Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I'm Full of It

I'm sure some of you, when looking at the title, thought to yourselves, "Why Yes. Yes you are." Well, I'm admitting it.

Last month I read many posts on Facebook where they list things they are grateful for each day. I enjoy reading them - especially my family's. My older sister posted her gratitude each day and after reading it, I would name something to myself for which I am so incredibly thankful.

Because I am. 

So incredibly thankful - for so many, many things.

But I'm just not feeling it. I've been grumpy and irritable and my tone has been considerably less that patient and pleasant. 

When I would name what I'm thankful for, it felt forced and cheesy. But I kept on naming things because, you know, the whole fake it until until you make it adage. I was hoping to get there, get to feeling it - and feeling it good.

I've been trying to write. Those 3 or 4 people who read this regularly have noticed that it's been 3 weeks since I've written. What they don't see is the 152 times I've sat down to write and had no words come.

Usually, writing helps me to sort out what I'm feeling and helps me to lay it bare. If I don't like something that is happening in my life. I'm the only one that I can change  - either the situation, or how I look at it.

I was going to write this post with the same title I have now, I'm Full of It. I wanted people to look at the title and think one thing and then read my lovely post about how grateful I am and see that I AM full of it. I am just so chock full of thankfulness. I had it all planned out in my head. Things usually look their best there...in my head.

Except the words wouldn't come. All of my thankfulness is stuck somewhere deep inside. I guess you could say that I'm a bit spiritually constipated. That analogy is going to make my mom roll her eyes to the back of her head so far, that they just might not make it back, but it's just the way it feels. My gratitude is all backed up. And if I don't work on it, if I don't loosen up the old pipes, so to speak, my gratitude is going to turn into my own tiny, petrified little pit of despair.

I know that having a thankful heart turns a lot around. I've seen many quotes pasted on friends' timelines on Facebook about gratitude and having a thankful heart. Here's one, 
And this:

Each one was a little dagger to my heart because I wasn't feeling it. And although I wasn't complaining so much out loud, I've been doing plenty of complaining to myself.

And, yet, I agree! I totally believe in the power that gratitude has over my outlook and how I behave and how I feel. And only I have the power to change any of that.

I have a really good life. I have a home. I have a husband that loves me and supports me and who works really hard to keep the bills paid and make it possible for me to be in our home with our boys. I am there whether they want me to be or not and I love that I get that choice. Yes, there are days where I fantasize about getting in the car all by myself and driving and driving and driving and yes, EVERY SINGLE NIGHT I am relieved when bed time comes along. But what would I do without those two boys? I am so lucky for the chance to have gotten to know and love the men in this house.

But, holy hell, things can be so hard.

I've thought about praying for a thankful heart. However, so many times, to get what you want there is a hard lesson to be learned. So praying for gratitude seemed like just asking for trouble. Who needs more trouble? 

Cowardly much?

Oh yes. 

I may have mentioned I'm seeing a counselor. She is really helpful with my parenting. She offers new words and encourages less words with my boys and really stresses the need for self care for all moms, and especially for mothers of kids with special needs. She suggested I read a book, by Brene Brown, called The Gifts of Imperfection. I put it on my Kindle and started reading. 

I came across this quote in the 2nd or 3rd chapter,
"Don't get me wrong, I'd love to skip over the hard stuff, but it just doesn't work. We don't change, we don't grow, and we don't move forward without the work. If we really want to live a joyful, connected, and meaningful life, we must talk about things that get in the way."
I bookmarked my spot in the book and closed it out. And didn't pick it up for almost a month. And spent the month looking for a thankful heart in all the wrong places.

All of a sudden, it was Thanksgiving. Lobster had requested a quiet Thanksgiving day of football and food and just our family. For me, it's not quite a holiday if there's not a big group of people talking and laughing and enjoying good food.

We compromised with a pie night with friends on the eve of the big day and had a lot of fun with a house full and kids running and squealing and delicious desserts being shared. Boy 1 said he wants to make The Pie Palooza a yearly tradition.

Thanksgiving day was quiet, except for the harsh voices of boys spending too much time together and a mom singing songs about Jesus and kindness and groans and complaints about such singing. 

When dinner was ready, we sat around our table. Lobster settled an argument about where each boy got to sit and we then each listed a few things for which we were thankful. Lobster began our family prayer to give thanks and ask blessing upon our feast. While our eyes were closed, I almost gasped aloud. I was given a gift. I opened my eyes during the prayer and looked at my family. Where my heart had been discouraged and a bit heavy, I was filled with such love and appreciation for these men in my life and for the life that we have made together.

For just a moment, I was overwhelmed with emotion and the tears spilled over my cheeks. 

I know I have more work to do. I've got "things in the way". But that glimpse of how it can feel gave me the determination to keep working. 

And I am full of gratitude for that.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Stop Shoulding on Yourself

I stared at the floor in front of me. I knew what it was. I had heard the goings on moments before. I closed my eyes and sighed big - wishing that it would change before they opened again, but knowing that the job was mine alone.


It was all around me. The odor of partially digested chicken and broccoli and rice crispy treat and mucous and acid drifted around me. I groaned. I guess I could consider myself lucky. The last time this happened, it had been spaghetti and meat sauce.

I wanted to throw a towel over the whole mess and walk away, but there was a boy in the bathroom that needed to get back to his bed. 

The same boy that, in his urgent, sickened panic, forgot he had a bowl in his bed for this very reason.

I haven't had to deal with much puke. And not for a long time. I've been pretty lucky in that way.

I didn't miss it one bit.

I realized that I had forgotten paper towels in my shopping last week. I groaned, again, thinking about kneeling over this with a rag and a bucket.

I had jinxed it, you know. Last week, I had been reading a blog about a woman "knee-deep" in vomit. I thought, "Whew! I'm glad my boys aren't yakkers."

Hearing my groans, my son said, "I'm sorry Mom." 

Separated by a sea of puke, I just answered, "I know, Sweetie. Stay there so you don't walk through it." I wish I could say that I quickly made a path and swept him up in my arms, tucked him back in his bed caressing his hair while he fell back to sleep.

I wish I could say that.

I did make the path, but he traversed it mostly alone and fell back to sleep after just a peck on the forehead. I focused on the job at hand.

Later, after cleaning it all up and after a load of laundry, I thought about how I reacted. I thought about how I would have wanted my mommy to respond to me when I was sick.

I then thought of how my counselor said that she's noticed that I get the most teary when I talk about what I should be doing.

It's so easy for me to listen to another mom talk about her failings and tell her to not be so hard on herself - and mean it. I've been told many times that I'm too hard on myself.

Why is it so hard to afford that same sympathy and empathy for myself? Why do we moms do that?

It's all right to want to do better. Doing our best is all anyone can ask. But somehow, we demand more of ourselves and then feel terrible when we don't measure up. 

So I put my question to you, gentle reader. How do we show the same kindness to ourselves that we show to others? How do YOU that?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Circle The Wagons!

It's been quite a wild few weeks. In addition to our usual madhouse, Boy 2 has been giving us a run for our money - both with behavior at school and here at home. Really, it should give me plenty to write about. I, however, have felt the complete opposite. I kind of just want to hole up, form the wagon circle, and hide.

Pioneers Crossing The Plains of Nebraska by CCA Christensen
Doing that for a little while is all right. I'm the type that likes to wallow in it for a bit and see if it passes. But, really, there's only so much of that you can do, especially when you're a mom. We need help. And I'm the one that needs to find it.

I remember - back when I had no children - when I had all the answers. It takes a firm hand and a loving spirit and the kids will fall into line. Kids behave the way they do because the parents aren't consistent enough. Oh, I was so smart then. I really miss those days.

Of course we have to be consistent. Let the consequences be the teacher. Of course we have to love them. We are the adults and we have to act like it.

But kids are different. What will work for one, will not even faze another. Kids' brains are wired so differently. And in our case, there are "brain issues" as well. I'm just going to say "brain issues" because there are some of our boys' stories that aren't for me to put out there for display on the Internet. 

So I went searching for help. I found help for myself rather easily. When we were going through our educational classes for foster care and adoption, there was a woman teaching one of the classes who is a Licensed Professional Counselor and I thought to myself, "I would totally call her if I needed help." 

It took a couple of weeks to work up the courage to call, but I did. And I'm so glad. She has so much experience with adoption and parenting kids with special needs and just parenting in general and the need to put on your own oxygen mask first, as hard as that can be.

Finding help for my little peanut has been a bit harder. The names I had selected at a clinic that takes our insurance didn't have any openings. I had been doing some other research to find a counselor that would accept our insurance and that would have experience with "brain issues" and adoption. 

The school and, specifically, Boy 2's teacher has been so good to work with. She has some personal experience (also not my story to tell) that helps her to understand our position and that means so much. I feel incredibly grateful for both of our boys' placements in school this year. How a teacher responds makes such a difference.

Yesterday, I heard from the clinic and we have an appointment - with one of the top names on my list! It's not for 3 weeks, but we have a date. I know things take time, but I'm feeling like I can see the light. And hopefully, it's not the train. ;)

We already know that I don't handle stress well. Wallowing and a tendency for comfort eating are not a good combination. I was feeling pretty good because I had been able to at least maintain my most recent weight loss - until this week. I'm sure hoping it is some water retention, because almost 8 pounds is a lot to gain in one week. I didn't log it into My Fitness Pal yet. I'm just trying to drink a lot of water to flush out my system and see how it goes. I haven't been logging in a lot of things on My Fitness Pal, lately. I need to find a way to keep track that doesn't take up so much time. 

Exercising would help manage my stress. So that comes back in this week. And Lobster is home from another trip. It's really nice to be all together again. We love having that man home. I'm pretty sure he's just got one more this year. 

This past week was pretty busy. While Lobster was away, I spent a day with Boy 2 at school, babysat, 2 boys' soccer practices, appointments, volunteered at the school and did a Halloween Food demonstration at a church event. Would you like to see my table? I sure had fun doing this!

I made stewed monster toes, apples with ogre snot (sorry mom!), eyeballs on a stick, Dracula's dentures, pickled brain, cheese witch fingers, french fried spider legs, and bloody band-aids. It was fun and the boys really enjoyed the left-overs. And I have to admit, that so did I.

I'm feeling good and hopeful. I love my little family and we're having a bit of a rough time right now. But we're getting the help we need. I heard somewhere that one sign of maturity is knowing when and how to ask for help. Maybe I'm finally feeling like a grown up. I can't solve everything with a hug, a kiss, and a pat on the behind. I can't even solve it all myself. And that's OK. 

It's OK.

I think I can let the wagon train loosen its circle. I'm ready to get back on the trail.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Halloweening It Up

We are Halloweening it up around here. Halloween and Christmas are my favorite holidays to decorate. With all these boys around, I'm not really into cutesy decor. I don't necessarily want to permanently damage the minds of small children, but I want it a little creepy around here - at least more creepy than normal. I love that not dusting actually helps with the ambiance this season.

I should really have this sign up year round. It's a good warning that all who enter my home should have. BEWARE: There will always be laundry on the couch and a floor in need of a sweep and wash.

As you enter, watch out for the spiders. I don't feed them this time of year. They get plenty of trick or treaters on Halloween. I'm taking applicants for a family of snakes to take up residence in the bird house. You can't see them (because they're still in my living room), but some bats are also moving into The Bat Motel on the ceiling in the entry way.

 Thanks to my 3-year-old nephew for assisting me with the spiders and web. He was a BIG help. I'm working on a spooky section of the yard as people enter with ghosts and ghoulish creatures and bright eyes in the shrubbery.

Inside, the mantel is loaded. 

I love this corner of the room,

In the bowl is a lovely collection of eyeballs, disembodied ears and fingers and bugs - lots of bugs.

But my favorite find at the Dollar Tree this year are the holographic portraits. I'm bummed with how terribly the pictures turned out, but I had to show them.  I make everyone look at them when they come over. 

The cheap plastic frames aren't great, but I love how they change when you move.

It reminds me of the old scary movies when the painted portrait's eyes would follow the characters walking through the home. Don't you love them?

I've gotten a lot of ideas for Halloween decor and food from Pinterest. It's a great resource for tons of great things in one place.

On the weight loss front, I've been a bit derailed. I had a binge a week and a half ago. All because of a stupid bag of potato chips. I'm back on track, but it's hard to just let it go - and stop thinking about those chips. Bah!

I'm not sure why I seem to sabotage myself whenever things are going well. I was feeling so strong and I was LOSING WEIGHT again. Sigh. 

I've just got to keep going every day. And no more potato chips. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sucky - Yeah, I Said it.

Late last week I started writing a post about guilt. And I just may finish it someday. But that won't be today.  You may notice that I am a few days late with this post. And I feel really guilty about that. (winky, winky)  But I am totally wiped. I've been sitting here by my computer staring at the pile of laundry to be folded waiting for me on the couch. And by staring, I mean glaring; and by waiting, I mean taunting unceasingly.

On a completely unrelated note, I read an article about the over-use of commas. Now I'm afraid to use them. I am totally a comma abuser. Is there a 12 step group for that? I need to go back to 7th grade English class. What's funny, (or not, actually) is I've been kind of snobby about it when I read. So, yeah. Sorry. Add it to the list of stuff I thought I knew but really don't. I have a friend who is a middle school English teacher. I'll have to ask for some lessons.

Lobster went out of town Sunday morning. The only good things about that is that I get to park in the garage and no one thinks it's weird when we eat cold cereal and gyoza for dinner.

I hate when Lobster travels. Well, maybe hate is too strong of word. I dislike Lobster's travels. Add on boys' endless arguing, a hailed out soccer practice, too little sleep, and Boy 2's behavior issues at school and it equals a sucky week.

So last week we threatened that if Boy 2 could not control his own behavior, we would have to control it for him. We would do that by attending school with him. 

Guess who didn't control his behavior?

Guess who wasn't out of town and got to attend the first grade - not once, but twice so far, this week?

I'm hoping that I don't have to make a third or fourth... Fingers crossed.

I saw this on a friend's Facebook timeline:

It totally cracks me up. I want it. This is me on a mug. There are several for sale on Amazon and other online sites. I just have to pick which I like best. LOVE it. Maybe I'll just hint a lot and it will show up in my Christmas stocking. Yes, I just mentioned Christmas. I just got out the Halloween decorations. Doesn't that make it time to start talking about Christmas?

I get to spend the morning with my nephew tomorrow. I'm hoping he'll help me with my "spooky" Halloween decor. I love hearing him say "spooky."  And if you are into Halloween decorations, check out Dollar Tree. I scored some great stuff. The cashier said it disappears fast, so hurry in. Once I'm put together, I'll try to get some pictures.

I'm going to bed. I can't take the laundry taunting me anymore. That will show it who's boss. Take that, laundry. And tell your friends.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Smile on My Face

I have rocked myself a bit out of this rut in which I've been stuck! I'm afraid to celebrate too much because it's so easy to fall back in those cursed grooves. I love seeing the scale lower than has been in a long time.

I can partly attribute my 3 pound weight loss this week to a tight budget. There was no eating out, no extra treats. I'm going to have to keep it this tight from now on. ;)  I focused on my water intake and I added in some exercise. 

I had planned on going to a low-impact aerobics class at the Y, but I chickened out. I found that my cable provider has exercise "classes" on demand for no extra cost. I've been doing a walking workout in my living room. I tried a Sweat Sexy workout, but somehow, my moves did not look like the women on the screen, and they were definitely not sexy. It was, however, sweaty. So, I'm halfway there.

Our Primary children did a presentation in front of the congregation at church today. The kids all did such a wonderful job. Each child spoke about something they've learned this year and sang songs. I was so proud. I was especially proud of Boy 1, who has never before been able to say his part in front of the crowd. While he hid behind the podium, he said his lines clearly. It was kind of funny to see people in the congregation look around to see who was speaking. I was so happy and proud! I had tears rolling down my face and I almost forgot I was supposed to lead the next song. This was a big step for my anxious boy. Boy 2 did a great job, as well. They earned a trip to a local pizza place that also has video games and such. Proud Mama day.

I'm keeping it short and sweet. I'm a tired puppy.

Make it a great week!

Sunday, September 15, 2013


I've been feeling good about the number of books I've read this year. I have a goal of 40 books and I've read 29. I'm ahead of schedule and it looks like I'll be able to meet my goal. Some of the novels on this year's list are now favorites. I love reading!

One day last week, I looked on Goodreads.com and saw that a friend of mine had met her goal of reading 80 books in 2013. By September, she had read 80 books. 


All of a sudden, my 29 books was a pittance. I mean, my friend has 3 young boys, her own business, has lost a significant amount of weight (she looks FANTASTIC!) and volunteers at school and church and does things with her family and friends. AND SHE READ 80 BOOKS!

My feeling of accomplishment disappeared, and it was replaced with discouragement. I started to question how she was able to meet her goal. That is exactly 1.54 books each week. How is that even possible when you have an already busy life? 

When I realized that I was tearing her down to make myself feel better, I was ashamed. I was already envious of her in her weight-loss efforts. But, she worked hard for it. She has logged into My Fitness Pal every day - for over 200 days in a row. She exercises several times per week. She works hard. And she is an amazing, strong, driven woman. She accomplishes a lot. No wonder she met her goal of reading 80 books. She is a person that accomplishes goals. She makes things happen.

Why do we compare ourselves to others? Why get out that measuring stick at all? I was happy with the number of books I had read. I was proud of it.

You know, sometimes comparing ourselves to others is not such a bad thing. We can see something in a friend's experience - something that worked for them, or made things easier and use that information in our own lives. We can see that someone accomplished something and be inspired to do better.

But often in our measuring, we come up short. And it stops us cold.

My boys are comparing all the time. One has more milk than the other. How many crackers did you get? How many kisses? How much time with Daddy? How many songs before bedtime? Over and over I tell them, "That doesn't matter. Right now, we're talking about you, not him. You don't need to worry about that." 

Why can't I take my own advice? I don't need to worry about that.

It's destructive, this comparison thing; this measuring our weakness against another's strength. This life is not a competition with those around us. There is always going to be someone prettier, smarter, skinnier, richer, stronger, happier, luckier, better read than we. It doesn't make us any less amazing. It doesn't diminish what we do.

So, help a girl out. Share with me how you keep your head up. Tell me how you stay positive. Divulge your secret to avoiding the measuring stick. Give a friend a hand.