Welcome to My Corner of the World

I hope you find humor, inspiration and something worthwhile on this blog. I plan to be as candid as possible. Life is hard. I know, I've overcome a lot (and still have a way to go).
It doesn't help others if the rough things are glossed over.

I will no doubt fill this blog with stories of my achievements as a mom as well as my personal struggles.

I have an incredible husband whom I call "my sanity." I have two great kids with strong personalities. I struggle with anxiety and depression and I have had a colorful childhood.

I also have an addiction to Gilmore Girls, A&W Cream Soda, and Starbucks peppermint mocha.
I have recently added biking to my list of hobbies and also love to read, knit, and play tennis.

Welcome to my little corner of the world!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Insane weekend

  I was really looking forward to this past weekend.  It had so much potential.
  One of my best friends and his wife (we'll call them the K family) were going to be visiting my hometown (which is only 2 hours away from where I live now).  A year ago they moved about 12 and a half hours away, then they had their first baby who is now 6 months old and I hadn't met her before this weekend.  I was really looking forward to spending time with all of them.
  The plan was for us to leave as soon as Hubby got home from work on Friday.  I was hoping that would be around 2 and that the kids could sleep/rest on the drive up.  Hubby got home around 2:30.  I ran a quick errand with Bug and he came home and fell asleep in my lap.  Hubby wanted a few minutes to pack and chill, so I put Bug in bed.  He slept for an hour.
  We got on the road an hour and a half later than I planned...but that was ok.  I was excited about the weekend!
  On the way A started looking sickish and actually took a nap.  Never a good sign.
  We got into town around 5.  Then we drove from the north side of town to the south side...in rush hour traffic.  With two bored, whiny, getting-over-being-sick-kids.  I planned to hang out with the K family from 4-10ish.  It was  now 5:30 and we were still 45 minutes away from seeing them.  Bleh.
  We checked into the hotel and walked into our room.  One of the queen beds was neatly made.  The other had covers strewn everywhere and pillows all askew.  There were dirty dishes on the table and a take-out box on top of the TV.  Excellent.
  Hubby called the front desk and we got a new room.  We dropped a few things off and I got a drink of water.  That's when I noticed a cute baby roach crawling across the bathroom counter (I hope you read that with heavy sarcasm).
  We met our friends for dinner and baby K sat in her car seat the entire time.  She was awake, but completely content being where she was.  After dinner I took Hubby back to the hotel because he wasn't feeling well and on the way Bug threw up.  I ended up dropping the boys off and then A and I headed over to hang out with the K family.
  By the time we got to my friend's parents house baby K was in bed (it was like 8:30 by this time).  I hadn't gotten to hold her and we didn't have plans to spend any more time with them.
  We did have a really good visit and I was thankful for our time together.  A and I headed back to the hotel around 10.
  None of us slept well.  Hubby didn't get to sleep until 5am.  Bug was restless and fussy throughout the night.  There were several high school boys' basketball teams staying in our hallway and the boys were in and out all night and were not quiet.
  Bug was up early so I took him to the continental breakfast (which was really good, thankfully) and then he and I went to Wal-Mart to get Hubby some meds.  Bug was in his PJs for that outing because I didn't want to risk waking A and Hubby up while he got dressed (we all know he's incapable of being quiet).
  I decided we were going home.  We hadn't been in town for 24 hours, but I knew my family needed to get home.
  Bug and I got back and Hubby actually felt like going to Best Buy for a bit by himself.  Check out at the hotel wasn't until noon so I decided to keep the kids at the hotel until then. 
  I soon found out that one of the best parts of staying at a hotel that doesn't have an indoor pool to occupy small children is jumping on the beds.  The kids were having a blast.  A very Loud blast.  They were rolling and wrestling and jumping and squealing.  When I tried separating them in hopes of quieting things down they just cried and whined Loudly about being apart.  It was a lose-lose situation so I did what any mother would do.  I threw them together on the same bed and then lost my patience.  At least some of us were having fun.
  I made lunch plans with the K family so we could see them one last time before we left and this time I actually got to hold the baby, so all was not lost.
  On the way home A wasn't feeling good, Hubby had me drive (which Never happens!) and slept the whole way and Bug conked out too.
  To top it all off, the next day at Church Bug slammed his head back into my mouth and gave me a fat lip.  Thanks kid.
  Whew!  And that was my weekend.


Monday, December 5, 2011

The case of the terrifying DVD player

  The other day Bug decided he wanted to watch "How to Train Your Dragon" (HTYD), his new favorite movie.  
  The first kink in "mission: watch HTYD" went as follows: We always watch movies in the living room...because that's where the DVD player is--well, was.  On Black Friday the Hubby decided to buy himself an early birthday present: an XBox 360.  Naturally he hooked it up to the TV in the living room.  I kindly had him move the DVD player into the family room so he could play and I could watch DVDs on a TV, not the laptop.
  It took me a few minutes to convince Bug that the family room was where we were going to watch the movie.  Of course, at first he was very adamant (in his loud, Bug way) that this was not where we watch anything.
  After settling that issue, the second kink came into play and it went something like this:
  I turned the TV on, but had left the DVD in the living room (silly me was not anticipating so much of an issue just relocating him).  I left Bug for 3 seconds to get the movie, and then I spent the next hour trying to right my wrong.
  You see, when the TV came on so did that interesting thing we call "static" or "snow."  And apparently that completely freaked Bug out.  He ran after me screaming and crying hysterically and insisting that I hold him.  I put the movie in and tried to explain that everything was ok in a way that a 2 year old would understand.
  Naturally, that wasn't good enough for Bug and he insisted that I hold him while he watched the movie--a movie he's been able to watch by himself for at least a month now.  He was now terrified of the DVD player and that fear affected his ability to play by himself part of the morning too.  Yay.
  That was a few days ago, and thankfully now the fear factor has been taken down a few notches.  It hasn't been forgotten, oh no.  Every time Bug walks past the DVD player, or watches a movie in the family room he has to have a conversation about how it scared him.
  There are times when I think it'd be nice to wrap my kids in bubble wrap and try to hide them away from all the scary, nasty things in this world.  Thankfully I'm sane and realize how impossible that is.  Really, though, who would have thought that DVD players would have fallen into the "scary" category?  Obviously I wouldn't have...until now.  Who knew?
  And that is the story of my life: daily encounters with the terrifying!  My kids must think I'm the bravest person on the earth, and I'm ok with that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Blessings in disguise

  My newest revelation occurred during one of my conversations with my best friend.  Really, it seems that most of my "ah ha" moments occur during my conversations with her.  We have a lot of great talks.
  Anyway, we were discussing my daughter's wonderful behaviors.  Again, A has always been the kid who acts perfect around everyone.  She obeys the rules, says "yes ma'am," "please," and "thank you."  She's that way with everyone but me.  It's not like she's got multiple personality disorder or even that she's acting brattyShe's just being A, uncensored.  What I see is raw emotion.
  Before I got my depression under control I thought "what have I done wrong?"  A would be hysterical with me, but when someone else would step in and do whatever I had been trying, A would respond calmly and settle down.
  Seeing that was hard for me for a long time.  I thought maybe I had "babied" A too much.  I thought if I had done something differently that my relationship with her would have been different.  I thought perhaps my insecurities as a mom had rubbed off on her and made her an insecure infant.  I had about a million of these self-blaming scripts that ran through my head.
  Then one day it started to click:  A felt more comfortable with me than any other person in her life.  She and I have a special bond.  She knows I love her unconditionally.
  Whoa!  What a compliment.
  However, really "getting it" was a process.  Sure, I "knew" this--but why was she prone to acting the way she did.  Surely I had done something wrong...
  Now, I'm glad to say that I think after 4 1/2 years it has finally sunk in.  A feels so confident in my love for her that she knows she can truly let her feelings show through and nothing will change between us.  It certainly doesn't make her behaviors easy to deal with, but now I know I didn't do anything wrong.  I also know that she really has reasons for acting the way she does.  She's highly emotional.  She's 4.  She's doing the best she can.  She's relying on me to teach her how to handle these intense feelings.
  Boy do I have a long road to hoe, but I know that there will be a confident, self-controlled young lady on the other end.
  The second part to this post is what I realized the other day.  I have always seen so much of me in A.  I can relate to a lot of her preferences because I felt the way she acts when I was a kid.  I just don't remember acting the way she does.  I always thought perhaps the reason my mom doesn't have any specific parenting tips to give me (other than the fact that I don't ask her) was because she just forgot how things were.
  A few memories came to mind, though, that helped shed a different light on things.  There are two times in my life that I can honestly remember (there are probably a few more than that, but not many) that I truly let loose and acted the way A acts with me.  In those instances, I remember being aware that Mom was close to the edge of "going crazy" (as I called her episodes), but I didn't care and just went ahead and threw a fit.
  Whoa...it hit me that I never had the solace that A has.  As a child my mother was never someone I could afford to let see me at my worst.  I knew that her love for me was conditional.  I couldn't lose that love, so I acted like an angel.
  I will say that my grandma gave me the closest thing I knew to unconditional love.  I wouldn't say that her love had strings attached, but she had mental problems of her own.  I don't think she would have loved me differently.  I do think she would have acted differently.  I learned early on what to say and what not to say.  Not for fear of making Grandma angry, but I knew that her response would have either confused me or taxed her mentally.  So, I censored myself around her too.
  The bright side of all of this is that the ability to cope with anxiety and depression seems to grow stronger from generation to generation.  Sure, I struggle with those disorders, but not like my mom and grandma.  Sure, A will be prone to depression and anxiety, but her arsenal will already have a few strategies in it that will help her deal with the issues she'll face.  Some of the strategies won't take any effort on her part because she and I have been working together on them since she was a toddler.  Some will take a conscious effort.  Then, there may be times she needs more help.  There may be times she needs to see a counselor regularly or take medication for a while.  And she'll grow up knowing that's ok.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Nerves of steel!

  Before Bug came along I had never thought I'd be the mommy in the grocery store leaving a cart of groceries behind, unpaid for.  However, once he got here and we discovered his temper and desire to be heard I figured one day I'd be that mommy.
  I must say I was caught off guard yesterday when A was the reason everyone was staring at us as I parked our cart with unpaid merchandise in it off to the side and we walked out of the store.
  Let me paint you a picture of how this very memorable event played out.
  Our day had been going great.  I had managed to get the three of us dressed and fed and out the door at 9:30--a major accomplishment in my world if we don't have anywhere we have to be.  We got to Wal-Mart and had done almost all of our shopping. 
  Naturally things went down hill from there.
  I have promised A I will make her a felt board and we were off to see what kind of felt Wal-Mart had to offer.  As we headed to the school supply aisle A was trying to use the package of Pull-Ups in our cart as a seat.  She couldn't get it "just right" and was getting frustrated.  She started whining, jumping (as much as she could in the cart) up and down.  Noticing her level of aggravation rising, I offered to help.  I did tell her that if we couldn't get it the way she wanted after I tried to help then the Pull-Ups were going under the basket.  Naturally we couldn't get it fixed so I put them "away" and I started to look at the felt.  A continued to carry on, crying and boo-hooing.  I stopped what I was doing and told her that I couldn't concentrate on what I was doing when she was being so loud.  I also told her that if she was going to carry on, we'd just leave.
  She kept on.
  We left.
  She got hysterical.  Like a typical moment at home--only this was in public.  Everyone was watching.  Usually she keeps all of her behaviors to herself when there are other people around, but this time she let loose!
  I calmly pushed the cart to the entrance.  All the while A was yelling, crying, kicking and begging to stay.  Everyone stopped to stare.  We even passed an older gentleman who scowled and pointed his finger at her!  I had to smile--I knew that would stick with her for a while.
  I left the cart by the garden center door and we walked out--A still showing herself.  It didn't help that it was raining outside and she was wearing Crocs.  Her feet got wet and that bothered her, so when we got in the van she was kicking her feet hysterically and one of her shoes flew into the front floorboard.  I got Bug (who was being very quiet) buckled in and off we went.
  Thankfully we only live 5 minutes from Wal-Mart--otherwise I might have cracked!
  On the way Bug decided he wanted a share of all this noise making and started yelling.  I just let him, in fact, I joined in.  Oh my did that make A angrier (which I didn't think was possible)!  She started screaming at the top of her lungs.  She was so loud I could feel my eardrums vibrating!  Keep in mind we were still in the van--very close quarters.
  When we got home I had her go to Mommy and Daddy's room and wait while I got Bug's snack ready. 
  I went in and talked to her--then she got a spanking with a belt. 
  I told her that after nap we had plans to go to Chick-Fil-A with her good friends (and my best friend), but that I wasn't sure I could take her.  I needed to know she could act appropriately in public.  Thankfully we had time for her to have snack, cool down and try Wal-Mart again.  I told her that if I wasn't able to get what I needed from the store then Bug could go to Chick-Fil-A, but that she'd have to stay here with me.  I also told her that if we went to Wal-Mart before nap and she acted inappropriately again that she'd have to stay here with me in the afternoon and Bug could go.
  She had snack.  She calmed down.  We tried Wal-Mart again (the cashier had put my cart aside for me) and that time was a success.
  When we got there the second time the greeter said "You look familiar" and I said "Yes, we're trying this again."
  As we left he smiled and said "that's much better."
  Like the older man who scowled I was thankful that the greeter made these comments.  I think it helped A realize that other people noticed and that she was acting pretty ugly.  It leaves a bigger impression if someone other than Mom comments on behaviors.
  When all was said and done I was really proud of myself for handling the situation the way I did.  Looking back I don't regret anything.  I didn't scream at her, I didn't spank her in the middle of Wal-Mart (spankings, I think, need to be done in private and not in the heat of the moment), I didn't threaten her (none of the "if you carry on, we're leaving"..."I meant it, one more peep and we're gone" etc),  and I didn't cave to what she wanted just to take the focus off of us.
  Over all, it was a  great learning experience.  For me and A.
  I must say I'm not looking forward to ever having to do that again, but I'm going to be a realist and anticipate it happening once more before the kids are too big to carry on like that.  And when that moment happens, I'll be ready to blog about it!


Saturday, October 29, 2011


  My last post was about how well I handled a crazy couple of weeks and this one follows in the same fashion.
  This week was kind of gross.  I won't go into great detail now (perhaps another post will be devoted to one day in particular--it was that bad!).
  Hubby was on a business trip from Tuesday through Friday.  My energy was lacking.  My patience was lacking.  I had a book club meeting at my house Thursday that I needed to clean the house for.  I was hosting a game day for my best friend's kids and my kids (two boys age 2 and two girls age 4) on Friday.  I really struggled with A on Wednesday and that left me drained.
  However, on top of all of that I noticed that the way I handled it all was amazing--especially when I compared it to how I would have handled it in the past.
  Used to I would have been cranky, felt overwhelmed, been depressed because I had too much to do and couldn't get it done, and would have been incredibly anxious about it all--sweating, unfocused, the whole package.
  This week, however (with the exception of Wednesday), I handled it all well. I didn't avoid my chores, wasn't tempted to just curl up on the couch and sleep it all away, wasn't scattered and sweaty!
  Wednesday night I went to bed at a decent hour (used to I would have stayed up late trying to clean and get caught up).  Thursday I was productive and I was looking forward to having all my friends over instead of stressing about it all.  I wasn't cleaning and distracted when everyone arrived.  I had everything ready and was focused.
  It felt amazing!
  It's times like that when I'm able to see that all of my counseling and chats with my husband and best friend have paid off and have really stuck!
  I know that I have a lot of strategies in my arsenal to fight depression and anxiety, but it's great to see that my subconscious has filed away all the talking and processing.
  There are certainly times when I have to make a very deliberate effort to do what I need to.  There was a time (and I still have days like this) when I had to force myself to eat breakfast, get the kids dressed, make lunches and snacks and it takes all my energy to stay awake and off the couch.  Thankfully those days have become fewer and farther between.
  There was a time when I never thought I'd be in this place.  I was too overwhelmed by normal, every-day life.  How in the world was I going to be able to to anything "extra" (have game days for/with my kids, plan fun surprises for friends/family, do something spontaneous, be truly organized and be able to plan ahead, etc.)?
  I am so happy to say I have finally reached the point in my life when I can do some "extras" and not lose focus and get overwhelmed.
  It's been quite the journey, though, full of pity parties, anxiety attacks, depression, strong emotions I didn't know how to handle, unhealthy relationships, guilt trips and such.  Thankfully the journey was also filled with good counselors, incredible friends, answered prayers and an amazing husband!
  I'm off to have a wonderful weekend, free of negatives and full of positive things!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Huge "yay me!" moment!

  Bug turned 2 last Saturday and naturally we had a birthday party for him.
  I like to keep things nice and simple.  There were 7 adults and 4 kids--the perfect sized gathering for me.
  Mom came (which after her arrest and my failure to come bail her out, I wasn't sure she'd make it) and was pretty quiet, but seemed to have a nice time.
  It wasn't until a few days later when Hubby and I were talking that I noticed I had a HUGE breakthrough moment and I didn't even realize it!
  Hubby's innocent question: "How was your mom this weekend?"
  My response:  "I have no idea."  I almost added an "I don't really care, either" comment, but didn't.  It wouldn't have been the snotty, hurt-feeling kind of response.  Instead, it would have been the healthy, "I'm not going to stress over it" reaction.
  I can't even begin to tell you what an utterly HUGE moment that was in my life!
  I have spent my entire life up to this point being able to gague Mom's moods and guess her behaviors.  My childhood revolved around a certain look in her eyes.  It was a look that incited so much fear in me that I continued to allow it to have that effect on my until I was 28!
  It was then that my therapist asked "why are you afraid of her?"
  What was I afraid of?  I was married and no longer lived with Mom, I could tell her "no" if I needed to.  I didn't have to let her into my house and I didn't have to answer her phone calls.  So why did I allow her to have that control over me?
  I decided then and there that I was done running from her.  I have an amazing husband who offered to come home to help me deal with Mom if I needed him to and an incredible best friend who offered her house as a refuge for me to run to if I needed it.  But I was done running.  I was an adult and had a daughter to take care of--what kind of example was I setting?
  My therapist suggested setting boundaries.  I thought of at least 10 boundaries to set, and the first one was "call before you come." 
  I can't even begin to tell you what a life-changing decision that was!  It seemed so simple--and yet made such a profound impact.  So far, that's the only one we've had to set and enforce from time to time.
  The first time I kept control of the situation and didn't let her take over I felt so incredibly liberated!  She dropped by, after I had requested she call before she come, and I only let her into the foyer for a 5 minute visit.  That was all it took for her to realize I meant what I said.  She's tried to push the boundary since then and I've stuck with it and we haven't had any major issues since then.
  Up until that point she had taken to just dropping by.  That might not have seemed like a big deal--but she lived 2 hours away at that time (since then she moved closer--now she's only about 20 minutes away)!
  So the other day when Hubby and I were talking I realized that I had no idea how Mom was doing mentally.  And that didn't bother me.  Instead I felt great.
  If she's entering an unstable phase, fine.  We'll cross that bridge when we get there.  If she's semi-sane, fine.  We'll enjoy time with her.
  Sure I noticed she was a little quiet and reserved (which is SO not my mom) last Saturday, but I didn't give it a second thought.  A year ago I would have been analyzing every look that crossed her face.  I would have agonized over when the storm was going to break (which sometimes is 6 months away and other times is next week).  I would have gone into "self preservation mode" which would have involved dissociating myself from the situation (read: life in general).  I would have become anxious and unfocused.
  Two years ago I would have cringed at every comment other people made that could have been miscontrued by Mom.  I would have been on edge when she made snotty or nasty comments.
  Her moods conrolled me--and I let them.

  I'm happy to say that they don't anymore!  At least not this time.  There will probably be times in my life when I'm down and something will come up with Mom and the instincts that kept me alive and protected as a kid will start to kick in again.  I can only hope and pray that I have the strength to say "never again" and stop them before I allow the situation to take control of me.

  So, yay me!!  =)


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Emotions are funny things

  Disclaimer:  the title of this post uses the word "funny" loosely.

  I've had a lot on my plate recently, and have been so annoyed with A's behavior.  She's melting down over things we've dealt with in the past.  Things that we haven't had issues with in months!
  The issue with the tags I mentioned in my last post is one of the many battles I've been having with her.  She now insists that her shoes (ALL of them, except her Crocs) hurt her feet.  There are a few pairs that are getting too small, but she also has at least 2 pairs that fit her just fine. 
  She was crying about one of the pairs that actually fit her the other day and I suggested putting socks on with them.  She did.  Then she complained about the seam in the sock hurting her.  These are socks she's had no trouble with in the past and has been wearing for months!
  She'll be dressed and ready and fine for 45 minutes and then all of a sudden something starts hurting her and she spazzes out!

  So what gives?  Today I had one of those fabulous parenting light bulb moments--school.
  A started preschool at the end of August.  She goes from 8:30-12 Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  I anticipated some issues at the beginning of the school year.  It was quite a change for A.  She's the kind of kid to whom different = pain/discomfort/bad/etc.
  I even expected any trouble she had with school (internally, because externally she'll be the best student: quiet, sweet, listens to the rules) to manifest itself here at home and I expected to have more power struggles with her.
  However, September came and went and half of October has passed and we didn't have any problems.  She seems to like school.  She never cries before going off to school and has only mentioned in passing a few times that she doesn't want to go.  By now, I expected her to be used to the new routine.  So, a month and a half later, her outbursts have caught me off guard.

  I have learned so much about A over the past year and I have been so thankful for the books I have read for many reasons (they're listed on the main page under "Great Parenting Reads").  For one they help A learn how to take responsibility for her choices but they also help me develop a healthy (read "not co-dependent") relationship with her.  I understand how to relate to her, whereas before I was lost.  I had a 3 year old who had meltdowns over people calling her nicknames.  She couldn't even handle it when her friend (who is 8 months younger) was learning how to say her name and couldn't get it just right!
  So in this great epiphany I just had, I was reminded how much A likes to be in control.  Again, changes and the unexpected make her uncomfortable.  I am going to make a conscious effort to go back to what worked.
  What worked? you might ask...I give her a "choice" even if there's not really a choice.  For instance:  "A do you want to fix your hair now or in 5 minutes?"  Her hair will get fixed, but she gets some say as to when that happens.  In her small, 4 year old world, she has very little control and it's very unsettling for her.
  I also try to have as much routine as possible.  I would think that the routine of school would be great for her, but if school is what's making her uncomfortable (for reasons I may never know) then no matter how expected and predictable it may be, she's not going to like it.
  She's also the kind of kid who is fine around almost everyone else, but she feels most comfortable around me and as a result her behaviors are always between me and her.  A compliment, sure.  A challenge, definitely. 

  A has always been private, and I realize that a lot of things that happen in her life I will never know about.
  Communication is key, though.  If we can't talk about the uncomfortable things in life when she's 4, then when puberty hits I might just go insane!
  One thing I've started doing to open those lines of communication is to ask her (during some mellow time in our day) what were two things she like about school and one thing that happened that she didn't like.  We also have problem-solving sessions together.  She and I take our notebooks while Bug and the hubby do something else and we talk about possible solutions to the problems we have been having (for instance: the problem of the tags in the clothes or the problem of the toys not getting picked up).  A loves to write and really likes the one-on-one time so she has yet to balk at the idea!

  Here's to hoping things calm down a bit in the next few days!

Just let go

  The past week and a half have been emotionally draining.  I can look back at the past 14 days, though, and be proud of how I've handled myself.
  My father-in-law suffered a stroke about 4 months ago and I've been working with my mother-in-law to find a good nursing home to serve as a transitional living place for him.  It's certainly been challenging with all of the Medicaid dos and don'ts, ins and outs, etc.  I worked with 3 different social workers and only one of them seemed semi-competent in her job--it was incredibly frustrating and created so much unnecessary stress.
  As if that hasn't been enough to try to stay on top of, I got a call from Mom this past Monday.  She called to tell me that there were some police officers at her house to arrest her for missing a court date for a ticket for expired tags.
  This is the second time she has been arrested in 4 months!  My entire life (almost 30 years) the only time I know that she's been arrested was when she had a mental episode and the neighbors called the police.  They came and took her to the mental hospital where she stayed for a while (I was so young, it could have been 6 months or 2 weeks) before she came home.
  This time she needed someone to co-sign the $1,305 bail bond for her.  My husband and I weren't comfortable doing it, so I did what I could to get it taken care of.  I called my uncle and a family friend who has always helped Mom in the past.
  As it turned out, a police officer (perhaps the police chief) was able to talk to her and ended up releasing her, so no one needed to mess with the bail bond.
  I, however, was not looking forward to the next conversation she and I would have because she would know I didn't bail her out.  Her one and only daughter.  The person she called when she needed help.  And yet, I knew all of that and I didn't feel guilty.  There were no "but she's my mom" thoughts nagging me.  There was no sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  There was no anxiety causing me to worry over what to say to her.
  Sure I thought about what I'd say--it was a delicate matter.  I just didn't dwell on it.  I came up with an honest, not-to-revealing, rather neutral explanation (with the help of my best friend) and then let it go.  As it turned out, I haven't had to use that response (yet).

  I've been getting a lot of practice at letting go lately.

  There was a place for me to help in the situation with my father-in-law.  I stepped in and took initiative with some things, and I've questioned those decisions.  There were a few things that I let bother me more than they should have and there were probably a handful of phone calls I made that were unnecessary.  Overall, however, I don't regret anything.  I'm proud of how I handled things.

  With Mom, I was able to let things go and not let that situation keep me up all night.

  I have had chest pains off and on, and earlier this week they started to restrict my movement (it tends to make the pains worse if I move my left arm much or try to take a deep breath when they get bad).  I was able to close my eyes and focus on my breathing and replace the anxious thoughts statements of reality--and it worked!

  Of course my mom and father-in-law haven't been the only things I've had to deal with this week and part of last.  It's times like these when my kids really seem to act out and give me more of a challenge-- naturally.

  A has always been sensitive to textures.  There was a time when the tags in her clothes bothered her badly enough that I had to cut out the tags before she'd even think about wearing the piece of clothing.  She is a dainty, girly girl and so her Nana loves to buy A fancy, frilly dresses.  Unfortunately A can't stand to wear dresses with the can-can material at the bottom (even if it doesn't touch her.  These days dresses are made with kids' comfort in mind and there's usually a layer of softer material under the more abrasive stuff, but that doesn't matter).  She also can't stand to wear dresses or shirts that have sparkly threads running through them.

  This issue has resurfaced recently and now extends to her shoes as well.  Remember, reason has no place in A's world when emotions take over

  So this past week while I was dealing with my mom and the situation with my father-in-law I also got to deal with A's meltdowns.

  I must say I'm looking forward to some mellow days in the near future!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Boys will be boys

  Yesterday I touched a bit on this topic..boys!  Bug is such a boy.  I find myself frequently wondering "what am I going to do with him?"
  He's not like A (and rightfully so.  They're individuals, and then there's the fact that he's a boy and she's a girl).  But A has always been able to sit still for a ridiculous amount of time.  I knew that was abnormal, but the contrast between her attention span and Bug's amazes me!
  When Bug gets quiet (which is next to never) I know he's doing something he shouldn't.  A was always quiet, and loved her space.  When she was quiet she was hardly ever getting into trouble.
  With A I subscribed heavily to the "you should be able to take your kids anywhere and expect them to behave."  Yesterday I had to take Bug to the chiropractor with me.  He hasn't been in so long, I don't think he remembers anything, so I was hoping he'd be intimidated enough to stay out of things!  It worked, but he did sit up on the table with me while the TENS machine worked to loosen up my shoulder muscles...all in all, though, it was a success.
  I just have to put so much more thought into things with Bug.  There have been several times in the last 3 months where I've had to tuck him under my arm and carry him to the van from a public place while he screamed and flailed.  I will never judge another parent again (ok, I'll try really hard not to)!
  Just last week I had a neighbor over to visit.  While we were visiting the kids had their morning snack of graham crackers and milk.  Bug got bored and has recently decided that spitting is awesome.  'Nuff said!  Our poor neighbor.  She never had small children (her step kids were teenagers when she and her husband got married) and none of her and her husband's friends have kids, so I'm going to guess when she got sprayed with milk she was a little more disgusted than someone with kids would have been!
  I was so embarrassed!  But what do you do?  I apologized and went on.

  It also happens that the day before that particular neighbor came over Bug's left ear began draining.  He's had tubes in his ears for 18 months and we've never had any ear infections.  The tubes were doing their jobs, but his ear ran (and dripped--bleh!) like a nose!  It even got crusty from running so much.  I was fascinated, I had no idea an ear could do that!  Our neighbor was probably ready to bolt for the door!

  Again, I'm trying to give Bug opportunities to explore things and get messy without getting into trouble.  I've designated Monday as "water-play Monday."  Bug gets to play in the bathtub and play with things he doesn't usually get to (like the squirt bottle, my ladles and a watering can).  I'm hoping this will get us through the cold months ahead when his outside time is restricted.
  Hopefully by next spring I'll still have my sanity and the house will still be standing!


Monday, October 3, 2011

Back to normal!

  Ah, life.  What a fun experience!  There never seems to be a dull moment.
  I have been feeling back to normal for the past few weeks and it feels great!  It felt like I spent too much time in the past month and a half feeling lost--and I hated it!  Apparently I returned to normal just in time. 

  My father-in-law had a stroke about 4 months ago and we just got word that he will be discharged in a week from the rehabilitation center he's been living at for the past month and a half.  Unfortunately for many reasons, a nursing home will be the best thing for Dad right now.
  The tasks of finding nursing homes, figuring out what Medicaid will pay for and figuring out how to get from point A to point B have all fallen to me.  I am more than happy to do all of this, but there's a time crunch and trying to find the right person to talk to about Medicaid has been like pulling teeth.
  I think I've finally got all of those loose ends taken care of for now, and hopefully things will go smoothly from here on out [said with fingers crossed while knocking on wood].

  While I was taking care of those matters, I was also getting ready for a yard sale my best friend and I put together.  Thankfully we've been doing yard sales together for 4 years now and have a good system!  I didn't end up stressing over it like I usually do, which was great.

  About two weeks ago Bug was twirling in circles in our foyer, fell and hit his forehead on the corner of the wall.  Naturally, since we're talking about Bug, his head split open and he needed stitches.  My poor husband was the only one home with the kids when  it happened and he freaked out!  I went to the ER with Hubby, A and Bug and was the one to go back when they put the stitches in.  He got 5 and only cried a little! 
  Up until they put the stitches in Bug was wandering around the ER (because I can't get him to sit still for 10 seconds!) and started to demonstrate for a few people how he got the gash. I stopped him before he banged his open wound on the wall for all to see--he is certainly something else.
The kid won't be 2 until the middle of October.  I hope this is not a glimpse of what's to come in the year ahead.
  I've been doing really good with the anxiety (and considering everything that's been going on, I've been impressed).  I've been having chest pains more frequently, but considering the craziness that I call "life" lately, I'm annoyed but not surprised.  There was one Wednesday I was trying to get the kids a bath and get dinner made before Church and I started sweating and thinking about ALL that I had to get done.  I was able to catch myself and think "one thing at a time."  I took  a deep breath and did just that.  I finished one task before starting another and I was able to get everyone ready and fed AND we were early!

  More to come tomorrow--my kids certainly don't leave me lacking when it comes to having stories to tell and dealing with stress!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011


 The hardest thing for me lately is learning how to deal with Bug.  Recently he's just been such a boy.  I just don't know what to do with that.  I was an only child, my two cousins (whom I was close to) were both girls, my best friends growing up were girls...I didn't realize what a girly girl I am.  I don't do the frilly, super fancy, high-maintenance stuff--but I'm learning I'm girlier than I thought.
  Bug loves to play in the dirt and sand and make messes.  He loves to get under my skin and A's too.  I frequently hear A squealing and hollering at Bug because he's, well, bugging her and it's not uncommon for me to go see what the fuss is and find him wearing the biggest grin!
  Lately he's not been listening well and doing almost everything he knows he shouldn't and my patience for it is beginning to wax thin!
  I've talked to my best friend and I'm coming to the hard realization that I'm going to have to be more productive at home so I can get Bug out of the house and give him chances to be a boy without getting into trouble.  Unfortunately that goes against my nature.  I like to be home.  It stresses me out to be gone a lot.  I haven't found a good routine that allows me to get my chores done and spend a chunk of the day out.  Keep in mind that a "chunk" to me would be an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon.  In the grand scheme of things it's not much time, but to me it makes a huge difference.  My morning is spent getting us all ready and things picked up and then it's snack time and then it seems like time gets away from me and before I know it, it's time for lunch.  Shortly after lunch we have rest time and since my kids sleep late, there's not much time before I need to start getting dinner ready.
  It's been especially hard the past few weeks when I take the time to go somewhere and do something, intending to accomplish a lot when we get home but  once we get there Bug still requires a lot of my attention.  I feel like I accomplish nothing.
  I find myself back in the middle of the battle I've been fighting for years: finding balance! 
  I've said this time and time again, but I'd really love it if I didn't require so much sleep!  I read friends' statuses on facebook and it's annoying to read about mommies who stay up late and get up early and don't nap when their kids do, and they accomplish about 6 times what I get done in a day.  My MIL has told stories about staying up all night in order to get housework done, or to sew some clothes for the kids or to do homework once she went back to school.  I used to compare myself to her and get so mad when I could barely stay up until midnight and then had no energy the next day.
  Now I realize that I can't be that person.  I tried and it was counter-productive. 
  I suppose I will have to try to tweak things some more and see what happens.  My routine, my expectations and my priorities are all things I'll work on changing a bit in the weeks ahead.
  Here's hoping I get something figured out before I get too stressed out!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Anxiety strikes again...

  That's about how I feel now.
  I knew my daughter was ready for preschool, but I didn't realize that the dynamic of my day was going to change so much.
  This week has just been a stressful one anyway and the changes that preschool added to life just got tossed on top of the massive pile known as "this week." 
  Hubby has been under a bit of stress and while I wish there was something I could do to help him, there's just not.  Things will just have to work themselves out.
  The main issue today is these stupid chest pains!  My morning started off bright and early with them at 5:45 and they've come and gone all day.  I know there's stress in my life, in fact I half expected my chest to start hurting lastnight.  Perhaps that's the problem.  It was a self-fulfilling prophecy: I expected the pains and therefore they came. 
  My husband is on a business trip and I don't have much patience for the kids.  Naturally when I really feel like I need a break it's not a possibility (at least not for a day or two).  Did I mention my chest hurts?
  It stinks to feel so down today.  I was kind of liking the school schedule.  I'm forced to get up early and get ready (my husband requested that I not take A to school in my PJs.  I figure since I don't have to get out of the van, who'd know?  But I'll do my best to honor his wishes ;)  I can come home and get going--but then yesterday hit.  The week consisted of one dissapointment after another, and yesterday I suppose I had heard enough. 
  Naturally another thing that helped this evening feel so unaccomplished was that I forgot to refill my anti-depressant and I get to go a night without it.  Not a big deal, but it still adds up in the "inadequate" column of the day.
  I'm going to go watch some Gilmore Girls and practice crocheting some more.  Hopefully that will help the anxiety levels go down a bit.
  Here's to hoping tomorrow's better!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Down to one again

  My oldest started preschool this week.  It's the first time she's been cared for by a total stranger, one would think I'd be more emotional about it.  I wasn't.  I'm not sure if it's because she's only going half a day three days a week and it doesn't feel like "real" school to me or it just hasn't hit yet.
  Today I was able to process things a bit better, and I really think I like the routine school will force us to have.  I have to get up early AND get dressed which will really help get the day started.  Sometimes it's hard to get going when I'm still in my PJs at 9am and we don't really have anywhere to go.
  Today I was able to really spend some good time with my son, which doesn't happen much.  It seems like it's either always the two of them or I have "me" time and have no kids.  My daughter and I had all kinds of one-on-one time before Bug came along.  A and I had 2 and a half years together!
  I was able to play with Bug and learned a few things about him.  For instance, even though he and A bicker and fight a lot (it seems like a lot to me when they're both screamers) he's staying busy!  Today I was on the phone and A was at school so Bug went into the bathroom and climbed up on the counter, sat in the sink, turned the water on and brushed his teeth with my toothbrush.
  When A's home I don't tend to have moments like that since Bug is either fighting with her, or A is running to tell me that Bug is on the bathroom counter and I can catch him before he gets very far.
  So, note to self: Bug needs more monitoring that A did/does.
  Also, Bug likes to be around people.  I've known he's more social than A, but I couldn't see how different it was until there wasn't someone for him to pal around with.  Today he just wanted me in the room with him.  Sometimes he'd engage me in play and some of the time he was content to do his own thing as long as I was in there with him.
  A has always been pretty solitary and I suppose I took her ability (preference, really) to play by herself for hours on end for granted!
  I'm also learning about Bug's temper.  I've known he has one, but a lot of the time I tend to think he's being provoked a bit by A.  Today, however, I could see that he has basically no patience!
  He was getting mad at the trains he has because they wouldn't stay connected to each other.  I was trying to think of another activity I could suggest, but each one I could see him getting frustrated with just like with the trains.
  So, instead of moving onto something different we played with the trains and when he got mad or frustrated I tried to help him identify that emotion and show him ways to handle it.  His reaction is mainly physical.  He likes to throw things and hit, but he also likes to scream.  Today we worked on not hitting Mommy (or anyone else who might be near by).  I was in the floor playing with him and said "Grrr!  You sound really angry!" and then I threw the toy down that I was playing with--the idea being that I'm setting an example for him ;)  We'll see if he takes that as a license to throw things from now on!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Just remove emotion

  Last week I had my first appointment with my counselor about anxiety.  It's been about 5 months since I was discharged from treatment, so I've been doing really great!
  Unfortunately anxiety reared its annoying head and I thought it best to see what advice Deb had for me.
  Really, the main thing that has stuck with me from that appointment was what she said about relationships.  Her little pearl of wisdom: Two relationship deal breakers are emotions and assumptions.
  What a coincidence--those two things just so happened to be the very first things I dragged into the latest issue with a particular family member.
  So yesterday when my daughter was yelling for me and throwing a fit in her room, what did I do?  I ignored it.  And then when my resolve to ignore her began to wear down I started chanting "just take the emotion out of it" in my head.  Amazingly that helped tremendously!  I suppose I hadn't realized (again, things just need to be spelled out for me...occasionally several times, at that!) that I bring a HUGE amount of emotion into battles with my daughter.  We are both incredibly emotionally charged people and when the two of us are upset and are engaged in a battle of wills, well, nothing good comes of it!
  Sometimes I can ignore her for a while, but then I just get angry 30 minutes later when the issue is still unresolved and I'm still listening to her carry on!  So then I'm prone to yelling or being totally unreasonable (it's very tempting to take away something fun--dessert at dinner later that night, maybe--even if it has nothing to do with the issue at hand--perhaps the toys aren't picked up).
  However, in my infinite wisdom (that is greatly enhanced now that the kids are sleeping peacefully), I can see that reactions like that from me only make things worse.  Being unreasonable in my punishment is basically my adult way of acting like my 4 year old is.
  Really, if you look at the issue closely it's easy to see why my own highly emotional response just creates a bigger problem.  My adorable Miss A is overreacting (in my mind) to something (say, picking up the toys) and my response is to overreact just as unreasonably by bringing something else completely irrelevant to the issue into the equation (dessert, perhaps.  What does dessert have to do with toys?  Nothing!).
  Good grief, no wonder so many of our "early years issues" went unresolved and only grew until they exploded!
  Unfortunately another problem arises:  I have to train myself to keep my cool (I'm discovering I have a bit of a temper!) or else everything just goes down the pooper!
  So, I've at least discovered one way to keep myself calm: remember to keep emotion out of the equation.
  Now, I'm by no means saying emotion is a bad thing.  I love emotions!  I love being able to adore my kids, I love being able to love people.  Even being able to have our feelings hurt serves its purpose--it keeps us safe and encourages (if it's handled "correctly") better communication skills.
  However--and this is definitely something I'm learning through my kids--there are appropriate ways to handle emotions and there are inappropriate ways to handle them.
  Anger should never be targeted at anyone (hitting, yelling at, or even spreading rumors about).
  Fear is another biggie with kids--but to keep it from becoming an anxiety issue, it's best to talk about fears and why they are or are not likely to happen (monsters under the bed=there may be scary shadows or sounds, but there are no monsters.  Tornadoes=yes, tornadoes can happen and can be scary, but just because it's windy doesn't mean there will be a tornado.  It takes more than a small wind to create a tornado).
  So, here's to hoping tomorrow is a day filled with properly handled emotions--on my part!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Learning about anxiety

  I've tried and tried and tried to make a post for several days now, but I just get too caught up in other things.  I've learned that having this blog is like therapy for me, and I'm not getting my sessions in when I need to!
  So today I'm taking a few minutes to write some things down.
  This past Sat. I hit a new personal best on my bike ride and was so pleased with myself!  I was whooping and hollering all the way up the monster hill (when I had the breath to spare, that is) that I conquered and it felt good!  All I could say after was "that was awesome."  I've decided that my cozy little box that I spoke about a few posts ago has just been blown to pieces--who needs a box anyway?  ;)
  Today I had an appointment with my counselor about anxiety.  For the past few weeks I've been thinking "why am I having these chest pains?  I don't feel anxious about anything."  Well, today Deb gave me a handout (I love her handouts, they're always so helpful) and after I looked over part of it I had to smile because part of what makes a panic attack a panic attack is that most of the time the reason is unknown. 
  Really Deb thought that perhaps in my case it's just one anxious event piling on top of another.  Even if I dealt with the situations well, there have still been four major things go on in my life in the past 2 months (my mom had another episode, my FIL had a stroke, my daughter will be starting preschool in a week, and one other emotionally-charged event)--perhaps I just need to process them all differently than I had.
  Ok, so knowing that helps in the sense that I'm not "missing" something--I may never know the cause of the attacks.
  Really, I hate to call mine attacks, they just aren't that severe.  The chest pains are really just annoying--but I still want them gone.  And I suppose they're still a physical overreaction and I need to retrain my body on how to handle that.  And they do hurt, I've just had worse.
  Anyway, I have another appointment in about 3 weeks and I'm really looking forward to it.  I like my counselor and I always leave my appointments feeling better.
  I'm planning to have a productive day today.  I have lots of laundry to get done, I have a few other chores to finish up and I want to work on my coupons and my book! 
  Another goal that I want to work towards is cutting out my afternoon nap most days.  If I really need the rest, that's fine, but I am starting to get annoyed that I'm almost 30, both of my kids sleep great most nights, I'm relatively healthy, I've even started exercising and I still need a nap every day!  Good grief!
  I'll let you know how that works out!  =)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Learning to Lean

  So after a great conversation with a good friend I feel a lot better about today.
I am hoping to be incredibly productive. More than that, I need to be productive. I need to prove to myself that I can do my work. I can fight the fatigue. I can find balance between being a mom, wife homemaker.
  So, in order to be able to accomplish all of this, I need to lean a bit on others. Some seem to view that as a weakness, I was one of those people up until a year or so ago. There was a time when I thought "good grief, it takes an army just to keep me functioning on a basic level!" and that just depressed me further.
  Now, however, I can see that asking for help is actually a sign of maturity. I am able to see where my limits are and acknowledge that I need a helping hand. Instead of pushing myself emotionally and physically to the point of exhaustion, I can reach out to people who care, and ask for help.
Not only does it help me get done what I need to, but it also strengthens that bond between myself and my friends and husband.
  Do you have any idea how hard this was for me to understand? It has taken me four years to get to this point, and I still struggle with it. Why should I ask for help when I feel like I have a better handle on things than I ever have before? The answer is simple: I still need help from time to time, as does everyone.
  So what is left to do? Reach out and ask!
  This past week my best friend came over to help me get things done. Sometimes I just need someone here to chat with and help chores seem less mundane. Sometimes I need someone to help keep the kids occupied and hold mine if they're having one of those "don't let my feet touch the ground" days. Other times I need someone to take everyone away so I can have the house to myself to pick up clutter and clean in peace and quiet. Then there are other times when I need someone to vacuum for me while I put laundry away, or wash the dishes while I dry them and put them up.
  The great news is that I have a great friend and an incredible husband who are always more than willing to help out.
  An incredibly intelligent person once (or perhaps a few hundred times) told me that a friendship takes two people to make it work (just like any relationship). Translation: I may not feel like I'm giving the other person anything in return for all that I ask/need, but I am giving something or else the friendship wouldn't have lasted as long and become as strong as it has!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why not?

  Yesterday was a great day!  The main reason it was so great is that I have tapped into my well of creativity.  I have always loved to write, but I stuck to non-fiction.  I loved journalism and the idea of making a difference in some one's life through an article I had written.  Within the past year or two I began to entertain the idea of writing a young-adult fiction (YAF) book.  Talk about stepping way out of my box!  My book was going to be based on these insane stories my grandmother told me when I was a kid.  So, I began to write.
  I love to read YAF and have noticed that one thing that makes the good books good is that they're based on "truths" (mythology, folklore, etc.).  So I began to research my topic and realized that Grandma's stories were going to have to change in order for the book to be what I wanted it to be.  That's how it started, and then next thing I knew, the story became mine!  Grandma's stories served as a great inspiration, but the book now has little to do with what she told me.
  I feel so liberated!  Who knew I had the ability to create a YAF story?  I certainly didn't think I had it in me.  The reason I was going to base it on Grandma's stories was that I was sure I couldn't create my own.  I had a very small, comfy box that I liked.  Unfortunately fear and doubt weren't making much room for me in that box.  Now that I took the first step (rather unintentionally) in making my book mine I feel like I can really write and it feels great.
  I am currently reading a book about a woman who lost her identity through her roles as a wife and mother and she is now struggling to rediscover who she was and wants to be.
  I certainly don't feel like I have ever lost my identity--I love who I am.  I do, however, think that through the negative thinking that comes with depression and even anxiety, I severely limited myself in who I could become.
  Before, my life was full of "I'd sure love to...but I can't/I'm too scared/that's just not my kind of thing" thoughts. 
  Sure I tend to be timid, but lately I've been saying "why not?" instead of "I can't."  As a result, I now go mountain biking (albeit, on the easier kinds of trails--but I'm mountain biking!).  A year ago I walked the trails that my husband would bike and I'd look at the uneven paths, rocks, creeks, etc. and think "how is this fun?  I could never do that!" and then one day I thought "why not?" and I went for it!  So what if I'd had to walk my bike and people saw me?  So what if I fell?
  Just like with my book, sure I'd love for it to be a best seller, but if it's not that's ok.  I want to be able to say "I went for it!"  It's funny because I'll go back and read articles I wrote for journalism classes over the years, and even previous chapters in my book and I'll think "wow, that's good!  I wrote that?" and it's obvious that I've spent a good 10 years if not more selling myself short.
  So, today started out draggy and I felt extremely fatigued--but simply thinking about my book and being able to look forward to working on it later today gives me the drive I need to get things done.
  It's tempting to look at the massive pile of laundry that's been waiting days to be put away and think "I can't do this" and then go sit at the computer because I barely have the energy to keep my eyes open and stay awake.
  Today I'm determined to look at that ridiculous pile of laundry and say "I can do this!" and get it done!
  God wouldn't have created me to be a homemaker if I couldn't do it successfully.  That's something I'll have to remind myself of a LOT in the weeks to come--but eventually it'll be something that I won't have to make an effort to do.  It'll come naturally.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Keepin' me on my toes...

                I have an emotional daughter.  I know this, but not everyone around me gets to see her true colors.  She’s pretty good about being incredibly obedient in front of other people and only acting out with me—I feel so privileged!
                As a result of having a child who is so much like me it’s scary, my life is rife with ridiculous power struggles and completely illogical arguments.
                For instance: this morning A was trying to get ready for Church.  I know that she has some tactile sensitivities (scratchy tags in her clothes bother her as does any other foreign fabric) so I packed a nice, fancy dress for her to wear (one of her favorites) and in anticipation of the tactile issue, I also packed a tank top to wear under the dress.

                After she got the tank top on she insisted that it was wrong-side out.  So, in order to avoid a totally pointless argument (what difference did it make if the shirt wasn’t right-side out, it was going to be under her dress anyway…) I took the shirt off of her and turned it the way she wanted it and helped her put it back on.  Lo and behold, she was convinced it was still right-side out and she wanted it the other way!  I finally cut the tag off for her and told her we’d try to put the shirt on one more time, and if she couldn’t find a way to make it work then she’d have to wear the other outfit I packed for her.  She was finally ok with the shirt and got her dress on. 
                Mind you, all this time she’s been crying and upset and I had to take her firmly by the arms and get in her face and remind her that I can’t understand her when she’s talking into my shirt and crying.  My MIL was watching everything play out and even asked if A could wear the dress without the tank top.  I almost laughed, sure I’ll let her wear the dress without it, but A would have a meltdown over that.  

                After that exhausting battle we finally finished getting ready for Church and left.  A and I were in the bathroom before services started and she had a complete meltdown about the sleeves on the dress.  She wanted to change or wear a t-shirt under it!  Yes, sweetheart I’ll magically pull a t-shirt out of my tiny little diaper bag because I knew we would have this problem!  Good grief!  I also found it annoying that she had been wearing the silly dress for 20 minutes at least and this was the first she’d mentioned about it.
                I had to explain to her that she was going to have to wear the dress because that’s what she chose and all our extra clothes were at Nana’s house.  When we finally joined her brother and my husband on our pew she was keeping her hands under her sleeves—sure, whatever helps!

                After I sat down my husband leaned over and asked what the meltdown was about.  Everyone had heard her crying and acting hysterical in the bathroom!
                It’s seemingly ridiculous moments like these that I’m reminded that I can’t reason with her.  A has gotten so emotionally involved in the situation that reason flies out the window.  I could have told her a thousand times that the shirt was wrong-side out, the way she wanted it.  I could even have shown her (and I certainly tried explaining and showing it to her today) and it wouldn’t have mattered.  Emotion distorts her perception of reality.  So what do I do?

                There are times I just put my head in my hands an take a moment to compose myself because I’m so tempted to yell “You’re FOUR for cryin’ out loud—YOU figure it out!” and then stomp out of the room.  However, I am the adult and there are many reasons as to why that’s a bad idea.  The main thing that helps me get through an episode like that (and we have an average of one a day, if not more) while acting like a grown up is that I know that this is real to her and if she doesn’t learn how to handle those emotions now, it will only get harder for her to understand how to control them later.

                I’m creating a relationship with her by helping her through each of these episodes.  She’s learning that I’m not going to force her to do something that is uncomfortable for her (this morning I let her choose to change out of the dress and tank top before we left the house while it was still a reasonable time to change her mind).  She’s also learning that she and I are a team through my refusal to threaten her and punish her (it ends up being me and her against the tag, not me and her against each other).  She’s learning to own her decisions (she chose not to change when she had reasonable time to do so, so she had to be uncomfortable or find her own solution until she can change).  She’s learning that it’s ok to cry, but that there’s a time and a place for it.
                Sure there are times things get ugly and I yell back.  There are times that I don’t know what else to do, so I spank her.  There are times when she’s being petty and I’m petty right back. 

                Has it always been this way?  Oh my, no!  There were days before she was even talking that I’d just sit and hold her while she cried and cried and I’d cry along w/ her because I didn’t know what else to do.
                I thought my “problem” would be solved when she started talking because she could finally tell me what was wrong.  Nope!  When she first started talking I only got one chance to guess what she was saying (and any of you who have had young kids just learning how to talk, you know how hard it is to figure out what they’re saying)—on a good day it was two chances and then she’d just melt down.  Her needs weren’t being met and I had no idea how to go about helping her.

Naturally, after she started talking more clearly, her response became “I don’t wanna tell you!”  Or she’d just be hysterical, not even trying to communicate with words.  Oh. My.  Are you seriously telling me I waited three years for this moment and it’s only made things worse?!  She’s four and a half and I still have to remind her to use her words!  I feel like we should be past that—way past that!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

De-fogged and feeling great!

  It's been nice to return to the real world.  Yesterday was a laid-back day.  We went to a drive-through safari with friends and even though one of the kids just took a short nap on the way home, we had a good afternoon.
  While I wasn't completely back to normal yesterday, I did feel a whole lot better.  I still struggled with those silly chest pains for a large part of the morning and that intrigued me since I felt more composed than I had in days.  I still found that I had to make a conscious effort to focus on what needed to get done (me eating breakfast, getting everyone dressed and ready for the day before starting on household chores, etc), but I have days like those every once in a while and I feel even better today.
  On the drive home from the safari I was visiting with a woman I have a lot of respect for.  She happened to make a passing comment that really stuck with me.  She reminded me that while there may be other relationships in my life that need some work, my Christian duty is to God first, then my husband and then my kids.  All other relationships come after those, and if something starts to take away from my three primary relationships, then I need to step back and re-evaluate my priorities.
  Talk about a light bulb moment!
  I've found myself struggling more with the kids, especially with my emotional daughter who likes to try to engage me in power struggles...ugh!  I've also noticed a bit of distance with my husband.  Well, now I understand why.  Hindsight being 20/20 and all, it's because I've absolutely allowed myself to be consumed with a particular issue that has yet to be resolved, and it's not due to lack of effort on my part.  I have done everything in my power to correct the situation and act like an adult, and have gotten no where.  So, now I am quite content to wash my hands of it for a while and spend time getting my priorities back in line!
  Let me tell you, it feels great not having that problem hanging over my head. 
  For the months to come if I notice myself struggling with my family, I'll be repeating "God, husband, kids" over and over until things get straightened out and I have a great feeling that things will work the way they should.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Freak-out, over!

  All right so the next step since coming to the realization that I have anxiety was accepting it.  I successfully spent the weekend in some ridiculous stupor.  I wasn't able to focus, I slept poorly and I got agitated over things that are out of my control.
  Today is Sunday and I've decided that I'm done with that phase of anxiety.  I gave in completely for two or three days and it stunk.  My solution: regroup.  That's what I'm going to be doing over the next few days.
  Unfortunately this weekend was one of little sleep for my highly emotional kids and there were many power struggles to be had.  As we drove home I was exhausted mentally, emotionally, and physically.  So, tonight I am allowing myself some much needed "me" time.  I am not stressing over chores (and let me tell you the house is a mess.  Laundry is starting to take over the laundry room, things need to be picked up and put back where they belong, the fridge is in desperate need of being cleaned out, I need to vacuum, dust, clean the bathrooms, sweep and mop).  Instead, when I get home I am going to chill.  I am going to enjoy some time w/ my husband and perhaps read a good book.
  Tomorrow I will create a plan of action.  This would be one of those instances where I have to make an effort to sit down and make sure I keep things balanced.
  Balance...what a tricky concept.
  How does one balance religion, family, house work, mental health and friendships?  I'll let you know when I have a good system going!
  As of now, I tend to take things one day at a time (hence the name of the blog) and I rely heavily on my best friend and husband to help me find the proper prospective on things.
  Right now I'm letting go.  Sounds so simple, right?  Of course it does, some of the most difficult things that have to be done in life sound simple.
  I'm letting go of things that I can't control.  There is a particular situation that I have tried and tried to fix and from my perspective the other person has not put forth any effort.  I'm done for now.  I'm done dwelling on it and making assumptions regarding motives.  I'm done trying to come up with different approaches.  I'm simply taking a break.  Eventually I will have to revisit the situation again.  It will be unavoidable because my feelings keep getting involved (and hurt), but hopefully the next time it needs to be addressed I will have a clearer head.
  Tomorrow the kids and I have a plan to spend some time with friends.  I will also focus on the chores that I have designated to Mondays and will not even acknowledge the other things that need to be done. 
  I'll let you know how that goes!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Anxiety, really?

  Throughout my counseling sessions I had mentioned a few times, in passing, that I've had chest pains over the years.  My second counselor said "no wonder, it was all the anxiety you were dealing with."  I didn't think much about it at the time.
  However, today I was chatting with my best friend and was telling her that I have been having the chest pains again and started describing the dull, aching pains that effect my moverment to her as well as the fact that I haven't been sleeping that well lately.
  Through the course of our conversation she suggested that perhaps it's something associated with anxiety.
  I got home and WebMD'd it and I think that's spot on.  I remember the first time I ever had the pains Mom rushed me to the ER.  I was probably 9 or 10.  They ran all kinds of tests and couldn't find the cause.  Their best diagnosis: growing pains.  The only problem with that was the pain was debilitating.  I honestly couldn't move.  I really can't fault the doctors, who would have guessed that a 9 year old would have anxiety/panic issues?  The only way they could have known was to know the environment I was growing up in--and how would they know to ask about that?
  Over the years I've been tested repeatedly for asthma and even though the tests come back normal, doctors still gave me inhalers and would go on my way.  That diagnosis never really felt like it fit, and the inhalers didn't really seem to help--but what else could it be?
  Now I know.
  It just seems funny to me that now, at a time in my life when I feel like I have the most control I've ever had, I still have the pains (and logically, still suffer from some kind of anxiety/panic).
  Perhaps it's back to counseling for me...I'm certainly ok with that, I had so much success with it over the past year.  I was just hoping to be done with it for a little more than 6 months.
  On a positive note, I was able to let our new neighbors borrow a few of our big tables for their upcoming yard sale.  It's always nice to feel helpful!
 We also get to host the preacher who is holding a gospel meeting at our congregation for dinner Sat. evening.  I am really looking forward to visiting with him. 
  Lots of fun headin' our way!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Discouraged and such

  I had such a productive morning and the kids did great!  So now I'm wondering why I all the negative aspects of the day are catching up to me and making me feel overwhelmed...
  I am reading a great new fiction book and one hand it is an inspiration, and on the other hand it's intimidating.  I started writing my own young-adult fiction book and am stuck.  I just don't feel all that creative.  Some of my book is based on these insane stories my grandma told me when I was a kid.  I can tell those and add to them a bit and base characters on people I actually knew.  The problem arises when I need to create my own stuff.  My dream is to publish it some day, but then I pick up a good, well-written young-adult fiction book and I feel like my story can never be that good....
  Also, while today was productive, I didn't get much done inside the house.  The kids and I were gone all morning/early afternoon and then it was time to get dinner and get everyone ready for Church tonight so my housework didn't get done.  We're planning to be gone tomorrow morning for a bit too, and right now I just feel like I need to stay home and get things done here.
  THEN tonight at Church I was briefly mistaken for a lady who is probably 100lbs. heavier than I am--certainly a blow to my ego.  I know I'm not small, but I'm not that big!
  Anyway, I'm hoping a good night's rest will help me feel refreshed. 
  I desperately want to be an optimist, but it just doesn't come as naturally to me as it does to some.  Tonight is a great example.  I am trying hard to remind myself that today was overall a good day, and that tomorrow I can start afresh.  It's just a lot easier said than done.
  So, here's to hoping tomorrow my head is clear and I can focus on being positive!


Monday, August 1, 2011

Yay for Today!

  Today had potential to be horrible.
  Thankfully it wasn't!
  I got to go to my coupon club, finally got rid of a nasty headache, had minimal power struggles with my kiddos, actually enjoyed time with my mom, got to play tennis during some kid-free time with a great friend and then even had a great chat over some coffee.
  One thing that made today so great was the time with my mom.  She and I certainly don't have a great relationship--sometimes it's hardly even a relationship at all.
  Today, however, she and the kids enjoyed some time together and I was able to finish up a few chores while they played.  Then we all had a good lunch and then she and I were able to spend some time catching up.
  It was a surprisingly balanced visit.
 I used to keep busy with chores when she'd visit.  Before she moved closer to us and would come to stay, I did a lot more cooking.  It was just easier to spend time with her if I didn't have to give her my undivided attention.
  Today, though, I even asked how her doctor appointment went last week.  A huge part of me didn't want to ask--not because I don't care, but because I don't know what I can believe.
  She recently spent some time in the hospital and told me the doctor advised her to apply for hospice because she only had 6 months to live.  I took that story with a grain of salt and later found out that, yes, her heart has been weakened by her lifestyle, but that she is in decent health all things considered.
  SO, back to her appointment last week.  He doctor told her things weren't as dire as she thought, and really that she's ok. 
  I was impressed she'd even tell me that.  That story doesn't attract the attention that the hospice story did--but she was honest and that was great. 

  I was even able to finish the day with a step towards my goal of exercising several times a week!  I'd say today was a success.  Now let's see what tomorrow brings...