God created her, I carried her, now she is my happiness and my laughter.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

It's time to be normal

It's been a while since I posted. However, in my defense, I thought blogger had deleted my webpage because it didn't load properly the last time I tried to get on. This blog is mainly being written for my daughters to read some day. It's more of a journal than anything else. And not one that I'm good at keeping up with. But, everyone once in a while; I will have a moment in life that just bears having record made of it.

Today is the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We had a very pleasant Thanksgiving with Liz and Josh and David. Just a small, humble gathering. We didn't get rowdy playing games or sit around a fire doing s'mores; but we did good. It was fun. With mom and dad being in Chicago there was a fear of the winter holidays being a drag. I give credit to God for giving us all a peaceful, enjoyable Thanksgiving. Nice to know we CAN survive with out the parents, when needed.

The girls and I got our tree today and set it up. This time last year marks the anniversary of my depression worsening to the point of getting on medicine again. I have upped my dose once since I got on it again last year. That is good news because that means I'm still taking a pretty small dose. This time last year I was crying uncontrollably on my couch as I sat in front of our newly lit tree and wished to have someone in my life to share it with. The girls were with their Father at the time and I wasn't living with Dave like I had the year before that. I was truly alone for the first time on a memorable day and I truly felt very alone. I remember inviting a couple friends over, all of whom couldn't come over for one reason or another. I had fallen into this downward spiral that I couldn't get out of. Finally, my mom came over and sat down with me in my living room and just listened as I expressed (rather in a hypervigilance state) how down and depressed I really was feeling. My mom insisted I get some help. Coincidentally, (or a God-thing) I had my yearly doctor's check-up that very week. When my doctor asked me how things were going and I started bawling again, she sent me to the psychiatrist right away.

So, that was what I was doing this time last year. I admit as the holiday neared, the tree was carefully picked from the rest, decorations were chosen and we began to transform the living room to the holiday spirit once again, I was became a little nervous that things would be bad again. God knew my heart and mind this year just as much as He knew it last year. He allowed the day to go exactly the way He wanted it to go. He knew I was ready for the day He was about to give me.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching the girls choose the decorations and hang them on the tree. Emma mainly just wanted to hang the tree-topper star. Jacey helped me a little with the lights, but otherwise, her favorite job was hanging the ornaments. She likes to hang them on the light bulbs instead of the branches. I just sat on the couch and watched. I didn't care or feel anxious if two blue ornaments were too close together or if the majority of the decorations were in the bottom two feet of the tree. I just watched and took pictures and enjoyed. Who cares of it's not picture perfect? The girls and I bonded, fondly. This is one thing that I think God was waiting for me to learn. The concept of "not everything has to be perfect."

The tree was up and decorated by 10 in the morning. So the day continued. The house was a mess and over the course of the last few days I was really becoming sick of it. Because it wasn't just becoming a mess over time. It was clean as a whistle one day and the next looked like a tornado went through it. In the past year and previous years before I was on meds, I wouldn't have even cared. I was so anxious all the time making me feel exhausted all the time, which made me feel depressed all the time. I simply didn't care what happened to the house. Well, this past week, for some reason I just decided enough was enough. Why did I have to live this way? Now, this question is important to remember for later on in the story. I began to assess the situation and something I had always known, became very clear to me as I did so. I have these two children who just run around the house doing whatever pleases them. They eat when they are hungry and leave the food out, they take good toys outside and lose them, they don't respect their things, they leave their clothes on the floor where ever they happen to be when they change (and mind you they are changing about 17 times a day.)

It was things like this that made me feel like a bad mother. People would sometimes tell me I was doing a good job and that my kids were doing great. I would just blow off their comments as "they are just trying to make me feel better." Because surely they wouldn't say those things if they knew what went on in my house. I started to ask myself another question. (Which is also important to remember) "Why should I let my kids rule the roost? Why can't I start making some rules and enforcing them?"

This sort of thing happened through out the week. I began to feel like "nesting" and wanted to start throwing things out left and right. Working full time and doing full-time, online schooling didn't give me much extra time to do anything. So, finally, I get this lovely 4-day weekend. I made a plan in my head of what I was going to do and how I was going to do it. Now, bear in mind, that always in the back of my head I'm dreading the start of this new life-goal because of the depression and anxiety that I'm so used to haunting my drive and sucking my energy dry. As I carried about my day yesterday and today preparing for "the new normal," I would stop every so often and take a moment to realize I still had energy. I still had my drive. I still had the gumption to complete my goals. My ideas still felt fresh in my mind. I have those thoughts after completing my various tasks and chores of the day. Yet, still in the back of my mind I would think, "Ok, that may all be true for now; but I better get this done while I can because soon the depression will settle in."

Well, we are up to-date. The girls were good about picking up some clutter around the house before we decorated the tree. So, after we decorated, they went to play outside and I got busy with the main task that was keeping me from feeling the "new norm"....laundry. Today, I literally washed every article of clothing (of the girls) that we owned (save just a handle of outfits that some how managed to stay in the drawers.) On top of that, I also washed all the blankets and bedding that was strewn about the home, for some reason. "Why did I do this?" you might ask. As I had mentioned before clothes were just being thrown every which way and staying put where ever they landed. Well, in spite of many of them being clean to begin with, there was no hope of just putting them back in the drawer now. What with all the cat and dog fur that accumulated on the floor, I had no choice but to wash them all. I stood on my feet all day by the edge of my bed folding clothes, going through all of them piece by piece and only keeping the ones that we really needed. Two big trash bags later, I had narrowed down their collection. Sure, I put on my show as I folded laundry. But, this did not keep me from noticing how badly my feet were beginning to ache and how much I would just like to sit down. As soon as one load was folded, sorted through and put away, another was dry and ready to be started on. This kept me busy until it got dark outside. I noticed the tree again as I walked in from the dryer with the last load I was planning on folding tonight. The lights were so pretty. I had that moment where I stopped to consider my state of mind. Was I depressed? Was I on the verge? I strangely felt ok. I started to feel it creep up a little bit as I considered the feeling of sitting alone in front of the tree again this year. So, I fired back by letting the girls stay up a little later than planned. We sat together on the couch silently and just watched the tree. That was enough for me.

I laid the girls down in their own beds, which was part of my "new normal" goal I was going for. I took my load of laundry into the bedroom. Jacey wasn't quite asleep yet so I decided to put off turning on my show. I didn't want to distract her from sleeping. The girls had fussed a little bit about being in their room again. After all, they had been sleeping with me every night for the last several weeks due to the various number of house guests I seemed to keep inviting into my home and regretting later. As I laid them in their beds this night they started to fuss a bit and I said, "Girls. It's time we start being like a normal family. The kind where we sleep in our own beds, we do our laundry in a timely manner and we pick up clumps of fur that are hanging out in the corners of our home." The said, "Ok and good night." ha ha

That comment I made to them, though, stopped my in my tracks, mentally. I ran another assessment of my mind to find the depression that was sure to be there after being tired, my feet aching and all these menial tasks that I would normally find so overwhelming. And I smiled on the inside. Because for as silly as I would seem to a "normal" non-depressed, non-anxious person; I wasn't feeling my usual overwhelmingness from the parts of life that were making me feel normal again. I have always preached that as a depressed person, you must accept the "new-you." When depressed you just can't do things the way you used to. I used to care about picking up the tuffs of fur. I used to enjoy laundry. I used to see a spill on the floor and clean it up right away. I no longer did those things because they genuinely felt like more than what I could handle in a day. So, the relief of discovering that I was not going to wallow in depression tonight from all I had tried to accomplish, made me feel like a victor.

If you don't currently or have never suffered from a real, honest-to-goodness, diagnosed depression then you won't think anything of this victory of mine. And that's okay. Because I have accepted that this is who I am now. I can't keep trying to compare my house and parenting skills to my mom or other moms who seem to have it all together. Every individual person deals with a variety of different things in their lives. If it isn't depression its something else. Depression happens to be my thorn in the flesh. And yes, I do grow tired of fighting back the urge to defend myself when I know another mother is judging me for the way I brought my kids to school or for the way my house looked a mess or the things I forgot to do that any normal mother would have remembered. But, I've embraced the fact that other people don't have to "get" me. God is putting me through a trial that is not understood by everyone. If I had some kind of cancer, no one would say a word about my messed up house. In fact, many would probably offer to come help me out on a weekly basis. Because people understand physical illness. It's something they can see and be sympathetic towards. Yet, my cancer, is invisible in my mind. It doesn't show on my face as I'm quite capable of carrying on a normal conversation and holding smile with a steady gaze. It doesn't show in the way I dress because I still value professionalism and want to be classy. It doesn't show in hair loss like other cancers. It doesn't show in my body with illness in my eyes. Or does it? Depressions shows in many ways in a person's life.

Here's some wisdom from my mom: an observation, which I clung to and remembered whenever I felt I like I just wasn't cutting it. "It's not normal to be ok with sending your kids to school without brushing their hair." (And I'm paraphrasing here.) "It's not normal to watch your house fall apart around you and not care enough to just do some basic pick up." My mom wasn't being mean. She was trying to understand me. She recognized, when many others don't, that, yes, something is wrong with me. And though it's not a physical illness like cancer that people can see, relate and sympathize with, it's still just as serious. Depression: the cancer of the mind, as I affectionally call it.

NOT TODAY, though! And what a relief! Remember those questions that were important to remember. I can not tell you the last time I cared enough to even make a quandary of such questions. It was like all of a sudden the depression went to sleep long enough for me to open my eyes and in astonishment think "Why am I living like this?"

As I puttered around the house and realized all the things I was doing that used to overwhelm me and make me crywere no longer bringing me down, I had no choice but to just praise God. He has brought me through so much in this last year. I think it's pretty neat of Him to celebrate the anniversary of starting meds with such a successful day. I don't plan on tomorrow being the same as today. I've lived with depression long enough to know that it doesn't go away. But, what a joy would it be if God actually saw fit to heal me of this burden. Could the "me" I used to be really ever pop up again? I try not to hope. I've accepted who I am with depression. I've accepted the tears, embarrassment, changes and looks of judgement from others. I've accepted that its a feeling I will most likely always have. So, if God works a miracle and gives me my mind back, I'll have no choice but to rejoice in His Name and serve Him more fervently. Tonight, on my anniversary with zoloft, I say "goodnight" with the Joy of the Lord in my heart and hope for tomorrow.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Change is in the air

These last few weeks have been relaxing, life changing, happy, and full of relief. Since I started on my medicine last Christmas, I certainly had my ups and downs. As my body got used to the dose I started to slip back into the depression from which I came. So, I'm taking a higher dose now and am not comfortable going any higher. I've always believed that my depression, while physically apparent in my life, is also considerably controllable by my spiritual walk with the Lord. Sadly, my walk with the Lord was failing miserably. I had reached a point where I truly believed God had given up on me. I did not feel like I had a purpose to be used by Him. I thought he only needed me to keep the girls in church. As long as I did that, I was doing all that he needed of me because I couldn't handle anymore. My temptations were so great and I was failing as a Christian every day. I begged and pleaded with tears and crying out for my heart to change; but those prayers weren't being answered. The devil had me real good believing that there was nothing more I could ever do for the Lord. I had turned to worldly sins which made me feel well enough to get through the day. In fact they made me so happy sometimes I felt like I didn't need my medicine anymore. Foolishly I truly believed that God was ok with me living in this sin because at least it kept my depression at bay which allowed me to get through the day with out biting my kid's heads off. Work was starting to be a place I dreaded. Likewise, I hated being home. So, I was getting no relief anywhere I went. I had given up in many areas of my life from hygiene to house work to church ministries to eating healthy.

Finally, spring break was upon us. It was my turn to pay to get the girls to Seattle to see their dad. The travel plans went by without a hitch. I had plenty of money from my tax return to get them there as well as take myself to Idaho for some quality time with my sister. We took a few days and stayed at a nice hotel, planned a spa day and treated ourselves like royalty with a shopping day and a personal consultant. It was so fun and relaxing and just what I needed after a very stressful first quarter of the year.

Now, I have been home for a while. My first day back to work was met with a lay off of 19 people to include, yours truly. The day I got laid off was a little emotional; but strangely it was also a relief. The strange thing was that on my way to work I prayed and asked God again to show Himself to me. I had such a great vacation with my sister who prayed with me and encouraged me the whole time. I didn't want my first week back to work to be a bust. I asked God to really prove himself to me and show me what I needed to change in my life. Sure enough as soon as I walked down the hallway past my boss's office I was laid off. I knew this lay off was from God. I knew He was letting me know that He wasn't done with me yet. The first step towards change was to leave that job. It weighed me down spiritually, emotionally and physically. My greatest temptation lay in wait behind those walls. Now, I was free. Free of trying and failing, free to put myself in a place where I was completely reliant on God again.

It also worked out really great because my mom was in town packing up her final belongs as they had moved to Chicago. It was a blessing to be able to spend some time with her which I would not have generally had the ability to do. As always she was a great help and friend to me while she was back in town. It was so good to see her again.

Upon her departure back to Chicago, I was feeling a little better than the last time she had left. The first time she left it was very sudden and I did not handle the emotions of the event very well. This time I was prepared. I had spent several good days with her, played some scrabble like we used to do and prepared myself for her to be gone. However, after she left I cared less about the domestic chores of the day and I craved my temptation an awful lot.

God had been preparing my older sister and Domestic Warrior Leader, Kimberly for this very time in my life. If for no other reason, her molding and making was for someone exactly like me who needed a humanly, unconditional love with no judgement and the absolute care to be there for me by text, skype or phone anytime I called on her. I knew God was doing something in my life; however, getting back to a place of full trust and surrender to Him was not easy. I sometimes felt so anxious that I couldn't move my body I felt so weighed down from the pressure of the change going on in my heart. I started to make better choices and leaned on my accountability partner for support. She allowed me to express my deepest, darkest feelings - the "truths" that I hid inside for no one else to see or know about. She didn't help me wallow in my despair. Rather she continually pointed me back to Christ, His forgiveness and the Love God shared with both and all of us. She promised to pray for me and then followed through with that promise. She has never made me feel like I'm too much of a bother or that the feelings I'm having in a particular moment are stupid as I often feel like they are.

I still miss my temptation so much sometimes it hurts and I cry. My kids see me crying and want to know what's wrong. I tell them I lost a good friend and that is what it feels like. Sometimes I feel like the day is going well and then all of a sudden I burst into tears caused by a searing pain in my heart like I've lost a loved one. The battle is real. It's not easy; but it DOES have it's victories.

My life was not feeling any more organized being home. I took Jacey out of daycare to save money. While some might think, "Oh, great you get to spend some quality time with your daughter." I'm thinking, "Oh great. All this time I have to spend with a 3 year-old and I'm so tired already." I have had a hard time finding the joy in being home. I thought I didn't clean my house or stay organized because I was too tired after working all day. It turns out, I don't clean it anyway ha ha I'm still just as tired and frankly I don't know how I pulled myself out of bed each day to work a 40+ hour week. I'm exhausted just doing what little I do. I was feeling so overwhelmed that I had Domestic Warriors help me with a schedule. Kim sat down with me again and I told her what I wanted to accomplish in a day. She helped me put it together to where I wouldn't feel overwhelmed and at the same time feel like I'm at least accomplishing something each day. Today was the first day I got to try out my new schedule. I had set reminders in my phone to go off at each task that was imperative to get done such as eating or helping Jacey learn her letters. If you look around my house you won't see much of a change; but I feel amazing. I followed my schedule even with some set backs. I've had down time, play time, eating time and clean up time. I feel very accomplished in spite of still having much to do.

Change is in the air. And I think it's a pretty big one. God seems to be prompting me to move to Idaho. I would be close to my accountability partner and some other spiritual guidance there. This move might require that I homeschool the kids which in turn may cause an upset with my ex-husband who for some reason is instant the kids go to a public school. I will drop dead before I send my kids to a public school for reason we can talk about another time. So, much prayer is going into this change. I will need to be able to raise enough money for the move which might mean a part time job at another low paying job. I dread the thought of that and am praying for other options. I have also applied to work at a zoo in Idaho as a volunteer coordinator and am trying not to get too anxious while I wait for their decision. I know that it is in God's hands and He knows my heart.

Thanks for listening again.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Long awaited

This is the eve of a much needed break from work, from responsibility, from life. It was difficult to get through the work day. Things were slow as most others have taken off for the holiday. All day I was excited to get my mini vacation started. Traffic has been awful. It's been frustrating having to drive to and fro tying up loose ends from the last couple week, slowly getting all my errands complete and getting the kids home. The evening started out nicely, though. We took some electronics we didn't need to the pawn shop and got $20. Then I had something to return at Walgreens. With all the extra cash I was able to grab a couple really pretty make up bags for the girl's stockings and we also picked up some movies.

Coming home, however, was hard as it has been for the last several months. My home is not a place I enjoy being at and I hate that. I know the girls feel it too. My house is just a place with the essentials we need to be comfortable. A place were we come home and spend our evening being too tired to enjoy each other's company. Then we get up too tired to have a pleasant morning. Sometimes I feel more at home when I'm at work than when I'm at home.

A few days ago I had a glimpse of hope, though. I had a new patient doctor's appointment at the VA hospital. I found out I had free medical there and signed up right away. My appointment was first thing in the morning. The experience was amazing. Everyone was very friendly and I felt really happy there. The nurse practitioner who saw me that morning started asking about my medical history. As soon as we hit on depression I immediately started crying. My "How depressed are you" survey did not score well. The nurse was very concerned. I had been feeling this way for a long time but my depression was so misunderstood by everyone around me that I thought maybe I really was the crazy one. I kept thinking I just need to pull myself together. To be honest, I was waiting for the girls to get older. I kept thinking if the girls were just a little older and taking care of their selves more, things would be better. My last experience with medicine was not good so I never even considered doing it again. I feared losing the girls if someone knew I was mentally ill. So, I spent every single day barely making it through and feeling the whole time like something was wrong with me. I had no idea what I was doing with the kids and I had no idea how I would make it through the end of the year. My thoughts became worse and worse. I cared nothing about what other people thought of me. I knew that they did not understand me, so I just did what I could, what I felt I had to do to get through the day.

When the nurse strongly encouraged me to get on some medicine, I had a bit of nerves; but otherwise had no problem agreeing. I knew that I needed to try one more time, a different kind. I couldn't keep going on the way I was going. So, needless to say, I'm now taking half a dose of Zoloft. The first couple days I felt nauseous and dizzy; but I was determined to keep at it for the designated amount of time. The nurse told me it would take a couple weeks to fully feel the affects so I wasn't expecting to be feeling much better already by day 3. Perhaps God was allowing things to work quickly because I was at the end of my rope or maybe that's just how the medicine was working for me; but either way I was finally starting to feel like myself again. It had been years since I had even been in the presence of the true me. I had forgotten things about myself. My energy level was higher. I was happy in the mornings and patient with the kids. I had more gumption to clean up a mess. Such a difference from what had become the norm for me. I can distinctly recall moments when a plate of food would fall on the ground and I would just stare at it and then walk away and think, the dog will get that later when I let him in. I would spend hours with food on the floor of my kitchen and I didn't care at all. It had been so long since before I was depressed that I had forgotten what it was like to see a mess and desire to clean it up.  My relationship with my children already has greatly improved and it all happened naturally. I always knew that kids were forgiving; but I was always too depressed to care how much I was hurting them. Now I see that even just a couple days of feeling better, being patient with them and having fun with them, they seem to have already forgotten about who I used to be.

I went from crying every morning for weeks upon weeks and tearing up at every emotional thought, to feeling secure and steady. A month ago, I'd be bawling my eyes out to write a post like this; but tonight I just type. There is no crying. There's no over exaggeration of my feelings. There's no feeling like things are too overwhelming.

Now, I still suffer from quite a bit of anxiety. I have medicine for that as well but don't get to take it often because it makes me very tired. I still have moments when I dread going home and I still struggle to get out of bed in the morning. The initial affects of the medicine seem to be evening out. But, I'm not quick to judge it because this is an emotional time for me with Christmas around the corner, I'm feeling lonely, my monthly is due and I'm on new meds. I will give the medicine the allotted amount of time for trial and get it to a point where I can feel the way I'm supposed to feel all the time. Though I still have my moments, I can tell even the moments are not as bad as they used to be. It's nice not crying all the time. I still have overwhelming thoughts sometimes but they are about half of the feeling they used to be. I used to worry about the future and the control I lacked but I hardly care about that at all anymore. I've gained back a lot of happier emotions in my day to day and feel a lot more comfortable with simple things like engaging in conversation; although I still often dread days that are busier than other days. I'm not yet capable of adding anything to my schedule. I can work, eat, sleep and get the kids where they need to be. That's the extent of what I can handle right now. Thinking of putting the girls back in an extra curricular activity feels overwhelming as well as adding to my ministries at church. My hope is that in time as I get a good dose that works for me, I'll be able to add those sorts of things to my days and not feel so overwhelmed by it.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Happy Change in Plans

I haven't posted since my birthday although I lay awake at night thinking of so many things I could blog about. I know full well if I don't do it right that minute, it won't get done. So, as expected, here I am months later, finally updating. Normally this time of the year, I would be writing about feeling nervous, lonely and yet slightly relived because the girls are going to Washington. But, this year their trip actually got canceled. I was so happy for Emma because she would get to spend Thanksgiving with her cousins; but then her cousins' trip got canceled as well. It's hard being a 6 year old, just learning about the concept of time and how it passes. When Emma gets the news that she won't see her dad or her cousins, you can see her trying to accept it in her mind. She tries to think of alternative solutions; but doesn't realize the canceling of the trips is completely out of everyone's control. She doesn't understand about personal and/or financial hardships. She's too young to know that it's ok to cry and thankfully she's too young to recognize that her dad canceling his trip is painful.  She thinks if she sends her piggy bank to her cousins that will be enough to get them here. It's just so hard on a mother to watch such a little, beautiful face take it all in. And she does it so lovingly and thoughtfully. I can actually learn something from her innocence about accepting disappointment and change in my life.

I, myself, have to accept that my quarterly "break" from parenting is going to be put on hold. Yes, there was a part of me (a big part) that was kind of glad their trip to Washington got canceled. I felt somewhat like I had won. I had "called it," and I was right. But, the selfishness and pride of those thoughts went away shortly after seeing how hard it was for Emma. Then I spent several weeks struggling with heavy depression due to life struggles and just as I was coming out of that, I got sick for a week; I thought, "Good grief, I sure could use a break!" I started to think about how much easier it would be to come home and go to bed early with out feeling guilty, or to go out with a friend on a Friday night and not feel guilty or rushed to get home before I owed more than I could afford to a babysitter. The more I realized what I was missing in getting my break, the more I started to feel grumpy and it seemed every feeling I had for a while was exaggerated because I was seeing the week for what it could have been rather than what it was or had to be.

But, I'm over that now. If the girls never went away again, I would be thankful that they were mine and that I had the privilege of watching them grow and loving them every day. There are little moments each one of them has that are so hilarious or special and I can't imagine missing that look on their face or that comment or that conversation or that special moment in their life.

It won't always be this way. It's just that I'm living in an annoying phase of life right now. Depression came back, I'm fighting temptations that I thought I had conquered two years ago, I'm floundering to know what to do with school and work; and I find I can't give up control to let God lead in my life. I'm ready to throw in the towel. It seems easiest to just come home and go to bed. My house is always a mess and unorganized anyway no matter how hard I try to keep up with it. At least when I'm sleeping I don't notice all that. However, with all of this going on, I find I'm able to take one day at a time. I tend to not even think about the next day. Every night I go to bed thinking I'll take a day off work and then I wake up and decide I'll go to work after all. I just keep telling myself, "This too shall pass." Right now, I'm happy if I sleep through the night and make it through an evening with out being grumpy.

Tomorrow Nick and his new bride, Lulu come into town for Thanksgiving. Emma is very excited to see them. She is laying beside me now, having put her self to bed and just closed her eyes and fell asleep. So easy for her to do. She's wearing bright pink lipstick which she begged me to let her leave on through the night. Jacey is sitting at the foot of the bed, wide awake coloring and talking to herself and insisting that I respond to everything she says. I've gotten pretty good and saying "mmhmm" in various tones depending on the tone of her comment or question. She was funny earlier, I wouldn't listen to what she was saying so she started counting "1, 2, 3..." she got all the way to 6 before I realized she was counting at me because I wasn't listening to her as I do with her for not doing what she is told. She's much more lenient than me counting all the way to 6. I never let her disobey past the count of 3, ha ha. I have much to be thankful for even when it's harder to see.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

30 and Thriving

So, for quite a while I was refusing to tell anyone that didn't already know how old I was turning this year. Thirty seemed like that age where by now you should have your life relatively figured out. I felt like for the most part I was still acting like someone in their mid-twenties and I definitely felt mid-twenties. Thirty felt....older. Not old, but definitely older. But, then my other 29 year old friends started having their 30th birthday parties and none of them randomly combusted into flames afterwards. They seemed to carry out normal lives, normal, successful lives. And I started to realize that 30 wasn't so bad. It was just an age. It was also nice realizing that I no longer felt attracted to those young immature college aged guys who I wanted so badly to act their age. It's the over 30 that care about taking care of a family and that was becoming attractive to me.

So, it caught me by surprise when the eve of my 30th birthday I sat alone at home and found myself feeling depressed and crying spastically. It was the second to last night I would get to myself before school started. With mom watching the kids two days in a row during the summer, I've had Wednesday nights to myself and I've always embraced it with gusto. But, this night I started to miss my kids. I thought about waking up in the morning, the day of my birthday, and no one would be there. Liz had planned for the family to get together the day after my birthday to celebrate. I had always disliked the idea from the moment she presented it to me. She said she wanted to celebrate on Friday and she would take me out to a movie on Thursday, my actual birthday. So, I could have my birthday poker party with my friends from work on Saturday. I like celebrating with my family on the exact day. I mentioned that to Liz but she had some reason why Friday was just easier for everyone and she seemed so happy to be planning the celebration at her house I decided to just let it go. Going to a movie would be fun and at least I would get to do something with someone on my birthday.

Well, all day on the 29th, I was feeling emotional because it dawned on me that I wouldn't see anyone on my birthday, not even my kids except for going out with Liz later in the evening and then I would pick the kids up at Liz's house after the night was done. They would be sleeping by the time we got back. So, I sat Wednesday night thinking about that and feeling down. I considered taking the next day off so I could just relax and do something fun for myself; but the next morning I ended up going to work anyway. Not surprising. I like my routine.

When I got to work, the technicians were really in a mood. I had passed out a memo about some new procedures the day before and it did not go over well. I was so mad at them all for acting so childish and non-professional and expecting me to bow to their every need and wishes. Blanca came in late carrying a bouquet of beautiful yellow, orange and pink flowers. She said, "Hope these birthday flowers cheer you up. I know you are having a hard time with the techs." That was a nice surprise. Then I went upstairs to my desk and found a giant balloon attached to it. It was nice to be remembered.

The day wore on and the more it did the more I grew tired of playing the passive aggressive game with the technicians. My tasks were all complete for the day and the rest of the day would have just been spent on busy work so I decided as a salary employee I was just going to take off a couple hours early. A girl I work with upstairs told me to just go home and since I didn't have the kids I should do something just for me that would make me smile.

So, on the way home I grabbed a large Code Red Mountain dew and a bag of microwave popcorn and  came home, plopped down and watched my Gilmore Girls show. the more I sat there the more I thought about my evening with my sister. I texted her and said, "If you get off at 5 and I only live a couple minutes away, why are we not meeting until 6?" She didn't answer right away and I figured she was busy at work; but I considered calling because I could always meet her at the church at 5. My evening was getting boring and I hated waiting around. Finally I heard back from her. She said, "She had gone to QT over lunch and the car was making weird sounds. Josh wanted her to get home, stop for oil on the way home and he wanted to look at the car. She asked if I could pick her up." I said, "Well, I could just pick you up at the church and take you home later because I have to get the kids anyway." She said, "Well, this is Josh's only night available to look at the car." So we agreed I would pick her up at her house around 6:15.

Well, around 5:30, I was practicing my violin and thought, you know, I could always just head over and wait for her. If Josh is home I can visit with him or otherwise just play with Gauge. I decided to head over to her house. I get to her street and I see two familiar looking people walking down the street. As I get nearer it turns out to be Patty and Alex McCarthy. I didn't think anything of it at all. I knew Alex worked at the near by Frys. I pulled up to them and said, "Hey, you two get back to where you belong." Patty said, "We do belong here. What are you doing here?" I said, "Well, Liz lives on this street, don't you know?" She said, "Yes, that's who we are going to see. We have something we have to give her." In that moment I thought, huh. That's odd. Why are they walking then? I asked, "Oh, did you just pick Alex up from work?" Patty said, "Yes." I said, "And you decided to walk down here?" She said, "Yep." I said, "Well, I can give you a ride the rest of the way, if you want." (We were only about 4 houses away) Patty laughed and said, "Sure, we'll take a ride." It all made sense in my head. They got in the car and we continued to the house. I didn't really think anything out of the ordinary was happening. It wouldn't be unlike Patty to randomly decide to come to someone's house and give them something. They could have said they were passing out tracks door to door and I would have believed them.

We started walking up to the door and I started to feel weird. Here Patty and Alex had walked all this way to give Liz something and we were supposed to go to a movie. Was our evening going to get delayed? What were they giving her? Should I be here for it? I didn't want to intrude in their visit. Patty knocked on the door and didn't wait for Liz to respond. She just walked right in. And even then I thought, "Ha, that's so like Patty. She's so much like Grandma. Liz doesn't even know she's coming and she just walks right in."

But, as she does open the door she yells "SURPRISE!" Everyone else starts to realize I'm there too and they jump out from the hallway, "SURPRISE!" Turns out Patty and Alex were there for a surprise birthday party for me. I was so taken aback. I started remembering all the lies I had been told over the course of the last couple weeks. I'm hard to surprise. I ask a lot of questions and I notice when things are off. I couldn't believe I had been fooled. Patty was the perfect person to see walking down the street. She's the only one of the group who could have done that and I would have thought, "Well, that's just Patty. Who knows what she's up to now."

It was so special and I felt so happy. They hadn't forgotten how special it was to me to celebrate on the day, after all. They hadn't forgotten I was feeling weird about turning 30. Jacey ran up to me several times to hug my leg. Even Jeff was there. Seeing Jeff there was what really made the party special. Liz had gone out of her way to invite an "outsider" to make my day special. And Jeff, being the outsider, had put that aside to come and be there for me. I was overwhelmed with his amazing friendship in that moment.

It was such a fun party. Heidi and her family were there as well. I don't have a large group of friends but my family knew who meant the most to me and it was perfect. Mom's lasagna was just cheesy enough and though Emma had given me a scare the other day when she told me Jammy had bought me a mop when I really, really needed and wanted a vacuum, I did end up receiving a steam vacuum and it is awesome! I can finally walk barefoot in my house again. (Just a little plug in here: those steam vacuums really are amazing! If you have hardwood or tile floors, this is a must have!) Now, I'm just curious if Emma knew she was tricking me with the mop story or if she thought the vacuum was a mop. Either way I was so happy it wasn't a mop.

I was slightly disappointed that I had gotten all dressed up to go out and watch a movie, but I got over it quickly. Thank you to everyone who came and prepared to make my day special. It will be a birthday to remember for all time. And thanks to Josh for putting my vacuum together before I left.

Now, I have much to do to get my house ready for poker tonight.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Free Weekend

After last weekend's crazy activities, to include Emma's fasionista, dance party and being sick with the flu; I've fully embraced my "stay at home" pi day (3.14.15) weekend. Emma's birthday was a blast and I enjoyed having all her old friends back together again along with a couple new friends. But, pictures say it all and I don't have those picked up from Walgreens yet so I'll comment more when I have some pictures to post.

Fridays are usually everyone's favorite day of the week. And they should be my favorite day even more so because I only work a half day. My work "day" is simple since I have a two and half hour meeting in the morning. By the time that meeting is over I only have an hour and half hours left to work. SCORE! However…..all week long I save all my errands for Friday afternoon since it's a half day. So my Fridays after work are actually jammed packed. I'm rushed and stressed. I have Russian club at 2 which is a horrible time because it's right in the middle of the afternoon. I always have to decide whether to finish errands or go to club.  I come home Friday evenings exhausted and grumpy. We end up going to bed early, OR it's my only night available to go out so sometimes I have a babysitter and am up late, making Saturday mornings a drag.

THIS Friday, however, Jacey got sick and it forced me to make no plans. I picked her up after work and we went straight home. Well, sort of. I was getting off Rita exit when the van started to drive a little funny. The more I accelerated the more it seemed to have an odd sound and the longer I drove the more the ride became really bumpy. I texted dad and a mechanic friend of mine from work to see what I should do. I was almost home and just hoped to get into my driveway before anything major happened. I was just turning into my subdivision when coincidentally David drove up right behind me, coming home from school. I might have been on a regular old country dirt road in a truck with no shocks the way the van was bumping and jiggling around. David pulled up next to me and motioned for me to pull over. I got out of the van and sure enough I had been driving on a complete flat tire for at least a mile. It must have just been slowly losing air the whole ride home. We were less than a quarter mile from the house so I just finished the trek. Dave tried to change the tire out but we didn't have the right tools and the spare was rusted to the van, unusable. So, we called AAA. The tragedy was less annoying since I was at the house. I got Jacey in bed and the AAA guy came to tow the van to discount tire.

It turned out to be a longish wait, but by happenstance a co-worker of mine was there. He's ex-Navy as well, so we had plenty to talk about and pass the time. Mom was bringing Emma home from school that afternoon which worked out perfectly. She ended up paying for the tires which was great since I really didn't want to have to pull from my savings. I decided to go ahead and grab some groceries from Frys on the way home. I stocked my pantry and fridge with some healthy school snacks for the kids and breakfast and lunch items for myself. Wasn't able to get much for Dave. I should have plenty of food to get me through for a while, but boy was it expensive! I was even more glad I didn't have to pay for the tires.

Finally home. Jacey was still sleeping. We got the groceries put away and I worked on cleaning up the cat litter area, which was a much needed project in waiting. Yaro, my Russian friend, had moved and lost a cat in the process, so he gave me his cat stuff which included a great, new litter box with lid. The cat area looks much better now. I scrubbed and vacuumed the floor and surrounding areas.

Then, Emma and I went outside to start on a gardening project I'd been wanting to do to help keep the weeds down. We had a bare patch of ground next to the house in triangular shape which I had before-hand sprayed with weed killer. I also had previously potted plants in said area; but otherwise had not done much with the spot. It's right in the front of the house and my aim was to plant some wildflower seeds. Something I wouldn't have to maintain. Jacey and I had looked for wildflower seeds, but Walmart, being the lame-o that it is, didn't sell any. Jacey pulled a seed packet off the shelf and I thought, "sure, why not." We grabbed a variety of annuals to include my favorite, marigolds. We must have had 8 different packs of flower seeds over all. I was sure to get a couple ground covers which I hope I don't regret later. Emma and I spread the soil that I had around and planted some of the seeds. I read the back of the seed packet, though and realized I was going to need a lot more soil in order for the seed to take root.

So, today, while Emma was at her new, advanced gymnastics class, Jacey and I ran back to walmart to get some more soil and a couple more types of seeds. (I strongly considered tomatoes, but eventually decided against them.) Jacey joined us in the gardening project, today as well. I was surprised my supposed tom-girl was not at all interested in getting dirty. Emma wanted to get deep into the dirt. I was kneeling in the dirt. We were singing "Break up the Fallow Ground" and when I put Jacey in the dirt she screamed and fussed something awful. I told her a cowgirl can't cry over a little dirt, but she would have none of it. I tried planting Emma in the dirt; but then she threatened to water my butt so I unplanted her. Caesar also hung out with us. He's such a great dog. He just stays by us. He sits and watches and is patient when Emma waters his head.

Jacey was tired and girls were hungry. I made them some mac and cheese and got them in bed. So, we didn't exactly stay home; but the real point was not having any plans out in town. It's so nice to get caught up on some chores, bond with the girls, we read a Bible story this morning and now I'm going to take advantage of the girl's nap time to do some writing and Russian study. There's so much more TLC I could give the house, but some times you just want to relax the mind and body and do those things you don't get to do very often, like writing.  I feel like we still accomplished much.

We planned a movie night at Liz and Josh's tonight since we all forgot to go to the new Hunger Games movie in theaters. Now it's out on DVD. Oops. I play my violin in church tomorrow. Playing Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring and I'm really excited about it. It's a neat rendition. Saw a Code Red Mountain Dew today at Walmart and wanted it so badly. My heart even dropped as I saw it and knew I couldn't have it. I thought for about a minute whether I should just get one. After all, it was movie night and there would be pizza. But, I turned away. I'm doing so well with my new diet and I really want this to be the time I finally give it up. It was the first Code Red sighting I've had since I started the diet and I'm thankful to have passed the test.

Here are some pictures from todays gardening:

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Emma's 6th Birthday Eve

On the eve of Emma's 6th birthday, I find myself uncharacteristically overwhelmed by the whole event.  My kid's birthdays have always been and will always be one of the biggest days of the year. It's the one day a year that I can show that one child all the special attention of the day. They can be selfish and it's ok. We can spoil them and it's ok. I try to make each moment of the day special. This is the first year that one of my kid's birthdays has truly overwhelmed me. I'm feeling worn to the bone as I stoop over the cat litter, well over due to be changed and the smell of ammonia cleaning my sinuses, having been awake since 2 this morning fussing about some work issues, worrying about cakes and my party favors unfinished, decorations I can't put up with out a ladder that I don't possess. I certainly didn't need Jacey fussing and calling for me from her room while Emma tries to sleep.

Since I was in college and career class at Treasure Valley Baptist Church I'll never forget Mr. Burchard telling a story about how his wife would get balloons the night before their kid's birthday and surprise them with balloons the next morning as they woke up. It was something I always wanted to do for my own children and so far had been successful. This year I'm a busy, working mom and was only fortunate enough, last minute to get Aunt Liz to pick up some balloons for Emma so I could carry on the tradition. I was worried for a moment that it wasn't going to happen.

Now Jacey sits eating popcorn I had made to snack on by myself in my room, playing with Emma's balloons and I'm tired. I'm so very tired. Tomorrow is just the family party. Mom was willing to pick up makings for Emma's dinner and we will celebrate at her house so she can have dinner cooking while I'm at work. It's very unlike me not to make a cake; but I broke down and went with striped delight since I knew I would have absolutely no time or energy to make a cake. Emma wouldn't mind.

It doesn't help that I found out its customary for birthday kids to bring something to share with their friends at school. Now I have to go to frys in the wee hours before the kids get up to go get something Emma can take to school. I want to be that mom that just doesn't care or that just can't do it. But Emma wouldn't understand that. And it's about making good memories for her tomorrow.

I gave encouragement to a co-worker today telling him that "This too shall pass. He won't always be working two jobs, he won't always be deep in debt, his daughter won't always scream into the night relentlessly. This is just a phase of life and that it will end." Sometimes it would be nice to hear the same thing for my own life. Someday I want to throw my kids a birthday party with out worrying about whether the money I spend on a cake that I didn't have time to make myself is cutting into my rent money or not. Someday I hope that I will not always have so little time that I'm continually feeling rushed to complete tasks in time and feeling overwhelmed.

Tomorrow, I will not let the devil bring my down on my daughter's special day. Her big fasionista party isn't until Saturday and though I have to work later than usual on Friday afternoon I hope to have all the time I need to get everything in order. Emma is so excited for her big party with her friends. I don't even know who all is coming since I forgot to put my number on the invite.

Why, oh, why did I have kids only a month apart? I shall follow my own advice that I gave my co-worker today to "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming."