Monday, January 31, 2011
We have a huge winter storm heading our way- ice and inches of snow and winds and bitter cold and potential to lose power and the world is going to END! Of course, my boss and our HR department will still expect us to get to work.
I'm sick. It started coming on Saturday. It hit full force overnight into Sunday. I didn't get enough rest on Sunday like I wanted to. I'm still miserable today. It's a cold- not a horrible one but one that's enough to make me feel awful.
I'm just sick enough to be really whiney and overly emotional.
I brought in a toaster to work and got "in trouble" for it. Put it out for everyone to use and it's apparently a "safety hazard." Which is BS. I pointed out we had one at our old end of the building and was told "it's a new world now." Was also told that a toaster is basically a gateway drug because if you allow a toaster, then people want a griddle and a cappucino machine and...
There go my plans to set up a hotel style "free breakfast" buffet.
Toasters, the new marijuana. My office, the toaster free new world.
Part of me wants to go home and crawl back into bed. For now, I'm keeping my door shut and hoping everyone just leaves me alone.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
So I scrapped the movie plan. Not wanting to disappoint the kids, I came up with a quick alternate plan for movie night...
As soon as we get up, we will put the movie on. Mommy will make a special breakfast, too! It'll be better than popcorn and better than watching it while tired!
So this morning, we're watching Despicable Me. I've got cinnamon rolls and apple turnovers in the oven (Pillsbury is not sponsoring this post- but I'm very grateful to them for their products today). We have bagels and cream cheese ready. I've got a new box of honey nut cheerios. Jeff set up pillows and blankets on the floor and the kids are armed with a variety of stuffed animals.
In about 5 minutes, our goodies will come out of the oven (it smells awesome in here). In an hour or so, the movie will be over and we will get dressed and start our day. For now, the kids are excited about special breakfast treats, Jeff and I get slow time to get fully awake and moving, and I have to admit that I'm looking forward to the goodies in the oven, too!
I'm liking this new way of watching a movie...
Friday, January 28, 2011
And my drag queen me- Sassy Sunshine. You can create your own at RuPaul's Dragulator. Back in college, I got an actual makeover by drag queens into a drag queen. Jim and I hung out at this gay bar in Cincy called The Dock and they did a fun night where they made over a girl and a guy into a queen and we had to perform and everything. It was insanely fun and I'd do it again any day. In fact, I loved it so much that when the time came to get rid of my old prom dresses, I gave them to the queens at The Dock! *****
I think I've come up with an idea for Teagan's birthday. It's totaly unique, will be for just a few kids, and those who join us will come away with a really cool project. So stay tuned! *****
This weekend, I've got some fun stuff going on with friends and am looking forward to church. And down time. Hopefully we get to have a movie night tonight- it all depends on how the kids do at school today. Have a good weekend!
Thursday, January 27, 2011
You're wrong. Every little bit helps. And being part of touching even one life... can have amazing ripple effects beyond your wildest dreams.
Need some inspiration? Come with me on the You Tube journey I took yesterday.
First, I somehow happened upon the Vlog Brothers. John is an author of Young Adult fiction (and I want to go read his books now). Hank is... um, I haven't fully figured that out yet. He does web stuff and music stuff, I think. Remember- I'm new to all of this. Anyway, they started this "movement" called Nerdfighters. Basically, it's people who identify with being a nerd on any level who work together to fight WorldSuck- anything that sucks in the world.
I spent a good amount of time on their page, watching videos and fascinated by the speedy dialogue. Because of Hank and John and their awesomeness, I found some really cool things. First, Ze Frank. I feel like an internet newbie for not knowing who this guy is. He does lots of way cool projects- well, he did. I guess he kinda owned the internet for a while and then went pro with representation and such. I have no clue what he's doing these days. But I watched an 18 minute long TED Talk he gave and loved it because it totally captured how I feel about my little bit of blogging- it's all about the connections. He did some projects that made the connections pretty major- and majorly fun.
Today, I spent a little more time obsessing over the Vlog Brothers (turns out John lives in Indy...) and started visiting the YouTube channels they suggest. And I came across The Uncultured Project and a video in which Nerdfighters around the world supported this guy's project (The Uncultured Project) to help a community in Bangladesh that had been broken down by the Cyclone in 2007.
The guy who started UP is... just a guy. He heasn't started a foundation or charity. He's just out there, making a difference, and using social networking to rally support and share experience. Just one guy. Connecting with lots of other people. And making a huge difference. "I'm gonna build a mountain..."
Christy and I have been running together for the past few weeks. We're working on just being better runners as we gear up for the first of the training races that prep us for the half marathon in May. We do a 5K in Feb, 10K in Mar, and 15K in Apr. We've been using the Couch to 5K workouts but not following the weekly guide- just using the workouts and building through them each day. I have a Couch to 5K app on my phone that gives an audible cue for each change- hear the cue, run, hear the cue, walk, hear the cue, run. It's great because you don't have to worry about the time or use a stop watch or anything else.
I wear a running belt and keep the sound on and at full volume so we can both hear the "ding!" and change our pace. We've gotten so used to responding to the phone making a noise that we actually changed pace, for just a second, when an e-mail notification came in. It got me wondering... what else can I train myself to do or not do with that sort of methodology?
Ding! Make a bed!
Ding! Do the dishes!
Ding! Pay a bill!
Ding! Eat broccoli!
If you could train yourself, what change would you make? What will you do with the ding?
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
So I stayed up until almost 11- which is too late for me. I was crashing hard by the end of the evening. I wasn't feel real hot anyway so I think I was literally falling asleep as I went up the stairs and barely made it to the bed before it was lights out. Woke up feeling more cruddy. Best way to describe it is that I just feel raw. My eyes feel raw, my throat feels raw, my nose feels raw. I'm not stuffy or sneezy. I'm raw. And tired. My coffee is the best thing ever. I'm trying to convince myself to go eat some breakfast. My day is packed full of meetings and conference calls. I'll be chained from my desk starting at 8:30 with no reprieve until 11:30. Rush out to get my run in with Christy and then rush back for another meeting at 1 and an overlapping meeting at 1:30.
So I'm just not 100% today. I'm not ready to say I'm sick- but I'll admit to fighting some sort of bug. Time to crack open the Airborne. The whole family has the same crud going on. Since I can't give you any brilliance today, I'll try to find something entertaining for you instead:
I might have more to share on my Facebook page today so feel free to check it out and "Like" it if you haven't already.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Not just the getting through, but the attitude you have while getting through.
For the most part, I think that most hard times generally just magnify our character. It's like alcohol- if you're an angry person, you're an angrier drunk. If you are someone who lives your life filled with hate and anger, that is going to brew up even more when you are going through hard times.
Most everyone knows someone like that... no matter what you say to them, they turn it into a negative. You give a compliment and they use it to remind you- and themselves- of how bad life is for them.
This post isn't about living your life filled with love vs hate, though.
Instead, I had an interesting experience in regards to interacting with someone filled with anger and hate and despair.
Generally, when I hear about someone who acts on anger against others, I get angry. Fred Phelps comes to mind- the guy who gets his followers all riled up and they protest outside of the funerals of soldiers as an act to speak out against homosexuality. That guy- gets me angry in some deep ways. He uses his hate and anger to hurt others.
But I came across someone who is living with despair and hurt and anger and isn't intending to hurt others but those things inside are like a cancer, eating up the healthy and happy and content parts of him that I hope do reside there. And even though I knew that he had said things that left me angry... even though I'd heard for myself the negativity...
I had a very different reaction and it took me by surprise.
Usually, I want to avoid those people. Usually, I have pretty negative thoughts about someone that I see as choosing to be hate filled.
This time... even though he used words that make me cringe and make my heart hurt, even though he gave solid evidence that he is filled with darkness inside... something was different inside me.
I want this person to feel love from the inside out. I wonder if he's ever really felt that before. Because it's the best and most freeing and fantastic feeling in the entire world- knowing you are loved in ways that are indescribable. Loving yourself, accepting love from a higher power, being loved by friends and family around you. Accepting love in its purest form.
How about you? Do you feel loved?
Sunday, January 23, 2011
But there was something powerful that I came away with that I hadn't expected. I expected that there would be a sense of comfort and security with a group of women as we sought inspiration based in faith. I expected to feel refreshed when it was all over. That was true.
But there was more.
For myself and my own personal reflections, I found the resolve to be braver when I feel called to share something with someone. Sometimes, I feel like I won't come across as genuine or people will misunderstand my intentions. Sometimes, I feel like putting myself out there will make someone else uncomfortable. So I don't always listen or I brush it off. I know better. This was just a reminder to keep on with it.
The unexpected part... was the bonding.
The main thing was at a table with 4 other women. 2 have teenagers, 1 has 3 kids age 11 and younger, 1 has a toddler with another on the way, and I have my 2 kids. Some of the talk came around to the stresses of motherhood. It's hard work, being a mom. We have these images in our heads, taught to us, things we remember about our own mothers, what we see on TV, the pressure we think we feel or completely feel from our spouses, the societal pressure to stay home and raise kids or go out and have a career. If you stay home, there's this pressure to be Suzy Homemaker and keep the house clean, the kids tidy, the kitchen busy, the husband happy, the children behaved. If you have a career, there's this pressure to be perfectly balanced, to not let your home life impact your work performance, to divide yourself between boss, co-workers, kids, husband, and any other commitments you make. When the kids are little, they need you too much and they make it known. When the kids are older, they still need you but have no idea how much.
The younger mothers took wisdom given by the more experienced moms at the table. We all supported each other. We shared our stress, being overwhelmed, trying to find our way back to feeling like ourselves. I, of course, shared my "big secret" of not being a housekeeper in any sense of the word. And I shared it with pride. My house is messy- but it's how I get to spend time with my kids and husband. We talked about the difficulty of doing what we feel called to do for our church, for God, but feeling this responsibility to our children that doesn't always seem to mesh.
I got to share with someone that she'd had a bigger impact on my church involvement than she realized.
Do you ever hang on to compliments or encouragement? you know... something random or nice that someone has said to you? Maybe it was just a regular comment to them, but it really stayed with you and made a difference to you?
I had just recently joined Music Team and it was just my first or second Sunday singing with the group. I was still kind of unsure about my role and what Music Team is all about. (We aren't a "choir." We help lead worship and are part of the Praise Band.) Church was over and I was heading back to the classrooms to collect the kids. One of the women who was in my group on this weekend's retreat was back there. She and her husband stopped me and said, "It's really great to see you up there with Music Team!" I have to say- those words really defined my involvement for me. I suddenly understood what it meant to be up there and that I had made some sort of impact on someone.
I was able to share that experience and what it meant with that woman this weekend- through lots of tears for both of us.
So what I came out of this whole thing with was the lesson that you never know how, when, or why you've made a difference in someone's life. And that's why it's so important to listen to that gut instinct, those urges, that voice inside your head. For you, it might just be how your mind works that you think of someone or offer to help or approach a stranger. For me, when I hear that nudge to reach out, it's an opportunity that God is giving me to connect to someone. I don't know if it means I'm going to make a difference in their life or if it means they're going to make a difference in mine- and I suppose that part doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.
And now I have new friends. In church this morning, I was greeted with smiles and hugs from women who also participated in the retreat. The greetings were normal- but a bit more bold and intentional and warm. The connections made with women I hadn't known well were acknowledged with joy.
I've already signed up for my next experience- a much larger gathering called Women of Faith that will happen here in Indy in August. And I'm already making a list of projects that I'm making every effort not to ignore as my brain gets nudged around.
This weekend, I spent valuable time with my church family- my church sisters. I connected with women that I see at least once a week, sometimes more. I bonded, I cried, I laughed, I prayed, I sang, I ate really good food (homemade cinnamon rolls, chicken pot pie- all food made by our men's group).
I walked away with more than I expected. I connected with women that I can call my friends, my sisters. I affirmed the strength of some of the relationships I already felt good about. I've got a small group that I know I can turn to and that I hope they know they can turn to me when life gets tough or there's been a bad day.
I can't wait for next year!
Friday, January 21, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
It's a hard question to answer because I don't think it's the same for everyone. But here's how it worked for me. The first thing was that I had to really confront what happened head on. I couldn't just bundle it up into an "I was abused" package and move on from there. I had a lot of repressed memories and I had a lot of memories I just didn't want to acknowledge as being real. I had to bring those memories to the surface and face them head on and accept that they happened to me, they were real, and I wasn't just making things up. That was some of the hardest work I did. Facing those memories meant flashbacks at times, lots of tears, stomach aches, heartache. Thankfully, I was in a very safe place to be able to work through them since I was in a locked down unit of a hospital. When I agreed to go into the hospital program, I was serious about changing my life. I was serious about doing the work. I didn't know how hard it would be- but I knew I'd survived it once and would survive it again.
The next step was forgiveness. First, I had to forgive myself. Not because I bore any responsibility- but because I needed to recognize that I bore no responsibility. For me, forgiveness of self was my way of accepting that I was innocent and that I hadn't asked for it. It was how I came to terms with what had been done TO me.
Next, I forgave the people who were in my life in my childhood. Teachers, my parents, my family, my friends, people at church. All the adults in my life that I had hoped would know something was wrong. For a lot of reasons, I never told. For a lot of reasons, I didn't attempt to bring in an adult to save me. I wasn't angry with those adults in my life, but I needed to forgive them and recognize that there interactions with me as a damaged child were still filled with love and good intention.
It was hardest to forgive my abuser. But it was the most necessary. If I didn't forgive him, I would hold on to the bitterness and anger and hurt that he had chosen for me. If I didn't forgive him, the pain and damage he'd caused would continue to live inside of me. Forgiving him was my way of releasing him from me, taking back control of my head and heart.
But how do you forgive? That's where my faith comes in. My relationship with God was such a huge part of my healing. I suppose different people have slightly different understandings of forgiveness based on their life experience or faith foundation. I like the Wikipedia definition: Forgiveness is typically defined as the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake, and/or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution. Concluding resentment, indignation or anger. That says it for me exactly. I had to stop the ugliness that continued to grow and fester and brew inside myself. I was ruining my own life with the choices I was making because of how much that anger, resentment, rage, sadness, guilt, shame, ugliness was eating me up inside. My bad and hurtful choices were a way of letting some of that inside ugliness show itself. The only way to live an authentic, genuine, loving life would be to get rid of the ugliness inside of me. Trying to let it out in little leaks didn't work- and only caused more pain and hurt around me and inside of me.
To become who I was meant to be, the ugly had to vacate the premises. The ugly wasn't my fault- but I had to forgive myself. The ugly wasn't the fault of the adults in my childhood- but I had to forgive them. The ugly was completely the fault of my abuser- and to conclude the ugly inside of me, I had to forgive him. It didn't happen overnight. It didn't happen in the 2 weeks that I was inpatient or in the months that I was outpatient in the hospital. It happened in little steps and stages over the course of several years.
Maybe you're a survivor, too. Maybe you have done some of the steps already- maybe you've confronted what was done to you, what you survived. Are you ready to start forgiving? Are you ready to start concluding? It's a big step and it can feel so scary- I was so used to the ugly inside that not having it was terrifying. I spent years scared to death of life being good because it could only mean that something terrible was about to happen. It's taken almost 2 decades to get to a point where I truly know I can handle the bad stuff and that it's just part of life and I'm not looking for it at every corner.
And you can't do it alone. For me, it took God, my parents, professionals, a therapist, and some important friends. I was the one doing the hard work. But if I tried to do it by myself, I would have failed over and over again. God held me in the most difficult times of my healing. Whenever I thought I felt the most afraid, the most alone, I would pray and open myself up to His love and grace and realize that He was with me- not only at that moment but also when things were happening in my childhood and that He cried with me. I had my parents by my side- paying my hospital bills, coming to family therapy, hearing what I was willing to stop protecting them from. I had friends and teachers who sent me cards, talked to me on the phone to keep my spirits up, came to visit.
There are resources out there to help you. Contact your local United Way, your church, or seek out a non-profit in your area that helps. Talk to a trusted friend or family member. Talk until someone listens. Healing is hard. But it can happen and you can live your own authentic, genuine, regular life. You deserve it and can have it.
Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it. -- Helen Keller
Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future. -- Lewis B. Smedes
Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn't you - all of the expectations, all of the beliefs - and becoming who you are. -- Rachel Naomi Remen
There is something beautiful about all scars of whatever nature. A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed and healed, done with. -- Harry Crews
Our sorrows and wounds are healed only when we touch them with compassion. -- Buddha
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
So I'm going to come clean and tell you about high school for me and why my senior year was so wonky. Some basic points you need to know going into this. And a fair warning- this is an intense and serious post.
1. I was born in CA, grew up in KY, moved to OH. I attended 4 different schools- elementary in KY, junior high on one side of town in Cincinnati and high school on another side of town in Cincy.
2. I am a survivor of sexual abuse. It lasted about 5-6 years and happened regularly and was at the hands of an older male cousin (by older, I mean I think he was entering adolescence when he started molesting me). Lots of really bad stuff was done to me. Lots. It ended because we moved away. I kept it a secret from my family the entire time it was going on and for several years afterwards.
3. I am very open about my childhood and growing up experiences and such. But I see no purpose in laying out horrific details on a blog. If you want to know more or if you are dealing with abuse issues of your own, please e-mail me and we can talk privately.
In junior high, I had a great group of friends. I forget what all the groups in junior high were called- preppies and what not. I forget what my group was thought to be... but we weren't what they said we were. We were good kids and many of us came from harder situations in life. I didn't yet know what my damage actually was- I just knew I wasn't all pretty in pink lip gloss and tied up with a shiny preppy bow. We didn't cause trouble or party in those days- but people thought we did. My grades were a big issue, too. I wasn't reaching my full potential, I was smart but not applying myself. My parents decided I had to make a change because I was just going to get lost in the public high school. I had an algebra teacher who didn't reach me in terms of math but her belief in me has stayed with me a long time- she encouraged my parents to move me into the private system so I could blossom.
I was very much part of the selection process for my new school. I ended up choosing a private school that was small, full of smart kids, full of rich kids, had no religious affiliation, and didn't have uniforms or anything. I still have a lot of very fond feelings towards my school and the environment it offered and the experiences I had there. I made some great friends who stood by me through some very hard times and some of those relationships have remained through the years and some have been reconnected to thanks to Facebook. The only problem was that I had abandoned my friends from junior high over the summer since I knew I was changing schools. And all my new friends lived on the other side of town (my school was a 30 minute drive each way and most of the kids lived closer to the school and definitely on the other side of town from me). I didn't have much of a social group at first. I had friends- but only at school.
Then I started working at McDonald's and I started hanging out with a different church youth group and I started connecting in to social groups on my side of town. I primarily hung out with kids from a local set of Catholic high schools (one for girls, one for boys). I dated boys from that school, eventually dated boys from the public school I would have gone to if I hadn't changed schools. I knew that I was a messed up kid but I wasn't ever sure why. My memories of my childhood were sketchy at best- lots of holes. I had an idea that something had maybe happened to me but I always brushed it off and figured my issues were just tied in to being raised by a single mom and we struggled financially.
Junior year starts up. And life took a huge change in direction. My past couldn't be ignored anymore. I knew it was all bubbling up. My behavior was getting worse and worse. I was working so hard to push people away from me. I wanted my outsides to match my insides so I would be mean and hateful and steal from the people who loved me most- my parents. I didn't feel like I deserved that kind of love so I worked hard to make them stop. Thankfully, they never stopped.
Middle of junior year, in the midst of a flurry of fast and furious dating, I was set up on a blind date by a friend. We doubled. Went for pizza, to a park, and then back to the house of one of the guys to watch a movie. I still remember the movie- "Glory." My date wouldn't keep his hands off of me. I was ok when we sat together on a love seat and even when we cuddled. But then he started sticking his hands down my pants and up my shirt. I pushed his hands away and told him to knock it off but he wouldn't stop. My friend and her boyfriend were close by, thankfully. I have no idea what would have happened if they hadn't been there. I loudly proclaimed that I had to use the bathroom and I rushed upstairs, looked in the mirror, and a huge flood of memories slammed into my body and brain- all of the things that my cousin had done to me were flying through my memory in that bathroom. I threw up. A few times. I went downstairs and told them I was sick, had thrown up, and needed to go home right away.
The following Monday, I went to my school's guidance counselor and told her what had happened. By this time, my memory had clamped down again and all I could remember was that my cousin had touched me and it had happened more than once. And I knew that there was more to it and I couldn't remember. She encouraged me to talk to my parents, to keep talking to her. She did and said all the right things. When I got home from school that day, I immediately told my mom what had happened and she immediately believed me. I started into therapy. This was pretty common, actually, in my school. Seemed loads of peeps had therapists but I didn't know what for or why.
After a year of weekly meetings with my therapist, we aren't getting anywhere. I can tell you that I did that as a defense mechanism. I talked about dumb stuff that was typical teen complaints and not about the stuff I really needed to get out. Everything came to a head over Christmas break my senior year. I got into a huge fight with my parents and moved out. I moved in with my then-boyfriend's brother and sister-in-law. After a week or so, my guidance counselor and parents and I met together to discuss how to get me back home. New rules were made and I did move back. But it was an obvious cry for help. A team meeting was held- without my knowledge. It was clear to the adults who loved me and the professionals trying to help me that I was in a more dire situation and needed more intense help. Plans were made for me to be admitted to an adolescent psych unit at a local hospital. I was 18, so if I would just agree, admittance would be smooth.
My parents picked me up from school. I remember them telling me there had been a meeting. And what the recommendation was. And I remember there being this huge sense of guilt, shame, and relief sweeping over me. I cried and said "yes" to the offer of help immediately. This was near the final quarter of my senior year of high school. I remember over my 4 years there that there always seemed to be a kid who was labeled as "crazy." Someone who had gone away for a year and rumors swirled about that they'd tried to kill their parents. Talk of eating disorders and cutters and suicide attempts made it sound really shameful to have problems. Then, senior year, I up and get locked into a hospital. I can only imagine what the talk was. I can only imagine if my absence even left an impression on the minds of those kids I had come to know.
So I was inpatient at this hospital for around 2 weeks and then went into the full day outpatient program. I did eventually get to transition back into school for the end of the most important year of high school but everything felt odd to me by then. I was going through some seriously intense shit and dealing with some seriously nasty demons and hearing people complain about the senior lounge or a fight over curfew just felt so hollow to me.
I stayed outpatient through most of the summer. I had to change my college plans. I had intended to go to Concordia University near Chicago and major in Lutheran Education. I had reconnected with a friend from several years ago and we were going to be roomies and everything. But then the hospitalization happened. Thankfully, I had to dump the college plan before she had a chance to dump me as her roomie. We looked at a school that had been on my list that would only be an hour or so from home. But that felt too risky for freshman year when all of this healing process was still so fresh and raw. So we decided on a local university that had smaller classes, offered a liberal arts education, and was close to my therapist and support network. I lived on campus and saw my therapist twice a week for a while. I ended up with a tight little group of friends who were amazingly understanding and compassionate about my story and helped me tremendously in terms of moral support and also the logistics of getting to my appointments.
And as the years went by and my life moved forward, I eventually stopped needing to see my therapist. I forgave- him. I forgave- myself. There is a part of me that really regrets not having a normal senior year. I wish that prom had been what we all want our senior proms to be. I wish that I had memories of cramming for those last finals and scrambling to write papers and having tear filled moments with friends in the final days. But I was doing something far more important at that time- I was finding pieces of me and gluing them into place as best I could.
Life happens the way it does for a reason. I wish I had the words that could adequately describe how good my life is and why the normality of it all is such a blessing. When I say that I have grown out of chaos and confusion and pain... I truly have. I've survived hell. And I'm a pretty awesome person who does a lot of very awesome things. It meant being The Crazy Girl my senior year... but it means that I am Me now.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
For a 5 and 3 year old, it really doesn't take much to fall into that category.
Jeff had to work late last night. We never made it to the grocery store over the weekend so we didn't actually have anything to eat in the house aside from frozen veggies and bags of flavored rice. Jeff had eaten the hold out frozen pizza last week. I didn't want to take the time to go to the grocery store without feeding the kids first- that's a recipe for disaster. Zach's behavior in restaurants lately has been pretty bad so me taking both kids by myself didn't feel like a good option. Fast food just didn't sound appealing in the slightest.
The kids start asking about dinner as soon as we get in the car when the idea hits and I announce...
We're having POPCORN for DINNER!!!!
I was met with cheers and applause!! We got home and got out the popcorn popper and oil and popcorn. The kids got their step stools. Zach helped pour the oil, Teagan helped measure the corn. We flipped on the machine and waited for the pop show to start. I filled bowls with popcorn- disappointed that I couldn't find our special popcorn bowls. Got out the popcorn seasonings- cheddar cheese and ranch. The kids wanted both seasonings on their popcorn so we went hog wild sprinkling them on. Then we sat around in the living room and watched Wonder Pets, happily munching on our whole grain dinner.
Something simple, something different, something fun and it made for one of the best Monday nights I've ever had.
Monday, January 17, 2011
I was... stunned. Not the question I was expecting as she came out of the bathroom. I asked her what she already knew about him. She knew that they don't have school on Monday and she knew that her teacher said he was Special Man who did Important Things.
I gave it my best shot. I said, "Martin Luther King was a preacher- like Pastor Rusty. He was alive a long time ago and was a leader during the Civil Rights Movement. People were fighting for something called civil rights- that means that we all treat each other fairly and with respect no matter what someone looks like or where they come from. Dr. King was important because he taught people to be peaceful. There were people who weren't being treated fairly and they wanted to get into fights about it but Dr. King wanted them to be kind and purposeful in their choices."
Saturday, we went to the library to see what we could learn about Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement. We read a book (Riding to Washington) about a little white girl from Indianapolis who goes with her father to Washington with a lot of her dad's co-workers who were black. In reading the book, I had to explain to Teagan that it used to be that people with brown skin weren't treated the same as people with peach skin like ours. They weren't allowed to use the same bathrooms or water fountains or eat in the same restaurants or go to the same schools. We found some other books- one on Coretta Scott King and one on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. We found a picture book (Back of the Bus) that tells the story of Rosa Parks from the perspective of a school age boy who was on the bus with his mother.
Sometimes, I choked up reading those books. My eyes got misty as I sang "We Shall Overcome." Partially because of the power of it and partially because the meaning is lost on her at this time in her life and I see that as a blessing.
I feel like I've opened Pandora's Box. Skin color has never been a discussion before. And the unfair treatment of people with brown skin in our country's history hasn't been discussed before. I've waited for questions about why this girl or this boy at school or at church looks different but it's never come up. But the questions are coming now. Why did people with brown skin have to sit in the back of the bus? Did grandma have brown skin when she was a little girl? Was Rosa Parks' skin brown or peach? Who shot Dr. King? Can I go to Morehouse like he did? How come kids with brown skin couldn't go to the same school as kids with skin like ours?
Those are hard questions to answer. And while I wasn't prepared for this to happen right now... I'm glad it did. And I'm glad my daughter wants to learn more and know more and maybe someday do more. I'm glad she's asking me questions and trying to figure out why a little girl with a white mom and a black dad doesn't have brown or peach skin but something in between. I'm glad she's noticing that people are different and also learning that we all deserve to be treated the same. And more than that- we should be treating everyone with love, respect, and fairness as our foundation.
This year, we are really celebrating the life of Dr. King. I'm proud of my daughter for asking about who he was and I'm glad we had the opportunity to go to the library and learn together. I'm proud of her for being able to ask questions that might feel strange or uncomfortable to ask.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Thanks to an extra entry of writing a blog post about the successes of a best friend... the winner is... C. Beth of C. Beth Blog!!
Congratulations, Beth! Drop me an e-mail with your mailing address and I will get this shipped out to you next weekend!
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Prior to going to school, birthday parties for friends wasn't ever a thing we worried about. The pre-4 or 5 year old set didn't so much do birthday parties. We kept our gatherings relatively small- immediately family and close friends, dinner out, cake, presents. We did decide to do Teagan's first friend party when she turned 5 last year. And she's been invited to countless parties for school friends ever since.
The first struggle when accepting an invite... what kind of gift do you buy? How much do you spend? I like the plan we've come up with. It takes a lot of the stress off of me and it's great for Teagan because she feels like she's a really important part of the process. Plus, she's learning to tune in to other people. For the week leading up to the party, I ask her to pay attention to what that child really likes at school. What play center do they like best? What characters do they talk about most? What movies or TV shows do you know they like? Then we take that info and decide on a gift from there. Teagan really likes art so we tend to favor buying coloring books and new crayons or markers or a cool craft kit. Gift issue settled.
Next struggle... what about Zach? He's only 3 and the kids in his class aren't doing the friend party thing yet (thank goodness). So he has to sit and watch as Big Sis gets to go off and have fun without him. For the most part, we have this one solved. One parent takes Big Sis to the party and the other has a special date with Zach- we've taken him to Conner Prairie, out for ice cream, or to the library. This last party was a little harder for him because it was a party for the big sister of one of his classmates that he's good friends with. Teagan is good friends with A and Zach is good friends with A's little sister. So it was a little harder for him this time because he understood who the people involved were.
We are very excited for today because BOTH kids were invited to a little girl's party! This part I love best of all. And it's made me realize that when we have a friend party for one kid or the other, letting the sibling invite a friend of their own is important.
Next struggle... Teagan has that independent side to her that we love (even when it frustrates us). A few parties ago, she started asking me to leave the party. She didn't want to have a parent hovering over her. The first time, it was perfect because it was at this amazing fitness center so I stayed with the group while they were in the pool (Teagan's not a swimmer) but when they went to open gym time, I headed to the little cafe and had a sandwich and read the paper with my feet up! Another time, it worked out perfectly because Jeff was out of town or had to work or soemthing so I had both kids. Dropping her off and coming back to get her worked out well because I needed to be with Zach while she partied down. I have to say, though, that I always check with the parents and make sure they have my cell number. I also make sure I'm aware of what other parents I know are there so I have someone I can be in touch with if needed. I've been at parties where a kid gets sick and no one has a way of reaching a parent who has left and it's a hard situation.
Next struggle... and this is the one I wrestle with the most... Teagan had that friend party last year. I had kind of set it in my head that we wouldn't be doing friend parties every year. That we would save the friend parties for "big" birthdays like 5 and 8 and 10 and 13 and 16 or something. But... Teagan has been going to lots of friend parties for her classmates this year and I know she's kind of expecting to have something similar for her birthday in a couple of months. Now is the time to start planning. I do not want to set some sort of precedent that we will be inviting 10 or 20 kids to a birthday party every year. So I'm trying to think of a smaller party we can do with just a couple of her closest friends and making sure she understand that we only get to do something special like this if she doesn't talk about it at school so that kids who aren't invited get their feelings hurt.
But I'm kind of stumped for ideas on what a smaller party would be- so please feel free to share ideas! And now that Zach is in school, when is he going to start getting invited to parties? Can we hold out for a friend party until he turns 5? What kind of message am I sending him if he gets to invite 1 friend to Teagan's birthday? Share with me, please, your favorite parties you've had for your kids or heard about. Share your own birthday party memories. And help me navigate through all the politics of invites and gifts and siblings!
Friday, January 14, 2011
First, today is the last day to enter my giveaway! One of my best friends, Jim McCann, writes for Marvel. He wrote a very cool graphic novel (it was seriously on tons of amazing lists of must buy and must watch). I have a copy of the book that has been signed by Jim and by the artist, Janet Lee. Read this post for details of how to enter- entries close tonight at 8:00 pm EST!
My friend Joanie gave me a blog award! Joanie is one of the first people I connected with when I started blogging. She's been through the wringer in the past few years but has an amazing sense of humor and love of life! There are rules- answer questions, pass it along, that sort of thing. The best part is that this is a "Life Is Good" award and there is no better time to realize how good life is than on a feel good friday, right? I could nominate people for the award- like our lovely meme hosts (Mrs4444 and The Girl- links in buttons at end of post)- but what I'd really love is for anyone who recognizes that Life Is Good to take the award for themselves and share it on their blogs and leave a link in the comments. I want to know how GOOD YOUR LIFE is!!
1. If you blog anonymously, are you happy doing this? If you aren't anonymous, do you wish you started out anonymously, so that you could be anonymous now? I don't blog anonymously and I have no intention or desire to do so. I'm pretty big on living authentically so anything I want to say to friends, family and strangers online is generally stuff I'm ok with saying face to face, too!
2. Describe an incident that shows your inner stubborn side. I started running and am still going almost a year later. Given how much I hated running my entire life up until the end of Feb 2010, I'd say this is a sign of stubborness!
3. What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror? I see me! And it depends on the day and the mirror. At home, I see the eyebrows that I want to pluck and I see that I look tired or have something in my teeth. At the gym, I see the muscles I didn't have a month ago or a curve to my waist that's new. Sometimes, usually once a month (if you get my drift), a mirror makes me aware of the fat I still want to burn off from my body. But it isn't a normal thing for me to look in a mirror and evaluate my appearance.
4. What is your favourite summer cold drink? I tend to stick with water, the same as the rest of the year. For a grown up drink, I did discover a surprising love of sweeter wines in the summer time. Muscat canelli and a fleur de peche were top of the list for me.
5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do? Go out with friends or a date with my husband, read, exercise.
6. Is there something that you still want to accomplish in your life? I'm staying focused on my next accomplishment- running a half marathon in May. Beyond that, I'll just wait and see where my path leads!
7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever, the shy person, or always ditching? Part of me thinks my last impression left at high school was that I was the crazy girl because of how my senior year went (that is a long story for another day). I think I identify a lot with Lindsay from Freak and Geeks- I didn't necessarily fit in with any group but I had friends in lots of groups. My school was small and I had a tight group of friends there. But I lived on the other side of town so I wasn't social with anyone from school, my social and dating group was the local school district kids and they were often perceived as a wilder bunch.
8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life, what would you see? There are so many!! The moment before we opened the chapel door to walk down the aisle together... the moment Jeff cried when he called his dad to tell him we ha dmiscarried our first pregnancy... the moment of birth for each of my children.
9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog, or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people and events? Hahahahaha! I don't think I even need to answer that one! I pretty much totally put myself out here, don't I?
10. If you had the choice to sit down and read a book or talk on the phone, which would you do and why? Read. I'm really not much of a phone talker.
And I'm counting those lovely questions as my fragments for the week! Hey- if there is anything you want to know about me, leave a comment and I'll get you an answer! And please let me know if you decide to grab the award- I want to come and learn about you!
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Jeff couldn't go get him- he's on special install projects all week. So I gathered up my stuff- bringing my laptop home since I knew I'd most likely have to stay home the next day. Called Christy and told her we had to go right away and off we went. I know I wasn't much fun on the drive home and am thankful to have a friend who understands. My mind was racing. Jeff is the one who deals with puke. He can handle clean up without a problem but I... gag. And sometimes puke. It's not good.
I get Christy home and I get to the school. He'd thrown up 3 times in an hour and was basically throwing up any time he moved. I got him some water and had him hang out in the bathroom for a few minutes while I managed the logistics. I kind of hoped he'd puke in the bathroom- to lessen the chances of an incident in the car. He bravely held the double bagged plastic grocery bag in his lap, near his face. Every cough... I was on the verge of panic. I even drove with my flashers on in case I had to pull over quickly. But we arrived home without incident. Every time he coughs, he thinks he's going to puke. I stationed him in the bathroom and got the bedroom set up as base camp.
He puked at what I assume would have been an hour after the 3rd vomit at school. He puked about half an hour later. As of this writing, he's kept water down for 2 hours. I'm hoping it's a good sign that he got the ickies out with that first hour.
And even when he's feeling cruddy, he still manages to have a little fun and be my Zappy. In the car, he'd stick his face down in the plastic bag and then peek up at me in my rearview mirror, give a little half hearted cough, and grin at me- "Just a cough!" he'd say brightly. At home, we have a red plastic bucket we keep bedside for puking kids. At one point, hanging over the edge of his bed, face in the bucket, coughing and waiting to see if he was going to barf, he started talking into the bucket. Then he started singing into the bucket. And the singing even led to a little booty shaking. No puke with that one- but I giggled a lot!
My hope is that the puke is done and that he will want to be restful at home on Thursday. I'm actually in the middle of a detail focused and data entry intensive project for work that I've been enjoying working on and I'd like to get some of it knocked out from home.
Part of me wishes that my kids would never get sick, of course. But I have to admit that I kind of like a sick day here and there. I have memories of being sick and my mom taking care of me. I remember the specific blankets that covered my feverish body when I had the flu. I remember my mom playing rummy with me. I remember the couch I slept on. I remember the food my mom would slowly let me start trying as I recovered from a nasty stomach bug. And I remember the first time I had a stomach flu and spent most of the night puking in the bathroom but was old enough to not need my mom by my side so I didn't call for her.
So sick kids is a no fun way to spend the day. But there will be memories and lessons in caretaking that happen- like the red bucket, the laptop set up on a chair beside the bed for movie watching, the specific blankets, and Mommy and Daddy's feel better forehead kisses.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Then 2010 happened and I started my journey to become a runner. And I had some successes and I had some struggles. Lately, the struggles have been very mental. I think that's the hardest thing about running.
Racing is one thing but I'm pretty sure the majority of folks who show up for a 5K on a Saturday morning aren't there to be first across the finish line. Running is a sport that's about personal records and pushing through mental hurdles and physical annoyances.
I came back from Christmas break to work and a co-worker, who has started up a weight loss plan, came to me, very proud, and announced that he knows he's doing better because he can just run a mile without even thinking about it now. He has been out of shape and not exercising and hasn't run in years and years but can suddenly just up and run a mile in 10 minutes or less. I can't even run an entire mile without a walk break and I've been at this for almost a year.
So I've got this mental defeatist battle going on in my head.
On the one hand, I'm too fat to run. On the other hand, my weight is a hindrance and when I get lighter, I'll run better.
On the one hand, I can't run a significant distance without a walk break. On the other hand, I'm building my endurance again and my recovery breaks are more effective and shorter.
On the one hand, I see fat when I look in the mirror and I see it in a negative way that I've not experienced before. On the other hand, I am down 2 or 3 pants sizes and that hasn't changed.
It's an ongoing battle. I was reading my friend Emily's blog a few days ago and she mentioned John Bingham and "the penguin." My interest was sparked... I remembered my friend Christine... and I went to John's website to check it out.
I'm a penguin.
I will never come in first in a race. In fact, I am pretty steady at being in the back part of the pack. I might not ever run a 10 minute mile. I might not get to a 13 minute mile. Maybe I can't run an entire mile. But I will. It might take me a long time to get to that point. And all of that is ok. Because I'm a penguin. I run... to run. I've gotten caught up lately in comparing myself to others too much. I'm getting too concerned about Christy being better than me or Robert being better than me or Emily being better than me... and I'm not focused on ME being better than me.
Actually, I need to completely get rid of the idea of being better than anything. I need to focus on each run as it starts and proceeds and ends. I will have good runs and bad runs. And if I get caught up in this better than that... I'm just going to defeat myself.
Slow mileage is better than no mileage. I'm slow. I know. Getter over it. The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.
I am a penguin. I waddle. I'm slow. But I'm doing it. I'm out there, running. Sometimes I walk, sometimes I shuffle, sometimes I run.
I am a penguin. And proud of it.
Monday, January 10, 2011
Sunday, January 9, 2011
So instead- and since I've already shared a lot on this blog about Jim- I'm just going to jump right into a giveaway!! If you do a Google Search for "Return of the Dapper Men," you can read a lot of rave reviews. Jim's graphic novel made it onto some really exciting lists of gift ideas, best ofs, and must watches. You can check out the fan page on Facebook and read oodles of links that tell you lots of awesome things about the graphic novel- raves about the story and the art. I'm not a reader of comics or graphic novels. I never got into that genre- I have no problem with it, just never grabbed my attention. I was concerned that my lack of experience with this art form would keep me from fully "getting" the book. But I got it and I enjoyed it and I want to share it with YOU! This is an autographed copy. It's been signed by Jim McCann and by artist Janet Lee.
Here are all the ways you can enter:
1. Leave a comment on this post andswering the question: Which would you be if the world was only children and robots? (good for 1 entry).
2. Follow my blog (leave a comment on this post stating that you've just followed or are already a follower- 1 entry).
3. Go to my Eternal Lizdom Facebook page and share a pic of you in your best Dapper ensemble. (leave a comment on this post for 3 entries).
4. Write a blog entry (or Facebook note) about: a) comic books & you b) being dapper or c) your best friend and their successes (share the link as a comment to this post for 5 entries- also, please include a link to my blog (or Facebook page) and the Dapper Men Facebook page in your post/note). All entries must be in by Friday, January 14 at 8:oo PM EST. The winner will be selected and announced no later than Saturday, January 15, noon EST.
Good luck and please share this giveaway with any friends who are comic fans, Jim McCann fans, graphic novel fans, fairy tale fans, etc.
Friday, January 7, 2011
This time, I do want to have a better record of what I do and how I'm feeling about it.
Food as Fuel My diet has been pretty good this week. Not perfect. But pretty good. I've eaten things like cottage cheese, unsweetened applesauce, whole wheat english muffin with almond butter or nutella, grapefruit, cantaloupe, turkey burgers, salad, broccoli slaw, spaghetti squash, coffee with creamer, popcorn, animal crackers, Vitatop vitamin muffin, green beans, chicken. My indulgences were pizza at church on Wednesday and a couple pieces of candy in a moment of weakness on Tuesday night. Need to improve: The night time snacking is my biggest struggle right now. Once the kids go to bed, I want to mindlessly eat. I've turned to popcorn most nights and I'm ok with that as a choice. I just want to work through the behavior so that I only snack occassionally and only eat if I'm actually hungry.
Consistent, Daily Activity I've been to the gym every day this week. I have a spreadsheet I'm keeping of my workouts- I have a schedule to help me feel stronger in a 5K and to do the training required for preparing to run 13.1 miles in May. On Monday, I did the first Couch to 5K workout. I felt pretty strong throughout but was getting tired by the end. There was definite improvement from my first time doing it- I went 2 miles with the workout this time and I know I was a lot slower a year ago. Tuesday was Boot Camp. A typical class might be just me and Christy. Tuesday, we had 8 people there! It was great! We did a circuit training thing that had stations you went to- things like step ups with weights, chest press, wall sits, cardio work. Wednesday I did the Couch to 5K week 2 workout. The only reason why I'm not doing the plan as it is laid out is because I already have gone through the program, I'm already running consistenly, and I'm short on time. Week 2 workout was a bit more of a challenge by the end and I'm debating repeating it once before moving on to week 3. I'll decide when I get to the gym, most likely. Thursday was Boot Camp- fewer people this time but the workout felt more intense. Bridget had us in constant motion- not as many chances to stop for rest or water. It was great! Oh- both classes had good ab routines and my abs are feeling it today. I'll be running today and I plan to go outside to run tomorrow, provided the weather cooperates. Need to improve: I want to get more activity in the evenings. I think part of my success early on was that I would come home and do something active with my kids. I'm making it a goal to dust off Just Dance this weekend and get the controllers charged up so we can play.
Support from friends, supporting my friends I've signed up with FitCity for the new Fit Friends program they're doing. It launches January 17. By signing up, you get a little guide with tips on how to be a Fit Friend. There will be weekly video tips. You will get activity suggestions and ideas. Bottom line is that by signing up, you commit to supporting others in this effort and also accepting support and encouragment. Christy is my main Fit Friend since we hit the gym together each day during the work week and we talk about running and form and workouts. I have other friends in my life that I count on for fitness support- like Emily, Beth, Lori, Ashli, Carol, and several others.
So that's where I am this week. How about you? What healthier choices did you make this week?