Thursday, August 30, 2012

A New Leaf

Many of you have been asking about my new job. I’m learning the computer systems and the paperwork and all the necessary evils that are required for me to do my job. And I’m seeing clients. If I haven’t shared with you, A New Leaf is a large agency in the valley of which counseling is a small portion. The counseling department is set up to offer short term counseling for those who have been victims of a crime – domestic violence, sexual assault, molestation, theft, kidnapping, murder of a family member…  We provide up to 10 sessions of crisis counseling to these victims, and in some cases their families, to help to get them stabilized. There is no cost to the victim or their family. We see all ages – 0-100.

Its good work, what we do. Important. And oh, so needed. So needed that its sad, really. We have a waiting list for both sites I work at and the number of calls that come in weekly is enough to make a person consider that cynics may have something after all.
A lot of the things I see and hear are brutal. Disgusting, brutal, sad, repulsive and sometimes unbelievable. Not that the victim is not telling the truth, but that one human being could be so depraved and damaging to another.

The kids are the worst. Sitting with a beautiful, vibrant 8 year old girl who now has to come to terms with a beloved member of her family repeated using her for his own sexual gratification. Hearing her sweet young voice quiver as she tries to describe the horrible adult things he did to her. And then watching the tears fall as she struggles with so many mixed emotions – guilt, fear, shame, betrayal…
Why do I do it? Why do I allow these crazy, depressing, painful stories to seep into my brain and heart day after day? First, because I know this is what I’ve been created for. This is what God put me on this earth to do. Secondly, because the empathy that I have for these survivors (that’s how I like to refer to them – survivors not victims) is desperately needed and can be helpful to them. How could I live with myself knowing that I can help even one of them, but that I didn’t because it was “too hard”?

The most tangible reason I counsel these survivors is because of the moments when I can look into someone’s eyes and see change. Not all of the precious souls I see will get to this point but of those that do, this change usually takes the form of anger first. Righteous anger directed at their abuser or anger directed at the universe or God or their higher power. Anger is good, I tell them. Anger is progress. Anger means they have reasserted their right to be safe. Then, after anger is processed, healing begins.

And there comes a day, maybe not when I’m working with these brave survivors, and probably not for all of them, but someday in the future, their eyes are once again clear. Their hearts are healed. They are scarred but strong.
I read a quote on one of my favorite blogs yesterday. The author is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict as well as still struggling with her bulimia. She wrote this post in response to a woman who recently lost her sister to addiction. Glennon wrote about the times she backslides... “I never feel mad at myself. Never. Shame takes us closer to that edge than any single binge will. Life is hard and I’m doing the best I can. So I just take inventory and love myself something FIERCE and then start over. Every single moment I am someone brand new.” Glennon Melton –  

I love this picture of total self-acceptance and the focus on moving forward instead of allowing shame and regret to be controlling factors. I'm going to adopt this - both personally and professionally.

I love my job. I like my co-workers, although much of my tme is spent working independently. And I'm learning a lot. I'm very excited about the progressive opportunities offered by A New Leaf and I'm thankful that I will be able to get the supervision I need for independent licensure while I'm working in my current position. That will make the next couple of years a lot easier.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Grandpa Chug Comes to Stay

Love this picture. It was taken on the last day of training when Lowell and I were carpooling and decided to take advantage of having my father in law watching the kids to have an evening to ourselves. All we did was have dinner but it was nice to have some "us" time. And equally nice when I learned that Chug had come up with the idea himself and encouraged Lowell to take me out. Taking care of my babies and me. :) Very sweet Chug. Speaking of, I must say we've been very blessed to have Lowell's dad living with us for these past few weeks. The kids have been well cared for and happy and we've been blessed with not having childcare costs. Chug says the kids were really easy to watch that the Biggies did a great job taking care of Hubba. We have great kids I know, but its always nice to hear it from someone else. :)
Speaking of those Biggies, this is them on their first day of school -- Nathan in 5th, Chloe in 4th and Jillian in 2nd. As I always say, its hard to believe they are already so grown up. I don't know why it should surprise me -- they act so mature and fantastic. I am so proud of my babies. As a matter of fact, I had to write a list of what makes me proud about Boogie for her teacher for the first day of school. My list included (among other things) her flambouyant expression of her personality, her lack of concern for what other people think of her and her musicality. On the back of that paper Mrs. McNett also requested pictures of Jillian that she could share with the class for them to get to know her a little better. Granted, a lot of her classmates she knows from last year, but its always fun to talk about yourself. :) I sent pictures of her singing, modeling, playing with her siblings and hugging her Daddy.
Chloe has Mrs. Grundy, the same teacher Nathan had for second grade. She's very strict but fantastic. I adore her and I pushed for Chloe to have her as soon as I found out she was moving up to 4th grade. Chloe isn't so thrilled about it because she's currently experiencing the strict phase of Mrs. Grundy's personality. I keep telling her to relax and trust me, the fun side comes out once the ground rules have been established. I don't think she entirely believes me at this point. 4th grade also means that Chloe is now in band. She's playing the flute and is having quite a hard time with getting the darned thing to make noise! There is a very specific lip-placement required to make a flute make music and neither she nor I have it quite figured out yet. Any suggestions from the flautists in the audience???
Nathan is looking forward to a 5th grade field trip -- a 3 day, 2 night trip to Catalina Island. On the island is a facility set up specifically for science classes to come and experience hand's on learning. They will be going out on expeditions, dissecting a squid and other equally tantalizing things. Nathan is thrilled that he is going to be the first of the kids to go on a boat. And he'll be away from home for 3 days too! Such a big boy... I'm so crazy about that kid. About all my kids -- Biggies and little alike. I feel so blessed to be able to share my life with them. And to parent them with Lowell. And to still be able to do a job I feel led to do.
More about my new job to come..

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Helicopters and Clouds

This is Wyatt and his helicopter. There are different colored balls that can be pushed down through the rotors and buttons that can be pushed to make various sounds and music. They also ask him to put certain colors of balls into the helicopter. This toy also has a string in the front of it and wheels on the bottom that allows Hubba to pull it around. And pull it around he does. Hubba loves his helicopter. It was a birthday present from his Grandma Who. Its so cute to look up and see him walking past me in a room and dragging his copter and then look up a few minutes later to see him walking by the other direction still dragging his toy. Wyatt knows how it is supposed to drive too and will stop to right it if it falls off its wheels. So cute! :) Thanks Grandma Who!
Wyatt is not much of a talker, which is quite a novelty in our home! :) At 15 months he says, mama, ba-ba, da-da, sissy, ki-ki, cracker, hi, and out. He definitely makes himself understood however, even without words. For example, if he's hungry, he'll grab someone by the hand and lead them over to the pantry. Or to the back door if he wants to play outside. I love seeing him learn to communicate but it looks like he's being stubborn about his speech. I guess he'll talk when he wants to. :) He also waves hello and goodbye, gives high 5's and gives me his cheek when I ask for kisses.
It sounds ridiculous, but its been hot here. In Phoenix, in the summer, its hot. Really, not kidding. But the temperature hasn't really been the problem, its been the humidity. We've had many, many days recently where our swamp cooler simply doesn't make a dent in the heat because the air is so wet. While it is incredibly miserable to be so sweaty and hot, the weather has created some awesome cloud activity. (Unfortunately not much rain has come of the beautiful formations!) I have taken lots of pictures but cannot seem to capture the full experience on film. This is the best one so far, the sunset from a few nights ago. Finding beauty in the midst of the uncomfortable. That's a skill that can be used to deal with more than just the humidity.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Today is one of those days.I didn't sleep well and I have a lot to accomplish. After breakfast where I burnt my scrambled eggs, I tried to take a shower. After being interrupted 4 times, I yelled at the Biggies to leave me in peace and just let Hubba shower with me. Until now, showering with him has never been a problem. Today however he found something new in the shower to entertain him...
A particular part of my anatomy to be specific.
One that I don't feel comfortable having my son be interested in.

Finally we were both clean and dressed although I was even less relaxed than when I got in the shower. Thankfully, the Biggies had been obedient and cleaned up the living room but now they were all missing. I rightly assumed that they had taken care of themselves and then loaded up in the van to wait for me.
One thing I like about having all my minions is that they have extra arms. I have multiple errands planned and so I had quite a few things to bring with me - computer, purse, diaper bag, shopping list, organizer, library books... And Hubba. Because all my Helpers were in the van, I loaded up my arms and tried not to be irritated. Blessedly, Chloe jumped out of the van when she saw me coming and grabbed a couple things.

Stop one: McDonalds to check my email and check into the virtual classroom for the first day of my second-to-last class. I was really looking forward to a certain email. We're trying to sell a trailer on Craigslist.
I logged on.
No email.

Next: classroom check-in. Big assignment for the first week and lots of reading to do at home. Blessedly, I have an e-book so I don't have to buy a textbook but I'm still working out the bugs as to whether or not I'll to able to access it without internet. If I have to have the internet every time I need to read my book, I'm going to be in deep doo-doo. Praying about that one.

Meanwhile, the Biggies are running around McDonalds. They are usually very good at playing and taking turns watching Hubba. Today however, they have decided that they all want to play together (miracle!) but that leaves no one to watch the baby. It even got to the point where one of the employees brought him back to the play area because he was approaching the front door. That makes you feel like mom of the year.

Other memorable events that are sure to push me ever closer to that Best Mom Ever award:

I got him water for his sippy cup. Inexplicably, after just a couple drinks, he dropped his cup and started screaming. None of us could find out what was wrong with him. He was just miserable and I don't know why.
He finally drank all the water and still wanted something so I bought a little milk. He threw the sippy cup full of milk and it leaked all over the floor.
He tried to escape again. I snatched him up and carried him back to our table. When I had walked across the whole crowded restaurant, I realized that he had pulled down my shirt to reveal my bra. My whole bra. Well, at least one side. Fortunately it was the side that got dyed a really ugly shade of red during my most recent effort to hide my gray hairs. Feeling humiliated for flashing the whole store with my ugly half maroon, half dingy white boob, I tried to regain my composure and feel like an almost-Master's-level counselor.
I failed.

After a time in the high chair, Hubba got restless again. Time to give the Biggies another change to be helpful. This time they worked together to entertain him. With pony rides. One of Hubba's favorite thing is to "ride the Nay-Nay pony". (Whenever anyone, in this case Nathan, lays on the floor on their stomach, Wyatt will climb onto their back and bounce up and down smiling and waiting to be given a ride on the pony.)
So, in the McDonald's toddler area, my kids are giving their baby brother pony rides. Cute, in theory. Adorable in practice. Until you think about the logics of it. I first noticed it when it was Jillian's turn. I looked up to smile appreciatively at the Biggies for doing such a good job and realized Jillian was on her hands and knees on the nasty, dirty, smelly floor. Her turn was over and the words were just coming out of my mouth: "Hand sani-..." And her finger went in her mouth.

If horrible mothering was an Olympic sport, I would be proudly atop that podium listening to the national anthem right now...

And its only 10:30 in the morning.

Did I mention that I prayed for humility the other day?

Prayer answered.

PS As I'm posting this, I hear "Eew Hubba, don't eat that sock."
Thankfully it was Chloe's sock. Family germs are better than a stranger's germs, right?