Gratitude week 25

  1. I have one less teenager in my house…actually my son turned 20 this past week. I am grateful for him and the person he is becoming.
  2. My son had a mouse in his room which I am thankful for. It prompted him to clean his room to how it looked before we moved in. Now let’s hope it stays that way. My cat has the bad habit of bringing presents in the pet door.
  3. Although Paul and I really didn’t luck out in the dad department, I am grateful to have a husband who is a wonderful father to our children. That is what I celebrated on Father’s Day. I did send my dad a card though, not because he was a great dad but because I am a good person.
  4. In what can only be described as a God moment, I was able to meet someone who might be a friend and someone we could work with in our new business.
  5. I am thankful for my therapist. She called me to reschedule my appointment so I could have a double appointment for the cost of one. I have a really good team of people working to help me heal my body, mind, and soul.
  6. Summer!! I am enjoying every minute of it. I have yet to turn on the A/C in my house or car.
  7. Thanks to the coronavirus, it made it easier to transition from blonde to gray hair. People now ask if I dye it the silver color it is. It is so in right now and I don’t have to pay a cent.
  8. I went up north for the first time this season and swam in the lake.
  9. My daughter is planning on moving back home at the end of the summer and is able to keep her new job. I think she was only able to come home two or three times this year. Sadly she wasn’t able to make it home as planned this past weekend but it won’t be long until we see each other all the time.
  10. I’m grateful that our new business is doing better than we expected.

Gratitude week 23

  1. I am finally feeling like I am making progress on my self-improvement project.
  2. Summer weather!!
  3. I was able to get out on the sailboat for the first time this season.
  4. Things went better than I expected taking care of my autistic brother Matt. He adapted to our family well. More on this later.
  5. Taking care of my brother allowed my mom to get away with her sisters for a few days. It felt good to be able to give her a break. She decided she didn’t want to let fear control her life.
  6. I’m grateful our best friends had a really good experience with the foreign exchange student our daughter talked them into hosting. It was sad to say farewell to him over the weekend, but I’m grateful for the experience they had and we have had with our foreign exchange students. They are all awesome which says a lot since I’ve heard quite a few horror stories.
  7. I’m grateful that Paul’s new business is doing better than he thought it would.
  8. I’m grateful that for the first time I had a good experience singing in church. It has been difficult at times singing about the love I feel or the trust I have in God when I am struggling with that. Not only that, but I was able to sing relatively anxiety free. There were times that family issues made me feel panic or the thought of having to run to the bathroom in the middle of the service was terrifying.
  9. I’m grateful to have a clean house today.
  10. I’m grateful for the times I feel like everything is normal. That’s saying a lot because the last few months have been far from normal in so many ways.

The first fire

I never heard my mom cry like that before. It was the deep howling sorrow that was saved for behind closed doors. I could almost peak out the window she was staring out of if I stood on my tiptoes. The night sky a glowing orange haze in a hue I never saw outside before. Together we watched her childhood home burn down.

I went with my mom once to see her old house the year before when I was 3. I’m not sure how I remember it. Strong emotions of my mother typically elicited sparks of memories in me. There was a long dark inside staircase that went upstairs to the main floor of the house. There was a bright average sized kitchen with a window above the sink that I could imagine her mother standing at with her back to me. I never saw my grandmother’s face before but I was told my mother looked just like her.

We had to walk up one step to go into the living room from the kitchen. I found that rather strange. I saw the bedroom my mom shared with her sister Jan. It looked as small as a closet. I imagined my mother playing in that room with her one doll. Mom always said that Aunt Jan was messy and my mom was the clean one. They seemed to have switched roles. Aunt Jan never entertains because people get her house dirty. My mom never has people over because she is embarrassed by her clutter and hoarding.

I wonder now if she imagined her mother was still alive inside of that house cooking supper, washing dishes, or just living a normal life every time she used to walk by. That was the only house she remembered her mother living in. Her mother died and her family moved far away, but she remained in that small town.

My mom more often than not on nice days took us for walks by her old childhood home. Every day the memory of her mother was still alive inside of that house. I’m sure she thought of that when she took us on walks to visit her husband’s mother.

Until one day the house burned down and even those memories faded away. She couldn’t imagine her mother happy inside the house when the house was no longer there. It was almost like she lost her mother again.

Gratitude week 19

  1.  It’s hard to believe that our foreign exchange student Clara has been gone over a month already. This past week we were able to have a conversation over Instagram. It was so nice to see her again.
  2.  My daughter graduated from college with a Bachelor’s degree over the weekend. I am grateful she was able to get a job in her degree field. I am happy she is doing great on her own.
  3.  I’m thankful for technology to be able to watch our daughter’s graduation. The graduation was held on zoom. Apparently family members were supposed to be watching it on live stream. We weren’t. When all of the graduates were on the screen in cap and gown moving their tassels, Paul and I appeared on the screen taking pictures of our daughter with our cell phones. Angel was smiling so widely, I thought she was so happy and proud. But she was really laughing at us for bombing her graduation. I was mortified about it when I found out, but she said it made her day since we couldn’t be together for it. Thankfully I wasn’t watching in my pajamas.
  4.  I was feeling bummed out on Mother’s Day. Not only was it cold and snowing (yes snowing!!!!) but I wasn’t able to have my mom over to celebrate this year. My daughter Angel was also not home. My husband Paul went out of his way to make it a really nice day for me.
  5.  Angel had flowers delivered to me for Mother’s Day. Plus the church dropped off a flower for me too. It was cool to go outside and see flowers delivered to me unexpectedly.
  6.  My kids remembered Mother’s Day and I was able to spend several hours talking to each of my kids over the last couple days. I feel like we are getting along really well at this time. I am grateful for peace within my family. That is very important to me.
  7.  Since I was not able to see my mom for Mother’s Day, I bought her flowers, a card, and a big bag of popcorn. Early that morning, I snuck over to her house and left her gifts outside her front door to surprise her. It was an adventure to try to get everything to her without being caught. It made her very happy. She wasn’t expecting anything and said she was going to decorate her house with all of her previous Mother’s Day cards. She wasn’t forgotten.
  8.  I have a great counselor. She wants to follow my blog. I think I will let her. I hesitate telling people about my blog. I’ve had friends want to follow me before but never told them how to. It is very difficult to put myself out there and be personal especially with people I know. I think she truly cares and wants to help me. I’m grateful to be able to trust a few good people in my life. I am grateful for healing however long it might take. I’m thankful to have a place to share my story.
  9.  I am meeting with my wellness nurse tomorrow and hopefully she will have some answers for me about my health. I’m still not feeling the greatest and hopefully she will be able to give me some insight on what to do next.
  10.  We had more deer in our yard this past week really close to our house. I found out that deer eat weeds. They ate some of the dandelions in our yard and started munching on my weed pile. Yeah! I have some help weeding this year.

Together we will get through

The gym closed today.

I found out about it late last night when my pastor commented on Facebook. He said something like the one time he was thinking about going to the gym it was closed.

Exercise is a big part of the keeping myself sane routine. Addiction might be taking it a little far, but… More than anything I’m a routine addict.

Our trip to Florida we were planning for the end of the week is pretty much over.

The kids went to school today, but now the schools will be closed until at least the middle of April. My daughter works at Culvers and her work hours for this week have been cancelled.

The world is ending, yet here I sit calmly. I don’t feel like my anxiety is any more or less than normal. I’ve been dealing with a high level of stress and chaos since I was born. How is this any different? My husband is doing well too. We are not freaking out or buying massive amounts of toilet paper.

Yesterday I felt hopeful for a small amount of time that maybe our trip would still happen.

Today I am preparing for isolation. I am no stranger to it. I wish I had some control over it, but I do not. I like being alone. But I fear for the ones who do not.

I spent three years from 8th to 10th grade homeschooling. I rarely saw people outside of my family, much less my friends. That was before the days of cell phones. Right now we are safe. I’m not sending my children off to war. We will get through this.

Although I wish I could start my census job tomorrow. I would have more of a chance of finding people at home. Once this is all over, no one will want to stay home again.

Tomorrow starts the first day of the new normal. By the grace of God, structure, and routine will get us through. This might be the best memories we have together as a family.

We will be forced to get through this together and together we will get through.

Gratitude week 6

  1. People are still complimenting my hair. I receive the most compliments after a sweaty workout or when I have unbrushed hat hair. What!!?!
  2.  My son had a dentist appointment this week. As an adult, I passed along the reminder I received on my phone. I DID NOT tell him when to get up or where he needed to go (thinking he would know and I would be the annoying mother hen if I did so). He ended up getting lost and was going to be late. I called the dentist office as a courtesy…my son got lost and will be a few minutes late. The lady who answered was really snippy with me and said he needed to reschedule. This freaked me out because I worry a lot about my kids being late. Thankfully, when he got there about 10 minutes late they still took him for his appointment. Despite all of my worry, everything ended up turning out fine.
  3.  My daughter Angel came home from college for a visit and spent the night on Friday. I haven’t seen her since Christmas Day.
  4.  The big fight between Arabella and Estelle is over. There is relative harmony in my house right now. There was even a brief moment this weekend where all five of my kids were talking and laughing together.
  5.  I am grateful to have a husband who is following his dreams. He is taking classes this weekend and starting a new career. I am really excited for him and proud of all his accomplishments. He really motivates those around him. It’s never too late to try something new.
  6.  I was grateful to watch Arabella and Clara perform at solo and ensemble this past weekend. I love to watch my kids perform.
  7.  I felt grateful to go on a date with my husband before he left. I was able to order a pizza with goat’s cheese and afterwards ordered dairy-free ice cream. The food was unbelievably good for being vegan/dairy-free. The ice cream was some of the best I’ve ever tasted. Plus it was nice to go on a date alone with my husband. It’s been awhile.
  8.  I found a dress for my daughter’s college graduation. In a few months, my oldest will be a college graduate. I am excited for her future. She already has a job lined up and might be moving back to the area within the next year.
  9.  I am thankful to live close to the store. As I was making supper Friday night, I noticed one of the ingredients was rotten. I opened an unexpired canned good that was moldy inside. Thankfully I was able to zip to the store and back without having to eat too late.
  10.  I am thankful for my organization skills. I like to plan ahead and leave early. Although my mom and kids gave me some crap about it this weekend, things don’t always go as planned. I like to plan for that. You never know if you are going to get into an accident, hit a deer, or a random meteorite might hit the Earth (JK). The solo and ensemble event was at a school I was not familiar with. It took awhile to find a parking spot. There weren’t many signs directing us to the right sites. Then last minute, both of my daughter’s events were moved up to an earlier time. I got us there with less than 10 minutes to spare. You’re welcome! It takes a lot of organization to effectively manage a large family.

New year, knew me

It’s a new year and I can see clearly now that it is 2020. Literally! After I wrote the post about getting a sliver underneath my fingernail, the next day I went to the eye doctor. I am now sitting on the couch writing this post wearing my new bifocals. BIFOCALS!!

Seriously, I feel so old. The only thing that could make me feel older now is being a grandparent or having a child get married. My daughter Angel did not get a ring for Christmas. Okay, that might not exactly be truthful. My daughter did get a ring through her nose. She got a botched piercing the week of Christmas and ended up having to get it re-pierced this week. But nothing from her boyfriend.

I’m not going to lie, 2019 was a really tough year. I’m glad to say good riddance to it. Just a quick recap..I started the year off losing my job. I had a very important piece of jewelry stolen from me. I found my ring in the pant pocket of my son Alex’s friend while I was doing his laundry since he was practically living with us. We said he was no longer welcome here. We were worried about our son graduating from high school. Thankfully he did.

Then we had a nice break sailing with friends in the BVI. There was some smooth sailing. The year didn’t totally suck!

My daughter left home for good. Although Angel was away at college, she always came home over summer and holiday breaks. My baby got her driver’s license. We decided to fill our emptying nest with two foreign exchange students. It’s been an adjustment going from two to four teenagers in the house.

My husband and I had some marriage issues over the summer. We were arguing a lot. For the first time in 22 years of marriage, I wondered if things weren’t going to work out. Thankfully we are both willing to work on things and it has improved.

I also had some health issues and watched close family members struggle with ill health as well. I ended up having to go dairy free and give up my favorite foods and drinks from allergies. This has been a real struggle for me. Despite not feeling the best, I finished my first 50k and plan to do another this year.

My husband’s hours got drastically cut at work and he started a new business. We are uncertain about our finances. I applied for a job working for the census and my husband might apply for another job as well.

Most recently, my dad really screwed up. The PG version I am telling the children in our house is that grandpa and grandma might get a divorce. What really happened is more of an X rated version for a mature audience. I can’t really talk about it right now. The only people that know the full story are my husband and adult children.

In 2019, I finished my book. I got a lot of great feedback from the test readers. They both loved it (and also wanted to give me a lot of hugs and play dolls with me).

I hope that in 2020 I’ll have a clear vision for my life. I want to find meaning and purpose. Finding peace and joy would be an added bonus. I haven’t had a lot of that in my life. What I want more than anything is to keep writing. The funny thing is that I never wanted to write more than one book.

I have been struggling a lot lately over the holidays with depression. This whole situation with my parents has really been getting me down. Since Thanksgiving, I’ve hosted five parties. This weekend I’ll be hosting the foreign exchange student Christmas party. There will be somewhere around 30 people at my house that I don’t even know. I will be happy when it is all over. Having large groups of people over makes me feel stressed and anxious. It’s the cleaning, the cooking, and the cleaning again after everyone leaves and everything in between.

I don’t think it would be a big deal if I wasn’t already so stressed out about my parents. Then when nothing is going on, I feel bored and depressed. It’s not like I have nothing to do, it’s just that I don’t feel like doing anything.

I haven’t wanted to write a lot over the holiday time because I have been feeling so low. I think the holidays should be a happy time. I was rather disgusted with myself for being the Debbie downer, the victim, the person who’s life sucks although I have been blessed with so many things. It’s been very difficult to write about. It’s easier to write about past pains than the raw, fresh, gushing gashing wounds.

It’s my time of grief and sorrow. It’s just a season that I hope doesn’t last too long. But the clock keeps ticking. I wish with the changing of the calendar year that it would just end like the turning of a page. I don’t think it will end anytime soon, but it will end eventually.

New year, knew me.

Before the storm

My whole life just fell apart, again.

I guess I will start the Tuesday of Thanksgiving. Paul came home from several days of deer hunting empty handed. A storm was rolling in on Wednesday. I told Paul that Angel was coming home from college right before our Thanksgiving meal on Thursday due to the weather. Boy was he surprised when she came waltzing through the door on Tuesday night. Who doesn’t love a good surprise?

Wednesday went by in a blur. Thanksgiving morning most of the household woke up early to participate in a race. I ran 5 miles as fast as I could muster and was happy with my time. It was a cold day, but not too bad for the end of November in Wisconsin.

After the race, Paul and I ran into an old friend of ours. She was still drunk from the night before. Her eyes were bloodshot and she reeked of alcohol. But she ran the race. She told us how a mutual friend’s teenage niece just died in an alcohol related accident. We promised to get together sometime but probably never will because we chose different forks in the path.

Then we went home and started getting ready for the 20 plus people we were having over that afternoon for the holiday. Just a quick word of advice if you are thinking of running in a race and then throwing a holiday party the same day. DON’T! I was so dead tired even though all of the guests brought a dish to pass.

Paul’s step-dad Darryl brought over his new girlfriend. She was wonderfully nice and I’m not sure how he is planning on keeping her. I introduced her to my best friend Cindy and my mom piped in that she thought she was my best friend instead of Cindy. No, mom, no.

Plus there was the special diet. My autistic brother Matt has tons of food allergies. My youngest daughter Arabella wants to go into culinary arts and wanted to make a lot of the food for the celebration. How could I say no to that? One of the dishes that Arabella made was cheesy potatoes. My mom got upset with her for not setting aside some of the food for Matt before she added milk to the recipe. Don’t you love your uncle Matt, Arabella? Matt, Arabella doesn’t care about you.

I never asked Arabella to set aside some potatoes. I was going to make sweet potatoes, but as I was preheating the oven I was told that we needed the oven for the turkeys. I wish my mom would’ve just said good job to Arabella for cooking. If you don’t like how I do things at my house, why don’t you do it then??

We also had our new pastor over with his family. They didn’t have anywhere to go. I asked them to bring desserts and none of those were dairy free either. That is the thing about being dairy free, I don’t want to ask people to make things to cater to me. My mom told the pastor’s wife that I was dairy free and she felt bad all evening. But other than a few hiccups, things went fairly good.

The next day we went out with a million other people trying to find that perfect tree. We finally found it after trudging another 5 miles through the mud! The girls spent the rest of the afternoon decorating the house.

We heard a huge snowstorm was blowing in for the weekend. Angel was thinking of making the 4 hour trek back home Friday night, a day early, but she lost her glasses. The following morning, the snow started to fall earlier than we thought. Angel found her glasses, but we weren’t sure if she was going to be able to make it back home safely.

She decided to stay. We were so excited for a snow day. We could watch movies and play games. But there was a break in the storm and she decided to leave while she could. She was scheduled to work all day Sunday and didn’t want to miss work or class on Monday if she stayed. The rest of the day was a real downer. It was the first time she was home since school started again and we hated having her leave after we thought she was staying.

Sunday morning the storm raged. We awoke to no power. The power was off and on all day. That was the night the real storm came in and changed my life. I don’t think things will ever be the same. It almost seems like time didn’t exist before it happened. The things I thought were big all just drifted away until there wasn’t anything left but the weight of the heavy snow.

My first 50k

I did it! I finished my first 50k.

The ultra marathon started at 6 AM. I got up at what would’ve been 3 AM my time at home after a restless night’s sleep.

It was still dark when the race started. I borrowed my cousin’s headlamp. I thought that I could just use my cell phone, but was told that a headlamp would work better. I never ran with a headlamp before. It was disconcerting and took some getting used to. I felt like I was running with a strobe light.

I felt tired and had stomach issues for three quarters of the race despite my best efforts to get enough rest and not eat anything that could possibly disagree with me. My body likes routine and kept cuing me that something was off. I did a lot of walking dragged along by my cousin who was always in front of me. He kept encouraging me along and everyone else along the path.

As the day grew long and the end neared, we greeted everyone and were greeted with a great job, keep going, looking good. It was a difficult course despite near perfect weather conditions. I saw runners vomit, covered in dirt, lay on the ground, and fall in front of me. Some were running the 100 mile race that started the afternoon before. Some looked strong and others looked like they were barely holding on.

Every muscle in my body screamed at me to stop after I ran the length of a marathon. My feet ran along in a slow shuffle. In my mind my movements were exaggerated. I thought I was picking up my feet high enough to get over several roots on the trail. Twice I tripped and caught myself from falling. My body jolted in a pain so fiercely never experienced before.

There was no way I could keep up to my cousin after that, but he wouldn’t finish without me. He told me how strong I was and to keep going. The closer I got to the end the more my mind told me just the opposite. I sucked at running and was despicably weak.

Meanwhile, Paul and my cousin’s wife followed us around routing for us. They stopped in the middle of the woods for a picnic lunch which prompted a runner to ask them if they were real.

C’mon now, we only have a 10k left…now a 5k. After another mile, we just had 3 miles to go. Wait you told me that a mile ago. Are you lying?

The last two miles were the hardest. It took everything I had to just keep walking. I never ran that far before. I didn’t trust myself to run. I felt like I was going to pass out. But I was determined to finish even if I had to crawl. My cousin said he would carry me across the finish line if he had to, but I said I would never allow for that.

My cousin is a very kind and caring person. He stopped to offer help to everyone he saw struggling on the path.

Finally we were about a mile away. I saw some fortune cookies left on an almost empty snack table. In only one package, there were two fortunes. I convinced my cousin that those were for us.

Ability will enable a man to get to the top, but character will keep him from falling.

Seems fitting, I guess. I am quite the character.

Finally, the end was in sight. I ran with all the strength I could muster across the finish line.

Fortune cookie wisdom #20

Courage comes through suffering.

This fortune cookie blew away from the rest and was found the same day I found my lost ‘I am courageous’ sock. I only wore the socks once before losing one in Paul’s shirt for a couple weeks.

It seemed like a sign of some sorts. But what does it mean?

What does being courageous even mean? The dictionary defines courageous as not deterred by danger or pain; brave.

I would like to think that I am courageous. In the next couple weeks I am planning on doing courageous things.

This weekend I am running my first 50k. It takes a lot of courage for me to do this and probably will entail a lot of suffering too. There is no guarantee that I will succeed. I am very fearful that I might not be able to achieve the goals I’ve set in place for myself.

Within the next two weeks I will be submitting a 45 minute presentation for a local autism chapter about what it is like to be a sibling of someone with autism. I really need to put myself out there about the most difficult experience in my life. It is going to require a lot of courage. I am finishing my book on what life is really like with a disabled sibling. I’ve had to face my scars and demons.

As an extra test to my bravery, over the holiday weekend a filling fell out. I went to the dentist today to get it fixed. They said I could probably do it without being numbed. I would rather run a marathon with a broken leg. I was horrified and then they said I could get anesthesia just in case. But I decided to brave it despite my fear.

Then this past weekend I spoke to my dad about God. I don’t feel like he has much time left. For some reason he has softened his heart toward me lately. He told me that he loved me for the second time in my life. The first time was on my 18th birthday prompted by my mother. Then this weekend I asked him to come out and sit with us, his family, by the campfire. Surprisingly to everyone, he did.

Before this, I justified to myself that someone else should talk to my dad. My brother Luke sat down with my parents awhile back and aired out all of his grievances. It seemed like a good thing. I thought that he was getting along great with my dad. I felt like Luke is a better Christian than I am so he could carry the weight of talking to our dad. But my eyes were opened to the fact that Luke and my dad do not get along.

My mom is a devout Christian and my dad is a Christian bashing atheist. I bet you can guess how that worked. I believe that the best marriages are of those that have the same religious beliefs. Because, we the children, have to take sides. I feel the need to talk to my dad about God. I most likely wouldn’t have that burden if both my parents were Christians or atheists if I followed their beliefs. It causes a lot of disharmony and stress.

So on the way out of the cabin this weekend I said to my dad that I hope he finds God before God finds him. My dad laughed and said fat chance. I knew that my words probably did no good for him, but it released me. I did everything I could and if it is the last time I see him I will know that I did not leave a coward.

I don’t think that I am more courageous than the average person, but I am trying to be brave when there are demons to slay and fears to conquer.