The Lamest Post Ever… P.S. I love my husband

I read a stupid novel and got into a fight with my husband.

So that sounds a little absurd. Allow me to explain…

I love a good story. And there’s this crazy phenomenon in Christian novels, especially historical Christian novels, where the love stories are always perfect. The man “gazes at her with tender affection” And “she saw a flicker of interest in his eye”. And inevitably somewhere in that novel there is that line where the God-honoring hero of the woman’s heart says, “God has given me my greatest treasure in you.”

I read that last night, and then woke up this morning accusing him of “not treasuring me”.

His response was, “Um, where is this coming from?”

It’s not like I could say, “Well, Jocelyn and Thomas in the book I’m reading…”

Good night. I’m 15 again. Someone call Taylor Swift so she can write about my teenage angst.

Also, the heroine of the story is a hard worker. She is fallible in her belief at times, but never in her work ethic. She can be tired, but she pushes through.

I want, just once, to see a main female character of a Christian novel talk about her muffin top, the rust stains in her toilet, the laundry on her couch, and the Hot Wheels cars littering her bedroom floor.

Now THAT’S a little more believable.

Here’s MY novel…

 

Her school- age daughter appeared in her dream telling her that she had overslept. 

No. Wait—

This was real. The shadowy outline of the eight year old child telling her that the day was ruined now wasn’t just an image in a dream talking to her. 

6:20. 

Twenty minutes late to start the day. She’d never catch up now.

There was an argument over breakfast because they were out of the cereal that was the child’s favorite. As tension grew, the weary woman placed the child’s morning medicine and vitamins in front of her. She ambled down the hall to wake up the middle child, still in her sweat soaked pajamas (since when did she start having night sweats? Maybe she should mention this to the doctor at her next appointment that was….when, again?).

The middle child did not like to be woken up. She was like a bear being wrestled from their hibernating state too early. When Husband finally brought the middle child to the breakfast bar to consume her oatmeal, her hair looked incredibly…large. She had fallen asleep with it wet and uncombed because Tired Mom had been too….well, tired…to bother with it last night.

Boy Child awakens. Whines, actually yells, for his Monster Truck book. He is dismissed and left to yell alone, wandering like a lost puppy, until he finds and retrieves book on his own.

After packing two lunches and basically manually dressing Eight Year Old First Daughter like a rag doll, there was a scramble to find The Middle Child’s shoes. Had she left them next to the broken trampoline missing far too many springs to be considered a safe option for play anymore? Were they in the bathroom where she had undressed completely from the waist down when she had some “issues” in the bathroom last night? Were they in the OTHER bathroom where she had taken her bath and splashed out several gallons of water completely soaking the bathmat that needed to be washed again?

Shoes found. Last minute scramble for books that should have been packed last night. Lunches (packed in white paper sacks because the lunchboxes need washing) hurriedly grabbed from the counter.

Husband shuffles Eight Year Old First Daughter and Middle Child out the door and into the van.

Tired Mom collapses on the couch, resolving like she does every morning that tomorrow will be better. They’ll get up on time, everything will be right by the door already packed, and the moon and stars will align just perfectly to get the kids to school on time.

Husband reappears and mumbles something.

Actually, he probably didn’t mumble. It’s just that he’s been so sick for so long that now his tonsils are swollen and he can barely speak.

After translation, Tired Mom discovers Eight Year Old First Daughter’s lunch bag has ripped open. She needs a new bag.

The rest of the morning is a blur. Tired Mom falls asleep with coffee in her hand while Boy Child watches Mater’s Tall Tales. (If you don’t know who Mater is, you haven’t had a boy child in the last 8 years…)

Tired Mom showers and Husband dresses Boy Child.

But when it’s time to go, Boy Child just cannot bear to leave Mater on the TV. Screaming erupts. 

Screaming persists until Husband manhandles him to his car seat and Tired Mom puts the van into drive to head to preschool.

When Tired Mom returns home, she cleans the kitchen in a still half-awake state while downing her second cup of coffee. That second cup of coffee has little effect because after Tired Mom does dishes and picks up living room and vacuums and sweeps, she ends up collapsing on top of the bed that Husband has already made and falls asleep for half an hour. 

But that guilt-ridden nap comes only after Tired Mom accuses Husband of not “treasuring me enough”, because she read some dumb novel.

Tired Mom is such a nerd. 

 

Please tell me that SOMEONE out there can relate to that.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a wonderful life…and I love, love, love my family…and I adore my husband. He is wonderful, and finally caught on to that whole “last person out of bed has to make it” deal I’ve been throwing out.

But seriously, he helps out a lot around here…and truth be told, he’s been really sick for the past several weeks with some sinus junk that he just can’t shake. And yet, he STILL takes the girls to school and helps out around here. (This is not a novel. This is real. I promise.)

Oh, and I apologized for my silly little girl antics.

But it did get me thinking, how many other ladies fall into that trap? That trap of wishing their life would turn out so perfectly like in the novels…even the “inspirational” fiction. Sometimes in our marriages, it’s not all romantic…not when you’re cleaning up vomit together or playing rock-paper-scissors on who has to put who to bed, you can really get to know the snarky side of someone. :)

At the same time, we read novels to escape. I just shouldn’t be jealous of a fictional person’s life.

Good grief. That sounds so lame.

So…life isn’t ALWAYS like the novels. But you probably already knew that.

Oh…and the novel I’m reading? Yeah, it’s set in the Roanoke Colony. You know, the one that completely disappeared and was probably massacred? I’d say that this heroine’s story doesn’t turn out all nice and cheery and wrapped in a little bow like a lot of stories. I think that I’m faring better than she is…

 

 

 

So What Happens When Your Child Isn’t “Neurotypical”?

My daughter McKenna has what is known as Sensory Processing Disorder.

She also has Attention Deficit Disorder.

She also has a pretty good IQ.

Put it all together and you’ve got one little firecracker.

A firecracker that the outside world does not necessarily understand.

I talked with McKenna and asked her if I could share her story. I wanted to know if she minded that people knew she had some difficulties and if it was okay with her that they know she takes medication. She said yes.

I have felt a pressing need to share our story and McKenna’s struggles for several reasons. I believe strongly that the story of our journey just might help someone else out there. When you live with a child who is not “neurotypical” it is hard on everyone in the family. There is silent pain that no one knows about because you don’t want to SAY that your child isn’t necessarily functioning normally.

Well meaning people will be convinced that there is nothing that a good amount of discipline can’t fix. And you will be given and suggested all manner of books regarding disciplining children. You’ll toss them angrily aside…because you are no dummy. You’ve tried them all before.

There are children out there, mind you, that can not be expected to react to disciplinary methods the way that most kids should.

And so I want to make this clear, before you judge another person’s parenting skills, please consider that there is more to some kids than meets the eye.

And what I feel the need to express today is this:  McKenna does NOT suffer from bad parenting.

McKenna actually has some darn good parents.

She has parents that have prayed and sought out the best courses of treatment for her. She has parents that have paid out the nose for the proper medications that she might need. She has parents that have cried and prayed and prayed and cried for peace and help and hope.

McKenna has Sensory Processing Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder. And God gave her to us to lead and guide and parent, which means He must trust that we can do this.

I want to start with a little background on what SPD and ADD is, how they affect the brain, and how they can affect a child’s behavior.

WHAT IS SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER?

Sensory processing disorder or SPD is a neurological disorder causing difficulties with taking in, processing, and responding to sensory information about the environment and from within one’s own body (visualauditorytactileolfaction,gustatoryvestibular, and proprioception).

For those identified as having SPD, sensory information may be sensed and perceived in a way that is different from most other people. Unlike blindness or deafness, sensory information can be received by people with SPD, the difference is that information is often registered, interpreted and processed differently by the brain. The result can be unusual ways of responding or behaving, finding things harder to do. Difficulties may typically present as difficulties planning and organizing, problems with doing the activities of everyday life (self care, work and leisure activities), and for some with extreme sensitivity, sensory input may result in extreme avoidance of activities, agitation, distress, fear or confusion.[1]

This definition is taken from wikipedia…it’s the most succinct and best way to describe it in everyday terms that I’ve found.

I also found this written by a father of a child with SPD…

One of the most difficult parts with helping our kids with transitions is getting other people to understand why they need extra help.

“Well, she doesn’t look like there’s anything wrong. She seems fine!”

I hear that all the time. Since she has been very tiny Jaimie has been a master at holding it together until she is in a safe place. Then she literally lets loose and it lasts for hours. I’ve found when Jaimie is still–when she isn’t saying anything at all–that’s when you need to pay attention. The main struggle we have with Jaimie is that even though she has stronger verbal skills now, she still isn’t able to connect the sensations she encounters, the emotions they elicit and her reactions. And she simply isn’t able to tell others what her needs are. She relies completely on me for that right now.

McKenna is especially sensitive to auditory input. If sounds are too loud, she gets upset. If there is too much noise (as in a very chaotic situation), she becomes irritated. She cannot neurologically process them correctly and the resulting frustration causes emotions in her that she does not know how to control and reign in. As her pediatrician put it, “She physically CANNOT HELP these reactions. She’s not being bad; she just doesn’t know what to do with that feeling.”

McKenna does not yet know how to deal with overwhelming feelings of emotion. She is getting better as she gets older, but she used to tell us when a slow or sad song came on that we needed to turn it off. If we didn’t, she would scream and throw her hands over her ears. She had no idea what to do with the sad emotions that the song prompted in her. Even now, rather than saying she is crying when something makes her sad, she will say, “My eyes are watering”.

McKenna is also very tactile sensitive. She hates seams in her socks, will not wear things like turtlenecks, jumpers, anything that seems restricting. Tags in her shirts and adjustable waist bands in pants (she call them “hurty thingies”) are simply intolerable for her.

If you are around McKenna for any length of time, you will notice she carries a ragged, stuffed cat with her everywhere she goes. Its name is Mittens. She rubs the ears on her cat throughout the day, but especially when she’s concentrating or when she’s starting to get nervous. She is blessed to have a teacher that lets her keep Mittens out on her desk at school…and she is NEVER without that cat. It is her safety net…even at 8 years old.

I’ve listed only a few of the specifics of McKenna’s condition. But know that our daily life consisted of major meltdowns over the tiniest little things. This can wear a person down over time, it can affect the family structure, the marriage. The judgment from the outside only makes it worse. And so you put on a brave face and force a smile when you enter public, knowing that you’ll walk away from any given situation followed by the stares and whispers of others.

“Can’t they control her?”

You know what? No. No we could not.

And knowing that others thought we were lacking because of it, left us feeling defeated almost every.single.day.

Along with having SPD, McKenna faces a double whammy with her ADHD.

Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral disorder[1] characterized by either significant difficulties of inattention or hyperactivity and impulsiveness or a combination of the two.

 

Both of these conditions, SPD and ADHD, have been clinically diagnosed in McKenna. Her intelligence is such that she is able to compensate a lot for herself while she is at school. It is within her “safe zones” that she reacts so strongly to the confusion and chaos that she feels inside.

McKenna isn’t “debilitated”. She has challenges that, in turn, become challenges for us as well.

She is bright and witty and social and creative.

She has many friends and loves school and her teachers.

But, we have learned, through trial and error what works for her and what does not.

We must stick to a very strict routine of sleep when it comes to school nights or nights before she has to get up early. We need to make sure that she keeps her blood sugar level…any dip in her blood sugar can be met with severe behavioral reactions.

And she also needs medication.

This was a route that I never wanted to pursue. But it has been, apart from prayer, the best thing that we have done for her. And subsequently, for our family.

McKenna has had Occupational Therapy and we were given some useful things to do when the situation she was in became too overwhelming. We tried every available method of discipline and technique and tactic. If there were a “natural” or “herbal” remedy, I bought it. I increased certain vitamins and minerals and ordered special liquid vitamins online.

So finally, after years of trying everything that I could to avoid having to go the medication route, I made an appointment with her pediatrician.

I read medical journals, checked books out from the library, googled message boards…I did every bit of research I could on the medication we chose to put her on. I can tell you the pharmokinetics of the medication. I can tell you its half-life and its various forms. I can also tell you how much each different dosing available costs.

I did not want to go into this blindly. Or naively.

I have been a teacher. And I have seen how many kids in our society are medicated. And I have seen the harm it can do.

But, in the right situations, I have seen it change worlds.

As it has for us.

This past Sunday, I picked my daughter up from a chaotic room with loud music playing. She was laughing and dancing…and although she initially avoided it, she let us video her dancing with a new friend.

For McKenna, for us, this is huge. HUGE.

Through trial and error, we have found what works for her. For now.

I realize that one day the needs and dosing may change. But, after many weeks of trying different things, we feel confident that we have found the right combination of things for her.

And our family.

I keep saying “our family” because I cannot stress enough how one person’s struggles within the family unit will affect each member of the family.

Please remember that not all handicaps can be seen. Please don’t ever judge a parent that you see out in public for their child’s behavior. I’m not trying to make excuses for every temper tantrum any child ever throws…those do happen around here too. We’re human. But…unless you know a person’s story, and sometimes even if you think you do, please refrain from dismissing a child’s behavior as simply “bratty”. And please don’t believe that the parents are clueless or slackers and in need of some good parenting classes and books.

That may be the farthest thing from the truth.

Having a child who isn’t “neurotypical” is hard. It’s exhausting and draining and there are tears and prayers and screams of frustration. From the kids AND the parents.

Please do not judge. Please don’t question their choices of medication or no medication. Please remember that it is not our desire that our child disrupt the world. Don’t think that we just sigh and blow it off when a meltdown happens. We worry about them socially…and if I’m being honest, we worry about ourselves socially. How others will view us, will they want to be around us or our children?

Ask us HOW we are doing. Give us encouragement, not advice. Show our kids love and respect.

Somedays, we wish we could hang a sign around our kids that says “I have SPD” or “I have ADHD” or whatever “hidden handicap” it is they carry. We want to be understood…we want to shout from the rooftops “I don’t suck at being a parent! In fact, I pretty much rock at it!”

We want to know someone is praying for us, for our family. We want to know that you believe in us. We want to know that you’ll be there when we’re having a bad day and we want to run away. We NEED someone to tell us that we’re doing great and that our child is awesome.

Save the judgment for American Idol.

If you have a friend whose child is not “neurotypical”, love on them. Love on their children. Just LOVE.

If you are a parent of a non-neurotypical child, please know you are not alone. I understand your frustration and your hurt. I’ve cried your tears…I’ve wrestled with the big decisions. I’ve watched the people stare. You can do this. This is your child and God did not make a mistake when He created them. Trust Him. When it all falls apart some days, fall into Him.

If you would like to hear more of the specifics of our journey, or you need someone to vent to about your struggles as a parent of a non-neurotypical child, please email me at morelucy(at)me(dot)com.

Happy Birthday, McKenna!

My baby girl turned eight yesterday.

EIGHT.

She is kind. And smart. And witty. And charming. And talented. And vibrant and loving and fun.

(I may be a little biased. :) )

We took her for pizza last night and brought in a cake. (Yes. I was “that” lady with the fire-starter and candles packed in her purse. Don’t mess with this mama.)

Friday night she is having a sleep-over with her friends from school. We’ll have pizza and cake and doughnuts and popcorn. And movies and sleeping bags and air mattresses and paint our nails.

No, I have no idea what I’m getting into. But I plan on asking my friend Shari who just hosted an eight year old birthday party last month…I think she’s still recovering.

 

The link below takes you to a birthday post from three years ago. It’s worth the click, I swear. It has newborn baby pics. Who doesn’t love some newborn baby pics?

http://morelucythanjune.com/celebrating-mckenna/

 

 

 

Promise Maker

My little boy loves him some bedtime snuggles.

And while SuperNanny would have my hide  that I indulge him in his need for mommy to snuggle him to sleep, I do it anyway.

Because he’ll only be this little for a little while. Time is fleeting and I’m going to miss it when he doesn’t ask me to snuggle anymore.

Also, it’s a nice little break from the rest of the noise going on in the house.

It’s quiet, and sometimes, I fall asleep. And then I wake up in that funk where you’re all, “What time is it?! Is it morning yet?! Where am I?! What’s my name?!”

But also, in those quiet moments of snuggling with my only little boy, God has spoken quietly and gently to my heart.

A couple of nights ago, I had one of those moments.

I knew that once every child in my care had gone to sleep, Stephen and I were going to finally watch the last session from the Passion 2013 conference. (If you don’t know what the Passion conference/movement is, google it. And be amazed.)

I had heard great things about John Piper’s message that he gave and I was really looking forward to it and hoping to gain some nugget of wisdom, some truth to heal my aching heart.

And as I lay there, next to my sweet little boy slumbering, I felt God say,

There is a path through this pain.

A path through pain.

And then I waited a little more. “Okay. So….annnnndddd…?”

I mean, that’s way too succinct, right? “There is a path through this pain.”

In all my human-ness I’m thinking, that’s not exactly a quotable statement, Lord. And it’s a little too…abrupt.

Yeah. Like God can’t just speak whole universes into existence with just a few words, and I think I need a whole thesis from Him on HOW and WHY and WHEN.

But all I got was,

There is a path through this pain.

And then I remembered a message I heard once. And I don’t remember who said it, but I remember someone remarking on the 23rd Psalm.

Though I walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow…

God doesn’t intend for us to stay there. We are walking THROUGH.

There is a path THROUGH this pain.

And so with that, Stephen and I snuggled in front of the computer to watch the last of the conference online.

And they sang this song that I felt sure that I had heard before. But the words and the meaning resonated within me deeper than it ever had before.

When I went to search for the song later, and I mean I SEARCHED, I came to the conclusion that it has not been yet released. I don’t even know who to give credit to for the music or lyrics yet.

But it felt so personal to me, so moving and so pointedly authentic, that I couldn’t understand how it seemed so familiar.

I think God gives us those moments sometimes. Where that quote, that word, that song, that lyric was so perfect and so fitted for where you are that it seems like you’ve known it for  long time. And yet, you’ve never heard it before.

I have been praying that God would reveal a promise to me. Something to be seen. Something to look to.

And, I don’t have a specific “something” yet. But these lyrics are my answer right now.

Because even though I don’t have a “promise” that I can verbalize or even glimpse myself right now, I know that HE is the PROMISE MAKER. The PROMISE KEEPER.

And He will reveal everything we need to know in His time.

Lord Our God

Promise maker, promise keeper
You finish what you begin
Our provision through the desert
You see it through til the end
You see it through til the end

The Lord our God is ever faithful
Never changing through the ages
From this darkness You will lead us
and forever we will say You’re the Lord our God

In the silence, in the waiting
still we can know You are good
All your plans are for Your glory
Yes we can know You are good
Yes we can know You are good

We won’t move without You, we won’t move without You
You’re the light of all and all that we need

 

I’m A Web Designer!

Actually, I’m just excited that I managed to install a plug-in and get a widget to work.

I really don’t even know what I just wrote right there.

I’ve seen other blogs with these cute little “bookshelves” or “libraries” or “I’m Smarter Than You Because I’m Reading…” thingies (that’s about as technical as I get) on their sidebars.

At least, I think it’s called a sidebar.

So…it only took me, wife of a real, actual, live and darn talented web designer, one hour to manage to post one on my blog.

I’m pretty proud of myself.

One day, I might even add pictures and fancy things up around here. But don’t hold your breath on that one.

I want to be able to say something like “Here’s What I’m Reading NOW…and Here’s What’s In My Personal Queue”…something to that effect.

But since I can’t figure out how, and since it took me an hour to simply put a picture of what I really AM currently reading on here, I’m gonna call it a night.

But not before I show you what I’ve got coming up next to read.

It’s this…

I know, right?

It’s way far off from what I’m reading right now. But I’m what you would call “eclectic” in my reading.

And who knows? I might hate it. Totally haven’t read any of the other vampire junk out there, no offense Twilight-y people. But I read a historical fiction novel about Mary Todd Lincoln and found it fascinating…and if you’ve never researched her, and you’re all into psychological stuff like me, she was a character.

Confession: I’m a book junkie and I frequent the Goodwill near my house for books. I have so many books in my “to read” section of my closet. Yes, you read that right. AND…I STILL frequent the library. It’s like I’m secretly afraid that one day the print books will all just vanish.

I probably need some sort of therapy for that issue.

And I’m so sorry, techies, but I will never own a Kindle. There’s something that feels good about holding an actual BOOK. I love the smell of libraries. And the sound of turning pages and being able to physically SEE how much I’ve read.

I’ll say it again…I’m a total nerd.

Anyway, after ole Abe there, I picked up A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar, Breaking Free by Beth Moore, and the 2nd in the Harry Potter series.

Then I’m going back to Little Women after I get through those.

It seems…safe.

 

13 “Goals” for 2013

I was going to write entire diatribe on how saying you have a set of New Year’s “goals” is more realistic than saying that you have a set of “resolutions”. But quite honestly, dictionary.com didn’t really help me with the definitions on those two words, so I’ll spare you the etymology lecture.

Nonetheless, I am proclaiming that I have “goals” rather than resolutions. And I’m being kitschy and listing 13 for 2013.

Unlisted goal #14: Be more original this year.

 

1. Write more.

That’s about all I got to say about that.

 

2. Be more encouraging to friends by sending notes and cards.

I made a resolution, um “goal”, last year to send one card or note each week, via the U.S. Postal Service using real stamps I bought at a store, to a friend or family member.

And I totally kept that goal up.

Until, like, March 1st.

It felt so good knowing that I was sending encouragement to people, and reminding them that I was still alive and praying for them. And who doesn’t love getting “fun” mail? An unexpected note for no reason? Totally makes my…life.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said,

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

How’s THAT for prompting you to remember to send your friends well wishes?

Also, I heard the USPS could possibly go bankrupt, so let’s all buy stamps and throw something fun in the mail for a friend.

Revive the art of the chain letter if you have to, but SAVE THE MAILMAN…OR MAILWOMAN.

 

3. Commit to showing each of my children love through their “love languages”.

If you haven’t read The Five Love Languages, you should. And if you’re a parent you should read The Five Love Languages of Children.

And…um…confession…that’s #4 on my “goals” list.

 

4. See #3

 

5. Read more books in general.

Last year, I committed to one book a month. And I know that seems like a very small amount for all you avid readers out there, but I only recently found myself at a place in life where I actually had more than two minutes to read something. If it was not The Cat in the Hat or Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?, it probably wasn’t going to be found on my nightstand.

I actually ended up exceeding my goal of more than one book a month, so maybe I’ll up the ante to two a month.

I should get cracking though, because there are currently five books on my nightstand that I haven’t touched yet. And the library is getting antsy about wanting their books back, I think. Dern email reminders.

 

6. Paint my nails.

I have so many colors of nail polish in my bathroom cabinet. I love buying new nail polish and lipsticks. It’s like you can try out something new without it being ridiculously spendy and without long term commitment.

And the colors are pretty. And sometimes I look at them just to make me happy.

But, I typically only paint my toes because I’m a mom with three small kids and I don’t have the time or patience to wait for 13 coats of the cheap polish I buy to dry on my hands before someone needs me to pull gum out of their hair or something.

Then I end up with smudged and dented and not the “cool kind” of textured nails.

But I painted my fingernails today. And I love it. I feel fancy.

It may not happen regularly, but I resolve, errrrhm, “make it my goal” to at least open up the nail polish bottles more frequently.

 

7. Be more encouraging to my husband.

I love my Stevi. He is a sensitive soul. An artist to the core.

It’s been a hard year. A lot of it sucked.

And ladies, your man needs YOU by his side…through good, through bad. You know, all that “for better, for worse” stuff we committed to? Yeah, THAT.

We both like words and art. I should use it more to make his load a little lighter everyday.

 

8. Create something. Once a week.

Okay, maybe once every two weeks. That sounds more reasonable.

To go from “Hey that’s a cool idea!” to four brand new projects/recipes/works of sheer poetry a month seems a little…lofty.

So…twice a month…something new should spew forth from my creative (or less than) side.

 

9. Plan meals and daily chores and weekly schedules better.

Self explanatory. Other than to say, I’ve made about 1,002 chore charts since becoming a homemaker. They all last…about a week.

 

10. Do not wait till the last day to turn in field trip permission forms or cans of frosting requested for projects or shove any more papers in that stupid basket on top of my microwave that I say I’ll sort through twice a week and never do.

My children’s teachers will be happy.

And so will my husband and I. No more late night or early morning runs for cash or Gogurt tubes for preschool parties.

 

11. Lose 25 pounds.

I know that’s not so original. But here’s my story…it’s kind of original.

In the fall of 2011, I lost about 25 pounds. I had to buy smaller size jeans. It was a glorious feeling. I danced in the dressing room when I buttoned that first smaller pair.

Then this past summer, my hubs and I went on a cruise for our ten year anniversary. A cruise is 24 hours of all you can eat goodness.

And I think i jacked up my metabolism. Within two months, I had gained back every pound I lost.

Then Christmas arrived, and just for good measure, I gained a couple more.

So…after falling off the weight loss wagon, it’s time to climb back on and bust my tail.

Because winter doesn’t last long here in Charleston, and I can’t afford another entire wardrobe overhaul.

 

12. Slow down.

I always feel like I’m on hyper lightning speed all the time. And it stresses me to no end.

I literally get all sweaty and befuddled. (I realize that I probably need to take more vitamins or fish oil or something to combat that whole “sweaty” issue. OR maybe I’m just getting old. I am 37 and all…)

Anyway, slow down and don’t rush.

Except to get the kids out the door to school.

Because we don’t need…

 

13. No more tardies!

I know that was poor grammar. I’ll probably cringe when I go back and read this.

The kids’ schools will love me and maybe we’ll get our names removed from the “naughty tardy list” that we seem to make it on every year by this time.

 

So…that’s my list. And I realize the last two KINDA contradict each other but…that’s my life sometimes.

I’ll never figure out the balance to perfection.

But I figure, that’s what keeps me normal.

Because normal isn’t perfect. And perfect isn’t normal.

 

 

 

You Have Pinterest…I Have a Pen

And a glue stick.

(By the way, if you don’t read the titles to some of my posts, you won’t “get” the first line of my post. Did that make sense? Now…go back and read my title, all you people still scratching your heads.)

I’ve said before that I don’t “do” Pinterest.

And I don’t.

Not…EXACTLY.

I don’t have a Pinterest account. I’ve never “pinned” anything. And you can’t make me.

In fact, when I google something and the result lands me someone’s Pinterest page or repin, I will go out of my way to avoid clicking on the Pinterest logo to get to what I want to see. I’ll go fourteen ways around the sun to get to the original poster’s site with the picture or the article.

I know. That’s totally extreme. It’s not Pinterest’s fault.

I just…can’t…handle…it.

I am all for new recipes involving figs and venison and trying to be crafty and weave my own pillows with the loom I bought on someone’s Etsy site and create decorative banners for any and all holidays, including but not limited to Groundhog’s Day and Confederate Memorial Day. (That is a real holiday, by the way. My friend gets off work for this holiday every year. We used to celebrate with fireworks and fried chicken and mashed potatoes. I’m not making this up.)

Part of it is the pressure of having a public Pinterest board where people can I ask if I did that or made that or sent off for the PDF instructions for how to create that garden lattice for the herbs I planted last spring.

I want to create. And bake. And paint. And sew…and sow. (Did you see what I did there?)

And sometimes I do. Sometimes I’ll post my twitpics or upload to Facebook my random felt projects or frosted cookies or paper bags tied with raffia and pre-printed tags.

(Side note: I do NOT use Instagram, though. It’s another one of those “principle” things of mine. And if you can’t be my friend after you’ve read this, it’s okay. I understand.)

But for all my ranting on how I don’t use Pinterest, I must also tell you…I was “pinteresting” before pinteresting was cool.

I’ve always loved journals. And blank pages. And stationery. And pens and pencils and markers. And scissors and stickers.

I never got into the whole “scrapbooking” thing, though. It’s too organized and takes thought and time and preparation. And I’m the kind of person that would stress if I didn’t have my pictures centered to the millimeter on the page and then I’d feel like the whole thing sucked and I couldn’t do anything right and I’d shove it under the bed and pretend I never started the stupid thing to begin with.

At least, I’m pretty sure that’s how it would go.

My whole approach to “pinning” or “recording memories” and “life” is through…writing it down. Or ripping the picture from the magazine and shoving it in a book somewhere or leaving it on the fridge like I did that picture of that pair shoes I wanted a few years ago hoping the hubs would notice and purchase a knock off pair at Payless for me.

Yes, I’ll print out those recipes calling for 18 pounds of butter. And I will rip out that magazine ad with the picture of the towels folded the way I’ve never had time to fold mine…also they were in varying shades of reds and yellows and oranges that it looked like my favorite colors in a Skittles bag and I wanted to eat them. Something about it just “spoke” to me, I guess. And I will jot down that quote that I loved from that book that I read that one time. (Read The Hobbit. If you just go see the movie, you’re missing out. Trust me. And I haven’t seen the movie.)

I think that it’s that I need something tangible. Something physical to look at and hold. Not just an internet bulletin board where all my virtual ideas end up. I guess I feel like if it’s not something that I can reach out and physically grab onto, then it seems less attainable that I would actually MAKE it.

So for all my printing and ripping and scribbling out notes and creating meal charts that get shoved in my purse, I’m not all that different from you Pinterest people. I just like mine in “grabbable” form.

And for all you “grabbable” form wanna-be crafters/chefs/writers like myself, I have discovered these things called “Smash books”.

Now, this may be an old concept. I have no idea. I’m not really up on the most current things…I’m still singing Call Me Maybe and buying frosted lip gloss.

Here’s the concept, and “Smash” is actually a branded name, you buy one of their blank “journals”. Or you get cheapie like me and just buy a regular old notebook. And then, you just “smash” stuff in it.

How freaking cool is that?!

Totally genius concept if you ask me. And no, I’m not being paid by these “Smash” people. I’m just giving them mad props for giving the people who want to be creative and record life and keep things random, inspiring, or odd a license to do so WITH NO RULES! No LINES TO COLOR IN (totally being all metaphoric here), No more “OH CRAP! I DIDN”T LEAVE ENOUGH ROOM FOR THAT RANDOM RECIPE I’LL MORE THAN LIKELY MAKE ONLY ONCE TO TRY AND IMPRESS A GROUP OF PEOPLE I HARDLY KNOW” freak-out moments. (That’s probably a freak out moment only relative to me…)

The whole idea is that you just “smash” it in there. No rules. No more “this section is for the outfit ideas that I’ll never be able to fit in my budget and wouldn’t look right with these hips anyway”. I put one thing on one page and another on another and so on and so forth till my creative outlet just can’t take it any more.

But these “Smash” peeps have it figured out. They sell accessories…everything from tabs (so you CAN label your sections if you want) to pens with the dern glue stick already built in!

Who ARE these people?!

I don’t know but here’s their web site.  http://www.smashstoriesblog.com

And here’s mine so far.

It’s not fab and funky and all glitzy glam. And I won’t even try and give myself a pass by saying I just started yesterday and really I’ve been focused on writing down gems of literary goodness that I want to remember. Like from Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Jason Mraz.

No seriously. Jason Mraz is a wordplay genius.

And he’s also the only person i know who can really pull off the straw fedora. 

So I guess you could say that I’m really not as anti-Pinterest as I originally said I was. I just need to be able to SEE what I want to achieve. I need to physically be able to write down the words that move my soul. I’m not the person who can just click and high light and pin and re-pin from the text I’m reading. I want a good pen and a piece of paper.

Confession: when I was in junior high and high school, before you could just google up the words to that song you liked on the radio, I would use a tape recorder and wait for hours on end to capture the song. Then I would wear out the pause button by stopping it to write down every word of every line.

And then I would get all ethereal and philosophical and be all, “Isn’t this beautiful? Did you LISTEN to what it’s SAYING?!”

I know. I’m a total nerd.

I’m a word nerd.

That’s why this post’s word count is already over 1300. (If you read it all, I love you. And you probably need to find a hobby if you had time to read it all in one sitting.)

John Lennon once said,

When you’re drowning, you don’t think, I would be incredibly pleased if someone would notice I’m drowning and come rescue me.

You just scream.

If I may add to Mr. Lennon, words…art…your Pinterest project…doesn’t have to be perfect or poetic. It just needs to communicate what you feel inside.

So don’t let the Pinterest guidelines stop you if they intimidate you like they do me. Grab your glue stick and your pen and rip out something cool from a magazine.

“Smash” life and create and write and craft away, friends!

Go ahead and send me your Pinterest link.

And I’ll show you my “Smash” journal.

And we’ll be crafty-baker-poet friends forevermore!

 

Letting Go

Fear.

Anger.

They can paralyze you.

Literally.

I’ve lain in my bed, chewing on my bottom lip, rehearsing in my head all the things I “should” say or do. All the ways that I could express the mad, the hurt, and the lonely that took over my heart.

I’ve sat unmoving on my couch, staring out the window, fearful of the next moment and what it would bring. Of how I was being weighed and tried and tested in ways that I did not understand.

Every night, EVERY NIGHT, I have thought of returning to writing here, only to be swallowed up in the fear of what the words and thoughts that I would express would provoke in the minds of those who watched my family and I.

And the fear turned to anger and my world became “unfair” and I shook my fist in the night at those who my heart had felt betrayed by.

But take what I have seen, and take my situation, and take my “plight”…and then shout the word unfair at the mother who has buried her baby.

And our friends in Georgia who said goodbye to their worship pastor and friend during a terrible accident. Where is the “fair” in that? A husband with three babies? How is THAT fair?

Where is the “fair” for the family who travels long days to take their preschool son for chemo treatments?

What is “fair” when it comes to fires and school shootings and failing marriages and phone calls from the doctor that you wish you had never answered?

Tragedy and heartache and loss lie all around us. And those who walk the path of pain, and choose not to let the bitterness of this world eat them alive but “in everything, give thanks”, they are some of the most beautiful people I know. They reflect Christ. They radiate love. They are transformed through God’s grace.

Oh that I may be that.

And yet, I’ve hardened my heart and bared my teeth and clenched my fist and chosen to live in the anger. To wallow in my pain.

And while there is a time for mourning, I do not think that God desires that we live there. Pain is real. Pain is hard. Pain comes fast…or seeps in slowly over the course of time. Pain is a part of this life…yet God tells us we are overcomers.

So why don’t I feel that?

Why does it feel like the loneliness of the days will overtake me? Why does it feel that I could live with my anger forever? Letting it consume me and deteriorate myself and my family by robbing us of joy and laughter by slowly killing me from the inside out?

I’m in the middle of reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. (Her blog is here aholyexperience.com)

Ann is an amazingly gifted writer who has been given words that have spoken right to the heart, to the quick of the pain, for so many. And now, to me as well.

She describes her journey of giving thanks for one thousand things, for choosing to see the beauty. For giving thanks in the pain.

For giving thanks FOR the pain?

To say that God understands things I do not would be an understatement. I can’t answer the why to many things right now…nor may I ever.

But I do know this one thing: I do not want to hold on to this soul crushing anger any longer.

I want to be free to write again and to enjoy the things I used to before the fear and the anger became my only way of seeing through things.

And so part of my healing, part of my letting go, part of my returning to joy…is to finally write again. To hit “publish” and and let God guide my writing as He guides the life of my family throughout the days ahead.

God gave me joy in writing. God gives my husband joy in writing as well.

And should He so allow, I am ever hopeful that there will be many more posts, many more stories, many more vignettes of our life, and many more worship songs flowing through and out of this house.

As for the rest, I can’t say what the future holds…

“…But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

 

 

Love.

Does anyone remember the old SNL character, Stuart Smalley?

“I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.”

Al Franken would cheese it up in his mirror and affirm himself aloud.

And we all learned his mantra. And we used it.

And we said it in jest to ourselves, and one another, when things were getting us down.

Or maybe you remember the more recent Aibileen Clark from The Help.

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

If only we all had an Aibileen to get right in our face every now and then, put their hands on our shoulders, and tell us those things.

Because, sometimes, we just don’t feel it.

We struggle.

We hurt.

We cry.

And the fact of the matter is…

We NEED each other. We NEED love and encouragement from one another.

We NEED to be encouraging one another…not vilifying other people because they do things (or DON’T do things) that we don’t understand.

And I’m talking to myself here as well.

We do not know the reasons behind another’s actions…or inactions.

Plato is quoted as saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

I have been in that place where every word, move, or action I have said, made, and done has been microscopically picked apart. Or at least, it felt that way.

And I have also, ashamedly, done that to others.

The truth is…we just DON’T KNOW what someone is going through.

I have been wrapped in a deep depression that no one knew about, save those who lived behind the doors with me.

I have been in that place where the very idea of going to bed at night was upsetting because I didn’t want to have to get up and go through the motions all over again.

And the overflow of that depression affected everything in my life.

Yet I could smile and laugh and pretend it was all okay when I was in public. And no one was any wiser.

But, as painful as it was, I learned through that experience.

I learned compassion.

When that thought rises within me now, that thought that wants to react negatively to someone’s behavior or remarks or supposed ambivalence, I am reminded by the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit,

“You don’t know. You don’t know, Annette, what pain they might carry, what burdens they strap on everyday as they wake up, what scars have been carved on their life.”

Only God knows, truly, what may lie beneath the surface of another person.

And so…

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” —John 13:34-35, NIV

It is in our LOVE for one another that the world will know us.

Not in eating chicken.

Not in signing a petition.

Not in the remarks we make amongst and to ourselves that cause those who see our whispers, feel our stares, and can read in our faces the disdain we feel at and/or for them.

I love the way The Message simply states Romans 14:19-21…

 19-21So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? I said it before and I’ll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don’t eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.

 

 

For all the moms who…

This is for  all the moms out there who:

–have ever gotten out of the shower only having had time to shave one leg

–have cleaned makeup off of their toddler son’s face (bonus points if it’s water proof makeup)

–have ever seen your Willow Creek figurine lose it’s head, hand, or wing (who knew those things weren’t really wood?)

–have been on the phone with the insurance company, school, or your doctor when a kid starts screaming (little tip: if this happens while you’re on the phone with your doc requesting refills of your anxiety or sleep meds, they usually don’t hesitate at all to make sure that ‘script is ready ASAP)

–have ever beaten yourself up over where you last left that pair of scissors or permanent marker

–have left a grocery cart WITH GROCERIES IN IT in the middle of the store due to a screaming newborn (bonus points if you’re in the frozen food aisle)

–have ever gotten the evil eye from the public librarian

–have ever snuck french fries out of your kid’s Happy Meal before giving it to him or her

–have ever called Poison Control because your kid ate half a jar of gummy vitamins (note: you’re okay as long as though don’t contain iron)

–have discovered the hard way that it’s time to lower the crib

–have cried to your pediatrician

–have taken the long way home so the baby can sleep

–chose more sleep over a shower…and regretted it. Or didn’t.

–kept the baby monitor in your room for way longer than you needed to

–have changed a baby diaper one-handed

–forgotten to sign a field trip permission slip in time

–hovered at the door long enough for it to be considered embarrassing on your kiddo’s first day of preschool, kindergarten, or church nursery

–know all the varieties of Goldfish crackers that are available

–have ridiculously opinionated ideas about children’s tv show characters

–know which cartoon characters and scenes appear on any and all name brand and local store generic diapers and pull-ups

…to all you moms who can relate to anything listed above, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

I know. It doesn’t make you any less exhausted. But at least you know you can have a bleary-eyed conversation about toddler-created Sharpie tattoos with other Mommies who’ve been there.