Saturday, 23 November 2013

I Wish That You Knew

I wish that you knew...

You were not meant to do life alone. Fellowship. Conversation. Counsel. We all need people. 

The toilet has to be shut before flushing or the germs fly. Ew. 

We must take responsibility for our own health. Many ailments are preventable. Educate yourself and make good choices. 

Life is short. And unpredictable in its span. Look outside yourself and make the most of it.

We all have to work in life some how. You get out what you put in. Don't whine that you get no harvest if you don't plant anything good. 

Unforgiveness hurts you more than those you won't forgive. Mentally. Spiritually. Physically. 

The toilet paper goes over the top of the roll.

Learn from your mistakes and move on. Holding on only holds you back. 

You don't have to agree with family in order to love them. But they will always be family. Embrace that. 

Face to face relationships are way better than cyber space relationships. Harder sometimes, but much more beneficial. 

Life is fuller with a dog. Occasionally, full of more hassle. But worth it in the end. 

Hating the weather won't change it. You can't control Mother Nature. You can't even influence her. Find something you love about every season.

Children are precious. Even if they are loud, slow, and unpredictable. They are a blessing. And they won't be children for long. So pay attention. 

Chocolate is good any time of day. No excuses. 

People can change. If you let them. Believe in them. Support them. Encourage them. This applies to almost everyone. 

Beauty isn't just physique, hair, makeup, and wardrobe. It is greatly impacted by confidence, a smile, and kindness. 

Giving is rewarding. Especially when there isn't a reason. Exponentially when you know there will be no recognition. 

You can only assume someone's motives. You are unable to get in their head and comprehend every part of the chain of events. 

Nature is invigorating, relaxing, healing. Get out there. 

We have more freedom than you could imagine. 

Everyone has struggles. No one has it simple. We all have choices and battles and regrets. 

Fruit makes a great snack. Did you eat your rainbow today?

Thankfulness is like a beautiful sunrise. Or an unwinding nap. Or a warm hug. Or whatever makes you feel amazing. 

Uniqueness is to be embraced. Know what you like and why. Don't just follow the crowd. 

Only you can choose how something makes you feel. No one else is responsible for your feelings. 

Jesus loves you. Really

Sunday, 17 November 2013

No Nap With Mom?

I just made an earnest attempt to get my daughter to join me for a cozy, snuggly Sunday afternoon nap. There was a time that, more often than not, this was the way it was. Whether she was cuddled close in bed next to me or asleep in my arms or a carrier as I went about the day. She is very snuggly. I think she was at least 5 months before she first slept alone.

But trying to get her to sleep anywhere but her room during the day has become difficult. The stroller doesn't happen anymore, as she wants to explore, so no more long walks with the dogs. At home, if I'm there she just wants to read or play, no matter how exhausted she has become. Oh, she'll snuggle. But there won't be any shut eye. After my jaw surgery we got a bit of down time together but eventually she starts playing and gets quite rambunctious. On days like today, I need her to sleep and don't want that second wind to kick in.

So I gave up trying and picked her up and put her in her crib. She called out to me a few times but then she was quickly deep down in dream land. 

And now, instead of just sleeping like I wanted to, I am trying to resist the indefatigable temptation to get up and consume some decadent chocolate (even though I already had some today). I was getting so good with not feeling like I needed sugar but now that I am on a liquid/soft diet I find my sugar consumption has increased. And, unfortunately, so have my cravings. Every day I want some ice cream or some chocolate melted with peanut butter (mmm, seeing those words makes it sound even more delicious). And I know the more I give in, the more intense that it gets. There was a time, when in my twenties I could first eat chocolate without a migraine, that I used to eat simply to stop an intense craving. Not for the purpose of enjoyment. I also know it's worse when tired. I'm tired right now. Not hungry.

And my daughter was very tired as well. I'm so glad she is asleep. She still sleeps in her crib during the day. (And with us at night. I don't know why she won't do it another way. How does she know the difference?) Her dad wants to give her the toddler bed. As I've mentioned before, I have concerns about that idea. Getting into things. Making a mess. Hurting herself. 

But in light of her needing certain conditions to sleep, I wonder if taking her crib away will end naps? Will she just grab another beloved book? Go for her toy box? Try to leave the room to play with mommy or daddy (or bring us said book)? I am actually quite certain this is what would happen. And so, she would get up and not nap. 

I've heard that when naps end it can be nice because then you don't have to plan outings around that necessary sleep. You can attend things at all times of day. And you have more time to plan bigger undertakings and trips. It sounds great. So I won't be upset when the time comes. 

I just don't want to make it happen prematurely. She is still quite a long napper. Two and a half to three hours is normal. Some days I even have to wake her because she'll go four hours. And the days she doesn't get one, it is always noticeable. She is more emotional. And less willing to push through when something is difficult. So I know she still needs them. I try to tell myself if she really needs them, they'll keep happening. She is only two. But I don't want to wreck what is working!

At this point, I've agreed that she could get her fun new bed for Christmas. That's just over a month away. Time will tell...

Now, time for a short nap. I'm good with half an hour naps. I don't need the 3. Man, that long and I'd be up until the wee hours of morning. Oh, wait, I often am. 

Friday, 15 November 2013

Deck the Halls

It's nearing the time to deck the halls for Christmas. The entrance and front room, at least. Which, for me, means taking down my daughter's long-lived birthday party decorations. We still have copious balloons and streamers hanging from our ceilings (I was worried the balloons would deflate putting them up a whole day before and they are still full a month later). Some of them are red, as the Dr Seuss party was red and blue. I could leave the red for Christmas. Red is festive and beautiful. 

But what else will I add? I have a young dog that likes to chew on things and I have a curious toddler. Nothing is safe! The dog ate my husbands dress shoes. My toddler drew on the computer screen. I'm thinking that the items on the tree are not going to stay on the tree. Obviously, the top is going to be a little more embellished than the bottom. Last year, my daughter had just started promenading on her two feet a month before Christmas. So the bottom of the tree only had a sparse few items. Which she frequently liked to try to take off and put back on the tree. She left the presents alone, though.

I regretfully admit that I haven't been too excited about sprucing up the house in the past because I was closed minded about what that meant. I wanted matching, magical, and methodological. My husband, on the other hand, wanted entertaining, extravagant, and enormous. Which of us do you think already went through parenthood? He knew how to make it fun, and I was good at ruining that. I would rather have a dismal nothing than an embarrassing tacky. Go ahead, you can roll your eyes at me. I do, too. Now, as a parent, I'm realizing that fun and full are great things. Important things, actually. Though, I will still have to draw a line. Right?

But, the point is, I want to decorate for Christmas. My sincere apologies to my wonderful step daughter for having to live with me through my transitioning period. Would it help if I said being a step mom and step grandma greatly improved my ability to be a good mom?

I look forward to my new little helper going through the boxes with us and picking out the amazing items that catch her interest. Right now, she really loves to exclaim, "Wow!!" She will say, "Wow, it's dark" or "Wow, the moon" or "Wow, a light". Imagine a slow wow with a very rounded mouth and big eyes. Another current expression of hers is the question, "What's that?" Oh, so many new things each season. Maybe we will go down to a second hand store and look through some more possible treasures. Then, together we will listen to carols and give our abode a yuletide feel. Green is my most cherished color and red is my husband's. And so it is easy to find Christmas things we like. Though, I tend to gravitate toward silver and he is attracted to gold. Does the rest of the world live with such differences? Soon, we'll have the opinions of the third as we get our home looking festive.

I am excited about next year, making home made decorations. I have fond memories of doing that with my Dad's wife. Popcorn garlands and paper hoop garlands. And so many ideas will be available to us online! Home made clay ornaments. Painted straws. Twine wrapped items. Paper mache... These are the things that excited me about becoming a mother!

Food and decorations. Stories and prayers. Family and fun. That'll be our Christmas. I'll have to somewhat skip the presents this year. Maybe one for the children in the family. But I'm learning that tight times really develop the focus. I was going to blog with a challenge to creatively wrap gifts with recycled materials or reusable things like tea towels. Every year I am so bothered by all the wasted paper and ribbon. But, I wont do a whole blog on that because I don't have a gift giving budget. And I know many others don't this year either. But there is always putting up a tree, getting together, eating (and eating some more), and being thankful for all that we have.

I have a home to decorate. I have friends to celebrate and have Christmas parties with. I have a little girl to watch treasure Christmas. We have a great church celebrating the birth of Jesus. And of course, there will be snow. No falling short in that area around here.

Every day I am growing. Every day has its struggles. I still can't eat solids and wont be having anything crunchy until the new year. But, it is going to be a joyous, festively adorned Christmas season.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

I miss you. I am capable of that.

I shock myself sometimes with the things that took me so long to get. And the stinking process to get there. Thing is, my surprise is based on developing character you would already expect from any sane, functioning adult. I think I was barely making it at one point. I have just come into true existence. Really. A compassionate, loving existence, at least.

Since they moved in the summer, I miss my step daughter and her children. Deeply. It pains me to know I wasn't there for either child's birthday this year. I ache to watch them grow. To see their personalities develop. To be there for their mom.

There was a point in my life, especially as a hormonal, hurt teenager, when I didn't think I was actually capable of rooted, devoted, loyal feelings toward another. Miss someone? Nah. They wouldn't miss me. There was never a close enough bond to be missed. My apologies if you thought long ago we had a connection. I needed people. I wanted friendships. But I didn't trust. I didn't value myself enough to feel listened to or wanted. I'll be honest, I don't even think I expected to truly have simple cordial feelings for another. You can't imagine the thoughts that went through my head toward strangers or acquaintances I had to deal with on a day to day basis. Not that I focused too much on my constant, negative thoughts toward them. My mind was always redirected to telling myself how stupid I was. I was so hurt, so self centered, so self absorbed that my longing for love blinded the true path to receiving love.

To receive love you must delight in another.

I didn't. I saw faults. I felt offense. Oh, I frequently felt offense. I was smothered in the constant distractions of it's not fair or what about me? And so, ultimately, I missed out on so many opportunities. One way friendships. Relationships with walls. Surface interactions. And, loneliness.

Until I met my husband. The most unlikely of candidates. The laid back personality that regularly ripped at my type-A mind, driving me crazy in the process. The impulsive nature that incessantly pushed my cautious tendencies. The disorderly spirit that frequently tested my need for organization. The tireless workaholic that shamed my lazy self-centeredness. The just-do-it attitude that counteracted my default of becoming frozen in fear. In all our clashes, one thing always shone brightly before me. His love. His love for me. His love for his daughter. His love for people.

Love that truly is unconditional. Even when I am moody. Tired. Fed up. It passes any test. "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" 1 Corinthians 13:7.

I learned so much about that love watching him with my step daughter. I didn't think it was possible for a parent and a teenager to have such a close relationship. Whether or not there were cool friends around. Whether or not they saw something on the same level. Whether or not one of them made a mistake. And mishaps and blunders happen. I stood on the sidelines. Angry for them. Hungry for justice. Wanting lessons to be painfully learned. Expecting the process of feeling bad and regretful apologies. But that was not their way of doing it. They were there to support each other. Apologies need not be earned because they were assumed. It was automatically okay.

What a gift it is to be a part of that now. I'm a mess. I screw up. But I have them. They are mine. They always will be. It took me so long to embrace the feelings of loving someone even when I am not necessarily pleased with their actions. It took me so long to really believe that I am cared for in such a way that I cannot be simply tossed aside. This is something everyone was meant to experience. Love doesn't turn off and on. Love is.

And always will be. Which makes me miss my step daughter and her children even more. And hope that I will again see them soon.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Jaw Surgery and The Home

Three years ago I finally made the expensive decision to get orthodontic braces. It essentially became a choice I could no longer avoid. My bottom teeth were digging into the top of my mouth and this would repeatedly cause painful swelling that would prevent my back teeth from being able to bite together, which would make it impossible to eat. Eating is very important. I love food. 

Two weeks ago I went through the most drastic step in the realigning process. I had jaw surgery. The surgeon sliced my bottom jaw and slid it forward and plated my new jaw together. Ouch. My apologies if that makes you shudder. At my first meeting with him I actually almost threw up when he explained it to me. I'm sure I was almost hyperventilating when they wheeled me in to the operating room. But they talked so calmly and kindly and promptly sent me off to dreamland. 

I woke up in much less pain than I expected. I tried morphine twice and decided that I did not like the feeling of it at all as it made me sweaty and itchy and light headed. The pain was definitely bearable. And healing has been relatively great. I was so worried about the recovery process with an energetic, cuddly toddler. But in most ways, it has been better than expected. 

I thought I would be stuck on the couch all day, getting up briefly when I determined that my almost two-year-old's activities were becoming dangerous. Dreading every time she was hungry. Watching my house fall apart and itching to get out. But instead, I had my two days rest in the hospital and then went home to taking it easy but still doing things. We snuggled and read books, took the dogs for nice walks, went to play group, went to the grocery store, and lived an almost normal life. 

Almost. Mommy has been very tired. The first week I let her fall asleep to movies too many times and suddenly she wouldn't go to sleep without one. So I had to put an end to that. Movies were much easier on my face than reading books through gritted teeth, but she still understood my words and so reading it was. Frequently, upon her request. Yes, a relaxing activity. But not for a sore mouth. I think my incessant talking is why I bruised so badly.

But the bruises were helpful. They were a reminder to my girl to be careful. Every once in a while she would say, "Let me see your chin." And then she would announce matter-of-factly, "I have bruises, too." It seems that she is also a little better at entertaining herself now, too. No, mommy can't spin. No, mommy can't bounce. Mommy's no means no. No, mommy doesn't have the energy to run. 

Or do housework. I have never let my floors get so bad. But that's just the way it has to be. Leaning forward is the biggest issue. And I get enough of that with changing her bum, washing her hair, soothing a nightmare. And dealing with the dogs. I've had to scrub manure from one dog's back and cut burrs from the armpits and behind of the other dog. 

I've learned that adequate health for day to day tasks is truly a blessing. One day I had to clean the tub because it just wasn't usable and it was the most difficult task ever. Another day I wanted to start the pellet stove and had to keep bending over to reach the controls again and again because I couldn't get it to work. It was beyond frustrating. 

I'm so very glad that I have the ability to enjoy my daughter. I'm so very blessed to be able to take care of two large dogs (though I'm thinking the idea was a crazy one). I'm so happy that we can all get outside and enjoy this beautiful place we live. And once I can sleep without an incline and on my side again, I will really appreciate the blessing of being able to do something as simple as sleep if I would like.

I really take advantage of the many blessings that I have and all the things that I get to do with my day. Like nap time. Today I sit here enjoying her nap time for the first time in 5 days. She's been sleeping soundly for two and a half hours after going down no problem. So many times the last few days I wanted to nap myself but just couldn't get her to comply. And I know she needed it. It showed in her lack of patience and unwillingness to try again if something didn't work. I don't know if it was her reaction to changes with me at home. Or throwing her off with a late drive on Sunday. But she hasn't had a good nap since Saturday, and today is Thursday. I'm sitting here with the dogs, ready to pounce on them if they dare make a noise as they insist on wrestling. Hey, stop growling.

And I'm trying to figure out how to quell the hunger in my belly. Blended soups, milk shakes, protein shakes, fresh fruit and veggie drinks. I've even tried blended lasagna and blended sausages and potatoes. I'm kind of glad I had this surgery when I had a toddler. I've still had to provide healthy food for my family so it has ensured that I am getting proper nutrition. Tonight is fish and carrots and roasted potatoes. Oh I miss crunchy things and fresh salad! And pizza. 

Having a toddler has also kept me from feeling sorry for myself. I still have to get up and face the day and set an example. And she has helped me to enjoy each day. I'm sure the "old" me would have stayed in bed and become quite bored and then took forever to get out of the slump. Day 7, 8, and 9 were probably the most unbearable. I was tired of drooling food on myself as I attempted to consume enough calories with a tightly closed jaw. I was too uncomfortable to sleep. But on day 10 the elastics were cut and I was allowed to open my mouth again and this made drinking and taking medication much easier.

It's amazing what they can do now! They used to have to wire the mouth shut for six whole weeks. That would have been torture! Before I know it I will be on solids and this will be all behind me. And my mouth will finally, in my late thirties, be comfortable. The pain and bruising will go away. I'll be able to exercise again. And life will be back to normal.

And eventually, my daughter will get to see her mom without metal in her mouth. 

Friday, 1 November 2013

Meandering in the Woods

We meandered along the forest path rimmed with thin, bare trees. The dogs merrily darted ahead and then fell back again, questioning your steady, but slow, pace. We followed down an unknown, majestic path where none of us had ever been. The branches and needles dripped with moisture onto the forest floor caked with earthy orange and brown leaves.

You curiously crouched down to look at something at your feet. With a small stick you poked the side of a slender slug. I was grateful you did not try to stomp on it like you have previously done. Promptly, it's motionless existence lost your interest and you trudged on, letting me know we were going this way.

Off the path was a mossy log that called to you for a relaxing break. With tongue-sticking-out determination, you braced yourself through the uneven, grassy terrain and positioned yourself next to the log. You paused to ponder some small mushrooms and turned your back. You comfortably sat and then called your dogs, inviting them to come and sit with you and enjoy your perch. Of course, I delighted in assisting in your idea so that I could take a picture of you and your beloved companions on your outing in the damp woods. 

You asked me to sit with you. As I did, you looked around, contemplating the next interesting spot that you would explore. You decided to venture back into the woods themselves. You didn't make it far as the ground was tangled with rooted branches and tasseled grasses and provided too much resistance for your short little legs. So you turned back toward the easy path that had been trod down by many dogs and their owners and by outdoor joggers.

We approached civilization behind the natural canopy and I announced it was time to turn back the way we came. You grumbled at my request, as if it meant that our impromptu adventure was coming to an unfortunate end, even though we still had to backtrack all the way that we had come. I distracted you by showing you how the water was held so fragile in droplets on the greenery that hung by our faces. One by one, you reached out and gently touched a frail drop and watched it release from its perch into cool moisture that ran down your fingers.

You ardently called the older dog to share with her what now tickled your fingers. She sniffed and turned away uninterested, leaving a clump of damp fur on your hand. You repeatedly broke drops of water and insisted you share your experience with your four legged friend, until she was no longer willing to express curiosity in what little you had to offer. 

Your legs became tired and you snuggled close into mom's side as you scanned the beautiful surroundings and breathed in the fresh air. You expressed concern at a fallen log that sprawled at an angle on the hillside. As we approached the vehicle your energy was suddenly renewed and you protested loudly. I placed you down and you sprightly ran along the dirt road, aiming for every puddle. 

You waded out into a mud puddle so dirty that you could not see your shoes. You tested it with your hand, only to find it cold on your fingers. You stepped out and tossed in a few rocks, enjoying the splash. You decided to intensify the stir by kicking at the water. The dogs joined you in excitement as you stomped and kicked.

A passerby asked if you were having fun, to which you replied, no. She hoped that you would have some fun before you were done your task. We stepped off the road as a car approached. And then another. Then we were off walking once more. You took me down a side road, again announcing this way. Here, you decided to be carried again. We looked upon what had been a fire the night before, still containing a flicker of fire at its center. Litter was unfortunately scattered around the area. You pointed to a second spot where another fire pit had once been located.

You tried to play with a stick only to have it confiscated by a dog. You whined that it was yours and tried to follow him into the long grass to receive your prize. I reminded you how much both dogs loved sticks. I took your disquiet as an opportunity to bring an end to your damp venture. I scooped you into my arms and placed you in the truck. Inside I promptly turned on the heat as I removed your drenched pants and mud caked shoes. I put on dry pants and left them long over your feet as I had nothing extra to cover your damp, pink toes. You smiled contently at the completion of your adventure. You had climbed. You had sat. You had run. You had skipped. You had splashed.

We drove toward home along the bumpy road with the dogs happily running beside us. First, we stopped to let in the older before driving farther with the younger galloping along with his tongue hanging out. Then we collected him as well as we finished our outing. You asked me to turn up the fan and we enjoyed the hot air as we listened to music and returned to our base. 

It didn't matter that the air wasn't warm or the sun didn't shine. It didn't matter that the ground was wet and slippery with mud. It didn't matter that we had no destination or goal. It didn't even matter that mom was still in her pajamas. What mattered is you spent time with mommy and your dogs. Outside.