Photographs

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I have never been very good at taking pictures. I look at those “other” Mommy bloggers and I see their gorgeous pictures taken with their expensive cameras, and I think that I must need a $1,000 camera so that I can take good pictures too. They apologize for their iPhone photos-that’s as good a camera as I’ve got. Except for my mom. My mom has one of those expensive cameras-she even has an expensive, expensive camera. When she’s around, I forget to even pick up the iPhone to take inferior pictures. Why is this bothering me?

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Jordyn’s 10th birthday party was last Saturday. One of the things I wanted to do for her was to put together a slideshow of her life. So, I started searching through my computer’s photographs and gradually it became clear that I don’t take pictures of my children. When we were living with my mom or very close to my mom, I could see many pictures taken of my precious firstborn. But, there were very few pictures that were taken from my old point-and-shoot, or even my iPhone once I had it. In fact, there were entire holes in my child’s life (such as year 5) where I had only a handful (literally, like 10) of photographs from the entire year! Why????

I have been following this mom whose daughter, Jennifer, passed away from cancer at the ripe ol’ age of 6, and the grief she exposes is truly heart-wrenching. Isn’t that every parent’s worst nightmare? That a beast will come in and steal your child from your arms and leave you powerless to prevent itĀ from happening? Well, she posts pictures, lots of pictures of her forever 6 year old and her other three children. Most of the pictures are your classic photograph, with smiling faces, looking at the camera, in focus types of things. But there are some, and it’s these ones that haunt me, that are less impressive. They are out of focus, or the clothes aren’t on, or she’s not looking at the camera. The “bad” photographs. They are precious to her. I’ve been deleting them for years. Even worse, knowing that I can’t compose a “good” photograph because the floor is messy or my kids are (still) undressed, I don’t even pick up the camera (or phone). And once that moment is gone, its gone forever.

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So, I’m going to try to take more of these “candid” photos, in the hopes that when it comes time to put together Bekah’s slideshow, I have ample material to choose from, for every year of her life.

Even if the floor is dirty.

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Even if the kids aren’t dressed.

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Because that is a moment from their life, and that makes it extremely valuable to me.

Success and Failure

Failure: My May totally fell apart and I dissolved into existing instead of living. I didn’t do the things that I had committed to doing. But I’m also moving on.

Success: For the last week (or more), I have been getting myself put together- doing my hair and make-up almost everyday. Everyday for the past four days. It’s a small accomplishment, but it’s huge for me. I’ve been discouraged about my body, my appearance, and my image. They seem trite, but it means a lot for me to look myself in the eyes in any passing mirror and enjoy the work I’ve done, even if it’s just hair and make-up. Wardrobe is next; it’s already begun. I’m tired of being defined by t-shirts and baggy pants. I’m better than that. So, I’ve purchased a few dresses and I love wearing them. I feel fresh, fun, and feminine. Couldn’t ask for more. All of this focusing on my outside has improved my ability to see my insides. I’m valuable. So valuable, in fact, that someone chose to die- just for me. And that blows my mind and makes me happy in ways I find hard to express. So, I’m making other changes to make this physical body stronger and better able to serve my Lord. I’m making one small change everyday to be healthier. Some days that change has been a salad for lunch instead of pizza. Yesterday, all I found that I could muster was to put the ice cream back in the freezer without taking one more bite. It’s a process. I’d love to add exercise into my day, but I’m NOT a morning person and can’t fathom battling the early morning AND the exercise- it’s just a recipe for disaster. I’m hoping to exercise first thing in the morning, no matter what time that is. It’ll probably be around 11, after getting the kids up and fed and taking care of the little things, but then I want to spend 30 minutes moving. Maybe, I’ll take the kids for a walk. That’s my next step anyway.

So, I’m having little successes in my little world. Most days, I feel like I’m drowning, especially when I look backwards. So, like Dory, in possibly the best Disney line ever, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.” Ignore the nay-sayers, even when they speak in my voice. Success breeds success. Or so I’m told.

Thankful

 

 

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One of the things not part of my challenge that I’ve always wanted to do is to take pictures every day for a month. I don’t know if I’ll make it everyday, but I’m really going to try. By goal is to post something for which I’m thankful each day. Today, we had the most awesome looking storm come through. It didn’t do any damage, I’m not even sure that it did more than sprinkle, but I love seeing the beauty and splendor of the Lord especially in the sky. The first picture is a view of our backyard (and neighbor’s barn- oh, how I love their old barn!) and the next one is from our front yard, where we witnessed the dancing sun through the clouds. It is always uplifting.
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May Challenge

After last post’s depression settled in, things got worse. :) Well, they did for me, anyway. Eric is going out of town for a month! He is going to be traveling and installing internet in the homes in Montana, Wyoming, and Washington, which means that yours truly will become a single mom, albeit temporarily, in 32 hours. The feelings of being trapped, the depression I’ve been battling (or allowing to flood over me), the lack of control, the stress of our home life are all going to dramatically change when that timer goes off. So, I’m trying to be proactive. In the past, when Eric left (in his Army days, this was a frequent thing), I would shop myself silly since you get paid well to be separated from your loved ones for a period of time. Even more if that soldier is in a combat zone. Sure, you’re being paid to deal with the extra stress that those situations entail, but nobody ever joined the military without knowing that it was a fighting thing. Anyway, ramble over. Going crazy with a credit card is just not an option this time. And sinking into the mire isn’t either.

What I’m trying to say is that I have a new desire for change. I’m already being thrust into singleness for now, I think it should make me stronger. So, some goals I’m setting for myself for the month of May:

1. Eat Paleo (ish): I have been wanting to go Paleo for a long time now (over 6 months from my first attempt) but the thing is, my self-control is supremely weak. I’ve come up with a way that might bolster my courage and self control for the month of May. One of the problems I have with Paleo is all of those foreign foods. Realistically, I’d be replacing 90-95% of my current diet. That kind of exchange is just going to make me crazy! My plan is to start with a Paleo foundation (meat, vegetable, vegetable, fat- I made that up), but after consuming even a small portion of my prescribed Paleo plan, I’m giving myself the liberty to consume whatever standard fare I’m coming up with for my arrows. I’m hoping to combat the feeling of deprivation you get instantly from telling yourself you “can’t” have something. Because I can have whatever I want. But I don’t want to have whatever I can have. I have to find that inner drive that tells me I’m better than the tootsie roll on the counter or the ice cream in the freezer. I’m hoping this works for a couple of weeks and then I can begin a true Whole30 within a few months, having built up a arsenal of yummy foods.

2. Exercise daily- The most movement I get these days is to walk to the mailbox. I bought P90X last year and successfully used 3 days of the program (Whoopee), but I was so terribly sore that I just couldn’t bear to do another minute. This time around, I’m not planning on doing the full workout, for starters- they are just too long for a newbie. I’m going to schedule 45 minutes into my morning for exercise and get done what I can. I’m also not going to be using weights or resistance bands. I’m pretty sure I can get an effective workout with my own body weight. Maybe after 30 days, I’ll break out the resistance bands I bought just for this program, but probably not- the weights were easier to use.

3. Blog/Journal nightly- I love writing, I love blogging. I don’t think I really have anything super interesting to say, so I doubt I’ll ever get any followers, but eh, that’s okay. I’m doing this for me anyway. I’m going to need to process down from my day anyway. I expect that requiring myself to sit at the computer will be all this takes. I do enjoy writing after all.

4. Clean!- A major stressor in our house is the lack of cleanliness on my part and on the part of the kids. It leads to a lot of frustration and angry voices around here. And, even if I were permanently single, I’d need to get this done. However, without Eric imposing any of his standards on me, I’d like to see if I can make some successful progress in this area. Related specific goals are to do dishes nightly (perhaps right before I blog!), participate in FlyLady’s zone rotation (I’ll just be decluttering/cleaning whatever I can for 15 MINUTES ONLY), and the kids and I will continue to work on establishing our morning and evening routines. They truly are sanity savers…and I’m going to need all the spare sanity that I can get!

5. Homeschool according to the plan- Another big challenge already on my plate is the homeschooling that we are struggling to “get done” every day. I know that it’s not always about just doing the lessons, sometimes there is more organic learning going on, but at my house, creating fictional things in Minecraft is about the extent of our “unschooling” time. I have great goals in this area of my life, but first, I need one last attempt to stay on task. If I can’t make reasonable progress in my homeschool this month (90% success or better) then we need to seriously consider sending the kids to public school next year (and every year after that, because I can’t do this every other year nonsense) This is a high-stakes month for me.

6. Tech-time limits- I think this might become the integral part that allows me to keep the homeschooling ball rolling. I will allow my children 60 minutes of “tech-time” to spend as they choose, so long as they do their schoolwork efficiently and without whining. I won’t spank or yell, I will withdraw 10 minutes of tech-time for each infraction after their first warning. I expect it to be very difficult those first few days. The biggest concern I have is what I’m going to do with Andrew, whose life seems to revolve around Team Umizoomi most mornings. I don’t have enough toddler activities to entertain him without that electronic babysitter. I’m googling preschool activities like crazy. Most of them require too much work.

There are more, I also want to get outside (a necessary thing if I want a vegetable garden to grow), and I want to create something regularly. I’ve got plans to start on my quilt and I’m dreaming of a summer wardrobe. But I’ll save that for another post. I think this month is my last ditch effort to improve my life without the aid of pharmaceuticals. I need to fight this depression, but it just latches on so tightly that cutting it out can be painful at times. It’s not cancer. I keep reminding myself that it could be worse. I could have just lost my daughter to a horrifically speedy growth that couldn’t be cut out. And I remember to play with my children, smile like I mean it, and know that today is the only day I’ve been given. Lord, grant me the strength…

Trapped

I got online this evening to blog about the new diet that I’m going to try, only to realize that all I’ve ever posted was (insert new diet here) day 1. Ugh. I wish that surprised me, but it doesn’t. I’m a horrible dieter. In fact, the only area of success I’ve ever had was in gaining weight- which is pretty counter-productive at this point. I’m topping the scale higher than I’ve ever been (pregnancy included) and I’ve gotten to the point where my failures greet me every morning in the form of back fat, trouble standing, and low energy. There are so many diets that help you lose weight that it can just be confusing. One low-fat, one high-fat/low-starch. Glycemic-Index, Paleo, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc. My head is swimming from the blur of dieting and all their insisting that theirs is THE way. I’m so tired of their ways. I’m so stuck in the rut of promising to diet and then not dieting. I’ve made lists and goal sheets, I’ve planned meals and read recipes, I’ve even had my sister clean out my kitchen from all “forbidden foods.”

Many days, I entertain the idea of weight-loss surgery, except that I know it wouldn’t work. I’d get into the office and the doctor would say, “okay, prove you can stick to a diet: lose 10 pounds.” I’ll walk out of that office determined to do the right thing and I will end up losing nothing. What’s the missing link? Am I just trapped in this unhealthy cycle forever, like Sleeping Beauty having already pricked her finger or Snow White after the apple or Rapunzel in her tower- incapable of actually getting out, getting free? Am I waiting (unconscious) for Prince Charming to show up? That my diets have all failed because they weren’t the right prince. It wasn’t true love? I love these fairy tales, I’m not really one of those people who blames fairy tales for all of women’s woes today (quite the reverse, I assure you). Perhaps it is the mystical and mysterious depression that has settled into my body. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Maybe it’s just my insatiable desire for fast food and sweet stuff.

No matter what the problem, I want to deal with it intelligently and strongly. I want to stand, victorious, at the top of Mount Everest and look back at what I’ve done. Mostly, I just want to feel normal, moderately active, figure “flaws” that can actually be camouflaged by clothing instead of exacerbated by it. I want to feel pretty in a dress and sexy with nothing on at all. And don’t give me that crap about society’s standards being unhealthy. I’m not 120 trying to lose 5 pounds with D-sized breasts and hollow cheeks. I’m 240 pounds with DD sized breasts and a stomach that passed them up. My libido (what libido) [let’s not even go there]. So, what’s going to work? What’s the magic pill that makes this all go away?

Did I mention that I homeschool? That my children are mired in my misery for every waking hour of their lives? Shouldn’t that motivate me? Shouldn’t the desire to stand victorious at the end be motivation enough? Why isn’t it enough? How do I fix this? I keep thinking about it and contemplating it and planning around it. But never doing it. Because doing it is hard. I’ve never done anything hard. Ever. The hardest thing I’ve ever done was finish delivering my (first) daughter naturally after 4 hours of pushing. The doctor was prepping the operating room for my c-section. I knew that was undesirable and somehow the determination and drive came over me. If I thought I had an extra 2 hours, I probably would have quit. As it was, I thought I could deliver her and I did. And though I’ve had three other (natural) deliveries since hers, I can’t really call them hard because I’ve only had to push less than 10 times for all three. Combined. It’s been a miracle, but not my miracle. Maybe it is just the feelings of being overwhelmed. I’m not good when I look at mountains from their base- in any area of my life, I just quit. If that’s the dishes, the laundry, the homeschooling, finances, or diet.

I wish I had a nice, fuzzy, upbeat ending, but I don’t. I’ve got nothing. And I feel helpless. And trapped.

Introducing Rebekah Leann


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Rebekah was born at 10:41pm on January 5, 2013. She weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces and measured 19 3/4 inches long.

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We had her at home as planned, which was good because I don’t think I would have made it to the hospital- I didn’t even know that I was in labor! Everything went well and we are so blessed to have this little girl in our lives.

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