Monday, December 31, 2012

Year End Wrap Up

I don't know that I have a photo from every month of 2011, but I'm going to look, and try and come up with one from each month, and see what we can find. It was a pretty lousy year, but let's see if we can find some highlights, shall we?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

One Little Word : Revisited

I can still remember how I felt when I sat down to write last year's post on my word for 2012. How defeated I was feeling by the year that was getting ready to end, and how hopeful I was feeling that the coming days and months were going to be so much better. I find it ironic that I sit here, on the same day at the end of this year, with tears running down my face, feeling sad and defeated. It's no secret around this blog that this has been a difficult year for me. 2012 was NOT the year that I put myself back together. These past months have been like a roller coaster ride (and we all know how I loathe those), and we are currently back in a dip. I am trying to remain hopeful, and positive, but right now I'm having a really hard time. I'm tired of fighting so hard, and feeling like I'm the only one who wants this to work. He says  he is committed, but his actions tell a different story altogether. I never realized  you could be married, and feel so alone all the time. I am tired of crying.

I decided for 2013, I'm going to revisit my word for 2012, which was  REVIVE. Revive, is a verb that means to start again; bring back to life. Some of the synonyms of revive are:  awake, bounce back, breathe new life into, brighten, come around, come to life, energize, enliven, exhilarate, gladden, invigorate, make whole, refresh, rejuvenate, rekindle, renew, restore, revitalize,  and strengthen. Every area of my life needs reviving right now, including myself. If the "us" isn't going to work right now, then I think it's time to focus on the "me". There's only so much sad, wallowing a person can handle. Somewhere, over these past years of struggle and hardship, I feel like I've lost myself. If not, I've certainly changed, and I'm not sure I like the person who stares back at me in the mirror some days. So this coming year is going to be about finding myself again, or rediscovering the person I've always had the potential to be, but just shoved aside. I'm looking forward to meeting her.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Birthday Letter To My Son On His 18th Birthday

Dear Corey,

I've been trying to write this letter to you since the early hours of this morning. I got up before the rest of you, like I do, and I sat here and listened to the snow plows outside the window, as it was too dark to watch it snow still, and I thought about what I could pen to you on such an important birthday. I went back and read some of my old letters to you, and had a good laugh over that awesomely horrible Portal cake, and an equally good cry over this letter from a few years back. I laughed when I read this one, because I still remember this birthday, and then I read the first letter I ever wrote to you on my blog. It touches my mother's heart that you come here every year looking for your birthday letter. It's not quite as good as a hug, or an "I love you mom", but I'll take it.

While I was in the kitchen tonight making the lasagna  you requested for your birthday dinner, I was thinking about how we have sort of grown up together. I wasn't a parent before you came along and so I've had to do most of my learning, and failing, with you. When you were very little your first questions were "Why?" and "What's that?" You were such a curious little boy, always wanting to know about everything. So I would walk around, and you would point to everything and ask, "What's that?" and I would tell you. That was the easy question, and I never got tired of telling you about what things were, because you were so excited to find out the answers. "Why?" was always harder. You have always been a challenger, and I don't like being challenged. On top of that, you often ask the hard questions that I don't have the answers too. I hope that you don't think your old mum is stupid, I'm just not half as intelligent as you have been blessed to be. The greatest part of that has been watching you go find the answers. You never accepted not knowing as acceptable. You have always gone out and found the answers to your questions. I hope you take that with you as you continue your journey in life.

These past few years have been difficult for the both of us. It has broken my heart to watch you struggle through them, feeling so helpless, and wishing there was more that I could do for you. I knew that I had to let you navigate through it on your own, offering only my support, and prayers, and love, but as your mother I wanted nothing more than to just fix it and make it all better for you. Because I am your mother, I feel partly responsible for the whole mess. I know that I'm not, but mother's can't help but play that "If I had only done this, that or the other thing better" or "If I had spent more time doing this instead of that" or "Maybe if I had let him (fill in whatever)"... game. Because your were my first child, I will likely always feel like I have failed you in some way or another. In all truthfulness, I probably  have. I hope you realize that it wasn't intentional and hope that you can forgive me.

Over the past year, however, especially the past 6 months, I have been silently cheering as I've watched you come back to us. It started a little bit last year, more so this year, and more so since the summer. It has been a long time coming, and even though I haven't outwardly made a big deal of it, I have wanted to shout from the rooftops, "MY BOY IS BACK!!" Really, it's quite lovely. Your dad and I have missed having *you* around, and even your sister's noticed. When she scolds you for giggling in the middle of the night, I tell her to get over it, at least you are giggling again. Besides, pretty soon you will be gone, and it will be too quiet and she'll wish you were there laughing about something ridiculous at 3am. OK, maybe she won't, but I will.

So here we are, at eighteen, and legally you are an adult. You can vote now, gamble, smoke, die for your country, drive without a seat belt, go to jail and move out and be responsible for yourself. That's a heap load of stuff to toss at someone just because of an age, if you ask me. I remember being 18, and I don't feel that I was quite ready for any of that. I look at you, and I'm not quite sure you are yet, either. Almost, but not quite. You have a ways to go yet, before "responsible" is a word that I will tag on to "young adult". There is that matter of an English paper that you haven't written yet.  Or the fact that you can't get yourself up and to school on time. Or anywhere on time. Keep working on the rest though. Earn that title of responsible. In the meantime, know that your father and I love you very much. You make us proud to be your parents. Happy birthday.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

In Which We Find My 1,000th Post

Often times in life we are disappointed because experiences fail to live up to the expectations that we have built up for how things should be in our minds. We plan for discussions, or events, or even quiet evenings at home, running through our minds how they will play out and that carries over in the form of expectations, real or perceived. Then, because life is life, and things never go how we hope or even how we plan for them, we are left feeling disappointed and out of sorts. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why is it so hard to just set the stage for events to happen, and then to just enjoy whatever the results of it might be? I think we set ourselves up for failure, and I know that time and time again I am guilty of this.

I've given this a lot of thought over the past few days. On Saturday we celebrated Uncle Christmas, which, if you are new here, is when all my brothers and any of their significant others come over and we celebrate Christmas. Sometimes, if he is up from Florida, my Dad comes with my Grampa. This event started many, many years ago when my Dad and step-mother were moving away and I took pity on my brothers not having any way to celebrate Christmas together. My kids were little and confused because they thought it was Christmas, so for a while I kept saying, "No, it's Christmas with your Uncles".. and they started calling it Uncle Christmas. I've hosted it every year since then, except for last year when we had it at my brother Scott's house so that my Grampa could make it after being in the hospital.

This years gathering involved a lot of stress and arguing amongst the family. We had a problem getting a date picked. We had a huge, ugly debate over the gift exchange. It got to the point where, after the year that I had, I was ready to call the whole thing off. The only thing that saved it was the kids. I wanted to do it for them, at least one more year. I'm not sure what's going on with Corey's college schedule next year, so it's a real possibility that this may have been our last one (shh, don't tell them). On top of that, I wanted to make sure that I could pull off a g.f. Uncle Christmas menu and have it work without complaints. Mission accomplished, and I took notes on a few things I will change for next year, if there is one. Aside from that, it was just weird this year. The whole atmosphere of it was different, and I don't know if we've just outgrown it, or there was too much drama involved or what, but when it was all said and done, I was glad when everyone left and it was over. That made me sad and I'm not sure what to think about it. Even my brother Brian noticed and said something about it before he left.

I noticed that Christmas Eve at The Boys™ had a similar kind of feel to it as well. It was nice to see my nieces, although I didn't get to see them for very long because we got there late, and they had to leave for church within 2 hours of our arrival. In that time, they had to eat, and open gifts and it just seemed rushed and crazy. I don't know if it's because the rest of the family gets to be together again for the rest of the evening, and we are only there for several hours in the afternoon... but that hasn't changed for at last 5 or 6 years now. It was just... different. It didn't seem very festive, or maybe it was just me. The thing is, I didn't have any expectations for how that would go. I just showed up, grateful that we were all going to be together. It was just weird, and I don't know what to think about that either. On top of that, we got back too late to go to Christmas Eve mass, which I hated, though we did have a very lovely dinner and evening together here at home. So there's that.

Christmas day, however, was really nice. I had no expectations for it at all. I tried a new recipe for this year, after the french toast wasn't that big of a hit last year. A g.f. Monkey Bread, which had almost all of the same ingredients as my cinnamon rolls, that turned out fantastic and everyone loved. I think it will be a new tradition. We opened gifts, the boy and I went to church, where my favorite of our three rotating priests said mass and sang to us during the homily, had a late lunch, and then we all went to see Les Miserables. We came home, had a late dinner and just hung out. It was a nice, quiet day and I enjoyed every minute of it. Part of me wonders, if it's because there was no drama involved with us at home (what a nice change, eh?). That because we've have so much of it this year, that being around other people on the other occasions, and having to deal with their issues, and listen to the complaining and problems and such, was just too much for me to deal with. I didn't want drama this year, because really, I've had enough of my own. I guess I just wanted to get together with the people I love and hang out and enjoy each other. I'm so pleased to discover that I found that right here, at home.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Symbol of Hope

On the day that he was delivered, so perfect, and still, I saw a brilliant red male cardinal sitting out in my yard. It came and visited again on that cold, bright January day that he was laid into the ground. Every time that he has been on my mind, and I've had him on my heart for one reason or another, I have had a cardinal sighting. Every year while we are at my MIL's for Easter, I catch a glimpse of one in the trees out the window, if just for a moment. Each year, on the anniversary of his death, I've come home and found one, if not a male and a female, perched on the feeders in the tree in my front yard. They usually stay a while and I have time to reflect on our loss, and let my mind wonder what kind of little boy he would be if he was with us today.

When I made my niece Victoria a lamb for her first Easter, my SIL shared with me how when she was pregnant with her, and after she was born, she felt like lambs where her "special animal" and how awesome it was that I made her one, because I didn't know that. I shared with her back about my cardinal experiences related to Max, and how I felt that, at least with me, that they were his special creature. She really liked that. This year especially, I have had a lot of cardinal sightings, and I shared that with her this fall, because I think of him whenever I see one. She replied that he must have a message for me.

 On Thursday, which was the anniversary of his passing, we had our class parties at school. It struck me then, the sadness of the day, while I was surrounded by all those happy little children, which I thought was so odd. I think I was grieving for what will never be, but then, at the same time, I was glad  to have the kids there for comfort, because it helped. Right after I read a post from my SIL that broke my heart. She has a new baby this year, and realizes firsthand, how heartbroken her sister must have been. For the first time, she has that little girl that she can't imagine losing, and even though she experienced the pain of it before, it's a whole new kind of pain now.

Today, I read that the cardinals are the symbol of hope. That people often have sightings of them before of after the death of a loved one. They symbolically represent hope, and faith, and if ever there was a year that I have needed that, it has been this one. So Max, thank you, for the reminder to keep the faith. I'm doing my best. Aunt B misses you every day, and will hold you in her heart forever.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Light in the Darkness

I was sitting with the kids on the rug Friday afternoon, reading a few chapters from "A Tale of Despereaux" when my phone started vibrating in my pocket, alerting me that I was receiving text messages. I had put it in there during lunch recess duty and had forgotten to take it out and put it away. It vibrated, message after message, which I found a little alarming, but I kept on reading. We were getting ready for afternoon recess in a few minutes, and I would get a chance to check it then. This is our last week of school before our holiday break, and on Thursday the plan is to show the movie to the kids during our reading block, but in order to do that, we have to finish reading the book.

The time came to get our coats on, and as I can get mine on quicker than the rest of them, I used that time to find out what who was so urgently messaging me during the school day. Nothing could have prepared me for what I read. It was The Boy™, letting me know that there had been shootings at a school in CT, and what they knew up until that time. He's on the emergency management teams for both our town and for our school district. The safety of all of our students is the part of his job that he takes the most seriously, even though it's not what he gets paid for. My heart stopped as I read his words, and I immediately wanted to gather all the kids back into the class and keep them all inside for recess. Ridiculous, I know. CT is hours away, and they would all be so upset about being kept in, especially if I couldn't come up with a good reason for why. It was the mother in me, and I couldn't help how I felt. I wanted to keep them safe, where I could see them all, until I could send them home to their parents in 25 minutes when the day ended. I fought back the tears that were creeping into my eyes, and we all headed out for recess.

This weekend, I have tried to stay away from the news as much as I could. I don't believe in the way the media handles these kind of events. Often times there is too much focus on the politics, and the failings of society, and too much sensationalism on the actions of the killer. I know that Adam Lanza was a mentally ill young man, and that we, as a society failed him. Having worked in special education for a lot of years, I have been on the receiving end of violent outbursts from students. I have listened to the parents who don't know what to do with their children, who even in the 6th grade are angry and large, and out of control. I read this story yesterday, and it broke my heart. We need to be doing better.Those parents, and their children, need our prayers too, and our support. We need to look at what kind of services we can be providing for them, and what kind of help we can be providing for them.

Last night, I sat down in family room, and started working on a few things, and World News tonight came on. The Boy™ was waiting for the President to come on TV, and had left the channel on. They did a story about the kids, and the teachers, that immediately sucked me in. It was the first I had really watched, about the whole incident, and it broke my heart right in half. I think I sat there for the full half an hour and just cried. They talked about that brave little girl who was the sole survivor in her class, and how many of the parents in that town have "survivor's guilt". How they feel so guilty for being grateful that their children are alive. Can you even imagine?

There is a quote I love that says, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Instead of pointing fingers, and giving statistics, and talking about how many gun dealers there are in the area of Newton CT, which doesn't solve a darn thing, let's start a movement of change. I propose we start being nice to each other. Acting with kindness and decency. Take a plate of cookies to your shut in neighbor, or shovel their driveway. Send holiday greetings to residents in a nursing home. Slow down for pedestrians in crosswalks. Volunteer at your library. Smile more. Say thank you. Slow down. If everyone started with themselves, it would have a ripple effect, like the rock thrown into the pond. Imagine what we could do. My love and prayers stay with all of those affected by the tragedy in CT. “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it” John 1:5

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Simple Gifts

At the end of September, The Boy's™ youngest sister gave birth to the most beautiful little baby girl. She was the brightest spot in the most rotten month of this entire year, and has continued to bless my life since then. While her mom was home on maternity leave, I would get photos of her on my phone during my work day, videos of her once she started babbling, and the time that I get to spend snuggling and loving on her is better than any therapy. She couldn't have arrived at a more perfect time. I know that her mom and dad didn't plan it that way, but I really believe that she has been a gift to me, more than to them (shh, don't tell them I said that because I'm sure they don't see it that way), and I can't wait to watch this little ray of sunshine grow up.

On Saturday they came to visit for lunch and to celebrate Christmas a little early, as we won't get to see them on Christmas Eve due to their work schedules. Actually, my MIL will be babysitting that day, so I will get to love on my niece all afternoon long, in between snuggling and playing with her older cousins, but her parents will be missing from the scene. We had such a lovely visit and I instantly regretted that we haven't had them over more often these past few years. We have had plans that have fallen through, they have been busy, we have been busy, and well, this year we (read:I) haven't felt much like entertaining. I'm hoping to change that in the new year. I am not a huge fan of entertaining, but I am a huge fan of my nieces and I want to see them all more often. Because we could, we took some really fun photos of her (Dear Santa, if you are reading, next year I would like a really good digital SLR camera), and I am counting the days until we see her again.

One of my most favorite parts of the day, other than snuggling her, and catching up with my SIL, and just spending time with them all, came at the end. We gave our gifts for her to them, and for my SIL, who The Boy™ picked in the gift exchange. They decided that they would open them while they were there, instead of waiting, which we were totally fine with. So we got to share in her first Christmas gifts, which was totally awesome and I loved that. His whole family lives within a half hour in any direction of each other, and they get to see each other so often. We, on the other hand are an hour and a half away from everyone in one direction or another, and so our visits are limited. I feel like my nieces know and love everyone else better than they do us, which makes me a little sad. But I know that my SILs talk us up, and share our pictures, and I send them all texts and messages and gifts and love, so I hope it makes up for it some. Once I can get over myself, we are going to facetime when she gets bigger. I can hardly wait.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Closer to Fine

Something I've noticed over the past bunch of years is that "How are you?" has become a sort of throw away question. People throw it out there, but not many people really want you to give them an answer. Now I'm not saying this is true of everyone, because I do work with, and know some people who when they ask, do genuinely want to know how you are doing and will stick around long enough for an answer. Overall however, most people don't.

In response to this, "I'm fine, how are you?" has become the standard response. Fine has a pretty big pair of shoes to fill. It covers everything from "I'm doing really great today", to "Things have never been worse but I don't really want to talk about it right now". A few years back, I recognized that I was using 'fine' as a cop-out answer. I didn't want to talk about how I was, because I was having a really rotten year at school. But in order to save my sanity, and to get some help with the situation, I had to start sharing how I was really doing. I had to start giving answers like, "I'm feeling really frustrated and upset right now" or "This situation is really overwhelming me at the moment". Those kinds of answers are completely out of my comfort zone, especially at work, but it enabled the people I work with to help me through that horrible year and together we all pulled through it by the skin of our teeth.

Sharing about job stress, when the rest of the staff is in the know already is one thing. Sharing how you are when your personal life is falling apart is an entirely different ball game. Last year however, I had a co-worker whose daughters are really good friends with my son. They noticed that something was up with him, and were very concerned. So I was able to share with her, in confidence, what was going on with him. Eventually that lead to sharing other things, and it was nice to have someone to talk to. This year she has transferred to another school and I can't tell you how much I miss her. My standard response these past few years has been, "I'm OK", or "I'm doing the best that I can be", when I'm not OK. People seem to respect that answer, and don't push too hard for details, but they sometimes acknowledge for me to hang in there, or say, "Well I hope that everything is going to be OK." I have great co-workers.

Before I get to "good" however, I will have to get to "fine", but not in the throw-away fashion that everyone else uses it for. I will use fine as it's intended to be. According to the online dictionary, fine means in a satisfactory or pleasing manner; very well. Not quite good yet, but better than OK. In the words of one of my favorite quotes, 'I may not be there yet, but I'm closer than I was yesterday.'

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Beauty in Brokenness

For a long time, I stayed away from my blog. There was so much hurt in my heart and brokenness in my life that the thought of coming and writing it down felt depressing. When I went through and added jump breaks to all the old posts (something I've gotten bad about doing again), I noticed that there were lulls during some of the years. If I thought back upon those times I could remember what was going on at that point in our lives. Health concerns. Marriage struggles. Parenting heartbreaks. Not all of what we have battled over the last several years has made it here, because some of it is not mine to share. That, and I'm not sure anyone wanted to read about it(not that I'm sure anyone is reading anyhow).

Then one day this year I had a revelation. If all we ever share about is what is good and right with ourselves, we paint a very skewed image of what is going on in our lives. When I go and read other blogs that I visit, most of them are full of positive going-ons and what is right with the world with a very occasional tragedy thrown into the mix. Reading those all the time, especially when your life feels like it's falling apart, makes you feel like a failure. Fortunately for me, there are a few blogs in my reading list that keep it real. They post the every day trials and tribulations that they go through, though not always in great detail, and make me feel just a little less alone. That's when I realized that this is my blog after all. I write for me, when it comes down to it, and sometimes writing is like therapy. Sometimes when you can't share what you feel with anyone else, it helps just to get it out somewhere.

Maybe it has been a little dark around here these days. Maybe you get here and think, "Oh, really? Another post about how her marriage is struggling? What happened to the fun posts, and the great photos?" Bear with me. Right now I'm just trying to get back in the swing of blogging again. Those post will return, even if they are scattered in between the rest. There is a quote a love that says,"When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something's suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful."~ Barbara Bloom. I'm going to be the most beautiful girl in the world when all this is over. (winks)

Monday, December 03, 2012

A Time for Hope

Late Sunday morning, after he arose and showered, he came downstairs and we talked. We talked about how frustrated I was that no matter what time he went to bed, we typically lost the entire morning to him sleeping unless he had somewhere to be or something to do. He told me that he planned to get up, he just didn't. I reminded him that it was a choice that he made every day, to get up or not, and that he continually chose not to. I explained that I was done caring about it. That on that day, it was going to be the last one that I got upset about it. That from now on he could go to bed whenever he liked, sleep as long as he wanted, and whatever time we got to spend together on the weekends would have to be enough. That I couldn't go on caring about it anymore because it was breaking my heart.

After a few minutes of silence, he looked at me and said, "It's not really about what time I go to bed or get up is it?" I must have stared at him for a good minute with that "how many times have I told you this before?!" look on my face, as the tears rolled down my face, and I just shook my head. He followed with, "I know you have told me about a million times, but I just realized it's about spending time together. That because I sleep away the whole morning, we aren't." When I could speak again, I told him, again, that because he wakes up with just enough time to get ready for work in the morning, I don't see him much then. That because he works late, and then has meetings, and the kids have things, and then he works from home at night.. I don't really spend much quality time with him during the week, if any. So the weekends is all we have. He followed again with, "And I sleep away the entire mornings."

What I wanted to tell him too, but I couldn't find the words to say it, was, "Just like my dad did." My father would come home from work, have his dinner, watch TV and fall asleep on the couch. Then he would sleep until noon on the weekends, and he never spent any quality time with my mother. He very rarely talked to her about anything. He never helped out with things around the house, or took an interest in what she was doing, or what we were doing.  I watched for years as she struggled, alone, taking care of the house, us kids, working at different jobs, and trying to fight for my father's attention. I watched their marriage deteriorate to the point that we all wished they would just split up, and I don't want that. I remember a few years ago when I first started to talk to him about our communication problem and where I saw it heading, bringing up my parents. Today, on my dad's birthday, I harbor some fears in the quiet broken parts of my heart that I'm afraid to share out loud. So I keep going forward. Picking up the pieces, and putting them back together. Grasping at hope when the healing involves growing. Hopeful that it's not temporary.

Friday, November 30, 2012

By the Numbers

Twenty-five is how many days there are until Christmas. Aside from stocking-stuffers, and a couple of co-worker gifts, and a gift card for my mom, my shopping is finished. What has arrived in my house has already been wrapped and tucked away. I consider this a pretty huge accomplishment.

Twenty-two is how many days there are until Uncle Christmas. This has been a huge source of conflict this year, and I'm starting to wonder if perhaps it's an idea who's time has come and gone. I'm leaning a little more towards the fact that we've all had a pretty stressful year, some more than others, and maybe in the planning process we just forget that one of life's most basic rules is to be nice to others. Either way, I'm a little less stressed out about the food this year, and if there is a lot of complaining, I'm going to suggest that from now on we hold it somewhere else. Easy enough. It's a function in my house, and as far as I'm concerned, my safety and well being comes first, and if they can't deal with that then that's their issue, not mine.

Eighteen is how old my boy is going to be turning at the end of December. I can't quite wrap my brain around that yet, so I'm not really dealing with it right now. He wants to go skydiving for his birthday. So in the spring, when the weather is warmer, he and I, along with one of our friends, will head out and go on an adventure. More on that later. 

Fifteen is how many days, after today, we have left of school until our Holiday Break. I cannot put into words how in dire need of that vacation I am.

Thirteen is how many days until opening night of the Holiday Festival of Music. My girl has  a solo song in the show this year and we are so proud of her. The boy will be playing with the jazz band for the last time, and as we go through this year of lasts, its been a little bitter sweet. Not as sad as I would have thought, but perhaps that is because she is still going to be there for two more years.

Eight is how many days until my sister-in-law, her husband and my beautiful little baby niece come to visit for the day. I can't tell you how much I love this little ray of sunshine and what joy she has brought into my life over the past two months. I just finished knitting her up the cutest little hat, and will be bringing it to her on Sunday, when we get together to celebrate the second birthday of one of her cousins. What fun!

Six is how many nights I slept away from The Boy™ this week. Once on the couch, and then back again in the craft room on an air mattress. This has been such a hard year, yet we continue on, trying to grow and move forward from each challenge. Hopeful that eventually we will pull through to the other side, stronger and in a better place than before.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Battle Weary

I look around and see my wonderful life
Almost perfect from the outside.... 

We fit that perfect family model. Husband, wife, 2 kids, a dog, some cats, a house, a car, and 2 jobs. Isn't that what everyone strives for these days? In a world where everyone is always trying to be more, do more, get more, some of us are struggling just to get our basic needs met. It's not always about what you have, or what is out of your reach. Sometimes it is about what is lacking at the most simple level.

In picture frames, I see my beautiful wife
Always smiling, but on the inside

There aren't very many photos of me over the years. As the child of an abuser, I developed horrible self image issues at an early age. Even now, as an adult, I have a hard time accepting compliments from others about how I'm dressed or how I look on any given day. It probably doesn't help that I very rarely receive them from The Boy™.  I know, in my heart, that you don't have to hear that you are beautiful or pretty, or that you look nice etc. in order to be those things. If you struggle with low self esteem however, not hearing them just reinforces what you already think of yourself. Stupid, huh? But there it is. As a result of all of this, I shy away from the camera. On top of that, these past few  years I have felt so sad, that I can't help but think it radiates out from me, and I don't want it caught on camera.

Oh, I can hear her saying

 I don't know what to say anymore. We go through periods when I think things are getting better, and then we fall right back to where we have been. I am tired of telling him how starved I am for some of the time that he gives so freely away to everyone else. How desperately I wish he would just sit and talk with me. How tired I am of having to explain that "How was your day?" is not a conversation starter. Especially if I want to leave my day at school (which I often do and he knows that), and he doesn't ever share anything about his day, or how he feels about anything with me anyhow.

Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can't
Don't leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, but what about us?

I know that he's trying to not let work be this highest priority in his life, as this has been a huge source of conflict in our lives. I recognize that, and appreciate it. But it's funny how other things can so easily slide in and take the place of what was in the number one spot, instead of what should be there instead. After a tense day Friday, I went to bed, frustrated and alone. I go to bed every Friday night alone. He stays up and plays video games online with his brother and friends. It was a compromise I made, out of the goodness of my heart, that has turned into a contentious issue. He ends up staying up half the night, then sleeps half of Saturday away. Lately, he wakes me up when he comes to bed, and then I can't get back to sleep due to his snoring. Sometimes it turns into Saturday night as well, or any time he has a day off, or we aren't getting along.

Show me you're willing to fight
That I'm still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone

And so here we are again. I tried to explain what was upsetting me, and he chose to not participate in the discussion. Now he feels like because he says "Hi", or "Good Morning" or whatever, and I'm still waiting for us to resolve our issues from over the weekend, that he's making an effort and I'm not. I guarantee when we finally have this out, he'll throw that in my face.  How he's been trying, and I'm giving him nothing. We've so been here before, and I don't even have the strength to deal with it. Yesterday he asked if I wanted to watch a movie with him, and the lonely part of my heart that is crying out for time with him wanted to scream "YES!", but we still weren't talking, and I was still waiting for him to get over himself and decide that we could maybe work this out, and so I said no. Then last night he woke me up from a nap for dinner, and he started with the words, "I screwed up..." and I thought we were going to work it out.. and after a huge pause, he followed with "..dinner." My already tattered heart shattered some more, and I had to get myself together before I could come to dinner. I'm so tired of it all... so very tired.

*Lead Me ~ Sanctus Real

Monday, November 12, 2012

Compassion Bloggers in Peru

If you are a long time reader of my blog, you know that last year around this time, we started sponsoring a little girl from Guatemala named Mariah through Compassion International. It was our family Christmas gift for 2011, and one that has brought us such great blessings. We have enjoyed receiving letters from her filled with pictures that she draws as  much as we enjoy praying for her and writing to her. She is four years old and we look forward to watching her grow into a beautiful young woman.

Compassion International offers trips to the countries that they have child development centers in, and they also send teams of bloggers out to help spread the word about what is going on in these countries to help boost sponsorship. This month, well, this week specifically, a team of bloggers is headed to Peru. They left today.

Kevin and Layla

You can click on any of those links starting tomorrow to read about their adventures in Peru. Of course, you can click on them now if you'd like, as they are truly interesting people to start with. Kevin and Layla write about home decorating and renovations. Shaun is a fabulous musician. Angie is an author. Jennifer is an all encompassing blogger, she covers it all.

If you feel at all called to do so, you can click here to sponsor a child, in Peru, or anywhere else.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The First Snow

It's snowing out this morning. Through the window, I can barely make out the snow falling through the maple tree and the bush right outside my window, because even at 6:11am, it is still dark out. Yesterday was the last day we will have 10 hours of daylight until February, and we are headed into my difficult time of the year. The weather guys were all over the place with this storm. First it was only going to be a few inches, even though it was a Nor'Easter, then it was going to be 3 or 4, and then yesterday afternoon, they were talking about 6-8. After all the snow, we are supposed to get a period of freezing rain, and then the sun is going to come out and all will be right in the world again. Right now, we have a coating, maybe an inch if that, and I feel like we got cheated out of our first snow, which all the kids at school were looking forward to.

As much as I feel it's too early for a snow day, especially in November when we have so many days off of school already, I was secretly hoping for one. Or at least a 2 hour delay. You see, tomorrow morning at 5am sharp, the boys and I are packing back into the van to head out for another college visit. This time we are driving out to NY, to visit Rochester Institute of Technology tomorrow afternoon, then we are driving 4 hours north to spend the night so that on Saturday we can attend an open house at Clarkson University. R.I.T is Corey's #4 School, and Clarkson is actively pursuing him for their honors program, to the point that they have offered him a merit scholarship in a rather large sum of money to go there, and they are #3 on the list.

To say that I am not ready to leave on this trip is an understatement. I have so much to do today after school, on top of a doctors appointment at 4:15, that my head is spinning just a bit. This weekend, with these days off, was the carrot that got me through the first many weeks of school after working all summer long without a break at the end and only a few days off at the beginning. Saturday, I was supposed to be taking a ride down to WEBS to see Franklin speak with my dear friend Jan, but it's all good. This is important, and I am sure we will have a lovely time. The weather is certainly scheduled to be a lot better than our last trip!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

I'll Take a Side of That

 They tell you that you will have tingling in  your hands in feet. It's right there in the list of side effects that comes with my pills, and all over the internet if I do a search. They don't tell you that it will be like the worst pins and needles you have ever had in your entire life, and that you can get them but just sitting with your feet crossed. Or that it will happen when you wake up first thing in the morning. This side effect goes away after your body has adjusted to taking the meds however, unless you absentmindedly skip a day, and then all bets are off.

They tell you that you will lose weight. The weight loss thing has been hard. I had managed to lose weight before starting on the meds, and then I lost some more, and the meds keep me from being able to gain any of it back. For my height, I am underweight, and I catch a lot of flack about it. People, being underweight is just as bad as being overweight and people's weight is there own business and we should really all stop obsessing about weight and how we look anyhow. Be happy with yourself. Love your body. Each healthy foods, get exercise on a regular basis, and enjoy living.

They tell you that you're going to be foggy headed. This is the understatement of the year. I never felt more incompetent than the first month I was on my pills. I forgot stuff. I would start to say something and not be able to finish it. I would reach for a word, and not be able to pull it out of my brain. It was bad. That has gotten better, to a degree. I still feel a lot less intelligent than I did a year ago. My memory, which used to be so sharp, is a sad resemblance of what it once was. Mostly I'm OK with all of that. The trade off has been worth it.

What they don't tell you, in the hand outs or on the side of the bottle, is that your hair is going to fall out. It doesn't happen right away either. It sneaks up on you after about 6 or 7 months, while you are in the shower. At first I thought it was just a season of shedding, as one is prone to go through. Until it didn't end. So I got on the internet, which can be your worst enemy, and I had a chat with my friend Google, and I learned the dirty little secret. My medicine depletes your vitamin B and Biotin levels, and your hair falls out. Today, after 6 or 7 months of living with this sad and depressing fact (thankfully I have really thick hair), I have started taking a Vitamin B Complex pill that will hopefully help with this problem, although I'm not holding my breath. If nothing else, I should have more energy, and wouldn't we all like a little of that?

Friday, November 02, 2012

A Season of Learning

Whoever "they" are, talk about how in life we go through seasons. Some seasons, like the spring, are full of new life, and growth. Anticipation and change and newness. Other seasons, like the winter, are long, and dark. Full of troubles and hardships. As with the seasons of the year, the seasons of our life change and as we move out of one, we move into another. Sometimes the seasons can stretch out into years, and hopefully when that happens, you find yourself in a summer like season of happiness and enjoyment.

 Having spent the better part of the last year in a dark, winter like season, I'm finding myself in an altogether different kind of season. A season of learning. I'm learning about myself, and my spouse, and marriage in general. I'm learning things about parenting teenagers and about letting go. Because I work in education, it seems only right that it comes as we are in the throes of fall, when everyone is "back in school", but I don't think that is the case. I believe that we are only open to learning things when we are ready to be taught them. This is my season, and I'm working really hard to be a good student. Here are some of the things I am learning, in no particular order:

1. Marriage is hard. No one tells you this before you get married. They tell you that it's a lot of work, which it is, and that it's the happiest you'll ever be, which is also true, but no one tells you about how hard it can be.   Just because it's hard, doesn't mean it's bad, or that it's over. Spending your life with one person, and being committed to them is just that, a commitment. You have to be willing to put in the work to stick through the really hard times. The times when things get really awful. The times no one tells you about when you are newly in love and wrapped up in each other and how in love you are. What I learned is, that no matter how awful things seem, if you keep the love that you have for each other at the center, and remember why you got married and what it is about that other person that made you fall in love with them in the first place, you can get through it if both parties are willing to put in the hard work.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Finding My Way Back.. A College Visit

Early Saturday morning, we packed up the van and headed out for a long road trip out to Pittsburgh. Having never heard of Carnegie Melon University before Corey mentioned wanting to go to school there, I thought perhaps it was 4 or 5 hours away. I was quite surprised to find out it would take 10 hours with no traffic and no stopping. We had a hard time finding a place to stay, due in part to how many students were attending the 'Sleeping Bag Weekend', a Steelers game on Sunday that I wasn't aware of, and a University of Pittsburgh football game on Saturday. On top of that, there were several conventions going on, an Alumni weekend at another college (there are 7 right in the city) and so we ended up staying 40 minutes away. Our drive out got derailed by some traffic that has us sitting there for 1 hour and 45 minutes, which made all of us just  wee bit cranky, and so happy when we finally reached our destination. Mandy's Pizza (West View) for dinner. Let me tell you how nice it was to go out for pizza, for the first time in years actually, as I was never a go out for pizza person, and get allergy safe pizza that was delicious. I wish Ash had come with us and I could have shared it with her, but I already told her if he gets accepted there, we go every time we make the trip out for a visit. It was that good.

The rest of the weekend was fantastic. We got a tour of the campus. We had sessions with the head of Admissions who also talked about financial aid. We attended a special parents panel put on by campus security, the health dept, campus psychologist, the head of student affairs, the housing people, and the  head of the Greek houses. We attended sessions with the Computer Science Dean, the Electric and Computer Engineering Dean, got a tour of the C.S. building and had a question and answer session with the assistant dean of C.S. Corey had an admissions interview and was able to sit in on a class on Monday. We visited the bookstore and some of the school buildings Monday during that time and Sunday night after we left him for his stay over, we were given a trolley tour of the city compliments of the college before heading off on our way for a fabulous dinner at Bella Frutteto. It was a busy, information filled weekend, but I am so glad we went. We got a real feel for the school, and what it would be like for him to attend college there. He realized that what he really wants to do is major in Computer Science, not E.C.E (he asked some really good questions about double majoring in both), and it moved up to replace MIT as his number one choice for school.

The ride home was a post in and of itself, but one I probably won't make. We left at 1:45pm, hoping that we could get back ahead of the worst of the hurricane, and were derailed around 3:40 by car troubles. We were out of commission until 6:30 getting the car fixed, stopped at a Super Wall-mart for some provisions for me, McDonald's for dinner for them, and then hit the road again. CT closed the highways, so we had to reroute around there, and all in all it worked out for the best. We drove through the hurricane, but according to wunderground, the radar that I watched as we drove across showed us in the best place to be as we traveled across rt. 84. We had heavy rain, and strong winds, but it could've been much worse.   I'm convinced that our delay was a blessing in disguise, and after a long 15 hour trip back, I was never so happy to get home at 7:10am.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Finding My Way Back... A Pity Party

I miss coffee. I hate that because of this stupid headache disorder I can't drink it anymore. Not even a cup here and there. Not even decaf. Not ever. Every once in a while I will take The Boy's™ cup, hold it in my hands and take the biggest whiff, and just remember what it tasted like. He thinks that must be torture. I think maybe he might be right, but herbal tea, while a nice substitute for something hot to drink, just doesn't cut it.

I miss running. I have no excuse for why I haven't been running, except for laziness on my part. I am having a hard time getting out of bed at 5am right now. It's cold, and it's dark, and I've been staying up way too late lately. When the alarm goes off, the last thing I want to do is get up and go out and run. On top of that, a lot of days my head hurts right off the bat. My appointment with the doctor isn't until November. Afternoons lately have been nuts, and the ones that aren't, I've been tired or my head hurts. Really, no good reasons not to be running. I am really feeling the effects of not getting out the door and I don't like it.

I miss bread. More specifically, I miss making homemade bread. This winter I'm going to be trying to make homemade gluten free bread. I already know it won't be the same and I'm prepared for that. I also miss the ease of going out to eat, or planning a trip and not having to spend hours hunting down places to eat. What a hastle.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Finding My Way Back... A Fall Photo Shoot

I wasn't supposed to be the one to take his senior pictures. Many years ago, I got disgusted with the prices they were charging for school pictures and I started doing them myself. She is a much easier subject to photograph, but we've always managed to get a couple of really nice photos of each of them. The past few years my MIL has taken all her grandchildren to have a portrait done, and the singles from those have replaced my pictures. Because life has been so crazy around here, especially in the fall, I have let that be OK. But not this year. My brother is an amazing photographer. He has a natural talent for capturing gorgeous shots, and a very pricey camera that takes really nice pictures. I asked Mr. Man if he would like for him to do his senior pictures, and he said he'd be honored. My brother was a bit of a harder sell, but in the end he agreed. We haven't been able to make it work out. Every day we have had free on a weekend to travel out to where he is, it has rained. The pictures are due to the school on Friday, and we were running out of time. Yesterday, I told him to cut his hair (he wanted it buzzed short, his favorite do, and it was getting too long and ratty) and we would do a photo shoot after lunch.

I had a bunch of great ideas for where we could go and pictures we could take. I brainstormed them all morning on the way to and from grocery shopping. He told me, as he laced up his sneakers, that we were going to the river. Oh, and once we got a good picture, we were done. I agreed, grabbed my camera and we headed out the door. We did a photo shoot at the river a few years ago. It's his favorite place in town, and it is only fitting that his senior pictures be taken there. He didn't want to smile, and I decided not to push it. He's a pretty serious kid, and he's had a rough couple of years, so I just went with natural. We had a bit of fun, and I got some smiles after all. I took a ton of photos, and eventually The Boy™ joined us and after a few more shots, he asked, "Are we done here?" and I said we probably had enough photos and I'm sure some of them came out good and we headed home. In the end, I kept 25 shots. Some of them are very similar to each other, with the purpose that I could make one black and white. The two I shared here are the ones I absolutely love best, and of course he picked a more serious one for his senior picture. So typically him. We had a good time, and really, I'm glad I got to take his pictures for him.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Finding My Way Back.. Crankypants

I came home from school today cranky. I don't know why exactly, because it wasn't terrible overall. It started out with me getting up late. I went to bed way past my bedtime last night. That might have been the first thing that went wrong. I was up baking for a school birthday celebration today, and I had to wait for my goodies to cool enough for me to cut them into squares and put them on some kind of plate so that I could wrap them up. (note to self, buy a plate that you can use for school that you don't care if it gets contaminated in the staff room) When I say way past my bed time, I mean it was an hour and a half past my bedtime and when that alarm went off this morning at 5am, and it was cold, dark and raining and my eyelids felt like they had bricks attached to them, there was no way I was dragging myself out of bed. I slept until his alarm went off at 5:30, and woke up again at 5:50. I still had to make one more item for our celebration, on top of my usual morning stuff, shower and get to work early to help set up. Oh, and did I mention it was raining?

I got through the morning with no issues really, and my wonderful husband went into work late so that he could drive me and all the stuff I had to lug down the road to work without having to get wet. The day went well, overall, and aside from a headache that started sometime during the day, and grew as the day went on, I really can't complain too much about it. But for some reason, when I walked through the door into my house, I was in the foulest mood. I don't know if it was the dark dreary day, the crankiness of the kids at school just finally getting to me, or a combination of the sum of the parts finally making a whole, but oh boy. I was in a state. I put my wet things down on the stool. I took of my coat and hung it out on the porch to dry. I had a snack, thinking maybe I was hungry. That didn't help. I logged onto Facebook to see if I could find a photo of my new niece, as that usually cheers me up. Nothing. I scrapbooked a bit, with some Christian music on Pandora to see if if I could life my mood (I'm working on our trip to Disney). Our internet connection was being choppy and my music was broken and it did nothing but send my mood further south. On top of that, I realized a bit later that I never soaked the quinoa so that I could make my g.f. pizza crust to have with tonight's dinner (it needs 8 hours to soak).

So when he walked through the door, and into my craft room, and asked how my day was, I said, "It was long and frustrating." He had to take Ms. Thang back to Keene to drop off apple-crisp she had to bake for Pumpkin Fest tomorrow (they prepped it elsewhere or I never would've agreed), and I did a bit more scrapbooking and worked on teh dinner list. When he returned again, he came up behind me and I leaned into him and got the longest hug. In that span of time, I felt all the crankiness of my day just melt right off. Sometimes, I think we just get touch deprived. Not enough physical contact can make a person grouchy, and I know this is true of myself, as I have felt it in the times when we are not getting along very well and spend a lot of time not really interacting with each other. I also see it in the kids at school who I know aren't getting a lot of attention from their parents. They act out and we have a lot of behavior problems with them. Those are the kids I just want to give big bear hugs to every day, because you know they are just crying out for some attention, no matter how they have to get it. It reminded me of that game, The SIMS, where the people walk around with those meter things above there heads, and when they are low on whatever need that isn't being met, the meter thing turns red, and it's up to the player to make sure it gets met. It sure would be handy if people had some way of gauging when each others needs weren't being met. How hard is it for my husband to know that my "physical contact" needs aren't being met, and I need a hug, if I don't even know it myself?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Finding My Way Back... Love Never Fails

One month ago tonight I was a sad, miserable mess. I was sleeping, if one could call it that, on an air mattress on the floor of my craft room, and the tension in my house was so thick you could cut it with a knife. September 2012 was a month that will live forever in my memory, if for no other reason, but as a reminder of what I never want to return to. It was truly awful. I've come to realize since then, that happiness is something you have to choose, every day. Every day in September, when my world was crashing down around me, it was all I was focused on. There must have been good things going on, in fact, I added to my thousand gifts list in September, but I didn't see a whole lot of it. I couldn't. Or, more so, I chose not to. I was too focused on everything that was bad, and blinded to the rest. When you chose to see only the negative, and to focus on what is wrong with your life, your life reflects your attitude. I couldn't see that then, but I can now. Who wants to live like that?

Having come out on the other side, each day is new chance to start over. Each day I choose to be happy. To love my husband. To accept him for who he is, and not put my expectations on him. To apologize when I am too demanding, or cranky, or wrong. To express what I'm feeling, good or bad, and why, so that he can understand in the moment, instead of later, when I'm still dwelling and he's long forgotten. We are communicating more, and better. Even though it may not be at a level that I would like it to be at, it's a huge step forward in the right direction. I know that this is an area he struggles with and so I patiently and lovingly encourage him when he makes a real effort. He is recognizing when he has done something that upsets me, and why it might have done so, and that's pretty big too. We are both working harder, and being gentler with each other, and if we mess it up, we say we are sorry, forgive each other and start over. No grudge holding and no sulking. It may not be perfect, and we may not be perfect, but it is so much better and it's a start to finding our way back.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Finding My Way Back.. Headaches

Longtime readers might remember that last fall, after a trip to a top neurologist at MGH in Boston for an unrelated cause, I was diagnosed with a hereditary migraine disorder. It was a rather comical visit, looking back at it. You have a fill out a 5 page questionnaire with this doctor, listing every health issue you have or ever have had in detail and he reviews it while he's meeting with you. I came to discover, while I was there, that he was also a top migraine specialist, so he was particularly interested in the section of the questionnaire about headaches, and how much writing and checking I had done there. When you have suffered with headaches just about every single day since being a teenager, you have a lot to write about.

After much discussion, and a battery of tests, including an MRI, I was put on an anti-convulsion medicine that is known to also prevent migraines. Medicine is amazing stuff. There were two  different kinds that he offered to me, and one caused horrible mood swings. You can guess that I didn't pick that one. The one that I take, has worked amazingly well in the year that i have been on it, even with the side effects, which have decreased over time. Lately however, I'm noticing that my hair is falling out in the shower. It started about 5 or 6 months ago, and I thought at first it was just a season of shedding, as one is prone to go through. Sadly, that hasn't been the case, and I am grateful that I have such thick hair. I read that it is due to the medicine depleting your vitamin B stores, and I have an appointment with my regular doctor in a few weeks to discuss this, get my levels checked, and hopefully start a supplement. I've also noticed my headaches creeping back. I don't know if this is due to my forgetting to take my meds on occasion (seriously, I have one of those daily pill things and an alarm on my phone, it's that bad), or if I need to up the dose. Something else to discuss with my doctor, but that is making me sad to think about.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Finding My Way Back... Catching Up

I fully intended to come and blog the past four days. Thursday I was uninspired as to what to blog about. I tossed about several ideas during the evening and none of them screamed out to me, "write a post". Blogging just for the sake of blogging has never really been my thing. I've done it before, and I feel like those posts just come out sounding like rubbish. Or, back in the old days, I would throw out a poll, or one of those "What type of ____" things. Dumb. Friday is errand day at my house. I come home from school, finish my grocery list, and after dinner, we head out to Keene and do all our errands. I'm exhuasted by Friday, and it seems like a good time to get that chore out of the way, because I'm not good for much else. Besides, we used to do them on Saturday, and then you loose a good half your day. What fun is that?

Saturday was the Dover Band Show. We packed up the kids, took them to the HS for their afternoon rehearsal before the 2 hours drive over to Dover, and then drove out to Manchester to visit my new niece. She is that balm that soothes my soul right now. She was suffering with jaundice after she was born, and her color is all back to normal again. The Boy™ and I each held her for half the several hour visit that we were there, and it was a lovely time with his sister and her husband, whom I feel we don't get to spend enough time with anymore. The band show was cold, yet excellent as always, and we got home way past my bedtime in the first hour of Sunday.

After a bit of a sleep in Sunday morning, the local fire department came out with their ladder truck and hoisted my man up to the top of the Tower of Doom, so that he could install the rotor we all pitched in and got him for his 40th birthday this past summer. It was rather fun to watch out the window (it was raining, and I really had a better view from the second floor), and now he can spin his antenna around and talk to the world. We had plans for some fall cleaning, and instead watched some crazy guy jump from space with a parachute, and then chilled out with a bowl of popcorn and watched Despicable Me with Ms. Thang. Overall, a very low-key relaxing day. Perfect. I didn't plan to skip any days this month with my blogging, but I'm not going to beat myself up for it either. In the grand scheme of life, I am feeling a whole lot better than I have been in months, and that says something.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Finding My Way Back.... In Need of a Break

The first year I had a week off at the beginning of the summer, and a week off at the end of the summer. Enough time to decompress between both jobs, and get my bearings straight. Last year, we started later in July, and I had a few weeks off at the start of summer, which was really  nice. But the trade off, was  a half week off at the end of the summer, and that was hard. I felt rushed and crazed, trying to get the kids and myself ready to go back to school in that short amount of time. This year, I had 5 days off at the start of summer (I got called in early), and no days off at the end. I worked until Friday, had the weekend, and was back to work for school on Monday. All summer long I dreaded it, knowing that it was going to kick my fanny, but we operated with a smaller crew this year, and I felt that because of an oversight on my part when we did the master schedule at the start of summer, I couldn't really change it.

I'm not going to start whining about how hard that has been, but really, it has been THAT. HARD. It started out tolerable, but as we've gone along, it's really started to take its toll on me. There is a reason they give teachers a summer vacation, and ideally, it's not to work your fanny off on a farm.  I've been looking forward to November, when we have a long weekend off for Veteran's day, and a nice long break for Thanksgiving. Tonight, it looks like we might be heading out to upstate NY to do a college visit during Veteran's day weekend. Maybe, just maybe, we might swing down and out to another one in lower NY on the way home. I'm not sure. So much for my nice, relaxing weekend. Fall is crazy and busy, and between kids events and fall cleaning, and family obligations, I am just plain exhausted. I really could use a break right about now.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Finding My Way Back.. Ironing

It used to lived tucked away in a closet, only coming out when we needed it. That was back when the kids were little and I stayed at home with them. Then I got a job working nights at Macy's and it came out a little more often. The Boy™ was working at UPS back then, in the warehouse, and there was no need for him to ever use it. I left Macy's when the pressures of being a 'salesperson' and not meeting my monthly quota got to be too much to handle, because really, all I was after was a paycheck, and went to work for a big box store who only required tan pants and a blue shirt.

 I was allowed the pleasure of staying home again for a few more years, we bought our house and moved, and then the next spring the dot-com company The Boy™ was working for went under. He was out of work for a year, and in that time, I went back to work again. This time, I brought it out from a different closet, and set it up in the guest room, that is now my craft room. I rationed, that if I was going to use it more, it was easier to just keep it set up somewhere, instead of hauling it out each time it needed to be used. When we had guests, or during the partial year or so that my SIL came to live with us , it would go back in the closet.

The year that I converted the guest room into my craft room, it came upstairs to live in our bedroom. It makes more sense if you think about it. Our clothes live in our bedroom, and it's kind of silly to lug them downstairs, iron them, and lug them back up. I set it up next to The Boy's™ dresser, in front of a window that overlooks the backyard. Some people find it to be a tedious chore, but I find ironing to be calming. It's kind of like therapy, almost. When I am feeling particularly frustrated, or upset about anything really, I take my music upstairs, plug in the iron, and get to work. The simple task of standing there, removing wrinkles from clothing, never fails to make me feel better by the time I am finished. Because I focus on what I am doing, I don't often look out the window, but I do take time between items to enjoy the view. The light, especially late in the day, just soothes my soul that much more. Everyone knows that if I'm really upset and I retreat to my room on a day after we've done laundry, it's because I'm ironing and they better not bother me. My daughter has taken to calling it "therapeutic ironing", and I think it's a perfectly fitting term.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Finding My Way Back... 20 Things I Love About Fall

1. Cozy Sweaters.
2. Lazy Sunday afternoons.
3. The crunch of leaves under your feet.
4. The return of soup to the dinner menu.
5. The way the light turns warm as it filters through the changing leaves.
6. Mugs of steaming tea that warm cold hands.
7. Popcorn and movies under a quilt.
8. Wool socks.
9. The band marching in the Fireman's Parade in early October.
10. Pumpkin anything: bread, muffins, cookies, granola.
11. Flannel sheets on the bed, and Flannel Pajamas on me.
12. Comfort Food: Pot Roast, Baked Pastas, Meatloaf, Pork Tenderloin, Roast Chicken.
13. Snuggling under a blanket that has just come out of the dryer.
14. Thanksgiving; my favorite holiday. We should give thanks every day.
15. Cool, refreshing air when I run.
16. The brilliant colors of Mother Nature.
17. Putting the house back in order.
18. Brown, Red, Green, Orange: some of my favorite colors.
19. The smell of 'fall' that is in the air.
20. Watching leaves tumble off the trees, geese fly south for the winter, and gorgeous golden sunsets.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Finding My Way Back....Food

Apples. Ancient Grains crackers. Big bowls of oatmeal for breakfast loaded with fruit, brown sugar, cinnamon and half and half. Popcorn. Rice cakes with peanut butter. Pears. Tortilla  chips, plain or with salsa, cheese and sour cream. Grapes. Vanilla Bean ice cream. Extra helpings of dinner. Beer several times a week.

Normally, I eat sensibility and keep my portions in control. Lately, I feel like no matter what I eat, or how much, I'm always starving. I almost feel like the more I eat, the hungrier I am. So I've been giving into my cravings. The thing is, I haven't been moving as much as usual either, so I feel pretty weighed down and sluggish on top of it all. I decided that today I was going to let myself have one more day of lousy eating, and then I'm getting myself back on track. I'm tired of feeling like crap, and I don't think this lousy eating pattern is helping any. 

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Finding My Way Back... Letting Go of Perfect

 The thing that is really hard and really amazing is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.    – Anna Quindlen

I am not a perfectionist. I do not sent unrealistic expectations for myself, and then get depressed when I can not or do not meet them. I do however have OCD tendencies. The difference from having OCD, and from having tendencies, is that a person with OCD is ruled by their disease. I walk by a couch and have to straighten the pillows every single time because I have a heightened need for order and for things to be straight and WANT them to be. I am also a rational and logical person. Someone with true OCD would have to fix the pillows over and over because they could not live with them crooked. They are irrational and illogical and it's a NEED for them, instead of a want. Obviously this is a completely simplified comparison, and not intended to insult anyone suffering from true OCD in any manner.

Having said all that, sometimes I drive my family crazy. They don't understand why the towels have to be folded a certain way, or why I bother to refold them if they aren't. They don't think it's worth the extra effort to fold the blankets so that they fit into the crate, and roll their eyes when I pull them out to fold them the 'right way'. They wonder why I fix the couch up every morning when people are just going to sit on it again and muss it all up. They can't see the point in making your bed every morning if you are just going to get back into it. When I ask them if they have done their chores, they ask me "to your standards?". I don't do it to drive them crazy, it's just a part of who I am.

Lately, however, I have been trying to make an effort to keep it contained to just me. If it's something they have done, such as folding the towels wrong (they won't fit in the cabinet if they get folded wrong), instead of saying something about it, I just fix it myself and move on. If they've done a lousy job vacuuming or sweeping or fill in whatever it is here, instead of calling them out on it, I'm working on just letting it go. I don't want their memories of growing up with me to be of a nagging, slightly crazy mom. Although, partly I think it might be a little too late already.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Finding My Way Back... Photographs

Much like the posts that don't appear on my blog when things are dark and terrible in my life, you can tell when things are out of sorts by the amount of photos that get taken. I opened my 2o12 photo folder, and was saddened to find that there aren't a whole lot of photos documenting this past year. In fact, I believe it might be the least amount of photos I have taken in ANY year. Just looking at the folder makes me sad, especially considering that my son is turning 18 this year, and is going to be leaving next summer to go off to the hall of higher academia. Where at the photos of the time we have spent together while he has been here with us? What about the every day things we have done. A lot of events that happened earlier in the year, I chose not to attend, and The Boy™ isn't a photo-fanatic like I am.

I am  working on making the situation better, and have started to snap more every day photos. Next year I plan on participating in another Project 365, and I think I'll do a monthly recap of my photos here on the old blog. I like to browse through some other blogs that do monthly recaps, especially if they put in a little blurb about what was significant about that photo. This afternoon, after I got home from a rather long day at school, I was sitting here thinking about what I wanted to write about, when I noticed the light outside through the trees was just gorgeous. There is something about the late day sunshine and the color of the fall leaves that just speaks to my soul. On top of that, it has rained every single day since last Friday, and today was the first day the sun was out. Not only did it look like fall, it smelled like fall as well. I grabbed my phone, and headed outside to snap some photos before the light shifted and I missed my opportunity. I think my phone might be the key to more impromptu photos.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Finding My Way Back... Unsubscribing

The amount of email that I get in a day is astounding. I have started to pay attention, and have noticed that I seem to get daily emails from the same places. I can't understand why these places need to send out emails every single day. The sad part, is that in all of those emails, very few are from actual people that I want to reply to. Some are daily devotional mails that I have subscribed to. Some are from blogs that I follow. Some are spam. Most are from websites I have purchased items from, wanting me to come back and spend more money. Who has time for all of that?

Yesterday, I started unsubscribing to emails that I no longer want to receive in my box. It's a pretty safe bet, that if I want to go and shop from a website, I don't need an email from them to do so. A few of them I will keep, as they contain discount codes to online sites of stores I shop at regularly, but overall, it's been a click-here kind of party going on over in my in box. Who needs to be bogged down with all of that mail? Who has the time to go through it all, to either read it, or delete it? Not to mention the fact that if I download it on my phone, I have to delete it off of there as well. Not me. I'm sure, not you either.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Finding My Way Back.. Early Morning

"Improve your spare moments and they will become the brightest gems in your life."  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

When the new year started, I decided that I was going to change my morning routine a little bit. I was going to start having my breakfast at the dining room table, and do some morning devotions and Bible readings. Get the day off to a quiet, and purposeful start. I mentioned yesterday, that from the time I get up, until the time I like to go running, I have about an hour. I can usually squeeze in unloading the dishwasher, making my breakfast, eating, devotions, and some email (which really, I should just axe out of my morning routine but sometimes it's important) before that magic 6am hour. I started out really good, and stayed pretty strong with it right through until the late spring. Mostly because I wasn't running. In May, I started running again, and even then it still worked out OK. Then summer came, and I got into the bad habit of eating in front of my computer again, and my morning devotions fell to the wayside. Then school started, and my marriage seemed to be falling apart right before my eyes, and I lost the running and then the whole rest of my morning routine went with it.

Being the first one up out of bed, I usually just get up, shut my alarm off and leave. Lately, however, The Boy™ has gotten it into his head, that he would like to get up earlier and spend some time with me in the morning. The funniest part of this, is that he is not a morning person. He likes to THINK that he wants to get up earlier, but it really doesn't happen. However, his alarm goes off at the same time mine does, and then again 15 minutes later. For the past week and a half-ish, since returning back upstairs, I have let my getting up at 5am habit fall to the wayside. I've allowed myself to get back into bed, as he is shutting off his alarm, which is a minute slower than mine, and then crawl into his arms and be held until I decide to get up, as he drifts back off to sleep. Some mornings, especially early on after my return, he stayed awake and we had some really good conversations. I'm spoken before about how I like to 'hide' behind the darkness sometimes when I have to get the hurt out. Mostly, however, I've just lay there, awake, or half-dozing, and allowed myself to feel his arms holding me close to his heart. To listen to his heart beating, or him breathing, or even snoring. To lay there, and feel safe, happy and content to not get up and let the rest of my morning be a harried mess of rushing around. It was what I have needed for the past twelve days or so, and it has renewed me in a way I didn't expect. Today, as I lay there, I realized that it was going to be my last day, aside from the once in a while lazy weekend morning or snow day. I didn't feel that pressing need to just stay there, safely wrapped in his arms anymore. I feel like that is a good thing, and tomorrow I'm getting back into my routine.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Finding My Way Back.. Running

"Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there."   – Will Rogers

Several years ago, after I started running, I decided that I really didn't  enjoy running at the end of a long work day. Often times I was tired, and headachey, and all I wanted to go when I got home was settle in with a hot cup of tea and relax for a bit. On top of that, there were chores that needed doing, and dinner that needed cooking and my family needed me to spend time with them. It seemed a little selfish of me to just come home, change into my running gear and head out the door without any regards to what anyone else needed at the time. Plus, I found that if I walked in the door, even if I changed, I often got derailed by phone calls, or people needing help with homework, or reminders about evening events that needed attending which meant dinner needed to be made and lo and behold I was the only one home to do so. Or, I would leave a warm school, walk home in the cold/wet/chilly/yucky weather, to my nice warm house, and not want to leave again to go out and run in the aforementioned conditions.

I realized if I went to bed earlier, which wasn't all the hard because at the end of the day I am dog tired, I could get up earlier and run before work. If I woke up at 5am, I had enough time to unload the dishwasher, have breakfast, check email etc, and head out the door at 6am, to be back and stretched and ready to head into the shower at 7am. For most of the year, it's a grand plan. Once it gets dark and cold in the morning, it's a little bit rougher to convince myself that I want to be out there doing anything. I need to decide again, between dark and cold, or tired at the end of the day and making the commitment to push through and hit the road no matter what. Recently I have discovered that if I bring my running gear to school, and change before I walk out the door, I really  have no excuse not to run. The thing I need to decide about now, is do I leave for my run from school, and have to walk back in, get my stuff and then head home, or walk home and drop my stuff off, and then just head off and run from there? Either way, I think the key is to change in the building, and then leave. If I already have my running clothes on, I really have no excuse not to run. I've read that the hardest part of running is getting out the door. I am here to tell you that statement is 100% correct, and I am living proof of it. I spent years so eager to get my shoes on and go, and for some reason, this past year I have struggled and struggled just to get out the door. It's not because I don't enjoy running anymore, because I really do love it, it's just that life has been kicking me hard, and I've let it drag me to a place where I've lost a bit of myself. It's time to find my way back.

Monday, October 01, 2012

31 Days To Finding My Way Back...

There is something so rewarding about flipping over the page of a calendar. No matter what kind of craziness awaits you in the new month, or how many days have appointments scrawled on them, or how many meetings have been scheduled, the new month brings with it hope and possibility. The chance to leave all the junk of the old month behind, and start over. If there ever was a month that needed leaving behind, it was last month. The best thing that came out of September, happened at 2:09am yesterday, when my beautiful sister-in-law Holly gave birth to my newest little niece, who is the 3rd cutest baby that has ever existed since my two graced this earth. Saving that, September can pack itself up and take a long walk off of a short pier, never to be seen again.

When your life feels like it is falling apart around you, and you are only getting 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night, everything kind of goes to hell along with it. The one thing that I was able to keep together during September, was my household chores. I attributed that to the fact that I was wide awake at 3am, with little else to do. Sometimes I would read. Sometimes I surfed the internet. Sometimes I cleaned. I thought about knitting, or working on a blanket for my niece who was due in early October, but I felt like if you could channel love and prayers into prayer shawls for people, it probably worked in reverse, and I didn't want all that negative energy going into anything that I was crafting. I didn't have the energy to run, although I knew that if I could manage it, I would feel a thousand times better being able to pound out all that stress on the pavement. Because I was waking up at 2 or 3am, my morning routine fell apart. Because I was exhausted by the time I got home from school, afternoons were difficult.

They used to say it takes 20 days to get into a new habit. I recently read that it's more like 60-70 for a good habit, 20 for a bad one. I'm inclined to believe that, because it's so easy to get into a bad routine, and it takes a little more work to get into a good one. I realized today, that I've fallen into a bit of a rut, all the way around, and it's time to break out of it. Get back into the swing of things, and get myself back on the right track again. I'd like to head into the winter with a strong system already in place so I can face those doldrums head on. Change is in the wind, and I'm hopeful that it's all for the better.

Monday, September 24, 2012

In the Midst of All That is Broken...

I stood there, at her kitchen window, watching ducks feed in the pond next to her house, and I cried. Not the kind of tears that leak out of your eyes in church when a hymn that speaks to your heart is sang, or the kind that sneak out when a sad moment in a movie gets the best of you. The kind of tears that come from the very depth of your soul. The ones that have you sobbing so loud you think that you might never stop crying. The ones that leave your eyes puffy and red, and your chest painful from heaving. The kind of crying that comes from a heart so broken, it feels like it might never be whole again. I stood there, alone in the kitchen, and let the pain pour out of me like water from the faucet I was in front of.

After half a month of heartache, with only a few good days sprinkled in, it was more than I could contain anymore. In the walls of my own home, I had to be brave. I had to keep it together for them. Some days I cried in the quiet corners of the school, when I had an extra few minutes and it was all too much to handle, but I'd gotten good at holding it together. On that day, after mass was over, and lunch was had, I threw a few things into a bag, and I left. She was away on vacation and her house is always open to me. She is the kind of friend who, when you txt to let her know you are going to be there, sends you the information on where the wireless access code is and hopes you are OK. As I stood in the quiet safety of her kitchen, glad that she was away so that I didn't have to explain anything to anyone, I let myself fall apart. All the pain and heartbreak that was bottling up inside came pouring out like a fine champagne that has been uncorked.

I returned that day in time for dinner, like I had told him I would. He told me later on that he didn't think I was coming back. We didn't speak much for the next five days, aside from information that needed to be exchanged or snappy side comments that were really unnecessary. He was truly awful, and for the first time in a long time, I wondered if we were going to survive through this. For the second time this month, I left my bedroom and slept on an air mattress in my craft room. The first time was for ten days. This time, it was 5. All of this by the 21st of the month. I was feeling broken and defeated with each day that passed. Each night found me crying myself to sleep, sad and lonely, but unable to reach out and tell him. Each day, I awoke, wanting this to end. Wanting to say something that would start the healing process, and bring us back together. He, however, was "hell bent on being an asshole," as he later told me.

Thursday came, and his footsteps going to bed woke me from my sleep. I listened to him, as he walked across our bedroom, turning down the bed, and getting his clothes ready for the next day. My heart ached as I longed to be there, missing his arms around me, and the comfort of his presence. I sent him a message on his iPad, that simply read, "I miss you," not sure if he would get it then, or the next day. I sobbed again that night, as I had in front of the kitchen window, long after everyone else in the house was asleep. I wondered if perhaps all these months were for nothing, and if we really weren't going to make it. I had told him earlier in the month that I wasn't planning on leaving. If not for him, as I was mad that day, than for the kids. I started to wonder how two people could live in the same house, miserable and unhappy and not have it effect their kids. I fell asleep crying and defeated.

Friday afternoon, after a long week of not sleeping well, and mental exhaustion, I crawled into my make-shift bed after school with a book I am reading called "Broken into Beautiful", and promptly fell asleep. Some time later, I awoke to feel him lying there next to me, his arms around me, and his head resting against mine. To make a long conversation short,  he was there to say he was sorry. To try and make amends for how awful he had treated me all week and to ask for my forgiveness. As I lie there, listening, asking, and crying, I felt the quiet voice of God telling me to let it go. To not lash back in anger, or hurt, and to just listen, ask the questions that needed to be asked, share the things that needed to be shared, and then to forgive him. So I did.

We've had a few more heart felt conversations since then. Mostly in the dark, as we are getting ready to sleep, because it's safer. I wear my emotions like a banner for the whole world to see, and under the cover of darkness, I can talk, and listen, and he doesn't have to be hurt more by how much he has hurt me. I don't know where we go from here, as I feel like every time we move forward, we take a few giant steps back... but I do know that I still feel, way down in my heart, that when this is all said and done, we will be better for it. That our marriage will be stronger, and our relationship will be in a whole new, and better place. I know that sounds crazy, but I can feel it happening. I can see things changing a little bit more each time we have one of those crazy hard spells. I keep praying that we are strong enough to get through to  the rainbow on the other side of the storm.