In Came Her

A few years back we decided to get involved with a particular group of people in a particular life circumstance and see if we could help.

And I think we have.

But not nearly as much as they have helped my family, and me, especially.

A little over 3 years ago I went to a family’s house.  I didn’t know the family.  I didn’t know what to expect.  We met that day.  I helped with something and she sent food home with me.  For the first of what has literally become thousands of times.

God has used her to carry me many times.

Three, in particular, come to mind.

The first was a year ago.  Earlier in the spring, the doctors found a lump.  It wasn’t cancer but had to come out because it has such a high likelihood of becoming cancer.  A year ago, right now, they removed the lump.  The surgery went great. I had no pain.  That was a Monday.  I expected to go right back to my life on Tuesday.  But I didn’t.  I dropped my girls off at an activity and I went to her house.  And sat there.  I just sat.  I didn’t even hold her newborn daughter.  That’s what I did for the rest of the week.  She had a newborn baby but she was the one taking care of me.  She just sat with me and sent dinner home to my family every night.

Another time was a month or so ago.  The bipolar had been playing mean.  But I was okay, just a rough evening.  And she saw it.  She messaged me on my home and used our particular code to ask if I was really okay.  She saw it.  My hubby can see it sometimes.  And I have people who I can reach out to but they are not nearby so I have to tell them when I am struggling.  But. she. saw. it.

That brings us to today.  The last two weeks have been hard. I still do the things that need to be done but I really just want to hide.  I am always exhausted no matter how much I sleep.  I have seen her a few times this week but just for accomplishing a few things, not to visit.  I love being with her when I am there but it is just hard to be anywhere.  It took me until Friday to ask if it is the Bipolar.  And today I have just not done anything and have done little to connect.  But she did the work to connect with me.  A couple of hours ago my daughter yelled, “she’s here.”  And she was.  And again she knew just the right time to be here.

Funny, a few years ago I thought I would help her when I was the one that needed her help.

 

Pandemic, Bipolar and a Mask

Patrice can make anything look cute!!  And monkies are her jam!  Gotta say my girls made being under stay at home orders for a couple of months life much easier.  They are fun, smart, and for the most part, obedient.  Being traditional homeschoolers we had no trouble continuing on with school–I actually added more.  We got more schoolwork done this year than any other year–why not?  We were at home!

Caitlyn got some practice sewing making masks for the family.  It is not her favorite thing to do but she also does not like listening to me nag so she did it–though she did tell me not to volunteer her to make a bunch of masks.

I was a little bit of a disaster during the tightest of controls as we stayed home to lessen demands on the hospitals here.

Easter was probably the worst of it for me. I missed my best friend so badly–so badly.  And that morning she and her husband dropped off several of my favorite dishes of food she had made for us.  I couldn’t hug her.  I couldn’t invite her in.  We could barely chat.

I was so glad to see her but it broke me.  I came in and cried and cried and cried…until the next day.  I thought I would never stop crying.  Honestly.  And of course, you can’t hide anything from your best friend so when she found out, she did another porch drop the next day to make sure I was okay.

And that time, I was okay.  For some odd reason, that time made me happy.  Yes, I still wished I could invite her in and give her a hug but I was at least also happy I got to see her.

 

I cried a lot during the 2-ish months of shelter in place.  There were days I was afraid I wouldn’t stop and I would scar my children forever but honestly, I don’t think it can be blamed on the bipolar.  I really think it was a pretty normal reaction.  Such a time of upheaval and fear.  Somehow my children seem to be handling it okay.  Even as homeschoolers, we lost a lot during this–co-op, theatre, youth group, time with friends, but my girls were amazing.  I seriously don’t know how I can have ended up with such stable kids when I am anything but, but I thank God every single day for that.

*Not my baby–I like to borrow them and give them back!

As we transition to doing more, it is hard to know what is okay and what to do or not to do.  For the most part, when we are with people the rule is masks on indoors and off outdoors IF we can be spaced apart. It is hard.  A lot of people try to tell me we don’t need to worry about it but I want to love my neighbor as myself so we wear them.

I survived all of this with my emotions somewhat intact but one of my biggest struggles now is people not wearing masks or face shields when out.  Science has shown they reduce transmission of covid-19.  I want to be safe and I want to do my part to keep others safe.  It is my duty and my privilege to love others in this small way.

Pretending It Doesn’t Exist

Note:  This comes out of recent events we are aware of but not personally involved in and a conversation I had with someone.  The person I talked to is one of the sweetest people I have ever known and was receptive to my perspective as we talked.  She did not know about my mental health journey.  I am by no means upset with her; I just wanted to share my thoughts after this conversation.

A young man known by many in our circle of friends died by suicide earlier this week.  This lead many parents to have to consider how and what to discuss with their children.  In a conversation this week, a lady said to me, “I don’t talk to my kids about it.  I don’t want them to even know it [suicide] exists.”

I was floored.  Her kids are all in their teens and 2os.  Without meaning to, I jumped on her.

“But it does exist.  Kids need to know that.  I live with bipolar disorder and while it is not right now, there are times suicidal ideations (thoughts) are part of the illness.  They are a symptom of bipolar and other mental health issues.  Kids need to know that.  They need to know what it is and to seek  help whether it is a one-time thing or part of ongoing their mental health concerns.”

She knew nothing of my history, my journey or my battles.  To be honest, I share less and less of it openly.  But today, I was reminded why I sometimes have to speak up.

Mental illness almost killed me.  It almost tore apart my family, as it did this family earlier this week.  I do not know this young man’s story, but I do know suicidal ideations.  I know what it is to fight that battle with every breath in my body.  I know what it is to fight alone and with others.  I know what it is to have beat back the thoughts for now.  I know what it is to dread their return.

There are many causes of suicidal thoughts and none of them are because someone knew suicide existed.  We can not protect our children by never mentioning suicide or mental illness.  We can not wish or deny it away.  We can not cause our children to deal with suicidal thoughts by saying the word any more than we can make it disappear by never talking about it.

I am not telling you to spill out everything you know about suicide and every scary detail to every child–different ages call for different types and amounts of information.  Choose wisely, but please don’t choose nothing.

 

 

Clowning Around

Today found us heading out for a field trip to The Parade Company in Detroit.

We saw where they build floats and big heads for America’s Thanksgiving Parade; it is the third biggest Parade in America–behind the Rose Parade on January 1st and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

It started in 1924 as the JL Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Employees from Hudson’s were in the parade–but only men–they pulled the floats.  A couple of years later women were allowed to be in it and all were paid for doing so.  The parade was not held in 1943 and 1944 as the parade supplies were donated for the war effort.

The Parade Company employs artists and has 4,500 volunteers that put on the parade each year.  People 14-years-old and up can walk in the parade.  Wearing a Big Head or being a clown is an option for those making a donation of various sizes.

We saw a styrofoam culture being crafted, floats from previous years that will be reused, and a float being dismantled that is being taken out of service.

Can you find the first ethnic float character or the handpainted Petoskey stone?

 

If You Give a Girl…

My husband is a custom carpenter who can make amazing things and fix anything.  Our girls are used to tools and hands-on projects…we recently found out how used to it!!

Our house does not have a door directly into the backyard so we either put the dog on a tie out in the front yard or we walk him around to the side of house to get him into fenced in yard.

This has always irritated my husband and I a bit but we just realized it has been bothering the girls too.  When they found a piece of pallet my husband had used in a project and made a ladder for the dog so they could let him in and out of the house through the youngest daughter’s bedroom window.

They got the screw gun and even found screws to refurbish the pallet piece to make it more sturdy for the dog.

It’s not a bad system and only required supervision from me.

Yesterday, the 9-year-old decided the “ladder” needed some more work…I got a little more involved this time!!

Falling Into…

If you want something done, ask the busiest person?  No, just ask the person who can’t say no.

Last year, I was asked to run for a position on our co-op board.  I won.  I ran unopposed.  Now, don’t even think I am doing this on my own…the other board members do so dang much.  And my committee members.  They do so much.  And I am so thankful.

People think I do everything last minute because I am so busy—nope, it is because a lot of times my anxiety keeps me from doing any of the things, so I have to wait until my brain gives me a bit of slack.

I’ve been fighting a hypomania phase with the bipolar for what feels like months and I finally found out why–I have been.  I was doubting that fact because then it would feel different…turns out, according to the doctor, I am in a mixed episode.

Yeah, that right there would explain it.

The yo-yo.  The back and forth.

Right now I feel like I am collapsing into it.

A family emergency last week pulled me out of my routine that helps protect me.

Some other struggles have me thinking too much.

My pride has me smarting over an e-mail where I want to scream, hey, I did the work, I laid the groundwork…why are they getting credit?

That one hurts and exacerbates the other issues.

I have spent a lot of time thinking the bipolar was no longer an issue.

I was wrong.

A Bump in the Road

Back in May, I was a good girl.  I got my annual mammogram.  Dang, those things hurt.  I figured I would check that off my list and move on with life.

Nope.

They needed more views and an ultrasound…and there was a lump.

Next came a needle biopsy and another mammogram (those jerks hurt).

And finally a lumpectomy last week.  Thankfully the lump was not cancer, but it was high risk so the journey is not quite over.  Next month we discuss the risks and consider next steps.

None of this was supposed to happen and I am not handling it well.

I am not afraid of dying from cancer.  At all.

I am afraid of the disruption in my life.

I am afraid of not being a good witness for Jesus.

But I was not afraid of the bipolar getting its two cents in.

And yet, here I am.

I came through the surgery last week with flying colors.  No pain, light bruising.  I expected to rejoin my life no problem–instead I find myself wanting to hide out.  I literally wanted to do nothing last week.  I just went to my friend’s house and hid.

Saturday I decided it was time to rejoin my life no matter how I felt.  And I have.

But oh how I would rather still be on my friend’s couch.  Where I feel protected with no expectations.

I’m here, but I am missing from my life.

School Year

Where did this year go?  I swear it started yesterday but here we are…starting our last week on Monday!!

I am ready.

The girls are ready.

Frazier is probably even ready.

I am sure the turtle is ready.

Did we get it all done?  Heck no!!!

But Sue did an amazing job with reading.  She read so many books!  She read things like Bridge to Terabethia, Paddington Bear, Island of the Blue Dolphin, Refugee, some Dork Diaries books, some Who Was biographies, Anne of Green Gables, Across Five Aprils.  A lot.

Ukranian eggs were decorated.

Ice skating was discovered.

Dissections were done (grasshopper and squid).

Syrian foods were eaten.

Math was done–each of the girls completed a level and started the next!!

Random schoolwork was done.

A good year was had…

 

 

Low FODMAP Part 2

A couple of years ago I embarked on a Low FODMAP diet to deal with some stomach issues.  In this process, I discovered I can’t tolerate peanuts, cashews, apples (like EVER), and ice cream.  It has helped.  But I have gotten lazy and I think it is time to be kind to my digestive system again.

The FODMAP theory holds that consuming foods high in “FODMAPs”—short for fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols, a collection of short-chain carbohydrates found in many common foods—results in increased volume of liquid and gas in the small and large intestine, contributing to symptoms such as abdominal paingas, and bloating, and the motility problems of diarrhea and constipation. The theory proposes that following a low-FODMAP diet should result in a decrease in these symptoms.

(https://www.verywellhealth.com/foods-on-the-low-fodmap-diet-1944679)

It is a daunting process.  The first 2 weeks are very strict.  But at least this time I will only be two weeks at that level.  Back when I originally did it, I spent months and months at the strictest level to get my stomach healed.  But I am pretty confident this time two weeks will be enough.

The following foods have been identified as being high in FODMAPs:

Fruits

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Blackberries
  • Cherries
  • Grapefruit
  • Mango
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums and prunes
  • Pomegranates
  • Watermelon
  • High concentration of fructose from canned fruit, dried fruit or fruit juice

Grains

  • Barley
  • Couscous
  • Farro
  • Rye
  • Semolina
  • Wheat

Lactose-Containing Foods

  • Buttermilk
  • Cream
  • Custard
  • Ice cream
  • Margarine
  • Milk (cow, goat, sheep)
  • Soft cheese, including cottage cheese and ricotta
  • Yogurt (regular and Greek)

Dairy Substitutes

  • Oat milk (although a 1/8 serving is considered low-FODMAP)
  • Soy milk (U.S.)

Legumes

  • Baked beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Butter beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Kidney beans
  • Lima beans
  • Soybeans
  • Split peas

Sweeteners

  • Agave
  • Fructose
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Isomalt
  • Maltitol
  • Mannitol
  • Molasses
  • Sorbitol
  • Xylitol

Vegetables

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Scallions (white parts)
  • Shallots
  • Snow peas
  • Sugar snap peas

Low-FODMAP Food List

grilled chicken over vegetables
Cristina Cassinelli/Photolibrary/Getty Images

The following foods have been identified as being low in FODMAPs:

Fruits

  • Avocado (limit 1/8 of whole)
  • Banana
  • Blueberry
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grapes
  • Honeydew melon
  • Kiwi
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Olives
  • Orange
  • Papaya
  • Plantain
  • Pineapple
  • Raspberry
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberry
  • Tangelo

Sweeteners

  • Artificial sweeteners that do not end in -ol
  • Brown sugar
  • Glucose
  • Maple syrup
  • Powdered sugar
  • Sugar (sucrose)

Dairy and Alternatives

  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk (limit 1/2 cup)
  • Hemp milk
  • Rice milk
  • Butter
  • Certain cheeses, such as  brie, camembert, mozzarella, Parmesan
  • Lactose-free products, such as lactose-free milk, ice cream, and yogurt

Vegetables

  • Arugula (rocket lettuce)
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Bok choy
  • Carrots
  • Celeriac
  • Collard greens
  • Common Cabbage
  • Corn (half a cob)
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • Fennel
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Parsnip
  • Potato
  • Radicchio
  • Scallions (green parts only)
  • Spinach, baby
  • Squash
  • Sweet potato
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomato
  • Turnip
  • Water chestnut
  • Zucchini

Grains

  • Amaranth
  • Brown rice
  • Bulgur wheat (limit to 1/4 cup cooked)
  • Oats
  • Gluten-free products
  • Quinoa
  • Spelt products

Nuts

  • Almonds (limit 10)
  • Brazil nuts
  • Hazelnuts (limit 10)
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Pecan
  • Pine nuts
  • Walnuts

Seeds

  • Caraway
  • Chia
  • Pumpkin
  • Sesame
  • Sunflower

Protein Sources

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Shellfish
  • Tofu and tempeh
  • Turkey

(https://www.verywellhealth.com/foods-on-the-low-fodmap-diet-1944679)

For in depth, I mean in depth, information about FODMAP eating, check out The Gut Balance Revolution by Gerard E Mullin, MD.  I am not going to lie, it took me about 2 years to trudge through it, but it is incredibly well researched, so there’s that.

The upside to this is phase two can be done long term and is safe for weight loss as well as being nice to my body overall.  I am pretty excited. Or terrified.  Or consternated.  Or something.  I guess the word would be conflicted.

But, I desperately need to take care of myself and get to a better size.  For me.  Mostly for me.  And for my girls.  Our eating as a family is a disaster.  Way too many carbs and way too much processed food.  Now is the time to clean it up.   Now.

First, to shop and stock this house for wellness.

Wish me luck!

Fat Tuesday a Day Late

I used to do fun projects in our homeschool.  The last year or so I feel like I have gotten lazy–but today I am turning that around…

Fat Tuesday was yesterday, but we were at a field trip, so I am sneaking in our paczki project today.  Caitlyn made some from scratch (baked to fried) and we looked up how they are made in a bakery and about a nearby city here that is famous for these big ole jelly donuts…

She set the dough to rise twice, waited for the individual paczki’s to rise, baked them, and filled them with strawberry jams.  Her sisters decided to “help out” with the jelly part and the eating part!

Caitlyn used this recipe.

Then we checked out some YouTube to see how it is done on a larger scale.

And no lesson in this house would be complete without a study on immigration and how it grows, changes, and develops our communities.  I highly recommend this article!  Take a minute to see a bit of reality in how people leave together, grow together and learn from each other.  You’ll be glad you did–I’ll be glad you did!!