Thank you for visiting my blog; it is an exciting venture for me and I hope this will become a forum for moms and homemakers of all types to share stories, frustrations, and triumphs. There will be recipes, pictures of my latest and greatest soap creations, and anything I think will be interesting to Enthusiastic Homemakers.....

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Dark Side of Excellence

Andrew and Elvis at our cabin getaway

This post is a bit more serious and much darker than my usual posts, but it's something close to my heart, so I hope you will bear with me :)

This week we learned the very sad news that a child at Andrew's school had committed suicide, and along with the police investigation at the school; there was some reflection on "what went wrong". Tonight my thoughts are with this dear child's parents; losing their child at such a young age (only 8th grade) and under such circumstances is the greatest pain that a parent can experience.

This tragedy has made me reflect on the unique challenges that "Gifted" children face, although it's not talked about much. The assumption is of course, that gifted children have an advantage in life, a leg up on others, and as such, have no struggles at all save which school to go to, one of the Ivy Leagues, or MIT. This is simply not true. Technically, children who are "outliers" in either direction have a much tougher road that the children that fall effortlessly into the mainstream. Here are my children's stories:

When Andrew was born, we knew almost right away that he was "different". He talked at six months and walked at eight. When he was 9 months old he was walking like he had done it his whole life, saying "hi!" to everyone. As a child who was "gifted" myself, I dreaded him going into school feeling different. Because of that, I specifically and purposely avoided educational material and the flash cards that I was "supposed" to expose him to. At that age (only 19 myself), I thought that maybe if I didn't draw attention to it, nobody would notice Andrew was highly intelligent. When he was 5, I enrolled him in a regular Kindergarten and took a deep breath, hoping he would fit in. Not so! Within a month of school I was informed that he was headed to the Gifted program. But not yet. They didn't have the resources to test/teach children younger than second grade. I had never taught Andrew to read, and he COULDN'T read entering Kindergarten. But somewhere between September and January of Kindergarten, Andrew taught HIMSELF to read, and by the end of  Kindergarten read at high third grade level. Great. The gig was up! We made arrangements for Andrew to go through the rigorous testing that precedes a child entering the gifted program and all the extra help that entailed. I was torn between hoping he would meet the requirements and hoping he wouldn't. He did. He scored in the top 2% nationwide and at the tender age of seven years and one month, was sitting down with a school psychologist to have his IQ tested. I hated that part, and his IQ (which is high) will never be revealed to him as long as I have breath in my body. I didn't want him to be chained to a number for the rest of his life. I actually cried when I got the report; but this was (to me) the best part: When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, Andrew; my baby seven year old, answered that he wanted to be a "pizza delivery man like his Daddy" (James worked a second job delivering pizza at the time). That answer is so Andrew! I thought to myself then that this kid was going to be fine.

Going to school as a gifted child marks you. You are expected to be (as one parent said at one of my early meetings with other gifted parents) "the best of the best!", and yet you are not allowed to talk of your accomplishments for fear of "bragging" or making "normal" kids feel bad about themselves. It becomes a whole subculture, with the egos of the parents and the funding of the schools combining into an unholy brew. When I became initiated into this club, as a 26 year old mother, I showed up at the first support group meeting hoping to meet people who could help me guide my son through this process. What I found was that I was by FAR the youngest parent of the group, in fact probably half the parents could have been MY parents. Why are there so many older parents with gifted children? Is older DNA superior? What I found was that among the parents of gifted children in our area, I was a statistically outlier. For Andrew to have been born to teenage, high school educated parents and then end up in the top echelon of children was almost unheard of. Why? As I learned, these were nearly all extremely well educated, highly motivated parents who would not accept any less than the best from their offspring. By sheer force of will and constant work, they were molding their children into being "the best of the best". I have to admit I was more than a little disillusioned and slightly horrified to hear 8-year-olds being discussed in terms of their IQ and future earning potential.

It wasn't just the parents, though. The teachers, gifted facilitators, principals, and school districts all benefited directly and indirectly by these children's high achievement. Not to vilify the parents, nor the administrators, it's human nature to want our children to do well in life; I KNOW that these parents all love their children fiercely, but many get caught up in the achievement hoopla. In the end, I felt nothing in common with the other parents, and my desire to let Andrew be a kid for as long as possible, rather than enrolling him in infinite extracurricular activities has meant that I'm an outsider. I fear for him all the time, knowing that kids in school are often unkind to "nerds" and "brains" and that he and other children like him are subjected to bullying and ridicule. What does the school do about this? Not much; I knew a parent who had the experience of speaking to a school administrator and comparing the plight of gifted children with that of special needs children, in that they are both deviations from the norm, and both conditions should be supported by school officials. The school administrator became visibly angry at this comparison, saying that it's not acceptable to compare highly gifted children (who are often socially awkward) with special needs children, reasoning that "at least gifted children do well in school".  So often, "normal" children are given leeway when they humiliate a "brain" because the school (and parents) must be understanding of the fact that "normal" children might lash out because they feel bad about themselves by comparison. Hogwash! If I could push a button and make my child lose 30 points in IQ so that he would be happy all his life; I'd do it in a heartbeat. Giftedness should NOT be a cross to bear. Our society's collective ridicule of smarts is not acceptable to me as the parent of what turns out to be more than one gifted child.

Yes, that's right. When Bentley came along; he didn't talk like Andrew did, but he did start arranging things in straight lines at the age of nine months. So much so that I consulted with the pediatrician about him possibly being autistic. Since he didn't show any of the other signs, and could actually talk quite well for his age, this was ruled out. When he gained enough fluency to make an answer, I asked him, "Bentley, why don't you ever talk?". His answer? "Because I don't choose to". When Bentley was three he "outlawed" all use of the slang, "ya" instead of yes, and stopped using contractions in his own speech. When anyone slipped up and said, "ya", he'd say, "don't say ya, it is NOT a word, say yes". Again, I sent Bentley to school hoping he'd find his way. What happened was that he didn't thrive in a classroom environment, he simply shut down. I remember going to see his classroom in First Grade, they had put up all the kids' art projects around the room. With other parents milling around, trying to find the masterpiece our child painted, I spotted a painting that was a single red square, right in the center of the page. Nothing else. I knew immediately that it belonged to Bentley! He was, like Andrew, "different". So different in fact, that eventually his teachers were at their wits' end trying to teach a child who had been testing off the charts for reading, but who wouldn't turn in a single piece of homework. I knew I had to take action, I wasn't going to go let him flounder another moment. I had him enrolled in a virtual academy within the week of making my decision, and he's doing great. The school system simply wasn't prepared to teach a child who fell so far outside the norms as Bentley; he didn't fit their mold, as so many children who fall through the cracks. At nine, Bentley is a scientist at heart. He is almost painfully cerebral and would be content to spend all day at his "observations". He will stand in the middle of a flower bed with bees flying around him for hours, until they get used to his presence. Then, he rubs pollen on his hand and allows bees to land on his hand. Eventually, he convinces bees to allow him to touch them, yes, he holds bees IN HIS HAND. He almost never gets stung, when he does, he blames himself for scaring them. He also has become single-mindedly determined to become immune to bee stings, and with a determination that frightens me a bit, has decided to get stung just enough to develop the immunity that many beekeepers have. He loves anatomy, and his prized possession is a copy of Grey's Anatomy, which he consults daily. This led to the unexpected introduction of my small children to the birds and the bees, as Bentley informed his rapt brothers about the secrets of the human reproductive system, which I discovered when my six-year-old started going around saying "vagina". Not a terrible way to learn about sex, right?!

I hope that this tragedy at Andrew's school will make people, both children and adults, think about the way they view "the nerds". There's no way of knowing whether the pervasive bullying that occurs at this school or any school contributed to the tragedy of this child's suicide. But I think that for children like him, and like MY children, excellence and higher intelligence can often turn into a negative force. It's so difficult as a parent to see your child experience all the hardships that often come with a high IQ; to help them navigate through their school years unscathed. I feel for all parents experiencing this and feeling helpless. For my own children, I hope and pray that they will find their way; and that my advocacy on their behalf is actually making a difference. It's been a fight these past several years to make sure both Bentley and Andrew are getting the resources that they need. It would be far easier on them if they were "average" children, and I'm constantly aware of that. My third child, Callan; has more unique challenges. At 6 years old, he CAN read, but has absolutely no interest in it. Every page I give him to complete is filled with drawings. His artistic talent is unusual for a child his age, and I'm keenly aware that his brain works differently than most. When he started Kindergarten, his huge personality as well as his size (he was at least a head taller than the other children) made him stand out. I decided at the end of the year to home school both Bentley and Callan, and will allow Dorian to make his own choice when the time comes. I'm tired of fighting the school system who is set up (rightly so) for children that fall in a wide swath in the middle. And not so great at helping children who are different. With my individual attention to them; I can do better. And I will!

Monday, September 3, 2012

All These Things I've Done...

This time of year, early September, is always such a reflective time for me. In 2002, I had just turned 22 and I spent my days with my little 2 year old Andrew, and our days were very precious. They revolved around Andrew's schedules, and keeping our sweet 2 bedroom apartment spic and span. I loved to decorate it and even though our budget was very limited, I managed to gather bits and pieces along with some things from my childhood that were precious to me, and create a little nest, very similar to what I imagined when I was a little girl, planning my life.

All I had ever wanted my entire life was to be a mom, and in the perfect family I envisioned, the children I had would be exactly three years apart. So it was with this in mind that in the summer of 2002 I planned to become pregnant again. Not surprisingly, this happened exactly on schedule, and our new baby was due in April, 3 years and 3 days after Andrew was born. I thought I "had it all" and with the hubris of the very young, couldn't imagine anything happening that would spoil my plan.

On Labor Day, 2002, my idyllic world came crashing down when I suffered a very traumatic miscarriage. Two days after labor day, I was admitted to the hospital for outpatient surgery, the first time I'd ever been under anesthesia. I remember coming out from the anesthesia and the first words I heard were from the nurse, "You're in St. Luke's recovery room, sweetie. With any luck, you'll never have to be here again".

Beyond grief, I was just so shocked that all my carefully laid plans had gone awry, I literally COULDN'T believe it was happening to me. After a difficult childhood and adolescence, I thought that I would never again experience trauma. I was so mad at the universe, I felt that I should have received some kind of badge for all my troubles and that I had experienced enough pain for a lifetime. How naive I was at that age! Of course there were people suffering all over the world, since the beginning of time, but I didn't have the maturity to count my blessings. I spiraled into a deep depression after that, not sleeping for days, doing nothing but sitting on the couch with the sense that my life was over. This was compounded when after the miscarriage I began having health problems that made me unsure I'd ever be able to have more children. Without that dream to hold onto, I was completely adrift. Because I recognized that I was not being the best mother at the moment, I enrolled Andrew in preschool, where I reasoned that at least he wouldn't be exposed to my fragile emotional state. That decision is one that I will always regret. If I had been a little older, or a little stronger, I could have kept Andrew home with me, and to this day, whenever the similarities in our personalities cause friction, a part of me wonders if we would be closer if I hadn't gone through such a deep depression when he was in his most formative years.

The months after the miscarriage were a blur of doctor's appointments and counseling, and through support from my husband and my wonderful counselor, I finally came back to myself. In my search to figure out the cause of my odd health problems, I had visited three different doctors, and had every test in existence, including hormone panels and thyroid tests. The doctors couldn't figure out why I was having unexplained and continuous bleeding, so I decided to start taking birth control pills, both to give my body and my mind a break from worrying about having more children. I eventually started a new part time job, and by March, I felt like my old self again! Except.....I was experiencing nausea and an odd mid-section weight gain, so I took a pregnancy test as a precaution. It was positive! It was so funny, I finally made peace with never being pregnant again and here I was, unexpectedly pregnant! I visited my doctor, assuming I was about six weeks pregnant. When they reviewed the blood test, my doctor later related that he had nearly fallen out of his chair. My hormone levels were sky-high and so I was rushed in to get an ultrasound. I assumed that an ultrasound meant something was wrong and so with a very heavy heart, James and I went to our appointment. I averted my eyes from the screen. As soon as the technician passed the wand over my belly she said, "How far along are you?". Startled, I removed my hand from in front of my eyes and caught my first glimpse of Bentley Jeffrey, who was a fully formed, five month old fetus. Somehow, against all odds and despite having received multitudes of tests AND a complete physical exam two months before (when I was more than three months pregnant), nobody had been able to detect my pregnancy. I still think Bentley planned it that way, I had skipped the scary first trimester and then some!

My poor doctor at the time was a very respected OB/GYN and was mortified since he was the one who had missed a second trimester pregnancy on exam. He quickly and sheepishly referred me to a new doctor who on hearing my story said, "Someone up there must really like you!". The rest of the pregnancy progressed smoothly and after a very short labor, Bentley Jeffrey was born on July 31, 2003, the culmination of a dream I thought would never come true.

Since Bentley's dramatic beginning, I gave up being a "planner". I no longer try to plan a "perfect" family, I'm grateful for the happenstance family we have. I have become a much more easygoing person, not so insistent on having my own way. I don't schedule major life events anymore, I just let them happen. And I have the maturity and life experience to know that I can handle whatever life throws my way. These ten years have been light years away from what I would have said I expected as a 22 year old in our little apartment. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Case for August Blues....

The best thing about August, the Starlight train ride in Sumpter, Oregon

Everybody knows that August is the Worst Month in the World. Or is it just me? I've always hated August! Why? Well, for starters, August is the last month of summer and when the greenery that was so welcome back in March finally loses hold of it's chlorophyll and succumbs to the dry and hot conditions of an Idaho summer. So the green fades to brown and everything looks depressingly parched. Basically, everything is dying, and looks it.

Soon, the halcyon days of summer will be a memory, and like the song from the 80's, "..the summer sun sets all alone". Now if that's not sad, I don't know WHAT is! Also, I was born in August, the very peak of the worse-ity, August 29th, and rather than look forward to the anniversary of my birth, I've always dreaded it. It probably is because I was a rather morbid child, but from an early age, I have always been hyper conscious of my mortality, and every August, it's another reminder that I'm closer to death. Now that I'm errr.....32 years in to my eventually death, the effect is rather heightened.

You'd think that having children would make me hate the end of summer less, right? Nope! First of all, I had the good sense to have my children in tidy batches, two in April, two in July, and poor little Callie, stranded with a November birthday. So there is no GOOD thing to celebrate in August, and I really, really hate sending my children back to school and the end of summer for their sake. I felt like I never really experiences summer until I experienced it through their eyes, and I always cry at the first day of school. Now I get to cry not just once or twice, but THRICE I have to cry for a lost summer.

Not that they're going anywhere, I'm actually homeschooling all but Andrew, but it's still sad. Why can't the school find something else to do rather than FORCE us to get up and dressed at a reasonable hour instead of lounging about in our jammies until noon and having movie afternoons? I guess I'm somewhat rebellious, for an adult and I HATE having a schedule.

So every August, I become more and more morose about the idea of August, while I go about every mom's business of procuring school clothes, Nike shoes in bulk, and pencils that I'm convinced the school system hides immediately upon surrender. Then school starts, and I cry, and then.....

September! My favorite month! More on that later.....

Monday, August 6, 2012

Stormy Weather


Late summer in Idaho is always a time of EXTREME heat and frequent thunderstorms, although this year has been especially bad for both.

At the beginning of the summer, the air conditioner in my 10 year old trusty SUV went out, and having just recently paid the thing (which we bought used) off, I couldn't justify sinking money into what is essentially, a luxury. Oh, how I've eaten my words! Naturally, this would be the hottest summer in 5 years!

Most years, I'm comfortably ensconced in both air-conditioned car AND our 3 year old state of the art, high efficiency central a/c (which is the best investment we've made- ever), and the summers don't bother me too much. I really dislike heat. Intensely. This year though, spending so much time in my workshop AND not having a cool car has really taken a toll on me. Although I know I'm coming out of it MUCH better acclimated to heat. Not gonna lie, it hasn't been overly fun.

One bonus is that I've had fewer migraines this summer than last, but on the other hand, the storms that keep rolling through are playing havoc on the rest of my body. I have a genetic, apparently degenerative joint disorder that is usually no more than an annoyance. Every time a storm rolls through, I can feel it in my bones- literally. I'm strongly opposed to taking pain medicine, normally I don't even take Advil. But I must admit, a few times this summer I've wondered if it would REALLY be that bad for me to go to my doctor and say, "Ok- done this for 30 years, whip out that rx pad!". For years and years, it was mainly my knees that had the most pain, but lately (probably because of all the typing/packaging/soapmaking) my shoulders and wrists have been the worst.

I'm not ready to go there YET, though! Normally a hot bath and some rest fixes me up just fine, it's just annoying to be a human barometer. But in case anyone was wondering, yes there's a storm a-comin'. Just saying.....

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Oh Boy.....

As the mom of all boys, I often get asked whether I am hoping for a girl "next time" or whether the reason I have so many boys is that I was "trying for a girl". And a few even less tactful responses such as TIPS for conceiving a girl. Yes, people go THERE.

I truly don't mind the comments (except the tips....) because I know that it's unusual for a mother to first HAVE so many children of one sex and even more to WANT children of one sex. I grew up surrounded by sisters, five of them last I checked. My one brother was a lot older than me and moved out of the house while I was still a young child, so it was a very female-centric household. Even back then, when I played with dolls, I was the odd one out that wanted the boy baby doll. I was enthralled early on with that musical "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and decided right then and there that I wanted to have a houseful of boys when I grew up. When engaged to be married, James and I had the usual "how many kids" talk and we decided on four because he wanted three and I wanted....five. Five boys preferably!

When every prenatal ultrasound revealed that we were indeed having boys, we were always excited, although at one time James imagined himself having a daughter, now he says he can't imagine it any other way. Besides he says, he should know that I always get what I want!

I keep waiting to feel wistful about not having a daughter. The truth is that I don't really care either way. If someday I have a daughter, it will be great, and funny too, because she would have five much older, much bigger brothers! But until then....I don't need to do the "dress up" thing, don't really want to have someone to go shopping with, my "girl's days" are had with my friends, not my daughter, and I don't necessarily want to pay for a wedding someday.

What I do have is very high-energy children that like to get dirty and eat a lot. I love my boys for their straightforwardness, if something is wrong they let me know and that's the end of it. Some jeans and a buzzcut and they're good. $250 a week in food instead of paying for hair accessories. It all evens out in the end....

And in case you didn't notice, I, like the mother in "Seven Brides" named my children in alphabetical order; Andrew, Bentley, Callan, Dorian, and Elvis. I love to keep things organized!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Happily a Disaster...A REAL Cinderella Story

Every little girl dreams of her Cinderella story...at least I did, but I was a terribly predictable and traditional little girl who carried dolls around swaddled in blankets and dreamed of the day I would have my own real babies. I remember drawing dress designs for my wedding, which I thought would be a lavish affair, with bridesmaids in alternating jewel-tones of ROYAL purple and SAPPHIRE blue.

When I actually did get married, some (but not nearly enough) years later, it was actually a modest affair at a community center that had horrible orange plastic chairs and wood paneling, and my two bridesmaids wore WHITE dresses that didn't even match. It was actually a potluck of Italian food and I remember thinking, upon seeing the black and white paper plates provided by someone instead of the SILVER paper plates I had picked out....."oh well". That "oh well" was the first of many adult decisions/concessions I ever made. I wish I could say I've always been so accommodating, but I have to say; I have not!

A perfectionist by nature, it has always been hard for me to give up the "dream" in anything. I have a wild imagination and probably romanticize even the smallest things; to the point that I often get disappointed when the reality doesn't live up. I think women are particularly prone to this. We are the nurturers, the planners. When things don't go the way they "should", we feel it.

Lately, I've felt at a crossroads in my life. No longer a little fledgling family trying to make our way, James and I are at the stage where we are bogged down with bills and responsibilities, with a preteen son and all that that entails. The dream I had at the beginning of our life together has seemed so distant, it has made me doubt myself. Every fairy tale ends with the dashing Prince kissing the Princess, but they simply DO NOT show what comes next! Probably because a mortgage, car repairs, homework, after school sports, and trips to Costco ain't so very pretty.

Now, I am nearly 32, but my overly imaginative nature causes me to think of myself still as the Princess in the fairy tale, and being expected to carry on a business, a home, AND have a child almost as tall as me has not been easy to adjust to. After many, many, many long heart-to-hearts with James (who is as logical as I am illogical, thank goodness) I feel much better about the way my life is heading. I'm learning to see the beauty in THIS part of my life, though I still don't like not knowing what happens NEXT, and what my life will be like in 10 or 20 years. It will always be my nature to fantasize about the dream vacation to the picturesque cabin in the woods, where the BEST quilt on the planet will keep us warm at night...and that's ok. My way brings beauty and joy, too. But I'm staying much more grounded now and learning to love being the chaotic mess of a jumble of humanity that is our family <3

Sunday, June 17, 2012

WIld Wild West

Dorian's reaction to the train "robbery"
One of my favorite things about being a mother is the way children look at the world. They have a way of seeing right to the heart of things, without sugar coating. It can be both refreshing and frustrating. My four year old, Dorian is especially insightful and he has a reputation in our family of being the "rainmaker". Dorian gets things done! All the other boys lobby him to convince James and I of something or other and his logic is usually so impeccable....I can't resist!

So it happened that one day out of the blue, Dorian said to me, "I've never been on a train". So I googled and found a historic train in Sumpter, Oregon, about two hours away from us and set a date to go. A word about Sumpter Valley Railroad, the train crew are all volunteers, many of whom come from far away for the weekend to donate their expertise. Both train depots were a delight, the McEwan yard was more rustic, a little depot with a working woodstove (which was working while we were there on an unseasonably cold day in June). Displayed were railroad implements and tools.

The McEwan train depot

Dorian picking out the "snacks" he lobbied hard for
We boarded the train in McEwan and settled into the restored 1874 train car. What struck me immediately was...how small it was! Are humans really so much bigger? I guess so, since the seats meant for two were rather...confining.

Dorian and Andrew

Bentley and Callan with their train tickets

One of the highlights of the train ride was the "train robbery" they stage once the train approaches the Sumpter station. I specifically booked our visit on a train robbery day, but was worried about Dorian's reaction. I tried to prepare him for it, by explaining that there would be "fake bad guys". He asked, "are they made of paper?". Right before the train robbery was set to begin, I reminded him again, but when the "robbers" on horseback started shooting caps from REAL guns..Dorian started crying. Through his tears he managed to say, "what if they take my candy?!". After the train arrived in historic Sumpter, OR, he managed to make up with the robbers when they allowed him to visit and ride their horses

Bentley Jeffrey



After the return ride, riding in the open car and enjoying the beautiful scenery (including people waving at the train from their vacation cabins), we started in on the long-ish drive home. While in Sumpter, I picked up a few souvenirs and was heartened to see people donating money to the railroad, it's so important to keep history alive in the this way!  Of course, my way of donating was to shop prolifically in the gift shop! About 30 miles from Sumpter is another one of our favorite places, Baker City, OR and since we were tired and dirty from the train we decided to have lunch at "our" truckstop, which has FABULOUS food!


We had so much fun as a family and hopefully this summer will be full of family fun! And maybe a return trip to Sumpter! (stay tuned!).

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Playing the Hand You're Dealt

This week has been a really, really, bad week with my migraines; and it's caused me to think a lot about the title phrase; which is really cliche at this point; but such a good statement, "Play the hand you're dealt".

I know that in the grand scheme of things; I have a FANTASTIC life; and as I mentioned in an earlier post; I am so lucky in so many ways. But that doesn't mean that my life is perfect. There are a few things in my life that are downright yucky.

The picture above is my grandmother, Vivian. Gorgeous, isn't she? I remember seeing this picture as a child and being quite disappointed when I looked in the mirror and saw my button nose and round face; and hoping someday it would morph into her high-cheekboned glamour! I can't say that it ever really happened; although as I get older I do see glimpses of a resemblance.

My grandmother was dealt some horrible circumstances in her life; most devastatingly; losing not one but TWO children in different horrid ways. But she never lost her sense of humor. She must have been so strong; I can't imagine going on living after losing a child, but she did; even having MORE children, including my mother, after the devastating losses. My grandmother died when I was 21; but not before she was able to meet my oldest child, Andrew. My last memory of her was her holding her arms out to hold him; sick as she was, she still bounced him on her knee and smiled at him.

She was a stylish woman in her youth, and carried that into older age; she loved to wear red lipstick and had a laugh you could hear miles away.

It's so funny; I hadn't intended this to be a post about my Grandmother at all; but after reading this article about overcoming adversity: http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/rising-above-adversity-the-amazing-story-of-jean-dominique-bauby/ I happened to see her picture and it all seemed to fit!

For myself; although my plight is not nearly as severe as ANY of the examples in the article, nor my grandmother's; I still am struggling with my health issues and trying to find a way to cope with them. I'll never stop looking for a "cure"; and my stubborn side refuses to believe that I will spend the rest of my life in pain. To that end; I've pursued many treatments; including massage (which I'm doing tomorrow), and physical therapy. I'm thinking it's probably time for a tune-up!

But, I have had to adjust the way I do things, as much as it irks me to have to consider limitations. For me, mornings are hard because I generally wake up with a migraine; so I've pushed all my obligations later in the morning or in the afternoon. I also am a night owl; but I've had to adjust that; and now go to bed no later than 11pm. Some part of me still considers it a personal failure every time I experience a migraine and have to rely on my husband or my son to take care of things while I'm laying down. I really hate that! But I have had to learn to rely on others, which maybe, just maybe is a blessing in disguise.

I often think of the Scripture that says, "In all things, give thanks". And it may sound weird, but I'm GRATEFUL for the adversity I've experienced, even on a small scale. Because it's made me a better person, and made me appreciate the good things in my life so much more. And maybe...that's worth it!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The 13 year....Glitch

......or how I accidentally got a new wedding ring: (written by me; posted elsewhere, reposted here)

So...my 13th anniversary is coming up on Tuesday. When I got married; I was 18; with a 25" waist. After 5 children; all over 9 pounds and 2 over 10 lbs.....I no longer have a 25" waist. At all. But, I've been wearing the same wedding ring all these years; I probably haven't taken it off in 5.

Well...yesterday; I realize that I have a blister on my ring finger where the point of my pear-shaped diamond has been poking into my now-fatter fingers. I decide to take my ring off so it can heal. I cannot get it off. I am severely claustrophobic and not being able to get my ring off is FREAKING ME OUT. But, trying to get the darn thing off is making my finger swell like crazy; making it truly impossible to get the thing off. Finally, I ask my husband to please take me to the Fire Dept. where they have a ring cutter. Yes, I'm THAT freaked.

We go; get the ring cut off; my finger is swollen like crazy but now I have NO RING. Duh! I've been thinking about getting a new setting for my diamond for at least 5 years; it's a rather dated gold thin band with a matching gold thin band for a wedding band. Keep in mind that in 1999; the wedding band cost $39.99 and the solitaire cost $900. That was a LOT of money for an 18 year old me and a 19 year old my husband!

We go to this gorgeous jewelry store where they ply us with pastries and shinies and I come to the terrible realization that gold has gone up SO MUCH in the last 13 years that to replace what I had with something similar (which I hate) would be WAY MORE THAN $39.99! We're talking like $800 just for a plain gold band!

But, I find; in the last jewelry case; where they keep the estate jewelry and the misfit stuff that nobody wants; at 50% discount....this gorgeous setting, in white gold with little diamonds all around! It's unique and amazing and they can set my original diamond into the center. It is not $39.99. It is not $900. It IS 50% off, though; and my choices are to go without a ring indefinitely, wear something I hate; or buy this one that I LOVE....with money I don't *technically* have.

I bought it. Eek. But my husband kept telling me that I deserve it; he wants me to have something I can wear forever; and blah blah. Plus, to sweeten the deal, the jeweler takes my now-destroyed band and setting and scraps them for me; $90 in scrap gold, woohoo!

And now I feel terrible. But also excited. AAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"I make my own luck" ~ Titanic

Ok; ok, Calladen in Titanic was probably not the first person (fictional or otherwise) to say those words; but that statement made an impact on me at the time because obviously; this character was a "bad guy". So it made it seem that "making your own luck" was a negative thing. Is it? I recently read about this study:


And it was; as Oprah says, "An ah-ha moment". I've always considered myself exceptionally lucky.  Ever since I was a child; I've been the kind of person that things happen to. So many times; things have fallen into place for me; seemingly miraculously. While I can't take any credit for my good fortune; I've always wondered what makes a person lucky. The first bit of good luck I had was when I was born. The person I call "Dad" is actually my stepfather. He chose to raise me as his own child, even though he didn't have to. And he never treated me as anything less than his own daughter. So much so; that I often forget that we are not biologically linked. In fact; when my fifth son was born and I first saw the dimple he has in his cheek; in a haze of endorphins and exhaustion, I actually thought, "He got my dad's dimple!". I laughed about it later; but he DOES have my dad's dimple; I really don't get it.......

Flash forward a bit; I did not have a perfect life; far from it. But as I became an adult, things just seemed to always fall right into place for me. From meeting my husband, to having the five sons I jokingly told my husband I "knew" we were going to have. Once my doctor said to me, "Somebody up there must really like you!". But...what if I'm not really lucky; what if luck can be learned? Is it possible that I, and others, who people see as lucky have learned cues from an early age that makes it easier for us to choose the path that leads us to what we want? I think it's fascinating; and I DO think anyone has the ability to improve their "luck" (if it can be called that). I'm thankful for whatever it was that "taught" me to "make my own luck". But in a less smarmy, smirky way than the character on Titanic!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fresh Beginnings?

Hello, my much-neglected blog! The last year or so has been so Topsy-turvy; and in reality; I've felt so UN-homemaker-like for most of the last year; I felt disingenuous posting about my experiences. It's safe to say that my business has consumed me and right now I'm in a huge transition.

What sparked my desire to finally post was both the Spring weather, which always reminds me of new beginnings, and the date; April 16th. Today is my #4 boy's 4th birthday. In a lot of ways, his birth was a season of new beginnings as well.

On the morning of April 16th, 2008; I woke up with a start. Heavily (and I mean HEAVILY) pregnant; I was so immobile and gigantic and MORE than ready to have this baby. I had made the decision early on in my pregnancy to have a natural experience with minimal medical intervention; and had enjoyed going to a birth center which was located inside a 100 year old bungalow complete with creaking wooden floors and diamond pane windows. I lumbered out of bed, as I had every morning for the last few weeks; and looked outside at the trees which were on the verge of blossoming. I had told myself every day of my pregnancy that Dorian would be born when the trees were in bloom; but a late Spring that year had kept them depressingly un-blossomed. I thought to myself, "I can't have the baby today, the trees aren't in bloom!". Just then, I had a contraction that doubled me over. "Ahh!, not again!" I thought. I had been having contractions continuously for weeks, with no sign of actual labor. But something felt different about this time. I called my mother, my sister, and my midwife; explained to everyone that I was having contractions and could I possibly be in labor?

Since this was my fourth child, you'd think I'd know; but each labor is so different in progression as to render experience nearly worthless. The consensus from all these wise women was that I was NOT in labor. Disappointed, I decided to go about my day. The mini-scare made me realize that I was going to have the baby at SOME point; so I decided to start making meals to freeze. Lasagna started, I was still having contractions that were doubling me over and some other signs of labor as well, but I didn't want to be the girl that cried wolf, and honestly; I felt so silly being pregnant for the fourth time and having no earthly clue whether I was in labor or not. So I soldiered on. I made sauce from scratch, boiled the noodles, and about the time I was assembling the lasagna I was having so much trouble standing during the contractions I thought it might be wise to call my midwife. Again. She asked me whether I thought I was in labor; I said I didn't know. I really didn't! So I waited.

I served my boys lunch, sent them out to play and finished up the lasagna. As soon as I covered it and put it in the fridge to cool; I knew I was going to have a baby. Soon. The time was about 1 pm; and I made another round of phone calls. This time, my mother said, "You sound like you're in labor". I was still hesitant to go to the birth center only to be disappointed, but I agreed to come in "for a check". My husband came home, left again to take the boys to my sisters' house....and I panicked. I was having intense contractions by then, and was picturing myself giving birth on my bathroom floor BY MYSELF; while homemade lasagna languished in the fridge and my husband was chatting with my sister before dropping off our boys.

Calm breathing, calm breathing. Finally, my husband returned and we took the painful and ridiculous 17 minute drive to the birth center. When I arrived, it was 2:45 and I was 7 cm dilated. One hour and sixteen minutes later, at 4:01 pm, Dorian Russell came into the world, all 10 lbs 4oz of him. He was blond and huge and gorgeous. We went home just 2 hours later, to a hot, home-cooked meal. Of lasagna.

Now, at 4 years old; Dorian is a unique little guy that never ceases to amaze us. Very serious; he's also a very loving boy who always is ready to cuddle. He has a box that is a collection of eclectic items he's selected. He carries it around with him and at night; tells me to "protect" it. He informed me a few days ago that he's a "Superhero". He certainly is brave! Last year; when he was barely three years old, he fell at Disneyland and needed stitches for his head. He didn't cry when getting stitches, just lay still and stoic, complete with a Mouse Eat hat at a rakish angle. Dorian is known for handling himself with aplomb no matter what the situation; only crinkling his brow slightly when something strikes him as odd. He's been a true blessing in his four years of life. I'm grateful to whatever twist of fate brought him in our life at a time when we were NOT planning to have more children.

This morning, when I told Dorian that he was 4 years old, he asked me "Am I still Dorian Russell?".

Yes, Dori; you are!