Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 55: Thinking Ahead

This one is short and sweet. I've been making an effort to make large batches of foods my family likes (chili, french toast, spaghetti, etc.) and freezing a meal's worth of leftovers each time. Or if I have to brown ground beef for something, I try to brown extra to freeze. Let me tell you, tacos go together really quickly when you've already cooked everything in advance and just have to heat it all through.

No matter what, I'm going to have to feed everyone. Like it or not, there are a lot of days when I am pressed for time. So why not make it a little easier once in awhile? I am worth giving myself a little help. It's been making life a lot easier, not to mention tastier.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 54: Homework

Last week I met with a couple of doctors in the hope that they can help me figure out just what my brain and body are doing. During the consultation, Dr Enthusiastic gave me an assignment: until I meet back with her to go over my test results, I have to sit twice a week for 20 minutes and do... nothing. (I laughed when I wrote it down because it sounded absolutely impossible.) She graciously allowed me a piece of paper and a writing utensil, but only for jotting down any ideas of what I might want to do with those 20 minutes in the future. For now, I have to just... sit there. No beading. No scrapping. (Not that I ever do those things right now anyway.) No exercising. No folding clothes. No writing. No reading (you know that one is killing me). No coupon clipping. No grading. No teaching. No filing. N.O.T.H.I.N.G. That assignment was given to me a week ago today... and today was the first day I managed to do it. (And I will admit that I did it because my mother literally sent me outside before I could eat lunch.)

My nothing time was spent out in my driveway, on a lawn chair, in the sun. It felt nice. I resisted the urge to pull the half dozen little weeds I could see. While I did wish I had pruning shears handy for the shrubs, wish was all I did from my perch. The tree in the front yard has little green buds on it -- that was very exciting for me to see, as it means warmer, brighter days are coming. There's a sparkly rock on the side yard that looked interesting; I'll have to point it out to my daughter tomorrow.

The point behind the homework is not lost on me. If I can't (or is that won't?) take 20 little minutes out of a single day for myself, how can I realistically hope to accomplish anything I value? I am worth filling up my cup. If I don't fill up my own cup, how can I refresh anyone else in my life? If I don't fill up my cup, I will run dry.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 53: Understanding

Sometimes we are called upon to be understanding and compassionate. If you have a friend who is struggling, what do you do? You listen. You sympathize. You are quiet, when necessary. You tell it like it is, as required. Above all, you love your friend into a better mood, a calmer outlook or just through the muck.

I have a recurring conversation with a dear friend in which we remind ourselves that we need to love ourselves as we love our friends. It is easy to love a friend -- you just overlook the rough edges, the less-than-stellar decisions and whatever you'd do differently because it just plain doesn't matter. Loving the self... oh, my. That is quite a different story. Every edge cuts, every decision screams back and everything threatens to overwhelm. We would simply never speak to a friend the way we speak to ourselves. But who better understands the self than the self?

I am still struck by how difficult this discovering worth business is turning out to be. Miss a day of blogging, and guess who starts berating herself? Spend a bit more time reading than might be considered sane, and guess who mentally limps away to hide in more words? Guess who needs to be a whole lot nicer and more understanding to her friends' friend? I am worth treating myself the way I treat (and want to be treated by) my friends. Clearly they love me. Clearly they see something that I often do not. And the same can be said about them -- my friends are so very special. It would sadden me to hear them say things to themselves that make them feel less-than, undervalued or sad.

Be nice to your friends' friend.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

February 18: With Grace and Forgiveness I go forth

Parent with Grace and Forgiveness at your side, for one day you will need them from your children.

Ponder that one for a minute.

There are days I don't feel worthy of the blessings of my kids. They are really growing up in the Lord... and I wonder how they got there for I know my mistakes are too numerous to count.

Then there are days that I want to start over from scratch... wondering how my child could have ever made a decision soooo wrong!

Today is a mixture of both. One of my kids (nameless for the sake of honoring them the best I know how) got a note from school saying "Defaced school property, stealing" My jaw hit the floor!!!!!!

Now I know that they should have major consequense... as has already begun...
but last night when I was tucking them all in "said" child said to me "Mom, I really am sorry for what I did.. and I want you to know that I did wrong and I am willing to take my punishment, but I want you to forgive me."


"Of COURSE I forgive you!" Baby, we all need it... and we all get it from Jesus. Who am I to withhold forgiveness from them. We have a saying in our house "I love you forever and I forgive you for always, no matter what!"

We hugged and kissed and said I love you's...feeling restord, my child rolled over and went to sleep.

Then I went to my Lord and said "Daddy, I really am sorry for all that I do, and I want you to know that I know I have done wrong, and I am willing to take my punishment...but I want you to forgive me." Knowing full well that I am restored to my Father thru Jesus Christ.

My child is an example of humility to me. God you are so good to me to constantly remind me my need for you thru my children.

Thank you Lord!
I am worth forgiveness, cuz my Father says so!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 47: Get A Physical

It has been approximately 6 years since I last got a physical. Oh, I've meant to do it each year, but something always came up. I fell pregnant... twice. I had a tougher-than-usual model baby. I moved. I had to get a haircut. I needed to... um... (This is the point where I debate yelling "Look! Something shiny!" to distract you and then totally change topics.) Suffice it to say that if I have a hard time carving out the time to play the piano or read a chapter of a book, I really have a hard time making a doctor's appointment, finding a sitter and getting my sedentary bottom over to my primary care physician.

Avoiding the doctor, except when horribly ill, is really no different than avoiding the mechanic with your car. Sure, you can drive the car for a good long while without maintenance... but the car is going to hate you and refuse, eventually, to haul you around town. To shift this into the next gear, I'll say that no one in their right mind would own a Ferrari and then never change the oil or check the filters. I wanna be a Ferrari, baby, not a trashed Pinto.

Who is getting short-changed by avoiding a simple physical? Me. My husband. My kids. My friends. Even the Lord. Neglecting to take care of the vehicle my soul is adhered to is... insane. Let's face it: this Pinto-wanting-to-be-a-Ferrari body of mine has some serious high-mileage issues these days. The big 4-0 is just around the corner. My thyroid is half the gland it used to be, my brain feels like Swiss cheese lost in a foggy marsh, and my muscles and ligaments have all gone on strike - I need an overhaul if I'm going to make it another 40 years. And darnit, my family needs me. No, you know what? I need me to be able to do all the things I haven't done yet.

So... my homework for tomorrow is to schedule a physical. I'm sure all my fluids and filters will get checked. I even have a list of tests that need to be run (I sure hope my transmission is good for a long while...). I am worth taking care of the physical me.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Feb 11: Time flies when you are having fun??? Is this fun?

Crazy can explain the last week for me...

This is Birthday week for John, Emma was the 1st, but with the storm had to reschedule for last weekend... next weekend is also the shower for the bride that i am the matron of honor for...
needless to say... I am crazy busy.

This brings me to my time being valuable..... . ... ....
I must be much more on top of my time.

I think I need to value myself in the way I spend my time... not wasting it, but being responsible with it.

thats all the time I have to say that.. he he

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Days 41-46: Get OUT!

This past weekend we got out of Dodge for a day. Just me and the husband. It was supposed to be an early celebration of his birthday... but we got the oil changed on his car and went to the movies. (Do I know how to celebrate or what?) I have to say, it was an outstanding day. It had been far, far too long since we had last been on a real date together. What a joy to converse in normal tones, cut and eat our own food on our own plates, watch the movie without explaining the plot, and just be together. It was even wonderful to get home to kids eating cupcakes and having them too wired for bed.

Why was it so great? Because we got out. Out of the house. Out of a rut. Out of the way of bigger responsibilities (though I must say it was very important to get the oil change done). It was such a nice change of pace that the next day, after Mass, we packed the family up and went on a two-mile hike at a preserve near our house. It was terrific fun, despite the mountain lion warnings at the park entrance.

I always bought the party line of "husbands and wives need to make time for each other and get out once a week," but our budget and family circumstances haven't always fallen in line. We thought we were doing just fine to rent a movie and have a snack at 10:30pm on whatever night worked. And while that is much, much better than not trying to have a few minutes together, it is not the same as getting out of Dodge!

To take this a step further, it isn't just married folk who need to get out and reconnect. As individuals, we each need to take purposeful time to get out. If you never listen to music, how will you know what you like? If you never take a walk, how will you know what your favorite route is? If you never go hike, how will you know what lies beyond your block of the neighborhood? If you never (fill in the blank), how will you (fill in the next blank)? If you do not get out -- get out of yourself, out of your comfort zone, out of your rut -- how will you know who you are?

I am worth a regular good date - alone, with my husband and with my family.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 39-40: Confiding Secrets

When the downward spiral of depression is left in the darkness of a heart and mind to spin out of control, it just sucks the very life out of a person. It's like being drained from the inside out -- you know something isn't right at first but can't quite figure it out. Then as the darkness increases, you can't tell how dark it's getting. By the time you realize you're in trouble, it takes so much effort to even think about how to climb out of the pit you've found yourself in... and at that point, hopelessness becomes a mantra. It's also at this point that a lot of people scoff at themselves and deny they are depressed -- depression is still a dirty word. Depression is a dirty little secret, but it's a secret that needs to be outed.

I outed my secret to my husband, my parents, a few friends and my sister-in-law recently. It's uncomfortable to admit how close I've been to heading back to anti-depressants and a counselor. This is not to say that I find counseling and anti-depressants unhelpful. It occurred to me, however, that I've been there and done that and I saved my notes (literally). Why not at least start with what I know a counselor will ask me to start with? I pulled out my notebook from the last round of counseling and started forcing myself to do things like: reading, playing the piano, making jewelry, going outside in the sunlight on purpose. (Does all of that sound familiar?) And I told my secret to people I know I can trust to be honest with me. If my initial efforts to head off the darkness don't work, I know I can trust them all to tell me that I need more help. Why I didn't anticipate help and understanding is beyond me, but each person has offered tangible help in their own way. Yes, I have to fight the urge to tell them "no" because the truth is, I do need help staying afloat for the moment. Funny thing... they love me anyway.

I am worth telling my secrets because I am worth being loved.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Days 36-38: Just Keep Swimming

I feel like... Marlin, swimming with Dory, in Finding Nemo. I keep hearing Dory singing, "just keep swimming," but it's not me singing. (Yeah, I know. It's dangerous when you hear voices in your head... and you listen.) I feel like Marlin - lost and desperate.

I am desperate to get out of this slump, if that's what it is. I am desperate to feel relief. That bright idea I had about reorganizing my filing system was a good one, but it's still going to be the death of me. Let me just say that dying unto self just... sucks. It hurts. It's tiring. And the kicker? I won't actually be dead at the end of it. No... I'll just have to be glad I got done with a tough job, give myself a pat on the back, and then meet the next huge project (that would be grading my kids' papers). It's been four weeks of torture and I'll be done just in time for Lent. (I'm giving up paper cuts for Lent, by the way.)

That's the trick -- just keep swimming. Just keep shredding. Just keep going. It's been interesting to note that if I had changed my way of doing things sooner (yes, I've had this bright idea before), I would have already dealt with this mess. I would probably be happier right now because I wouldn't be reorganizing the files, wouldn't have been stewing about it for so long, would have been doing something more enjoyable. But on the other hand, all the yesterdays really don't matter at this moment. All anyone has is right now. Yesterday is over and done with (consequences notwithstanding) and tomorrow is a definite maybe at best. This moment, and what I do with it, is the only sure thing. (Remember what my husband said about being content with how each day is spent?)

So I can say today was mostly well spent, except for the parts I spent brooding in regrets. All I can do is keep swimming.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Day 35: Finding Joy in Small Things

I once remarked to a friend that there are days -- whole days -- that pass without so much as a smile. Not even a sad smile. I'm not sure when I lost my joy... actually I don't know that it's gone so much as much too subdued. I have a pretty good sense of humor under all the weight of the world I carry. My family is pretty funny, too. (My son's observation that the girl in King Kong was a "snackrifice" comes to mind... as does my daughter's announcement when she has "wiccups.") My kids laugh all the time. Though laughter is contagious, somehow I think I'm frozen more often than not -- it's not a pleasant way to live.

Obviously some digging needs to happen. Somehow the why behind this stunted emotional state needs to be uncovered. In the meantime, I've got to do something overt to keep from becoming a glacier in an Ice Age of my own making. I'm worth joy.

For today, I don't know what will help me laugh. I did smile at the wiccups... and the paper penguin puppet my son made... and when I popped the top of my Throwback Mountain Dew at lunch. I'm about to blast Muse songs at an obscene volume in the living room -- my children will roll their eyes at this, but I don't care. I might be the Mom, but I still get to be ME. And I like music.

Feb 4: 5 Years to get here... WHOOHOOOO

Let me just say God is good... but not just good.. GRAND... AMAZING... SOOOOOO GOOD TO ME!

I am elated today. My son Josef is a precious boy. Adorable.. Loving... scatterbrained... easily frustrated... lacks in following direction...
Sounds like a normal 10 year old boy. Except Josef struggles in school to the point that he has very poor marks and becomes very exasperated with the whole process.

We started talking to, paying for and seeking help, testing, more testing, inconclusive testing, great teachers, bad teachers, great teachers agian....all to say

WE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My husband and I spent 2 hours in a meeting with the powers that be and they have a plan. They have an answer. I am so excited to see my son this morning feeling vindicated that he does try hard. He has an auditory memory and processing deficit.
He can not recall information or process what he hears when you talk to him completely. Example: you say "Josef please get a pencil, paper and clipboard" he hears clipboard... and nothing else.

He has been over compensating by deciding what he thinks needs to be done and becomes ridged in his thought not allowing him to change coarse very easily.

He will be having success finally through speech therapy twice a week provided by the school.

YEARS of "I think he has ADD" or "He is just being oppositional" or "he is simply not paying attention!"

Can you imagine how frustrating it is for him... everyday to be in a place where you just don't get it! Then to come home to parents who have been told "he is being lazy". God is going to use this in his life. I thank God he has such a great attitude, or it could have been a much more frustrating process.

WHOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO... I am so happy that he has a plan of action. He doesn't have to do lab or be in a LD class, simple to fix through therapy. They are even going to help us at home with retraining.


We are on our path to success! I know my son was worth the effort to get here. I am thankful that we never gave up on him, because God never gives up on us. We have a great example!



Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Day 34: Made Good on the Jammies

Score! I found two very cute (and comfy) pajama sets, on sale. I still had a little Christmas money left (I spent the rest on beading supplies), so I wasn't out much money at all.

My next "I'm worth looking cute" shopping task is to find new everyday Keds/casual shoes. My current pair is at least four years old and looking every day of that age. It's time to replace them. I do not have to look like Raggamuffin Mom. I want to be the mom whose kids are proud to show her off, even while simultaneously embarrassed.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

February 2: I make you BIGGER!

Hello Followers!!

God is so good... He works all things together for his good for it says in His word that very thing.

Romans 8:27-29 (New International Version)

27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.
28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,[a] who[b] have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

I went to the funeral of a beautiful woman the other day. I didn't know her personally as she was the mother of a fireman my hubby works with. I know her son. I respect this man.. he is such a kind hearted and wonderful man.. and I know he was taught that by this woman, his mother.

During the service the preacher of course talked about her as she was such an amazing woman of the word. He then offered this as part of the service.

"WE are to MAGNIFY HIS NAME! (yes he was yelling it as a proper black baptist preacher would..loved it!) To magnify is to make EVERYTHING ELSE smaller.. and the thing that you are focused on BIGGER, Make JESUS BIGGER, Make GOD BIGGER!"

WOW... that was it... I have been trying to conceive and making this process bigger than God. I felt convicted..not ashamed. I know now where my focus was and had to be. I want what God wants for me, there is nothing wrong in what I am doing....

except I was putting it in front of God. His will, His PERFECT will... in HIS TIME!

As it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."

— 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)

God told me 5 kids. He told me when I was pregnant with my first. A girl, A boy, A girl, A boy, and A girl. His promise, His gift, His time.

Caralyn Grace 12, Josef Todd 10, Emma Rosalee 5, and John Alexander is 2 on the 19th of Feb. I put the pictures of the promise on the wall in my house with words that say "FAITH IS NOT THAT BELIEVING GOD CAN - IT IS KNOWING THAT HE WILL"

He even has named her.... her name is Sarah Elizabeth. Princess Consecrated to God... He has given me scripture concerning her... Luke 1:45 Blessed is she who believes what God has said would be accomplished".

Now I just serve Him while I am waiting, and yes I am still waiting as it was confirmed that I am not yet pregnant.

And that is why God is worthy of all my praise!

I am worth the wait.. for God is in the know!

Day 33: Like Dominoes, They Fall

Most of the time I truly like the hustle and bustle being a mother. There are times, however, when it becomes a bit much. Most of those times, for me, stem from the never-ending stress of a special needs child, balancing four kids within a relatively large age range, and just trying to keep up with everyone. (As you'll recall, this is part of my problem in general -- I tend to focus too much on what everyone else needs and end up burning out like a fizzling comet in August.) The latest calamity to hit our house is... a cold.

We're on the second kid now. Just when it seemed the first one was finally getting better, the next one succumbed. One kid? That's no problem. When it begins the slow spread and threatens to consume my small army, it's another matter entirely. We don't have time for this! I don't have time for this!

Calamities are a fact of life though, and they have to be anticipated to a point. There's no way to know what's going to happen. In the middle of illnesses, deadlines, projects, and the like, however, you can certainly see where you've been. If you've been using your time wisely (that whole being content in the moment with how you're spending the moment bit), then the odds are you'll weather the Interruption Du Jour. If you've been stealing time here and there and know that you've not spent your time well (or well enough), it's going to be much harder to avoid Cosmic Comet Burnout.

So this brings me back to the past month or so of thinking. I'm worth my time. This means I have to spend it a little better (well, a lot better... but let's not be hasty) by avoiding known time wasting black holes. For me, this means Facebook and fora - oh, how I love to chat with others and feel connected! But honestly I've spent many more hours doing those things than reading, than writing, than playing a game with my kids, than sprucing up my closet and home. It also means working some more on avoiding procrastination. It means alternating play and work (that timer idea I had last week) so that burnout is held at bay on an hourly basis right now.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. Annie Dillard

Monday, February 1, 2010

Day 32: Time Out

Last Saturday I finally got together with a good friend of mine. We had such a nice time chatting - I've really missed her. I got a baby fix, got some good adult conversation, got to commiserate about parenting with a wide range of kids' ages. The important thing to note is that we did this without our children present (super cute nursing baby excepted... she's not going to rat us out any time soon).

And since we had such a nice time, my friend even suggested meeting up again in February - busy moms have to plan ahead! It's just so easy to let too much time slip by without taking care of ourselves and our friendships. I am absolutely worth a few hours of downtime with a friend.