Quiet Here

Praying for friends who said their earthly good byes to their daughter today.

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Still Words

Life currently gives me the honor and privilege to be home with my children full-time.  There are days that are a little more challenging than others, but overall, it is beautiful.

I love my girls can wake up slowly in the morning.  Our day does not begin with rushing and yelling like it did when I was working outside the home.  Yes, there are mornings that are still rough, but they aren’t the norm.  I love that I am the one to kiss their boo boos and feed them treats they shouldn’t have, the good and bad habits of being the mama.

About 98% of the time, I am home with my girls.  I see them, they see me.

I thought, when we began homeschooling last year, that they would grow tired of me by the end of the week.  They never did.  I still can’t believe it.  They still want to be WITH ME at the end of the week!!!!!!

I might desire a little breathing room by Friday night, but they are not inclined to give it.  I am making my peace with constant interaction :)

Recently, I realized something else.  I am, as I said, with my girls the vast majority of the time.  I can count how many days I spent away from them in the last year.  I would think they would run out of things to tell me, but they never do.

Our house is about 1000 square feet, but you would think it was a 100 times bigger when you hear them fill me in on everything they have done while out of my sight.  Imagine, if you will, what happens when I actually leave the house!  If I go grocery shopping, my oldest texts me while my middle one calls me.  Carving out time for a run gets me the third degree–how long will I be gone, where I am I going, which route am I doing, can they go.

Most of the time I just cave and let one or the other of the older girls join me on my route.  Today, I went alone.  I was gone 30 minutes and 30 seconds.  I went out to join the girls and daddy at the campfire and had three girls vying for my lap.  I laughed, and hugged them to me.

Yes, there are times, I desperately desire to be alone, but truth be told, I know they won’t always run to tell me ever.single.solitary moment of their lives.  Someday I’ll be the mama waiting by the phone for my grown girls to call me.

For now, I try to get the breathing room any sane person sometimes needs, but when I come home, they are all welcome, no matter how big they’ve gotten, to perch on my lap and tell me ALL that I missed.

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I just might need it all to keep me company while I wait for calls and texts when these days have passed.

*Truth in advertising, I plan to stay home tomorrow while the rest of the family goes to a picnic so I can get some time to sit in a chair all along! :)

Girls Going to Costco

Wednesday, the girls and I made a “quick” trip to Costco, which begs the question, is there such a thing as a quick trip to Costco?  All was going well.  For the first 20 steps into the store.

As we walked, Caitlyn saw a huge stuffed bear.  Like 53 inches tall stuffed bear.  You know, only 4 inches shorter than her mother tall bear.

Next to that, was a bin of Pillow Chums (think Pillow Pets on growth hormones).  The one right on top of that big cardboard box of chums?  A brightly colored, beautiful unicorn.  For $16.99.

Now, for those who have ever talked to Sue, or simply been in the same county as Sue, you now there is a serious love of unicorns in her heart.  She saw that beautiful chum and I heard her heart skip a beat.  And truly, this mama wanted to buy it for her on the spot.  But there aren’t any gift giving holidays or big accomplishments to justify suck a LARGE purchase (and I couldn’t exactly smuggle it out for a future occasion), so away we walked.  With a seriously sad, sad face.

Then her face brightened.  What if she spent her own money on it?  “We’ll see,” says the mama, futilely hoping she will forget the bed sized unicorn.  She, who fights every moment of chore doing, started asking for tasks as soon as we got home.  She had almost enough, but needed just a few dollars more.

She folded baskets of laundry and cleaned her sisters’ room.  She had enough.

Much to mama’s chagrin.

The older girls have discovered the joy of being able to spend their own money on things.  I love that they are beginning to grasp the concept of buying things, but worry they don’t quite understand that if you spend your money, it is gone.  I try to limit shopping to the dollar bins at the store, or better yet, the dollar store.

I know how much I hate buyers’ remorse, and really dread them feeling it.  Caitlyn has had a taste of it, thankfully from a little dollar store purchase.  I hated to see Sue spend all of her money on the unicorn, but I can be very confident she will not regret it, which makes the process a bit easier.

Such was not the case with Caitlyn.  That huge bear she saw that started this whole deal?  $29.95.  And when she looked, she discovered she did indeed have enough money for the purchase.  The speed bump in this process?  She’s really not that in to stuffed animals and has never expressed a desire for a teddy bear of any size.  Don’t get me wrong, I think a 53 inch teddy bear is cool, but just not really her thing.

I stressed over it some.  I know my daughter and did not want her to set herself up for disappointment.  I talked to hubby about it and we agreed we had basically given Sue permission, but saw red flags all over Caitlyn’s purchase.  I found a quick minute and talked to her about it.

“You know if you buy this, it will be ALL your money.  And once you spend it is gone.  I’m a little worried you will be bummed in a few days that you spent all of it on a teddy bear.  You really aren’t a big stuffed animal person.”

“Yeah.”

“See, mama and daddy can be pretty okay with Sue buying the unicorn because EVERYBODY knows she is crazy about them.  But you, you really seem to enjoy things you DO,  Or things that are ‘real.’”

“Mmmhmmm”

“You love your rainbow loom and roller blades and bike, you like to do and move and create.  What if we look at other things they might have at Costco or we went to another store that has more of your kind of thing?”

“Yeah, I think I will look around.”

We started at the teddy bear, since it was right next to the unicorn.  Not only did Caitlyn reject the big one, she poo-poo’d the smaller sizes they had as well.  We headed to other parts of the store, and found some great drawing/coloring items, fun origami books and she even considered a movie, but in the end…she spent nary a nickel.

And mama breathed a sigh of relief.

Sue, proudly paid for her unicorn and Patrice her monkey (she is deeply devoted to monkeys).*

Again, mama thankfully saw Caitlyn walk out empty handed.

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Daddy and I have decided it is now time to introduce the budget.  I am sure the allowance they get will seem like a bonanza…until we show them the envelopes–one for giving, one for saving and one for spending.  That might slow them up a bit.  But, I still remember the happiness and satisfaction I got from seeing an electric pencil sharpener–it had a kitten with glasses on it and said, “I’m too smart to study and too cute to care”–saving my money and being able to purchase it.  Many, many years later.  I hope they will learn quickly and be able to find the same satisfaction of saving for something and purchasing it.  Here’s hoping they will not only learn about money, but also (Sue) to take care of the things that matter to them.

What was the first thing you ever saved up your money to buy?  Did that teach you lifelong good money habits?  Are you a saver or a spender now?

*To clarify, Patrice used one of her dollars to pay for the monkey, the rest was taken care of.  She is starting, younger than her sisters, but still, just starting to have any concept of money, at all.

One Problem

I have been trying, this summer, to be a little more present with my kids.  I fail pretty darn often, but I think I pull it off other times.

Take the last few days as an example.

Friday, the girls and I drove out to join some homeschooling friends for the day.  They were camping at a great place with a few pools, a lazy river and a tot play area with sprinklers and little water jets.  And, for once, I donned my bathing suit and got in with them. I put away my phone/camera. That might now sound like much to you, but I am not a water person.  I don’t like how it takes time to get used to the water temperature, I hate the feeling of the wet bathing suit against my skin and I am not much of a swimmer, so I end up doing lots of standing around.

Now, let’s again talk about my awesomeness as we review yesterday.  The girls earned free waterpark passes through our county sponsored reading program.  And yes, they include homeschoolers.  It is a great park.  It has a large wave pool, a big tot play place that is geared toward the littles, but great for the bigs too.  And, let’s not forget the large lazy river.  We did them all.  Yes, me included.

It was all fun enough to make me wonder why I am always so resistant to these activities.  But, there is one problem.  I am the family picture taker.  So, if I actually join in the fun, there are no pictures.  I got nary a one on Friday and just a few yesterday.

This is the tot area

This is the tot area

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It is fun to get involved, but now I am missing tons of cute pictures.  I’m kind of torn on what I think.  I love the fun, but I love the pictures too.  It’s kind of hard for me to put down the camera and be part of the action.  I want to do both, but I have to choose one or the other.  I like playing with the girls, but then I have less to show daddy of the fun we were having.

I know, I know.  I think too much.  My brain gets too concerned about little or non-issues.

How do you balance the two–joining in or capturing the memories on film, er, whatever it is now since it’s no longer film.

Losing My Words

I come from a long line of readers.  My family just loves to read.  My mom started me on the road young.  I was a colicky, difficult baby.  I insisted on being held and I wanted to be talked to.  Constantly.  So my mom would sit with me in the chair, and read me her books.  She said they were smut novels, but they were books nonetheless.  My entire growing up, I remember seeing my cousin, laying on the couch reading at every opportunity (don’t get me wrong, he was a hard worker, that did lots of activities, but if he could find a minute, there was a book in  hand.)  His sister has been in a book club for years.  She has introduced me to some good stuff.

We read pages to stretch our minds.  We read often purely for entertainment.  And everything in between.

After years of reading and loving words, I chose to go to college for an English and Journalism degree.  I got to school realizing I had not read many of the given classics that should have been found in my school.  I did my best to catch up and hid in the conversation when the rest came up for discussion.  I felt less than, like a fraud, but I soldiered on.

Half way through my freshman year, I met a guy in my literature classes that absolutely fascinated me.  We spent a lot of time reading and talking about reading.  I bluffed the best I could there, but truth be told, I didn’t understand half of what he said.  I was definitely less than, definitely a fraud.

I read so many things I had only heard of, many I had never heard of.  I wrote my papers, I learned everything I could.  And to tell you the truth, I was really proud of myself for reading so much, so constantly.  And to tell more truth, I thought much of the material I was reading was dry and snobbishly academic.  So many of them I read just so I could say I read them (Les Miserables being one).

There were some I chose to read, and enjoyed, see Henry James, Toni Morrison and Emily Dickinson, but please don’t ask me when I have pulled any of them out of my library.  The only old friend I have read in years is Chaim Potok–and I’ve been moving through is very slowly for many, many months.  I am truly less than, truly a fraud.

I am inordinately proud that I did just read a very long historical fiction by Caleb Carr, The Alienist.  But now my brain fills incapable of picking up another worthy piece.

Daily, I see comments or posts in social media from people so much smarter than myself.  I see what they read on Goodreads, or what they comment about on Facebook, and I see again, I don’t really belong.

The girls and I set off for the library today.  I had my one book to return because I had actually read it and another because I found the tone and attitude of the author extremely insulting.  I have three of my books left.  Two of them are books I will likely learn from, the one I chose to read is a Murder She Wrote  novel.  As you probably guessed, not a smut novel, but not exactly a literary challenge.  And I feel so guilty for not picking the ones that will grow me.

But I am scared of them.  I am afraid they won’t penetrate my brain or will just point out how much less than I am, how much of a fraud I am.

I browsed the movies at the library today.  Even there I was afraid to pick things like, A Farewell to Arms or The Great Gatsby (both of which I have read–3 lifetimes ago).  I was too afraid that I would try to watch them and not follow them or not be interested in them, or they might remind me how much less than I am, how much of a fraud I am.

I ran away, I hid.  So now I come here and pour out the truth that I never fit in the literary world, that I have lived a lie of intelligence for so many years.  Now my lies, leave me raw, ashamed, and embarrassed.  I never fit.  I never belonged.  There was really nothing for me to study in college because the one thing I enjoyed and pretended to know was a sham.  Now, I have lost not only my ability to write a decent paper, I have lost my ability to read worthy words.  I have been stripped of that which I was proud of.  I have finally admitted I am shallow and empty.  Unfortunately, it does nothing to make me feel better.  I am still a sham.

I have lost my words.

Wham-o

You are just bumping along in life.

You got home in great time from a wonderful visit with family.

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Your kids actually take a shower without throwing a fit.

You get to cuddle and hold the cutest baby in the world.

The girls have a friend over and there is no arguing, no hurt feelings.  There are more giggles than there has ever been in  your house.

You are actually winning a game of Word With Friends with your mother-in-law.

Life is good.

The visitors go home.

Dinner is easy.

But Wham-o.  Somewhere between visitors go home and dinner is easy, there is a nice FAT anxiety attack.  Heart beating extra hard.  Tightness in the chest.  Desire to move fast.  The whole shebang.  For no good dumb reason.  The clawing feeling of darkness.  It’s there.  It has stopped for a visit.  Who knows how long.

So I get doing.  Reading a fluff book.  Putting together my thoughts (best I can) to write and get ready to go out on a run.  Here’s hoping I can outrun this puppy.

Yes, there is medication, but it just barely works.  And it makes you very tired.  So, coping mechanisms it is.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

 

Your Feelings Toward Yourself Feel Like a Condemnation of Me

Lets start with this caveat, life has been hectic and I have not been as medication compliant as I need to be.  I am starting to feel the effects.  Emotions and reactions are getting overly strong.

Today I peeked into one of the support groups I depended on heavily in the early days of my voyage into mental health concerns.  I don’t stop in often anymore, as my journey has veered into permanent, not the temporary we all hope for when a postpartum mood disorder shows up.  (see this post)

And there I found a thought that I totally related to and wanted to rail against.  The mama listed all the meds she’s on, some I recognize as part of my cocktail.  And she said being on a variety of meds made her feel like she really was crazy.

I get it, I do.  And yet, I wanted to scream at her.  Rail at her.  Protest, how dare you be so callous?!!!  YOU feel crazy?  Gee thanks, what does that make me?  You take about half of what I swallow every stinking day and will for the rest of my life.

Y’all, I do get it.  I have been there.  I was there today, and yesterday, and the day before…

And yet, I want to scream at her.  I want to punish her.

She still has hope these meds won’t be forever.  I don’t!!!  Where is my hope?  Where is the end of my crazy?

My crazy has gotten so bad I have to aggressively avoid news stories about depression and suicide, because what others see as incomprehensible, makes a heck of a lot of sense to me.  I have been there.  Thankfully, I am not even close right now, but I have been.  I  have stared into that hole and wished something would give me just a little push to let me go headlong in.

And that’s with the meds.  Contrary to what some believe, the meds don’t make my brain work 100% as if the bipolar disorder did not exists, it just makes sure I can sort out the real from the lies.

That’s where I sit with my crazy.  That might be where I always sit.  I don’t know.  It makes me mad.  It isn’t really that lady at all, it is myself I am mad at.  It is my med cocktail that ticks me off.  It is the permanence of the struggle.  I don’t know how long I will be here.  I don’t know how long it will take peace and acceptance to come, but as of right now, it is not there, not even close.

Sigh.

Note:  I am not suicidal at all, but as I said to a mom in our Christian homeschool co-op, “it just hits too damn close to home.”  I’ll let you know if I get banned from co-op for swearing.

 

Old Adage

Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing. ~Phyllis Diller, Phyllis Diller’s Housekeeping Hints, 1966

I need this quote to be true.  I need it to mean I am not a failure based on the appearance of my house right now.  I pick up, I do laundry, I just can’t keep up.  I am falling further and further behind.

And school hasn’t even started.  And I don’t have any lesson planning done, so it can’t be that stopping me from doing what needs to be done.

I am running again, but that only takes about an hour out of my day, if that.  To add to the disaster, the girls couldn’t care less how messy their room is, until they are reprimanded, over and over.  Patrice loves to say she “can’t do all of it.”  To which I argue,  you got it out, you can put it away.

I’m pretty sure I fell in love with my mother-in-law when I saw a variation of this quote in her home

A clean house is the sign of a boring person. ~Author Unknown

And apparently my mind is very exciting.  I’d love to say how I can relax and enjoy how utterly NOT boring I am, but alas.  I feel guilty.  I feel less than.  I mean, come on–I’m home full-time, why in the heck can’t I do this?

Cleanliness is next to impossible. ~Author Unknown

Maybe I should learn to live by this adage.  I haven’t a clue, so instead, I’ll go tackle at least one thing in this house!

What is your problem area for cleaning?  How do you balance it all?  What must be done and what can be put off?

*And yes, I am shamelessly avoiding the hot topics in the world right now.  There are wiser and more eloquent writers than I who are doing a beautiful job addressing the world’s current state of affairs.

No Deep Thoughts

Today’s post has no deep thoughts.  No lessons.  No assurances.  It simply is.

You know those days where everything that can go wrong, will?  I’m awfully blessed to not have too many of them.  But yesterday.  Ah, yesterday.

Yesterday, the girls and I set out to do something I have not done in 8 years.  Caitlyn was 2 months old at the time.  She is currently making her own breakfast. But back to yesterday.  We set out to make a 5 hour drive to see my family.

First, Patrice had to go potty by the time we were 1 mile from home.  I decided to go too.  She had used all the toilet paper.  I was left with a receipt I found in my purse.

We made it about 50 miles further.  Caitlyn, my typically non-cookie tosser, tossed her cookies all over herself.

But did I turn back? NOOOOOO!!!!

We made it 30 miles.  And the road got really rough.  The new pavement really sucked.  Oh DUDE.  That’s not the pavement.  I had blown a tire.

Yeah.  GO ahead, read it again.

That’s me and three young kids sitting by the edge of the road.  I *might* have started to cry.  Caitlyn sat and patted my shoulder until I got a hold of myself.

A creepy guy came to help.  It took some effort, but he finally went away.  Then a nice guy came along that looked like my uncle.  I decided to let him help us, while every episode of Criminal Minds and Without a Trace I have ever watched went through my head.

All went well.

We made it to a place with free wi-fi.  The girls watched cartoons on the iPad.

The best moment of the whole day?  Caitlyn came up to me as the girls were digging into their happy meals and said, “can we pray first?”  Yes, yes we can.  We thanked God for his protection and provision.  We thanked God for the guy who looked like my uncle.  We thanked God for a daddy who was coming to help us.

Daddy came and rescued us.  We got new tires.  We drove home.

Eight hours, to drive and get new tires.

We’ve decided to get our next tires closer to home.

 

Sitting With It

The internet exploded.

My Facebook feed went crazy.

I thought all the thoughts.

I thought nothing.

Run.  I needed to run.

Yet there I sat.

Hands shaking.

Mind flying at a crawl.

Robin Williams.

Gone.

Assumed death by suicide.

No, I don’t know him.

We weren’t friends.

Or acquaintances.

But I have clung to the edge.

Knowing I could fall into the abyss that is suicide.

At any moment.

My hubby sat with me.

I told him my thoughts.

“If he, who would have access to every resource for help with his mental health, couldn’t survive. how could I?

My hubby gently reminded me of the truth.

We don’t know if he took advantage of those options.

As far as we know he did not express a faith in Christ.

When the demons come, my faith is weak.

There are many holes in the safety net.

He sat with me.

My hubby and Robin Williams.

I wrapped myself in my book.

Sleep stopped my whirring thoughts.

My whirring thoughts woke me up.

My mind went into protection mode.

I deleted Facebook and Twitter from my phone.

No sense is being made of it all, no matter how my mind tries.

Protection is the only thing that makes sense.

Feeling safe is my pearl of great price.