Monday, July 09, 2012

Be Beth..

I AM...struggling to get so many areas of my life back on track. It's a slow process, but I feel like I am starting to make some progress. The tunnel has been dark, but I know there is a light at the end, and I am starting to see it flicker.

I get back to how I felt when I wrote this post back in January of 2011. I had just come back from a 3 day retreat and for the first time in a long time, I felt calm and centered. Things have been such a mess for such a long time now, but I can still remember how I felt then, and it was awesome.

I drinking water. Doing something else other than this. Working on getting my schedule back on track. Painting in The Boy's™ radio room. Weeding. Working on using my free time better. Spending some time in prayer. Writing to my mom. Baking some granola.

I WISH...that I had a magic wand I could wave and make things better. That I had better control over my tongue and words didn't just come out before I could think about what it was that I was saying and what my tone of voice sounded like. That people didn't have to be sick with diseases that couldn't be cured.

I HATE...feeling like a failure, especially when it comes to my kids. Having teenagers is hard. I hope they both know how much I love them.

I FEAR...that I might lose my family in a tragic manner and be left alone.

I SEARCH...for the answers that lie inside of me, to the questions that I am afraid to ask out loud.

I WONDER...if I am doing what I am supposed to be doing with my life. If this is what God wants for me, or if he has something else in mind, and I'm just missing it.

I REGRET...not asking to hear the stories of my family before it was too late.

I HEAR...the unspoken words in the silence. The questions in the long stares. The pain hidden behind the anger. The love that is expressed through actions and not words.

I LOVE...with all that I have, in the best way that I know how, and pray that it is enough.

I AM NOT...perfect. Beautiful. Good at keeping my mouth shut. Knowing when to stop. Finished yet.

I the shower. In the car. In the grocery store. In the blueberry fields all summer long. Whenever I get a chance, I sing. I change the words to songs to suit the situation we are in, and then I sing to the kids at school to make them laugh. 

I CRY...because sometimes it's all just too much.

I NEED...more than I am able to ask for. To love myself more. To let go.

I HAVE...the strength to keep going.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Our First Gluten Free (sort-of) Cookout

As the only parents in our families for a long time, we had to decide what year was "old enough" to stop having family birthday parties for the kids. We chose 12 as the last year that we would host them at our house. After that, the kids could each decide how they wanted to celebrate their birthday. We see lots of each of our families around the same time as Mr. Man's birthday in late December, but summer is kind of a lul, and The Boy™ was lamenting that he missed having our summer birthday party because he, unlike myself, likes large social gatherings. So a few years back I put on my big girl pants and started hosting an annual 4th of July cookout. It's kind of a handy thing, because we have also used it in combination with two middle school graduations. This year, in replacement of a "4th of July cookout", we held it in honor of The Boy™ turning 40. I still decorated for the 4th, because he is all into patriotism and red white and blue, so it essentially was our usual cookout, with birthday cake. Being the hostess, and insanely busy that day, would you believe that I didn't take one single photo? I didn't. If you want a general idea of the decor, you can go look at last years post here.

It was a nice day, the weather was gorgeous, we had a good turn out, and this year I bought a kiddie pool and my nieces had a grand time playing in the water. It was also the first time we've had a food event at my house, that wasn't just our little family since I had to go gluten free last summer (Uncle Christmas got relocated to my brothers for my Grandfather, remember?). To say that I was stressing out about this would be a gross understatement. My biggest concern was that it would rain and we'd have to have everyone with their crumb-producing rolls inside the house. Aside from that, I originally was stressing out about keeping me safe. Because even though I was going to make safe side dishes, once the food goes out on the tables, people hold their plates over them, and then all bets are off. So I came up with the idea that I would not put out all the food. We always have left overs, and it was going to be 90 degrees. So I saved the leftovers ahead of time (well, I saved a portion of them, we tossed a lot more food then I would have liked), and I served myself from the bowls in the house before putting the food out on the tables in the yard. I knew that once the food went out, I wasn't having any more from out there. My SIL made a wonderful fruit salad that we talked about how to prepare safely, my BFF brought the fixings for salad and made it in my kitchen, and everyone else who brought things did chips, soda, or rolls. It was a learning experience about how people perceive gluten free food however. I made the same pasta salad that I make every year, that everyone loves, just with gluten free pasta, and it barely got touched. Ms. Thang, The Boy™ and I talked about it after. She thought maybe it was because it was "too dry", and he thought maybe there was too much other food. I pointed out that the big bowl of fruit salad was almost empty, as was the potato salad, and that no one would know that the pasta salad was "too dry" (it wasn't) because they didn't take any. So my huge bowl of pasta salad that sat out for too many hours in the heat got tossed away, because no one wanted to try it with "gluten free" pasta, which is too bad, because it's pretty damn good. Next year, I'll just ask someone else to bring pasta salad and I will go without. I'm not wasting good pasta on them if no one is going to eat it. We bought a cake from the bakery, and I made g.f., allergy safe cupcakes for Ms. Thang and I, that I have made a few times now this year (and are amazing!), and we had them, along with C.(who has had them with us and knew they were amazing), and her niece (who is eating gluten free right now for reasons none of us can figure out but she's being persistent with it so they are supporting her)  in the kitchen after everyone had cake out in the yard. After all was said and done, all the leftover food from the cookout went into the trash, my kitchen stayed uncontaminated, and the day was a huge success.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

In Which We Find.. Summer

fireworks at Magic Kingdom, March 2012
If I had to pick my favorite month of the year, I would have a hard time. So many different months would be in the running for that title for a variety of different reasons. I could devote an entire post to October, and the way the light changes, how the air crisps up after a summer of heat and humidity, how I love the way the leaves crunch under my feet as I walk to and from school, and then there's the joy of being able to wear my sweaters again. If you asked me to pick my favorite month of SUMMER, however, I'd tell you July in an instant. When you work in education, July is the only month that doesn't have school attached to it. June is mostly full of school, especially if you have missed days to make up at the end, and August has a few days of school at the end of it, and the knowing that you will be going back when the month is over. But July... July is a whole calender page of squares, that when turned, are void of any mention of school. The month that is the epitome of summer vacation. July is a blank page full of hope and promise. Even despite my summer job starting in July (I actually started back this past Friday, because I'm a softy and couldn't say no when I heard they needed my help), July is the least busy of the summer months at our house this year. Actually, the same could be said about most years if I think hard about it. Mother Nature even got in the spirit of things and has given us glorious summer like temperatures to go along with what I consider the official start of summer (it's cold and rainy in June, who calls that summer?).

In the spirit of it all, I have come up with a list of things I'd like to do this summer.
The past few summers have been crazy with work and obligations, and while those things are necessary, I think it's important to plan in some fun. After all, isn't that what summer vacation is for? Here's what I have come up with so far: