Roza bil Halib

Roza bil halib.  Rice in milk.  Simple, yet lovely.  It is an Arabic dish a dear friend of mine shared with me.  The closest dish to compare it to in the American diet is rice pudding.  Roza bil halib is not quite as sweet and has a more milky consistency; it is marvelous.

Roza bil halib, which I am probably doing a terrible injustice to in my spelling attempt, is sweet and simple.  It is tasty.  It is comfort.

There are a lot of days I find myself looking for comfort.  I find it in my routine, in my running, in the rhythm of loom knitting, in my prayers. And now in Roza bil halib.

I seek comfort out very intentionally.  Sometimes I become frantic in my search.

It didn’t use to be that way.  I used to be much more able to go with the flow.  Take the ups and downs of life.

Then Patrice was born.  And with her, the anxiety, the depression, the mania, the postpartum psychosis, the bipolar disorder.

All of the sudden, life became very much about finding comfort, finding safe.  I also found others that understood me, who had a similar journey, and above all I found help.  It wasn’t a quick journey, nor was it easy, but I made it one step at a time.  There are days I am still fighting to make it, but I use my knowledge, skill, and comfort to get to another day.

And you can too.

If you find yourself fighting suicidal, or even “just” scary thoughts, reach out.  The Suicide Prevention Hotline is one place you can find help. 1-800-273-8255.

If you recently had, or adopted, a baby you can find help at Postpartum Support International .  Reach out, no matter how hard or pointless it seems.  There is help, there is hope.

Want to Hear Something Funny?

This drawing is now CLOSED

I was provided a copy of HAHA COLOR–ME! JOKE BOOK for my use and one to give away, but my opinions are my own.

“Want to hear something funny, mommy?” is not my favorite question.  Neither is “Mommy, want to hear my dream from last night?”  Yeah, no.  No, I don’t.  But I try desperately to smile at both questions and prepare myself for the longest story of my life.  Have you ever noticed how long a joke, story, or a dream lasts when told by someone under the age of 10??  And how, with jokes, they tell the same one for months??

Well this week, Patrice, got some new material when I brought out a copy of the HAHA COLOR–ME JOKE BOOK!

I told her to get some crayons, pick a page, and start laughing!!

And she listened!!

She found this page…

Then this one…

And finally the joke she can’t quite telling…

Get it?  Because 7 8 9…think about it…okay, now laugh…today and tomorrow.  This one really sticks with you.  Okay, so you’ve heard it before, but did you get to color the joke before?  Well neither did Patrice, but now we all can.

This cute little joke coloring book can be yours by purchasing at this link.  And another cool feature, when you buy a copy, a second copy is sent to a child who could use a smile and a laugh.

I love that about this book.  I really do.  But before you quit reading, can I tell you two other things I found in this book?

First, there is my favorite joke.

Second, I loved these pages at the end of the book…

Space for kids, and even adults, to try their hand at writing their own jokes.  What’s not to like?

I am sure, after that Elsa joke, that you are just dying to get this into the hands of a couple little friends, so here is the link to buy one for someone you know while having one sent to a child in need of a smile and a laugh.

Want to have even more fun?  You can join a HAHA Challenge.  Starting October 12 you will be sent a fun challenge every day for 5 days leading up to the coloring book launch on October 17.  Sign up here.

Now, if you read my little disclaimer at the top, you know I was not paid or this review, but I was given a copy of the coloring book for our family to keep and one to give away to a reader…so now it is your turn.

You can earn two entries.  First entry–comment on another one of my blog posts and write in a comment here what post you commented on.  Second entry–write either your favorite kid joke or the joke a kid(s) in your life love to tell over and over and over!

There’s No End

Today it is fall.  That may not be true later this week when temperatures go up again, but for today…it is fall.

And life is busy.  Always on the go.  The kids have a ton of activities.  Hubby and I have appointments.  I never dreamed homeschooling would have me out of my house so much 😉

I had taken a break from running after completing my half marathon on September 17.  At first, to rest my body, then due to the outrageous heat, but this week it was time to get it back in gear.  So there is my running.  And new plans to again run a half marathon next fall.  A year from now.  Not in September again.  I do not want to risk running 13.1 miles in those temperatures again.  And I really need to lose 20 lbs before the next go at that distance.  More would be better, but the goal is 20, so I am researching what might work for the whole family.  I am at a loss, so if you have any ideas…

There is also the more immediate.  Sue got a named role in A Christmas Carol.  Rehearsals begin Tuesday…while cross country is still underway. I am not sure how that is going to shake out.  I am really hoping to know more after that first rehearsal Tuesday.

Then there is our day to day schooling, homeschool co-op, church, and spending time with dear friends.

It is all good.  And I love it, though it may overwhelm me at times.

And yet, somewhere in the last few days I began to feel this tug, this tapping at the back of my mind.  Reminding me of something…it whispered at me.  But I could not bring the thought to light.

Until yesterday.

Today is the beginning of October.

Seven years ago that was a tough spot for me.  I loved my girls, yet I was falling apart.  Postpartum Depression, anxiety, and ultimately psychosis tried to destroy me.

I loved my family, yet I was falling apart.  Postpartum Depression, anxiety, and ultimately psychosis, tried to destroy me.  I was fighting a battle against my mind of intrusive thoughts, of how my girls would be better off without me, how I should just disappear so they could get onto life without me, I wasn’t sleeping, I couldn’t stop moving.  It was dark and muddled in my mind.

I survived, obviously, and am proud to be here every day to love those in my life, to work to be stronger and healthier, but there is a stain that no one tells you about.  Those intense days of fighting against depression, anxiety, and psychosis leave a stain, a darkness on that time in your life that you carry.  All the time.

Fall is no longer the same for me.  The leaves still change colors and are breathtaking.  It still becomes jeans and sweater weather again.  It is finally cool enough to cook again.  But the stain of what happened is still there.  And it still hurts.

But no matter how much it still hurts, I have something the darkness does not have…me.  I survived to talk about it 7 years later.  I am still here to run half marathons.  I am still here to watch my girls learn and grow.  I am still here to fuss at my husband and to always lose control of the mess in my house.

I am still here.

If you, or someone you know is struggling after having or adopting a baby, whether it be mom or dad, be assured there is help, there is hope.  Please contact the amazing people at Postpartum Support International for helping finding local doctors and support as well as on-line help and support.  1 in 7 women suffer from postpartum mood disorders.  You and those you know or love are not alone.  Reach out.  Get help, get hope, get well.

A Running Recap

This last week has been all about THE HALF MARATHON!!!!!  I signed up for this race back at the end of November.  Since then I have talked, trained, and planned for September 17.

And, after all that…the weekend arrived.  Hubby and I headed for a fundraising dinner cruise…great price and great cause…

And it was time for flat runner Charity!

Hubby’s alarm went off at 4.  I rolled over and told him to “shut that thing off.”  That was not an option when my alarm went off at 5.  I yelled and fretted, but we got to the race start in plenty of time.

The first half of the race was decent.  I finished the first loop in good time.  Still smiling.

I’m pretty sure I quit smiling after this.

The girls made me posters to cheer while I ran.

It got way hotter, I dipped into my nutrition gummies and accepted the water at each spot.  I quit smiling.

I may have cried more than once.  I used up a little strength to text hubby “I can’t.”  It got hard guys.  Really, really hard.  Beyond hard.  Unspeakably hard.  I cried.  I seriously considered sitting down on the curb in the last mile and just waiting for someone to come get me…but I had come this far…I just couldn’t quit knowing how far I had come.

A few strides, if you could call them that, I heard my hubby whistling and cheering from around the bend.

My Caitlyn came up and ran me the last few feet up to the finish line as I sobbed uncontrollably.

After the race I felt so horrible, I hardly noticed someone hand me my medal.

But I did hear the announcer say “Good job mom, way to be an example for your kids.  Kids, pay attention to how strong your mom is and what she did.”

Beyond that, yesterday afternoon and evening was miserable, not what I expected at all.  I am used to feeling amazing after a race–feeling like I could conquer the world.  This time, my hubby had to catch me several times as I threatened to fall over on the way to the car.

It was hard, y’all.

But today, today is better.  I have enjoyed sharing pictures and I might have interrupted the girls’ schooling at one point to yell, “I DID IT.  I RAN 13.1 MILES!!!  I PLANNED TO DO IT, I TRAINED TO DO IT, AND I DID IT!!!!!!”

Today, I walked while Sue was in dance class and thought about getting back to running later this week and get myself back to training for something.  Another half, not at this point, nope.  But I have a 5k coming up and I love 10ks, so we’ll see.

And today, I can whisper–“it was worth it.”

Sometimes It’s About the Stubborn

This last weekend we had an amazing time at Sue’s callbacks for her casting in the next play, James and the Giant Peach.

She can sing, she can dance!!  I wish I had video of her dancing.  She does it so well, but that was in a room sans audience.

My little Sue has spunk and talent.  I could not be more proud of her.  I am very sad to type that she did not get a named role as we had hoped, but she is already working very hard on her audition piece for the next production–A Christmas Carol.

She amazes me every day.

As I watched her this week I realized she has something I don’t have…talent.  The things I have done, or do, are out of sheer stubbornness. Not because of talent.  I am thinking talent might make things easier, but stubbornness works out pretty good too.  I have pulled off a lot of things due to being very stubborn, and the grace of God.  And Sunday, it is time for another one.  It is time for my half marathon.  That is a long 13.1 miles.

I’ve run the distance once to make sure I could.  The first 9 miles were decently comfortable.  And then came the rest.  I truly ran them because I said I would.  I had told people I was going to run 13.1 miles, not 9, so I just had to keep going.  And this quote I had read on-line helped me keep pushing.

So here’s to Sunday and running with my legs, my feet, and my heart.  Whatever gets me to 13.1!!

Running With My Thoughts

I run with my feet and I run with my thoughts.  I enjoy the running with my feet.  The running with my thoughts, not so much.  It gets me into trouble.  Thinking ahead too much feeds my depression, anxiety, and mania all in turn.  It brings up things that I’d rather not remember, it robs me of sleep I’d much rather have.

And it has me puzzling over problems I just don’t  know how to solve.

This week it brought up one of those issues.

I began training for a half marathon on December 29th of last year.  Said race is now just 9 days away!!!  Single digits.  Wow.  Preparation for this race has consumed me.  And

Preparation for this race has consumed me.  And gotten me through some rough stretches with the bipolar.  It has given me the coping mechanisms I needed to tolerate depression that sought to overcome me.  It has focused my brain when anxiety and hypomania tried to tear me asunder.  Running is hands down, or is that feet down, the most effective coping tool I have when it comes to the bipolar disorder.

My practice run to make sure I can run 13.1 miles.  Guess I can.

Thing is…what happens when I am finished?  What happens when the post race high crashes?  What happens?

Yes, yes, I know I can keep running.  And I will.  I know I can sign up for other races.  Believe me, I will.  But there is this thing.  This very real thing.  The post race high.  And it crashes.  And crashes are hard on anybody, but especially on me.  I have a horrible time dealing with them.  Horrible.  The mass of emotions colliding is so hard to sort out and I immediately assume it is just going to get worse and worse.  And that I won’t survive the collision of thoughts and emotions.

This time I am a little extra concerned.  I have been thinking, planning, dreaming of this race for so long.  Years, really.  I originally trained for a half marathon when Patrice was a baby but had to quit due to issues with my medications…so really, this is a 5-year dream.  And here it is, 9 days away.  And my body will probably need a break from running for a few days afterward.  I also don’t see my body withstanding a full marathon (26.2 miles), so what is the next goal?  Where do I go from here?

I just don’t know.

I have no answers.

So, tomorrow I will lace up my shoes for my last long run before my half-marathon.  I’ll schedule a couple short, easy runs during the week and the rest of my running will be running kids around to cross country practice, dance, gymnastics, church, and then lace up for my big day, my half-marathon on September 17.

School is Just Around the Corner

In case you have been living under a rock…I am here to tell you that school has either started or is just about to start.  Yup.  Really.

And this means, in the homeschooling world, we have been seeing tons of pictures of people’s homeschooling rooms and areas.

We don’t really have one.  We kind of just school where we land.  Math is done on the computer.   Writing is done on a TV tray in the living room–no, the tv is not on.  Spelling is done on the iPad.  Well, Caitlyn’s is, but I am trying something new with Sue and Patrice this year.  Bible is done with iPad and walking around (memorization is easier when movement is included).  Reading is done either with me or tucked in a comfortable spot.  Grammar, Explode the Code, and the Michigan lapbook are done at the kitchen table.  We are adding some new classes this year…we’ll see how they shake out.

All that aside, Caitlyn saw some of these posts of people’s school rooms and she wanted to share ours.  We may not have a room, but there is no denying that we school at home.

(Turns out the whiteboard does not include everything, I am adding typing and health, and upping our writing game.)

The girls better enjoy this weekend because Tuesday is a’comin!

Another Glimpse

I don’t think this is the first time, but I thought a glimpse into the hypomania side of bipolar disorder might be an okay idea today.

But first, check out this cute.

My girls are so beautiful and I am so proud of them.  They keep me moving literally, mentally, and emotionally.

And lately, I have been moving…non-stop.  It started with just busyness.  Sue was finishing up practices and launching into performances for Seussical.  It was phenomenal.

But it’s done–thing is, I can’t stop keep moving.  Yes, life is busy, but I should be capable of slowing down, of stopping.  I’m not.  Having open time fills me with overwhelming panic and dread, like everything is going to fall apart if I stop for one single minute.

On the upside, there is always a lot to be done.  Even hypomania can’t get me on top of all of it, but I am using it as much as possible.

Today included planning and organizing for the upcoming school year, laundry, and a million other little things.

This has been going on for weeks, which is not normal for me, and my thinking is starting to get much harder to control, my anger at things is out of proportion, I am over thinking EVERYTHING, so on and so forth.

Monday, it was time to call the doctor, so I did.  He upped a med and I am headed to his office tomorrow.

I know it will get sorted out.  Hypomania has always been a strange bedfellow for me, but one that can be helped.  I know help is coming.

Looking For A Way To Help?

Every day we are bombarded with what is wrong with America and the world.  We see people being cruel and downright evil to one another.  And so often we are left confused, not knowing what to do to help.

I feel that way every.single.day.

I pray.

I teach my girls right from wrong.

I smile at those I pass in my day.

And sometimes God plops an opportunity to be hands-on right in my lap.

This was a recent experience.  I agreed to help with a family new to America.  I thought I would help a tiny bit and that would be that.  What I found was a new friend.  Someone who blesses my life every day.  The joy she and her family bring me makes me want to help them in any way possible.

But I can’t do it all alone.  Due to horrible things happening around the world, people are being forced to leave their homeland and find a new country in order to be safe.  There is my dear friend, her family, and many more families coming to America.  America is better for having these new families here.

But getting started in a new country is expensive.  Housing.  Transportation.  Utilities.  Food.  Clothing.  Furniture.  School supplies.

That last one is where I would like to give you an opportunity to come alongside eight families I know who are making their way in a new land.  I have started an Amazon wish list (New American Friends) with some of the basics needed for school.  This list is just the beginning.  I have started with a wish of 8 each, but that would likely only help 2 families–in some instances, only 1 family.  These kids are walking into new schools in a new language.  Wouldn’t it be great to get each of them at least the items the school asks them to bring at the beginning of the year?

None of us LIKES to need help, but we all do sometimes, don’t we?  Sometimes we need help paying a bill.  Sometimes we need a listening ear.  Sometimes we need help making a decision.  Sometimes we even need someone to take care of us.  Regardless, we all need help sometimes.

Sometimes, we can help others.  Sometimes we can speak up for others, sometimes we can hold a hand.  Sometimes we can buy school supplies.

Please help me stand with these New American Families (link here) and help them help their kids get school supplies.

I, they, we, would be ever so grateful.

Parting Ways

All to the Glory of God–that is why I blog and share my story so openly.  I want others to know it is possible to live and parent well with mental illness.  This, by necessity, causes my posts to be brutally honest, and that is not always pretty.
I have always endeavored to live by the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

This is not me.  This is not her.  It used to be me.  It’s never been her.

I spent several years in and out of this wheelchair due to Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  I have learned to walk three times in my life…and that last time seems to have been the charm as the MS has been in remission since before that almost 11-year-old up there was even in the womb and I have gone from using a wheelchair to running 5ks, 10ks, and soon a half marathon!

So, today, that wheelchair and I are parting ways.  Permanently.  I am taking back my attic space and you, dear wheeled chariot, are going back to work.

Let me explain.

My family and I felt the call a few months ago to begin helping refugees who are fleeing horrible, horrible situations.  These new Americans have been vetted by every level of government and have waited through years of paperwork to get here.  They are here to be safe, to be free.

I didn’t know what to expect the first time I visited Mary (name changed) but what I found, was a friend–one of my most favorite people in the world.  I like to think I help her and her family, but what I know, is I love being around her and her family.  It brings me much joy and happiness.

Then there was an e-mail from a local agency asking me to help another family.  I was scared to say yes, but thanks to google translate all went well and I got them to their doctor appointment.  One of the family members Helen (name changed) was in a wheelchair.  A really old beat up wheelchair.  In this family, I saw loneliness.  I have known loneliness many times in my life and seeing it so naked before me, I wanted to run…but my heart was drawn to them.

Then, a few weeks later, the agency sent out a list of things needed for a family.  We had two of those items.  A sofa and a vacuum a neighbor had given us when they moved.  I ignored the wheelchair on that list.  Yes, I have one…but I can’t give it away…what if?

Last night, we went to deliver the sofa and the vacuum.  And who greeted us, but Stephen (name changed), Helen’s brother.  They were the ones moving into an apartment needing these items.  And there was Helen, sitting on the floor, needing a wheelchair.  And there was me, fresh from running 5 miles, owning a wheelchair. But, what if…

What if what?

I called hubby to talk to him about it.  He was all for passing along the chair…and she is not much bigger than I…so even though it was made for me…it seems like it is time for it to be made for her.

So today, I put Sue to work cleaning a decade plus of grime off my chair.  Tonight I am going to drop it off to Helen.  Friday I am going to attempt another 10 mile run.

All by the grace of God.