Faith · Family · Health · Love · Parenting · Perspective

Long Hiatus

Back to writing. This has been a goal for months. Cue the triumphant music!

Shortly before this long writing hiatus began, my life was increasingly frazzled by anxiety. I’d been battling this for months… basically the majority of 2018. After suffering a couple actual legitimate anxiety attacks while my husband was away on a trip and then (quickly after) chosen to sit on the jury for a brutal murder case, I sought help from my family practitioner. She helped me get chemically back on track with the assurance that with a very small amount of anxiety medication, my already strong coping skills would kick back in.

She was correct. I stopped wanting to run away from my family. The crazy sweating, racing thoughts, and desire to be alone stopped! My coping skills like reading, exercise, washing dishes, etc… were able to climb back to the surface and work their magic.

Good thing those stopped because baseball started for my son in March and ran thru July. Even after 4.5 straight months of baseball, he was disappointed when it was over! I ate more hot dogs in those months than I have in my entire life. We started the season wrapped in blankets wearing gloves and ended it sweating thru tank tops and shorts. Totally worth it!

baseball blog
Pee Wee District Champions!

My daughter had 6 weeks of a coach pitch/ t-ball combo in the mix as well. The kids had us hopping all summer. Something at the ball field Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday (all day) and Sunday evenings means that this mama is investing in better lawn chairs next spring. It’s on my Christmas list. The kind of lawn chairs that fold up and have hydraulic shocks — the deluxe model – will be worth the cost.

We took a family vacation to South Carolina in June to visit family and introduce the kids to the Atlantic Ocean. They flew for the first time. Nerve wracking for me, but honestly, they gracefully handled layovers, a diverted flight to Charleston and tarmac time due to a storm, turbulence when our pilots squeezed us into Columbia’s airport before the storm hit again, and security when SOMEONE put an open water bottle in my bag unbeknownst to me. (eye roll)

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Family in South Carolina

After a flight to Las Vegas in March, my spine/ lower back started to hurt. After solid scoldings from my family practitioner, husband, sisters, and a nurse friend, an MRI revealed a bulging disc at L5 – S1. This is actually a relief given my MS history. I was flippant about how serious this was until I stopped being able to move without pain. Up, down, walking, sleeping, standing… it was all painful. I started Physical Therapy. There it was revealed that along with the disc issue, my SI joint was also rotated. How incredibly humbling it is to go from running half marathons to not being able to walk! Anyone who has been thru PT knows that it’s a slow, meticulous battle. I graduated PT, bought a SI support band (Serola BioMechanics gets 5 stars from me!), and recently have waded back into running. It’s only one mile at a time, but as the saying goes “you have to learn to crawl before you walk.”

Mixed into the fun was VBS, fishing, playground time, family time, wheat harvest, fall crop planting, our full-time business, and many many more activities. Summer seemed to rush by. I’m not sad it’s over. It wasn’t a hustle, nor did it feel terribly stressful. It was simply FULL. Full of good memories and time spent together that we all appreciate.

Here we are now. Back to school and September is already rolling. I will try to write more regularly. I’ve felt it stirring in my mind and my fingers to get back to it.

Much love — Jen

Family · Perspective

Perfect Morning

I named this post after the candle I have burning on my desk at work. It’s a delicious creamy coffee smell.

If I’m honest, I prefer the smell of coffee over the taste. Tea is more my thing.

As I write, our current real temperature is -6 Fahrenheit. Wind chill sits near -20F. This past weekend, we added another 4 inches of snow to the 7 inches we accumulated from the previous storm.

I’m thankful for the shop guys plowing and piling thru the 4ft frozen drift that blocked my east driveway this morning. The kids were also excited about the prospect of playing on this later in the week when we get a tad bit warmer. Still frozen… but in double positive digits.

My father-in-law refilled the bird feeder and threw out milo for the yard rabbits this morning. They’ve taken to chewing the bark off our lilacs. We’ve had snow cover for weeks and the wild creatures are getting hungry.

Basically, winter is still in full-swing. I speak for all us winter-loving people: “we are ready for spring!”

Faith · Family · Health · Parenting · Perspective

Three Legged Race

Just in case you’re wondering if I’m still here… yes… yes I am. I wrote an entry a couple of weeks ago, published, and deleted it. I wrote last week, but after a re-read it was just too personal (see family issues below).

My crew and I just crossed the finish line on three ridiculous months of juggling all-things-life. giphy-3

Summary:

  • Busiest season at work
  • Husband/ business partner gone long-term twice
  • Multiple school programs
  • Volunteer activities at church and in community
  • Christmas gathering – then Christmas again – then Christmas again
  • Annual MS scan and labs – I always EXPECT these to go well, just anxiety.
  • Driving the mom-bus to gymnastics, 4-H, and youth group
  • Kids’ orthodontist appointments – EVERY MONTH!!! What?!?!
  • And then we slide into this past week….
    • Family issues
    • Finding out I am signed up for treats both Tuesday and Wednesday at school
    • Being called a “dirty whore” by an addict on my way into the pancake supper at church when I asked her if she needed help. Then she looked at my husband and said he’s “a good guy” and we “have nice kids.” Right…..

So there you go. It was more of a three-legged race where we were also supposed to be rubbing our bellies and patting our heads while singing Christmas carols with gusto.

Preposterous…

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My end of the year reflection is an annual occurrence. As if on repeat, my head shakes at lunacy we’ve just subjected ourselves to. Following closely behind the head shaking is a vow that “next year will be different!”

We can only hope.

 

Creativity · Family · Parenting · Perspective

Dodgeball and Our Village

Life has me on a bit of a writing hiatus. Here’s a few “Good News” highlights:

Family dodgeball at Christmas. My dad’s extended side is large- about 60 strong. Every year, Christmas dodgeballhosting rotates among the original siblings. Since we are too large to host in a home, we tend to meet in a community center. 2018 ushered us into a celebration in the middle school’s all purpose room and gymnasium where both my aunt and uncle work. If you haven’t played dodgeball since you were a child, you are missing out! We played kids vs. adults, boys vs. girls (all ages), and then split two siblings and families vs. the other two siblings and families. Ages 2 to 69 played. Of course, there was also a buffet of food, a kids’ gift exchange, an adult gift game.

 

The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” rang true again this past weekend. I came down with a respiratory virus complete with fever. This particular weekend, I was supposed to make 16 half-birthday treats with my daughter for her first grade classroom. (This is done for kids with summer birthdays.) A dear friend- our adopted grandparent- answered my text plea to make treats. She picked both my children up, dropped the older one off at basketball practice, and proceeded to make vanilla cupcakes with chocolate chips AND a custom purple frosting with butterflies. My kids used their decorating talents to make the butterflies out of pretzels, candy hearts, and licorice. This amazing woman then fed my children lunch and brought them back out to the house.

Yes, my daughter has her own sense of style. We aren’t squelching it at this point. It doesn’t make the top 40 of battles we need to fight.

Best wishes — Jen

Faith · Family · Parenting · Perspective

The Relaxed Invitation

How do you plan your holiday get-togethers?

  • A) Is it a long-standing set date?
  • B) Perhaps, you belong to a clan of planners, carefully comparing notes and schedules long before the weather gets cold and snowy.
  • C) Or maybe you belong to the third group- last minute, throw it together holiday revelers?

My family fits in groups A and B. My dad’s extended side is so large that we’ve established the first Saturday following Christmas to be the set, annual date for celebrating together. My mom and sisters fit into group B. We checked calendars in October to set dates for December.

My husband’s extended family is all-the-way group C. This year, I started the group text. Someone had to do it. There are multiple nurses on this side of the family. Because of this, we try our best to work around their holiday shifts at the hospital and clinic. There are also family members who have about four hours on the road to come back for festivities. A lot of different facets to consider.

After compiling everyone’s dates, I waited for someone to metaphorically shoot their hand in the air to host. …*crickets*…

Being the organized person I am, the next day I sent out a text that read “December 16 – J&J hosting – lunch at 12:30- meatballs, bread, and drinks provided. Please bring a side, snack, or dessert.”

And that’s that.

Maybe it’s the mid-30’s thing hitting where I’m finally starting to feel like an organized adult? Or it could be the realization that no matter what I do, there’s going to be curve balls and kinks.

Reality says that I don’t have to “Wayfair” my whole house into something it isn’t to host Christmas. My text promised a warm place to gather with some food and drinks. The meatballs will be in a crockpot, rolls in a basket, and drinks in a cooler. A buffet of other snackables and food will be provided by the rest of the family. There won’t be any flourishes of extra décor on the veggie plate like I saw being demonstrated on the Today Show this morning. The bathrooms will be clean and the floor swept, but I can’t promise that every single Nerf dart will be picked up.

How did this relaxed revelation happen? For those who know me personally, this has been an area of personal growth. I was thinking about my grandma Mona. My grandparents constantly had our large extended family in and out and in and out and in… almost every single day. Holidays, we descended on their house like a swarm. There are just that many of us. All the furniture was full and people were relaxed on the floor or against a wall visiting and enjoying our time together.

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The only thing grandma Mona seemed to worry about was making sure we washed the dishes after meals. We’d sing songs – always getting in a couple verses of “You Are My Sunshine”- talk and laugh together while we washed, dried, and put away dishes. She provided a warm place for us all to gather with some food and drinks. The rest was up to us as a family.

It was a relaxed invitation.

Our holiday was and still is based on love for God and each other. This strong foundation is why we still gather today. Although our patriarch and matriarch have both passed away, we still enjoy the Christmas holiday as one, quite large family. Differences of opinion are set aside to laugh together and catch up on our ever-extending group.

This season, it is my turn to extend the relaxed invitation to my husband’s side. Come on over – there will be meatballs!

 

 

 

Faith · Family · Parenting · Perspective

Non-Traditional Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving. All day yesterday, my friends posted pictures of glowing, happy families and people taking naps after overeating. 

This year, none of that happened for us. After an incredibly contentious morning with my children where they fought me on everything from underwear to turning off light switches, we did go to my parents’ house. I had a good cry and told them they were not allowed to talk to me in the car.

Twenty-five minutes into the drive, my son accidentally (maybe?) punched my daughter in the ear. This set off the fireworks in the backseat. Domino-style, it started a sad and angry lecture from me about how when you treat others badly, you end up feeling bad too. 

We arrived at my mom and dad’s to find that my dad has come down with a terrible cold. He is hacking, coughing in fits, sneezing and basically needs quarantined. No hugs for dad. No hugs from papa for the kids.

We didn’t eat a traditional meal. We reheated taco meat. I made quesadillas on the George Foreman grill for my family. Mine was just chili beans, a tortilla and salsa. I sincerely wish manufacturers would hold off on the dairy in everything. It was in my mom’s taco seasoning! They finished it off with a couple of frozen chocolate cupcakes my mom had in her freezer. I had a handful of grapes.

My mother was an angel and took the kids out to explore and play for two hours. I took a much needed hour-long nap. My son had slept walked into my room the night before. It was sleep staccato-style.

Basically, as a summary and stopping the story there, you can see that this was anything but a normal family celebration. My children have been hard this week, to say the least… To top it off, after looking at the weather forecast, it seems highly unlikely that my husband will return this weekend. It just won’t be possible to travel on Sunday if the snow and blizzard conditions move in like the meteorologists are forecasting.

I’m finding this week that I’m leaning in on my faith more than ever. The prayers are constantly streaming from my thoughts- both praising in good and tough and petitioning for safe travel and patience.

Although I’m struggling to enjoy my children, I am thankful for them. Thanksgiving was missing both my sisters and their families due to other commitments, but I am grateful for their companionship this week via text messages. My husband, mom, and dad are always on my list of reasons to be grateful. The window may be foggy right now, but my view of my world can still be bright and positive.

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Happy Thanksgiving to you, however you celebrated. Truly, it is about gratefulness. The food is just a perk.

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Struggle Bus

Well…. I’m so glad that I had such a great perspective on parenting a few days ago. Put me on the struggle bus. My husband is gone for nine days, three states away, with limited phone service. So there’s that.

Let me brag a minute about how fantastic my 8 year old son has been. He helped unload the dishwasher, cleaned up our frozen and sagging pumpkins in the yard, and did his homework with absolutely no complaints or second guessing. I’m genuinely enjoying his company.

Nugget – age 6- was put to bed sobbing last night after being downright nasty and without remorse for it. Following prayers, she had the option of continuing to sob in her bed or reading books. She did them both, respectively. She lost her chance at getting to invite a friend over to play after school today because she launched a marker at her brother’s head as hard as she could yesterday. Again, without remorse. The previous day, she accused me of never making any food- EVER- that she wants to eat. Well honey, we don’t all want to survive on bologna and mac’n’cheese… Then my precious girl followed her refusal to eat the chicken, stuffing, corn, and fruit with an epic meltdown where she was unable to make nice words come out of her mouth. “Mom, I just CAN’T make those words come out of my mouth.” *sob* These are all just samples of the overall behavior and attitude.

I’d say this is related to her dad being gone, but we’ve been on this ride for well over five weeks.

Where is Mary Poppins when you need her? Super Nanny Jo? Bueller? Anybody?