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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.

What is allowed is not always wise

I totaled this post way back. I honestly don’t even know when but I am going to guess at some point during 2020 and while the world has been in crisis mode thanks to the covid-19 pandemic. And, unfortunately, the title still fits. As my daughter pointed out last night, she was 13 when this started and now she is just 7 months from being 15.

And my heart is broken at this fact. But I am excrutiatingly proud of my girls. As mentioned, Caitlyn has turned 14 during this, Sue has turned 13, and Patrice 10.

Caitlyn has thrown herself into crafts, Sue in all sorts of art, and Patrice has had playdates via zoom and continues to be her happy self.

I have fought against the politics that are burning America down around us and hubby continues to be his faithful self, working day in and day out, restoring his boat, and the like.

And it is okay but it is frustrating. We are very conservative in what we do and who we see. The girls and I see one other family and Bob sees one man he is helping learn English. We don’t attend church, Bible study or prayer meetings in person. It is virtual or we are out.

And we feel alone in this. Our kids are the only ones in their Bible studies not attending in person. Sue is so passionate about trying to explain covid and the risks to her friends, I am afraid she is going to lose friends over it. I again spent time last night reminding her not to ruin relationships.

But I understand her anger.

I understand it to my very core.

I understand having to explain myself over and over for doing what our doctors and others have said is very necessary. I understand feeling like I am screaming into the wind.

And I HATE IT!!!!

Because you know what? I want to go to church. I want to study with other people. I want to pray with others.

But what is allowed is not always wise.

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!!

Losing Hours

I’ve had a headache since Sunday.  Which isn’t abnormal.  I have a headache most Sunday mornings.  Just ask my daughter, “you have a headache every Sunday.”  I don’t quite but she’s not terribly wrong.  I’d go into some theology thoughts on why I think Sundays are an issue, but I still have a headache and it hurts too much to think right now.

It actually went away for a few hours yesterday.  I thought I was in the clear.  But this morning, it was there pushing at the edges of my head.  Growing until this afternoon when it hit migraine status.  I ditched all plans for reading, exercising, praying, studying and crawled into bed.  I slept for almost 4 hours.

I am terribly sad to say it is still there.  It is causing tears to run down my face right now.  On the bright side, my stomach is now killing me which may mean it is becoming an abdominal migraine.  Those suckers hurt for an hour or so but then they are gone and typically take the head migraine with them.

Some days I feel old, but those stupid abdominal migraines are a childhood illness so that must mean I am still a kid, right?

So why am I sitting here at the computer blathering on about headaches?  Because I finally blogged a few days in a row and I didn’t want to stop and hit writer’s block again.  So here I am, wasting the minutes of your day talking about headaches.

Here’s a fun picture to thank you for your time.

Well, there would be a picture, but after 4 tries, I am taking my headache back to bed.  Sorry ’bout that folks.

Want to Hear Something Funny?

This drawing is now CLOSED

I was provided a copy of HAHA COLOR–ME! JOKE BOOK for my use and one to give away, but my opinions are my own.

“Want to hear something funny, mommy?” is not my favorite question.  Neither is “Mommy, want to hear my dream from last night?”  Yeah, no.  No, I don’t.  But I try desperately to smile at both questions and prepare myself for the longest story of my life.  Have you ever noticed how long a joke, story, or a dream lasts when told by someone under the age of 10??  And how, with jokes, they tell the same one for months??

Well this week, Patrice, got some new material when I brought out a copy of the HAHA COLOR–ME JOKE BOOK!

I told her to get some crayons, pick a page, and start laughing!!

And she listened!!

She found this page…

Then this one…

And finally the joke she can’t quite telling…

Get it?  Because 7 8 9…think about it…okay, now laugh…today and tomorrow.  This one really sticks with you.  Okay, so you’ve heard it before, but did you get to color the joke before?  Well neither did Patrice, but now we all can.

This cute little joke coloring book can be yours by purchasing at this link.  And another cool feature, when you buy a copy, a second copy is sent to a child who could use a smile and a laugh.

I love that about this book.  I really do.  But before you quit reading, can I tell you two other things I found in this book?

First, there is my favorite joke.

Second, I loved these pages at the end of the book…

Space for kids, and even adults, to try their hand at writing their own jokes.  What’s not to like?

I am sure, after that Elsa joke, that you are just dying to get this into the hands of a couple little friends, so here is the link to buy one for someone you know while having one sent to a child in need of a smile and a laugh.

Want to have even more fun?  You can join a HAHA Challenge.  Starting October 12 you will be sent a fun challenge every day for 5 days leading up to the coloring book launch on October 17.  Sign up here.

Now, if you read my little disclaimer at the top, you know I was not paid or this review, but I was given a copy of the coloring book for our family to keep and one to give away to a reader…so now it is your turn.

You can earn two entries.  First entry–comment on another one of my blog posts and write in a comment here what post you commented on.  Second entry–write either your favorite kid joke or the joke a kid(s) in your life love to tell over and over and over!

And Bipolar Does It Again

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.


I know I have talked a lot about what makes Bipolar Disorder difficult.  Want to know why?  Because it is.  Even when I am very, very stable, it is difficult.

Bipolar does not “just” make you happy or sad, it affects how you feel emotions.  For example, my daughters have been begging for a dog for MONTHS.  My hubby and I have both had dogs and love them, but we were enjoying not having to clean up poop, or take a dog out, or clean up dog hair, or find someone to take care of the dog when we are out of town.  So, we said no.

They kept begging.  Over time, I softened.  I remembered how nice and calming it is to have a dog curl up with you and to sit and pet the dog, and just that love you get from a dog.

I decided a dog was worth all the trouble.

Daddy still needed some convincing.

Then, out of the blue, daddy told me he was on board with getting a dog.

I went to work looking for one.  I visited animal shelters, I went to rescue events, I searched the internet by the hour.  I applied for a dog.  I called on dogs.  Nothing.  I was getting so frustrated with the process of applications, home visits, references.  All of it.

Until Wednesday.

I found this little gem and decided to try one more application.

2016-12-11 20.42.16I  had to provide info on place of employment, references, vet information–the whole bit.  I submitted it and we were approved about 20 minutes later!!!  Daddy and I got pretty excited as we kept our secret.  I told the girls we had to go shopping for a few puppy items to donate to an animal shelter since we didn’t have our own dog.
They bought it.  They even believed that the lady bringing him over was just a friend of mine visiting.  Daddy and I looked at him, asked our questions and decided he was the one.  We asked the girls what they thought and they were non-committal…until they figured out we meant to keep him.  Sue finally said, “wait–we’re getting a dog!!!  EEEEEEEKKKKKK”

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I had worked for months and weeks to make this happen.  The girls were so happy.  Hubby was impressed with the puppy, and I panicked.

My anxiety went up so, so fast!  I started crying and shaking.

I wanted to enjoy this so much.  Soooo much.  And what do I get?

Anxiety and sadness.  Lots and lots of anxiety and sadness.

Such an exciting fun thing.

And the Bipolar stole it from me.

I know it will be okay.  We are having a great time with him.  He is learning SO quickly, the girls are taking their new responsibilities very seriously.  He is already part of the family.  I am sure we made the right decision, but right now, I am just sad, and a little mad, that the Bipolar has stolen from me again.


Feeding Our Feelings

Last night I cooked a whole chicken for my family.  I bought it months ago and ended up throwing it in the freezer waiting for a good time to cook it.  But that time never came because I never remembered to take it out to thaw.

But then last week, I got an early Christmas present.  Amazon had an amazing sale on an Instant Pot, and electric pressure cooker, and I read you could cook frozen meat in it.  I pulled out that chicken, planning to cook it Wednesday night, but when it came time to cook it frozen, I got cold feet, and ended up waiting another day to let it thaw in the refrigerator.  So last night was the night…I was going to cook this chicken.  And it was going to be falling off the bone when it was done.  And everyone was going to love it.

It sort of turned out that way.  It was fall off the bone in no time.  The whole family ate it, which is close to loving it, and no one complained about it.  Thing is, I’m not sure how sold I am on the chicken.  Maybe I am just too spoiled by Costco Rotisserie chickens.  They can’t be natural, I mean look at the size of them, but they sure are yummy.  And literally no work at all.  Hmmmm.

But to be honest, none of that is the point of this post.

I’ve been thinking a lot about food lately.  Not about what I eat, though that is a constant battle as food is often the enemy for me, but rather, how we use food in our lives.

Recently, a dear friend and  her family were brought to a challenge.  A big one.  They are walking through the situation as beautiful beacons of Christ.  I am just trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their lives.  My first response to this new life event for them–can I bring a meal?  I’m bringing over some freezer meals for you.

And I wasn’t alone in my response.  Many people brought food…and we all keep asking if we can bring more.

It is that way when life is hard, it is that way when our lives are overflowing with joy–like a birth or adoption, family gatherings, church events.  Anything that brings us together involves food.

It is the essence of our lives.  It brings us together.

Sometimes when I bring food to someone, it is made from scratch, other times it is bought in the store, but regardless, it is my love and support in a tangible way.

What are your thoughts on food?  Do you take meals to other?   Are they homemade or store-bought?  Does your family have a particular food they eat at the holidays that doesn’t get eaten the rest of the year?

The Brain Gets Stuck

You know what is hard about blogging?  When you want to write, but your brain is stuck on something you are not quite ready to talk about.  Of course, anytime you decide to write, that is all your brain can think about.

It is annoying.  And can keep me from writing for days.

But not today.  I have two stories to tell–one horribly embarrassing and one that I found so cute and encouraging.

We’ll start with my embarrassment.  Actually, scratch that, we’ll start with the cute, stick with chronological order…

The girls and I had to go to an appointment today.  Patrice asked where we were going.  Caitlyn says, “we’re going to the doctor.”  “Why??” queries Patrice.  “Because you need shots,” my ever so helpful Caitlyn says.

“No I don’t, I had three last time we went!!’

She gotcha there Caitlyn.

On we drive.

As we are getting out of the car at the doctor office, Patrice says, “when you get a shot they say it hurts for a second, but it doesn’t.  It hurts for 2 seconds!!  So last time I got shots, it hurt for 6 seconds!!”

Now we have been going at multiplication with the older girls hard and heavy lately so I say to her, “did you use multiplication to figure that you?”  “Sure mommy, whatever that is!!”  “Did you times it Patrice?”  “No, I added it on my fingers like this!!”

2016-12-02 16.11.04

(Yes, I made her recreate on her pudgy little fingers counting out how her shots hurt for 6 seconds.)

I watched her count and I saw cuteness and hope–hope that THIS kid, unlike the other two, will get multiplication easily when it is her turn!

We finish the appointment and head home.  I unlock the front door and drop a few things in the house, then head out for a few more things thinking, I can grab them before I run to the bathroom.  I leave the keys in the front door and my phone on the kitchen table.  The storm door latches behind me as I head to the car.  And STAYS latched no matter how hard I push when I am done in the car.  Stays firmly latched.  It won’t budge.

Caitlyn swears she didn’t but I absolutely know she laughed at me as I stood there desperately trying to open the door before it was too late.  “Go to the neighbors, go to the neighbors mommy.”

“It’s. too. late.”

So then we start looking for a way in…the back door  was firmly locked.  As were all the windows.  The girls kept working on that angle as I wrestled with the storm door.  There was no getting the door open, but, in case you were wondering, the top pane of glass comes out of our storm door.  And is now sitting safely in the house.

Hubby can put it back in.

I am kind of over this day.

Over and out.

Checking it Out

Our zoo membership is one of the best investments we make each year.  We live very close to the zoo and love taking a couple hours at a time to check out parts of it at a time.

Last night we checked the long awaited, all new penguin exhibit.  And to say it is spectacular is an understatement.  Check out these pictures to see it through the eyes of 9 year old Caitlyn and 8 year old Sue.

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*very realistic picture

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*very realistic picture, not an actual animal

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*very realistic picture, not an actual animal

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*very realistic picture, not an actual animal

2016-04-19 18.42.45 HDR-2

*very realistic picture, not an actual animal

2016-04-19 18.42.50 HDR-2

*very realistic picture, not an actual animal

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The entire experience was phenomenal, minus the grumpy 5 year old.  It was truly an experience, not simply a display.  When you were walking from area to area, it was built to be like a ship, complete with the waves misting on you and the ship “tossing” around.  We had to leave early, due to said 5 year old, and the 9 year old was so upset.  I had to remind her a few times that we were going to go back…I promise!

The zoo really did a fantastic job with their newest display!

It’s Complicated 2

As I wrote in this post, embracing and understanding my Christian faith gets complicated when the Bipolar plays mean and the depression makes a home for itself in my life.  But it goes beyond there.

I take multiple medications daily to try to keep my Bipolar under control.  I work with a doctor and therapist on a very regular basis in hopes of being well.

And I wrestle with how all of this affects my Christian witness to those around me who are not followers of Christ.  They see me moaning about the depression, many times flat out wanting to die.  They do not see any joy in my Christian walk and they do not see a God big enough to make me all better.

What does that do to my witness?

It feels like it damages my witness.  It feels like it damages what people think of the God I say I love and who loves me.  I sure don’t exhibit joy in the Lord as I plan ways to die.

I have no idea what to do about it.

Is God disappointed in the witness I am showing of Him?  Is He disappointed in my lack of faith?  Is He disappointed in how much I rely on my medications and doctors?  Is He saddened or angered by my desire to die?  Has He turned away from me as I express my need to escape this life at all costs–with little thought of whether or not I will go to heaven if I die by my own hand?*

I don’t know and it worries me.  I have no idea what He thinks of me, but I am sad at the damage I see me doing to my Christian witness.

But I don’t know what to do about it.

*I have improved some and am not struggling to the same extent I was a week ago, but there are moments in every day that are exceptionally hard and the depression is still there controlling me in many ways.