Sunday, February 28, 2010

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up, Part 3

So, this is turning into a series that has really got me thinking, and that is a good thing (I think). If you haven't read my other 2 posts on this topic, please click these links for the backstory.

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up, Part 2

It's funny because I am finding myself thinking more and more about what I could possibly do as a job. I don't want a "career"; I never really did. I am just musing about the types of jobs I could envision doing in order to help my hubby pay the bills and not hate the job while I'm doing it. So, since I started this series (not knowing it was going to turn into a series), my imagination has been switched on.

Here are some more "would-like-to's":

I could totally see myself as a coffee taster. Wouldn't that be awesome? You walk into the office, grab a cup of coffee, and then just sit down and drink it. Then, you head back for some more - a different variety, and you drink that too. Coffee isn't just a tool to help you become productive. It is the work and focus of the company to make good coffee and someone has to taste it to make sure it is drinkworthy. Someone, somewhere must have that pleasure, that privilege because I've drank a lot of coffee, and there are a LOT of varieties of coffee, and I'm sure at some point, someone has to taste the various blends of flavors to see if they work well with each other and if they work well with coffee. I would like to hereby place myself on the hiring list for such a company. Guess I should figure out if such a place exists any place closer than the mountains of Columbia.

While I served at my children's school the other day, I really enjoyed my time there with all the children. I just enjoyed being in the environment. I realized that, if given time, I could actually heal from the burn-out that I've had with kids and could possibly see spending time with them in the context of school. I'm not saying I want to be a teacher; a substitute teacher, maybe. Or just be involved in what it takes to keep the school running efficiently. Or I could be involved in special projects with the kids. The kids in my children's school need encouragement and they need to feel important, as all kids do. I would love to be in a position to be able to help these kids uncover their potential and recognize their self-worth. Sounds like my best bet would be to approach the principal and tell him straightforward that I'd like to work for the school and I'm willing to do any job that keeps the school running. Of course, then he might make me the custodian! But hey, I've cleaned toilets before, and you can have conversations with kids on their bathroom breaks. . . . Maybe I'd better be a little more clear about the type of work I'd want to do.

Another idea: I could create greeting cards. I'm fairly good at coming up with something touching to say in a certain situation. I'm not an artist, but I like crafty cards - stamps and glue and ribbon and all that glitzy stuff. I wouldn't dream of creating a greeting card company, but maybe I could sell cards door to door, you know like the girls scouts sell their cookies. Everyone loves girl scout cookies. Or I could just let people know I have this business and they contact me, telling me what they need, and I can get it to them in 24 hours, like the fedex of greeting cards: "When it absolutely has to be there overnight."

And ANOTHER THING! (ha - sounded like I was mad, didn't I?) I've wondered what it would take to become a web designer. . . .or at least a blog designer. I don't know the first thing about HTML, so I'd obviously have to have some education. But I love the idea of being able to use my computer - my beloved, gorgeous Asus - to do something I think I would really enjoy.

Now, in all seriousness, I would appreciate feedback, not about the actual ideas, but about your ability to comprehend this post. Because I took a mild sleep aid just before I started writing this, and now it's pretty potent. . . .so I'd better be going. I think I'm fixing my mistakes, but I feel like I'm typing like a drunk, so I hope it doesn't LOOK like I'm typing that way. Good night.

Sugar, Mold & Yeast, Oh My!

Ok, so I'm making some headway in the department of health & allergies. Since the beginning of Lent (about 2 weeks ago), I've stopped eating sugar, yeast breads, and most mold-containing foods. And guess what? I've noticed that I'm not as sleepy, I have more energy, and I don't have any hypoglycemia. I'm not feeling perfect, but it's a step in the right direction.

On the weekends, I've given myself a little leeway to indulge. And I mean a very. little. bit. I do not go swimming in vats of high fructose corn syrup, nor do I feast on pounds of yeasty, moldy bread. But the past two weekends have left me feeling stuffed up and groggy. Today, for example, I feel like someone has shoved wads of cotton inside my sinuses and I'm feeling very sleepy after what I would consider rather mild indulgences of forbidden foods yesterday. This is good and bad, I guess - good, because I'm getting answers; bad, because it means I have to be fairly strict about what I can and can't eat. (I can still have occasional chocolate, and coffee doesn't seem to bother me at all - yeah!)

This is still huge, though, because energy and hypoglycemia are intimately tied to depression and depressive cycles for me. When I'm not suffering from the ups and downs of hypoglycemia, I'm not Crazy-Psycho-Mom. And when Crazy-Psycho-Mom isn't around, I feel pretty good about myself and my life.

Maybe one day I'll write my memoirs about how I emerged from lifelong depression by making changes in my lifestyle. I'll be rich and famous, and then I'll have a whole new set of issues to deal with.

But for now, I'm very glad I'm seeing changes in this one area of my life!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Feeling Tipsy

I wonder if I'm the only person who gets stressed out about giving a tip to people who provide services for me. In a restaurant, I'm good to go because it's pretty much standard to leave a 15% tip. OK. But what about others who provide me with various services? Am I expected to tip them too? This causes me a great deal of anxiety because I'm usually not faced with this question until I am standing in front of the person who may or may not expect a tip.

For example, I do not frequent the "salon" (if you consider Bo-Rics or any other $9.99 haircut shop a salon). I get my hair cut about twice a year, mainly because I am a cheapskate. More often than not, I'm pulling my hair back in a ponytail and plastering it against my head, out of my face, with hair spray. Last week, I went for my semi-annual cut and asked for Cindy, the lady who had cut my hair the last time I was there. She didn't remember me. When she was finished, she took me to the register and, after swiping my credit card, she gave me my receipt to complete and sign. There, glaring out at me like the noon-day sun, is the line that says "TIP". So, I was supposed to put in my tip and then add up my total before signing and completing my transaction. Cindy was watching me. There was a line of people forming behind me. Sweat was starting to bead on my forehead. I nervously laughed and said, "I just can't seem to do math in my head." Cindy handed me a calculator. Ummm, how much of a tip do I leave? Should I ask Cindy how much she wants? Should I just give her 5 bucks and call it good? That's probably their ploy - stare at you intently until you cave in and give them a 50% tip. Uh, I don't know. . . . .um, how do you figure out percentage again? Is it 1 x 1.15 or is it 1 x .15? It seems I can't even do math with a calculator. I finally just threw some random number on the line to make everything come out even. No wonder Cindy never remembers me when I come in.

And the pizza delivery person. How much are you supposed to tip him or her? My husband doesn't give tips to the pizza guy, but when I'm the one receiving the pizza, I feel obligated. Or maybe I feel intimidated because the 2 main delivery people for the Papa John's place nearby are a tough-looking Asian woman with spiky hair, black lipstick and a ring in her nose, and an old guy with a total of 2 teeth in his mouth who pretty much fits the image that comes to mind when you hear the phrase "dirty old man." So, here is the pizza delivery person standing at my door - she knows where I live, she knows my phone number, and she even has my credit card info and signature. It might be wise to give her a tip. Otherwise, she might come back later and set my house on fire.

And finally, should I leave a tip at the coffee house? I mean, there is a tip jar at the counter, clearly begging for tips. Once again, the person behind the counter is standing there watching me. I feel rather compelled to leave a little spare change because I'm not fully convinced that this person won't lace my next double mocha latte with arsenic. However, out of all the places to leave a tip, the coffee house seems the least likely. I have to wait in line and go up to the counter to place my order. I have to get my own coffee sleeve, napkins and extra sprinkles of cinnamon. I have to clear my own table. If anyone should get a tip, it should be me. Maybe next time I go into the nearest Java joint, I should wear a little cup around my neck that says "tips" and see if they give me any freebies.

Just yesterday, I came across this article on Yahoo about when and how much to tip. However, it wasn't as helpful as I thought it would be. There were tips for tipping the following people:

Full service gas station attendants. Those still exist???

Shampoo Person. Did I mention that when I do get my hair done, it's usually at Kutz R Us, or some such place. I've never encountered a shampoo person in my life.

Doorman. What???

Skycap. Huh?

Soooo not helpful. I guess I'm still on my own.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up, Part 2

If you read yesterday's post entitled What I Want to Be When I Grow Up, you may have imagined me climbing the ladder of fame with blood, sweat and tears because I said I wanted to sing, dance, or be a public speaker. Now, I really hope that you "get" me: Those are not really things I'm going to do, nor do I adhere to any fantasy otherwise. It was just my childish list of things I've dreamed of doing. Sure, maybe I'll sing in front of a group someday, but I'm not going to become a professional singer. And maybe I'll do some public speaking, but I don't think I'll travel the country being a motivational speaker. And as far as dancing, have you read any of my recent posts about getting older? I kind of doubt the spare tire would allow me to do anything except the polka at some relative's wedding.

So, let me muse a little more seriously here about things I could possibly do.

My kids had a snow day yesterday, so I set up a "spa" day for them. I created 4 stations for them to visit. One was a heated foot bath, one was a heating pad with a back scratcher and one was a shiatsu massager. The 4th station was a blanket on the floor, where each of my children took turns relaxing while I massaged them with mint-scented lotion. I put on a CD of Ocean Sounds: whales, pounding surf, foghorns, etc. Then it occurred to me: without having to invest my life in another college degree, I could actually become a massage therapist. I think I would like that. But I have a friend who does this and she said it's a lot of work and long, exhausting hours. Hmm, not liking the sound of that, but maybe I'll put that idea on the back burner.

Here are some other realistic ideas I've had:

I wouldn't mind cleaning other people's houses. But I'd have to come up with a catchy slogan like, "I can't keep my own house clean, but I'll clean yours if you pay me."

I think it would be fun to do a side business of baking cookies and cupcakes for kids' birthday parties and school functions. Forget decorating, though, because every time I try to decorate a cake, it ends up looking like it got run over by a tricycle.

If I ever had the gumption to start a business outside my home, I would start a drive-through coffee shop. There is a little business at the end of our street that pretty much changes hands yearly, so maybe one of these years, I can buy it and convert it into Jen's Java Hut: Drivethrough only! I figure I can get the attention of many Capitol Commuters since we live just off a main thoroughfare heading straight to downtown Lansing.

If I had to work retail, Kohls would be my number one choice. It would be my only choice, actually. I love that store like it was my own: all other department stores pale in comparison. However, if I worked there, I'm quite sure I would regularly take advantage of their fabulous sales and the accompanying employee discount so that I would never really make enough money to do anything but fill my car with gas to get to and from work.

My final, yet favorite, idea is to be a Blogger. Yes, I'm already blogging, but I'm talking about the kind of blogger that makes more than $17.52 per year in ads. Maybe some really cool organization needs a blogger and fate is just waiting for the right time to bring us together.

I don't have to make any major decisions yet. Hopefully I won't need to seriously think about this for at least a few years (20 years would be preferable, but my hubby seems to think I won't make much if I start working when I'm 60 and then retire when I'm 65 - he's such a pessimist). In the meantime, I'll keep sitting here in my cozy house, dreaming and blogging away.

Read Part 3 of What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

Monday, February 22, 2010

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

I haven't figured it out yet. I still want to be good at something. . . .the best, even. Or just do something because it would be fun to do. I'm doing the Mom thing, which is all I ever wanted to do. But now that I've gotten the kids through the first few years of their lives without them falling off a cliff or eating poison, I'd like to try my hand at something else.

The problem is that many of the things I'd be interested in doing would most likely require much practice and skill-building. They're not the kinds of things that you just go out and DO.

I really want to sing. I love to sing. I have no idea how "good" I really am because I have never (nor do I plan to) stood in front of the American Idol judges to allow them to scrutinize my ability to sing. My sweet youngest daughter once told me that when I sang to her, I sounded like an angel. How precious! And I've had odd comments here and there saying, "hey, you're a good singer." But those were about 20 years ago, before my vocal chords were destroyed by pregnancy and yelling at children. Hey, maybe I should post a video of me singing here - that way, if you like my voice, you can leave a comment and if you don't like it, you can not leave a comment, and I won't have my feelings hurt by those who don't like it. But if I didn't get any comments, I might be crushed. . . . hmm, let's not do that.

So, I would love an opportunity to sing in front of a crowd. Like the National Anthem at a sports event. Or to sing backup for Mac Powell at a Third Day concert. Hey, as long as I'm dreaming, I might as well dream big, right?

I would also love to dance. I love how free and fluid a dancer looks when she's dancing. SheItalic makes it look effortless, but we all know that it takes hours, days, months, years of training and starving oneself and beating one's body into submission to make it look that easy. I just like to imagine myself, just once in while, spinning around or leaping across the stage. Corny? Yes. But this isn't your list, so shut up.

I'd like to be a motivational speaker. I like to think I have lots of wisdom to share. In reality, it might just be the musings of a sanity-challenged mom, but at least I like to think I have that wisdom.

As I'm writing this, I'm sensing a theme: I want to be in front of an audience. I wonder what that says about me - am I confident, or am I just a self-centered narcissist? (Is that redundant?)

Let's move on to things I would not want to do.

When I was in high school, I really wanted to be a marine biologist. There were 2 things that prohibited me from following that dream: 1. I didn't want to have to go to college very far from home. 2. I have a profound phobia of deep water. That could be a problem, don't you think?

I would never want to be an astronaut. I'll just wait until I'm dead and see the universe from God's point of view.

Although I like to perform in front of people, I wouldn't want to be an actor. Unless I got to kiss a cute guy, but most of the hot actors are like 20 years younger than me, and that's just disturbing.

Well, if you've read this far, I commend you. I've rambled on quite a bit. I see here that I'm much more free with my thoughts and words at 1:30 AM (insomnia) than during normal business hours. Time to go and dream about what I want to be when I grow up.

Read more in What I Want to Be When I Grow Up, Part 2 and What I Want to Be When I Grow Up, Part 3

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Identity Crisis

OK, so I wrote a post about my adorable babies and how stinkin cute they were when they were still wearing poopy diapers and puke-crusted shirts. But it was boring, right? I like Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop and I plan to go back and get another topic.

But somehow, whenever I have a writing "assignment", I feel as if I have to please my high school English teacher, which Kat used to be (not my English teacher, just an English teacher). And when you want to please an English teacher, you don't use words like "stinkin" and "dang" and "poop". And you don't type words in bold print just to get your message across. Well, maybe you don't. Or maybe you do - things have probably changed a lot since I was in high school English, which was during the Reagan administration.

The point is that I just want to write. I thoroughly enjoy writing. I think about things to write about all the time. And then when I get to the computer, duh. . . . .. (insert drool here). It's not that I don't have anything to write about. It's more the case that I always want to make someone else happy - like YOU, the reader who is reading this right now. I actually want you to be more than happy - I want you to fall off your chair laughing and even occasionally wet yourself because everything I say is so darn funny. And I want you to be my follower because I secretly want to get tons of followers just like I want to have the most friends on Facebook.

There! I said it. I would like to pretend that I'm writing just for the sake of the craft. . . .just because writing is in my very soul. But I like approval too. And I absolutely love making people laugh. But I guess I have to be OK with the days when there is nothing laugh-worthy in my repertoire.

Just keep coming back and you'll get some laughs eventually.

Writer's Workshop - February Photo

I've been wanting to do this for a while, so I'm finally picking a topic from Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop. Head on over to her site if you want to pick up a fun writing assignment.

The assignment I chose: Open your pictures folder, pick a random February picture and write about it. Well, Mama Kat said to write a story, so I don't know if that means to write a fictional story about the photo, or just to write about the photo. I guess I'll use my creative license and do what I want with it!

When I first had children, the occasional well-meaning, more "experienced" mom would say to me, "Cherish this time because it goes by so fast." I knew in my head that this was probably true, but now that I no longer have any babies in my home, I have much deeper, more nostalgic experience of what those older moms meant.

If you don't know me, you might assume that my children are all grown up and married and having babies of their own. Not so - my oldest is only 10, going on 11, and my baby boy (who hadn't arrived in our family yet when this photo was taken) is 5 years old. Nonetheless, I have very real pangs of longing when I look at a picture like this and reminisce about my children's babyhood. Aren't they darling? (I can't help it if I'm biased.)

The saddest part about looking back at these tender times is that I was often so overwhelmed that I didn't enjoy them as much as I could have. What I wouldn't do to hold a chubby little baby in my arms again! (And I think we can agree that it's pretty fun to do what it takes to get a little baby in your arms, but that is a topic for another day.) I even told myself that those days wouldn't last forever, but it didn't always help me to weather the tough moments of having three babies under the age of 3.

My children are now older. I am certainly much wiser. I'm ready to have another baby. . .. once I get my allergies, depression, cholesterol and fatigue under control. My husband? Not so ready. Once I get into full health again, he wants his wife to stick around for a while and not this tired and cranky mom that's been hanging around for too long.

I know I will grieve deeply if the day ever comes when another baby is an absolute impossibility. For now, I pray that God will soften my husband's heart and make me healthy enough to have at least one more child.

Until then, I'll have to be content with remembering my precious babies through the wonder of digital photography, cherishing the present, and holding other people's babies as often as I can.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday. . . and then some

As more and more people become less familiar with religious practices, do you think it ever freaks people out to see Catholics walking around with a gigantic black cross on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday. It would probably weird me out a little if I didn't know what it was.

So, here it is: Ash Wednesday. The beginning of that solemn time, for many Christians, when we reflect on our own wretchedness and our need for a Savior. I used to very much dislike Lent (or the 40 days as other traditions refer to it). I have come to look forward to it, however, because I know it's a good time to buckle down, become more disciplined and draw closer to God. One thing I'm giving up is playing The Sims 3. I'm miserably addicted to this game, probably because, in this fantasy-land, I can build houses of any size, make myself look tall and thin, and pursue any dreams I want to. I can furnish said houses with the most lavish decor and of course, built-in swimming pools. Also, I can hire a maid to clean my house and my children always obey me. No wonder I enjoy this escape so much. However, it's time to step away from this addiction and see how much I can accomplish without it in my life!

My bigger decision, though, is to get less sleep. Yeah, sounds horrid, right? I LOVE SLEEP. I NEED SLEEP. I read an article by Jillian Michaels (I hate her because she's so stinkin' perfect, but hey, she's probably got some good wisdom) that said too much sleep can actually cause the same kind of stress in your body as too little sleep. And that kind of stress leads to weight gain. Thanks, Jillian - wish you could have told me that before I gained 50 lbs. So, anyway, I will go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning AND (waaahh!) avoid naps, unless, of course, I'm near death and absolutely need to lie down, which may very well happen by this afternoon.
I'm also avoiding all forms of sugar - desserts, sugary snacks, chocolate (help!), and most forms of added sugar, like in cereals and breads. I have to get my blood sugar under control.I'm going to try to get my allergies under control by being consistent about taking my medications and getting my weekly allergy shots (which I have done a grand total of 2 times). I am going to control my environment by cleaning regularly and especially keeping my bedroom an allergen-free sanctuary. Does this sound way too strict? Well, it's all incorporated into my main Lenten decision, which is to create a schedule for myself and follow it. I have never been very good at structuring my own time, which may be one reason that homeschooling didn't work out too well for me. I've been half-heartedly working on all of these things for quite some time, and it's time to pull it all together. My DH suggested that I begin the schedule, but specifically focus on getting better at doing ONE of those things listed above each week, with the goal being that I'm doing them all fairly consistently by the end of Lent. I realize that I won't be perfect at this, and may never be, but with the grace of the Lenten season on my side, I think I can make great strides. And God has been at my heart for quite some time to get my life in order.

Last, but not least, I have also incorporated time for blogging into my schedule, so hopefully you'll be hearing from me more!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Too True Tuesday - Finding Out Your Fat Clothes are Too Tight

Essie, The Accidental Mommy hosts "Too True Tuesday", a fun way to figure out something to write about without having to use your own brain. Essie's topic this week is " Things Worse than Waxing". That's easy: finding out your fat clothes are too tight!

I got up this morning and tried to find any suitable pair of elastic-waist-band pants that I could wear to drop my kids off at school. Usually my pajama pants will do the trick, but since I had to physically bring my children into the building because my son has a new teacher (long story. . . ok, it's not really that long - my son is super smart so he's now in AP kindergarten), I figured I should wear something other than nightwear. Much to my annoyance, someone in the house had once again forgotten to put the laundry away. I didn't feel up to rummaging through bushels of clothes, so I went to the closet and found 2 pairs of pants hanging up. One pair was my jeans, which I discovered were too tight last week. So, one more pair to go. . . .and it was bad. You know, the kind of situation where you have to lie down on the bed and suck your gut in just to zip them. And here's a major pet peeve of mine - low waistlines! So, if you have to pour yourself into a pair of pants, when you actually stand up, all the leftover mass of flesh that didn't get shoved into the pants spills over the top of the pants. Here's a secret: I long for the days of Mom-jeans. I'm not incredibly fashion-conscious, but I pretty much know that Mom-jeans just are not "in" any more. But the cool thing about Mom-jeans is that they actually fit around your waist, and by waist I mean the natural curve that most women have a few inches above their hips, right around their bellybuttons. What I loved about those jeans is that you could shove so much flesh down inside and there was virtually no muffin top.

Tangent: when I was pregnant with my first baby, the low-rise maternity pants were just coming out. No way - I bought gigantic-sized elastic-waistband-pants and wore them up to my bra. I hate to have anything constricting my waist. And they were very comfy post-partum as well. At a certain point (a few weeks after my youngest baby turned 5), I finally got rid of the maternity pants and went with traditional elastic-waistband-pants.

Ok, tangent over. Here's what's worse than waxing (although I've never waxed, so I'm not quite sure): finding out that your fat clothes are too tight. Here, I'm assuming that most women have a dual wardrobe - a "fat" wardrobe and a "thin" wardrobe (or in my case, it's a "less-fat" wardrobe - I haven't been thin since I was 8 years old). Or maybe this is just a tradition in my family. We always had 2 separate collections of clothing because we were yo-yo dieters. Now, I have a number of clothing items that are in my "less-fat" collection, and I'm hoping to be able to wear them some time before they go out of style. And my fat clothes? I have just enough to get by because I do not want to have to buy more clothes in my current size.

The worst news of all: the pants I pulled out of my closet this AM were from my "fat" collection. Time to cry. I'm fairly certain that when I turned 40 a few weeks ago, my metabolism instantly shifted into reverse. Not sure what to do next, but I bet none of you can beat that - nothing is worse than putting on your fat clothes and discovering that you need a crowbar to get into them.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day - The Friend Makin' Monday Question

The fabulous Amber is once again hosting Friend Makin' Monday. Her topic of the week is how we celebrated Valentine's Day.

Well, my previous post dealt with the special-ness of Valentine's Day for me and my hubby, so go and read it!!! But as far as doing anything special, we didn't. We hardly ever celebrate Valentine's day with a big to-do. We're usually too broke.

However, we do have one tradition that we started with our children when they were very little. Our ideal is that our children will wait until they are ready for marriage to pursue any kind of romantic relationships. Yes, it's a high ideal, but we've been teaching them about the purpose of romance and marriage since they were very small. And we happen to be blessed with a peer group that supports this idea of courtship - that romantic relating should be strictly reserved for finding a suitable marriage partner. In other words, no dating until you're ready for marriage! Yes, indeed, some people have responded to us like we're lunatics, but I'd rather communicate this as the ideal rather than letting my kids get romantically (and otherwise) involved when they're too young.

OK, so what does that have to do with Valentine's Day? When our oldest was still a toddler, we decided we would go out for ice cream with our kids on Valentine's Day. We'd like them to have the vision that we spend Valentine's Day together as a family and that they will have something other than romance to look forward to each February 14. And of course, ice cream on Valentine's Day is significant for my husband and me, if you go back and read my previous post (yes, that was another hint).

However, this year, the children were all sick with different levels of colds, so I bought ice cream and toppings and we made sundaes at home. That was just as much fun as going out!

My hubby and I discreetly exchanged Valentine cards - I can't let the holiday go by without acknowledging that he won my heart on Valentine's Day so many years ago!


Happy Anniversary to me! February 14 was the one year anniversary of the beginning of this blog. Yahoo!

Also, Valentine's Day was the 14-year anniversary of the day my husband won my heart. You have probably read this story before because I've written about our love story here. But, too bad, I'm writing about it again.

Rewind to Valentine's Day 1996. Al and I had been friends for 6 years, and it was obvious to me that he wanted to be more than friends. We had dated once before, but I had thought we could only be friends. I just didn't think he was the "one" for me. But God had been working on my heart, slowly helping me to realize all the ways that Al was so good for me. He was always taking care of me, serving me and loving me in practical ways, like taking my car to get an oil change and then getting the interior cleaned as well. That's exactly what happened on Valentine's Day 1996. I was at my job as a preschool teacher. Al came to get my car so he could get the oil changed. When he returned the car, he gave me my keys and we said, "see you later" since we'd be going out with a group of friends for ice cream later in the evening.

I had to close that night. I said good-bye to the last children and I tidied up the Childcare Center a bit before locking up. It was a beautiful winter night. Snow was falling quietly in soft, huge flakes. The sky was lit up by the snow, so it was a relatively bright walk out to my car. When I got to my car, there was a snow covered carnation tucked into the windshield wiper. This was nothing new, and it wasn't even much of a gift on Al's part, since the dealership gave out free carnations with every oil change. But that simple little gesture, along with a small note from Al, asking me if he could treat me to ice cream, was all it took for Al to finally win my heart. I took the flower and the note and sat in my car and cried for joy. I knew Al loved me, and I had been falling in love without even knowing it!

Shortly after that, I told Al I was ready to pursue a "more-than-friends" relationship with him, to which his response was, "YESSSSSS!" Four months later we were engaged, and five months after that, we were married.

I'm so glad that God - and my husband - kept after me until I realized how good Al would be for me!

Friday, February 5, 2010

All right. I know that I seem to "complain" a lot. But I'm going for comedic catharsis when I list my many ailments and tell you how sorry you should feel for me. Seriously, I'm ok, just a little frustrated. And yes, occasionally I'm depressed, but I'll tell you if I am. After my post yesterday, I got a little too much sympathy and not many laughs. Must be losing my edge.

I did actually get that pain checked out because my husband had an appointment and didn't really want to go, so I just took his. And guess what??? I was right. It is most likely a pulled muscle, and although my doc didn't acknowledge that it was the rectus abdominus muscle, I'm pretty sure it was. He probably didn't want me to know I was right lest I develop a regimen of regularly diagnosing myself online.

Our doctor also happens to be a good friend from college. He and I did campus evangelism together, and he and my hubby were room-mates. He is the godfather of one of our children, and all his children and ours are good friends. So, it's just a little awkward when I have to disrobe in any fashion. He had to feel my belly and make me sit up so my lovely rolls spilled all over. To me, that's far more embarrassing than any other area that he might have to investigate. But he is a very good doctor and we trust him implicitly.

And, well, it did give me the motivation to do some crunches. . . . once that muscle heals.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Psychological Musings

I was a psychology major in college. That's it. No further expertise. But my husband and I often joke about a variety of psychological phenomenon and occasionally accuse each other of having different maladies. (He has an MSW, but left the Social Work field and is now a Network Administrator - i.e. computer geek.)

So, it probably doesn't help that I have a limited psychology background because I'm always trying to analyze myself. I think way too much and ponder on what's wrong with me. This is not a good thing. For the record, I do occasionally try to look outward and be more service-minded and less Jen-minded, but the gravity of self-absorption is too strong for me to break free for very long.

So, here's what I'm wondering: I wonder if all (or at least most) of my physical ailments are psychological. I have migraines, allergies, gall bladder problems, bunions, depression, fatigue, and, introducing, some weird pain in my abdomen. I'm just getting over bronchitis, which is probably part of the reason I was in a stupor for the last month - I came home from Florida with a cold that never really went away and eventually morphed into bronchitis.

So, now that that's getting under control, I get this weird abdominal pain. During the day yesterday, I felt it and it was the kind of pain you get from doing ab crunches. But I thought to myself, "This is weird. I haven't done any ab crunches since last fall sometime." As I went to bed, I realized it was kind of painful to sleep in a certain position because that area of my abdomen hurt. And when I went to get up - ouch!!! It is definitely a sharp kind of pain when I move it in just the right way. So, I got to thinking, "Great! I'm going to have to go to the doctor and spend more money on a stupid copay and even more prescriptions than I'm on right now." Then I set to analyzing the pain. It's not far down enough to be appendicitis, and it's not far up enough to be gall bladder pain. And it's far enough into my abdomen that it's probably not kidney-related but I do have a little pain radiating to my back. I finally did a little research on the web and, in no time flat, diagnosed myself with a pulled rectus abdominus muscle. . . .I hope. I also tend to be a bit of a hypochondriac because I start thinking, "What if it's something serious and I only have a month to live." But I am able to talk myself out of that mindset before I truly panic. So, I sit here today, typing away about this pain and not going to the doctor because I'm sure it will go away before long. (And please don't worry - if it does persist for more than a few days, I will have my doctor look at it - I'm not that stupid!)

The frustrating thing is that it's always something with me. I never seem to be healthy any more. I fantasize about being a healthy, energetic mom who keeps her kids fed and manages to make it through the day without a nap. I'm turning into one of those old ladies who ALWAYS has some health problem to tell you about. "Well, it's going to rain because that corn on my bunion turned purple and then my back started aching, and oh, my lordy, it's gonna be quite a storm."

The problem is: I don't want to be that lady. BUT, have I sabotaged myself? I occasionally enjoy the excuse to drive the kids to school while I'm still in my pajamas and then come back home to some hot coffee, a nap or two and a few video games (ok, well, it's like hours of video games, but that issue merits an entirely different intervention). But I don't want to do that every day. I want to get up and be productive and efficient and energetic. I want to accomplish more than a garden slug.

But does my brain tell my body to come up with some new ailment every time and old one is medicated so that I have yet another excuse to lay low? Yes, I really would love to hibernate, as I have addressed in many previous posts, so am I subconsciously looking for a way to do so?

I hope not. When I felt this weird abdominal pain in its full glory, my response was, YOU HAVE GOT TO BE JOKING!!! Can't I ever feel good for JUST ONE DAY??? And I'm reasonably sure that is my husband's response as well because he has to pick up the slack every time I'm not feeling good.

This is probably why I never actually became a psychologist: I would spend too much time talking about myself and my own problems to adequately help anyone else. Or maybe that would be a good thing. Patients would slowly inch toward the door, feeling much better about their own issues, as I rattled on incessantly about my gall bladder and my bunions and my rectus abdominus.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Prayers requested for a friend

Hey, all! Ground-breaking news - I'm posting for the 2nd day in a row! I know, as soon as you pick yourself up off the floor, you'll keep reading with eagerness.

Would you all please pray for my friend R and her 2-month old baby J who is in the ICU with RSV (Respiratory Syncitial Virus), which, if you don't know about it, is a very common virus that causes most people to have a cold. But for some children, especially small babies and children with respiratory problems, like asthma, RSV can be life-threatening. It can cause bronchiolitis, which is an inflammation of the bronchioles in the lungs, which can cause extreme difficulty in breathing. Several years back, the daughter of one of my BFF's was hospitalized with RSV for 11 days, and indeed, she did almost die. So, now everyone in our circles knows how serious RSV can be. This means that my friend R also knows how serious this can be and if very worried about her little baby boy. But he is stable. And, being a breastfed, chubby and otherwise healthy little baby leads me to be very confident that he will recover just fine. He just needs the extra help of forced oxygen and the watchful eye of the ICU staff at this point while his little body battles the RSV.

I was at the hospital for a good chunk of the day yesterday so my friend could get some rest, get a shower and make phone calls (her husband is currently driving back from California, which obviously adds to the stress of the situation). During the time I was there, J's nurse was on the scene regularly and the respiratory therapist and attending physician made appearances only one time. And while it seemed to me that they all essentially said the same thing, my friend was visibly distraught by the doctor telling her that her baby would have to be on high-flow oxygen for at least another 24 hours. However, when the nurse came in and said basically the same thing, my friend was much more encouraged because the nurse was able to communicate that her experience with babies over 20 years made her believe that J would turn the corner and improve soon.

Did you ever realize how easy it is to walk into a situation like this and offer support and an encouraging word. I am quite confident that this little baby will improve over the next few days, and in no time, he'll be home and as good new. I can look into my friend's face and say, "don't worry, he'll be OK." But it's never as easy to receive that kind of encouragement as it is to give it. And it makes a difference when you receive that kind of encouragement from someone who's been there. I pray that I will become a better encourager and help people to truly have hope. Sounds kind of ironic for someone who struggles with depression, hey???

Please pray for my friend's peace and the quick recovery of her chubby, beautiful boy.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Boohoo, I'm Losing Followers

Well, it's my own fault that I'm losing followers because I haven't been a very faithful blogger for quite some time. And I'm not really that upset because I know not everyone will like what I have to say when I do say it.

I have actually battled my conscience about deciding to stop following other people's blogs because I hate to make anyone feel bad. I would think, "oh, please, don't let this person think I don't like them." I think I know far too many people who take things much too personally.
They might think that if someone doesn't return an email within 24 hours that the other person doesn't like them or is angry with them for some reason. They may entertain thoughts that someone has been talking about them behind their back. They wonder if an acquaintance was really in a hurry at the grocery store and therefore couldn't talk to them, or that person was just making up an excuse to get away. Even my own dear husband sometimes thinks I'm attacking him as a person if I suggest that he do something a little differently, such as putting the dishes in the dishwasher the way I want him to. My children think I don't love them if I correct them or ask them to put away their coats for the 85 billionth time in one day. (Ok, so children are very fragile, and disciplining them is not an easy job.)

So, where am I going with all of this? I don't know. I'm just meandering, I guess. I want to get back in the habit of writing in my blog daily, or at least more frequently, so I'm writing something to get me started. And no, I don't really take it personally that I've lost a few readers. It would be silly for me to lie to you and say that I blog just for the sake of writing, because I definitely enjoy having followers and feedback, but I know that I have to let go and not worry too much about what others think of me. This is a lesson for blogging and a lesson for life.