Category Archives: Caitlyn

Raising Me

I hate the Bipolar.  I hate the anxiety.  I hate what it does to me.  I hate how it makes me feel and act.  I hate it.

I don’t want this for my girls.  I don’t want them to feel a single second of it.  And yet, sometimes anxiety does hit Caitlyn.

Monday was one of those nights.

We have been thinking for a long time that Patrice would be really good at gymnastics.  And Caitlyn has been dying to learn how to do a cartwheel.  The big day finally came Monday.  I made preparations last week and Monday we headed off to lessons.

And the anxiety hit.  Me–because I managed to forget the paperwork I had so carefully done, at home.  Caitlyn–because she didn’t know anyone there and didn’t know what to do when.

Patrice was excited from the get-go, but Caitlyn admitted later that she just wanted to go home.  I saw her anxiety.  I saw her fear.  What I tried not to see was me.  I did not want to see Caitlyn immobilized by her emotions.  I also saw her bravery.  She kept going.  She put one foot in front of the other.  She worked to find out what she was supposed to be doing and where she was supposed to be.  She didn’t give up.

As I saw her go from activity to activity, I saw her nail biting lessen.  I saw her paying more and more attention to what was going on around her and less and less attention to what was going on inside of her.  And my anxiety decreased.

Once again, I was able to tell myself I am not raising a daughter who will be immobilized by anxiety.  I am not raising me.

The Day Mama Marched

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.

 

My husband and I met over 14 years ago at our church.  We were both part of the singles ministry there.  I just visited at first, but as time went on I came to more and more of the activities.  At the time, the singles group took up two rows of seats (actually pews) in the service time.  For some reason, the group chose to sit way up front.  Like 3 rows from the pulpit.  It seemed a little close to me, but so be it…I sat up there too.  No biggie.

Hubby and I got married, moved to a different Sunday School class, started having kids, and along came Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, along with debilitating Social Anxiety.  Attending church became very, very difficult for me.  Sitting up front was out of the question.  I sat as far back as possible most of the time–if not in the foyer.

And hubby noticed.

He realized he could gauge how well I was doing in my head by where I sat in church.  When things were rough I either sat in the foyer or way in the back of the sanctuary.  On the rare good days, I would head much further up in the seating area.  I didn’t notice, but he sure did…and when he mentioned it to me, I started paying attention and he was right.

This weekend was pretty good for me.  Busy, but I handled most of it.  Saturday had some rough spots, where I have to admit I was afraid I was going to lose it, but I didn’t and by Sunday I was okay.

Sunday morning I walked into that church and marched up to the front.  Hubby said, “look at you going right to the front!”

“Of course I am, my babies are singing and I need pictures!”

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It’s Christmas time–time for Christmas programs and yesterday was ours.  The girls sang in both services and had a Christmas party in between.  And this year I was strong enough to be right up front–so close during the first service that Caitlyn could see us and tried to smile for the pictures.

All along, my fight to be well has been for my family–specifically my girls.  The last six years hasn’t been easy on any of us but yesterday was a victory for all of us…the day mama marched into the church to take pictures.

Enjoy What You’re Doing

Ten or so years ago, hubby and I rang a bell at a Salvation Army Kettle.  It is a chilly project, but low stress and high fun.  That experience was before kids.  I decided a couple weeks ago it was time to do it again–as a family of five!!

So, this afternoon we bundled up (glad it wasn’t as cold today as it was earlier this week) and headed out to the Post Office.

We sang, we danced, we said Merry Christmas and thank you!

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We had lots of comments from people saying we looked like we were having fun.  One guy, motioned over to hubby as he danced to Dominick the Donkey, and said, “you gotta enjoy what you are doing!”

And we did.

We were out there 2 hours and 20 minutes.  There were no bell ringers when we got there, so we just started our shift a little early.  People responded well.  Our bucket was completely full when we returned it to the Salvation Army Citadel this afternoon.

Our toes were cold, but our hearts were full from being able to do our part to help.

Memories Fond Memories

Memories come up when you least expect them.  Sometimes it is nice to just hang on to them.

Today had a few of those moments.

My Caitlyn is 10 and growing like a weed. She only has about an inch to go before she is my height.  She is perfect and beautiful, I just can’t believe how tall she is.  When she was 9 months old one doctor diagnosed her with failure to thrive.  I’d say we have that issue licked 😉  Today she found a jacket shirt she liked at the store and decided to use some money she had saved from her birthday to buy it.  The size she chose?  a women’s medium.  Now, it is big on her, as daddy pointed out when I was lamenting her growing up too quickly, but still, she is comfortable in a women’s medium.  I am in a women’s medium–it’s not loose on me, but it fits.

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I remember like it was yesterday, holding a friend’s new baby and whispering to the baby, “my hubby  and I are hoping to have a baby like you some day.”  A little over a week later we found out Caitlyn was coming.

Another friend brought home a new baby this weekend.  Chatting with her got me thinking about that first night home with Caitlyn.  She had slept so well in the hospital.  Nobody warned me they don’t sleep the first night home.  I remember being blurry-eyed from sleep, not knowing what to do for my new bundle.  Finally I decided to sing her a song I have been singing my whole like.  I knew the words, but could not come up with the tune to save my life…so I made one up!

Sparks are a Flyin’

Back in August, for Caitlyn’s birthday, we got her a snap circuit kit.  It has parts and pieces for making almost 200 electricity projects.  She ignored it, for the most part, when we first got it.  I was kind of bummed.  I had heard from so many homeschoolers how great they were and how much their kids loved them.  And it was a dud with my daughter.

This week I learned that wasn’t exactly the truth.  Apparently, she had lost a key piece to the kit and was stuck.  Well, that problem has been solved.  Sue or Patrice lost our TV remote this week.  It is still missing, but while looking in one of the bedrooms, Patrice found Caitlyn’s missing piece.  Ever since, Caitlyn has been churning out project after project.

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Unfortunately, the kit, while it has the pieces and instructions to make 150+ projects, it does not have enough pieces to make the projects and keep them set up.  Each project can be made one at a time.

I have enjoyed watching her put together the various projects and my favorite part was when she looked at me today and said, “thank you for getting this for me!”

A little electric current of joy to mama’s heart!!

The Ever Wonderful Caitlyn

I think today we will just feast on the wonderful and lovely that is my oldest daughter, Caitlyn.

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We Ran Oh We Ran

Caitlyn and I ran our second 5k together today.  Well, not really together–she runs and then I come slowly up from the rear of the crowd…much later after she finishes.

Today’s race was a Turkey Trot.  The top finisher in each age bracket won a turkey.  Let’s just suffice it to say, I did not win a turkey.

But the weather was pristine.  Low sixties, sunshine–amazing.

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It was also the hardest I have ever run.  The course was all off road.  There were hills, so many hills!  And for many of them, you were turning in such a way that you were running on the side of the hill instead of in any manner of straight.  I almost cried twice, I kid you not, and I wanted to walk so badly, but my primary goal in every 5k I run is to do just that–run every step, and I did it this time too, just barely, but I did.  Caitlyn admitted she walked a few times, and honestly, that was probably wise, but I can be pretty stubborn and come heck or high water, I was going to run it all.

I ran step after step and finally, it was done!!!  I was once again frustrated with my time, but this race, that was greatly overshadowed by how proud I was to have finished and run the whole thing.

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And yes, I came home and started looking for our next race.  No matter how hard running is, I just keep going back for more.

Politics Here

Let’s just start off by saying I have no idea how I am going to vote in the upcoming Presidential election.  What I do know, is I cannot wait for the political ads and posts on Facebook to be gone.

I may still be struggling about whether or not I am going to vote at all, but that does not mean we have ignored politics in our homeschooling.  We have read several biographies, we have done a unit study, we have had many, many conversations about the positives and negatives of the Republican and Democratic candidates, and talked about what an Independent Party/candidate is.

In the unit study Caitlyn and Sue created a newspaper that included articles about the overall election process  and who the Presidential Candidates were, a letter to the editor concerning a local issue on the ballot, an overview of the requirements for voting in our state and what the voting process entails, how the candidates differ and how they are similar, an explanation of our two major parties, and an overview of women’s suffrage.

But our elections education has not been purely academic.

The girls’ have each explained, based on their understanding, who they would vote for.  I am standing here wracking my brain trying to remember what each of them said about their choice.  I know Patrice said she would vote for Hillary Clinton because “she is a girl.”  Patrice has also very sweetly asked me to vote for Hillary–“for me, please mommy?”  Caitlyn has had several thoughts on the issue, but the one that sticks out to me is she would vote for Hillary Clinton because Donald Trump “is a sore loser” (she has watched portions of each of the debates).  Sue said she would vote for Hillary Clinton “because she is a girl and because I don’t think she should be in jail, she was only trying to protect her e-mail and the country.”

I may still be trying to decide what to do when I am standing in front of the ballot Tuesday, but my girls have made up their minds!

Caitlyn has even flexed some of her democratic muscles.  The other day, every time someone disagreed with what she was doing or wearing, she declared, “It’s a free country!”

And then tonight the girls capped off their understanding of the election process by spontaneously presenting their own presidential debate.  Caitlyn was the moderator, Sue was the Republican Candidate, and Patrice was the Democratic Candidate.  They covered issues including homelessness, housing, schools, and what they would do to make America greater.  Patrice, on the topic of homelessness, said anybody that “wanted a house can come ask me, and I will put them in a hotel and build them a house.”  Sue, concerning schools said, “I will get better teachers and better food because nobody can learn on an empty stomach!”  Concerning making America greater Sue said she would stop terrorist attacks while Patrice said she would give money to the homeless.

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Our debate even had some “digs” in it as Sue told Patrice her answer was “a great comedy act.”  The girls, as you can see, dressed up for the debate–shoes optional, and they had suckers from their Halloween candy.

Of course, after the debate I had to explain to Patrice what a Republican was and what a Democrat was…she’s a 6-year-old work in progress.

I am really pleased with our overall study of Americas’ election process and what the girls have learned.  They’ve worked hard to understand the world around them and we’ve had some fun along the way; what more could I ask for?

 

 

Pounding Out the Miles

I started back to running August 16, right after the girls first cross country practice.  I watched them out there and just could not resist joining in.  I have logged between 6-9 miles a week since then.

I am not fast, my quickest mile in all of that was 13:37, but I am plugging away at about 15;35 on average.

Running is amazing.  It is not easy, but it gets easier somewhere late in the first mile.

I have run 5k with Caitlyn several times, as she has joined me on Sunday mornings to do a good run before church several times.  And then she joined me to do a 5k a few weeks ago.

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This Saturday, we have our second 5k–a Turkey Trot.

But I’ve decided to take it a step further…I would like to run a half marathon, 13.1 miles.  And I have someone with experience who is willing to help me figure out how to get there.

One of the moms from cross country has run several half marathons and a couple marathons…and she is willing to lend me her expertise.

Step one:  get stronger and lose some more weight over the winter since Michigan isn’t that conducive to much running at that time.  My personal plan is to run on the treadmill 3 times a week and do strength work 3 times a week.

Step two:  get out there and start running longer stretches when spring finally arrives.

Step three:  sign up for, and run a half marathon in October.

Oh boy!!!!

That  plan ought to get me stronger and thinner in no time, right?  It would be awfully nice to finally lose the rest of my baby weight–you know, since the baby is 6 years old and can read, add, and subtract…

Today was Hands On

Our first year of homeschooling I found so many incredible ideas for hands-on projects and activities.  It was fun, if I do say so myself.  My second year that dwindled, and last year was dismal.  We made it through our daily lessons of bookwork, but there just wasn’t any fun.  Last year was survival mode as I battled the bipolar disorder…But this year, this year, offered hope.

Hope, that we could have fun again.  That Patrice could enjoy some fo the hands-on activities similar to what we had done in the first year, when she was oblivious.

And I think, we have had more fun.  We are getting through material, going on field trips, and enjoying projects.  Today, we did two fun projects in art and science.

During art, we made cards for a friend in the hospital.

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This afternoon we did a science project learning how plant seeds might travel to other places in the world.  We “made” seeds and sent them flying.

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The best part was seeing Patrice not only get involved in the activity, but watching the video beforehand, and being able to explain what it was saying, and argue her point, successfully I might add, with her sisters.

Every day has it’s adventures, but today included some intentional fun!