I discovered something about myself. I was not good at fixing things. The talent wasn't there. My brother was good at fixing things. If fact, I still claim that he is the most patient person I know. Perhaps patience is my problem.... My older sister was good at it, she had that artists eye that could see pieces of a whole and just understand clearly how it all should go together. But me? I cannot do puzzles. I get frustrated at crafts. I have no instinct for organization and I can barely read a map. (It is related, trust me.) Now, there is a chance that because I realized this early I stopped truly trying. But it drove me crazy that something as simple as knowing my left from my right seemed to take all of my focus and it came without effort to seemingly everyone else. But the stopping trying?  That was my own fault, and led to the demise of any residual "putting things together" talent that may have been still lurking.

Into my teenage years I all but gave up fixing things. I had a brother just two years younger that took on that job for me. Sad I know. But it was so easy for him, and he enjoyed doing it. And I...did not. I remember thinking that if I someday got married, it needed to be to someone who could follow behind me fixing all the things that seemed to fall apart around me. 

I met my husband in college. One of my earliest memories of him is going to see a movie in his dorm room with him and his (then) girlfriend. I remember asking to use his restroom and being told to just "pull that cord sticking out to flush it." The toilet had broken soon after he had moved in, and instead of calling to having it fixed (as any normal college student would have done) he had jury-rigged it MacGyver-style with things he had had lying around. At the time I don't remember thinking twice about it. And yet, I now laugh when I think back on that being one of the first things I remember about him. He could fix things!

Anyhow - all this to say: I decided the other day that I was going to put aside my insecurities and break out the power tools! Er....I mean, I am not allowed to use our drill. So a screwdriver would have to suffice. But I was going to do it all by myself! I had gotten a shelf to put by my desk several days before. And since the weekend was over, and therefore any hope of my highly skilled husband whipping this thing together was gone for at least another 5-6 days and I wanted my shelf now so that useful items could be out of the reach of the Monkey, yet still accessible to me.

So I decided the time was now. Imaginary theme music blaring through my brain I put the baby down for a nap, fetched my tools and sat cross legged on the floor and opened the box...

As any good craftsman would, my first order of business was to read the instructions. The first thing I noticed was that it listed "power drill" in the list of tools you would need. figuring I would deal with that when I got there (he never has to know I used it...right?) I also noticed it did NOT list glue in the items I would need...however the first instruction said to "add drops of glue to holes before inserting wooden dowels."  Determined to be the victor of this project I went in search of wood glue. I knew we had some. The question was where. First I looked all through the office to no avail...then off into the depths of the garage I plunged. 

Now, just to be clear. The garage is very clean and organized. It is just not organized to any system that makes logical sense to my brain. So really, the wood glue could be anywhere. I imagined myself an explorer in the Amazon - flat, hacking sword in hand (can't think of the name of the sword at the moment). Hacking my way through the think vegetation until Ah Ha! Wood glue!

I also stole an extra screwdriver I found. You can never have to many of those. And I think this one was actually mine.

I settled triumphantly back into my comfy spot on the floor to continue my project - only to discover that the kit came with a little TINY bottle of glue. Well why didn't they tell me that!?!  But not to be discouraged, I forged ahead. I laid out all the pieces, just like the instructions said to. And being careful that all the edges were facing the right way, I took a deep breath...and started screwing! Err...the shelf, with screws. The screws that came with it? To make a shelf. That is what I was screwing. Just so we are perfecting clear...

Now, logically in my head (don't laugh - there is a certain logic to my head sometimes!) I would think to start from the bottom and work up. So I did. And I was wrong. So I had to then take it apart again. Turns out you have to start in the middle and work outward. Something about being able to reach all the places and such. Oh, and I used too much glue. But we don't have to tell anyone about that...

Finally I got it partway together. Ta Da!

See, it matches the picture:

Ta Da!

Ok, so I built it upside down. But who is really keeping track of all the upside/downside ups anyway!?!

However, as I was attempting to wrench in the last of the middle screws - I noticed it was taking a little more  effort then it should, and I heard a terrible cracking sound...oh no! It was breaking through the side of the wood, but I had used the right screws....right? I had read all the instructions! I used the ones it said...or I had used the ones that looked like the ones in the picture... Ok, maybe I had not read ALL the instructions.

Ok - so maybe I had guessed. I saw X2 next to the screws and thought that there were 2 of I chose the ones that there were only 2 of and had not paid attention to the whole AA vs. GG thing.

Oh come on, anyone could have made that mistake!

See? The screws are almost identical! Ok, so maybe not. As I was fetching my screwdriver yet again, to take it apart yet AGAIN I discovered something. I had a ratcheting screwdriver set. Who knew!

My husband was right, you learn all sorts of things when you fix things! And new tools DO appear out of no where! At least that is what I am assuming happens, since whenever my husband fixes things he magically acquires new tools. He can't truly be buying all of them, right? That would be ridiculously expensive!

So I set the wrong right again. And added a little extra glue to the newly formed cracks (Since I needed to feel justified in my glue hunting) and soon had it all together!

Well, almost. You see, after all that work, the set was missing something! Notice any inconsistencies?

For the less observant type, that would be 3 screws on the top, and four on the bottom. Which meant one was left out. And no, I did not lose it or overlook it like I did the glue. It was missing out of the little plastic bag that all the screws came in.

I considered for a moment scrapping the whole shelf (preferable dropping it from a very high ledge). Or perhaps carrying on in a very soggy fashion, weeping my loss of a complete project - drowning my sorrows in chocolate and fine cigars. Or I could angrily call the company that made the shelf and demand a complete refund and the immediate sacking of any and all employees that may or may not have been personally responsible for the carelessness of leaving a piece out... But instead I decided to make do, and attach only 3 screws to one side.

DONE! Is it not a thing of beauty?   

Now as I scoured the instructions for the final wall-mounting procedure the inevitable doom met my eye: "Use a power drill to attach unit to wall." 

I wont tell you exactly how I managed. But I will tell you that no person (or thing) was harmed in the making of this shelf. At least nothing was harmed permanently. All of the proper procedures were followed (mostly), the shelf is securly in place and never underestimate what you can do with a large bottle of glue and determination! 

Approximately 2 hours after I had begun the project, I looked on victorious at a job! 

And as you can see, that tea is not going to drink itself, so I must now be off. 

But if ever you have need of someone to build you a shelf or some other odd household maintenance job...please, feel free to call on anyone but me to complete it!

Roses in December

“I will have nothing to do with a God who cares only occasionally. I need a God who is with us always, everywhere, in the deepest depths as well as the highest heights. It is when things go wrong, when good things do not happen, when our prayers seem to have been lost, that God is most present. We do not need the sheltering wings when things go smoothly. We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly.”      ― Madeleine L'Engle

Things need to change. I feel this about once every 3 months I find. But at least once a year I feel as if life needs a complete re-hall. I start to stumble, I start to lose focus, the world gets fuzzy and motivation is lost. It is at these cross-roads that I find I have several choices.

I can settle into the indifference - not really caring if the house gets clean or if my clothes match. It starts to feel like a lot of work just to get the kids a cup of milk when they ask, I get annoyed at noise, even happy noise. I stop calling friends to hang out because the prospect of keeping up a conversation exhausts me and I have very little positive things to say anyhow. I stop exercising because I have no energy to spare, I start over-eating because I get bored. Oh so bored. But with no motivation I find I can't fill the boredom and so I just sit.

Sometimes my response is anger. Frustration at myself for somehow not being able to live up to my own expectations. Guilt over feeling like I cannot keep my house together like so many other moms seem to do so effortlessly. My temper flares when the big kids leave the doors open again and the baby starts piling miscellaneous items into the toilet. I seek solitude at every opportunity, yearning for a reprieve from the constant badgering of life. Counting the minutes until my husband comes home just so I can go to the bathroom alone, even once!

Sometimes I find myself running away. This could mean leaving the house at every opportunity, walking around target, the mall, the park, the grocery store. Staying as far away from my prison of a house as I can. Because that is where reality lives. If I am home I am on the computer, getting away virtually, reading or watching TV. Ignoring real life as best I can by simply not looking at it.

You see, when I wander into these stages I am full aware of it. I am ashamed to admit that it is a grown-up temper tantrum of sorts. But it is also useful in a way. You see, God and I have always had something of an interesting relationship. I usually have an on-going conversation in my head with Him about life, choices, relationships and human reactions that goes on all day long. I am not always nice to him in my questions or statements and often times the conversation is more of an argument then anything else. He is not always gentle with me either. In fact He often is not. He pushes, prods, makes life frustrating, uncomfortable and sometimes downright scary as we argue. But in the end, He always wins, and I rest again in knowing he was right in the first place. And I am reminded again that if I had simply gone with that in the first place I could have avoided so much personal heartache. But then, there is joy in the journey. There is value in pain, anger and frustration.  Truly what I think it boils down to, is that all of the above mentioned situations are my own immature reactions to change.

Now don't get me wrong. I actually love change. It does not scare me. I relish it in fact. However, change takes lots of work. And I am very tired. All of the time.

But you see, I get stuck in the above mentioned categories. Sometimes jumping from one to the other, but never seeming to be able to get out of them. No matter how much I yell, plead or passionately ask of God to get me through...  I find that at the end of it all I usually make a cup of tea, sit and make a list. Lists are good things. Did you know lists are blessed by God? So are hot baths and the rearranging of furniture. Even if it is just one thing.

So I have been in an angry, confused and indifferent slump lately. And I am ready to do the work to get out of it. Things in life have gotten so routine, I have been filling my world with useless busywork and I will admit, I have absolutely nothing to show for it but exhaustion and a feeling of restlessness that results in boredom and snarkyness. The world is going faster then I can follow at the moment. We are already mere days until Christmas.

My Taylor has been saying, almost every night as I tuck her into bed: "I am so excited for Christmas Mama! Not just for presents, but for the 'real' meaning of Christmas." I nod, mumble a quick "me too baby" and hastily kiss heads goodnight so I can get to "my free time" faster.

But perhaps that is my whole problem lately. I have been stressed about presents. I feel like I have spent way to much money. My husband has had a lot of extra work lately and kids are out of school so I have been surrounded by only children pretty much most of the time. Children that talk. A LOT. At the same time. Without noticing if the other one stopped first. Asking questions. Getting mad at one another with a: "I was talking to Mama first!" And then I am attempting to keep their peace and the littlest one is taking advantage of a distracted mother and pulling all the groceries out of the refrigerator again and tossing them into the trashcan or leaving them in various places around the living room (do you find mustard under your couch cushions?). And I have to go somewhere or do something and no one has shoes on, and they don't want to wear jackets (is it bad to just let my kids deal with being cold when they refuse jackets? It is not REALLY below freezing outside, we have like 2-3 more degrees until it is ACTUALLY freezing, and the summer dress they chose to put on this morning will keep them warm enough...right?) and then the monkey has a poopy diaper and she is FAST and keeps hiding behind the couch when I try to change her and I can't. quite. fit. And I know it is normal to be overwhelmed as a mom of three. I know it is normal to get frustrated, to have no time, to be tired. But goodness I am tired!

And then at the end of the day, Taylor - my beloved child, reminds me that all that doesn't matter. Not really anyway. That she is excited for the REAL reason behind Christmas.

And I take a moment, and I realize...I did something right!

Oh it feels like a long time since I have done something right! I do things wrong A LOT. I am a clumsy person, bad at spelling, I can't seem to keep my house clean and  I lose my temper sometimes. But look! My baby girl is excited to celebrate a child born in a manger. A child that takes away all those bad things. That makes our hearts as pure as snow. A savior that thinks the homemade ornament is as pretty as I do. That comforts my baby girls when they are lonely or afraid. He calms my nerves when the world threatens to squeeze the joy out. He provides things like coffee and hot baths. He laughs when my babies play pretend, He sighs with me when they tell one another "I like you!" and is always there at the end of the day when I need a moment to close my eyes. I like that.

Things need to change. I have started to stumble, I am losing focus, the world is fuzzy and motivation is lost. It is at this cross-roads that I find I have several choices. I can continue taking things day by day. Looking with dread into what feels like an abyss of endless stressful days in front of me.

Or I can stop. I can finish my cup of coffee. I can make a list and I can say Thank you. No more. No less.

Sure, I have been going through some hard times lately. But that doesn't really matter. Just, Thank You.

Yes my house is a mess. Thank You.

Yes, I am not happy with the state of my body currently. Thank You.

Sure my kids are frustrating at times, or a lot of the time. Thank You.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.

I am at peace. Whether my blood pressure shows it or not. I am at peace.

Because you see, there was a baby. A baby was born! He came for me, for my babies. He came to take away the stress, not cause it. He came so I can rest. He is the reason my Taylor is excited for Christmas. So...Thank you.

I feel in very many ways, my dear friend J.M. Barrie said it best:

“God gave us memory, so that we might always have roses in December.” 
So let us remember...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

“I do not believe this darkness will endure.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien

“I sit beside the fire and think 
Of all that I have seen
Of meadow flowers and butterflies
In summers that have been

Of yellow leaves and gossamer
In autumns that there were
With morning mist and silver sun
And wind upon my hair

I sit beside the fire and think
Of how the world will be
When winter comes without a spring
That I shall ever see

For still there are so many things
That I have never seen
In every wood in every spring
There is a different green

I sit beside the fire and think
Of people long ago
And people that will see a world
That I shall never know

But all the while I sit and think
Of times there were before
I listen for returning feet
And voices at the door”
                                        ― J.R.R. Tolkien

I have been neglecting my writing lately. The reason, I'll admit, is because of a small addiction to the TV show Greys Anatomy.

I know.

It has been a growing year. It was, perhaps, the hardest summer of my life. Both because of health reasons and because of hardships I journeyed through with dear friends. It felt void of joy in many ways. Very slate grey in color. And I felt very alone in it all. spiraling down at times, into an unknown depth.  I am not good at emotions. I never have been, which is why at a fairly young age I basically decided against them. They are not reliable, they create chaos and uncertainty and make life far more complicated then it needs to be.  I have always liked being in control of myself, and even when I would deal with hormanal changes while pregnant I was always ok, knowing that it would come to an end. That I would go back to being human as soon as the 9 months were over. But this summer it was a different feeling, not knowing where the emotions were coming from, where they would take me, when they would surface and whether or not I would survive - or at least whether I would scar my children and possibly have no husband and friends at the end of it.

Ok, perhaps I am being a tad dramatic here. But that was the depth to which I felt (real or no), and didn't know how to control.

I decided to watch G. Anatomy on a whim, it was on Netflix and I had reached the end of 'How I Met Your Mother' and needed a new laundry show.

I don't like chick-flick type movies/shows. Never have. I have often said the reason is because I get angry at what I know boils down to a room full of writers that are trying hard to manipulate their audience' emotions. So I rebel and talk about how stupid it is and how no one would ever really act like that.

However, I have always liked Holocaust movies. Ok, let me clarify, not like LIKE, but they move me. Way more then any fictional romance. Because that emotion, that pain was REAL. There is nothing that could be added theatrically that could make it more stirring, more gut wrenching. It is ok to cry about it, because it really happened.

I have a weird connection to the TV show M*A*S*H. I really really like it. I am not a fan of the war setting, I don't find the characters attractive, I even dislike lots of their personalities. But there is something about it that is real. I find, when watching a show like that, that I can funnel into it some of my frustration at humanity and the unfairness of life, death, pain and separation.

I discovered I could do the same with GA, and during a summer where I felt underwater and drowning a good amount of the time - it was therapeutic. I didn't like it for the characters or the love triangles or the meaningless misunderstandings.  Honestly, I loved the stories of the patients in the show and the dynamic it brought to the doctors caring for them. I loved the relationships and the spiritually behind dealing with life and death everyday. I would say it made me want to go into the medical field...but that is not how my brain works. No, it made me want to study the medical field and then play a character that is medically involved in some performance somewhere.

 It made me want to paint a picture, create art that portrays the fragility of life in a way that makes people breathless. You see, I am an artist wanna-be. I hate painting. I can't play music. At this point in my life I don't have the time to perform...writing is my only outlet. But I have to be careful - because, you see, when I watch a show like that my outlet goes there. And it is like a band-aid. When I watch other people's created drama, regardless of whether it is based on a true story...I feel the art slipping away. It is like a science experiment we would do as a child. Take a bowl of cold, clear water. Put into it a sealed bag of warm colored water, but poke a hole in the side of the bag. Then just sit and watch as the colored water ribbons out. Does that make sense?

I have always been very aware of what is good for my creative brain and what is not. Harry Potter was good for my brain, Hunger Games was not. Outside is good for my brain, screaming babies are not. Coffee is good for my brain, a bag full of Halloween candy is not. Disney Music is good, going to the pet store is not.  It doesn't always make sense logically what is good and what is not, but I always know.

I have always been influenced by the books I read. For instance, when I read Brian Jacques books I am hungry all the time because he is so good at describing feasts. I read LM Montgomery and want to wear dresses and run in grassy fields. I read David Eddings and become quick witted and sarcastic.

I have never really been influenced by the TV shows I watch (excepting MASH). Movies either, perhaps it is because I grew up in Los Angeles, or because I have been in to many plays. I know a little too much of what it takes to produce those shows. It isn't one or two people feeling compelled by their imaginary friends (for lack of a better term) to write them down and set them free. It is teams of writers, actors, lighting, sets, costumes...all too complicated and planned. I watch as a critic, I see a stumble and wonder if that was scripted or just left in because the editors were tired and ready to go home for the night. I disagree with comic timing or blocking or camera angels and get frustrated that it could have been done better. I see all of those things when I watch a movie or a show...whereas books are simply my friends.
GA was good for my emotional stability, but it was not good for my creative brain. It leeched out the confusion and frustration at life and death. But it left me rather empty. I got lost in it to easily. I connected to deeply. I cried more while watching that show then all other shows in my entire life of watching shows and movies put together. I didn't write. I tried. I failed. It didn't work, the words were no there. Even this is feeling rather forced. But it is good to get back on the horse.

My imaginary friends have been silent lately, sleeping. In a way it is kind of nice to have a break. But as the weather finally starts to get cold. My hard summer is gone and behind me, I am fully medicated and back under at least partial emotional control. I have worked to re-establish some of the relationships I neglected over the past few is time to wake them up. It is time to plug the hole in the bag and open the top so that life can again become permeated with color.

It is time to feels like a long time since I have laughed, REALLY laughed. It is time to find the joy, and not the sorrow. It is time to break free and run in the rain.

I have never really looked up Tolkien quotes before. Which surprises me. But I did today and I am over-joyed at what I have found. So to end today I will give you several words of wisdom and/or advice.

One feels very close to my creative heart.
We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming 'sub-creator' and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic 'progress' leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.”
                                                  ― J.R.R. Tolkien

The second is just good advice!

 “Never laugh at live dragons.”
                                                   ― J.R.R. Tolkien

And the third? Well, take this as you may. But know for sure that I mean every word.
“I warn you, if you bore me, I shall take my revenge.”
                                                     ― J.R.R. Tolkien


Monday, October 29, 2012

To be in control...

 "Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong."      -Oscar Wilde

I like control. Alot.

I like to know what the outcome will be before I start the procedure. I like to have a plan, a schedule. I think, if I had been raised in an environment where things were systematic and rehearsed I could have developed a very type A personality, and probably would have gone on to become a nurse or teacher or something else that requires an organized mind, someone in control all the time, very career driven.

But I wasn't raised that way.  I was un-schooled for a good portion of my childhood, I had parents that valued creative content over neat handwriting, original ideas over spelling and beautiful autumn days over finished math tests. I did learn how to read and what 2+2 equaled. But I also had courses in "Reading Out Loud." and "Sight Reading Music Theory in 3 part harmony."  Pretty sure your average public school does not teach those classes....

Of course that couldn't last, through highschool I got down to learning algebra and my parents tried their best to instil basic grammar - the jury is still out on whether or not that was successful... And off to college I went.

I got good grades in college, when I chose to (and thanks to my amazingly brilliant roommate that proof-read every single one of my papers before I turned them in, she gave them back bleeding in red ink from all my spelling mistakes). There was that one class where I downright told the teacher I was going just for a passing grade and would be turning in only the projects that fit that criteria. She laughed and told me no student had ever told her that before. But that was my last semester senior year and I was all done. Aside from that (She gave me a C-), I got mostly A's and a few B's and LOTS of "You have a very 'unique' writing style" from professors written on my papers.
I like to be in control. And in my house with my kids? I am in control 100% of the time. But as I have gotten older, I have noticed that the more in control I try to be in my own life, all to often, the less control I actually have. As my kids get older I have had to let some things go. And it is physically painful for me. I have had to let go some of the control over their education and socialization by sending them to school. I have had to allow them freedom of expression, something that came so effortlessly to my parents, has been difficult for me. Let them choose their own clothes? What!?! What if they choose wrong? So I have had to, little by little, allow them to do things on their own, so that they can grow up. I have had to allow my husband to be dad. A parent, just as much as I am. It really doesn't matter what he feeds the kids for dinner, as long as they are fed. Or what time they go to bed, or whether xy and z are all in their own neat little packages. What matters is that kids are happy and taken care of, and with daddy kids are ALWAYS happy.

Daddy took all three kids to a work party all on his own recently. This was HARD for me. Not only would they be out of my sight, out of my control - but it would happen in a house I had never been to before. I didn't know the environment, the dangers, the people. But I swallowed my panic, and made sure kids had jackets as they paraded happily out the door.

Of course my fears became reality as Taylor smugly informed me the next day: "Daddy let us have soda last night!" I paused for a moment, then simply smiled, giving her the expected. "He did huh? It must have been a special day." All the while breathing through my loss of control. It is good for me.

Yes, kids like (and need) alone time with Daddy. There is a freedom there that mom can't manage.

I have been reflecting on being a kid a lot lately. I think it is because my kids are growing like weeds  and it is making me sentimental. They are hitting some real "growing up" milestones like learning to read, and talking about philosophy and religion and GETTING it.

It makes me want to take a step back, freeze time and just reflect. There are some key moments that stick out in my memory from when I was small, some of them are there for an obvious reason. An accomplishment was achieved, a tragedy occurred, but many are seemingly random. However, as I look back, I can draw something of a map between remembered moments. I realize, that I can remember specific moments growing up, where I was allowed control.  It has made me look at parenting a little differently. I realize, how much of my personality was allowed to blossom because I was allowed freedom of control. And then I also look back and realize just how much was regulated, and how important that was too.

Of course, in a sense I cheat. Maps between childhood and adulthood are easier to draw for me because I have something of a handbook - 4 handbooks actually. I think I have mentioned it before that my dad wrote letters to us kids as we were growing up. My kids LOVE hearing the conversations that were written down, that I had with my dad and other family members. Transcribed word for word from when I was 4 or 6 or whatever age they like. It is funny, some of the situations I can remember growing up, are mirrored in these books from the point of view of my parents. What a parenting gift when I have a mini-me living within my walls. Of course what parent doesn't? We are all doomed two types of children. And I will even argue that if a parent chooses to only have one kid, both personalities will be present at different times because it has been written in the stars that it must be so.

The first type of child every parent must learn to suffer through is the child that is just like them. The reason for this, is to teach us humility, and perhaps to answer the prayer of our parents ("I hope someday you have a child that puts you through all that you have put me through!") The second kind we must all learn to endure is the complete opposite of us, usually the perfect mirror of the sibling that pushed our buttons the most while growing up . My sister and I used to laugh and tell one another that someday we would each have a daughter, and hers would be exactly like me, and mine would be just like her.

We were deadly right.

The reason for this, is the same reason we had that sibling in the first place. To learn to laugh in the face of insanity. The insanity being of course the sibling that, according to you, is always wrong.
But my memory of growing up is so spotty, perhaps that is normal? Perhaps it is hereditary as certain members of my family have a reputation for being "forgetful." 

I can remember clearly the first time I asked my mom how many cookies I could have at a party. And she said "you are old enough to know what is ok, you choose." That memory is strong. But there are so many holes. Times I feel should have been remembered, that are not.

For instance, I have no memory of this:

"Hello Daddy."
"Oh, hi Sarah."
"Mama told me to call you at work."
"Oh yeah? What's up?"
"It's out."
"Out? What's out?"
"My tooth is out."
"Your tooth fell out?"
"No - I think I swallowed it."
"Oh no - Sarah!"
"I was eating toast."
"What are you going to do Sarah?"
"Will you finish your toast?"
"I already did."
"Wow, your first tooth. I think I'll write that on the wall somewhere."
"No! You can't."
"But I want everyone to know."
"It's not allowed."
"No - well, I guess you're right."
"Goodbye Daddy."
"Goodbye Sarah."

See? Control issues as a 6 year old. But no real lasting memory. I wonder if my older sister, the one exactly like my now 6 year old (Who has already lost 5 teeth) can remember such a monumental occurrence as losing her first tooth.  And yet several pages later it is barely mentioned that I helped to lay new bathroom tile, and I can remember that vividly!

I remember once as a kid, asking my mom what we were going to do that day, and getting the response: "We will just play it by ear." and it caused panic. I can remember that panic. Because I needed a schedule.  I envied kids in school, and I can remember this - not because of the friends or the lack or parental presence, but because they got a schedule! The joy I felt in college, going to my first class, knowing EXACTLY what would happen next. I can remember it vividly and it still thrills me.

As a pre-teen and beyond I put together a schedule for myself and followed it religiously. I remember it started at 8:15 and went through until 7pm. Breaking the day into 15 minute increments, each with an assigned task/activity - some as simple as "Play cards and listen to music." Some mental professional out there is probably shaking their head at this, thinking "an 11 year old with every moment of everyday scheduled by choice? Must be early onset ocd!" But it really wasn't. I just liked to be in control, and honestly at that age I didn't get much. My mom had a baby and a toddler in the house to care for, so I was left mostly on my own to plan anything that needed doing. And so I did.

I still get a certain level of anxiety facing a day with nothing planned.I tell people that I am a stay at home mom, but I don't stay at home. I go OUT of this prison of a house and explore. I wish so badly we had gardens, museums and zoo's close by, those were my freedom as a kid. And my kids would LOVE them.

I like control. But as I get older, I am learning that there is freedom in giving up the reigns. The joy I see in my kids eyes when I tell them they get to choose. The relief I feel when someone else plans dinner. These are good things! I'm tired. And I realize that it is ok to let someone else be boss for a time. God has been training me for something, I can tell. I have been put into situations where I get to stand by and watch a lot lately. And it has been good. Hard, but good!

So today I will be out of control. I will not go to the gym. I will have a second cup of coffee. I will only fold laundry if I want to. I may even let the kids have some soda! Perhaps we shall go outside and sing at the top of our lungs until the neighbors come out to join us. Perhaps we shall sit inside and watch movies way past our bedtimes. I think I'll let the kids decide. Perhaps I shall let Kaylee choose lunch and then the big kids can do the dishes. Then we shall built a pillow fort and leave it up all night and the next day. Today I shall be spontaneous and not scheduled. Today I shall get the answer wrong and be ok with it.

But first a fussy baby is up from her nap and I need that second cup of coffee....

There are lots and lots of people who are always asking things,
Like Dates and Pounds-and-ounces and the names of funny Kings,
And the answer's always Sixpence or a Hundred Inches Long.
And I know they'll think me silly if I get the answer wrong.
So Pooh and I go whispering, and Pooh looks very bright,
And says, "Well, I say sixpence, but I don't suppose I'm right."
And then it doesn't matter what the answer ought to be,
'Cos if he's right, I'm Right, and if he's wrong, it isn't Me.   - A.A. Milne

Monday, September 10, 2012

There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb...

“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. ― C.S. Lewis, The 
Voyage of the Dawn Treader

I have been watching people a lot lately. I am not entirely sure why. But I think that it is primarily because they have been very interesting to me.  Ok, ok, you are right. That was kind of obvious there. But it is true.

I have explained being young before, as similar to looking out of a window:

You are safe in your familiar environment, you can see the big bad world out there. But you can't touch it, it can't touch you. When you are small all you can see are beautiful colors out the window. Of course, when you are small whatever is outside does not really matter. As you get older, the window gets bigger, or perhaps you simply get closer to it. The colors start to form shapes, you are aware that there is a world out there, just waiting to be explored. But you still can only see what is directly in front of you. Just the trees, the rocks, perhaps a beautiful flower. You are safe inside.

As time goes on, you start to see more, life starts to make more sense. Now you can see beyond the trees. You can see the sky, the lake, the animals. You can see dangers before they arise, you can see the saplings just starting to grow. You can see fish jumping in the lake. Eventually, you step outside the safety of your room. For a while you can hop back in when things get scary, but eventually, you realize that the more time you spend inside, the less you can see. The more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the easier it becomes. The better it becomes, the more exciting, the more beautiful. After a while, you don't want to go back inside anymore. The older you get, the more you can see. The more you understand. The more you realize just how small your vision was when you were young. Eventually, you laugh at yourself for jumping back inside, there are such wonderful things out here! True, there are dangers. Many many dangers, but oh they are worth it.

You are an expert at wandering now - perhaps even a bit cocky. You know your way, you can see all around, the path is clear. You know what you want, who you want to become.

You smile as a child tells you of the wonders of their flower, knowing the magnificent mountains they have yet to face, knowing there is no possible way you can explain, but being excited for them never-the-less and giving them a mysterious "You can be anything you want to be." Simply meaning, 'don't stop at the flower.  There is more to be discovered!' Knowing all the while that you cannot explain it, they HAVE to wait and find out for themselves. And so you celebrate with them their flower.

And you get older, you understand more. And as you see all the things that were once hidden, you realize just how much there is still yet to be found.  Again, you laugh at your former self, of course you don't know all there is to know. You don't want to, where would the magic be? As you have kids of your own you carefully construct safe-houses for them. Putting the most beautiful things you can find in front of their windows, all the while knowing that you are simply painting a picture. How much danger do you let them see? After all, eventually they too will walk through, whether we want them to or not. How can we best prepare them for something they are not old enough to understand? How can we prepare them when they don't yet have eyes to see?

You shake your head at the young woman/man that boasts of jumping into the lake. They can't see the rocks beneath yet.  They are not ready. There is danger they cannot see, and they wont see it yet. No matter how well it is explained, they cannot understand. How can you warn them of the danger? We panic, "THERE ARE ROCKS!" We yell. But all they hear is gibberish, and they think we are the crazy ones. Yelling gibberish, they can see the lake, it looks fine to them! What are these "rocks?" It makes no sense. They can't see yet, they can't.

And you become more and more aware of all the rocks that you still cannot see.  Because you can remember, you remember at 6 years old you learning that the colors had shapes. At 10 you learned the shapes had names. At 13 you learned that outside looked fun. At 16 you discovered you could touch it if you really tried. At 18 you learned you could explore, but still come back into safety if you needed it.  At 21 you learned you could wander as far as you wanted to go. At 25 you discovered you couldn't go back, you didn't want to go back. At 30 you discovered that there was so so so much more you still hadn't seen...

What comes at 35? 40...50...75?

At 30 you see people. Or perhaps way before... perhaps after. Everyone's journey through the window is different.

At 30 you see people wandering. You see people confused, you see people laughing, hurt, upset, joyful, loving, hating, lost, anxious, peaceful, angry...broken.

You see people broken. Sometimes broken is a good thing. Sometimes not. But oh, there are so very many broken people.

Eustace Clarence Scrubb was a wretched boy. Through his window, no one existed but himself. Everything was there to please him. According to him, everyone else's windows saw the same thing as his, because he couldn't see beyond himself. And according to him, his window was better then everyone else's, and he bragged about the pretty colors. His window had become a mirror, reflecting only him. And until he could change his attitude, nothing else would change. No trees, no mountians, no beautiful lake. No Aslan.

But you see, just because we cannot see the rocks yet, does not mean they are not there. Oh they are there. And they can still cause damage. REAL damage.

Some people don't ever leave their rooms, no matter how old they get. And they get angry when someone moves something outside their window. They like it to stay the same, all the time. They don't want to explore, they don't want to grow. They also don't want anyone else to grow or explore, because they cannot see beyond themselves. Their window has become a mirror, reflecting only ME-ness. They don't want to see the rocks...and when they stub their toe they assume it must have been something YOU did, because in their mind. The rocks don't exist. They are blind, selfish, arrogant, and until they change their attitude, nothing will change. No trees, no mountains, no beautiful lake. No Aslan.

But we are not meant to live in a cave.
“He [Eustace] had turned into a dragon while he was asleep. Sleeping on a dragon's hoard with greedy, dragonish thoughts in his heart, he had become a dragon himself.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

When we stay inside, something changes in us. We become something ugly. When we pretend the rocks don't exist. When we arrange our world according to how WE think it SHOULD be instead of discovering what is. When we force others to leave everything exactly where they found it because we can't handle anything that is outside of our own control. When we start collecting pretty things, hoarding everything nice for ourselves and shoving the world aside. Because it is too HARD out there. And it is easy and comfortable and dark in here. We become what we have surrounded ourselves with.

Do you know how Eustace turned back into a boy? Do you know how he stepped outside of his window?

Aslan, the great lion, literally ripped the dragon scales off with His claws. Everything had to be brutally torn away. Once the dragon part of him had been entirely destroyed, then he could be human again. Then he could be used. Then he could see, then he could understand. The colors had become shapes, the shapes had names. He could see the rocks.

  “The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart.” - Eustace

 "Tearing"and "Ripping" are ugly words. People are broken. So very broken. But they can be fixed, by being ripped apart. I can be fixed, you can be fixed - we can be fixed!

“It would be nice and fairly nearly true, to say that 'from that time forth, Eustace was a different boy.' To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy. He had relapses. There were still many days when he could be very tiresome. But most of those I shall not notice. The cure had begun.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Ha! "The cure had begun." I like that. It sounds so full of hope.

I like watching people. People are very interesting to me. Because no matter what we have done in our lives, no matter what has been done to us. No matter how many rocks, no matter how blind we have been. Even if we have changed entirely into something that is completely outside of human, there is hope.

We are all broken. We all need a good ripping into every so often. But the cure has begun. I don't like watching people because we are broken.  I like seeing the cure, I like seeing the hope. I like seeing the joy. It is there, in all of us. Even the most dragonish of the lot, there is a cure, it has begun. We will not be broken forever.

But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Flow from what I am not...

Age is not all decay; it is the ripening, the swelling, of the fresh life within, that withers and bursts the husk.
               - George MacDonald

I have felt very old lately. I know at just past 30 I really am not, but my body hurts, all the time. My mind is tired, I don't care so much about my clothes or whether I am wearing make-up, I just want to be comfy. People getting worked up over what I deem as "piddly" problems make me angry. I am interested in politics, well thought out debates and teenagers bother me. Like, bother me to the point of me avoiding them in public places because I can't handle it - At. All. And if I don't work to avoid it, I am going to yell at them even if I don't know them to, "Put more clothes on!" or "Stop acting like the world owes you something!" or "Stop thinking that your parents owe you more clothes...." 

I have a list of what I don't want to forget about being a teenager somewhere. Perhaps I should pull it out and read it? It might help. Of course, it also might only remind me of how stupid I was as a teenager and thus make me want to avoid them even more - and flood me with embarrassing memories I would rather forget! 

I'm feeling old...does this just get worse from here on out? Or am I in that weird in-between stage, where I have still to accept my changing point of view, but I am still too close to the gap to be fully comfortable. Perhaps it is good to have this kind of perspective. I can still speak the language, but in no un-certain terms I do not agree with the theories. Perhaps this is exactly the time I should be ministering to teenagers? 

But I wont, I can't right now...because they bother me! Does that say more then it should? Now I am ashamed...

I apologize to any and all teenagers reading this. I am shamelessly clumping you all into a group and I know it is not fair, nor is it realistic or accurate in any way. 

In fact - this is not even what I sat down to write today. And it has taken a rather negative tone. So I think I will start over. We all need occasional Do-overs in life. And I am claiming one right now!

 "Whose work is it but your own to open your eyes? But indeed the business of the universe is to make such a fool out of you that you will know yourself for one, and begin to be wise.”
                                   ― George MacDonald,
Lilith A and Lilith

I am a fool. 

It is true.  

I have felt a rather large fool of late. And I think that too, is part of getting old. For the more we see ourselves for what we truly are, the more we can strip away the ugly and focus on who we want to become.  

"I am bad at backwards rolls." Ayla claimed 30 minutes or so before we needed to prepare for her second ever gymnastics class. 
"You are still learning Ayla." I comforted. "Everyone is bad at it when they first start. You have to practice and you will get better" 
"Kelly is bad at backwards rolls. She is REALLY REALLY bad at them! And she practices and she is bad at them."
"Ayla. that is not very nice. She is learning too. Everyone in your class is learning."
"But she is bad at them and she is not really learning. And she practices at my class!"

I am bad at lots of things in my life. I am bad at fixing things. I am bad at organizing. I am bad at creating. I am bad at drawing. I am bad at dancing. I am bad at understanding. I am bad at making plans. I am bad at simple walking lately, not to mention getting up off of the floor. That is near impossible! I am bad at thinking of what we should have for dinner. I am bad at calling/texting people. I am bad at remembering birthdays. I am bad at remembering names. I am bad at understanding my daughter emotionally. I am bad at nurturing my kids. I am bad at a whole lot.  

And you know what? I have been bad at letting it all go and being encouraging and positive despite what I know to be true. I have forgotten how to learn. You know how I know? Because my kids are echo-ing back to me what they hear. And they are getting confused when I get angry.And I am getting angry when I should be asking for forgiveness for setting a bad example.

God help me to be a good mother, I have felt very bad at it lately! My kids are having melt-downs, BIG melt-downs over little things. They are spouting attitudes that I despise, and then I see those very same attitudes in myself and I KNOW where they have seen it. How can I be upset at them, when I am modeling the exact behavior I hate? I feel confused, ashamed, angry - I feel a fool.

I need a moment to breath. 

“ is so silly of people to fancy that old age means crookedness and witheredness and feebleness and sticks and spectacles and rheumatism and forgetfulness! It is so silly! Old age has nothing whatever to do with all that. The right old age means strength and beauty and mirth and courage and clear eyes and strong painless limbs.”
― George MacDonald,
The Princess and the Goblin 
I want painless limbs! I feel so silly complaining. Because I can move around just fine. But oh my limbs hurt ALL the time. I can barely walk some days. I was cursing Target yesterday because they put the milk in the very back of the store, and I had forgotten it and had to go back and get it. Do they not realize it hurts to walk! These inconsiderate... ^$%!#$^&....see? That is the attitude of which I speak. Rubbish it is, and in the rubbish it belongs. Give me strength Daddy-God. I need your strength.
 I am sometimes almost terrified at the scope of the demands made upon me, at the perfection of the self-abandonment required of me; yet outside of such absoluteness can be no salvation.”
― George MacDonald

 Life is hard. The world is cruel. But it is also beautiful. I think, perhaps I have not been noticing that enough. It may be because it is 109 degrees outside - or it will be shortly. It could just be my own bad attitude. August has always been my most hated month. I long for Autumn. I feel trapped in this house, but outside I cannot breath, literally. My kids feel it too, and so they push and pull, and I feel more and more trapped. But I simply don't have the energy. I WILL remember:

"strength and beauty and mirth and courage and clear eyes and strong painless limbs.”

It is a choice, we can choose crotchety or strength and beauty and mirth and courage and clear eyes and strong painless limbs. Seems like it would be an easy choice?

I apologize to any and all that have asked for play-dates this last month. I will admit I simply gave up. And in many ways it was free-ing. I was feeling very stressed about the calls I needed to return, the emails I needed to answer - we wanted to play with friends more before school started. But time was going too fast, and early last week I decided that I could do no more. I would let it go, no returning the calls. I just needed to be. So school starts tomorrow, and perhaps soon I will have it in me to call/write back. But not today. Today I am tired. My wonderful husband worked a full day yesterday, was kind enough to give me a couple hours to go shopping on my own last night (putting all the kids to bed) And then moments after I got home he got a call from work and had to go back in. He worked until 2am, was up again at 6:30am in order to be back at work first thing. I went to bed late, was woken at 2am by him coming home. Woken again at 2:30 because Ayla had a bad dream. Woken again at 3 because Taylor had a bad dream. And again at 3:30 by Kaylee. And Ayla was up for the day at 6.

Today I am tired. The girls and I made banana bread for breakfast this morning. It did not come out right. I realized, after we had tasted it, that somehow we had forgetten several of the ingredients. That explains it! The girls liked it anyway. I'm glad. Of course as is always the case with banana bread, I think the thing they like the most is getting to bake with mom. But it made me feel a fool. I can relate to that banana bread, a bit flat, tasteless and tough. I found myself just sitting and staring at it. We two are alike, the banana bread and I.

I got more test results yesterday. My thyroid levels have gotten better, but they are still not where they need to be. The doctor said he wants my tsh levels to be at about a 2. I am currently at a 16, and that is down from a 33. I have come down by half, that is very good. But he upped my medicine, which means I will have to go through the transitional/get used to it period again - and then in another month he will up it again. Not a fun process, hopefully it will be better this time. He is also testing me for several other things - RA, lupis, b12 and vit. D issues among other stuff. And sending me to a specialist to find out why my foot, knee and hips hurt so bad all of the time. Fun stuff!  I am just ready to be DONE with all this and to feel better. And hopefully I will soon. Thank you all for your prayers. I could not have made it through this summer without them, truly. 

And now the monkey is awake and we need to go to Target before the temp hits 109. So be well - and today I take a deep breath and vow to stop and see the beauty that surrounds me.

“My prayers, my God, flow from what I am not;
I think thy answers make me what I am.”
― George MacDonald,
The White Page Poems

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Very Merry Un-Birthday!

Do you know it is my un-birthday today? It is. Taylor told me so. And to celebrate she and I are looking at cakes. I like cake. At first I said I wanted a pirate ship cake for my un-birthday. So we found one:

 But it seemed a pity to stop there. See, Taylor reminded me it is her un-birthday too and she wanted a Barbie cake. I was less than pleased. But decided I would humor her. This is the one we picked out as our favorite Barbie cake. There are A LOT of Barbie cakes out there!

She also said she liked phineas and ferb cakes. So we chose this one because we like Platapus-i?

At this point she told me that it is her fish's birthday today (Not un-birthday, REAL birthday so I suppose it counts more. Though I don't see why) And her fish likes pheneas and ferb as well and would like this cake. She said her fish is turning 30. I have my doubts, but she sounded certain so I will be going with that.

Next we thought it would be fun to look up bug cakes. She didn't really understand when I said I liked this one best:

I got the "mom, you are crazy, but I am not going to bother asking you or I run the risk of you telling me." look. Is she supposed to have that look at 6? I thought that was more a teenager thing....

Then we had lots of fun looking at Hat Cakes. It was Taylor's idea and we found lots of fun ones.

Next we found a bath cake:

 And a TV cake:
And a tooth cake:

Taylor said she likes Cat Cakes. So we looked up those:

I like dragon cakes. To which she replies: "Mom, we are looking at happy cakes!" See how different we two are?

Don't those make you happy?


It is just me then?

Oh fine!

Now the ideas are coming faster then I can look them up, and Ayla will be up soon with even MORE ideas! So for now I will end my search with the best cakes of all:

And just for more dragon cake!

And my favorites:
Hope you enjoyed our play this afternoon.

Oh I want cake!

Friday, July 27, 2012

I don't answer texts - and other annoying things about me

"Oh, Lucy. I'm so depressed. I don't know what to do."

"I think what you need most of all, Charlie Brown, is to come
right out and admit all of the things that are wrong with you."
                                               - The Doctor is in: You're a good man Charlie Brown

I had the realization recently that far to many of my posts here have been about my own pet peeves.

I decided that was not entirely fair.

Lately, there have been rather a lot of "pet peeve" type of conversations around me. Perhaps it is the rising political fever, or the contraversial books and news articals currently making their rounds. But many of those in my circles, some of whom I would not consider "the type" even, are making their dissatisfaction known.

So, in the spirit of learning to laugh at myself - I am writing a post about all the "Pet Peeves" that I encompass. I offer no excuse aside from I am always learning to be a better me. And some of these things I am working to improve. Others? Well, let me just claim imperfection, heave a sigh and move on.

1. I tattle on other people's kids. For the record, please feel free to do it to my own as well. I am a big advocate of "it takes a village." I consider myself a part of your village, please join mine as well. (not in a weird cultish sort of way. Just in a "We all help out other moms." sort of way. It is lots less creepy.) But I am well aware that kids are capable of a whole heck of a lot more then we give them credit for. And so if you are at my house and you ask your kids to do/not do something and they disobey? I will be telling on them. And I will put pressure on you until you follow through. It is good for us all people. You know when your kid is not behaving and you are frustrated and you pretend you just didn't notice this time? Yeah, I noticed. And so did they. And they know they got away with it, and they will make your life harder later because of it. So I will be tattling. You'll thank me later.

2. I am a brainstormer. So if you have a problem, especially if it is child related - I may offer some advice regardless of whether or not you asked. This is something I am working on, and please let me know if it ever bothers you.  I will stop, I promise. But what I immediately will do when faced with a problem is offer the first 2-5 pieces of advice that I can think of - they may be entirely unrelated to one another and from entirely different sides of the pool. It is me just acting as a sounding board. I do not doubt your parenting abilities. I just know that as moms, we can get stuck sometimes and need a fresh perspective. I also know that I am a damn good mom, even with my flaws. Chances are you are too, I don't hang out with crappy moms. Ever. So I just want to encourage you through the haze of not getting enough sleep and cut a few corners for you as far as ideas are concerned. But It bothers me when people "have all the answers" even when they don't. So this is something that often bothers me about myself and I am working to curb it. So feel free to remind me of that if I ever cross a line. I wont get offended, well - my ego may get bruised a bit. But I will be ok, and I will thank you later.

3. If I love it, I think everyone will love it. I get excited and passionate about it, and I want to talk about it and share it with as many people as possible. I get this from my mom, she is the same way and I get some of my best ideas from her! The problem is, people are different. So you may not love it AT ALL and I'll admit, that confuses me. I'll get over it though, but in the meantime, I can be a little annoying when I tell you the same story for the 204532 time - or try to get you to listen to a song, or watch a show, or cloth diaper you baby, or have a natural birth, or wear the color red, or taste greek food, or drink lots of water everyday, or read this article or buy this book, or...well you get the idea.

4. I will be 15 minutes late. I HATE this about myself. And it has really only become true in the last year, that third child did me in. I have tried to start earlier, I have attempted to get things done ahead of time. But no, rarely will it work. So I have accepted this about myself - all while still trying to fix it of course. But I am trying not to feel so guilty, take a deep breath and know that I will be there eventually, and everything will be ok.

5. My house is always dusty. Some of this I will blame on living next to a field with LOTS of dirt. But there is a layer on everything and there is no way I feel I can keep up with it.

6. To go along with that - I have cabinets that I never fully un-packed when I moved. My bathroom is one of them. If I spent an hour cleaning it out, I would have tons more space in there. But it doesn't happen because it is low on the priority list (first on the list being feed the children and do the dishes, and they expect to be fed three times a day! The nerve of these people...). So they remain cluttered, and I shut the door and try to forget.

7. Have you heard about those people that go to college, and then quit with one semester to go? Why don't they just finish! One semester, how hard can that be? Well, I know this one person, that quit with just one CLASS. Can you believe! ...oh wait, that's me! One class. No degree. Thousands in student loan debt, no degree. You need 126 units to graduate. I have 124. I needed one stinking college algebra class, no dice. Didn't happen. I ran out of time, and what they tell you is true. Once you quit, it is HARD to go back. I even tried to go back a couple of years ago. I now have 6 classes I have to finish (or did 6 years ago), yeah I expected that. But one is language, and they ask you take the last 20 something units AT the school and not transferred from another school.  When I asked how I was going to take Spanish correspondence and/or online (Since I now live 200 miles from my school) their exact words were "do the other classes, and we will figure that out once we get there." Yeah, at well over $1000.00 per unit that is just not good enough for me. So I gave up on graduating from that school. I will finish my degree. I MUST. But it will be a while, and it will likely be in a different major since my interests have changed in the last 12 years. Wow, has it really been 12 years since I started college?  Feeling old people!

8. This is perhaps one I am most ashamed of. I fall into the category of "out of sight, out of mind."  This means that if I don't see you, I will likely be BAD at keeping in contact. Facebook has helped with this. But I will probably not call you, I will try very hard. But the chances are slim. It doesn't in any way mean I do not love you. In fact, if I do get to talk to you I will be so overjoyed I may get all emotional on you. And I will go on and on about how we need to see/talk more often! And I will really, truly mean it from the bottom of my heart.  But then life hits, and it doesn't happen. I hate this about myself, because it makes me seem flaky, and maybe I am. Though I truly don't mean to be. So accept my most humble apologies. Know that I love you and I miss you - but I just suck at keeping in contact when we are far away.

9. This one drives my husband crazy - I get lost. A lot. I don't really know my right from my left. I mean I know...but it takes a few seconds. Please do not even try to ask me where North and South are. I need directions for just about everywhere and I will need them multiple times because I forget. I forget a lot. This is embarrassing. But I have had to learn to deal with it. I am un-coordinated. I trip and fall. I drop things, I make messes. I hurt myself. I am not crafty, I can't make things look pretty (Aside from my babies, I made them and they are very pretty!). I have no eye for color, for art, for what goes with what. I will ask the same question over and over because I just forgot. Anything that takes finesse of any kind I have to learn to do manually, there is no instinct involved. And it is hard work. I can't dance, I can't even move so it looks natural. This will someday drive my children insane, and that encourages me. I honestly think that the compass in my brain just got stuck, it is not free floating as a compass should be, and it makes everything that takes hand-eye coordination and/or any sense of direction 50 billion times harder for me then it should be (I also exaggerate, but that could be a post in and of itself). I have accepted the fact that few understand, and I am so sorry if I ask for directions to your house over and over and over again. Please just be patient with me. I will learn eventually!   

10.  And this is perhaps the worst of the lot - ergo the title. I do not answer txts and emails as I should. Yes, I am that rude person that you send a message too not knowing if you might sometime, maybe, perhaps, hear back...someday?  Sometimes I write back right away. And sometimes it takes hours, or days or you remind me a week later that you never got an answer...and I, full of embarrassment that I was *that* person yet again meekly replies, hoping you will forgive me - knowing it will likely happen again. It is a character flaw and I deeply apologize to any and all who have been hurt or frustrated by my lack of courtesy. I wish I could say it will not happen again - but all I can really do is say that if it really bothers you, please let me know and I will triple my efforts to improve when it is your messages I am replying too.

All right, I'll try
I'm not very handsome or clever, or lucid,
I've always been stupid at spelling and numbers.
I've never been much playing football ir baseball
Or stickball, or checkers, or marbles, or ping-pong

You're not very much of a person...

That's certain

And yet there's a reason for hope.

There's hope?

For although you are no good at music,
Like Schroeder, or happy like Snoopy,
Or lovely like me,
You have the distinction to be
No one else but the singular, remarkable, unique
Charlie Brown.

I'm me!

Yes- it's amazingly true,
For whatever it's worth, Charlie Brown,
You're you.

I'm me, and while I ever hope to be improving. For now - that is enough.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I am not crazy! But Hashimoto might be...

When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... To be alive is to be vulnerable.
 - Madeline L'Engle

There is a "Christian-eze" saying I cannot abide. Would you like to know what it is?

'God will never give you more than you can handle.'

There are two main reasons that I hate this saying. The first is that it is not in the Bible. No where does God claim this - and yet Christians spout it as if it is quoted directly. God DOES say in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that we will not be tempted beyond what we can endure. But that is talking strictly temptation - not hard life stuff. 
The second reason it bothers me to no end when I hear this saying, is that it is entirely not true. OF COURSE God is going to give you more then you can handle. How else do we learn to rely on Him?
 There is a tiny dust-devil in the corner next to me.(I am sitting outside at the moment) I love it. It keeps making me smile. It has such personality for a bit of wind and dust. Coming up at such odd moments. Like it grows tired and stops for a bit and then remembers something exciting and simply can't contain it, he has to spin around and around! It is these small things that feel like tiny gifts, the little joys that can't help but make you smile. The dust devil twirling 2 feet from me, this stolen moment of solitude, the smell of summer. My ice-tea is almost gone though. That is not good. That problem must be remedied asap.  

Life right now is more than I can handle. More than I can handle alone anyhow... I feel so entirely wretched most of the time, tired to the point of tears most of the day, and so very lonely lately. But with no energy to entertain or even think of carting kids off to a friend's house only to chase The Monkey around in an environment not safe for her for however long it takes for me to beg an excuse to leave, only to just be able to sit for a moment...and then I am so tired for the rest of the day I get nothing done at home.

My throat hurts constantly, my right foot is always aching so that I am limping half the time, and the rest of my body tends to just feel as if it always needs a good oiling. My chest is always tight, my ears constantly buzz to the point of pain and my fingertips are all cracked and splitting, so that I cannot wear clothes that are not 100% cotton or they will pull at my fingers, snagging them on everything. Breastfeeding, which has always been easy for me, causes me such extreme pain right now because my beloved Monkey has nicked me with her ever blossoming teeth while attempting acrobatics during her supper and nothing on me is healing. So it stays nicked, and painful - which causes great anxiety while nursing, which makes my ears buzz worse, which makes me tense, which makes her tense, which makes her want to nurse more...

I can't think. My mind is in a fog. I used to have a quick I do not. I get flustered very easily and it is embarrassing and frustrating and I feel trapped and dull and slow witted. My people skills are going away, I have no hobbies since it takes everything in me to just get through a day and if I get the dishes done and the children are alive at the end of the day it is a victory.

And I just now sat staring at my computer for far too long trying to remember what letter makes the “Vvv”sound and would therefore start the word “Victory.” Bad I tell you.

I am so thankful for patient kids – they know mom is not well. And they know that when I get grumpy it is not because of them. We have talked about this. But still, I cannot handle the questions, the touching, the whining, the arguing, the messes, the fussing, the noise, oh the noise! The running, the wildness, even the laughing and playing will hurt me because I have no filter. And so I raise my voice before I should, causing them pain. Causing me to apologize and give them hugs, but that is no excuse.

Yes, this is more than I can handle. Which makes me feel like a wimp, because in the grand scheme of things? This is really not that bad. I am not in great pain most of the time, it is all just annoying. I know many moms that are in constant pain, and they don't complain. They amaze me. So I am going to shut-up about my physical ailments. 

I may be lonely and anxious and probably more then a little depressed most days, but I have a husband that I like a whole lot and he is a very good friend. Besides, he is cute and I get to go to bed with him every night. What more could I ask for? So I shall stop complaining of that. I have many friends and beloved family, I am so very lucky. I may not get to see them as often as I would chose. But I also have many friends who do not get to see their husbands at all, sometimes for months at a time. I am so very blessed.

I grew up lucky, my family was healthy. I have avoided some of the body issues that plague the female population in the US today. Health has always been important to me, I like being healthy, exercising is (usually) a hobby of mine. And I have discovered it was a point of pride for me. Because when I gained 30lbs almost overnight without changing anything in my gym/diet routine, my self-esteem was bruised very badly and I have not yet recovered. Clothes not fitting is hard, but I find it even harder to accept buying new ones that actually fit. It feels like I am giving up, (and a waste of money since I HAVE clothes and hope to not be this size for to much longer). But if I go to the gym right now I am so tired the rest of the day I can barely get off the couch, much less chase a one year old around the house. And it doesn't do any good anyhow...I keep gaining. My hair and nails have started breaking and falling out (the hair, not the nails). I hadn't realized it had gotten as bad as it was (Aside from being annoyed that there is hair EVERYWHERE) until I found a bald patch near the front of my hair-line this morning. I just sat and stared at it. My body is not ok!

I do not get complimented anymore, and that is ok. I don't really need compliments from anyone but my husband. I don't want them from anyone else. But it has been a hard adjustment to make when I got them pretty makes me feel shallow. Which of course makes me feel even worse about myself... But deep breath, that is ok. This is not me, this is my body being not ok. It is embarrassing when my clothes don't fit, especially being the one that goes to the gym and just gets bigger.... But this too will pass. And all this is surface and really doesn't matter. So I will stop complaining. I am blessed. So very blessed.

And you know what else? I am not crazy!!!

I'll admit, I was worried. I was really worried. Is this all in my head? Was I causing all this by stressing about something that wasn't there, and then that stress caused the symptoms which then made me stress more? I couldn't handle life, it was too much. I felt cheated – this is all more then I can handle. And yet I would grow ashamed because when it was broken down, this is all not a big deal. So I am tired, yeah, that happens when you have small kids! So I was gaining weight, yeah – that happens when you are over 30. Give me more symptoms, I'll give you more reasons why. My mantra lately has been “God, HELP!”

But listen, I am not crazy! I cannot even begin to tell you the relief I feel.

Remember when I wrote about being broken? And my golden ticket when it went away for a while. Well it came back. BAD. But not the same. I couldn't manage it as well as before. I started to feel lost. My two month pass ran out, I got another blood test only to discover my doctor was on vacation for the next 3 weeks. So I waited.

I just went in yesterday. I was so very stressed not knowing what the outcome would be. And I will openly admit my biggest fear was being told that everything honky-dory. That I really WAS crazy, I had felt this way for no reason. It was all in my head. My blood pressure was through the roof when they first took it. I did some deep breathing and it was better by the 3rd time the nurse took it.

I was miserable in my 10 minute wait in the room for the doctor to come in. The room kept spinning, my ears were buzzing, I was dizzy. And then he came, he looked at my chart and his first words were “Ok, so now you have VERY low thyroid levels!”

I'm not crazy!

He said I have full blown Hashimoto's disease. I asked where I was on the scale of high vs. low and he said that putting “normal” levels at 100, when I first came in in March I was at a 120. Elevated, but not dangerously so. Then late April my levels had gone back down to around 100 (my golden ticket). Now (or 3 weeks ago when the blood was taken) I am at about a 60.

I am not crazy! Thank you God I am not crazy.

I got some medicine, I should start feeling MUCH better soon. I am so very VERY happy. I will likely be on this medicine for the rest of my life. It will take some time to get the dose right, but that is ok. I will likely go up and down. Occasionally have “Thyroid attacks” (though they should be less with the medicine). And I may even have to deal with bouts of hyper-thyroid again. I will take a pill a day forever. And that is just fine with me, because I am not crazy!

Funny, how putting a name to something can help so much. Nothing has changed in the past 24 hours. But I feel so much better today just knowing. I don't have to wean, the medicine is completely safe for breastfeeding. I have hope of becoming myself again. It feels like such a gift. I am so very thankful.

I can't handle this. I am vulnerable. But God will give me strength, of this I have no doubt. Because He has, He has answered my cry for help every time. I have made it through everyday so far. And the best part of all?

I Am Not Crazy!