Monthly Archives: January 2014

Photo Bombed

I was just scrolling through my phone because it was so full I couldn’t take any more pictures.  And oh the cuteness I found.  You’ve been warned.

You shall be Photo Bombed.

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Trekking outside with daddy.  They even walked on the frozen lake!

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The frozen water balloons we made during the last, or was it the one before that, deep freeze.

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Getting started on our solar system lap book.

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Doing exercise with daddy.

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Gym time at Fun Friday

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My candy corn bracelet by the talented Caitlyn

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Getting ready for the AWANA Grand Prix.  Caitlyn had 2 second place finishes and two first place finishes.  Sue had 1 second place finish and 3 first place finishes.

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Doing bubbles in the bathroom on a cold, cold night.

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Learning how to add money

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Peeps math, so of course, we ate Valentine’s Day Peeps.

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And salt writing

Look at all the fun we’ve had.  May these be the times we remember as the days go by.

Finding My Fight

Depression is a dark, dark place.  I’ve spent a lot of time there since Patrice was born, so honestly, when I am in a light place, I resist the dark, even when sharing my story might help others.

But someone’s need and fear, brought a story to mind, so I’m going to go there hoping it helps someone.

My last dive  to the bottom of the depression pit was a year ago last October.  I’ve had days, weeks that are off, but nothing like the pit since then.  I’ve needed and gotten help, but I haven’t been on the verge of hospitalization since the end of October 2012.  And yet, the memories of that time are still there.

Those days were a blur of hurt, anger and confusion.  My doctor saw things had spiraled out of control.  He made room in his schedule to see me as much as absolutely possible in hopes of keeping me from a fourth hospital stay.

Those hospital stays are hard.  They keep you safe, but they also keep you from those you love and everything you know.  I was more than willing to work my butt off on the outside, rather than face THAT again.

Honestly, the extra appoints, as appreciated as they were, didn’t seem to be helping.  I remember one Sunday night fighting the demons inside.  I fought so hard.  I cried.  I sat in the Jeep beating the steering wheel.  I was e-mailing my midwife and tweeting with another bipolar mama.  I was desperate.  I knew my life was perfect.  It was all I had ever hoped for.  It was all I had ever dreamed of.  It was beautiful.  And I was so afraid of it.  I was so afraid to go into my hubby and three children and destroy the perfect they deserved.  I could not get myself out of that Jeep to walk in this house.  There was talk via the electronic conversations of heading to the hospital, there were friends begging me to be wise and safe…to live.

My friend who also deals with bipolar suggested something really out of my norm.  She said I should go in my house and watch Ellen Degeneres videos on YouTube.  Now mind you, I don’t like that show.  Never have.  But I was the epitome of desperate.  I waited til my family left for church, and clicked on the first video my friend suggested.  I chuckled.  I clicked on more videos and I laughed.

I found an opening.  I found, in the midst of those ridiculous videos, hope.  I found the strength to fight another round.  I found the will to risk ruining all the perfect my loved ones had.

Things slowly came back together.

Lots has changed since then.  I’ve become a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom.  I’ve had to change doctors.  There’s been medication changes.  There have been rough moments, days, weeks. It hasn’t been all ease and rainbows, but there has also been hope, the will to fight.

And sometimes that is what we need.  We need to fight.  We need others to fight for us when our will and strength are gone.

We have to find our fight.

Enough With the Memes

My girls are young.  7, 6 and 3.  That time can be intense.  They need a lot.  They want a lot.  They are around a lot.  And that’s okay.  I love where I am.

I am keenly aware they will grow up and leave home much too soon.  I remember having a panic attack in a store when Caitlyn was about a month old because she was growing up too quickly.  Truthfully, she has been leaving me since the midwife first put her on my belly and the cord was cut.

I know people.  Trust me I know.  When I am full on honest, that is a big part of why I am undertaking homeschooling.  God lent me these girls to raise, and I am going to do it.

But I am not always 1000% present.  I check in on my phone a lot.  I sometimes let daddy read them a book (okay, most of the time).  It is not uncommon for them to be watching TV while I am blogging or lesson planning.  My house isn’t always clean (or ever) and I can’t blame it on all the wonderful activities the girls and I are doing.  I get short tempered on a regular basis and I mourn when I don’t get any time alone.

I am not perfect.  I wish I were better.  And those darn Facebook Memes don’t help.  They so sweetly and cutely remind us how quickly are children are growing up.  And serve a big, fat, huge, pretentious helping of guilt and tears.  I HATE THEM.

They don’t make me love my kids more, they make me hate myself.  They make me cry and tear myself down.  None of them give me a single more second of time with my kids.  Rather, they make me grumpy.  They make me want more space FROM my kids.  I HATE THEM.

I really wish the people posting them would stop.  Yeah, just quit.  I don’t know who you are and I can only assume your kids are grown and gone.  I am going to assume you are not looking at the reality of raising small kids, of being needed every moment.  I am going to assume how you have forgotten the need for space, the desire for the laundry to stay done for more than an hour, and the nightly dinner fights to get the picky child to take JUST ONE FREAKING BITE!  Yup, I am going to assume the years have given you a myopic view of reality.

So I am left with your sappy, syrupy view of life with kids and a big old heaping of guilt.  And nobody wins.  Lovely.

Please, just please, posting ALL THAT SWEETNESS, and come clean my house instead!  And we’ll all be happy.

In a Relationship

I have been in the church all my life.  I accepted Jesus as my savior at 9.  I spent two years on the mission field.  I know this gig.

You’d think the sermons would get old, the words would get stale.  But more often than not, it’s brand new, a revelation.

Today was another of those.

We, as a church, are working our way through the entire Bible during a 2 year period.  Today we were in Second Chronicles, chapters 5-7.

Solomon has built an amazing, awe inspiring temple for the Lord.  He, knowing he’s a servant king, in service to the one true King, has built himself a very small platform, in relation to the rest of the temple, to speak and pray from.

Solomon stands on this platform, opposite the Holy of Holies, and prays.  In his prayer, he comes to God with humility.  He asks God to please listen, forgive and heal the people.

God responds, I am here, my house is a house of sacrifice and I am listening and looking for my people.

He is looking for us.  He is looking for relationship.  He doesn’t want to be our sugar daddy, He wants to be in relationship with us.

He wants prayers from us, but not always what we want, need, desire for him to do for us.  And that my friends, is what I don’t know how to do.  I have no idea how to just sit with Jesus.  I have no idea how to get to know Him.  I have not a clue how to pray without asking for stuff.  I simply don’t know how.

I’ve heard these ideas, truths before, but today it really hit me, I don’t know how to do that.  It’s not that I don’t want to, I do.  I have spent 34 years of my life learning about God and Jesus.  I spent years going to church camp, which I loved.  I went to youth group every week as well as several youth mission trips and conferences.  I went to a wonderful Christian College, Spring Arbor University.  I did every assignment to the best of my abilities, I sat through every chapel.  I went on the mission field as I was called to do.  I sat under great teaching while there.  And my church now is amazing.  It doesn’t skirt the real issues.  They preach it as it is.  But all that still leaves me not knowing how to sit in relationship, how to worship God without asking, wanting, needing.

The raw truth there, leaves me avoiding church and Bible by being there, but being busy volunteering.  I’m serving.  That’s good, right?  It is, but when I am brutally honest, it’s because there, outside of the preaching, I feel safe.  I don’t hear the hard truths in 3 year olds class.  I don’t have to think about changing my life or truly being known.  It’s safe.

But is that the way it is supposed to be? Is being in relationship ever safe?  Not really.  The beginnings are especially hard.  They are so scary.  You don’t know if the other party is safe.  If letting them in will turn out well.  Relationships are a dance.  Each taking tentative steps.  Relationship with God is different though.  He kind of has the upper hand.  He knew me before I was born.  He knit me together in my mother’s womb.  There are no surprises to Him.

So where does that leave me?  I still don’t know how to sit and commune with someone I can’t audibly hear or see with my natural eyes.  It’s easier to ask Him for things.  It is easier to tell Him what I want or how I feel.  How to turn that corner, how to know Him.  I have no idea.  I’m creeping out of safe and into relationship, but I don’t know what to do next.

Do you?  Do you know how to be in relationship with the Creator of the world, the creator of you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings on the topic.


One of Those Giddy Days

Homeschooling is like parenting, wait, it IS parenting.  But I kind of digress.  It is like parenting in that some days, you are slugging it out in the trenches and some days you are giddy with the honor of being the mama.

Today is a giddy day.

Nobody cut their own hair…ah hem.

Nobody broke a mirror…double ah hem.

Those things didn’t happen today.

Reading happened today.

Math happened today.

Phonics happened today.

Science happened today.

Grammar happened today.

Sue did a great job reading a Spot book to me.

Caitlyn neared the end of her phonics book.  You know, the one we started last week.  The one I thought would take us until the end of the year.  Yeah, that one.  I ordered the next one for her and for Sue.  They are digging phonics.  I am digging how it forces them to practice reading and proper handwriting.  It’s a win-win.

Caitlyn also finished reading me a Frog and Toad book.  You do remember Frog and Toad, right?  They seem to have a special magic that rocks a second graders world.  But that is her last book at that reading level.  Next she will be getting a level 3 (in the I Can Read series) book.  She just does too well for level 2.  It’s a waste of her talents.

Both girls worked hard in math.  Caitlyn got all of her place value questions correct.  I had them do their additional math problems on the computer.  Sue is just beginning to dabble in carrying the 1, Caitlyn is working on mastery.  It is harder on the computer.  I think they will welcome a worksheet during their next session.

We continued studying the solar system today.  They finished putting together their lap book

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And began researching the earth, stars and sun.  (Looks like there is more coloring to be done!)

But the beauty of today?  Grammar.  We worked on adjectives and writing sentences while decorating Gingerbread men.

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We had fun, and learned something too.  Isn’t, that what homeschooling is about?

*Caitlyn told me, “You just do everything better than school, don’t you?”  I don’t know about that, but today, we had fun!


Here’s My Story

A little bit ago my friend AddyeB posted a lengthy, important facebook status about her different postpartum experiences, particularly when it came to screening for Postpartum Depression (PPD).

She has three beautiful boys.  The screening she had four years ago, after her son was born, was nonexistent and when she was given information, it was flat out wrong.

She just had her third baby boy a few weeks ago.  And she has been screened for PPD.  This time, the experience has been full of empathy and correct information.  The way it should be.

I was blessed to be screened after each of the girls.  There were some concerns after Caitlyn was born.  We were ready to medicate when things finally got better…and I got pregnant with Sue.  I was watched like a hawk after Sue was born, but honestly sailed right through it.  I had the easiest time adjusting after Sue and there were no issues whatsoever past the baby blues.  (Those lovely suckers hit after each of the girls.  Man alive!!!)

Then they put Patrice in my arms.  Her pregnancy itself had been, ah, interesting.  She spent the last five weeks in my womb spinning like a top.  I spent weeks diving to the bottom of swimming pools, going to the chiropractor for the Webster Technique and every spinning babies trick I could decipher.  She literally spun in there.  Once during a midwife appointment, she was head down at the beginning and at the end when my midwife grabbed an ultrasound machine, she had gone head up again.  Then my grandfather passed away 36 hours before she was born.  And finally, her cord had wrapped around her neck and head so the last few minutes getting her into this world were very intense.  It was a crazy, wild ride toward the end of her pregnancy.

I knew, from the other two postpartum periods what to expect with the baby blues and even what to look for in depression issues.  And I had enough issues to make things scary.  But the bigger need was the need to move, do, go!!!!!  Which was easy to do with a four year old and a 3 year old.  They need to be active and busy, so we WERE!!!!!  And even though I kept in close contact with my midwife, I didn’t know that need to MOVE, was an issue.  I had never heard of Postpartum Anxiety (PPA).

My midwife and I did decide medication might be in order.  And it seemed to maybe help a little, so we increased the dose.  That wasn’t the best option.  It caused a mania episode that landed my butt in the hospital.

Patrice is now almost 3 1/2 years old.  It’s been bumpy trying to get the depression and anxiety under control, and to find out, in the process, that I was now dealing with Bipolar Depression.  It was all a real bummer.  Especially that last part.  But, I am now doing well.  Life is good.  The depression, mania and anxiety are under control.

All because I had great help from my midwife.  And found amazing resources like Postpartum Progress online.  If you, or someone you know just had a baby, ask, and really listen, “How are you doing?”  Ask yourself if you just had a baby, or even anytime in the first year (ppd/ppa can have a delayed onset) or after weaning a breastfed baby.  Ask your friends if they meet any of the above criteria.  It’s important to ask.  It’s important to listen to the answer.


*Please check out more of AddyeB story at Butterfly Confessions.

And There was a Hush

I grew up in a house without siblings.  It was just my dad, my mom and myself.  And a few goats here and there, but that, my friends, is an entirely different blog post altogether.  It was, except when the goats were there, a quiet place.

Being the only child gave me a lot of control over the noise level. I  have to say, there just isn’t much reason to scream or yell when you’re playing alone.  There just isn’t.  And I grew up in an old 10 room farmhouse.  Each of us had a lot of space to ourselves.

It was quiet.

Life is a whole lot different now!  I have as many kids as made up my entire household growing up.  Not only do I have three kids, but I have three in four years, which sets them up to interact, play and fight together, a lot.

My recent joke has been I should write a book for only children contemplating having kids.  Here is the entirety of the book, “It will be loud and you will lose your mind.”  Maybe I should just write a bumper sticker or a Facebook post, huh?

I jest,  but I don’t.  It has been the biggest, hardest adjustment for me when it comes to having a family.  It is sooooooooo loud.  All.the.time.

That theme has been amplified the last three years of my life.  Is it from the postpartum depression and anxiety, or is it, likely, that a third child adds a huge new layer of loud.

I talked about how loud it was so often to my one doctor that he asked me to find out from my mom if I had experienced a noise related trauma as a child.  She said there was no trauma, but our house was quiet and I was never really fond of loud.

So no deep, dark secret–it’s just the way I am.

I love my girls.  I wouldn’t change a thing about our family.  I’m well aware I could escape some of the noise by not homeschooling, but I refuse to let noise, or my reaction to it, run our lives.  Rather, I have spent the last three years trying to make a truce with the noise of my amazing family with it’s echo in my head.

Me and my weird relationship with noise.  I thought it was just me.  Until a friend asked me to read “The Good Mother Myth.”  It is an amazing anthology of essays by an array of mothers intent on telling the truth about motherhood.  Each author tells her story to help debunk the image that every mom must act just so, look just so and be just so in order to be a good mother.  I’ve been loving it.  Each essay resounds to some degree or another.  One, in particular, was written just for me.  “Through Distortion” by Arwyn Daemyir talks about her son AND HER, being sensitive to noise.  Like me.

All the sudden, while reading, I found out I am not alone.  There are other moms that want to yell and scream and beg their children to be quiet.

“I let my shoulders pull all the way up to my ears, tight, tight, tighter , then exhale and release…” and “Before having kids, I never thought of myself as having noise issues.”

Right there, she was writing to me.  To my heart.  To my ears.

In this particular piece, her son has figured out how to make an electronic keyboard play Happy Birthday on a loop.  She describes wanting to escape, wanting to smash the keyboard to bits.  But instead, she headed into her sons playroom and joined him in the noise.  She chose to go where he was.

I relate.  My girls love to run around and yell.  Last night we let them have a screamfest, brought on by daddy, when he chased them around the house with a water balloon and then with arctic cold hands.

I wanted to run.  I wanted to yell for the noise to end.  I wanted to cry, today I even did, but for a few minutes last night, we let them have a screamfest and I chose to ignore the fear and stress within me.  I let them scream.  I let them be little girls.

Do I always do that?  Oh no.  Several times today I have sent them to another room if they are going to be loud.  I have whispered to them, I have begged them over and over to be quiet.  I have cried because of the noise.

I don’t know what to do about it,  but for today, it soothes my soul to know I am not alone.  There are other Good Mothers who struggle with noise.  And for today, that will be enough.


Linking up for Pour Your Heart Out at Things I Can’t Say.

A New Year Crept In

I spent New Year’s Eve Day begging a headache to go away.  It failed to listen.  It became a migraine instead.  That refused to respond to any medications.  Then it was nice enough to become stomach issues, that also refused to respond to medication.

Today is my first day back on my feet.

Thanks to all who listened to me whine via Facebook and text message.

I did send hubby a Facebook popcorn idea that he tried.  It turned out great.

You cover the bottom of a glass bowl with popcorn kernels and cover the bowl, we used a Pampered Chef batter bowl with a dinner plate.  The recipe says to put it in the microwave for 2 minutes and 45 seconds.  Hubby found it worked at about 4 minutes.  He then added butter and salt.  It was yummy without the awful smell of microwave popcorn.  I hate the over-the-top smell of microwave popcorn.  This didn’t smell and tasted good on my mad tummy.  We will do it again and again.

I’ve also pretty much given up diet coke.  I have replaced my habit with decaf iced tea.  Maybe that will support my quest for less mad tummy days.  I am also keeping a food journal to share with my family doctor to see if she can identify anything that should be axed.

Monday will bring the start of our school year in 2014.  We are forecasted to get about 10 inches of snow by Monday morning, but that won’t spell a snow day for us.  Don’t tell the girls.

I am making an addition to our schooling Monday.  We will start Explode the Code (phonics) with Caitlyn and Sue.  I’m concerned it will be too easy for Caitlyn, so we may end up skipping through much of the book, but we really need some phonics instruction for Sue.  I know the rules of English, but I am struggling to get them across to a 6 year old.  The English language has soooo many rules, and yet, it rarely follows any of them.  Darn language.  Have to give Sue all the tools to get through Fancy Nancy and the Dazzling Book Report so mama can get some dazzling hair!!!

We went up north to visit my family for the Christmas holidays.  Hubby did a great job fitting everything in the car to get up there and even better getting it all in to come back.  My girls might have gotten spoiled for Christmas!!!

I tried to be a little more present and a little less behind the camera, but here are a few pictures.

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This is our Jesus Box.  It is the first thing we open during our family Christmas.  It has the Christmas story in it, which daddy reads, and lights (flashlights) for each of the girls to remind them we as Christians are called to be the light of the world.

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Patrice busting a move at Grandma with 2 Doggies house.

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I hope your New Year came in a little nicer than mine.  But overall, I can’t complain too much.  I had my family and a  wonderful Christmas holiday.

Please forgive the run on sentences that snuck into this post.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!