Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Spread the Happy


It's been way too long, and I need to focus on some positive schtuff, so I'm thinking I need to get in the habit of doing these kinds of posts more regularly again.

Here's the latest happy news from our FireHouse:

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Chief is getting bigger and since the weather has been warm is now outside most of the time.

He's proving to be a good fit with our family, and I think eventually he'll be a good working partner for Buddy.

Also - never having a puppy before, I don't know how much longer they continue to grow at this rate, but... I'm starting to wonder if he'll be bigger than Buddy. At 12 weeks he reaches halfway up Buddy's shoulder.

I like big dogs.

********************

Our chickens laid their first eggs!

The eggs are still very small, and we're only getting about one day total (from all 15 chickens), so definitely not into full egg production yet, but... we got our first egg!

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Jena was so excited to take our first two eggs to preschool for show-n-share. She did great!

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Jason & I started attending a new small group at church. The study is currently on the Holy Spirit. I'm really enjoying the study, but I really like the group of people. Closer in our age than any small group we've attended before, plus many of them have children close to Jena's age so she has a blast as well.

It's the first time I've ever thought (hoped?) that I might make some strong connections with others in our church.

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Jason has a new job prospect (for his 2nd job). If it works out it he will quit his business and just work for them. Same sort of work, but (hopefully) less stress, plus a much more stead paycheck than running his own business. Keep him in your prayers!

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Rearranged Jena's bedroom yesterday. I really like the new setup. And I'm trying some new ideas for organizing her toys, so (hopefully) it will be easier for her (and me!) to keep tidy.

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I suppose that's all for now. Thanks for checking in! And don't forget to Spread the Happy!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

One Word

Yeah, I know this is a few months overdue, but when everyone was declaring their words for 2012, well... I had nothing.

A quarter of the way into it, I think I've got it.

I think my word for 2011 is:

repair

2011 was definitely a year of rebuilding and repairing for me. Not finished yet (are we ever?), but it was definitely a year of work, a year of fixing, and the beginning of healing for me. And hopefully not the end.

Which leads me to my word for 2012:

hope

2012 has already had its share of personal struggles, but truth-be-told, nowhere near the size of the battles fought previously. And so, I have hope. Hope for continued repair & healing, hope for bigger & better things to come, hope for brighter horizons. Yes, hope is definitely my word for this year.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Saw the pulmonologist

Was finally able to see the pulmonologist for my cough.

He's thinking asthma or allergies, but leaning toward asthma.

Was shocked that in thirty-... ahem, so many years no one had ever ordered a breathing test or allergy test.

Nope.

Never had either. Not even as a child.

He did a baseline breathing test in the office, to:
    a) make sure I was breathing okay enough to proceed with more testing, and
    b) get a baseline for more testing

I tested at the 110th percentile.

I think playing a wind instrument for 20 years, and then taking up scuba diving probably does that to ya    :)

Next step is a chest x-ray  for the asthma, and to check for any permanent damage done by not being treated for so many years. He said the fact that my breathing test was so good is a good sign, but doesn't necessarily mean there isn't damage to my lung tissue from three decades of this being untreated.

At the same time we'll be drawing blood for allergy testing.

He seems very thorough, explained everything well, and had a great bedside manner. Plus, ends up he knows my endocrinologist from med school and they're buddies! (he saw in my record).

I asked him about FireGirl having the same thing, and he said since they don't see children there, once we had a diagnosis, I should talk to her pediatrician about getting her tested for the same thing. Unfortunately, to the best of his knowledge, the only pediatric pulmonologists in the area are at the children's hospital. Don't get me wrong, it's a great hospital, it's just... a hospital, you know? And about 40 minutes away.

Oh well. If I can save her 30 years of suffering like I've experienced, we'll do it all.

I'll keep you posted.

Thanks for checking in.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I got out of bed of my own accord. It's a good day.

Another of my favorite lessons from the derm office would occur when I would ask any one of a number of our elderly patients how they were doing.

The responses would vary, but had the same message:

"Well, I woke up this morning, so I guess it's a good day."

"I was able to get out of bed by myself today, so it's a good day."

"Well, the good Lord saw fit to let me wake up this mornin', so I guess I'm having a good day."

Over and over again, I heard the same sentiment from these people, grateful to simply have one more day upon this earth, acutely aware of their age and the soonness of their impending death.

It's a lesson we all need to remember from time to time, isn't it?

Monday, February 20, 2012

You have a beautiful nose

Many, many moons ago I worked in a dermatology office.

A very busy dermatology office. While we saw patients of all ages (infant to elder) with all kinds of skin conditions (pimple to melanoma), the majority of our patients were older, and were being seen for skin cancer.

I learned a lot from my days in that office. I learned a lot from our patients. And next to the great co-workers that I had there, I miss the patients the most.

One day, an older woman was leaving the office. Just before she walked thru the door, she turned back to me and said "You have a beautiful nose"

She then went on to say that I probably didn't think so, as it's rather large (it is), but it is quite beautiful, and there might come a day when I didn't have my nose anymore, and then I'd realize how beautiful it really was.

And then she told me her story. She had been overweight her entire life, and always hated her stomach. But recently cancer (I'm unsure what kind) had left her with significant weight loss, and a stomach of loose, wrinkled skin. She lifted her shirt to show me.

Now she laments all the time she spent wishing her large stomach would go away, she wished she would have appreciated her belly for as beautiful as it was when she had it, because she hated the way she looked now.

That was over 10 years ago, but I still see her face, still hear her words. Her story has never left me, nor has the lesson (although sometimes I need reminding).

And so, dear blog readers, I tell each of you:

You have a most beautiful nose!

*****************************************

the story is all mine, but the idea to write it down & be appreciative was inspired by this post

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Four Days at Preschool

That's right. As of last week, FireGirl now goes to preschool four days a week.

I don't know if you remember, but way-back-when I agonized over even sending FireGirl to a traditional preschool (as opposed to an in-home setting).

We started out by sending her three days a week (Mon thru Wed), and it was clear for the first few months that three days pushed her limits. By Wednesday she was fighting me more in the mornings, and clearly stressed & tired when I picked her up at the end of the day. It was a bit much for her.

Three was a good choice back then. It pushed her limits, without overwhelming her. She stretched, she grew.

She got comfortable. She started acting out.

When she moved up to her new class (the one she's in now), it became clear. She had been bored.

She has thrived in this new class, is so much happier, and while she still fights me leaving the house every morning, she is now just as likely to not want to leave preschool when I pick her up.

Just yesterday she declared "I don't want go home! I want do more work!"

LOL. If only she knew how many years of school & work she had ahead of her!

So it didn't take FireMan & I long to toy with the idea of sending her to school four days a week. We had always planned to, when she got closer to four years old. But since she was doing so well, we decided to approach the idea now.

Our current arrangement is:
    Mon thru Wed - preschool
    Thu - my parents watch her
    Fri - babysitter

New arrangement will be:
    Mon thru Thu - preschool
    Fri - my parents

We started by asking my parents, and it ended up they were thinking of asking us if our babysitter would trade days with them anyway, because they'd rather have Fridays.

Then we talked to the school. Not only did they have openings, ends up adding a day will cost us less than our current babysitter. We'll save money by sending her an extra day!

Okay, not a lot. Pennies really. But still. That was an unexpected surprise.

And as a bonus, our babysitter has agreed to stay on as our backup on any day.

** side note - After what happened to us when my parents watched her four days a week, I highly recommend that everyone have a backup daycare lined up for their child, no matter what.
Honestly, if my employer hadn't been so understanding, I could have easily lost my job for the time I took to stay home with FireGirl while we scrambled to find child care. And it was really only a day here & there as we accepted a patchwork of help from friends, family, & acquaintances. But still. Add the stress on her from being bounced from place to place day after day... get a backup.
Besides, even our daycare facility has had rare occurrences where they had to shut down due to power outages, storm damage, etc. Even if you use a facility, get a backup.


We talked about it again, and decided we wanted to set the timing for February, so that any stress from the holidays, change of schedule from the holidays, etc. should be gone by the time we make this change to FireGirl's weekly routine.

All systems were go!

We've been mentioning it to her for weeks, but really talked it up all that week to prepare her. I asked her what she thought they might do on Thursdays at her school, and she got all excited. Then her eyes lit up.

"I think the truck comes!"
"What truck?", I ask thinking maybe she's thinking of the library van that comes once a month
"The milk truck!"
"It does?!?"
"Yep"
"Well okay!"

I have no idea why she's excited about the milk truck coming, or why she thinks it comes on Thursdays, but it made her awfully happy & excited to go to school, so... I'll take it!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Parenting Advice from FireWife

Okay, here's the thing, if  you've read my blog for long at all, you know that I do not have all the answers.

But I have figured out a few things, at least things that worked for our family.

And I realized the other day, that on the off-chance that we ever do have another kid, I want to remember them.

But I don't really have anywhere to write them down.

So, guess what? This is a blog post to my possibly future self. I'm just letting you read it too.

Feel free to leave comments with your own advice. I'm sure I'll be updating this post as I remember additional tidbits / discover new things.

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Pregnancy:

Pray for your unborn child.
I'm convinced FireGirl likes veggies because while I was pregnant I prayed that she would like all the healthy stuff that I didn't.


Try not to gain more than 50 lbs.
Screw the tables the AMA comes up with, but keeps changing.
Knowing your family history, and how much you gained with FireGirl, 50 lbs is a reasonable target (for max).


Follow your gut.
You're an awesome mom already. You know what to do. Do it.

Eat more fruits & veggies.
It's just good for you. And the baby.


Labor & Delivery:

It will not go as planned.

If you're comfortable doing so, allow others in the room this time.

You may need the support. So may FireMan.


Plan on taking at least 12 weeks off (max allowable by FMLA).

Remember last time? 'nuff said.


Infancy:


Pray for your child.

If it's another girl, check her labia frequently.

Labial adhesions are a b****.

Follow your gut.
You're an awesome mom. You know what to do. Do it.

If you want to breastfeed, go for it.
If you're struggling, try to pump. Some breastmilk is better than none. Screw the lactation consultants. Pump & know how much you're getting.
If you feel like you need to stop BFing and / or pumping, do it. There is no shame.


Trust FireMan when it comes to carseats.

Chances are your kid will be much larger than average, and he is the trained professional.

Deep breath, calm down.


Toddlerhood:

Pray for your child.

Every kid walks & talks at their own pace.

Stop freaking out.

Trust your gut.
You're an awesome mom. You know what to do. Do it.

Don't let them in the front seat of the car unattended. Even for a minute. Even in the driveway.
They think CD players look like great places for the pennies in the change holder, remember?

Trust FireMan when it comes to carseats.
Chances are your child will be larger than average.
It will look scary to check your rearview mirror and see your baby in the big kid seat.
But with FireGirl you checked & rechecked the safety stats, and it really was safer considering her size, remember?



Preschool-Age:

Pray for your child.

Trust your gut.
You're an awesome mom. You know what to do. Do it.

Enroll them in preschool if finances allow.
Challenging them intellectually is good.
Let them go at their own pace (montessori is preferred)


Make holidays a BIG DEAL. Even little ones.
It's worth it just to see their faces.

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* remember, this is a post to myself. I'm sharing it with you, but if you disagree because something didn't / doesn't / you don't think it will work for you or your family, then fine. No need to argue with me, because I accept the fact that what works for one family will not necessarily work for another.*

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

And there goes my back...

About two weeks ago, I was up in the middle of the night (like normal), and when I laid back down I felt a "pop" in my lower back.

Since then, then numbness & tingling in my legs as returned with greater frequency and duration.

Then two days ago, I woke up in the morning, stretched, and... felt like someone took a vice grip on my tailbone. Owie.

So now I'm all walking funny, trying only to wear flat shoes (the only flat "winter" shoes I have that are okay for work are my steel toes - limits my wardrobe selections), and trying to take it easy while still getting work done.

Just reiterates for me the fact that this is, surely, a lifetime injury.

Ugh.

Thanks for checking in!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

God Speaks

Sometimes God speaks to us during prayer.

Sometimes God speaks thru the Bible.

Sometimes God speaks thru friends.

Sometimes God speaks thru NetFlix.

Sometimes God speaks thru comments left on blog posts.

Sometimes God speaks thru others' blog posts.

Sometimes God speaks to us, even when we don't know what to say to Him anymore.

Sometimes God finds a way to reach out to us, when we don't have the strength to reach out for Him.

Sometimes it is not prayer, or the Bible, or church that ends up rebuilding our faith. Sometimes it is movies, blogs, and the kindness of virtual strangers.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Girl and Her Dog

FireGirl w/ Chief the day that we got him

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tools (or on my OCD tendencies)

First of all, let me be clear that I have never been diagnosed with OCD, nor am I really sure that the tendencies that I have would even be classified as OCD, but that's what I call them, and that's what I've been told by others, so until I get another explanation, there ya go.

I've always enjoyed a good list. To do lists are my forte. At work, I'm known for "the list". At home, I have a chore list, a grocery list, a meal planning calendar, a daycare planning calendar, expense tracking worksheets, and even gift giving lists. All tracked on Excel.

Oh, how I love Microsoft Excel.

They all started innocently enough. Other than the To Do List (which I've used since I was way younger than anyone should use To Do Lists), they all came about after FireGirl was born, as tools to help me manage what seemed like an overwhelming amount of responsibility.

I love a list. I believe lists can be invaluable tools.

And I've been thinking a lot about tools lately.

You see, a few months ago, on a Friday, I had brought my chore list to work for some reason. When I left that evening, I accidentally left it on my desk. I remembered just as I pulled in the driveway.

And nearly had an anxiety attack.

I mean, how would I know what chores to do if I don't have my list?!? How will I know what needs to be done?!?

My list, it's organized by regular chores & special one-time chores. It's a matrix in order by date-last-completed, so I know exactly how long it's been since I've done what. I check them off as I go. It tells me what to do next.

And here I was, on a weekend where FireMan wasn't gonna be home, and I would have all kinds of time to get housework done, and I didn't have my list.

I can't explain to you the kind of panic that set in. I can also tell you that I knew exactly how crazy that sounded. But it didn't change anything. I was completely hobbled without that list. I think I did manage to put one load of laundry in that Friday night, and Saturday morning I took FireGirl and drove to my office to get the List.

And yes, I knew exactly how crazy that was. But it didn't change the fact that I needed that list.

And I've been thinking about tools ever since.

Okay, not like constantly ever since, but... you get the idea.

And then, a few weeks ago... I did a load of laundry, and didn't check it off on the list. And unlike my usual remember-within-a few-minutes-and-run-to-the-kitchen-to-mark-it-off, I didn't even remember until the next morning.

I can't tell you how big that moment was, when I realized that I wasn't having anxiety over not recording the fact that I did a load of laundry.

Yes, I know exactly how crazy that sounds.

I never did check that load of laundry off.

I did check off the next load. And the next. And various other chores.

But it was different. I felt different.

I felt... like I was on the edge of something big. I was either going to have a breakthrough, or a breakdown. And in those moments, it felt like it could go either way.

Next thing I know, we needed groceries. But I didn't have time to get my grocery list together. You know, put it together in Excel, in order by aisle, look thru my paper coupons & mark the list accordingly, look for online coupons & mark the list accordingly, check the flier for discounts & mark the list accordingly... it takes time, and I hadn't had time to do it yet. But we needed food.

So I went grocery shopping.

Without a grocery list.

Without one single coupon.

Without knowing what was on sale.

There was something liberating about that trip to Kroger.

Like, really, actually freeing.

I felt free.

I was lucky enough to be by myself, and I dawdled in each aisle, perusing items & prices for what my family would want versus what was reasonably priced. It was probably the least draining shopping trip I've ever had. I dare say I felt energized leaving that store.

And I haven't marked a single chore off my chore list ever since.

Now, granted, there are times when I worry that I've missed a chore, when our house is a mess and I think "maybe I really did need that list".

And then I remember that our house was a mess before, and maybe it's a teeny tiny bit messier than before, but... if so, not by enough to really notice.

I can see when the hamper is full and laundry needs to be done. Or the sink is full and dishes need to be done. Or the garbage is full & needs to be taken out.

Mental note: clean the bathroom.

Why? because it needs it

It's not that I didn't see these things before, it's that I was handicapped by the very tools I created to help me. Or rather I was handicapped by my dependence on these lists.

Example? Sure.

Let's say the living room floor is dirty.

my reaction then: "yuck. The floor is dirty. I need to do laundry so we have clothes to wear, and then if I have time, I can probably do one or two more chores. But I can't sweep the floor until I straighten the living room and pick up toys & things. I'll have to see if anything is higher on the list than "straighten the living room" and "sweep floors"."

my reaction now: "yuck. The floor is dirty. I need to do laundry first so we have clothes to wear, but then I should have time to do one or two more chores. Maybe tonight I'll pick up the living room & sweep the floor."

See the difference? Of course you do.

Tools.

I'm thankful for my lists. I think when I started using them, when I was truly overwhelmed, when I was fighting PPD, when I was struggling with so many issues, I needed them. I needed tools to help me handle the everyday tasks that others take for granted.

Tools are great like that. Tools are meant to be used when one is lacking in the ability to complete the task by themselves.

Think about it. I mean, if you could hammer in a nail with your bare hand... would you ever buy a hammer? Probably not. You need the tool.

But somewhere along the way, my tools became my crutch.

I am better now. I am stronger. I am healed.

I am not perfect. Far, far from it. But I am ready to stop depending on my tools, and start depending on myself.

I am free.

Right now, I am not using any of my lists or calendars for home. None of them. I may reinstate one or more of them in the future (after all, I am a little concerned I'll forget to buy laundry detergent on my next grocery trip), but for now... I'm content to toddle into the world, finding my way again, figuring out how I'm gonna do this, how am I gonna manage these tasks. I'm happy to be in a new phase of home management, redefining how I will manage my home. I will make mistakes along the way, I am sure, but I also feel quite confident that in the end I will be doing a better job than I ever was before.

As always, thanks for checking in.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Nevermind

Remember this post?

Well, nevermind. I mean, it was nice while it lasted, but somewhere along the way FireMan took an exit without telling me it was even on the map, and left me stalled out on the highway, looking around, trying to figure out what happened.

We're no longer travelling together, surely not on the same road.

He appears to be zooming along, on a great road to be sure, but leaving me in the dust as I try to reprogram my GPS while simultaneously calling AAA, because I can't figure out how I went from zooming along with my partner, to stranded, alone, lost, unsure of my next move, and unable to get 'er started.

So... nevermind.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I suppose this is what they call a Faith Crisis

For the first time that I can recall ever in my life, I don't even want to pray.

There have been some things going on, and building up, and after they came to a head I am just at a loss as to what to do.

The fact is, I can't to anything.

I feel fairly certain that no matter what I do, nothing will change.

Which, I'm fairly certain, is the definition of hopelessness.

I know God knows my heart, which is a comfort, but no, I don't even want to pray about it anymore, because it seems like I have prayed a million times to no avail.

For the first time in my life I feel like (regarding this situation) whatever I do doesn't matter at all.

I can bust my butt, work my tail off, do everything I can think of, everything I should do, everything I'm told to do, every good piece of advice that exists, follow the Scriptures, pray my heart out... and nothing will change.

Or I can sit on my butt watching re-runs on NetFlix... and nothing will change.

So, what's the difference? Why keep working, pouring my heart into something, if nothing I do matters at all?

Well, I don't know why. At this point, I really don't.

Methinks NetFlix & I have a date tonight. Might bring the Oreos while I'm at it.
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