Doing All The Things I Love

Our family does some volunteering that I love. It involves helping people, meeting amazing people, living and loving with people very intentionally and hopefully well.

It has been the joy of my life to have this opportunity over the last several years. Truly. It can be an emotional work being truly in people’s lives, but I recommend it 200%.

The last couple of weeks has been incredibly rewarding as we have met new families and are getting to know them as they build their lives. But when I tell you it is exactly where I want to be, I am not kidding or exaggerating.

It has even given me many, many opportunities to use the Arabic I have been studying for the last 5 years. And it has been amazing. Challenging and exhausting. Exposed my weaknesses while encouraging me in how much I have actually learned.

My kids are working hard and succeeding in their studies. They are really great and fun kids. They continue to me witty, heartwarming, thoughtful, and smart…seriously, I can’t complain.

The only problem is me.

I hate myself.

I cried on my run today while considering my day.

Every interaction I have is tainted by how much I talk. I talk too much. It’s not because I want to monopolize the conversation. I truly can’t help it.

And it ruins me after every social interaction. I often say I am afraid to be around people. That is not incorrect but to put a finer point on it, I hate who I am around people. My stomach hurts just thinking about it. Actually, my whole body hurts.

I also hate the feeling that people really don’t want me around. I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop–walking on eggshells because I am sure people are angry with me and going to yell at me. I don’t intend to be needy or desperate but I am scared–all.the.time.

Scared of friends. Scared of family. Scared of acquaintances. Scared the things I love will be taken away from me as punishment. It never ends.

My life is amazing. I only wish…

I am Tired

For the last 6 years our country has been turned on its ear. I thought it would be over when TFG lost the 2020 election and yet…

Two years ago was the attack on our Capitol so TFG could try to stay as president. I remember standing at this very computer with my mouth agape and tears running down my face. My husband came home and we stood there shocked. I sat for two days in a stupor telling my best friend over and over, “what has happened to my country?”

There was hope in 2020 and some things have gotten better but still every day I am afraid of what has happened to my country.

And I am tired of that question.

Shut It Down

So I had planned to shut down this blog but I can’t figure out how to print it all and I don’t want to lose everything which brings me to–I guess I better get writing to justify its existence.

I’ll start by writing about something that brings me great joy–reading. Not mine, but my girls’.

I love to read. My mother loves to read. My grandmother loved to read. I always assumed my daughters would love to read…alas, it did not seem that was going to be the case. Once, my mother even yelled across a family, “didn’t you think you would raise at least ONE reader?” I felt this criticism deeply and was so embarrassed I had not…, particularly as a homeschooler. But alas, Caitlyn only loved to read to learn things, i.e. Pinterest or other websites. Sue loved Graphic Novels and Patrice, well, she saw reading as an extension of school and was not a big fan. I, as a book snob, did not see graphic novels, or even audiobooks, as real reading thus I was left with no readers.

Then, last summer, something changed, Caitlyn decided to volunteer at the local library. She goes every Thursday afternoon for two hours.

Caitlyn helping at the library fair last summer

I hoped, but thought it was ridiculous to consider, that she would fall in love with reading somehow while she was at the library…AND SHE DID! She discovered there were a lot more books out there than what mommy had chosen over the years.

Now, in my defense, she has chosen some of the genre I used to buy for her but they are a little more grown-up than I chose. But now she reads lots of things. Authors and titles I never would have thoughts. She and her friends give books as gifts and hang out at bookstores! I am still thrilled and in awe. I am sure I make her crazy because I keep commenting on it. I try not to but…I try.

Another thing happened that has helped my perspective–a year or so ago, maybe longer, I discovered audiobooks. I just don’t have all the time to read that I would like but with an audiobook I can run and “read”–it is wonderful. And this past summer, I discovered graphic novels! I thought they were just that, novels–basically comic books, but turns out you can find biographies, history, all sorts of things–I have two on hold at the library right now–which makes me a lot more accepting of what Sue, and sometimes Patrice, like to read.

I guess mom’s can use an education and an attitude adjustment!

Don’t mind me, I’m just over here giddy as I see my kids reading all different genres and formats!

Feeling Good and Bad

One step forward, two steps back.

November was my things have to change moment. I have spent years totally immobilized when it came to getting my health back. It has been a mix of how do I change my eating without my three daughters learning disordered eating or that their worth comes from the number on the scale and feeling totally overwhelmed whenever I looked at changing my foods. Like, take anxiety medication overwhelmed.

And then Covid. My biggest risk factor for Covid complications is my weight. At 4′ 9″ tall, it doesn’t take a lot to put me in the obese category. And that made me mad.

Need to make a change!

So November, I decided to start even if I didn’t know where to start. I started logging my food and slowly lowering how many calories I ate. I saw 10 pounds drop in pretty short order. And that was beyond fantastic.

In early May, I took the plunge and started intermittent fasting. That got me out of slump I had been in. So at the end of May, I jumped into Keto.

And I have lost 23 pounds. I have gone down a size in shirts and some jeans.

Progress but I want more

I have 35 more to lose if I go by my goal and 41 pounds more if I go by the charts.

I really am thrilled but things have slowed down again. I am not seeing a big drop like others talk about with Keto. I am still losing and gaining. I get at least 10,000 steps every day. Some days walking and more and more back to running. I have even started going to the gym with my daughter.

Where is my quick loss others talk about with Keto? Why am I still creeping down, back and forth?

I am thrilled at the 23 pounds gone but will I get the others gone or am I just fooling myself?

I want to wallow really bad but I am going to head outside to play a game of crossnet with my girls.

Goals Goals Goals

Starting our third year in a pandemic is getting more than a little old. I speak for everyone when I say how desperately we need something else to think about, talk about, and do.

Our family has been, and continues to be, pretty limited in our activities. And I am okay with that but like all I am tired of living, thinking, and breathing about covid.

So I have decided to tackle something that is not easy but I have more control over it–my weight.

I have been putting off the weight I need to lose for a long time. My reason, one among many, I was afraid to undertake all the changes and teach my daughters the diet culture or put them at risk with disordered eating.

And I am still afraid of that–I have a 15-year-old, 14-year-old, and 11-year-old. All girls. How do I navigate this while getting myself healthy? So I took the first step in November. I started logging all my food. Then I gave up Diet Coke (for another reason but hopefully it helps here), and got to moving some more. I learned some things from others, gave up bread, and set some goals.

Sixty-three pounds is a lot of my very small body. I followed some advice from a YouTuber who has lost 183 pounds and set some goals. Two weeks ago I hit 10% of my goal lost and today I hit my first 10-pound goal.

This evening I excitedly ordered myself some new hair bobbies to celebrate my first 10 pounds!

So here we go…

The Days Move On

Two years ago today my family sat together and spent my grandma’s last moments with her. We laughed and we cried as we lived together in each breath.

I mark time. I always have. Memories, anniversaries sit there waiting for their moment. Waiting for the chanced to be breathed in and out once again.

Two years ago it came time to mark the final moments with my grandma.

On December 12 my mom had called to say it was time to come home to see grandma. I had a cold so took a nap to prepare for the drive up. And then my grandma rallied so I told my mom we weren’t going to come–I didn’t want to make anyone sick. The next call was to come…it seesawed back and forth a bit until my hubby came home and declared, “no, we’re going.” Hubby and girls dropped me off at my grandparents for the next day and half to be with my family.

My grandparents have always been a huge part of my life. I spent a lot of time with them. Playing with baby dolls and a fisher price telephone. My grandma sewed dresses, halloween costumes, doll accessories. One year my grandma decided my cousin and I should experience a fancy lunch so she took us to a resort in the area that had a beautiful restaraunt. She made me chocolate dipped pretzels each year for Christmas.

I could list things all day. I really could.

My grandparents were snowbirds for many years–they headed for warmer climates when our harsh winters were settling in. Oh how I missed them when they were gone. They were a safe place to me.

And here we were. In the final hours with my grandma.

As I walked in to her room, having no idea how to act or what to say I said, “I love you grandma” and she spoke what would be her last words “I love you.”

And just two hours later we marked the moment of my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary. Fifty years. They were a team. Each having their strengths and their challenges. Having each other to lean on.

Two years later and time keeps going. Chaotically and in ways none of us ever imagined but it keeps going–waiting to be noticed, waiting to be tucked away.

I don’t know if my soul can bear all these days since then. I am buckling under the weight, the grief, the uncertainty.

I need my grandparents desperately right now. I need that safe place. I need to have them, not their time.

My grandparents many years back.

Just so you know

This is from 5 years ago so Patrice was just 6. Her personality hasn’t changed. And no, I don’t starve her.

Leah is the sweetest 6-year-old ever. She got a pouch of goldfish crackers in her trick-or-treating loot. I told her tonight she could have that with lunch, so before going to bed she comes up to me and says, “just so you know, I might ask you over and over tomorrow if it is lunchtime yet!”

Grief Revisited

*this is a repost from my facebook. It was originally written on October 5, 2020

As some of you have noticed, I’m not on here much as of late. I couldn’t handle all the controversy. I actually came on to likely add some but there is something so much more important. Last Tuesday, September 28, I received the second worst phone call of my life. My cousin, Lisa Pahl, called to tell me our beloved grandfather/papa had died unexpectedly. I went up Friday to his home (we lost our grandma in December) to help my family start to sort through 50+ years of life in one house. It is impossible and it is even more impossible to imagine he is gone. I don’t even know how many times I have cried, “dear God no!!” It just can’t be. My papa was stability and strength, steady and loving. He gave hugs that you felt for days. I spent years standing on his feet, sitting on his knee. And in the last 9 months, we both made an effort to talk on the phone (never my forte). Our last conversation included the importance of wearing a mask, what did homeschooling look like–down to where did the girls sit and where did I get the books–to saying how proud he was of me for teaching the girls and of Bob for restoring his boat and how glad he was that Bob was going to teach the girls about the water and how to respect it. (My grandfather loved all things hunting but was a conservationist to his core) I have things of his that I will treasure, even their little dog Daisy, but I don’t want any of it…I want him. I want one more hug. I want to tell him that one of the fishing poles I brought home from his house was the very same one that my hubby had as his first pole. I actually reached to call him for that but he’ll never be there again. I want to give him the mask that I ordered him after that last call–that came Saturday while I was sorting through things at his home. Let me leave you with his last advice–“people need to wear their damn masks, stay apart and get the vaccine when it comes!!” I miss you beyond words papa. So, so, so much. I love you.

He’s still right–people need to wear their masks and get the vaccine. The youngest in our family was finally able to get her first dose yesterday, November 4, 2021.

I am looking through pictures to put them here but it is bittersweet. All of this is. I want my grandparents here. With me. I want to show them the pictures. I want to talk about the pictures. A year later, I still can’t handle the grief.

Listen to Your Heart

I heard this song, Listen to your Heart, by Roxette today and it keeps reverberating in my head.

And I realized it rings a bit true today.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I used to talk about my mental health a lot but over the last few years it has gotten better for the most part, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say the pandemic hasn’t ripped at it. And a toxic political situation of liars trying to destroy our democracy by claiming the election was fraudalant.

Yeah, my mental health, along with all of ours, has taken a beating. I am using my tools–medications, running, surrounding myself with people who support me.

But lately, it doesn’t seem to be working so well.

And today has involved a number of panic attacks. My heart is racing, my ears are ringing, it’s a mess.

Put that with a mixed episode–depression and hypomania together–that seems to be ongoing…it is so hard. And I am tired but sleep is not my friend.

I watched my friend make mahmoul today. You take the dough and fill it with nuts or coconut and then put it in a pretty wooden mold with a long handle. Once it is pressed in there you wack the edge of the mold on the table so the cookie pops out.

We joked how it was a great way to get out frustrations. It sure did look soothing, the whole process. Maybe I should have tried my hand at it. I did get to taste test her new recipe. Her family is all fasting for Ramadan (no food or liquid from sunup to sundown) so they made me the taste tester of the new dough recipe. I normally flat refuse to eat or drink in front of them while they are fasting but they twisted my arm. I couldn’t refuse to help them test the flavor, now could I?

In case you were wondering, she attested to the fact that it is a good way to get out your frustrations and I can tell you the new dough is AMAZING!! I love Mahmoul always, but this was another level of amazing.

And for those couple of hours, the panic was pushed away. But now it is trying to destroy me. The Anxiety and the depression. They use any good times and tear them apart later. Did I say or do that wrong? Did I talk too much? Did I laugh too much? Did they really want me to visit? Were they just being nice?

It is exhausting.

Get help if you are worried about your mental health.

Get vaccinated against Covid-19.

Not Giving Up My Shot

My husband and I are fully vaccinated. He was vaccinated + 2 weeks on the 23rd. I will be on May 3.

We are looking forward to having more protection going forward. I am bummed to still have to wear my mask most of the time, but it is a step in the right direction.

But that step will still leave us stuck if others are unwilling to be vaccinated.

I am not speaking to you if you are unable to be vaccinated due to medical issues. You are not the problem. You are a big part of why we need to be getting vaccinated if we are able. I am not speaking to you if you are under 16. Though, once they approve for younger ages, get yourself vaccinated.

The rest of you–yeah, I am speaking to you.

We’ve spent a year+ hating the restrictions covid19 has put on our lives.

  • Not giving family hugs
  • Not having funerals for family members
  • Not celebraing milestones together
  • Not knowing if kids can go to school in-person (yes we homeschool but we know many impacted with this)
  • Not having the girls’ theater group meeting
  • Not being able to go to church
  • Having my kids isolated from friends and angry with friends who refuse to mask
  • Having to overthink every decision and still not know if it is right
  • Feeling left out when others start meeting in-person and stop having things virtually
  • Having to justify following the rules on masks and social distancing

I hate it.

I hate it all.

But we can’t wish it away.

We must step up and do our part. We must find our chance to be vaccinated and take it. My fear now is that people will quit. That politics will persist in people deciding not to get vaccinated. That as laypeople, we will decide we know more than doctors and scientists. This worries me,

I can’t change a lot of minds, or maybe any, but I can make sure people have information. If you follow me on Facebook you see me sharing vaccine information for Michigan. If you are in Michigan, look up @kenhaddad on Twitter for daily updates on where to find vaccination opportunities.

Today, Governor Whitmer announced the plan to get this state reopened. It comes down to vaccination levels. Do your part.

Look here for details about vaccinations and opening up again:

We have spent a year plus feeling helpless as people died and people got sick by the thousands. Now, we can finally do something. And it is not hard. It is free and it is available. Yes, there is typically a mild reaction as your immune system gets to work protecting you but it lasts hours to just a couple of days at most. Conversely, it has been at least 413 days since Covid laid siege to our state and our country.

Choose which one you want to live with or keep living with.

This was actually my hubby’s sticker but I can’t find my picture anywhere. He says he gave me the sticker, but it was more like, “here, do something with these papers” and his sticker was in there…