Funky Donkey Head

All of my girls are funny, all of them make laugh no matter how deep the pit I am in.  But one, one really shines through as my silly girl–Patrice.

Patrice loves to play and pretend (I get yelled at often for saying something to her because she was talking to Elmo, not me).  And she loves to play with words.  For weeks everybody was either a Funky Donkey or a Funky Donkey Head.  Now, everybody and everything is Banana Pants.

I love it.  And I love her posing for pictures.

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You are welcome for the big ole dose of cute!!

Stoic Jesus

August of 2010 brought a lot of changes to our lives.  Caitlyn turned 4, my grandfather died, Patrice was born, Postpartum Depression and Anxiety barreled into my life,

That last one was an earthquake that shook it all, every last inch of me.

My mental upheaval lead to an unsettling in every part of my life.  It’s honestly impossible to say which of the issues were the most distressing, but I can say the most shocking, the most unexpected, was the desolation it brought to my Christian walk.

Attending church became difficult.  I still believed what I had grown up learning and knowing.  I just didn’t know how, or if, it applied to me.

Slowly, step by step, I am making my way back.  I am reading my Bible most days, I am sitting through sermons at church without feeling ill or trapped.  Things were, and are, better.  But, there is still a bit of hollowness, a fair amount of distance and knowing that something was just wrong.

It is like that word at the tip of your tongue, you know it, but you don’t.  The harder you try to figure out the word, the more elusive it becomes.

My days continue.  I keep doing what I know to be right, doing what I have done for the last 30 years.  Waiting for everything to be okay again.  I’m not looking for the blush and excitement of new love in my walk with the Lord, rather, I am very much looking for the place where I know I belong.

Or, at the very least, to know why the distance, to know why I don’t belong any longer.

I just might, 4 years after the turmoil began, have received a kernel of understanding this week.

A few months ago, I slowly began reading the Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning.  I recently added a devotional based on the same book.  I am finding the writing a little circular, but I found my kernel, I found something to ponder, something to hold onto.

It is unimaginable to picture a wooden faced, stoic, joyless, and judgmental Jesus as he reclined with ragamuffins.  The human personality of Jesus is underrated when it is perceived as a passive mask for the dramatic speeches of divinity.  Such timidity robs Jesus of his humanity, encases him in a plaster of paris and concludes that he neither laughed, cried, smiled, nor got hurt but simply passed through our world without emotional engagement.

Wooden faced, stoic, joyless–that’s my Jesus.  That right there is what has been trying to come into stark relief for these many months and years.

It’s my truth.

Like any girl that spent her teen years lonely in life and at church youth group, week after week, I sat through teaching after teaching about how Jesus experienced pain, joy, happiness and emotion just like I did/do.  I heard it.  I know it was supposed to make my awkward teenage self feel better, just as it is supposed to make my Raging, Bipolar, weak self feel better.

And yet, it doesn’t.  It falls just short of truth.  It fell just short of truth when I tried to take my life 21 years ago, and it falls short today.

I follow along, I want to know him.  I want to live what I have been taught.  I would truly go to my death to defend these things I know and believe, but I have no idea how to live them.  None.

In all honesty, I know I am not alone.  There are innumerable people trying to figure out just the same thing.  Some, hang in there, keep trying to learn, keep studying; some walk away.  I understand both, though I sorrow when I see people surrender to this struggle.  I know I will keep fighting; honestly, it is all I know how to do.  I have been living the Christian life so long, I am entirely incapable of doing anything else.  This life is what I have known for the last 30 years.  Going to church, reading my Bible, studying, is in the very fabric of my being.  It is truly my default reaction.

Everyday, or almost every day, I open my Bible, I read, I study, I browse a Christian book or three.  Each week finds me in church either helping or in the actual service listening to the sermon.  On the weeks that I allow myself to walk in with little expectations, I find there are bits of truth everywhere that I can put in my pocket and carry with me.  It is good, for every day I keep putting one foot in front of the other in this faith walk I have always known is one day more where true comprehension and acceptance can come.

Waiting, I am waiting.

I see Jesus standing there.  Stoic.  Unmoving.  Not lifting a finger to draw me to himself.  But, if we believe what Brennan Manning has written, that is not the Savior Jesus is.  If we believe his thoughts on Jesus, there is a wildly loving, open, honest, cheerful, all encompassing lover of our souls just waiting for us.

You can never know how much I hope Brennan Manning is right.  I hope Jesus is there wanting to woo me, wanting to know me, wanting to accept me.  I am taking Brennans’ image of Jesus, an emotionally invested Jesus, and holding it up in front of my face.  I am inspecting the nuances of this portrayal of Jesus he offers.  I am listening to words, waiting for truth, Jesus’ truth.  I am looking to know, believe and trust the truths made so relate-able in this song by 4Him.

Shelter in the Rain

How long have you been
Waiting on a little sun to shine
To take away the night
Hold on for you are never alone
Through the darkest skies
There is a guiding light


For our God is a refuge
Where the weary can run and hide
in times of trouble
He’ll be the calm in the midst of the storm
‘Till it passes by
Oh, you need to know


CHORUS
There’s a shelter in the rain
There’s a hope for your tomorrow
There’s a cover through the pain
When you’re underneath the weather
Jesus is the shelter in the rain


Sometimes when hope is hard to find
We’ve got to walk by faith
Until we see the way
Hold tight for we are promised in time
Those who patiently wait
Will never wait in vain


For we know God is faithful
He’s a fortress to run into
In times of trouble
He’ll cover us with the wings of his love
‘Till we make it through
Oh, we got to know


REPEAT CHORUS


So tell me why
Why could you ever run away
From the cover out into the storm
Just know in time
The rain’s gonna bring a brighter day
And the clouds will be gone
But while you wait on the Lord

Lyrics found at http://lyrics.astraweb.com/

I seek, I wait.  I hope.

All Things Considered

Parenting comes with so many decisions, so many things to consider.  Breastfeed or Formula Feed.  Cloth Diaper or Disposable Diaper.  When to start solids.  To send to Preschool or not.  To Homeschool or send to Brick and Mortar School.  The decisions never stop coming.

As you may know, we started out with the girls in public school.  We loved their school (I still communicate with one of the teachers often) but my heart was strongly pulled toward homeschooling.  I wanted my girls home with me.

Let me tell you, homeschooling comes with it’s own plethora of decisions.  Online School or Parent led teaching.  Parent run co-op or Paid instructor classes.

There are so many things to consider and life brought our family one more thing to weigh in our decision process–mama’s  mental health.

Please join me over at Tales of a Pee Dee Mama where I share about how my life with Bipolar Disorder influences us and our education choices.

Raging Bipolar Charity Style

Welcome to a random look into bipolar Charity style.

I learned a couple years into this mental health shindig that rage is often part of it.  Until then, I thought the times that I lost it were just failures of character on my part.  There was, and is, a lot of shame and guilt concerning how I would react to things. It seemed like such a cop out to say it was the Bipolar causing the rage, but lo and behold, the right meds can help.

I know, I know I didn’t think meds would touch that, because that is just me being a crappy human being right?  But when 3 days after a med adjustment there was noticeable improvement, truly almost complete erasure of my rage, I couldn’t deny it.  The proof was in the pudding.

My mind still defaults to assuming I am horrible.  It tells me I do not deserve the family I have.  It tells me I am unworthy to call myself a Christian.  It screams that my husband is going to leave me if I get upset one more time.

Praise the Lord, he, and my girls, are still here.  They love me through it all and I love them enough to do what I need to be healthy and peaceful.

I love them enough to take the medications that help. I love them enough to say, “mommy needs a time out right now.”  I love them enough to walk outside and pace the yard in order to get the energy out.  I love them enough to let my anger out in the form of tears while hiding in the bathroom.  I love them enough to channel my racing thoughts into a blog post.  I love them enough to listen to my hubby when he tells me to go upstairs and let myself be alone.  And I love them enough to humble myself when necessary to apologize and ask their forgiveness.

It’s not easy.  I want to ignore their feelings.  I want to let my thoughts just rage and rage, but I can’t.  I can’t for them or for me.  We all deserve peace and respect.  So, I fight with everything I have to give it to them.

I breathe in and out.  I bite my tongue, literally.  I force myself to look at those around me when the rage is building.  I want to ignore them and their dignity in order to allow myself the outlet of rage.

That’s not at option.

I deserve respect.

Hubby deserves respect.

Caitlyn deserves respect.

Sue deserves respect.

Patrice deserves respect.

And respect each of us I will.  I will hold back my words as much as possible.  I will apologize when the pain comes out.  I will respect us.

 

*Disclaimer:  This piece is pretty scary to put out there.  It is scary to admit rage is an issue because I fear people will assume my children are not safe with me.  They are.  Trust me, they are.  I do not take my rage out on them, or anyone, physically.  The vast majority of my rage is held internally.  I am so thankful the medications do help.  They improve the quality of my, and those around me, life.

 

I Know I Don’t Understand

I’ll never get it.  I know I won’t.  I am a privileged white girl.

I’ve always assumed, since we are decades past the civil rights movement, that people in America had equal rights, regardless of their skin color.  Here we are in 2014.  Haven’t we learned yet that color has nothing to do with anything?  That is has nothing to do with personhood, intelligence, work ethic, rights.

I’d hear verdicts come down finding white people not guilty in trials about their brutality against African Americans and assumed they must be innocent.  There must have been a reason the officer, or anyone, did something.  The person they were accused of killing must have provoked the attack somehow.  I, in no way, ever thought the deaths were justified or okay, but I did assume there must be extenuating circumstances.  We the public must not know something key that would make what had happened easier to understand.

There was no way I could comprehend the attacks or actions against people of color were BECAUSE they were people of color.

I’d look at riots happening and assume people just didn’t understand.  That they should stop because they are just making matters worse for themselves.  I didn’t see it as civil unrest, I saw it as really poor choices.

Lately, my thinking has begun to change.  I still don’t understand it all.  I don’t know what to do with my thoughts and feelings.  But something must be wrong.  Something must be systemically wrong.  There are too many deaths of young Black men being killed in the course of an arrest or while in pursuit.  The stories coming out about what these men are being questioned about or the reason they are stopped, just keep piling up, and leave me unable to assume everything is being done correctly, that everything is being done appropriately for a color blind world.

It just doesn’t seem like things are as color blind as they should be.  Going back hundreds of years, it is not as color blind as it should be.  I know I can not go back and undo slavery.  I can’t even comprehend it.

I was talking to Caitlyn about it the other day.  I could not even believe what was coming out of my mouth as I explained to my 8 year old that it used to be acceptable to OWN another person.  It does not make sense to me now.  How did it EVER make sense to the slave owners?  How does it make sense today to the slave owners around the world?  How does someone truly believe that based on the color of their skin, where they were born, or who their parents were they can either be owned or own another person.

My 8 year old understands that you can’t own another person.  Why can’t people through the ages or today understand this is absolutely incomprehensible?

And beyond slavery, how does it make sense, that African American mamas have to be afraid for their sons?  I understand there are bad areas, for any number of reasons, and that all mothers at one time or another fear for their children, but it sure as heck shouldn’t be every day, in a nice quiet suburban neighborhood.  And yet, what I hear from people I know, they are afraid.  Every day.  For their sons.  For themselves.  Afraid of assumptions being made and horrible acts being carried out based on those erroneous opinions.

That kind of fear is completely foreign to me.  And yet I know it is real.  I have learned of it from women I know and trust. I find myself wanting to ask the wonderful mamas and ladies I see every day, are you afraid for your boys?  Are you afraid they will be wrongly accused and justice will be carried out cowboy style?

I want to ask, partly because it is such an incomprehensible feeling to me.  I am afraid of things for my girls.  I am afraid of them meeting a sexual predator.  I am afraid of them being in the wrong place at the wrong time and getting hurt.  But I am not afraid of the police or others in power being a threat to them.  I want to ask because I want them to say “no, I don’t have that fear here.”  I want to hear that my community is different.  That my village is mature enough to look at people, not skin pigmentation.  I want to ask because I want them to look at me like I am crazy and so, “No, I get to be a mama just like you.  I can teach my children that those in authority will protect them.”

I don’t ask.  I don’t ask because it is probably not my place to ask such things.  I don’t ask because I don’t want to hear that where I live is just as twisted and stupid as those “other” places.  I want to live in a beautiful utopia.  I don’t ask because I don’t want to bear any more guilt that I am privileged.  I don’t want to feel anymore guilty that my girls have it easier.  I don’t want to feel any more guilty that my motherhood is easier.  I want to believe we are all just mamas, wanting the best for our kids without fear of being judged based on race.

Honestly, how does anyone go to sleep at night thinking what they have done to someone based on them being the wrong color is okay?  How did it compute to our founding fathers to count black people as partial people for population purposes?  How does it make sense today to the police office shooting someone because they are wearing a hoodie?

How does this, or any other judgement, make sense?

It is Apple Season–Yum

I am not a food blogger, but as this time of year comes around, you will find me cooking, baking and crafting more.  One thing I have been making for years is Apple Pie.

We played hooky, this past week, from Church on Sunday and went apple picking at Erwins Orchards.

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We picked Macintosh, Cortland and Empire.  Most of them will become apple sauce, but a few are getting dipped in honey and munch on while others are finding their way into a pie.

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I originally started making pies when my great Aunt gave me a pie plate that had a recipe printed in the bottom and a lid that looked like lattice.  I used the recipe in that plate for a long time.  Then, I believe it was my Junior year of college, one of my best friends got married.  At her bridal shower I won a dollar store cookbook.  It has been the keeper of my go to crust recipe for 18 years.

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The recipe makes two crusts.

I have always been a rule follower, even in recipes. I always did them exactly as written.   My hubby is the opposite.  A recipe is lucky to even be a guide for him.  I think most of the time he sees recipes as something to be proven wrong.

I have made a couple adjustments to the crust recipe.  Here is “exactly” what I did last night.

  1. 3 cups flour
  2. 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  3. 4-6 Tablespoons white sugar
  4. Mix the above together

Cut in 1 cup vegetable shortening with a pastry blender or two butter knives into pea sized pieces

Add 3/4 cup very cold water a bit at a time while stirring with a fork until a ball of dough forms. I actually dump in about half of the water to begin., then add it a little slower. I leave the dough ball a little wet. I find it rolls easier and it becomes the right consistency as I work to form it into a crust.

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I form one crust into the pie plate.  Mine is a little deeper plate than some.  The recipes typically call for granny smith apples, but personally, I use whatever I have on hand.

Preheat oven to 375 degree F.

Next I peel core and slice them with my peeler/corer/slicer.  I did 5 apples to fill this pie.  If you use a large apple it will likely only use 3.  I chop the apples a little, and then add:

  1. 3 Tablespoons flour
  2. 1 cup white sugar
  3. a very liberal dash of cinnamon (easily a Tablespoon or more)
  4. 2 Tablespoons butter or margarine.  All told, I probably use 3 Tablespoons.
  5. 3 Tablespoons of milk or a splash of milk

Roll out second crust, put over pie, pinch closed, hit with fork tines, put in oven 35-45 minutes.

Here is the pie after the family got home from church and discovered it.

pie

 

It is yummy, albiet not neat and tidy to make.  My hubby always tells me after I make a pie, “NO more pies!  They make too much of a mess.”–until he wants another pie.

I love fall.  It seems like a return to the wonderful smells an sights of life.  I know some miss the warmth of summer, but for now I am happy.  Now, if you miss the heat, just think, this apple pie will warm up your house as you bake it and your belly as you partake of its “yummy goodness.”

Telling the Same Old Story

My ears are bleeding.  I’m sure of it.

There is just noise, always, always noise.

It seems the girls are always yelling.  Thing is, I know most of the time, they are NOT yelling, but I swear, it bounces off my ears like a million trumpets.

There’s Caitlyn yelling, “see my squishy friend?!” (also known as a pin cherry)

Then there is Sue yelling “slug bug” and slugging Caitlyn–who then yelled, “ow!!”  Thank you daddy for teaching the girls slug bug–said no mother ever.  Stupid game.

Honestly, I feel like clawing out of my skin.

I love my kids.  I love having them home.  I love teaching them.  I love hearing Sue say, “I love the dolphin study!!  It’s my favorite.”  I am doubly pleased since I put together the unit study myself.

Right now, my wonderful hubby is reading to the girls in the next room.  At a very normal tone.  It is taking all I have to not scream at him to “BE QUIET!!!”

Now, the yelling has begun, “Caitlyn, have you brushed your teeth?????”  At full daddy volume.  And her yelling back, “NOOOOOOOOO!”  Can somebody explain to me why she still hates brushing her teeth?  Patrice does great and loves to “gurgle.”  Caitlyn is a painful process of asking, asking, asking and yelling.

I had the house to myself for about 10 minutes.  It was nice.  I thought, “oh, it would be nice to listen to music.”  Then my ear drums said, “if you turn on more sound, we are going to pack up and move to Mexico!”  I left the music off and kept the ear drums.

Le sigh.

I know I have fussed about this time and time again, but seriously, today, it is the only thing I can even think about .  So much ever loving noise.

How to cope?  Ugh, ugh, ugh.

Falling, Will I Fall

September 13th and it is already sweater and coat weather.  That’s okay with me.  I prefer jeans.  Sweaters tend to be more forgiving of my bumps and lumps.  There are amazing family and homeschooling activities–apple picking, cider mills, color tours, pumpkin patch visits.  And the crafts are just so cozy.  I love to make things.  My skills are limited, but I try.  Yesterday, I picked up my loom knitting again.  I curled up on the couch and started in on a pretty cap.  In the summer, it feels like I am wasting the weather if I sit inside and craft, because alas, winter will come. But before that, our trees will become a waving canvas painted so many vibrant colors.  I love the colors.  I can’t imagine ever living somewhere that does not have the color change every year.  I.Just.Couldn’t. 2013-09-21 15.48.58 2013-09-28 17.47.49 2013-09-07 16.57.10 2013-09-07 14.03.04   Some of last years’ fun (we haven’t quite commenced most of this years’ festivities–I believe that will be fixed tomorrow. I love fall and it’s fun things, but it has a dark side. It always precipitates an upheaval in my mental health.  I feel heavier.  I feel like I am thinking and moving through thick apple butter.  It has been this way since Patrice was born.  By this point in her short life, I had stopped being able to sleep, I was crying in the laundry room and bathroom, anywhere I could hide from my girls.  Desperation clawed at the fraying edges. Four years later, the clawing continues.  Mentally and physically I get scared.  I feel like turtle, I need a shell to climb into.  Every moment of thinking is complicated. I am so excited about the season and so scared of the season all at once. Looming in my mind is that first hospitalization 4 years ago (exact date is Oct. 29)–how desperate I was for help, not getting help, on a journey that continues today.  I stand here at my computer wanting to scream that I need help, but all I can is whisper–it’s fall, will I fall apart?

It Has Begun

Homeschooling is now in session!!  I can not believe we are starting our 2nd year!  Wow.

We started Tuesday with prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and some chalk fun (Caitlyn was our resident artist).

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Are you ready for lots of homeschooling posts?  You better be, because here they come!!!

Peeing and Suicide

Peeing.

By deciding to Homeschool, I have given up any hope of ever peeing in peace, alone, or before my bladder is ready to burst.

Part of me wants to say it is the only thing I miss from working outside the home, this now missing luxury.  I worked in a male dominated field.  There were only 4 women in our entire facility.

I got to pee alone.  And while I miss the independence of that activity while at the office I could never walk into that bathroom again.  Not because I don’t work there, but because of the memories.  The thoughts.

It was in those stalls that I sat day after day, week after week, planning my death by suicide.  The pressure grows in my chest and mind just typing about it here in my kitchen 20 miles away.

I loved my girls.  I loved my husband.  I had friends.  I had it all.

I needed out.

Doesn’t make sense, does it?  I know that now.  I knew that then.  The pressure and panic inside of me were so overwhelming.  My mind couldn’t breathe.

It needed out.

I haven’t gotten out.  I’m gaining tools to give my mind other options when the clawing, damning pressure comes.

One day at a time.  I lean on those who love me, those who put up with me.

I have to.  There is no other way.