Friday, April 29, 2011

this house won't clean itself

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Yesterday we pulled into the driveway after school and Miss A said something that made me have a happy-mom moment.  "Mom, our grass is so green!  And the lawn is mowed!  And our tulips looks so pretty!  And it's all just...wonderful!"  I loved that the same things that make me happy are the things that make her happy.  I love that she feels that same satisfaction and pride in taking care of our home and making things beautiful. 

I did a thorough house-cleaning a couple of days ago.  Today, you can't tell a bit.  So, I'm off to try to regain that good feeling that comes with a job well done.  Spring cleaning is still very much going on around here.  Fortunately/unfortunately, the weekend forecast looks like I'll have a lot of good time indoors to work on it.

Hope you have a happy one (filled with something more exciting than spring cleaning)!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

taking it on

found via pinterest, original source

It seemed obvious that I would take care of my dad after rehab.  One of my brother's had married 4 months before, and the situation with my dad would be more than a new marriage should be asked to bear.  My other brother was living with roommates and experiencing the typical life of a single 20-something, not very conducive to constant care-giving. 

Alita, the social worker, kept talking about the routines and stability that would be crucial for my dad and reassuring me that I had those things to offer because I was already taking care of children and used to the scheduled climate of family life.  I understood what she was saying, but I also thought that this 50-something social worker had probably forgotten about the days with young kids.  I had just had a baby a few weeks before, and routines and schedules were barely starting to come back into play.  And aside from scheduled meal times, our days were largely dictated by my kids.  If someone was sick, we stayed home.  If everyone was healthy, we'd venture to the grocery store or the park.  Miss A had preschool at designated times.  Naps were hopefully taken between certain hours.  Beyond that, things were pretty open.  It didn't seem like a great structure to me, but deep down I knew it would be the best option. 

And really, that was one of the gifts of the experience.  Despite the many doubts going into it, I knew it was something I could do because I knew it was something I was supposed to do.  Sure, there were a thousand questions of how things would really work, but the knowledge that I needed to do it provided me with the faith that somehow everything would work out.  The diet, the medicines, the bills, the safety would somehow all be taken care of.  I would learn what I needed to in order to care for my dad.  And then I would learn a lot about myself along the way. 

This is one place where things got hard.  We had many well-meaning family members and friends who didn't have the same conviction that I did that it was something I needed to do.  Instead, they saw the thousands of questions.  And they hypothesized about the stress and the impossibilities and the worse-case scenarios.  And then they questioned us over and over and o v e r.  Wasn't there another option?  What would happen if we weren't there?  Couldn't we find some place to care for him?  It became tiresome to constantly reassure them while we were still in the process of reassuring ourselves, trusting in the answers we'd received that this was a necessary thing for our family. 

One day while on one of my many phone calls with Alita, I entertained the thoughts of some of the doubters.  "What would happen if I wasn't here, Alita?  What would happen to my dad?  What if I can't do this?" 

She didn't let my doubts become an option.  "It's amazing what families can do when faced with a situation like this," she replied.  "Somehow, they step up.  They sacrifice.  They make it work.  They care for their loved one."  I'm grateful that she didn't let that train of thought last long. 

I hung up with a renewed confidence.  There was no other option.  I could step up. I was taking it on. 


In an effort to remember what I've been through taking care of my dad post-stroke and share the growth and beauty that came along the way, I will be journaling this experience as part of Bee a Little Better.  You can find all posts in this series under the label "the dad story".  I hope you'll stick with me as I record this experience.  If it doesn't interest you, come back tomorrow for something different.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A good day

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Today is full of possibility, and I am content.  The weekend was lovely.  I spent time with the people I love most.  I enjoyed the eggs and hunts and baskets side of things on Saturday, and Sunday was a day for worship and family. 

I am realizing that the seeds I planted weeks ago may have just gone in too early, so I'm hoping to sow more this week with dreams of lettuce and peas and onions.

I'm trying to be more productive in my evening hours while the husband is still putting in long work hours.  Last night I did laundry, cleaned bathrooms, scrubbed my kitchen floor, and re-organized the toy closet.  I have a list a mile long of projects waiting, so I'm hoping I can keep up the motivation.  I have a laundry room and more closets in need of some care, spring cleaning tasks that I never seem to get to, and a basement full of treasures for the yard sale I'd like to have someday.  I'm sure I won't run out of things to do any time soon. 

Life is full of good.  There is plenty of bad, but I just don't want to focus on it.  I don't have time to get mired down with the negative.  I want something different for my life.  I have a beautiful family who I'm trying to give my best efforts.  I have a body and mind capable of learning and growing and serving.  I have purpose and conviction.  I'm not sure what else I could want. 

Hope you can find the good in today.  I'll be back soon- lots to share!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sunday Will Come




Easter is one of my favorite weekends of the year.  Often, Spring is in full bloom showing forth the renewal of life, so symbolic of the events of Easter. Some years, snow is still on the ground, but I'm always full of hope that Spring is just around the corner.  This year we're doing something different as a family.  On Saturday the Easter bunny will visit, we'll color eggs and hunt for them, and treats will be made together.  On Sunday we'll spend time with family and attend church and focus on the real reason for celebrating Easter.

This video message is an Easter sermon that stands out to me. It was shared five years ago, but the promise that "Sunday will come" is one I've reflected on many times since then.  Heart-ache escapes no one, but this promise has brought comfort to me as I've endured my own struggles.  There is truth and beauty as we recognize that bad things don't last forever, that no matter how devastating our Fridays may be, Sunday will come. 

"Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.
But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.
No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come." -Joseph B. Wirthlin

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sick Days

It's been a long week, and yes, it is only Wednesday morning.

On Monday the Muffin woke up and ate breakfast.  I was trying to step it up that morning and went beyond my normal oatmeal/toast/cereal routine and made a German pancake.  After eating his slice, he started having a hard time breathing.  His breaths were fast, labored, and noisy.  I made a doctor's appointment for a few hours later and spent my morning holding my sad baby.  He flopped around on me, struggling to get comfortable, and crying the second I put him down.  He was able to sleep for a little while before his appointment, and then with all three kids in tow, we went to the doctor. 

The doctor heard a lot of wheezing and said it sounded like  he was having an asthma attack.  Our doctor was also the husband's childhood doctor, and he had epic asthma as a child.  We've kind of waited to see if any of our kids would develop it because he had it so severely, but we've been lucky so far.  We did a breathing treatment and waited, and then the doctor listened again.  The treatment hadn't helped. In the mean time they did an exam and found he had an ear infection, but for some reason his tube wasn't draining.  The doctor removed some build-up blocking the tube, and in the process scratched his ear so it started bleeding everywhere.  Because the treatment didn't improve things, we were sent to the hospital for a chest x-ray and a lung-suctioning so they could test for RSV and other types of influenza.  I called my in-laws to come pick up the big kids, because after an hour at the doctor's office already, they'd had their fill of waiting.  After the testing at the hospital was complete, I picked up several prescriptions and went home to cuddle my baby who still was struggling to breath.

He fell asleep after we got home, was awake for about an hour and a half screaming, and then went back to bed for the night.  Yesterday we returned to the doctor to follow up, and he concluded that because all of the other tests came back negative, this was most likely a reaction to the large amount of eggs in the German pancake.  Armed with an epi-pen, we returned home with a boy who is getting back to normal, and is most likely allergic to eggs.     

It's been emotionally and physically exhausting. Having a child struggling to breath is one of the most frightening things as a parent I have experienced so far.  The pediatrician informed me yesterday that he almost admitted us on Monday and spent hours worrying after we'd left if he'd done the right thing.  I'm so glad my baby has improved, but have a new appreciation for the parents who endure large health challenges with their children on a daily basis. 

This morning Miss A woke up with an ear infection.  I think we'll be back at the doctor today for the third day in a row.  I'm hoping by the weekend everyone will be improved and ready for Easter fun.  In the mean time, we're taking it easy over here. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

You say yes. I say no, no, no. (but in a polite way)

image via, quote by Albert Einstein

Are you a yes man?  I would answer yes to that question, although I think I used to be more of a people pleaser than I am now.  It's something I've been thinking about a lot lately.

I have a friend who is very good at knowing her limits.  Not only does she recognize what she can handle and what would be too much, but she really sticks to it and is not easily swayed to overextend herself.  She can see the consequences to going beyond what she feels capable of, and she doesn't want to become the kind of person that it makes her when she's spread too thin.  She's gotten really good at saying no, and not in an unkind or rude way, but in a responsible and purposeful way.

My friend is busy.  She manages her home well and finds much time for service in her community and for those she loves.  She is a committed mother and homemaker.  She is very deliberate in how she chooses to spend her time, and she finds success and satisfaction in her chosen pursuits.  As I've watched her, I think some of her success can be attributed to her ability to say no.  From the outside, it seems so liberating!  And who knows, maybe if I did a better job at recognizing my limits and then living within those self-imposed boundaries by saying no, I'd feel that same liberated feeling!

But, there is another part of me.  And who knows, blame it on the handmade movement with all the creativity and lack-of-limits, don't-hold-back, if-you-can-dream-it-you-can-do-it inspirational posters that are found across the internet.  This part of me wonders why I would put limits on what I can accomplish.  This part of me says that part of the growth that comes through life is to learn to get out of that comfort zone.  This part of me says that if I feel spread too thin, I can seek help from a higher power to get me through, and it will all work out in the end.

And now you see my conflicted thoughts.

Recently I found a blog opportunity that sounded kind of fun.  I am really content with how things are going with Bee, but it seemed like a small time commitment and a good opportunity, so I signed up.  And then the details came.  And then I realized that maybe it was a bigger time commitment than I initially thought I was signing up for.  And I had all these thoughts about yes and no already on my mind.

This new commitment would have increased my time on the computer, I'm guessing by at least an hour a week.  Would it have increased my readership?  Maybe.  But right now, I'm more concerned about the growth of my children than the growth of my blog.  So I sent an email and said no.  I knew this wasn't something I could commit to right now.  And while a little part of me felt guilty, a big part of me felt relieved. 

So I've had my first trial run.  And as good as it felt to say no, I'm still feeling somewhat torn.  Do I try out the path of no and find out just how much I can accomplish when I set boundaries for myself and my family?  Or do I continue to say yes, buying into the creative mantras of dreaming it=doing it, and trusting that I'll somehow continue to get done everything I set out to do? 

Please weigh in.  Do you set limits for yourself?  Do you wish you did?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Intuition

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Last night, the husband and I were up late planning.  Today I would accomplish the packing and shoe shopping and other needed errands to get ourselves ready to roll.  He would leave work early, and we'd hit the road between 2 and 3 for a little spring break vacation.  It would really be the saving grace of spring break since the agenda so far this week has been "mom's sick, so find something to do."  Tonight we'd stay in Cortez, Colorado, and tomorrow we'd spend the majority of the day exploring Mesa Verde.  Then we'd drive to New Mexico to spend the weekend visiting the husband's brother and bride-to-be.  The rest of the husband's family would meet up with us there, and it sounded like just what the doctor ordered.  With the long work hours we've been experiencing, the kids and I were thrilled to have time with the husband.  Warmer weather sounded enticing, and hanging out playing games and eating good food are always my idea of a good time.

Except I couldn't sleep last night.  I did ok for an hour or two until de-Man came in.  I ended up in his bed for a couple hours and listened to the muffin have a late night crib party.  I shuffled back to my bed and tossed and turned.  And the muffin woke up again.  I was already awake, so I went to help him find his binky and get back to sleep.  As we sat there and rocked I looked at my peaceful baby, but I couldn't feel peace.  I began to pray, and I realized why I couldn't sleep.  This trip was not meant to be for our family, and I couldn't deny it.  I put the muffin back in his bed, returned to my own, and laid there awake.  My stomach did flip-flops.  I prayed again and received the same answer I had before.  I waited for the husband to wake up to share my feelings with him.  We talked and he said he'd pray about it on his drive in to work.  And then he called with the same answer I'd received.

So now we're staying home. The kids and I are busy making a list to come up with some of our own spring break fun.  There have been tears this morning and lessons learned about the importance of following those little feelings.  Some call it intuition, while others refer to it as their gut feeling.  I believe it to be the Holy Ghost.  But however you refer to it, trust that feeling.  This morning I feel a little disappointment, but I also feel peace.  And I'm looking forward to two things- some home-grown fun for the rest of the break, and a more restful night tonight.

When's the last time you trusted those feelings?

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Mundane on a Monday

Pardon the unintentional blog break.  Let's catch things up with a list, shall we?

-Last week the husband logged 85 1/2 hours at the office.  He also spent about 9 hours commuting back and forth.  Needless to say, it was a long week for both of us.  The bad news is he will probably be this busy for the next 3 weeks.  The good news is even with him gone last week, I managed to make rockin' dinners every single night.  I call that success.

-Yesterday I woke up with a raging sinus infection. My face hurts.  My teeth hurt.  I didn't sleep much last night.  I'm hoping to make a trip to the doctor later today for some antibiotics, because an upcoming road trip doesn't sound too appealing in my current congested condition.

-Today I dropped off our car at the dealership for some routine maintenance.  The maintenance man recommended a lesser service for about half the price because according to him, service is often over-recommended to make a buck.  Imagine that.  I so appreciate that kind of customer service that actually looks out for the customer instead of the overhead.  So nice.

-I have two very-ripe bananas on my counter.  I made banana bread last week, so I think these banana cookies are on my to-bake list.  I'm excited to give them a try.  Really, I don't buy bananas to eat by themselves.  I buy them to let them ripen and make banana bread/muffins or to chop up and freeze for smoothies.  I'm hopeful the cookies will be a hit and add one more potential destiny for my very-ripe bananas.

-The muffin has been dealing with some food allergies.  After the latest outbreak, I have taken him off all dairy and switched his soy milk for rice milk.  In the past, I have made my own baby food purees, but since I've already done that for this baby and thought we were completely moved onto table food (he is 16 months, you know), my puree-making days don't hold the same delight that they did, say 8 months ago.  But purees have seemed to be a safe route for some good nutrition when some of my other go-to dairy free meals feel overworked, so I've been buying the happy tots pouches.  I love that I can unscrew the lid and he can squeeze the pouch into his mouth to feed himself.  Until the allergist appointment in a few months, I see a lot more happy tots consumption in the muffin's future.

-This week is spring break.  Even though it's day one and I'm sick and the kids are going a little stir-crazy, it is making me so excited for the summer.  I need that down time with my kids.  I need the days when we can wake up and be super productive mixed in with the days when we can wake up and do absolutely nothing.

Hope this week just gets better and better! 
  

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Focused

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Wednesday already?  Things have been a bit busy around here.  The husband has had a big project at work making for some extra long days for him which also translates to extra long days for me.  It hasn't been a bad week, just a busy one, and one where I've been a bit more focused on life. 

Last weekend was lovely watching General Conference.  There is nothing else that helps me to refocus so easily.  My priorities fall back into place.  My roles as a wife and mother are valued, and I feel committed again to give them my best efforts.  My perspective is broadened and I can see how my day-to-day choices are connected to my long-term goals.  My desire to become better is strengthened, and even more importantly, it seems doable.  If you have a few minutes, check out the talk from Elder Quentin L. Cook on womanhood or the talk by Elder Russell M. Nelson on faith and family.  There were so many good things that inspired me and sparked some of my own thoughts, and I can't wait to share more soon. 

As I have gone through the past few days with my refocused views, it reminded me of this quote from last conference that I loved. 

"...Indeed we have great reason to rejoice. If life and its rushed pace and many stresses have made it difficult for you to feel like rejoicing, then perhaps now is a good time to refocus on what matters most.
Strength comes not from frantic activity but from being settled on a firm foundation of truth and light. It comes from placing our attention and efforts on the basics of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It comes from paying attention to the divine things that matter most.
Let us simplify our lives a little. Let us make the changes necessary to refocus our lives on the sublime beauty of the simple, humble path of Christian discipleship—the path that leads always toward a life of meaning, gladness, and peace." -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

The talk that the above quote comes from affirms that our relationships with God, our families, our fellowmen, and ourselves are the things that matter most. Right now I feel focused on those things.  I feel content.  I let little things go, knowing that I'll call the insurance company and run errands and pay bills when the time is right, but sometimes I need to be with my kids or help others, and those life management tasks will wait .  The challenge now is to keep my focus where it needs to be. 

What helps you refocus? 
How do you stay focused on the things that matter most to you?

Happy Wednesday!