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

Archive for September, 2015

Growing Up and a Room Makeover

What is happening in your house this last week of summer?  It’s still summer, you know.  I’m holding on for dear life.

In our house we are growing.  Well, the kids are growing.  These last few years of parenting kids who live under our roof are going by frighteningly fast.  Why can’t we slow this time down to the pace time traveled when I had three preschoolers to entertain in a small townhome on a winter day, with a Dad not coming home from work until 10pm?  That kind of time stood still.

I spent the whole weekend painting and redecorating Olivia’s bedroom.  Olivia has always loved her room.  She likes having her stuff just so; I think she just likes to get away from all the noise.

Olivia has a girly streak.  She went through a longer than normal pink phase.  Over the years, her bedroom just kept  getting pinker and pinker.  Her walls and all her accessories were pink, pinker and pinkest. So were her clothes.

Olivia is a Freshman this year.  When we had Olivia, I thought that raising a girl would be easy.  She’s my girl, so she’ll be just like me.  I’ll be able to help her be a better version of me though, because I can warn her away from all my stupid mistakes.  I can make sure she avoids any of my regrets.  Parenting a girl will be easy.

I see you laughing.

Parenting a girl is not easy.  Because, guess what?  Just because you gave birth to a human who has gender in common with you, does not mean you are the same.  You and your daughter will not necessarily interpret everything in life in the same way.  I’m sorry if you didn’t know that.  I thought you should hear it from a friend.

When I was young, I was thrilled to grow up.  Every time I rounded a corner and passed through a new milestone, I was elated to see what great new things were waiting for me to experience.  I always assumed fun and adventure.

Olivia is not thrilled to grow up.  She has never been in a hurry.  She likes being a kid just fine.  Parenting a kid like this has an up side.  We’re not worried that Olivia is sneaking out her window, jumping on the back of an older kid’s motorcycle and sneaking into bars. I’m thankful for that.  That would be scary.

The down side is, Olivia needs a lot of reassurance that getting older is fun and safe.  She’s just not on board with it. She doesn’t trust it.  Becoming a Freshman is not her favorite.

I’ve been fairly preoccupied with Olivia’s state of mind lately.  This weekend I followed a chapter right from my own Mom’s book on how to help your teenage daughter.  I remember one time when I was in high school and I was as low as I got back then.  I was really, really sad about some teenager thing.  My Mom helped me redecorate  my room.  That was an amazing trick.  It worked.

We turned Olivia’s pink explosion room into a room more suited to a mature high school student.  We think this room will help Olivia embrace the awesomeness that is her. She’s going to be a heck of a high schooler.  I want her to know it.

Want to see before and afters?  Of course you do:

la la 4

Before

la la's room 2

After

la la's room 1

After

la la 3

After

Do you remember the Macarena?  That was sweet, wasn’t it?  Well, it was sweet, until we killed it.  We did  too much Macarena, didn’t we?  So much Macarena that we wanted to puke when when we heard about more Macarena.  Why do we always do that?

Olivia asked Scott and I if we could do the Quan.  I said, “Of course we can Quan.  What parent worth their salt can’t do the Quan?  What is the Quan?”

The Quan is today’s Macarena.  Olivia showed me to how to “Hit the Quan”.  I think you’re going to be impressed.  I thought my 80’s running man was good, but this Quan thing really showcases my abilities.  Please learn it, and post your video.  It is time to kill this thing.

Feeling Small, Living Big

Uhgg.  My brain is dead.  My brain is dried out. Crispy. If you grabbed my brain with your hand right now, it  would disintegrate; a thousand brain crumbs would fall from your palm to the ground.  There’s no juice there, people.  I’ve got no flow.

I think it’s this back to school business.

You’d think that someone with no flow would have the good sense to stop writing.  Well, I don’t care if I’ve got nothing to say.  I’m going to say it anyway.

Where do you suppose you’re going to find wisdom like what I just said there, if I quit writing?

Exactly.

What’s that?  You think I’m kind of like a public servant, and you admire my bravery for writing even when I got nothin’?

Woah. Do me a favor. Don’t repeat that.  I’m shy about getting attention, and more than a little modest.  I’m appalled by the thought of making up pretend conversations in a blog to flatter myself.  That’s sick stuff.

On the last day of summer, my head was brimming with ideas, inspiration and enthusiasm.  I actually wrote out a few of my thoughts,  and saved them for when I had time to write.

Where did all the enthusiasm go?

Do you remember I told you that I was meeting with a group of women this summer?  We read the book, “How to Choose Joy When Happiness isn’t Enough”, by Kay Warren.  We finished our book club at breakfast on the last day of summer.   I was inspired by this book, and I think the other women were too.

Isn’t it funny?  And, by “funny”, I mean super irritating.  Within a week of finishing this book, and feeling like I understand how to access real joy and contentment,  I find myself struggling to remember what I learned.

Maybe if I tell you what I learned, it will help me remember:

There is practical wisdom in this book, I couldn’t begin to remember everything I thought was useful.  I’m definitely keeping this book to refer to later.

 I’m going to just tell you two ideas that impacted me the most.  The first idea is probably something you already know: Joy can NOT exist in the absence of gratitude.  Here’s something interesting about the group of women who read this book.  We all seemed to agree that the older we get, the mores successful we have become at seeing small stuff.  Is that just across the board, a true fact about aging?  Or, was our group unique?

Here’s how it works for me: I thank God for how soft my sweater feels against my skin, for the thick cream in my coffee, and for SURE, I thank him for this huge tree I walk by almost every day at lunch. I see that tree. I stop for a few moments to just take the tree in with my eyes.  I thank God for being so kind to make that tree, and for the power he has to create something as big, and beautiful as that tree.  Seeing that tree elevates my mood.

I know.  I’m well on my way to being a crazy ol’ lady.  We learned that joy grows more easily in a heart fertile with gratitude.  It’s easy to be grateful, if we start breaking life down to all the details.

tree picture

The other important part of this book was what I would call the author’s overarching theme.  If you walk away from reading this book without understanding this part of the author’s message, then you may want to consider a reread.   This is it. This is what Kay Warren is trying to say God has impressed upon her heart to share: Joy is a choice.  

The author stated this in a hundred different ways.  But, I understood her to say that I am an active participant in my ability to obtain joy and contentment in a life guaranteed to be filled with its share of sadness and pain.  The author didn’t just tell us it was our choice, and leave at that though. She gave us tools and insight on how to go about choosing joy.

One of the women in our group has a tremendous challenge in her life.  She didn’t ask for the challenge, it was given to her.  In one of our first meetings, this woman said something like, “Oh, choose Joy.  That sounds simple.  I’ve got to wake up tomorrow and face complicated and grueling decisions and tasks, but I’ll just start singing “Amazing Grace”, and choose joy, and then I’ll be all zippedy doo da…life is sure grand.”

I paraphrased what my friend said, but you get the idea.  I thought my friend made a GREAT point.  When she said that,  I was really hoping Kay Warren had something profound to share.  Because anything I said, I’d be whipping right out of my big, fat hiney.

I had squat on that huge life question.  All’s I really had was the dumb idea to have the book club.  That’s where my ideas ended.

Whew!  Kay Warren DID have her sister’s back.  She had some good ideas that were practical, useful and inspiring.  By the end of the book, we all felt like we had learned some things to take along with us in our lives.  It was a good book.  I recommend it.

Here’s the brave book club.  Our numbers started bigger than this, but do you remember how busy summer is?  Brutal.  I was grateful to have even one other person, besides me, by the end of the summer.

book club

I have had more on my mind than choosing joy.  I have been thinking about living big.  At least, I was, before back to school crushed the thinking out of me.

This lady I like shared this passage from Corinthians on Instagram the other day:

Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life.
We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way.  I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!

This passage speaks to me.  The smallness I feel comes from within me, but I’m not meant to live a small life.  God is asking me with great affection to live a BIG LIFE.  

Am I reading that right?  I hope I am.

I think what I’m hearing is that I’m NOT to live in obedience to my insecurities, or focus on my shortcomings.  I’m not to withdraw, or hold back, or create a facade to hide me.  All that is small.

For me, living a big life is measured in terms of my investment in people; encouraging, serving, loving the people I was dropped in next to on Earth.  Does it get bigger than that?  I can’t let my smallness stop me from living a big life.  How thrilling that I don’t have to.  A big life sounds super fun. I like fun.

I did this first book club/Bible study feeling very, very small.  I am small.  I know it.  I’m not a good book/Bible study leader.  That’s not false modesty.  I promise I hold this belief with every ounce of my soul.  There are times I laughed at my ineptitude.  I had to laugh, because the other option is feeling crummy about what I lack.  I don’t like feeling crummy.

I’m so glad I’m not letting the reality of my smallness stop me from living big.  God says, don’t do it, Mik!  He calls me, Mik. We’re just like that.  It’s an inside joke.

If you’re a woman, I’m inviting you to live big with me.  We’re doing another book club/Bible study this fall.  We’re meeting every other Sunday evening at 5pm.  Location tbd. Somewhere around Prairie du Sac.

 If you live in Pakistan, India or Switzerland, and you read my blog, may God bless you like mad.  Wow.  How did that happen?  I so wish you could join us, so we could ask you about Pakistan and stuff.  Perhaps you could live big, and start your own study where you live, and we can do this in tandem?

We’re shooting for a start date of Oct 4th.  We have not made a final decision on the book yet, but it will definitely be a book written to inspire us, and to help us grow in our Christian faith.  If you’re sort of iffy on the Christian stuff and church, but you’re intrigued, I wouldn’t let that stop you.  I’m not much for feeling like people all have to agree on everything to help each other grow.

If you start, and decide it’s not for you, I don’t get hurt feelings. It’s a gift.

I’m excited to live big.

You in?

Making Brave Decisions and What’s Wrong with Reggie?

Do you have a hard time accepting things at face value?  I do.

Lately, when the family is hanging out in the living room, Reggie has been slipping away to Scott’s and my bedroom.  We suddenly realize he’s gone. We get up and look around.  We keep finding him lying on our bed (or under) in the dark.

Why does he do that?  Do you think he’s sick?  Or worse, do you think we hurt his feelings?

You’d be pretty surprised to know much space a problem like my dog’s hurt feelings occupies in my brain. I’m glad you don’t know.

Our family is experiencing something new.  College recruitment.

Parents should get manuals for this stuff.  Wait. There probably are manuals somewhere.  Forget I said that.  I don’t want to read a manual.

But, poor Eddie. It’s just like when those dumb suckers let us take him home from the hospital for the first time.  We didn’t have one single idea what we were walking into.  We had no real experience to make us confident we’d succeed as parents.  We looked like adults, but we knew the truth. We were just two kids.  Kids can’t raise babies.

Well, maybe kids can raise babies. Eddie is still alive. Yay!

This little baby is now walking around like an almost big man.  I think this almost big man is probably assuming his parents are mature and adult enough to help him make his first gigantic life decision.

Sorry, Eddie. We’re STILL just kids.

College sports.  There’s a lot going on there.  I know very little about this subject.

We received a postcard in the mail last week.  The card said that if our child athlete doesn’t have at least 25 colleges/universities pursuing him/her, then we’re not doing an adequate job of promoting him as parents.  Which, of course, means we should hire professionals.

Don’t you think that was a stupid advertisement?  My sister-in-law is a college coach.  She says that outfits like that are trying to play on parents’ egos.  Weird. Because, it sounds to me like they just sent me an invitation to chaos.  Because we all need more of that, right?

Eddie is talking to a small handful of schools.  He’s  trying to figure out which wrestling team and college/university to choose.  He’s trying to figure out where he belongs next. Even on a small scale, it can feel overwhelming

Scott and Eddie just did Eddie’s first official school visit.  I sent Scott and Eddie no less than four texts reminding them to take pictures for me.  They said they forgot.  I wish they wouldn’t lie.  Did I really think they were going to stop and ask the coaches and wrestlers to take selfies with them?  A girl can hope.

I had to settle for a pictureless summary of their visit.

Scott and I have not had to make THAT many big, life decisions.  When we do, it’s rough.  I think there are two separate things making the decision making process especially difficult for us.  Scott is EXTREMELY slow to commit to anything;he wants to make the exact right choice.  For him, no decision is better than the wrong decision.  His perfectionism slows him down.

I have the opposite problem. I almost always  really, really, really don’t have an opinion.  This isn’t the oh-I-am-saying-I-don’t-have-an-opinion-so-you-are-forced-to-make-the-decision-and-I-can-criticize-you-later type of no opinion.  I suffer from REAL opinionless issues. .  Everything sounds good to me; I want everyone to make everyone happy.  I’m your basic, every day coward.

I’ve been praying a lot about Eddie’s big decision lately.  Then, I read this the other morning in the Gospel of James:

But when you pray, you must believe and not doubt at all. Whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is driven and blown about by the wind.If you are like that, unable to make up your mind and undecided in all you do, you must not think that you will receive anything from the Lord.

Hmm.  Never saw that verse before.  Will you check your Bible to make sure that verse is really in there? I think some jackhole might have written that in my Bible to play a joke on me.

Here’s the part where I’m supposed to tie all this up for you.  I tell you that this verse reversed my indecisive nature; learn from me.  Except, I don’t know.  Should I tell the truth?  Or, should I lie?  I feel like I want to lie, except the truth feels better:  That verse didn’t change anything.  Yet.

Just give me some time with that verse.  Okay?  I’ll read it and reread that verse.  I need to ask God what He means to say to me with that verse.   I might be learning a new way to do things here. Too soon to tell.  When things change, you’ll be the first to know.

Here’s something I do know. Yes. We were like little kids raising a baby, but Eddie is still alive, remember. So far, so good.  And, I think I actually kind of like how he’s shaping up.  I mean, if you had to live with him, you’d see he’s got some rough spots.  He’s kind of a hot mess in the pays attention to detail department.  But, right in the center of all his crusty old man clothes, long hair, inappropriate jokes,  and forgetfulness is a kid who knows himself.  It’s remarkable, really. Considering the confused kids who raised him.

eddie in tree

Secretly (not anymore) I really love that thing inside Eddie.  Knowing his own mind has served him well to this point.  No.  I’m not ready to turn all my parental duties over to that thing inside him, but I think we can at least trust it to guide us in the right direction with this big life decision Eddie’s making. I think. I don’t know. I’m not sure.

eddie eagle senior pic

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