Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Grandma Who's Slip and Slide

The whole gang
Cartwheeling and playing rodeo with the hose
The Biggies
Different day, but I love this picture of everyone together... Such a happy family! :)
The kids have been loving playing with their slip and slide again this summer. It was a present from Grandma Who and Grandpa Chug last summer. The past couple days have been really humid and the water has been a blessed relief from the heat. Thanks again Grandma and Grandpa!!

More New Experiences

I recently had a job interview with a company that I am totally excited about. The position is part time in the evenings and some Saturdays so the hours would be ideal for childcare but less than ideal for me getting to see the kids... It would be great as far as moving forward professionally and I think I would really enjoy the job. Since the interview I've gotten a request to write an essay that I submitted yesterday. After the essay portion, they contact me if they want a second interview. So, as of now, I'm waiting. On the day of the first interview, I took all the kids with me because we were going to go to Mesa and meet Lowell after he got off work in order to attend a bar-b-que at his friend's house. In order to kill time between the interview and bar-b-que, we went to a couple parks that the kids had never been to. The first was just a little playground and a huge field. The second, however, offered a model jet that was nearly life-sized and a pond. I stopped at the gas station across the street and bought a cheap bag of potato chips to feed to the birds and then the fun began. 
Feeding the ducks and the geese
Jillian getting more chips for the pigeons.
See the results of Chloe's perm?!? It left her a little bit curly! :)
Nathan feeding pigeons. After this picture Chloe got one to eat out of her hand.
This led to the next picture...
Everyone trying to get the pigeons to eat from their hands. :) Unfortuntately, there were no takers.
We met Lowell as he got off work and we headed to his friend Cameron's house. When we got there, things did not go exactly as planned. They apparently did not know the whole family was coming or, most likely, in the excitement of their day, forgot about us. You see, Cameron's dog was having puppies. As a matter of fact, the kids got to see a puppy be born. Right in front of them. Jillian said it was gross. Chloe said it was disgusting. It lead to a discussion about why the puppy was so dirty... Not the conversation I intended to have that day, but I love those teaching moments nonetheless. Even if they are about birth. In the middle of a stranger's living room.
In the end, we had Jack in the Box and spent a lot of time outside talking to Cameron and his dad. A fun evening all things considered. And a great opportunity for new experiences.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

4th of July

4th of July. We spent the afternoon at the Buckeye celebration. It was raining in the morning but the weather cleared up nicely in time for the event. There were water slides, a bounce house/water slide and the same slip and slide that the kids had at their birthday party. There was food and music and also family games like sack races and Frisbee. We camped out in the baseball field with our blanket and let the kids run around and play catch and “gymnastics” and who knows what else. Wyatt toddled around meeting the people on the blankets around us and playing with the Big Kids. The fireworks were great – I LOVE fireworks!!! Wyatt had woken up shortly before they started and didn’t cry a bit. He just laid in his stroller, sucking on his bottle and looking back and forth between the sky and us. I think he was trying to figure out what was going on and to get reassurance that we weren’t scared of the loud noises. It was a very easy, fun day and I was thankful that Lowell was willing to come with us. We didn’t get home until almost 10:30 and he had to get up for work at 2:30. He’s always such a trooper when he knows the kids want him to come with us.
I’ve long said that the 4th of July is one of, if not my single favorite holiday. I love the family aspect, the patriotism and the fireworks.. And there isn’t the pressure that comes from gift buying, cleaning house, decorating, cooking, cooking and cooking… In the future I hope we can have a big bar-b-que and have family and friends over to celebrate with us but in the meantime we will keep loving our little family moments and keep teaching our kids the meaning of these days: that freedom isn’t free and that we are very blessed in our country. I love living in American and I am very grateful for those who worked 200 years ago to earn us freedom and also for those who currently serve to keep us free.  God Bless America.
Daddy and The Big Kids

One Month of Vacation to Go...

Goofy girls at the mall
Our summer has been spent either on the road, borrowing someone else’s air conditioner (mainly the mall’s) or inside our house. The humidity has been extreme and while it did bring us at least one awesome thunderstorm with a ton of rain, it makes our swamp cooler much less effective. Some days the house has been around 90 degrees and, while that is preferable to the 112 outside, it is still oppressive. Most days we ended up laying on the couch watching tv with our new purchase -- the converter box. That, I must say, was a good investment. We’ve been able to watch the news, the weather and Jeopardy!! Small pleasures!
And a couple weeks ago I initiated the kids to the world of “Fear Factor”. They are hooked. J The first week we watched contestants eating live leeches and then this past week we watched them climb into a burning building and one contestant had to shave her head and wax her eyebrows. We’ve also started watching Wipeout and American Ninja Warrior. Interesting viewing choices, I know, but they’re family friendly and entertaining. Lowell is usually asleep on the couch while we’re watching. So it’s kind of like we’re all together. With his new day shift he has to get up at 2:30 in the morning. This usually means that I’m up then too either to make his lunch (rarely) or, more likely, to make sure he’s awake. He’s still working 65-70 hours a week but he gets to be more involved with the family on day shift.

We did make it to the pool a couple days – one with Wyatt and one where Lowell watched him for me. Wyatt still loved the water and wanted to splash around constantly. His face went under the water a couple times and he didn’t freak out. By his nap time though, he was done. Thankfully that was also the time Lowell got off work and he swung by the pool to take Hubba home.
Me - trying to feel professional...
I’ve been looking for a job over the past month or so. I’ve been to 3 interviews and I have another one this Saturday. I interviewed with Jewish Family and Children’s Services twice and at A New Leaf; Saturday is for CPS. It seems that everywhere I go they keep telling me not to expect to hear something for awhile. I guess hiring right around the new fiscal year is a difficult task. I’m feeling a little discouraged but still looking. I’m also wondering if maybe I need to look into something else… Something to get by with until either I get my license in the spring or until Wyatt is a little older. I know I need to make some money but I am not sure how to accomplish that and still have time with the family… If I have a second shift, come school I won’t see the older kids at all. If I get the New Leaf job, I’ll also be working Saturdays… That means I’ll only have Sundays with the kids. All week. That’s it. I’m having a hard time with that… I KNOW I need to work, I get that, but I’m struggling with how to make it work. If I work during the day, Wyatt is in day care and I’m just paying someone else to watch him while I work. So, I’d either have to find a job where I can take him with me or where I make enough to make childcare worth it. Without a license, that doesn’t seem likely. I’m stuck. Any ideas?
Playing Just Dance
Anyway, back to our summer. While indoors, we’ve been playing, cooking and being creative. The kids play Wii – their favorites are MarioKart and Just Dance. The latter gets them exercise while keeping them cool, so that’s fantastic. (Thanks again, Auntie Leeda and Uncle Bread!!) Up until this week I’ve been going to my practicum 3 days a week but I still managed to get some scrapbooking done (thanks for the motivation Moron!) and I’m hoping to expand on that success now that I’m done with my practicum. I have a break now until September when the last two of my classes start.

August 13th we find out what classes the kids are in and Back To School Night is the 16th. First day of school is the 20th. There is a wedding in the family in late September and we’re really hoping to be able to make it to Nevada for that special event. It has been quite awhile since we’ve seen that part of the family. The kids don’t remember their aunts and cousins on that side so this would be a special treat!

And the kids have been bummed that we didn’t take a “vacation” this summer. We’ve taken a ton of little trips across town or to new places they’ve never been but we didn’t meet the official “vacation” criteria I guess. I think Reno would meet their need to get out of town overnight. J
Waiting for the perm solution. Stinky!
Nathan and I have been spending some time in the evenings playing catch. He is getting really good and I’m excited about having a little more income next year come baseball season because I think he’d really enjoy it. That is my goal for this year – sports for the kids. Or some kind of extra-curricular activity of their choice. (Again this becomes a problem if I’m working swing shift but… We’ll work something out.) Chloe still wants to do gymnastics but she’d also like soccer or track. I’m not sure about Jillian yet – I’d like to do swimming because she still needs a little extra help with her swimming but I know she enjoys being in the water.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Chloe has been desperate for curly hair. We decided to try a perm. It took about 3 hours; we went to the Empire Beauty School. Chloe turned into quite the spectacle. She had at least 3 student beauticians around her at all times. She wasn't really sure what to do with all the attention and she REALLY didn't expect the process to be involved and time intensive. Unfortunately, the very next day her hair had already begun to straighten. Today her hair has some wave in it but it definitely can't be called "curly". Chloe was totally bummed but has now comes to grips with the fact that her hair just isn't meant to be curly yet. We're hoping that hormones may help and we found a curling iron similiar to the one from the mall at Walmart that is only $30. Hopefully we'll be able to get the curling iron soon and give it a try.

During the major rain storm we had recently, we loaded up in the van and headed downtown to take a walk. We parked at the pool/park downtown and headed off down Main St. We must have seemed out of our minds just taking a stroll in the rain but it was so refreshing. The end of Main Street is a grocery store so we went in, got some drinks and snacks and then headed back to the car. On the return trip the rain intensified and by the time we got to the van we were all completely soaked! But we loved it. It was such a welcome change from the heat.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Family Day

Chloe at the zoo on the train
Jillian drinking and watching the animals go by
At the mall after the zoo. We were disappointed to learn the zoo closed early in the summer... Guess its just too hot for the animals so we headed to the air conditioning of the mall and used the excuse to try on some fashions. :)
One of the booths in the niddle of the aisle had a "magic" curling iron that even curled Chloe's impossibly straight hair!! Unfortunately, the iron was $200. We're looking into other options because she REALLY wants her hair to be curly.
Nathan and Lowell are not in these pictures but they were there -- I promise! :) Nathan especially loved the Lego store and Lowell always loves spending time with the family.

Monday, July 16, 2012

1 Year Loved

Birthday Boy! :)
Covered with frosting
I've been absent from my blog for awhile. No specific reason - just a season of busy-ness and disinterest. Because of this, I missed posting about Wyatt's first birthday. Here are some highlights. It was a low-key day. Just a little "cake" (animal crackers with frosting) and handmade presents from the kids. This is him playing with his Giraffe from Mamoo. He loves putting the little balls in the giraffes head and watching them fall out his legs.
The proud siblings
Sharing cake with Daddy
At one year, Wyatt is walking and says quite a few sounds/words. He says "Mama", "Dada", "KeyKey" (kitty), "Sissy" (Chloe), "dis" which is either "this" or "juice" or "yes" and knows who Boogie and NayNay are - he just can't say their names yet. He loves to throw things and has started getting in trouble because he's hit us in the face with things a few times. He still loves water and being outside as well as playing fetch with himself. He is a big eater and has started eating off my plate for meals. He prefers this to his baby food. We recently discovered that he LOVES french fries and corn dogs. (No hater mail - these are normal parts of his diet!) He is also in desperate need of a haircut and has been mistaken for a girl on a few occassions because of how long his curly hair has gotten. I am terrified that if we cut it off, it won't stay curly but we're going to have to do something! And soon! :)
 His 1 year check up was totally normal but he got a lot of shots -- 5 to be exact. He wasn't happy at all but recovered quickly and just had a little fever for the next 48 hours or so.
At 1 year, he also is still completely loved by his siblings. They are very good with him - helping me with him, playing with him, and marvelling with us as he learns and grows. He is becoming more of a challenge to them now that he's mobile but they are still completely smitten with their little brother. He's doing a great job sleeping, taking two naps a day and going to be at 7 at night and sleeping straight through until 5:45 or so in the morning. That may seem early, but I have to get up then anyway when the kids have school. During the summer its a little bit of a bummer but the kids are already up at that time and frequently Nathan or Chloe will come in and get him to give me a few more minutes of sleep.
Some days it still seems unreal that I have 4 children and especially that I have another baby but most days I don't know what I'd do without him. He constantly makes us smile and laugh at his antics. What a blessing he is!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Further Notes on My Journey Toward Christ

In the past months, I’ve gained some ground on dealing with my issues and have felt a reprieve from their negative effects on my life. My family, blessedly, has also experienced the change in me. This recent transformation I have attributed mostly to the fact that I am fed up with the idea of being stuck – of being... possessed almost by demons of fear and guilt and regret and shame and the absolute inability to do anything for fear that it would be wrong. It kept me completely paralyzed and made me into a quivering ball, a quivering lead mass of inertia and anxiety and stress and… 

The catalyst for the change I believe was a conversation with Lowell where he said that he had finally had enough,;where he said it had been 16 years and it was time to move on. That was really an eye opener for me and while not an instantaneous change, it was the impetus that I needed to get on my knees and tell God that I was done too. It had been long enough. And I was ready to move on. 

Week after week at church there would be these songs of freedom, that in Christ we have the ability to live freely because all that has already been taken care of. When God looks at those who believe in Him, at least in terms of redemption and sinfulness, He doesn’t see us – He sees Christ – we are completely spotless. One of the mysteries of God though is that He also sees me – inherently worthy, important and created for a purpose. And therefore, I need to be the person that He created me to be in order to fulfill that purpose or in order to have any hopes of making a meaningful difference or have an impact on the world.

I can’t sit in the corner and be afraid of every creak and groan and pop and noise and expect to change the world, – that’s impossible. I can't live that way and be a good mother or wife.

So when I took the perspective of these thoughts, these feelings, these behavior patterns had “possessed me” – not that I ever believed I was possessed by anything – when I took that approach to it, I could banish them from my mind knowing that they were already conquered by Christ; that there was no reason that I needed to give them any power in my life whatsoever. They were already overcome. The battle had already been fought and I had already been declared victorious so any affect they had on my life what I was giving them – what I was allowing them to.

And that hasn’t meant that I have succeeded every time. But I have succeeded more than I’ve failed – by a long shot. I have been able to stand my ground and begin putting on this persona of someone who is forgiven and loved and worthy.
I have noticed a huge change; Lowell has noticed a huge change and I am thankful. Unbelievably thankful.
As a side note, comically, one of the things that has happened on this journey is that I have been able to become more authentic in my relationship with Christ. I cuss at Him. Not in a disrespectful way that I am trying to belittle him – I guess its not at Him, its to Him. Because there just comes a time where “ow” doesn’t cut it, its more like “holy shit, this f**king hurts like hell”. And I know that not everyone is going to take that path in their walk with Christ but this has become part of my journey. For so long everything was stifled within me for fear that it was wrong. Or bad. Or imperfect. Or unChristian. And I’m letting go of that. They’re words. And they do have potential to do harm but in a safe relationship like what I have with Christ, I’m okay with using them – and I think He is too. That’s not to say that I will always talk to God this way. You know I may process my anger, process my pain and then revert to the way I was before but the ability to just be authentically angry without having to censor myself has been a freeing revelation.

While I have grown in my ability to control these feelings within me, they do still rear their ugly head now and then. Recently, for example, I was visited by Fear… A couple weeks ago my issues got more, well, issue-y and have tried to reassert their hold on both my emotions and my ability to cope. When I am in the throes of fear, anxiety, panic, helplessness and hopelessness it is very difficult to breathe much less to find perspective and calm within the madness.

During this most recent foray into the pressurized hell that accompanies any descent into fear and anxiety, I have been able to mostly keep my head above water. I have been able to keep the forces at bay and to retain much of joy and peace recently reintroduced into my life. That isn’t to say there haven’t been bad times. I have felt so overcome with internal pressure that I thought I would physically explode if I didn’t find some sort of release valve. I have been so enervated that I craved deep sleep from which I would never awake. Blessedly however, these times have been temporary and I have not succumbed completely to them.
I still haven’t found a proper release valve for when the pressure is that bad. I’ve tried some very unhealthy coping strategies that only complicated an already difficult situation. I have acknowledged that exercise is a good option that has proven effective in the past but it is so difficult to motivate myself to exercise when I can barely get myself to the bathroom.

These completely undesirable emotions are not without their silver lining, of course. I have learned empathy in an even greater breadth of experiences – I can now relate personally to even more facets of pain and loss. Of course, during these times I wasn’t thrilled about this revelation. In fact, I think I used all the four letter words I could think of and told God that I was not interested in being introduced to every major source of loss and pain simply to make me a better therapist. I didn’t care enough about being intimately familiarized with pain, loss, betrayal and trauma to go through my more … crappiness. I’ve been through my fair share of crappiness - I told God that I’ve done my time, earned my stripes, and can certainly empathize with people from enough backgrounds at this point.
Once the panic, the fear and the depression lifted my return to "healthy" was much quicker than it has been in the past. I am able to view life with joy and to use patience and mercy in my relationships. I can even treat myself with grace and have great hope for the future. I believe this has been the dawning of a new era. I'm very thankful to God for His devotion to growing me and shaping me, to loving me and also working for my best. And to my husband for standing by me on this journey and loving me through it.