Family life, Paleo-ish eating and Coping with Chronic Illness

Archive for August, 2014

Blatant Nepotism and Back to School

I took Olivia to get her sport’s physical this week.  We waited an hour to see the Doctor.  Apparently, waiting until the week before school to get your kids’ physicals is what all the cool moms are doing.  The clinic was running a little (a lot) behind.

I didn’t mind.  I liked talking to my girl.  When we were sitting in the lobby, Olivia gave me some career advice.  She said that I should open an office up right at our house and become a “Christian Organic Doctor who sells wellness”.  I’m like, I have no idea what that is, but I am TOTALLY in, Olivia.

She said that when she’s older she’d be my partner.  But, then she said she isn’t actually interested in any of that stuff, so she thinks she’d rather just watch my patient’s kids.  I love it when your children figure your life out for you.

I’m sad again.  I’m sad every single start of every single school year since I’ve had a school age child.  Zeke pointed out that going back to school does not really change my schedule at all, so there’s no reason for me to be sad.  I know that is true, but I’m sad any way.

Good byes have always made me sad.  Every fall I know we are saying good bye to another piece of our kids’ childhood.  It won’t be long before the last pieces are gone.

It’s going to be messy when all these kids go for real.  I know it.  I’ll be sad. I know one person for sure who will be sadder.  The kids have this one BFF who plays with them all the time.  This guy wants the kids to spend all their free time with him.  The other day the kids were gone, and this guy told me he felt so sad and lonely.  He didn’t know what to do with himself.

I said, “Scott.  I think you need to find some friends your own age.  These kids aren’t meant to live with us forever.”

He had a lonely look on his face.  He said, “I know.”

This is the down side of marrying a guy who has no interest in rubbing elbows with the movers and the shakers at the country club.  The guy who, if I’m remembering right, has never had a single “guys night out” in 22 years.

Guys like that  take their kids growing up pretty hard.

I’ve got a few years to figure out how to find some kind of life for Scott and me by ourselves, without kids.   I might get him into some pottery or paper mache classes.  Perhaps, interpretive dance?  If I keep this up, he for sure is going to ask the kids if he can live with them in their dorms.

Olivia has enjoyed her summer. She has sweet friends.  They have been busy filming and editing videos for their Youtube channel.  Is there anything at all about modern day child hood that looks like our own?  I recognize none of it.  I thought you were supposed to snap beans and wait for “Love Boat” reruns in the summer.

I was watching the girls’ videos and I thought they were funny and cute.  I’m not one bit biased, either.  I told the girls that the videos were awesome.  I said most of them were so long, that really only their Mother’s would have it in them to stick with it until the end.

I told the girls that if they made a short little video, I would love to put it on my blog.  Because, really?  just how long can people listen to me blather?  There’s gotta be something more interesting than that.  Like, a middle school girl’s fashion video.

Happy Back to School to all the wonderful families out there.  Blessings on you and your sweet children.  I am rooting for you!

 

 

Advertisements

Scary Dreams and Another Disease

I’ve lost my blogging rhythm.  I used to have one, but I don’t any more.  Now my blogs just erupt spontaneously.

After writing about depression, I felt a little depressed.  That surprised me.  I spent a lot of myself writing that story.  When I finished, I thought maybe I finally got all of these words inside of me on the outside of me.  I felt empty; like I was actually done.

I thought, well then. I guess I finally have blogging out of my system.  Soon I will be saying, “Remember when I used to blog all the time? I was so weird back then.”

A couple of days after I published my Depression Story, I felt more words starting to slowly pile up again.  Not words to change anybody’s world.  Just more like another purge of random nonsense.   Those kind of purges are soothing for me.

Maybe I’m sick?

Just a sec. I have to go Google something.

SHUT the FRONT DOOR!!!  This is a thing.  I knew it.  I’m suffering from an illness.  And, you didn’t believe me?!  Maybe this will teach you trust my instincts.  Especially when it comes to impending doom.   I always have my money on that.

Check it:

Hypergraphia is a behavioral condition characterized by the intense desire to write. Forms of hypergraphia can vary in writing style and content. It is a symptom associated with temporal lobechanges in epilepsy, which is the cause of the Geschwind syndrome, a mental disorder.[1]Structures that may have an effect on hypergraphia when damaged due to temporal lobe epilepsy are the hippocampus and Wernicke’s area. Aside from temporal lobe epilepsy, chemical causes may be responsible for inducing hypergraphia.

Now I don’t understand most of that definition, nor did I read anything but the first sentence.  But,  what is pretty obvious (when you read between the lines) is that this writing disease is fatal.  I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to make you cry again.  I know we’ve become friends.

I shall make this vow to you: I shall keep writing and writing and writing things for you, until I die from it.  You have my word and my honor.

Wow.  Things just got real serious.  Real fast.

One of the things I felt so compelled to write about was Olivia’s dream.  Scott doesn’t like it when we talk about dreams.  He’s so literal; he abhors drama.  Dreams are dramatic. I think when we explain our dreams to Scott, he mistakenly thinks that that WE are being dramatic.  Like we have a choice about what our subconscious conjures up while we sleep.

I have been in the middle of telling Scott about how I gave birth to his little son who actually turned out to be a monkey, and Scott will  just cut me off.  He doesn’t want to hear another word.

I’m like, “Just let me tell you the part about how we bravely overcame our disappointment in our monkey son, and how we embraced him instead.  We gave him a home, Scott.  That should mean something to you.”

MonkeySad

Hello, Scott Junior. Your Father doesn’t mean to be so harsh. He’ll learn to love you, in time.

Nope. He doesn’t care.

I am very interested in dreams.

Olivia has been on edge lately because, well, sometimes she hears the news.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but lately the news IS terrifying.  If I were writing a serious blog today, I might point out that if hearing about the terror happening on another continent is enough to give us nightmares, I wonder how it is affecting the victims actually experiencing it.

I know that I can’t actually know how good I have it.  It’s impossible to appreciate it adequately.

So, here is the dream:  Olivia dreamed that the enemy/terrorists stormed the United States.  The terrorists came into our home with guns.  They pointed them at us and said, “If you praise God, we will kill you.  If you praise the Devil, you will live.”

Then, the terrorists said, “Get on your knees.  If you face East, you are praising God.  If you face the West, you are praising the Devil.  If you praise the Devil, we will let you live.”

Of course, we all folded our hands, and faced God’s direction together.  Then, at the last minute I yelled, “Wait.  Wait.  Don’t kill me.  I’m going to face the Devil’s direction.”

WHAATT????  Are you kidding me, Olivia?

So, that dream is simultaneously terrifying and humorous.  Terrifying, because people really are executed for their beliefs.  Not in some weird era of history either.   Right now.  Humorous, because I thought maybe my daughter had more confidence in me.  Apparently, she thinks it will take approximately 15 seconds to break me.

That makes me nervous, because I have been known to crumble under pressure.  Let’s just say nobody’s every accused me of being overly courageous.

I’m glad Olivia gave me this horrifying plot to think about.  I’m going to visualize and practice bravery in my mind.  For the record, I’m totally a God worshiper.

I’m also going to ask God if there would please be another, slightly less scary way to end my time here.  Like a writing disease, or something like that.

 

My Depression Story

My oldest sister, Chris, told me about this blog she thought I would like.  Strange.  I had just started reading this exact blog a few days before my sister mentioned it to me.  Chris and I are like that.  We often are separately coming to the same conclusions.  It is starting to freak us out.

Chris thought I would like this blog.  She was wrong.  I don’t like it.  I love it.  The author of this blog is so clever and humble and sincere.  She is insightful.  She’s thought a lot about faith, and uses her faith to guide her every day.   She has a family, and she also has Chronic Lyme Disease.

If you read her blog, you will see that she has made up some of her own theology.  You don’t need to warn me about that.   I know.  I don’t limit my reading or listening to people who think just like me.   I would not like to live that way.

I read her essays, and I get that she is intellectually out of my league.  She is playing for the Brewers (during a winning season); I am still playing T-ball.

I’m not saying any of that because I need compliments.  I’m saying it, because it’s true.  Saying these things doesn’t make me insecure. It just makes me honest.

Some of my very favorite people in the world are cursed with a negative inner dialogue.  All day they are tuned in to an unending loop of self-criticism.  They negatively compare themselves to other folks, and reject their own awesomeness.

I thank God that tape is not playing in my own head.  I am okay with my weaknesses. Other people’s awesomeness does not make me feel unworthy.  It usually inspires me.

One thing this blogger/author said was that she has all these ideas floating by her each day, begging her to write them down.   She says that need to put her thoughts into words is intense. She has a busy life, and a beautiful family.  She has more thoughts than she has time.  Sometimes she has to let  thoughts go before they’re captured.

I cannot explain how much I understand this.

Sometimes people ask me if it’s hard to keep writing.  It isn’t.  It’s hard to NOT keep writing.   But, I’m not an author, and I don’t write for a living.  So, a lot of the time I’m forcing myself  to attend to my responsibilities, and not write.  Not writing is an act of self  discipline.

This author I like talks a lot about her own mental illness.  I’m inspired by her honesty.  Scott and I were discussing this author and Robin Williams the other night.  I said I thought that Robin William’s passing was creating this positive dialogue about mental illness.  I told Scott I considered writing about my own experience with post postpartum depression; I didn’t know if that was selfish.  Robin Williams death is so sad.  I shouldn’t use his death as an excuse to shine the light on me.

Scott didn’t agree with me.  He said that the more people talk straight up about mental illness and depression, the better.  He said there is strength in honesty.  He asked how we could help each other, if we weren’t  being honest. I agree.  I have always agreed with that.

I have never decided NOT to talk about my postpartum depression.  For me, it is like the time I broke my finger.  It happened. It hurt.  It healed.  It’s over.  It isn’t relevant any more. Except, now I’m thinking that maybe sharing my story might be relevant for someone else.  For someone who is living in  it right now.  My story  might help someone who’s suffering to know that sometimes there is an end to it.  Sometimes you heal.

I know it is not like that for everyone.  Some people battle with depression, mood disorders or mental illness their entire lives.  That takes courage.

Here’s my story:

When our third child, and first daughter, was born I could NOT stop smiling.  Olivia was like Christmas every day for me.  I loved her intensely.   I would guess that the folks who know me the best would tell you that my knack for loving people intensely hasn’t always helped me.  I have been known to love people so much that I start to believe  their happiness, good health and well-being are completely on me.  Their happiness and success are my responsibility alone.   THAT is a lot of responsibility.  I didn’t used to  know that you can over-love people.  You can. I have.

When we brought Olivia home from the hospital,  life was sweet.  I can honestly tell you that postpartum depression, or not, my 8 years as a  stay-at-home mom were the BEST years of my life.  They were also the hardest years.  

 

olivia birth

 

I promise you that I didn’t take those years for granted while I was living them.  Scott and I made a conscious  effort NOT to do that.  We would tell each other out loud, “remember to appreciate this moment.  Some day they’ll be big.”   Then, we’d just be quite for a bit and try to permanently burn whatever image was in front of us into our memory bank.  It worked a little.  I have a whole trunk full of happy memories with our babies that I like to think about and re explore when I have time.

 

20140820_213914

I thought that not taking that time for granted meant that time would go slower.  It didn’t.  Time went just as fast as if I HAD taken those years for granted.   I was right there, and now it’s gone.

When Olivia was born, Zeke was a baby too. He was 16 months old.     Zeke didn’t take kindly to sharing his mom at first.  We knew that’s how he felt, mainly because he said, “WAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!”  All freaking day long.  Every day.  For many, many days.   He was sad.  Of course,  I took his sadness to heart.  I felt so guilty for giving him a sister.

Then, you had Eddie.  Sweet, sweet, precious, ever-lovin’, never puts a sock in it, Eddie.  Who’s bright idea was it to read to that kid in the womb?

 Eddie was a very early talker.  Once he started talking, he never stopped.  Non. Stop. Chatter.  4-year-old chatter on top of WAHHHHHHHH!!!! On top of nursing an infant who was extremely attached to her mother.  I think all those things together could have broken the toughest soldier.

I’m going to be really honest about something else.  I’m saying this, because I know there’s someone else out there like me.  Maybe I can help you avoid the same mistakes.  I want to tell you that the other contributing factor to my temporary insanity was my habit of being too nice.  I hope you don’t think I’m complimenting myself.  I’m not.  Being too nice is NOT a worthy attribute.  Being too nice has nothing to do with being a good Christian, or being loving and kind.  Being too nice is being weak.  You know what else being too nice is?  Being too nice is dishonest.

When we had three children under four, there were things I needed from Scott.  There were things I needed Scott to do, and things I needed him to stop doing.  Scott is my favorite person on this planet.  I am his biggest fan. He only keeps getting better.    I want you to know that.   I wish  I would have been more clear with Scott about how he could help me back then.   He would have helped me too.  I just needed to tell him how.  I didn’t tell him, so without trying to, he made things worse.

Olivia was born in June.  All summer long I could feel my mind slipping into something unfamiliar to me.  I couldn’t explain what it was;  it felt a little bit like despair.  

Women with preschoolers, who are trying to keep the house clean, entertain the children and keep everyone fed and healthy are working like slaves.  They are.  It’s the hardest work I’ve ever done.   The only people who think that work like that is easy, are people who haven’t done it.

My anxiety and sadness seemed to intensify over time.  I am an anxious person by nature, but I am definitely not  a sad person. I started to develop irrational fears for our children’s safety.  I remember at night giving myself lectures, “Normal people do not want to crawl in a crib with their babies.  Your baby girl is safe. Stay in your own bed.  Your baby is across the room.  You will hear your baby when she cries.  Just go to sleep.  You need sleep.  Sleep now, while your baby is sleeping.”

She would sleep, but I wouldn’t.  I wouldn’t sleep, because I was worried that she might not sleep.  Even though she was right there sleeping.  It all makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?  

One night, when Olivia was about 4 months old I went out for supper with my sisters, Mom and Grandma.  My sisters didn’t know how fragile my state of mind was.  They thought we were going to have fun.

I watched my sisters interact with their beautiful baby niece, Olivia.  I was jealous of how carefree and genuine they seemed.  I was so full of fear and worry, that I couldn’t remember the last moment of sincere pleasure I had with my baby girl.

At some point in our dinner, I put my head down in my arms and I started to quietly sob.  I know women cry.  We’re emotional creatures.  I am weird. I  have never been prone to crying. My sisters rarely saw me cry.  My role was to make them laugh.  That day I cried.

I sobbed for a few minutes.  Everyone around the table became silent.   When I brought my head up, there were 6 women staring at me with tears pouring down their faces.  Wow.  Empathy.  It is so precious. So many lonely women go through postpartum depression without love and understanding.  Now, it’s so easy to see how God used His people to comfort and carry me.

I went back home after our dinner, and I cried some more.  My sleeping became more interrupted and anxious as the weeks passed that summer.  Eventually, I couldn’t sleep at all.   Literally.  I went several nights without one blessed minute of rest.  Then,  one morning I had a panic attack.  

I have wished to God that there would have been just ONE occasion in my life before that point, where someone would have described a panic attack to me.     I didn’t know they existed.  Being completely unprepared and uninformed for one of the scariest moments of your life, makes the moment worse.  Much worse.

Now, I am glad I had that panic attack.   It was a turning point.   Scott took one look at me that morning and he said, “You need help.”    Scott downplays things.  He is calm, and he doesn’t think in extremes.   Scott is definitely not in the habit of asking for help.  That day he knew we needed help. He was clearly in over his head; his wife would not be able to pick herself up by the bootstraps this time.    

I told him I might need to go to a hospital.  I explained that I thought there was a small chance I might  be having a nervous breakdown. The real kind.

I can’t really remember everything that happened after that.  I didn’t go to a hospital.  I do remember staying with my parents.  I remember my mom drawing me baths, and my dad hugging me and crying.  I remember my sister, Chris, staying with me, and treating me like something fragile that needed to be encouraged and cared about.  She was exactly right about that. All of those things helped.

Our Doctor put me on anti anxiety medication, and an anti-depressant.   She told me I had postpartum depression, and that I should stay on the anti-depressant for a year, at least.  I had never been depressed in my life.  No one in my family had been clinically depressed either.  All these words were new to us.  

My parents found a friend at church to call me.  This friend had gone through postpartum depression.  She knew exactly what was happening to me.  I clung to her.  Every word out of her mouth was sacred to me.  She told me what was happening to me was not going to kill me.  She told me that I was not going to lose my children, and I would not need to live in a psychiatric hospital.  She told me that I was NOT insane.  Or, maybe I was, a little, but I could handle it.  

I know now she was guessing at all those things.  How could she really be sure of any of that?  But,  she knew what I needed to hear her say, and she said it.

Seriously, why had no one told me about any of this before?  Never.  Not one person had mentioned that I might lose my mind after I gave birth.  That’s something I would have liked to have known.  

I  listened to my new friend, and I took great comfort in knowing that many people had gone through what I was experiencing.  So many people, in fact, that there were books and other resources dedicated to the subject.   I did what I always do when faced with a problem.  I researched and read.  I gathered information,  and I followed the experts advice.  

The medicine didn’t work right away.  I was mentally weak.  I wasn’t the confident person I had always been.  I doubted my ability to do simple tasks, like drive to the grocery store.  I would feel paralyzed by fear.   “What if I ran our van off the road…on purpose?  I don’t  feel like I want to end my life, but what if I do?”  I lost trust in myself.

I also had this gloom hanging over me. It’s hard to explain.  I can’t remember exactly how it feels, and I am positive I don’t want to remember.   Somewhere in one of the books I read, a person said that I could embrace my suffering.  This person said to acknowledge that things aren’t right, and tell yourself it’s okay.  Don’t bury it and don’t fight it.  That advice made sense to me.   Fighting and burying take a lot of mental and emotional resources depressed people don’t have.  So I told myself that this state of being was okay; I just kept taking tiny little steps in the proper direction. 

Eventually, I started to feel more steady.  I felt more capable.  The anti-depressant did work.  It took me off the ledge and put me somewhere safer; it also left me feeling dull and numb.   My anti depressant had fully kicked in when the planes struck the twin towers on 9-11.  I couldn’t shed a tear.  My body wouldn’t make them.  I didn’t like feeling so dull, but I knew that dullness was better than the alternative.

Even though I felt a kind of numb,  I also still felt unsteady and scared.  I still had to be careful about what I read and saw for the next year.  For me, postpartum depression came in the form of intense anxiety.  It felt like my nerves were raw and exposed.   I couldn’t watch or read about other people’s pain or tragedy.  If I saw anything that had to do with children suffering,  the darkness would threaten to take me back.  I couldn’t watch the news, or watch anything but comedies for a very long time.  

I remember during this time listening to my Dad talk about someone he spoke with at work.  My Dad was a Pastor.  He was retelling a pretty wild story about someone who lived on the streets who came into the church.  Of course, my Dad tried to help this man, but I remember my Dad explaining how odd the behavior of this person was.  I guess most people would have called this guy “crazy”. That story scared me.  Didn’t my Dad know that guy was me?  

That guy was broken.  So was I.  And, what did it take to break me?  Taking care of three small children?  I couldn’t believe I was so easily cracked. I wondered why I would ever have been so cavalier about my sanity?  I didn’t realize that I was never more than a few bad circumstances away from mental instability.  I wouldn’t have believed it.

I was an excellent patient.  I followed all the rules.  I talked about my depression.  I sought comfort from people who cared. I tried to take more time for myself.  I slept more. I told myself what was true, even if I didn’t believe it.  I read God’s word.  I prayed.  I ate healthy food.  I exercised.  I did it all.  None of it worked by itself.  None of it worked quickly.  But, all together, applied day in and day out over the course of a year, I found my way back into the light.  I started to feel more like me.   

I went off my anti-depressant after a year.  I didn’t relapse, but  I wasn’t totally well either.  I started having more and more moments where I felt  like the real me.  Not the muted, anti depressant me.  

It wasn’t until Olivia was four years old when I remember the last storm clouds permanently disappearing.  The clouds blew away when I started to work again part-time.  My work excited and challenged me.  I thank God for using that work to restore me fully.

When Scott and I were talking about this the other day I told him about those occasional storm clouds when Olivia was four.  He was really surprised.  He didn’t know.  He didn’t know, because I didn’t tell him.  I explained that those clouds were scary.  I didn’t want to draw attention to them.  He understood.  

Those clouds don’t bother me at all any more.  I won’t focus on them.   I will focus on good health and happiness.  I have an abundance of those.  

Today, when I walk by the woman on the street who smells badly,  is talking to herself,  and carrying all her belongings with her in dirty bags, I will look at her and know.  I will know that I am her.  She is me.  I’m just a few tough circumstances away.  I will give her respect.  I will help her in any way that I can.  

I am sorry that I once held myself in such high regard.  I thank God for using my life to teach me how to see people properly.  I commit to remembering what I have learned.  I wouldn’t want to repeat the lesson.

 

20140820_213621

Villas and Driving a Flip Flop

This past weekend we had a girls’ weekend with my side of the family.  Not everyone was available. When you have a big family, having EVERYONE in one place at the same time is close to impossible.  That’s why we’ve given up on trying to make that happen.  Now, we just set a date, and be happy for whoever can come.

girls weekend

Our girls’ weekend was at the Blue Harbor in Sheboygan.  Have you been there?  It’s really nice.  It’s kind of fancy.  We stayed in a villa.

I come from solid, middle class folks.  It seems like my folks bred mostly more solid, middle class folks.  Now we’re turning around and breeding more of the same.  It doesn’t appear as if there will be a millionaire in the bunch.  It’s my parent’s greatest shame.  Maybe if my parents would not have gone so heavy on the, “money doesn’t buy you happiness” speech when they were raising us, we’d have just one rich niece or nephew.  A niece or nephew  who could pick up the tab on our vacations.  Very short sighted on my parent’s part.

Us middle class folks are used to staying in something pretty sweet called a “Hotel”.  I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to a hotel, but they’re pretty nice.  At hotels you get to stay in clean rooms, use the pool, and your breakfast of homemade waffles and fake eggs is usually free. Very nice.

At the Blue Harbor, we stayed in a villa.  Villas are swank.  A villa is like a little house. We decided that if we split the cost of the villa enough ways, and only stayed for one night, we could swing it.  When I pulled up to the Blue Harbor, and parallel parked my Hyundai Elantra between the Jaguar and BMW to check in, I knew I was home.

Can I take a side street in this story I’m telling you?  I want to stop and talk to you about my Hyundai Elantra.  I’ve been thinking about my car a lot lately; I want to get some thoughts off my chest.  Scott and I bought this cute little car a couple of years ago.  We wanted better gas mileage.  I have a decent commute to work.

Would you like to hear my review of our Hyundai Elantra?  No?  Okay.  Then, skip the next paragraph.  I thought you cared about me, but that’s okay.  I get it now.

I feel like driving my Hyundai Elantra equates to driving a flip flop.  Know what I mean?  Of course you do.  That is so clear.   I’ll explain myself anyway.

I have a really awesome chiropractor.  He hates flip flops.  I like this chiropractor.  I think he is so smart, and knows much more about health and nutrition than almost anyone I know.  He says that he knows flip flops are fashionable, and popular, but they’re just terrible for your body.  He says flip flops are not safe to wear.  He thinks flip flops are junk.

I trust my chiropractor.  That’s why  I have invested in some Teva sandals.  They are made of sturdier material. They have a strap for support around the back of my foot.  They probably aren’t at the top of any most fashionable shoes lists, but I love them.  I’ve been wearing my Teva sandals for two years.  They are NOT junk.

Now, I don’t think my car is junk.  It isn’t.  It turns on a dime (whatever that means), and you can hear the radio really good.  Plus, it is cute. The problem is, I don’t feel like it’s safe.  I feel like there’s a good chance it’s made of tin foil, spray painted brown.  I feel like if I ran into a   tricycle, my car would be totaled.  If I ran in to a semi?  Well, I doubt the semi would notice.

Then,  there’s winter driving.  My car is insane when it comes to winter driving.  And, by insane, I mean terrible.  When it snows, I feel like I’m sledding to work on bologna skin tires .  Lately, in Wisconsin, it snows almost every day in the winter.  I have to take our heavier van to work when it snows. I guess all that good gas mileage isn’t doing me much good in the winter.

I was driving my cute little car one day, and I suddenly figured something out.  We accidentally bought a pair of cute, fashionable, junky, and dangerous flip flops for me to drive. We should have bought some Teva’s.   Dang it!

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.  I’m sorry that it was a little boring.  The whole point of that story  is, I thought if it wasn’t too much to ask, you could maybe drop off a sturdier, nicer car in my drive way.  I don’t mean to sound greedy, but you do enjoy my blog. So, I guess we’d be sort of even.

But, we are SUPPOSED to be talking about a villa. Let’s get back to that.  Villas are not junky or cheap, like flip flops and Hyundai Elantras. Villas are nice.  When my sisters and nieces and I all walked into the villa, I thanked God for making us middle class.  It was super fun to be so impressed and appreciative.

I’ve told you about my funny niece, Libby.  She will make you laugh all day long. Libby and I immediately jumped on the king size bed in the master suite.  We did donkey kicks and all sorts of dance moves on that big bed.  We yelled,  “Yay for being poor!  Yay for loving big giant beds that we will never be lucky enough to own!  Yay for being happy to spend our entire vacation hanging out on this bed.”  That took a lot out of us, but it was fun.

libby and miki

We laughed a lot.  We went to the beach and we played games.  We played one game called “Mafia”.   Each round, whoever was the mafia would kill off the other players.  The trick was to find out who the mafia was before all the players were dead.  My sisters, nieces and daughter are so nice to me.  So nice, that they made sure I was always the first one killed.  It’s times like that when you realize no one in your family ever really liked you.

I try not be on my phone too much when I’m in public.  That’s rude. You know what else is rude?  Killing people.  I told my family I was just going to hang out with my Facebook friends, while they played their dumb game.  Here’s a picture of me talking to my Facebook family, and ignoring the other family.  The family that kept killing me.  I know what else you’re thinking about this picture.  Just when you thought my hair couldn’t possibly look any better, here it is.

Hair

 

On Sunday morning I worshiped God like this:

 

coffee at lake

 

 

Have you ever thought that we should all just stop trying so hard all the time?  I see this picture, and  it occurs to me that some of the best things in life take no effort at all.

I heart this past weekend.  I heart friends and family.  I heart villas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is NOT Cancer

I thought I was going to have a busy week at work.   Instead, I’m at the hospital.  I’m not here for me.  I’m here with my sister.  I’m here FOR my sister.

My sister, Heidi, and I are two years apart.  Exactly two years apart. Two years to the day.

Heidi and I are a lot alike.  We look alike; we  sound alike.  We can even trick our husbands on the phone.  Those guys  love it when we do that.

Heidi and I are alike, but we are also very  different.  Heidi is calm, humble, slow to speak, and a little shy.  She is gifted in music, and she loves hanging out in her garden.  Yeah.  We’re so different.

When we were little, our family would accuse Heidi and me of having a secret language.  In a large group, we could often be found whispering to each other.  We were probably being rude. I don’t even remember what we were saying .  I think there is a decent chance I was being a jackwagon, and Heidi was laughing. Heidi was always an appreciative audience.  She thought I was funny;  for some reason she liked listening to me talk.  We all know I have plenty to say.

Sometimes,  all that talking got me in to trouble with people.  Still does.   Heidi was quiet, but she was strong.   I think she would have made a great warrior, in a different time and age. When my talking got me in trouble, Heidi came to my defense.  I think we were a little bit like Romona and Beezus.  I never meant to get myself in trouble, but there I always was.

10176101_10201836518779445_2373911859220366221_n

When Heidi left for college, we wrote each other all the time.  That is so weird.  We wrote actual letters on actual paper.  We gave those letters to a messenger pigeon, and hoped for the best.  No, we aren’t exactly that old. We at least knew to put the messages in a bottle.

When it was my turn to go to college, I followed Heidi.   We were suite mates my Freshman year.  If it weren’t for falling in love with our husbands, I’m pretty sure Heidi and I would have stayed roommates throughout life.  We would have been like those elderly sisters who lived together in “Little House on the Prairie”.  I really get those ladies.

Heidi and I have talked to each other almost every day for our entire lives.

Heidi has been having some health issues for a while.  On the 4th of July she and her family hosted all of our relatives at her house.  I could tell she had her brave face on the entire day.  She didn’t feel good.  She had a fever.  We thought that she had a cold.

A month later, Heidi still wasn’t feeling good.  She still had a fever.  She also had severe abdominal pain.  She went to the emergency room one night.  The Doctor there told her she had a large tumor on her ovary, other cysts,  and lesions in other places you don’t want lesions.

The Doctor had some big long name for the tumor.  I don’t remember the whole word, I just know that “carcinoma” was part of it.  The E.R. Doctor said that she needed to see an oncologist right away.  Before she left the E.R., the Doctor asked her if he could pray with her.  That is a super good way to scare a patient.

Heidi couldn’t get in to see the oncologist for a week or so.  Meanwhile, everyone in the family was praying for the best, planning for the worst.  We’ve had the worst happen before.  We aren’t so naive any more.  We all know that one moment you can be laughing and eating dinner with your family, and the next  you’re on the floor, hyperventilating in a public place.  Bad stuff happens.

I learned everything I could about ovarian cancer.  It’s a sad thing to learn about.

I asked God how he thought I could live without Heidi.  I couldn’t picture it.  But, of course, God can ask you to do all sorts of things you never thought you could do.  We can’t do it.  Not on our own, anyway.

I was feeling really sorry for myself, and sorrier for Heidi.  I was sorriest of all for Heidi’s family.  I was making a secret plan in my heart.  I thought there was a chance it might help Heidi’s family a little to know that I could be strong.  Maybe if I was strong, some of my strength would spill over into their hearts, and help them be strong.  I decided that this thought would be the motivation I needed to keep my head above water.

Heidi’s oncologist took one look at her, and told her he did NOT think she had cancer.  I guess people with cancer look like they have cancer.  Heidi’s blood work indicated that she did have cancer, so did the tumor on her ovary.  Still, the doctor wasn’t buying it.  He said she looked too healthy.

The Doctor was right.  Heidi has Endometriosis. The Doctor said it was a severe case; he took all sorts of things out of her body.

Now I am in the hospital.  I’m watching my sister sleep. She is in a lot of pain.

Endometriosis is nothing to be happy about.  But, we are really happy about it.   I have thanked God for allowing Heidi and I more time together on Earth.  I trust Him.  I have been thanking Him for a lot of things lately.  Mostly, I am thanking Him for reminding me that my time on Earth is just a short stay.  I should make the best use of my stay.  I should be grateful, industrious, loving, forgiving and faithful.  I wish I didn’t need reminders.

I wish people didn’t get cancer.  I wish everyone had perfectly healthy bodies, and could live together forever without any problems.  Well, I guess we are going to do that, just not yet.  Not here.

Right now is the time to understand that happiness, joy, pain and suffering are all to be embraced.   I for sure think we are on Earth  to have fun;  I also think we’re here to be refined.  We’re here to learn and to grown.  Hard stuff makes me grow.

My sister Katy sent the rest of my sisters and Mom this beautiful passage while we were waiting for Heidi’s diagnosis.   I don’t know why I loved these words so much.  I do.  I have reread them many times. I don’t always get what God is trying to tell me.  I so get this.  It’s becoming my life’s motto:

 

A Time for Everything

1There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

4a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

6a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

9What do workers gain from their toil? 10I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yeta no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

old miki and heidi

How Changing our House Number, Painted our House

Eleven years ago we moved into the house we live in now .  When we moved in, it was obvious our sweet house had not been loved for a very long time. We have been told that the local police had to keep on eye on our house;  wild parties happened there.  We saw some evidence of this when we moved in.  Everything in the house was shockingly dated and in need of maintenance.  Yet,somehow, the previous home owners found enough funds for  a fenced in hot tub in the backyard. People who have homes in disrepair with working hot tubs and a bar are sketch.  I’m telling you that right now.

Over the years, we have put a lot of money, and a lot of sweat equity into our house.  That is just one reason I love our house so much.  I’m very attached.

One of the things we said we were going to do  when we first moved in, was update the house number near the front door.  What we had was made of ceramic tile.  The numbers were brown, and framed with orange flowers.  Carolyn and Mike Brady would have loved it. It would have looked nice in their kitchen.

We thought we were going to change the numbers right away, but then we started changing other things.  11 years later, and those dated numbers were  still there.  Scott finally pushed the issue.  The weird thing is, Scott is usually the instigator with our home improvements.  You probably don’t get that, because I have told you Scott doesn’t spend money.  I don’t get it either.

Scott won’t let me toss out hotel soap and shampoo.  He’ll wear the same slippers for 20 years, and he’ll ride his bike instead of flipping for a tank of gas.  It doesn’t make sense that he is the one that has to push me to spend bigger chunks of money on buying toilets, flooring and new light fixtures.He does push me.  Spending larger chunks of money is scary for me.

Scott has told me over the years that he is averse to living in  a tree fort; mismatched furniture and jerry rigged maintenance.  I’m like, I think tree forts are cool.  I never had one when I was little.

He forces us to  do things like remodel the bathroom; I guess I’m always glad he does.  The end product looks so nice;  I never thought I’d be fancy enough to live in a home that doesn’t look like a tree fort.  It feels nice.

We were at the home improvement store, and Scott just kept after me about these house numbers.  I finally gave in, and we brought this modern deal we both like.  Scott took off the old plate.  Underneath, was a big patch of paint that was a different color than what the house was painted now.  Our new numbers wouldn’t cover up that odd patch of paint.   We decided that we would have to repaint the front area of the house, just around the door.  THEN,we could put up our new numbers.

We went with a dark gray for the front of the house.  We are kind of going crazy with gray right now.  We both love it.  I knocked out that project in a Saturday.  We thought it looked great.  Except for one problem: The dark gray did NOT actually match the rest of the house like we thought it would.  The rest of the house was painted tan.  For some reason that shade of tan and the dark gray were fighting with each other.  We thought we could live with it.  We did.  For one week.  By the end of the week, the mismatched colors were driving us crazy.  We decided we had to paint the rest of the house.

painted house

 

We worked on this all weekend, and we really like the results.

house finished

The whole house painting thing started out as a family project.  After the a few hours, we lost half of our work force.  The only child size worker left was Zeke.

Zeke painting

Zeke, cleaning the siding. Eddie, rememberig he has something else to do.

Zeke likes to work.  He’s loathe to leave a project unfinished; that’s exactly why he’s always the first person any one in our family asks to help them with anything.  He has stamina.

Zeke stuck with us for the entire two full days of painting.  One time he asked to go in and get a drink, his Dad and I told him that seemed a little fishy.

Scott and I told Zeke that we would definitely find a way to compensate him.  I didn’t tell Zeke that before we started, I was actually thinking of hiring a full size adult to help us with this enormous task.

In the afternoon, I walked around the corner and I heard Zeke and Olivia talking about what Zeke might be thinking of asking for as payment.   At this point, I was thinking a new gaming system wouldn’t be totally out of line. I heard Zeke say, “I think I’m going to ask for a box of doughnuts.”

What can I tell you?  The kid is  little bit of a swindler.  You’ve gotta watch out for him.

We think that whoever hires Zeke some day, will realize that Zeke  is worth his weight in gold (assuming he grows quite a bit).  I should probably start working with Zeke now on how to negotiate a raise.  He needs to know that when people besides his parents are paying his salary, doughnuts don’t actually count as  currency.

Zeke doughnut

 

 

 

 

Hitchhikers and Romance

We had a weird night on Sunday.  This summer we have been trying to make it to my parent’s for a visit on Sundays.  I never imagined a day when I would worry more about my parents than they worry about me.  That’s  happening.

We usually go out to eat with my parents when we visit.  They live in a small town.  This Sunday I was having a hard time enjoying my dinner.  The entire time we were eating there was a young man standing on  the sidewalk outside the  restaurant  window.   He kept looking at his watch and calling someone on his phone. It was obvious he was waiting for someone to pick him up.  He looked disheveled; messy hair and an over all appearance that stated, “I could use some help.”

I didn’t say anything about him while we were eating.  When we were almost done I spoke.  “Hey Scott, there’s a guy out there who looks like he might need help. I think he is…”

“I know,” Scott interrupted. “I’ve been  worrying about him this whole time.  I’m going to go out and see if I can give him a ride.”

Turns out this young man did have special needs.  He had decided he was going to walk to Walmart to buy some video games.  Walmart was about 6 miles away.  He got half way there, and changed his mind.  He called a taxi, but the taxi never came.  Scott and Zeke gave him a ride to his Grandma’s.

After dropping that young man off, Scott picked Olivia and I up at our  Grandma and Grandpa’s.  Scott told us that  now we can add worrying about that guy to our list of people to worry about.  That boy surely had some troubles.  What if he decides to walk to Walmart again?  What will he do when something happens to his Grandma? Where will he go?

Right while we were  listing all the reasons to worry about that young man,  we drove by a lady who was walking along the side of the rode.  She looked like she could be a Grandma herself.

We were in a tidy, middle-class neighborhood.   This Grandma put her thumb out for a ride.  I’m serious.   She really did.  Scott and I just looked at each other.   We knew we were going to pick this Grandma up;  that would bring the number of strangers we’ve picked up in our lifetime to two.  Both in the same night.

Scott slowed down.  I rolled my window down, and asked that Grandma, “Do you need a ride?”

She walked over to my window and stuck her had in WAYYY too far.

“YES!” She said. “It’s my birthday.”

Then she didn’t say anything else.

I said, “Happy Birthday?!

She just looked at me like she was trying to tell me something else.  Then I figured out she was trying to tell me it was her Birthday, and that’s why she was really, really  drunk.  I actually think she was trying to do a nice Grandma thing.  She was trying to warn me that I was about to let a strange,  intoxicated woman in to the back of my car with my children.

I told her to hop in back.  The kids get drunk with their Grandmas at least every week. They’ll be fine.

No.  I didn’t say that.  I don’t think she would have gotten that joke. We told her we hoped she had a good birthday, and dropped her at her house.  She was sweet.

I don’t know why she walked somewhere by herself to get drunk on her birthday.  And, that would make  the second person in one  day we can add  to our list of people to worry about.  Maybe we should start going to my parents on Monday nights instead.

Something is happening with Scott lately.  He’s really stepping up his game.   I know I married a good guy.   I wrote about how nice he is here.

I said Scott was  a good guy.  He is not a romantic guy.  That’s okay.  I’m not very romantic either.   When I was young I was always a little suspicious of romantic guys.  I know, that’s not fair.  Some romantic guys are really nice.  They are just also in touch with what a woman wants to hear.  But, then there’s that other group of romantic guys.  The ones who are full of crap.  Those are the guys I was trying to avoid.

Scott has set the bar for romance really low.  I’m not complaining.  I’m practical too.    We understand each other.  That’s why he is FREAKING me out lately.  Scott  has a new smart phone.  Since he’s had his phone he has sent me two messages with emoticons.  Do you know what an emoticon is?  It’s an electronic graphic used to express emotion.

Scott sent me a text that said, “See you tonight,” followed by a heart with a cupid’s arrow.  The second message had just a plain heart.

All those other husbands that have been busting their butts, coming up with poems and secret weekend getaways should take a lesson from Scott.  The problem with those guys is that they set the bar too darn high.   Their wives have expectations.   When you have a wife with expectations, you’ve got yourself some problems.

I received my text message from Scott with a heart emoticon.  When I saw that message  I hugged my phone to my chest.  I didn’t know Scott had that in him.  Completely unexpected.  I told him that I was shocked with his gesture, but that it meant a lot to me.  I could tell he was kind of proud of himself.

emoticon

About a week later Scott was shopping with Olivia.   He came home with a small, deliciously scented  candle for me.  It wasn’t my Birthday, or our anniversary.  I asked Olivia later  if the candle was her idea.  She told me no.  She said her Dad just suddenly decided  they should get me something.

What is going on?

This emoticon thing is opening up a whole new world.  Scott didn’t think he had any game in him.  He does.  I didn’t think I cared if he had any game.  I do.

I can tell that my sincere appreciation for these gestures is motivating for him too.  So, now Scott has a wife with expectations, and now he has  some  problems.

Tag Cloud