Small Victories

I had several victories today, events which I thought were deserving of commemoration by writing a blog post…

a) It’s Tahd’s final day of being gone.  He’s been gone every week for the past eight or ten, I think.  Or possibly seven hundred, but there’s a chance that’s my fatigue speaking and said estimate is not entirely representative of reality.  All that to say I SURVIVED.  Phew.  There were a few moments where that was in question, but as long as the next 18 hours don’t unravel, all’s well that ends well!

b) I took a shower while my children were home and awake and no other adults were in the house.  Well, Jude was asleep but the other two were awake.  This is a feat I have been unable to accomplish before today.  Combine that with the previous victory, and you might deduce that this has meant relatively few showers for me during the last eight to ten weeks of Tahd’s travel. You would be correct.  Since he’s been gone, I’ve either showered while the kids were at my mom’s house or after they all went to bed (as long as I wasn’t working and wasn’t bone tired).  Hence, minimal opportunities.  While Tahd’s gone this week, my mom is busy, so today I got everyone situated and then snuck away.  AND NO ONE DIED!  As well, no one screamed or freaked out or threw a tantrum or answered the door to let in a stranger.  That actually happened once.  Again, phew!

c) I ate less than an entire bag of Dove Coconut Truffle Eggs.  This means there are probably still some left for you.  You’re welcome.

So far, the week is shaping up pretty well!  How about yours?

35 Favorites

You know how you make yourself a note to do something and then you lose the note and don’t find it until after you needed it?  Yeah, that was me.  Last year, I saw Elise Blaha Cripe’s birthday post in which she listed favorite things from her year according to her age.  I totally meant to do it this year…for my birthday…in January.

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I started this post a while ago and then promptly forgot about it until last week, nearly two months since my birthday.  And then I thought, So what! And decided it wasn’t too late after all.  So here they are – 35 favorite things from the year when I was 35.

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1.  Gabe’s Land of Nod tent – one of my favorite things we’ve ever gotten him.  Then we draped Christmas lights in it, and it’s pure magic.  I kind of want one for myself!

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2.  Discovering kale chips – I know they’re a Pinterest sensation that people say is overrated, but I love them.  Other forms of kale, not so much.

3.  Fancy balsamic vinegars – I love vinegar, but I took my love of vinegar to a new level when I found a specialty vinegar and olive oil store where I could do vinegar shots.  So yum!  The peach balsamic was my favorite, and the chocolate balsamic was the most interesting.

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4.  New camera body – I got the Canon 60D for my birthday last year, and I don’t know how I ever managed indoor/lower lit photos without it.

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5. Finding a church – it was a hard decision to look for a new church, but it was awfully nice to actually find one.

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6. Four more years for Obama – I know it was a hugely divisive political  event, but I was really happy.

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7. Getting pregnant – what were the odds?  They had to be shockingly not good!  Getting that first {faint} positive pregnancy test was truly a favorite moment of the year!

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8. Isla wearing goggles – she wore them sporadically all year.  Often it totally landlocked places – like the hospital waiting room.  What…you don’t need goggles in a hospital waiting room?  Also, my 8b) favorite thing – wrist rolls.

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9. The beach – always.

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10. Gabe learning to swim – Gabe took two rounds of swimming lessons in 2012 and they were awful. Completely torturous experiences with bribes and crying and coercing and pleading and tons of anxiety for everyone.   Definitely no swimming.  We stayed in a hotel about 8 months later and out of the blue, he swam!  Underwater!  We have no idea what happened during the 8 months of no swimming, but clearly something happened because we got this!

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11. Knitting Jude’s blanket – I loved knitting each of my baby’s blankets.  Jude’s was the trickiest so far, but I had a lot of fun on it.

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12. The Influence Conference – attending a blogging conference was on my bucket list, and The Influence Conference in Indianapolis was amazing!  I learned so much and met such wonderful people!

13. Finding out I was going to be an aunt – my nephew should be born in less than two months!  I’M SO EXCITED!

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14. Visiting Texas – Tahd had a work trip to Dallas, so I brought Gabe and Isla and met up with him there.  I’d never been to Texas before, so it was nice to visit a new place.  Flying with a toddler was so much harder than flying with a baby, but in the end it was worth it and I’m glad I put in the effort to make the trip!

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15. Going away with Tahd – it was so nice to get away for a little while, especially since we probably won’t do that again for at least a year!

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16. Cake smash! I had the most fun taking these photos in honor of Isla’s 1-year birthday!

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17. Gabe’s turns 100 – we celebrated Gabe’s 100 Month Birthday, and I hope we remember to do this with the other two, also.  It was fun to review the meaningful moments of his life with him!

18. Finding out we were having another boy – I wanted to do something fun and special to learn the gender of our 2013 baby, and I loved this entire experience – the beach, the making of the video, and the end result!

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19. Girly clothes – I love dressing a little girl!  This outfit of Isla’s was my favorite of the year – an eclectic, frilly set of overalls I got at a yard sale.  The shoes cracked me up, too!  I should have bought another pair for this year because they were on clearance and hilariously cute!

20. Favorite article of clothing – it’s a little hard to see, but I’m in love with my black skirt in the above picture.  It’s a foldover waist jersey skirt from Gap Outlet, and I looooooove it.  It is perfection!

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21. Favorite photo – there’s SO MUCH happening here!  I love this picture so much I had it printed and it’s hanging in my stairwell.  Craziness!

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22. Christmas Day – Christmas is always one of my favorites, but this year’s Christmas Day was my most favorite Christmas Day.  For the first time since we got married, we spent Christmas Day at home with just our own little family.  I love being with my larger family and wouldn’t want to be alone every year, but it was so fun to get to exhale and just “be” in whatever way we wanted to be.  It was slow and special and I loved it.

23. Favorite lesson learned – I can do hard things.  Even though I feel fragile and like I could break at any minute, I haven’t broken yet.   I’m tough.  Going through pre-eclampsia and an emergency c-section drove this home to me.  I can do hard things, and I’m much stronger than I think.

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24. Favorite book – by far, the best book I read last year was A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman.  This book would make it onto my favorite books I’ve ever read, actually.

25. Favorite song – Though You Slay Me by Shane and Shane

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26. Favorite photo from Jude’s birth – I loved this moment.  It was after the urgency and fear of the pre-eclampsia but before the magnesium sulfate and the stress of the blood sugar and jaundice.  There was a short window in there of bliss, and this was it.

27. Favorite craft project – I can’t find a picture of my version, but I made one of these circle paintings and it turned out remarkably well!

28. Favorite tv show – The Voice.  The talent is impressive and it’s nice to watch a show that’s positive and not mired in drama and catfights.  Although I do <ahem> love me some Real Housewives, too.

29. Favorite way to declutter – Partway through the year, Easter Seals called us.  Usually, I don’t answer calls like these, but on this particular occasion, I did, and I’m thankful for this because they said they had a truck coming around and did I have anything I wanted to donate?  YES!  Yes, I did!  I’d been collecting stuff in the basement but hadn’t made it to Goodwill yet, and the idea that we could take it to the curb rather than load it into the car and haul it across town?  Fantastic!  Every time they’ve called since then, I tell them we’ll have a donation, even if I haven’t set things aside yet.  It’s a good motivator to fill a few boxes of the excess we’ve accumulated!

30. Favorite app – I love the standards like Facebook and Instagram, but aside from those, my favorite was PicTapGo.  It’s an iphone photo editing app, and it’s so easy to use.  I usually brighten up my photos and this app does it nicely.

31. Essential oils – I was introduced to these a little bit when I was 35 and am looking forward to learning more this year!

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32. Favorite quote – this one from Lara Casey fires me up!

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33. Sleeping through the night again – Isla didn’t sleep through the night until she was about 14 months old.  It was a delightful development!  Before she started doing it, one night Tahd told me to sleep on the couch and he’d do baby duty all night long.  My couch is super comfy, so this wasn’t an insult or anything – rather, a welcome opportunity!  I took this picture of them the next morning (after I had slept ALL NIGHT!) and thought it was so cute the way she was flopped over on him with his arm around her.

34. Soup.  It’s most often what was for dinner – chicken noodle, beef vegetable, veggie, cauliflower bisque, garbage (e.g. everything in the fridge), black bean, BLT, mexican meatball, tomato basil…

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35. Getting organized – I finally found a simple organizational plan that works for me – a blank notebook and colorful pens.  I started using this in October and it’s still going strong!  This is the longest I’ve ever stuck with one method.

36. Post I wrote – I loved writing this one about birth, and I still think about this one about church, not because it’s my strongest piece of writing but because writing it marked the beginning of a positive shift if my current faith struggles.

37. Post I read on the interwebs – there are SO MANY GOOD THINGS out there!!!  But I think my favorite would have to be this one from Momastery.  Or, because I’m indecisive, possibly this one from Steady Mom.

Things I Don’t Understand

1.  This book.  I found it while I was roaming around my local brick-and-mortar bookstore.

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Yes, a whole book about crafts to make out of cat hair.  It’s a real thing, people.  I’ve actually held it in my hands.  (Ew!!)  Not being a cat person, I thought perhaps I was out of touch.  So I asked some cat-loving friends what they thought, and the universal reply was devoid of any positive sentiment, which mostly restored my faith in humanity.

I can sort of understand a book like this being on Amazon, the place where you can write whatever you want and “publish” it automagically without having to spend any money of your own.  But this?  Was a real, in the flesh book. Someone published it.  And my local Barnes & Noble saw fit to stock it.  Why, people?  Why???

2.  My baby’s sleep.  He used to sleep from 7 PM -4 AM.  Tonight, he slept from 7-8.  As in 7 PM and 8 PM.  At first, people told me it was a growth spurt and I believed them.  But do growth spurts really last for 6 weeks?  Somehow, I doubt it.

3.  This.

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My heart is breaking into a thousand snowy pieces.  I’m assuming there’s a joke that relates to the movie Frozen that would fit here, but I’m one of three people in America who hasn’t seen it yet, so I don’t know that joke.

4.  How it is that we still have a container of Halloween candy on top of our fridge.  This is a problem on several levels.  Namely, why haven’t we eaten it yet?  And if it has lasted this long, why ever are we keeping it?

5.  How she manages to get all of these on her head.

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I don’t wonder why she puts them there, though.  It’s clear – to be hilariously cute!

On Colic and Writing and Getting Stronger

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Jude’s favorite thing in the world is to be swaddled and nursing while listening to white noise playing in the background.  He’s less colicky now than he used to be, but this technique has become a frequently-used method to soothe him when nothing else does.

Sometimes, though, nothing works – nothing at all.  Usually, this involves him furiously screaming and flailing with more vigor than anticipated for his seemingly tiny frame, and then for no reason at all, it will be over and he’ll be quiet…calm…peaceful.  Truthfully, sometimes I wonder if he’s really just super ticked at us for not figuring him out but figures he’d be better off using his energies to plot his revenge than cry, but there’s a chance I’m ascribing too much processing ability to my 4-month old. ;)

I’ve learned in life that things often get worse before they get better, and Jude’s colic has reminded me of this.  I was so eager to be done with his difficult pregnancy and adjust to being a family of 5.  Instead, I’ve been in a new level of survival mode these past four months.  I don’t say this bitterly or with regret; I wish this had all been easier, but the fact is it hasn’t been, but we’re doing it anyway, and it won’t be like this forever.  I don’t want to wish away the good with the bad.

Sometimes things get better through circumstantial changes.  Other times, things get better because we get stronger, better, and more skilled. Now that I’m starting to see some light in the tunnel of his crying (did I mentioned he laughed for me today?  ah!), I can also see myself a little more clearly, and I’m proud of what I see.  I haven’t gone crazy.  I haven’t lost complete control.  I’ve gotten better at letting go.  I’ve started to become more efficient and productive with the little time I have.  I am stronger, better, and more skilled as a mother and a homemaker than I was when I started this whole gig 9.5 years ago.

Writing is important to me, and I’ve been noticing lately that my time for writing has been slipping away from me.  Worse, I’ve found my enthusiasm has ebbed, also.  When I finally find myself alone with some quiet and free time, sometimes it’s all I can do to hold an entire coherent thought in my head, let alone put a string of them together and write them down.  Tahd’s away right now, and while we talked tonight, I was lamented the fact that it’s just not working for me right now.  It seems like I’m losing myself – to busyness and commuting and colic and toddler tantrums and single-parenting.

I hung up with him intent on writing something, but with no inspiration forthcoming I combed my draft archives until I stumbled onto the beginnings of a few general words in this post box – colic, things getting worse before they get better, the seeds that formed the first few sentences of this post.  The longer I’ve sat with these thoughts, the more I’m reminded that even though it feels like it’s getting worse, it can and will get better.  Either my circumstances will change or I’ll adapt and grow and strengthen in such a way that I can flourish even when it’s difficult.

Now…please pardon me while I go rescue my crying baby.  It’s 10:57 PM and he’s already been up twice.

Here’s to less colic and more writing…someday!

On Four Years

I realized today that I’ve been taking antidepressants for four years – since we lost Mara in 2010.  I’ve taken them at other times in my adult life, too, so my total cumulative time is longer, but this is the longest consecutive amount of time I’ve taken them, and I don’t know what to think about that.

I knew I needed them in 2010.  I knew when I walked out of the emergency room I’d have to ask my doctor for them.  I was so desperate that I asked for them during my presurgical prep before my D&C, something I’m surprised I had the presence of mind to request.  Who goes to surgery and asks for antidepressants?  I think I even asked my surgical nurse, not even my regular doctor.  I’m so glad I asked, though.  Without them, I’m certain the months that followed would have been more torturous than they already were.  As it is, I look back on those days with tenderness and affection; they still hurt, but they’re special, too, and the medication helped allow me to be present enough to experience it.

I stayed on them all the way through my pregnancy with Isla, and although that pregnancy was physically quite easy, it was emotionally overwhelming and I needed the support…no question about it.  I wasn’t sure how I’d do after the pregnancy – if the hormonal upheaval and emotional turmoil of infertility would collide to leave me in a stupor, so I continued them after she was born.

About the time Isla turned 1, I was feeling really well and started thinking about discontinuing them.  About that same time, I got pregnant again, and my general rule of thumb for pregnancy is that if I’m actually successful in getting pregnant, I keep on doing what I’ve been doing to keep the boat nice and steady.  So I kept taking them.  I was glad, too, because I found myself much more emotionally challenged than I expected to be.  By the end, with the preeclampsia and preterm birth and jaundice, I knew I would have been a mess during the postpartum period without the medication.  Add in his constant crying, and I’m once again glad I still take them.

And here we are…four years later!  I’m not thrilled about this, but I am thrilled I haven’t been a complete emotional wreck during the past four years, so there’s that.  It’s not that I object to medication; it’s just that I’d prefer to be well on my own.  Once you’ve been doing something for four years, though, you might need to face the fact that being well on your own isn’t entirely possible.  I’m not sure.

I suppose only time will tell.

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