Bits and Pieces

Life’s a little crazy lately (more on that below), so it seemed like a good time for a little list-making!  Here’s what’s been going on around these parts lately…

loving || Living Proof Restore shampoo. You guys, this stuff. This stuff!!! It is changing my life. Let me explain. I do not love the grooming portion of my day. Especially the hair-washing portion. Maybe in another phase of life it won’t seem like such a chore? But for now, it’s just a necessary evil. In an effort to speed along the process, I try to wash my hair less often. It’s long, so washing/drying/straightening can be quite a process. If I use regular shampoo–even good regular shampoo like Pureology–I really have to wash every other day. I can maybe eke out a third day with a healthy dose of dry shampoo, but I won’t feel good about it. However, with this shampoo, I can get FOUR days. The first two to three days are fine, and the last one or two I need a bit of dry shampoo. But for real…it’s crazy. I know it’s expensive, but for the amount of time and hassle I save, it’s worth it.

watching || The Office. I just finished my second run through The West Wing. I felt so demoralized after the November election that I wanted to numb my political heartbreak with the help of my good friends Josh, Donna, Sam, CJ, and Toby. I liked to imagine their sagas were real and this circus we’re currently experiencing was the fiction. Alas, my binge is over but the circus continues, so I decided to lose myself among Jim, Pam, Michael, Dwight, and the others. However, I never watch the “Scott’s Tots” episode because of the horrifying disappointment aspect, and I decided that this time, I’m not watching the stuff after Michael leaves. It just wasn’t the same.

reading || The Gift of Being Yourself by David Benner, and highlighting practically the entire thing. It is so, so good. It’s about identity and relationship with God and the intersection between the two. It makes me want to investigate the contemplative practices of faith. I’m also reading the Emily trilogy by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I recently finished the first one (Emily of New Moon) and was absolutely enchanted. What a delightful and vibrant novel! I actually didn’t start the second one yet because I wanted to sit with the first one for a little while. As well, I don’t want the series to end too quickly!

wondering || about the Young Living weight loss/cleanse program. I’ve seen what appear to be some great results, but I’m reluctant to take essential oils internally except on the rare occasion. But I’m super tempted!

struggling || to wrap up our school year. I’ll have more on our first year of homeschooling another day, but the quick version is that we still have a few weeks’ worth of hours to do, but everyone is feeling really burned out. I’ve learned a lot this year that will help me to adjust our structure for next year, but for now I’m just trying to keep us focused on finishing (at least somewhat) well.

enjoying || the sun. It wasn’t a long, hard winter this year, but it sure has felt like it took a long time to get warm enough to open the windows. We spent much of the holiday weekend outside and I even got to enjoy a few outdoor runs.  And we had dinner on the patio tonight, too. Lovely!

missing || photography. I used to take so many pictures, and it just hasn’t been happening lately. I don’t know if this is true for every woman, but I’ve found my soul thrives when I have a creative outlet.  But when life gets crazy, those soul-care items shoot straight to the bottom of my list. I’m thinking I have it backwards.

and finally, the biggie…

preparing || for surgery. I’m <gulp> having a hysterectomy in 2 weeks. I’m terrified. I don’t want to do it. What I really want to do is roll the clock back about 5 years and have one more baby. But since time travel hasn’t been invented yet (although Gabe would really like to try) and since I’m nearly 40, and since my last pregnancy was so difficult, I just don’t feel comfortable going through one more pregnancy, let alone if I could even actually get pregnant given my history.

Since Jude was born, my cycles have gotten progressively more difficult. I’ll spare you the details, but I’m at the point where it’s entirely unbearable. Also, I spend 2-3 days a month (stretching into 4 now) unable to do much other than walk back and forth from the bathroom to my kids. All. Day. Long.  I can’t do much of anything with them and I certainly can’t make any fun plans to leave the house. Add those days up, and I’m spending approximately one month of every year house-b0und and practically nonfunctioning. My period takes up nearly 10% of my year.  It’s too much!

Long story short, nothing the doctors tried has appreciably improved things, so this is all that’s left (this, being a robotic laparoscopic removal of my entire uterus and fallopian tubes but retaining my ovaries). I considered options for a year, and I decided that reclaiming a month of each year would be worth it. I’m nervous about the surgery, nervous about complications, nervous about recovery. My eye has started spontaneously twitching, which only happens when I’m super stressed, and I’ve and inhaled three different dip/chip combinations in the last 36 hours (thank you, Tastefully Simple), which amounts to something like two bricks of cream cheese and a cup each of sour cream and mayonnaise? Perhaps that essential oil cleanse is a good idea…Despite my anxiety, I think this is the right decision. If it goes well, I expect I’ll feel incredibly relieved (and probably not constantly anemic anymore, which will be nice), and odds of it going poorly are super small, while odds of things getting worse if I do nothing are pretty high.

If you’ve had this procedure, I’m all ears for any tips or insight you might have to offer!

On Being Done

A funny thing happened in the last month.  I did a flip-flop.

Jude turned 1 in November, and although I’d been on the fence about if I wanted more kids, his first birthday made me absolutely certain of how I wanted the future to unfold.  I couldn’t imagine never celebrating another first birthday, never watching a little one seemingly reach new milestones every day, never having a doctor place a squeaky new baby on my chest and proclaim, “Congratulations!”  I wanted another baby.  I was sure.

I don’t know what changed, but about 6 weeks ago something shifted and I’ve gradually gone completely to the other side.  Another baby?  HA!  Me?  No way!  Please don’t make me go through the drama of a sleepless first year again!  And colic!  Colic is not worth the risk!  Please don’t make me start over!  And, most importantly, please don’t make me do another torturous pregnancy!

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 Jude, my favorite little elf

It’s the pregnancy part the has always made me hesitate.  Jude’s pregnancy was far from easy.  And not just hard, but risky.

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 In the hospital with a blood pressure headache.  Fun times.

When I developed preeclampsia, I spent a lot of time trying not to panic that I was going to start seizing and leave my children with a vegetable as a mother.  I’m sure that was good for my blood pressure…

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Gabe meeting Isla

On the other hand, the wonder of a newborn and the relationships between siblings are the things that have drawn me toward another child.  There’s just nothing like them – no replacement.  I’ve never doubted my feelings about these things.  They’re precisely why I pushed through infertility for so goshdarn long without giving up.

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Full hands, happy heart. And Isla got a giant black eye about 5 minutes after this happened.

But I’m 37, and I’d be at least 38 by the time I had another baby, maybe older.  I’d be higher risk due to age and prior medical issues.  We currently fit in a regular rental car – no upgrade to a van or SUV necessary.  Regular hotel rooms still accept us.  A 3-bedroom house, although not ideal, is doable.  Plus the biggie – I have my hands full.

When I think about all of this, I still feel a little pang, so I don’t think I’ve made my peace with a final decision yet.  But I think I’m moving in that direction.

Why I Quit Teaching – Part One

quitteaching

It seems like it was another lifetime ago, but at one time in my adulthood, I was a school teacher – a bona fide health teacher.  I spent approximately the first 17 years of my life dreaming of that career, 4 years educating myself, three years doing it – two of which I dreaded – and the last 12 years being eternally grateful that I had the chance to quit.

For the most part, I haven’t missed it, except for a few rare moments, usually revolving around new school supplies and curriculum development.  Also around identity, especially when it comes to my kids.  I worry about them thinking of me (and thereby extending that to all women) as “just” mommies, people who don’t/can’t/won’t/aren’t capable of contributing to the betterment of our broader society.  I don’t usually miss the kids because I have some.  I don’t miss the pressure because I have some of that, too.  😉  I don’t miss being beholden to other children’s parents.  And I certainly don’t miss standards and alignment and tests and smart goals and grading and conferences and report cards.

But I’ve been surprised lately when sometimes – very rarely, mind you – I notice a pang.  Maybe do I possibly by chance perhaps want to be a teacher again?

(Tahd, don’t faint!)

The answer is a “mostly no” (I even let my certification lapse!) and a “resounding yes” (but not in public schools).  But these pangs have had me reflecting on why I got done in the first place and where I am with those thoughts 12 years later.

To set the stage, imagine a 7-year-old child who used to sneak white chalk to write letters and math problems on her white walls (hello…invisible) while she imagined imparting knowledge to classrooms full of eager, innocent children.  When my mother realized what I was doing (yes, it was invisible, but chalk leaves dust on brown carpet), she got me a chalkboard for my next Christmas and I commenced setting up shop while I tortured my younger sisters with lesson upon lesson.  Seven was when I knew I wanted to be a teacher, and although I considered other options, but the end of high school I was sure I wanted to be a school teacher.

I vascillated between teaching English and Health.  I’d had teachers in both subjects that I really admired and who had instilled for me a love for the content areas.  When I thought about what I wanted to study for 4 years of college, however, the idea of drowning in endless English classes with piles of books and papers made me overwhelmed, so I decided that I’d go with health.  It seemed more engaging and more practical to me.  In retrospect, it was an excellent choice.  I have used my degree – although not professionally – every day of my life since graduation.  It was not a wasted investment.

I didn’t get a teaching job right out of college.  I didn’t even really try.  I was betwixt and between, my family living in Illinois while I was graduating from a school in Maine.  I got a well-paying job nearby family, working for a private real estate assessment company.  Although it was a good job with interesting content, I’m more of a people person than I am a structures, buildings, and taxes person, and real estate didn’t make my heart beat fast like a classroom full of kids did.  When a job came open at my alma mater’s district, I jumped at the chance to apply.

As luck would have it, I got the job, all $18,900 per year (!!!), and Tahd and I – recently married – set out to move back to my girlhood town so I could teach health to grades 6, 7, and 8.  I remember one of my first days of school, thinking how lucky I was that I’d never dread going to work again – I had the job of my dreams and was going to stay there forever!

Part 2 later this week!

Enough

After a particularly lamentable moment when I came across one of those “oh-dear-god-is-that-what-i-really-look-like” photographs and got back in touch with my yogic self and decided to research how many Calories I could burn by doing a million sun salutations a day, I stumbled across what is a standard practice of doing 108 sun salutations at every change of season.

For the record, that’s 108 chaturangas (and other poses) in a row.

Or if you’re not a yogi, torture yourself by thinking of doing 108 super slow pushups.  In a row.

I turn noodle-ish just thinking of it.  Especially given the fact that I currently do four in a row and feel relatively accomplished.  And noodle-ish.

It was just what I needed to top the earlier self-flaggelation with another hearty dose of Not Enough.

I could never do that, I thought.

I’m not strong enough.

I’m not disciplined enough.

I’m not brave enough.

I would never have that much time to “waste.”

Sufficiently beaten down, I tucked myself in bed and attempted to drift off.

**********

It was one of those despairing comments that comes from deep within when Tahd wondered allowed at this evening’s swimming lessons what we’d done wrong to cultivate a child whose behavior was chasms away from what’s appropriate.  Perhaps, he intimated sternly, we should have been more authoritarian all along.

Those weren’t his exact words, so forgive me if I’m not quite getting it right, but in that moment I was engulfed in rage, furious that he’d be so critical of our parenting.  General parenting – and parenting Gabe – are topics we’ve discussed with a number of professionals, and they consistently tell us to stay the course and focus on engagement.  We try, we feel, we worry, we try again.  We have no guarantees that what we’re doing will help our children reach their full potential, but given the specifics of our situation, the research is fairly clear that more authoritarianism won’t get us there.

I can’t fault Tahd for being frustrated at that moment; we were discouraged.  We felt helpless.  When in distress, he defaults to increasing his level of control, and when the situation passes and we’re able to talk rationally about our worries and experiences, we regroup back to the same page.  (For the record, I alternate between defaulting to panic and anger.)  This, I think, is a good thing, and tonight it led us on a meandering discussion across parenting and marriage and ourselves in general, and we talked about failing – at parenting, at marriage, and at life in general.

Failure.

Ew.

**********

I sat down to work this evening amidst a house whose disarray whispered of last week’s busyness and parties and I groaned at having once again procrastinated at cleaning the house.  When my work shift lulled, I pulled out my weekly planner and sat beside the empty pages, overwhelmed at how to manage them.  Carols crooned in the background and thoughts of Christmas peppered my mental inventory of things to do.  Regular to-do’s are one thing.  Christmas to-do’s are entirely another; I only get this one chance at Isla’s first and Gabe’s ninth and my thirty-fifth and Tahd’s thirty-sixth Christmas.  I want it to be perfect, magical, rich, full of tradition, hopeful, memorable, exciting, fun.

I could go on.

**********

Through it all, there’s been a very quiet whisper shouting something I suspect more than one of us need to hear.  This is what it’s saying…

Lovelies!

We.

Are.

Enough.

You are enough.  I am enough.  Right now.  Just like this.  We are enough with extra pounds and messy houses and disobedient children and spouses on a different pages than us and bah-humbugs where we want jingle bells.

Stop for a minute and breathe in this beautiful gift.

Enough.

In this moment, we marry the reality of ourselves with the gift of enough, and this marriage simultaneously fills us and empties us of all that is joyous and anxious, respectively.  Inside us we find what we need for this moment, and every moment we live united to this gift ensures we will continue to have – and be – enough.

I returned to my yoga mat tonight intending to do a Certain Number of sun salutations.  But with every chaturanga, with every twinge of my triceps and every ache of my shoulders, it washed over me again.

I am enough.

Go slow.  Be gentle.

Breathe.

We need to know it, lovelies, to the bottoms of our hearts.

We are lovely.

And we are enough.

40 by 40

Six years ago, six years to go!

I had this grand idea a little while ago to come up with a list of 40 things I wanted to accomplish by the time I turned 40.

Ingenious, I thought! What a cool idea!  I’m sure no one has thought of this before!

In brainstorming my list I turned to the trusty internet for ideas and found two unfortunate facts:

1. People had already thought this up.

2. Except they had thought it up for their 30th birthday.

Which might make me officially old and uncreative.

Boo!

But I’m still going to do it, even if it makes me a lame, old copycat. So there.

A few years ago I tried a list of 101 Things in 1001 Days, but it didn’t end up being realistic because I basically treated it as a bucket list for my entire life. Which meant I either needed to have a lot more time or I needed to get really busy since I only had 1001 days left.

Anyway.

Here’s my list as it currently stands. I want to finalize it soon and could really use your help, because it’s not complete yet!

  1. Run a race
  2. Hit my goal weight
  3. Go to Disney
  4. Write a book
  5. Pay off credit cards
  6. Dye hair red
  7. Try to have one more baby
  8. Read the entire Bible
  9. Start a business
  10. Go away with Tahd for more than one consecutive night
  11. See a Broadway show
  12. Complete a Week in the Life album
  13. Complete a December Daily album
  14. Go camping
  15. Go canoeing
  16. Host a Harvest party
  17. Host a Favorite Things party
  18. Upgrade my camera body
  19. Ding dong ditch someone (with treats, not pranks)
  20. Go to a spa
  21. Go to a blog conference
  22. Meditate every day for a month
  23. Have a girls’ weekend with my mom and sisters
  24. Start saving for college
  25. Go to a concert
  26. Take a hot air balloon ride
  27. Sew a dress for Isla
  28. Join a book club
  29. Knit a sweater
  30. Renew my passport

I might like to add something related to yoga and something related to decluttering.  Other than that I’m not sure what else I want to add.  So I need help because 32-by-32 isn’t really going to work for my 34-year-old self.

Any ideas?  What would you add to your list?  What might be fun?  I’m open to any ideas – wild and crazy or mundane and practical.

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