Wednesday, December 26, 2012


i am going on vacation.  the last big vacation we went on was two summers ago, when we drove to new jersey.  that is a long drive from texas.  it was especially long coming home because my husband and oldest son flew back and it was just the four younger ones and i.  but we made it.  and we were bad asses.  and it was cool.  and exhausting.

so tomorrow morning, at 4am, we're heading to colorado.  really, we're heading to santa fe.  we'll drive to colorado the next day.  but we're doing it.  it's been awhile.  the spouse will be present for both legs of the trip.  awesome.  my guys have gotten so much bigger...i mean physically bigger...i'm a little nervous about how comfortable we'll all be on the road.  but i think we'll be fine.

can i say one weird thing?  usually, i resist all of the technological advancements...the old school stuff they replace.  but can i tell you how much cooler it is to pack an ipad and a nook instead of a computer or even a television and vcr (yes, we did this...probably ten years ago on the way to the grand canyon or colorado or somewhere) and a ton of books and gameboys and games is really so much simpler.

life has been so incredibly busy.  i think i have changed my posture and my musculature from all the anticipation and stress and just physical ready-ness and lack of relaxation.  my neck and throat are just always so freaking tight.  i wonder if this contributes to thyroid issues?...  anyway, i digress.  i am looking forward to a chance to rest.  to relax.  to sit and not have anything to do, nothing to plan, nothing to be preparing to do.  it sounds like a foreign country to me.  but definitely a place i'm interested and intrigued by.

so i'll be outie for a week and a half.  (like i haven't taken years long breaks without mentioning...)  but i do have a wedding reception to attend the night we're coming home.  and i'm thinking it's going to be crazy awkward and probably something we regret making the effort to attend.  but i have to say, we never have one of those "i'm SO GLAD we went" moments after the events we don't attend.  so we're going to give this one a try.  i feel like we're getting close to letting those opportunities go...but for now...we're not quite ready.  at least not today.  and probably not next saturday.  but after that, who knows?  life is too short to hold a grudge and turn away from people you love.  but life is also too short to keep throwing yourself (and your five kids) against a brick wall.  when you're this tired, the line between those two things isn't so thin.

see you on the other side...
peace out

Thursday, December 13, 2012

what now?

i have really lost the rhythm of my life.  the beat.  the routine.

some people hate routines.  i love them.  my brain gets tired of all the decisions i have to make in a day.  i guess i resent some of them.  and if there's anything that can suck the fun right out of life, it's resentment.  a routine keeps the beat going and just lets me dance.  i like to dance.  it's no fun when you have to think of each step as you're going...and not just each of my steps, but to be directing so many other steps.  anyway...i'm looking for a new rhythm.

my husband didn't come home last night.  we're not in a really good place, and i think i could get mad about it if i tried, but i drove to visit family on tuesday, and got a day away (well, just me and my three year old), and well, i'm just rather apathetic about it.  i've got my own rhythm to find and he and i haven't really danced together in a long time.

and frankly, i'm mad at him about it.  i have tried and tried to make it my fault, put the power to change things in my hands, change my attitude/change my life sort of deal.  but i'm tired of it and it makes me pretty miserable.  because there are just some things he sucks at.  and some of those things really, really affect our relationship, whether or not he agrees or wants to take responsibility or thinks he already has and it should be done and over.  but the truth is, i have no idea how he feels about things.  he's not much of a talker (and what with him being gone overnight and all, there's not tons of opportunity) and i'm tired of asking (he says i'm not a good listener anyway).  so maybe for advent, i just stop fighting to make things different and surrender where i'm at, admit my failings, and wait for the next operating instructions.  my fourteen year old just asked me if we could go to the family penance service tonight...oy...where did i get these holy kids?

it is two weeks til christmas.  well, less actually.  why did i keep thinking it was more than two weeks yesterday when now, one day later, it so obviously isn't?  aging is kind of crazy like that.  always fun house mirrors changing everything.  anyway.  i haven't bought a thing.  i haven't even thought of a thing to buy.  i better find some focus. 


Monday, December 10, 2012


yesterday in church, i was thinking about pieces of us.  i hope this doesn't sound too disturbing, but i was thinking about it during eucharist.  it has choked me up in the past to think about jesus in pieces, being distributed to the church.  but it's kind of cool, too, because he's broken up in pieces and given to the members of the church, who are united in one body through the sacrament of eucharist.  but those are past thoughts...  yesterday, i was thinking about jesus in pieces...and that made me think of my five children...and how of course my heart was going to have to be broken in this life so that each of them could have a piece.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

the weekend

things have been busy.  the last...three or four years...i've just totally lost my feet...the horse has been dragging me...i feel beat up...disoriented...hurt...even a little bruised, but i'm sure that's just from age and not my metaphor. 

we drove three hours friday night so my two middle boys could compete in our regional rock climbing qualifier.  this allowed them a chance to qualify for divisionals.  which will be a two hour trip (one way) in january, but i'm not complaining.  (well, not a lot...)  we stayed in a hotel friday night, took our three younger kids swimming (and that oldest younger kid is thirteen and in a swimsuit, his father and i really had a chance to appreciate how much he's big he's getting...i know his father noticed because we gave each other the same look at the same time and i just knew what he was thinking and he just knew i knew and i knew he knew i knew...after being together for almost twenty years, this is huge to have these moments in the midst of our chaotic life with five children).  anyway...digress much? 

i think the swimming was what did it.  i didn't even swim.  but my husband and kids had a blast.  i could tell he was all tanked up on those good feelings you get when the toddler who normally runs from you is jumping into your arms and yelling "daddy???  are you re-dee???"  and doing little butt shaking, wing flapping butterfly dances before she jumps to you.  i could tell he was drunk off of the puddle she'd melted his heart into.  but then there were also the swimming races with the thirteen year old.  anyone who has teenage boys knows (please tell me you know...humor me...make it up if you have to) there are those alpha male moments....where a simple race becomes the stuff that legends are made of...or remember the titans and, well, mommy dearest with guys.  where he's just playing with his son, but then somewhere between the start and the middle, it's like he's competing against someone trying to take his family...and he suddenly HAS to win...his family, his pride, his i don't even know what is on the line.  it's enough to make a middle aged dad pretty sore in the morning.  well, combined with all the dolphin rides for the pretty butterfly princess.

so it was tough getting everyone up in the morning.  if we were one of those families that did a million things and did them on time, then we might have been able to get into bed and get adequate sleep and be physically prepared for our next day.  but since we didn't get to the hotel until 9:30, and swimming took about an hour, well, the kids didn't get into bed until about 11.  or so.  and 8 o'clock came awfully early.  but we made it up and got our things packed with minimal arguing (hey, cut my husband and i some slack...we were tired) and made it down to breakfast at a reasonable time. 

now, i don't know if it's because we're a big family...maybe because my husband is the youngest in a big family....maybe because we've had some lean financial times (i always laugh when i say it that way...a family of six on school loans..."lean financial times" is kind of a joke...but i'm digressing again)...  anyway, my husband cannot turn down free food.  buffets are a terrible idea for him.  he always eats to the point of making himself kind of sick.  and breakfast was no different.  and it is hard to be sympathetic toward a man who is hurting because he over-ate.  again.  for the bla-bla-bla-th time in the twenty years you've been together.  add to that, him being sore from the fairy princess/testosterone driven episodes in the pool the night before, and you've got a dude in a pretty sad state of affairs married to someone who is just not feeling it for him. 

yes, we've gone from parents weathering and tolerating with love our children's tantrums to tantruming in front of our kids, getting overtired or underprepared and pissed about it, and hoping our kids will just stay quiet through it all so as not to turn any of our irrationality on them.  and they complied.  which i hope, in some way, is an indication of the good parents we used to be...but that's only to make me feel better about being so out of it lately. 

am i digressing again?  i'm not even sure what i was writing about anymore... guys competed.  it was awesome.  my fourteen year old is so tall, he was able to skip most of a route just by reaching up to the finishing hold and putting a finger from each hand on it.  he looked down at the judges like "is this legal?" and all the judges just started laughing and applauding.  he is really tall.  and he won first place in his category.  my thirteen year old won sixth place, which is a pretty decent showing for a guy just short of two years younger than his bigger brother and probably eighteen inches shorter and competing in the same category.  they had so much fun.  climbers are so fun to be around.  climbing families are just a wonderful family to be a part of.  they're a little well-to-do...but if you can look past that, they're pretty generous, kind folks.  and it was a good time.  the drive home was kind of brutal, with all the tired and cranky and sore parents, but the kids slept and we made it.  everyone promptly got into their pajamas (hey, it was 7 o'clock....that's not too early) and talked as little as possible.  well, the spouse and i talked a little.  i have to admit, as annoying as he was this weekend, he's kind of cute when he's all pathetic from overdoing it in the good-dad category...even if he does need to start taking better care of himself so he can handle this stuff better....  oh, wait.

ahem....  this morning has gone pretty well.  i'm grateful.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

another set of good words

i wanted to link to this blog post i read a few days ago.  man, did i need it.

we'll see if it works or not.  the name of the post is unschooling, re-attachment, and spiritual


good words

i had a lovely thanksgiving holiday.  considering i'm going through a sort of rough patch in life, it feels good to say i had a very lovely thanksgiving holiday.

one of the lovely things that happened this holiday is that i got to spend some time with my 89 year old grandmother.  she'll be 90 in may.  she told me that she isn't partial to any of her grandchildren, that she loves us all the same.  she's told me this before.  i believe her.  but this time, she told me that she wanted to see me and my family because we are not in town often and she knew she wasn't going to live much longer.  (if you could've seen her pull herself into my sequoia...that woman's still got some spunk left, lemeetellya...)  anyway, after telling me that, she then proceeded to say something i will think about for the next ten years or so. 

she was telling me about a situation with my cousin, years back.  my cousin's mother was getting remarried, and my cousin didn't want to attend her mother's wedding.  my grandmother wouldn't tell her she should go, but she wouldn't tell her she shouldn't go either.  she told her to pray and see what God told her she should do.  then she told her...and this is the part that makes me cry because i wish i'd been asking my grandmother for advice my whole life...that she should remember that her mother might feel like my cousin was doing her a wrong by not attending...and that my cousin might forget about this situation before she ever had a chance to make it right with her mom.

most of the things i remember my grandmother telling me are kind of mean...if i forgot something, it must've been a lie...if i stuck my tongue out at my sister, my grandmother would say "i wouldn't want that nasty thing in my mouth either"...stuff like that.  she was a strict german grandma.  not highly educated.  i don't think she finished high school.  but she was, and still is, one tough woman.  and she's a direct sort of way.  she smelled really nice this holiday.  when i asked her, she said it was her "dusting powder."  but she's never been really talky.  she was kind of bossy when i was younger, but she didn't always have a lot to say.  but this idea of not making a choice that someone might feel wronged by...or at least the idea of considering that when making your decision.  and the idea of losing an opportunity to right a wrong.  these are beautiful, beautiful things.

and understand cousin's mom?...she's not any sort of mom of the year.  she's done some pretty awful my cousin, to her sister's, to my grandmother's son who's her ex-husband.  she's got some pretty big addictions and issues.  but my grandmother doesn't hold that against her.  she just sees her as her granddaughters' mother, her son's ex-wife, someone her life will always be connected to, someone she once loved a lot and probably still loves...without partiality...equal to all of us.  which is cool also. 

i'm not such a great writer these days.  it's hard for me to capture what i feel, what i want to say in words.  that's part of why i don't blog much lately.  it's a pride thing.  heh.  but i wanted to write down these good words from my grandmother.  and i just wanted to write about her a little bit.  about her smile...she lets her eyes do most of the smiling these days because she's self-conscious about her teeth (she's only got a few left).  about her skin...that's smooth and light and thin.  about her hair that she wore permed and kind of poofed for so long...and how much i love it grey and straight.  and can you believe she told me a story about a guy hitting on her a few years ago?  and how she told him to go on.  and she giggled the whole time.  she tickles me.  and makes me proud.  and makes me humble.  i hope i can pass on some of the things she's brought to my life.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

looking back

i've seen some posts on my facebook today about what people were doing on this date, eleven years ago...

i was at home with my two little ones (my second and third borns), watching sesame street.  my friend, maria, who has since died of cancer, called me because she knew i'd be watching sesame street.  (isn't it funny to look back and realize who knew you best, or who knew you intimately for different stretches of time?)  she knew i would not know about the plane that had hit the world trade center because i was watching sesame street, and that they wouldn't interrupt cookie monster with such news.  so i changed the channel to a regular network station (we had already given up cable by then), and together, maria and i watched the second plane hit the second tower.  we were so confused and stunned and confused and sad and confused and worried.  it was hard to process what was happening, what we were watching, that this was real, and what it meant.  my first born was at the catholic school at our parish...i called and the kids had gone to the church to say a rosary.  i still believe God listens to children's prayers  a little more closely than adult's prayers.  and we went on with our day.  in a kind of underwater, slow motion haze.  we watched a lot of news.  felt a lot of different things...some of those feelings made me want to climb in bed and never get up, some made me want to buy a ton of dehydrated food and hide my family away in some remote area, some made me want to pull my family out of life and just stay huddled together in our room, and some made me want to just ignore that anything had happened...pretend it was a tv show and fiction and didn't effect all of american life.  i remember how much maria struggled with it.  how depressed and anxious she got for awhile. 

up until then we had always been the good good we were above an actual attack.  the people we'd attacked in the past were the bad guys...that's why were were attacking them.  it sounds simplistic, but for me, i do believe this was my underlying understanding of america and being american.  the attacks of september 11, 2001 changed that understanding profoundly.  we are not the bad guys.  that's not how it changed my understanding.  but it made me understand, that unequivocally, we are the same.  we all have good and bad within us, and we all hurt when we are attacked.  we cry.  we bleed.  we die.  we search our souls.  we reach out to each other.  we blame.  we suffer.  we heal.  we remember.

i have great hope, great faith, that one day we will all do these things truly together and not separated by anything...not by land, not by race, not by gender, not by social or economic status, not by political affiliation, and not by pride.

one year, the gospel on september 11th was about loving your enemy...and the priest did not back down from the obvious implication of that being the gospel for that day of memory.  today the gospel is about jesus calling the disciples, choosing the twelve (even the one he knew would betray him), and them setting out to do their work...healing and curing and sharing the good news.  time to get to work.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

other peoples' stories

i often struggle with blogging because i am tired of telling my story.  my story feels like it is a circle and keeps repeating itself lately...and it feels whiny and sad and depressing and not like something i want to keep telling.  only, i'm living it, see?  so i just don't tell any stories.

but i've been reading anne lamott.  and when i read anne, the one thing i always come away with, every single time, is that they're all our stories.  even the ones we think are crazy and totally unrelated.  like the cannibal guy in florida, high on bath salts, eating a homeless guy's face off.  when i finally googled that story to read it, it made me cry.  they're all our stories.  even my sisters-in-law...who haven't spoken in months...whose anger at each other has affected all of our relationships...when their mother was admitted to the hospital today, they both greeted her with the same exact words.  i'm telling you, like it or not, they're all our stories.

and being a part of a community reminds us of that.  i haven't had  a lot of community lately.  i've had some mamas i've seen, some i've talked to, the ones i feel closest to i'm on an online parenting board with.  but i haven't FELT the community a lot.  it's hard when the group you feel the closest to is scattered all over the country, in different time zones, all working damned hard at being good moms, good wives, good women. 

but i have been listening to a number of different stories lately.  mamas breastfeeding, mamas recovering from illness, mamas climbing walls taller than they ever thought they could, mamas in relationships, mamas dealing with their children's illnesses, mamas struggling with money, with children growing up and making mistakes...  my own oldest son was trapped in a bathroom in wet clothes, his friend showering, and girls in the room.  i will pray he found a way out of that situation that preserved the dignity of those involved, that mirrored the spirit of the God they were making the trip in...and i write that knowing that the Holy spirit moves each of us in very diverse ways...and i accept that...and i pray i can find the grace when i hear the story.  there's a mama laboring right now, too.  i'm sure there are many laboring to give birth right now...but the one who's laboring with my husband watching over her, sleeping at the hospital waiting for her birth...she's the one who reminds me to pray for laboring mamas and their stories tonight.

so, now that my beautiful, beautiful children are asleep, i'm alone.  and i remembered this story.  it's a story of a man who works at the rock climbing gym my children climb at.  he told me this story the day i told him the story of my oldest's struggles with his ex-girlfriend, his school, and a speech and debate tournament he'd attended.  this man cares a lot about kids.  but he has a special place for those that are making the crossing from childhood into adulthood...and i've learned from him that this crossing can span years...can occur at different stages for different people...and often comes later than we think it does.  he watches over these crosslings...mentors them...prays for them counsel and job and money and sometimes a place to sleep (in the rock gym, as a matter of fact).  he always sees the promise that they carry.  doesn't judge where they are at (although i believe he is a rather traditional christian in his theology).  and after hearing this story, i guess i understand better...and appreciate the light he shared.

he grew up in a very religious family.  (he is still pretty religious, for a guy who hangs out with rock climbers.)  he credits his family with the foundation they provided him for right and wrong.  but when he went to college, like so many of us experiencing that degree of freedom for the first time, he found a whole new world.  he learned he could be pretty cool.  and at one party, as he was walking in with boxes of beer and booze, he saw a girl making out with a guy on a couch.  and he knew he wanted to be with that girl.  so he waited til she was finished making out with the other guy.  and by morning, they were together.  and it turned out that she'd had a pretty religious upbringing as well.  and together, through their college years, they formed a relationship and then got married.  and together, they also found their way back to a path that was natural to them...a path that got them out of alcohol (he may have developed a bit of a problem) and loose relationships.  they now have two beautiful kids and a family that they feel at home in, that they grow together in, and that they are able to minister to others in.

the best part of his telling of the story was after he finished the details, and then reminded me that they would never have met if they had not strayed from what they knew was right.  if they had not made pretty terrible choices (i mean, no one died...but seriously, who wishes for their children to be alcoholics or having tons of sex?).  and so he doesn't question where people go, because he believes they'll all get where they're meant to be.

and that is gold.

i will hold on to it.  because this is my story, too.  and the story of almost everyone i can think of.  (and i only say almost because i am a stickler for facts and assume i can't remember everyone right now...but i'm pretty sure it's almost everyone i know...)

this story grabs me tonight because i realize that i fight so hard going to those dark places.  they are there.  i am ashamed when i visit them, but i'm kind of the kid in the room of bad things, doing a few of the bad things, but i have my eyes closed, pretending i'm somewhere else.  i'm always compelled to go to the bad places, but i have such a hard time enjoying them.  or even really acknowledging i'm there.

so i'm going to work on that.  i'm going to work on being aware of where i am, WHEREVER i am.  even when i'm somewhere i don't want to be.  because it is hard to confront bad choices when i'm not even really aware of them fully.  and i'm so tired of trying to be someone i'm not.  even though i know it is good to aspire to be someone good.  i am good.  even when i'm not.  because i know where i want to be.  and beating myself up on the way, or looking the other way when i feel like i'm less, is not helping my progress.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

the house we bought

third time's a charm, right? is a picture of the front of the house we bought in december.  i blogged about it back when we first got it and showed a few pictures of the remodeling project underway.  but life got, a recap.  here's the front.  i mentioned how you can tell the windows on the left end of the house (facing it) are garage bays where they converted the garage into a kitchen/sitting area...

 and here's the new front.  they took the front off the garage conversion and made it look more like an original construction.  we also put a new metal roof on, only because the old roof had more waves than a water bed and had to be replaced anyway and my husband and i have grown to love the metal roof in our current house...they last forever and we love the sound of rain on metal roofs.  so here's the house now:
 when you walked in the kitchen door, this was the view in december.  the floors were gross from two small dogs who were not very house trained and owners who didn't clean up very well after them.  the kitchen was very cramped and the two level floor (because they had to raise the floor to run the water pipes from the original kitchen) made the space very awkward.  i loved the wood stove, but the dryer vent pipe that was rocked into the surrounding wall made the whole thing something that was too expensive to redo and keep.  i'll miss the stove in my kitchen, but it sits in my garage, waiting to be put into the apartment conversion we'll do to half of our four car garage.  :)
and here's the new view from the kitchen door, which was scooted over some.  the whole addition was taken down to the two by fours.  the floor was evened out (which means these are the shortest ceilings in the house).  we moved the island back and made the kitchen space much larger, but there's still a lot of breakfast area space.  we put in wood floors because wood will give a little more on these uneven base of the floors, and we just like wood a lot more.  we also removed the post they had (it wasn't structurally needed...i was assured...pray...) in the middle of their kitchen, took out that overhang, and removed the stove that divided the kitchen area from the dining/living room area.   it's kind of a wide open space that we aren't sure what to do with, but i think it's just going to be nice to have that much space with all these kids growing up and becoming much larger young adults.
 the fireplace that was along the back wall (and thankfully leaked, so we had to remove it):
the back wall of the house now:
 and a view into the kitchen area from the back door:
the same view now, sort of...the stove is not there anymore, that's the main thing:

so that's the house i keep talking about.  i'll post pics of the view when i get some i like.  it just looks kind of scrubby in the pics i have now.  oh, and that fridge in the last picture?  our nine year old fridge?  well, you can't tell from the picture, but it was dropped in the driveway at my present house.  the oldest son and the husband were having some communication issues that resulted in the oldest moving it along on the dolly and the husband not helping but instead walking away to let down the trailer it really looks like it came from a scratch and dent sale...a BIG scratch and dent sale.  it ties the rest of us in to such a shiny new space.



i know, i know...twice in one day.

the previous post was a my kids sort of deal.  see how much they've grown.  it was shocking to me in some ways.  i've gone back and reread some of my blog.  it's fun.  i have changed so much and so little.  reminds me of the indigo girls line "every five years or so i look back on my life and i have a good start at the top, go full circle round, catch a breeze, take a spin...ending up where i started again makes me want to stand still."  A.M.E.N.  i have spent the last two years trying to stand still.  and it doesn't work.  things still move.  if i could get the whole world on board to stand, it'd be so boring.  oh well.

so speaking of trying to stand still for two years...  my oldest left wednesday morning for a mission trip.  he's made some decisions in the last year that seriously made me wonder about his character.  which might sound kind of superior of me, but i'm pretty sure he's had some serious doubts about his character as well.  he's in such a state of that he's gone over to the dark side, made some serious mistakes, looked some serious issues in the face (with his parents right next to him because much to his horror AND his's funny like that...we're just that kind of family), realized he is not perfect, is capable of great selfishness and deception, he has to find his balance.  his happy place where he can be happy AND feel good about himself.  judging by his mom, it'll take him at least another twenty years before he even begins to buy into the truth that happiness and feeling good about himself are the same thing.  but i digress...

my oldest was gone for all of fourteen hours when i was driving my other kids around, and my youngest son, who's eight and the most honest person i know, who also has a question for any quiet moment, asked me, "mama, was there ever a time when you were as busy as daddy?"  now.  there are so many responses i'm sure this could conjure up in a person.  my twelve year old immediately began the line of defense about how i'm so busy with all of them, taking care of them, etc.  (God love the twelve year old, he is one loyal guy)  and i probably would've felt pretty defensive, pretty oldest had been gone for fourteen hours.  i had taken him to his school at 5:45 that morning, watched his luggage that he'd set on the grass get soaked when the sprinklers suddenly came on, seen that "that kid" that i don't really like was going on the trip as well, helped everyone pack the van, talked with some parents, and prayed with the priest who came to bless the kids that the trip would be a success and they'd be God's light and return safely.  traveling mercies....

and on the way home, i'd thought about the last trip he'd been on...and the horrible choices he'd made...and the slow weeks that the full ramifications of those choices played out...all the way to the end of the imminent consequences...where we'd all felt like we'd dodged a bullet but realized we were still left with a lot of rebuilding now that the universe had decided we could carry on as usual and our lessons would be our own to learn and make a study group to figure out.  and, not surprisingly, this filled me with so much anxiety, i considered turning my truck around and picking him back up, telling him i'd made a terrible mistake in letting him go, that i didn't know if he was ready, but that i realized i wasn't.  then i remembered that he is seventeen.  and will be a senior in high school next year.  and was on a trip to repair houses for impoverished people in the rio grande valley...and do arts and crafts with their children...and play his guitar and sing jesus music with the kids...and to be the hands of God in reminding the people that they are loved...that well-to-do kids who could spend their week playing video games and watching movies wanted to ride eight hours to do these things with them and for them because God loves all of them, and it's in the doing that we realize this most fully.  how much trouble could he get into doing that?  how much room could there really be for him to fall into horrible choices?  ok, so the answer is, as we've all learned, that possibility is ALWAYS there.  so i prayed he'd make good choices.  for himself.  because i want him to realize he's a good guy.  i want him to feel like one of the good guys.  i don't want him to hide himself because he has so much to share.  and so i prayed, because really, that's about all i can do.  i prayed he'd feel the love of God and share the love of God and that those two things would be enough for him.

but back to my eight year old who thinks i'm lazy...  just joking.  i don't think he thinks i'm lazy.  and with my oldest son off fighting his own internal battles, i didn't have to fight his judgment of me (which is something he does to distract himself from working on his own shit).  i was able to talk to my kids about how mommies are tired when babies are mommies' bodies are working to make milk and feed babies at night when no one sees them being busy.  but then i acknowledged that my energy has not been what it was.  and that i was hoping it would get better.  and everyone seemed concerned and contented and relieved that we didn't have to worry about mommy feeling like she'd just been accused of being a lazy especially.

it has been a very different time for me.  of course, i read this blog and realize i've always struggled.  but i definitely see that i used to be a much quicker rebounder than i am now.  and the things i know will help me feel better?  i just don't always do them.  i'm tired.  i'm tired of working so hard to feel better just to get knocked down again.  now, i know things are probably going to stay pretty even for awhile.  and we're getting ready to move into this house that i really think will change things up quite a bit for us.  but i am still struggling.  it's been a rough journey...medical school with four kids...having a fifth child during a husband working as an ob/gyn...with a high school senior and a high school freshman...and a toddler...people die...people move on...parents fighting...balancing money...these are real challenges.  i give myself credit for that.  i know i'm not making this stuff up.  i struggle between trying to control it all and surrendering.  it's like pulling on the rope with all of your might and then letting it go.  i get nowhere.  yet i'm still exhausted and my head pounds.  i know i'll get through this.  but i think it might be time to call in the cavalry.  i'm not exactly sure who the cavalry is, but i suppose if i put out the call, whoever shows up is the cavalry. 

i appreciate this time with my younger guys.  they are not in such flux and my relationship with them is so different.  they're not the first...the one i over-identified they do not convict me at all.  well, if they do, it's so little i don't even notice.  i don't blame my oldest for the way things are.  i hope he's enjoying himself these days he's on his trip.  i hope he is lifted up by who he sees he can be...who he is.  i know my time with my younger guys has already done that, at least a little, for me.  and i'm grateful.


kiddo update

allow me to reset a bit.  when i started this blog, i had four boys...and they were kind of little.  but my family has size as well as stature...

 this is a picture of my first born, my fourth born, and my second born sons.  (we're big mario fans here...)  anyway, my oldest is seventeen.  he'll be eighteen at the end of the summer.  he's grown and struggled and made some pretty awful choices, but he is still good on the inside.  he's struggling with being cool and being good...with being popular and being true to himself...with being separate from us while still respecting us...with choosing his values and not throwing out stuff just because we value it, too.  he still plays guitar, is still active at church, loves football and baseball and track, absolutely ROCKED his sat, and likes hanging out with his friends.  he also still forgets to let us know when he gets where he's going, spends too much time on the computer, and leaves his room a disgusting mess (although he shares with second born, and they always argue over who's really the messy will be interesting after we move because they will have separate rooms for the first time).  oh, and do you know what he does that really drives me crazy?  he washes whites WITH darks.  ugh...have i taught that child nothing?  i love that first born son of mine...but i also like when he's gone.  i worry about him a lot, but also know he's going to be fine.  i know he is so smart, but i also know he is not finished making dumb mistakes.  he is so like me.

this is my second born. he is my mini me. only he's not mini to me...he's about five inches taller than me, although we only tell people he's six feet tall. when they ask if that's all, we tell him we only measure up to six feet at fourteen years old...when he's sixteen, we'll see how much over six feet he is. his hair has only continued to get wilder and curlier. sometimes i wish he'd just let it dread, but i'm pretty sure it would give my husband many problems. which means second born would never do it. he's just that kind of guy. he is a peacekeeper through and through. but not the martyr, give himself an ulcer trying to keep everyone happy sort of peacekeeper. he makes a choice and lives with it. which is not to say he's never angry. but he's just an easy going, kind hearted, gentle person. he likes rock climbing a lot, plays the piano often, likes magic the gathering and video games. he is also awesome with his little sister...which is pretty special...but i'll get to her later. this guy is like me in so many ways, but he's so much smarter and wiser and more grounded. i often tell my husband i want to be him when i grow up

this is my third born and my daughter.  i don't have a lot of pictures of him, which i will work on because he is just beautiful.  he's always had this very interesting face to look at.  he's also my most sensitive...which means he finds offense in a number of things, but it also means he easily forgives and loves fiercely.  he is really, really smart.  he reads voraciously, also rock climbs, also loves piano and magic the gathering. he likes to cook, too.  he is the quickest to hide something or change his story to get out of consequences, and i suspect he does that because he knows he can.  he's the third and the one we don't watch as closely.  this has fostered a lot of independence in him that is really neat to watch and has served him very well.  but he's also one i tend to try to connect with when i can because i know we need it.  he'll be thirteen at the start of this school year...yikes!  three teenagers!

my fourth born and youngest son, my eight year old, is in the middle in the first picture.  that kid is just pure.  he's one of the most honest, most delightful kids you'll meet.  he's also a little on the lazy side, but he does have three big brothers that go before him, so why do it if they will?  he has a question for any quiet moment..."mama, what was your favorite toy growing up?", "mama, did you like ice cream when you were little?", "mama, did we all say 'no' like our little sister does?"  he will talk about anything and everything.  the other night he asked me if God was real and how did i know?  and then we proceeded to talk about it for an hour.  (which was remarkable considering he asked at midnight)  he's also my insomniac and he has stomach issues.  i'm considering having him tested for celiac, but not until we move.  he rock climbs, plays piano, loves magic the gathering...see a pattern?  he also has a special bond with his sister.  he was the only one who insisted she was a girl the whole time i was pregnant.  he was there when she was born (as was my twelve year old).  and she trusts him deeply.

and, so, speaking of the girl, she is two now.  she has more personality that i ever recall her brothers having.  she is more independent, stubborn, strong-willed, and exhausting than i recall any of them ever being until they were seven.  she has opinions on everything.  she can be alternately maddening and charming and the sweetest thing ever.  she is so smart about people.  and she is so observant.  she is madly devoted to her babies for about two days, and then throw them over to gorge on caillou and her brothers.  she loves just about anything...singing, reading, television, arts and crafts, painting.  we've been in vacation bible school this week and she wakes up ready to go and very, very excited about everything they do every morning.  some days i wonder how we've made it this far with her and other days i wonder how we ever lived without her.  she is humbling and i am a better person for having her and growing alongside her.  we all are.

and those are my guys.  having the oldest go through some rough patches was a humbling sign post that we are not immune or perfect.  that nothing we have done or will do will ever keep us from hurting or watching each other hurt.  and when they say kids are your heart walking around on the outside, they are not joking.  and there is nothing harder than watching your heart hurt itself.  but having made it through these first seventeen (almost eighteen...ack!) years together, i have faith we are going to be fine, heal, grow, and love.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012


oy vey.

i had a post typed up about being treated badly.  and in it, i was right. (just sayin...)   it sucks to be treated badly.  it's a special kind of suck when it's family that treats you you birthed...spouses you promised the best of yourself to forever (really?  did i really do that?).  but somewhere in the post, through a lot of flat and stilted and superior sounding writing, i figured out that we all treat each other badly and i shouldn't be too superior or too much of an asshole to my little darlings...or my big darlings...or my big asshole darlings...whatever the case may be.

life is messy. 

i am not sure when my life started feeling like it was going about ten miles over the speed limit all the time.  a friend once told me that the older i got, the faster time would go.  and so far, this is true.  if it keeps speeding up like this, i don't see how i'll be able to breathe in fifteen years. 

i think i am just tired again.  and spread thin.   and it's only tuesday.  but it's also the first week of summer break, so maybe somewhere in here is a routine that i can stay afloat in...not always feel like i am madly treading water...getting sucked under and spit back out and sucked under again.  does this make me a hopeful pessimist or a cynical optimist?


Monday, May 28, 2012

taking care of needs and looking for grace

that title pretty much says it all.  that's been what things have been about for me lately.  i do this thing where i get so far behind on taking care of myself.  nursing a toddler, running around and organizing schedules for five kids (and a spouse who's a new doc...but i'm barely claiming him this week, so...), packing one house and getting ready to move to the next.  add to that an 89 year old grandma's birthday and a niece's med school graduation (both three hours away from where you live...) and you've got a rather hairy week.  add to that, a spouse and two kids gone for four days (on a freaking vacation for the most part...not that i'm bitter...well, i didn't START OUT bitter about it anyway...) and you get bedtime duty with the two year old that whole time.  while dealing with the teen.  who happens to think the parent on vacation is the better parent.  but you're stuck there.  putting the two year old to sleep, like you even give a crap about whether or not the teen thinks you're a good parent, just go to bed for the love of god.  but wait a minute.  why does the teen sound like the spouse when he's telling you what a crappy person you you don't care, how you think he's all bad, how nothing he does is right, how you're ALWAYS so negative and aggressive and pissy.  now THAT'S enough to piss a woman off.  the spouse may not give lessons how to clean up after himself or be helpful around the house, but somehow he's managed to coach him in how to reduce a woman, or THIS woman at any rate, to a pile of nothing mixed with a whole bunch of tears.  and then the final crapola line?  "and dad never gets all emotional and lets a conversation fall apart like you do."  that's when the pile and tears of me went down a drain and was never to be seen again.  well, that's what i was wishing.  really, i was just an almost forty, squishy with bad posture, bags under my eyes, hair all over the place, broken out (what the HELL is that about?  seriously?  zits at 38?  anyone wonder why i'm so cranky lately?) woman, bawling and feeling pretty broken in front of this beautiful person i gave birth to 17, almost 18 years ago, who's clearly gone bad on the inside because he doesn't give a shit about anything but being right at this moment and yes, is even mocking his crying mother.  well...let me excuse myself.  and that's what i did.

i then proceeded to text his father and tell him how similar they are to each other.  how hurt i was.  how i'd obviously messed this one up and should we hire a professional to raise the other four?  he was unusually positive about the whole thing.  which i thought was weird, but decided to embrace.  it was two or three days later before he let slip that the reason he was up was because the spurs were playing and he was excited to be able to catch the whole game in the hotel room where he was ON VACATION.  while i was being deconstructed by our oldest.  i do  not know why God works this way.  it is really unfair...just sayin.  and since he's been home, my spouse has talked to my oldest about that weekend exactly once.  (no wonder the oldest thinks his dad is a better communicator, huh?)  but the husband has managed to let me know on two or three occasions since being home this last week that perhaps i am struggling with this stage of life and hearing these things from my oldest because of my ego and my pride.  and that makes me want to move to australia (with know the book, right?).

so, BY THE GRACE OF GOD, i happen to have a friend who will listen to me when i am a puddly pile of nothing planning my relocation to australia.  and she helped me recognize that i had not met some of my needs.  that this was a particularly rare clusterfuck of events...a vacation for half of us at the same time the other half are, erm, struggling.  the end of a long renovation project and the packing and move that come at the end.  a week of the spouse at home (which for those sahm i know, is always stressful).  exhaustion break down for the mom.  so yeah.  i guess the circumstances were extra stressful.

oh, i also missed church last sunday.  and while i no longer believe that st. peter is at the golden gates of heaven with some attendance sheet tallying how many sundays you missed, i do find that i learn a lot listening to our pastor at church.  a lot about god's love for me, a lot about how to love others, and just a lot about what's good in this world and how to bring myself in line with that.  a few sundays ago he even talked about our natural lives and our supernatural lives.  i just really, really feel myself being cracked open when i go to church these days...the music, the prayers, the homily...and it lets in light and allows things to grow in places i'd left untouched because i just didn't know how to access them, or if the church wanted me to, or if God loved those parts.  ah.  it is all so confusing and frustrating and redeeming.  anyway, yesterday fr. james talked to us about the holy spirit.  it was pentecost sunday...when the holy spirit came upon the disciples and everyone spoke a different language, but everyone was understood.  that's sort of the opposite of my house the last week, where we all speak english but don't understand a damned thing anyone says.  but maybe that's the point?  fr. james said the reason everyone understood each other on pentecost sunday was because they all spoke the language of love.  so maybe in my family, we need to get to a place where we can feel that love again?  communicate it?  maybe we all have to have those times where we can't understand each other to help us appreciate when we can?  this is a huge leap for me, because i tend to believe that hurt is being done that will never heal and eventually the only answer will be one of us moving to australia.  but i'm trusting in the holy spirit.  and maybe the holy spirit will direct me to australia.  but not today.  so i will do the best i can with today.  and if that means staying in while the men in my family do yard work, then that is my best.  if it means blogging while the littlest eats her yogurt, then i will do it.  i will trust in myself and stop looking to others as though they are more trustworthy in their appraisals of me than i am.  because they are probably working through their own bullshit.  and when our paths cross, or we have words, i will trust in the holy spirit, or the grace of God, to guide us.  but let me be honest, i will not sign up for unnecessary crossing of paths or having of words...i am not one to tempt God, just sayin.

so for now, my best is to sit and watch my two year old eat her yogurt.  it's hilarious watching her get these huge spoonfuls and lick them off until there's a reasonable bite size amount left in the spoon.  the she takes her bite and dabs at her mouth with her napkin.  i wonder when we'll move into our house?  i wonder when my spouse and i will speak again?  i wonder when we will be able to settle into life again?  a space again?  a rhythm again?  will we even have harmony again?  i probably sound over emotional...i've been getting that a lot lately.  but i do have faith these things will happen in time...when the right time comes.  the in between has never been my best thing.  but i'm working on it.  (and i'm just going to say, i don't think that work is born out of my ego OR my pride...)


Thursday, May 24, 2012

looking for light

i'm a little stressed out.  it's a stressful time...i don't think i'm overreacting or anything.  and i KNOW things will work out and i'm blessed and there's much good going on.  that's my faith.  but there's still this anxious, stressful part of now that i just can't ignore and or make go away.  house stuff, kid stuff, family stuff, marriage stuff...yep.  but i'm going to focus on the cool stuff.  some random cool things...

-my sister is going to make peach jam.  this just makes me all kinds of happy and i can't wait to hear all about it and maybe even taste some.

-my oldest son did really well on his SAT.  he even made a perfect score on the reading section.  i get the objections to standardized testing and i know a good score doesn't make him any better of a person today than he was before he knew the score.  but it does open the field right up for college acceptances and, even more important, academic scholarship money.  because now that his dad's a doctor and all, we won't qualify for financial aid (even though we will be paying that medical education off for the next nine years...just sayin).

-my second and third born boys are on a robotics team that got second place at a world robot competition over the past weekend.

-my fourth born got to sleep in my bed while sons 2 and 3 and dad were at previously mentioned competition.  he loved it.  and so did little sister.  and really?  so did i.  i miss him and was grateful for the chance to be close.

-littlest girl is hilarious.  and brilliant.  and a bit of a drama queen, but the other two traits make the drama bit a little easier to take.  i am trying to think of something funny and brilliant that she said lately, but what keeps coming to mind is her wearing her matching shirt for her brothers' robotics team, the geekos, and being so proud of it saying, "i LOve my geeko shirt."  which is not really hilarious or brilliant, but it's really cute coming out of a two and a half year old's mouth.

-we bought a trailer.  this is particularly exciting to me because there have been many times i have wanted a trailer.  i still have to ask my sister to tell me how to steer it.  (i know she's told me before, but i can't remember this stuff anymore.)

-our house we are renovating is almost finished.  it's really pretty close.  almost 100% finished.  i'm sure it will be awesome when it's 100%.  my guys knocked down the chicken coop that was blocking a pretty nice view (seriously?  who puts the chicken coop right outside their dining room windows?).  so that's the good house stuff.

-my book club is reading an anne lamott book this month.  that's pretty freaking cool.  a mama who hasn't come in awhile says she might come.  that's even cooler.  if it's at my house, should we actually be living in it by then, that would probably make me explode from the coolness.  but in a good way.

so i'll stop there. 


Wednesday, May 16, 2012


i have always thought of the catholic church as the jesus police.  it always seemed to me that they knew what jesus wanted us to do, and that they were especially qualified in evaluating whether what you were doing was in line with what jesus preached, and that they pretty much had the cornerstone on judgment.  when i joined the church in 1998, i think i felt like jesus had to love me if i was willing have faith and join a church that seemed so devoted to him, yet so close minded and exclusive in the world.

now, keep in mind, my in laws belonged to the church.  they were devout catholics.  the weekend my husband (boyfriend at the time) told his parents that we were pregnant with our first son, my mother-in-law went to church four times.  and when the weekend ended, they took him out to dinner to celebrate that he was going to be a father.  my mother-in-law has never said an unkind word to me.  as a matter of fact, sometimes she annoys me because she says such positive, hopeful, trusting things to me...things that sometimes make me thing, "but how do you know i work hard?  or that i do great things?"  but that's usually because i'm having a bad day.  and i'm sure she has bad days.  but, even when we lived with them for nine months after dh finished pharmacy school, she never took a bad day out on me.  i mean, i'm pretty sure this woman loves me.  i really, really hope to treat my children's partners as well as she's treated me.  seriously.

but that wasn't exactly my point.  it was part of it, but not all of it.  my husbands parents have been so supportive and so giving to us.  and they never hold it against us, or use it to manipulate us, or try to work it so that their gifts give them power over us (which i guess are all three different flavors on the same theme).  anyway...if the biggest thing in my in laws' life was their faith and their religion, then i always wondered if it had something to do with their generosity...yes, of material things....but also of spirit and kindness and love.

see, i grew up believing i had to earn love.  i had to earn like.  i had to earn anything positive.  the world always seemed kind of inherently it was always about to slip off an edge into an angry, scary, powerless, defenseless, directionless rage.  and i acted hard to keep me and mine in the light.  that may be a bit dramatic.  it's hard at this point in my life to really evaluate the fear i lived in when i was younger.  i will say that i don't believe it was my parents fault that i learned that.  they may have contributed, but i also think i'm just wired that way.  and the way those things came together just made me the way i was...helped me to choose to be who i was.

the reason i bring that up is to say that my introduction to religion, as i understood it at the time, fit quite well into my understanding of how to gain the love and appreciation and acceptance of others.  the catholic church provides a lot of doctrine and rules, and i was good at following rules.  so when i followed the rules, i felt the love of God, and i was confident in that love because i knew i had followed the rules and earned that love.  now, when i fell short, i knew, as a catholic, that i could confess my sins and be reconciled.  (not that i often do)  and so i've gone on...attending mass regularly, doing the things i'm supposed to do, bringing my children to religious ed classes, celebrating sacraments and such. 

but i have really struggled lately.  our family has gone through some big challenges and i have had a lot of feelings through the last few months.  and somewhere along the way, i realized that while i felt like i was doing the things i was supposed to do, following the rules (and for the record, not just catholic rules...attachment parenting rules, homeschooling rules, american dream rules...i'm not perfect, but i really was trying to do all the "right stuff" as i understood it), i was really pissed that things were so not what i wanted them to be.  that people were making bad decisions, that trust was being lost, lies were being told, relationships falling apart, hearts breaking....i was just really, really pissed.  in all that anger, i would also fall into a pit of despair that said i obviously was just inherently less than, a bad seed that couldn't be redeemed by my own actions, no matter how hard i tried.  that while everyone else got to have love in their lives, something i did brought this distrust and fear and anger.  because god is good, right?  so the other stuff must be because we are not following God well enough.

well, my understanding is shifting.  and the challenges of this year have had a lot to do with that.  i was trying to explain to my therapist last night the difference between believing something and choosing to live in that belief when something big confronts you...when something hard comes your way and annihilates so much of what you thought you knew...when it hurts so much you think you might die but you keep waking up and you're not sure if you're happy about that or not.  that's when faith is truly developed.  and oddly perhaps, the catholic church has had a lot to do with the hope and love i find myself developing a strong faith in. 

when i became a part of my husband's family and listened to his family talk about jesus, it was the first time i'd ever heard jesus referred to an a liberal...a rebel challenging the social norms of his time.  and i could never understand how jesus could do that and still say he wasn't coming to abolish the law, but to fulfill it (mt 5:17).  i had such a cultural understanding of jesus and the catholic church.  even fourteen years into being a catholic, my knowledge of my church comes more from general media sources and the mouths of others than real, sound sources.  but i'm working on that.  and it liberates me.  instead of confining or condemning me, it frees me of my own self-condemnation and allows me to believe in a love greater than i could imagine (and therefore restrict myself to only feeling those small amounts of what i thought i'd earned).

i know there are a lot of questions and doubts and hurts surrounding religion.  and i don't have the knowledge to answer those questions or release people from those doubts or heal those hurts.  i do have faith that if i keep following the question of my own heart and the doubts of my own mind, that i will be healed by grace.  and i believe that matters.  i have a lot of faith in that very thing.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

let's try again

i found a big orange button with a pencil on it.  apparently, that's the symbol for publish in this new format.  only i'm typing and publishing has NOTHING to do with a pencil.  so that's stupid.

i have a hellacious headache today.  (i was going to type "this morning," but it is after 1:30 in the afternoon, so...yeah...)  an old friend of ours came to visit last night.  he and my spouse went to pharmacy school together.  yeah, that was my husband's first degree, if you're counting.  which makes him really kind of an old friend.  i remember when he came to our house after our oldest son was born...just a little peanut we were all staring at, not really sure what to do with him...we'd poke him every now and then.  anyway, the friend came in once and picked up this breast pump i'd been using.  he held it up and said, "what's this?  a graduated cylinder?"  it was pretty funny.  i remember him setting it down and wiping his hands on his jeans when i told him what it was.  good times.

this friend would come over often and we'd barbecue and make margaritas.  (you know, once we were legal...which wasn't until our oldest was almost a year old, but that's not really relevant to the story)  this friend was the one i handed my oldest to when he was 14 months old and cut his toe open on barbecue tongs...cut it to the bone...and when i looked at his toe and almost fainted, i handed him to this friend.  (i was fine after i splashed some water on my face...made it to the sink before the whole world went dark)

anyway, it was this awesome gift that this guy emailed me to let me know he'd be in town and did we want to get together.  we didn't barbecue.  (five kids to run around and an ob/gyn spouse...who has time anymore?...and that's what barbecue restaurants are for, right?)  but we did buy the stuff to make margaritas.  it was had been so long since any of us had made margaritas...we couldn't remember how much tequila vs. how much triple sec...that made us all feel old.  but we put a decent batch together.  and talked and talked.  until midnight!  (i animals, right?!?!)  and i am dying today.  well...just the headache.  (and the eye aches and i'm so tired...)  but i feel a little younger.  and happier.  and healthier.  my husband said it was "interesting" how easily we all slipped into our old friendship.  (my husband...some parts of him have gotten so much wise and some parts have so much more clinical...)  he said we were like a comfortable pair of shoes.  it was cool.  next time i'll have a smaller margarita.  for now, i'm going to go take some tylenol.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

what the hell?

i finally make it over here to blog and the format of it all has been changed.  now i can't even remember what the hell i was going to say.  it took me five minutes just to get to where i could type something and even then, i'm not sure where the publish button is.  oh, i see it.  i am too old for these changes.  or maybe just too tired to try to figure them out.  which is the same thing, now that i see it written out.

i need to relax.  drop my shoulders.  stop tensing my extremities and using my core more.  letting it be my core again?  that's kind of a weird concept to visualize.  when your core is no longer what you move yourself with.  no wonder we're all out of whack.

i sent my sister a dooce blog about farting.  well, it was really about the pacific northwest, but it had one damned funny fart story in it.  i almost fell out of my chair and snorted an air embolism into my brain trying not to scare the kids and pee my pants while i read it.  my sister did the same.  god i love my sister...same crazy mother who cried if we mentioned farts...close enough to my age to have similar bladder control issues.  that's the basis for love right there.  my husband and oldest son, on the other hand...they read the story and barely smiled.  and i would've thought they were clearly broken, except i think it was some act of rebellion...some show of solidarity.  and it pissed me off.  but i let them have their bonding.  they wash their own clothes...i can let them be asses sometimes.  plus i started my period today, so that may have had something to do with why i took their refusal to laugh so personally.  ("yeah honey, it's a cute story..."...can you hear my eyes rolling?)  but i reread it this morning just to be sure.  it didn't make me have to pee this time around.  but it was still pretty fucking funny.


Monday, March 19, 2012

a random text

a friend sent me this text...

"When I wept and told him I was afraid I was too intense, too much, he interrupted my tears and said, 'If someone came down from above and told me I could keep only one thing about you, it would be your too muchness.'" Every time I read this passage, I think of you and I. I really need to send this book to you. Phone is near dead. Talk to you sometime, Marc. xo

too muchness. i can't dwell on this passage for long. the idea of someone not just tolerating too muchness...too much intensity...too much sensitivity...pretty much a person in the superlative...the idea of someone choosing that aspect of you as the most makes me feel all wet inside. and my life is messy enough already.

it's been a crap day. one of those days when someone you trust screws you over and you're left wondering who else is bitching about you to a crowd that doesn't include you. one of those days when you know you're not supposed to take one person's word about something that is so upsetting...that you're supposed to wait to get upset until you have more information...but what the fuck do you do with your feelings while you're waiting? so in the end, you feel screwed up for feeling screwed? i am pretty sure that qualifies as a crap day.

there are some changes i need to make to my life. i'm pretty sure they involve simplifying. reprioritizing. streamlining so that my life actually reflects what is important to me. it's always been my kids, my family. but somewhere along the way, i anchored myself in outside commitments and entrusted outside sources to meet my kids' needs. and let me tell you, that's turned out pretty fucktastically. but that was how i made it through. and now, i can make some different choices. even on a crap day, knowing i can make some different choices...refocus on my kids...makes me feel like a kid in a candy store. too much indeed.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

just needed to blog

do you ever have those nights when you just don't even know if you're real? when life is so turned upside down and busy changing and you feel so lost that you think you might've disappeared and not realized it?

tonight i am drinking cranberry juice cut with water. i gave up alcohol for lent. which is probably a good thing since i'd probably just be drunk. i remember when i was young, any time i got congested, my mom would give me a decongestant. and it would make me feel all foggy in the head. i saw a commercial once that used the term "medicine head" and i decided then that it was the decongestant that made me feel all foggy. so i quit taking decongestants. it was only in the last couple of years that i've been able to admit to myself that my conclusion that the medicine caused the fog might have been wrong. because even though i never take decongestants, i can tell you that when my sinuses are bad enough, i feel really foggy in my head. so maybe sometimes it was medicine head...and maybe other times it was sinus/cold/congested head. well, the same way...i think sometimes i drink and associate a certain feeling with drinking when really, it's just the emotion that made me think drinking would be a good idea.....and whether i drink or not, i still feel the same. the headache in the mornings is always worse after drinking, though.

i'm sitting at the computer, listening to sheryl crow's christmas cd. in march. at the end of the warmest winter i've ever experienced. that came after the driest summer i'd ever experienced. something's going on with the world...or at least in texas, because this weather pattern is kind of nutty. but i just needed some christmas cheer, even if i can feel the approach of spring. i didn't sing o, holy night at the top of my lungs, though. that's only for the car. (and definitely not the house with sleeping children.)

and i'm in a house with all of my kids, but no spouse. he's off delivering babies. which is a noble endeavour. even though he's not on call. but he told these women he'd deliver them. (yes, doctors do choose favorites, so to speak...not that they can make every delivery they've said they'd try to make, but you know how it goes...and if you don't, well, you must not be married to a doctor).

it has been a rough couple of weeks.

i feel like i have been a warrior for my family in the last eight years that my spouse has been pursuing medicine. i know i was pretty weary at the end. but i really felt like i had found some strength in myself that just blew me away. i don't know if everyone else was as impressed with me as i was, but there were days i just couldn't believe i was doing it. especially after baby number five came along. that's when my household got pretty lax and lots of things went undone, but i was still doing know, waking up in the morning, getting out of bed...that shit can get hard, but i still did it, you know? but tonight i feel like a invisible marshmallow even. and i kind of just want to sink in on myself. and sleep. and maybe not wake up tomorrow or get out of bed. maybe just sleep through the weekend. maybe sunday afternoon would be a good time to wake up...

ah, but those are just musings of a tired mama drunk on cranberry juice and sheryl crow.

trust is so very...i don't know...fragile? i don't think so. i think if something fragile breaks, it sounds like little tinkling glass. these past couple of weeks have been like huge chunks of rock just falling. i guess the biggest chunks fell last week. it's good no one got squished. but maybe i did. and maybe that's why i feel so not real. there have also been other pieces that have fallen this week...but they're really small...and probably, they're really tiny and only make me look up and notice how big of a chunk fell previously. the absence of trust hurts so much. i believe the pain it leaves in its absence is directly related to how big it was to begin with. ouch.

but i don't want to dwell on this. i want to start rebuilding. there's all that open space...let's put something in its place! but i am still so tender. and i don't really feel like anyone misses it as much as i do...or maybe that anyone notices the huge, gaping hole that i do. it's not just in me. it's in this house. in all of these relationships. for so long i've been the emotionally intelligent one in the house. i think most of these guys take it for granted. well, except for the other emotionally intelligent one, but he is so much smarter than me and keeps his mouth shut...doesn't become the emotional mouthpiece for everyone else...keeps his opinions to himself. but then he also is able to trust and love with so little information. i used to think that was gullible. but i've come to really respect that about him. so i say little. so little gets said. and i have no idea where to stand in that. my guideposts are gone without conversation, without sharing, without the information that provides me.

so i pray. i pray lots. i prayed a rosary while i ran four miles yesterday. i pray a peace chaplet almost every night. i talk to god and mary more than i talk to real people most days. sometimes it feels holy. sometimes it feels peaceful. sometimes it feels crazy. sometimes it feel pointless. but i do it. because i have to have faith in something. and the faith i had in my family is very damaged right now...very fragile...and i'm pretty sure it would shatter and sound like tinkling glass if i challenged it too much and lost. so i will do what i can to protect it.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

our new (to us) house

which could alternately be titled "the ballsiest thing my husband and i have ever done"...just sayin.

so my husband and i bought this house. we did not necessarily agree on the potential of this house, or even the desirability of this house. as a matter of fact, he could not understand why i kept taking him back to look at such an ugly house. these pictures will be of just the house (because i guess i put the pictures of the views on a different flash card?) and it's best that way because pictures really don't do the views justice. you'll just have to come visit me to see the views. but here is the ugly little house my husband and i bought. it was pretty ballsy of me to just push forward to buy something he was so far behind me on...and it was pretty ballsy of him to follow me even when most days he still can't visualize whether this house will be great or just upgraded ugly.
when i first saw the front of this house, all i could think of was how dingy it looked. and that those bushes need to come out (what with that dead one in the middle of the two live ones and all...). but after looking around at the surrounding land, i knew that if the inside of the house was livable and workable, that we needed to be here.

so this was the kitchen. it's really a garage conversion, and if you look at the first picture, it's the square space on the left side of the house...if you look closely, you can see where the two garage doors were. the folks who converted this space wasted no efforts, no materials. the windows that fronted this conversion were old sliding glass doors. it was kind of neat to look at, but kind of a headache, too. in this picture of the kitchen, you can see where they raised the floor to reroute the plumbing pipes. we're going to make the floor level, even though that means losing about three inches in a room with only eight foot ceilings to begin with. but it's just what makes sense. and the carpet you see in this picture? it's what the carpet looked like throughout the house. the previous owners had two chihuahuas that peed wherever they wanted. the whole place smelled awful and just looked terrible. oh, and that wood stove?... can you see where they rocked the dryer vent pvc pipe right into the wall? i kind of loved it all except for, you know, that one tiny detail. so they took the whole thing out. but i really, really want them to put it back in. we are in negotiations over that.
so the first thing the guys working on our house did was tear out the horrible smelling carpets. then they took out the whole kitchen. little bit was pretty impressed with how big the room felt now that everything was gone. it's been neat seeing the old stuff go. a relief, to be honest. at least i know it won't be what it was. but i do get a little anxious trying to visualize where it's going and what it is going to be when all is said and done. so i like this picture because it reminds me that i am well acquainted with the people who will be living in it, even when i am not sure what the house is going to look like.

meet the old fireplace. it wasn't a bad fireplace. it did leak, though. and who wants to spend money fixing a leaky fireplace? especially when there is an awesome view behind it. so bye-bye mr. leaky fireplace.
hello, wall of windows. and that is the closest to a view that i've got on here. because the roof had to be replaced, because the fireplace had to be fixed (and not just little cheap fixes), and because they are able to reuse the brick from the fireplace to rebuild the front of the conversion and make it look like original house (and not garage bays), we were able to afford to turn that wall of fireplace into this wall of windows. i know the common perception is that doc's can afford whatever they want, but with five kids and waiting as long as we did to pursue medicine, money is definitely a consideration...and will be for years as we pay off my husband's school loans and pay for our kids to attend college (and small private high schools). so it felt like we'd won the lottery to realize we could afford to do this. it's what makes the project. it makes the house. it draws the outside indoors. you can see the surrounding woods, the lake, you can even see the marina for the boats that live on the lake (because the army owns all of the shorelines and does not allow piers or boat houses). anyway, it's about a quarter of a mile to walk to the actual lake. we'll clear a path soon because it is all overgrown and wild there. but it is beautiful. i have never felt so alternately drowning in anxiety and elated. it gives me a new understanding about sayings conveying the idea that the things most worthwhile are the ones that are the most difficult.

and that is our new (to us) house. i think about those who lived there before us (the same way i do in every house we've ever lived in). usually, for this house, i just question their taste or skills or something kind of jerk-y like that. but i do wonder if this is how the previous owners felt when they moved into this house...full of anxiety, full of hope, full of excitement. i'll post more as we proceed. there's already a shiny new silver metal roof on the house, too, but i haven't taken a picture with my camera of that yet. next time. we have a lifetime in this house.


Friday, February 3, 2012

what was supposed to be an addendum but then became its own post...

so i came to add a picture of my bedroom...well, my bed with my toddler's bed next to it. i don't know why, exactly. i think because, like i said, i feel so. totally. disorganized. and maybe if i let myself write about it and supply the pictures that go along with the story, it will all come together for me again. so here it is. one time, when my uncle came to see my first house, he went into my and my husband's bedroom and said, "so here's the love nest" and raised his eyebrows. and it so totally ooked me out that i couldn't make eye contact with that particular uncle for a few months. (i got over it...he's really a great guy...but it was kind of an icky statement no matter how great he was...) anyway...the sleeping arrangements at my house:
so that was the addendum part. but while i was making the bed (what? you thought i'd post a picture of my bed all scuzzed out?...hell-to-the-no! as my oldest says...when no one's around, of course). and speaking of my oldest, he's the reason this became its own post. while i was making the beds, i was dancing to this beautiful rendition of "hey soul sister." it just made me smile. because it was my oldest son playing the music i was dancing around to in the computer room.
i love this. when he plays songs i know, plays them well, plays them all the way through (and these three things do not always line up, so you gotta stop and appreciate the good stuff when it finds you). it's not like "hey soul sister" is one of my favorites...i only know it because he plays it. but it's so sweet when he plays it. and it made me think about how one day, he'll have a girlfriend, or a wife, or dogs, or kids or maybe neighbors, or maybe all of those or maybe not that will get to hear him play songs, too. and that made me smile all the way down to my toes, to the center of me and back out.

he has grown so much. and i know he will continue to grow. but that doesn't fill me with the (heart pounding? gut wrenching?) anxiety it used to. i know he will struggle, i know he will make bad choices...and those are the things that would fill me with such anxiety. but now i also know he will learn (on some level) and make things right (eventually) and ask for help when he needs it (on most days). my oldest really values people (yes, even his brothers). he also knows and accepts that he only has control of his own behavior, so he takes his choices very seriously.

i've watched him grow, but i've also grown alongside him. i've grow into someone that has learned to trust him to know so much more than i ever did at that age, but to still do some of the stupid stuff i have so much wisdom and still get so not blame myself, or blame his dad, or society, or school when bad or hard things happen. because he doesn't. he knows his power...and while it may seem like f-o-r-e-v-e-r before he actually uses it, he will always step up and do what he feels, in his heart, is right. (unless it blows over and he chooses not to do anything...there are those times in life...haven't you had one lately?) in learning to trust my oldest, i have learned to trust myself.

so on the nights when he plays hard rock music i am unfamiliar with (especially the one where he shouts "I! HATE! EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU!!!"...that one's especially not charming), or when he keeps hitting the wrong notes (and i don't mean just with his guitar...his voice gets a little crazy sometimes as he experiments with new sounds for himself), or when he keeps playing the same little part of a song over and over and over...or better yet, just plays a few lines from many songs i love and wish he'd play all the way through, i will smile and know that one day, he will frustrate and challenge and disappoint and piss off someone else. and i hope that person loves my son enough to appreciate the good stuff when it finds let go of their pride and be patient and learn with and grow with this guy. until then, i'm grateful to be the one who gets to learn and grow, laugh and love, be challenged by and challenge him. and until then, i also get to be the one that dances to his music and sees how happy playing that music makes him.
peace (uh, and i know i mentioned erratic, and whiney...did i mention overly emotional? i think so, didn't i? well, just in case i didn't...there's gonna be a fair amount of that, too...just sayin)

let's start at the very beginning

because julie andrews says it's a very good place to start. and i like julie andrews.

sleep. that's pretty primal, pretty basic, right? i often warn first time parents at the end of their pregnancies to get good sleep because once the baby comes, even a baby that only nurses every few hours is going to jack up your sleep cycle in a way it has never been jacked with. i mean, i worked at this camp for kids with different disabilities when i was teen. so when i got pregnant (when i was still a teen, but whatever), i thought i'd be ahead of the game on this night-waking thing because of those nights i'd logged, staying awake with a camper or waking up to a camper having a time i even woke up because i noticed one of the campers stopped breathing. (she was really loud...think small airplane...when she stopped, the silence was deafening.) anyway, so when the experienced parents who loved me warned me about what the sleep deprivation would do to me and perception of the world, i smugly thought i'd handle it just fine thanks to those camp experiences. but see, i didn't consider the fact that those campers went home every friday and a new batch didn't come until sunday. so i could sleep til 2pm on saturday. i didn't consider that when you have a baby, that baby never, ever goes home. because that baby IS home...he or she turns 18 or so...every day and every night. so good luck catching up on sleep til 2pm uninterrupted on a saturday.

anyway...sleep. it is lovely. makes me think of some sort of silky, satin-y liquid sheet, poured all around you, cradling that achy place in your back, supporting that stiff neck, even pouring into your ears to ease that throbbing head and those tired, tired eyes. i used to be able to meditate and visualize something similar to this, a blackness that would envelop me and comfort me, relax me, carry me to unconsciousness. i think it took me all of about thirty seconds to relax every muscle in my body (when i was seventeen or eighteen years old). now it takes me about five minutes just to quiet the echos of the needs, arguments, agreed upon resolutions, responsibilities, triumphs, failures, and just other miscellaneous information of the day before i can even shift my focus to...what was it?...oh yeah, relaxing. sometimes by then, i've already fallen asleep, one exhausted, tense lump of a mom. but usually, i make it to praying. and inviting the peace to envelop me. trying to surrender all those things my body and mind still want to manage...even at eleven o'clock at night. i don't mean to make myself sound quite so mental...the two year old alternately looking for "boo" (her word for my breast) and sticking her feet in my face definitely contributes to my struggle to surrender both mentally and physically. because i am a parent and this means i am not in control of my environment. at least not solely. and this makes it hard to relax, i guess. for some reason, knowing that control of this house is shared with a two year old, an eight year old, a twelve year old, a fourteen year old, and a seventeen year old, never mind the other adult that i get along with most days but still want to send back to his mother two or three times a year...this makes me tense.

but now that i've typed it out, i see i am not crazy in the least and my tension is not is logical! but i will still work on relaxing...and surrendering...and letting go of my own shit.

oh, the reason i started here today...yesterday sucked. it was awful. instead of eating food that fueled my body and working out and releasing tension, i drove the fourteen year old to the store and we bought tons of crappy food which i ate too much of and then didn't work out and so i was a puddle-y mess by the time my husband came home (which was late...starting a new job at 37 is a challenge, but idonwannatalkboutit). so he took the kids out to eat (because this mama really did not need anymore, until friday or something) and i called and talked to my mom for a few minutes...and folded a mountain of laundry. i did cry a little when i was getting ready for bed. and i finally just told my husband, "i just feel so tired, but i don't know why." and he replied that for most of this week i'd been stuck between a wiggly toddler and him...and that i was even pushing him off of the bed because the toddler was pushing on me. "i don't think you've slept well at all this week," was his final statement on the matter. so i accepted his hug and went to bed. i can't remember if i relaxed any or not. but after i woke up and took my seventeen year old to school at 8 this morning, i came back and crashed out on the floor of my living room. i think my last thought i remember was, "i wonder how long my hips will let me lay here?..." the next thing i knew, it was 10:45. i think i might've been a little tired.

it's funny how when i start to feel myself sinking...when i KNOW the world does not suck as much as it seems to me...that there is something off about my glasses for a day....there are tons of things that go through my head, rooting out the source of the i need to work out more?...did i get my fish oils?...should i start therapy again?...maybe i should go to church and light a candle?...maybe if i were just a better person, i wouldn't get so down?...if i read to my kids more, visited my grandparents more, volunteered, took my kids to volunteer?... but maybe i just need a nap?...that should go somewhere on the top of that list. isn't it weird that i'd question my character before i'd wonder if i was tired? maybe not. but i'm going to work on that (now that i'm a little more caught up on sleep).

and can i just say, i am so looking forward to my toddler getting her own room...and that day when she transitions to sleeping in her room. because do not get me wrong, i love that little girl. i love all of these kiddos who live in this house. and watching my boys grow up, i know how quickly it goes. and i appreciate where we're at. but i KNOW what comes next...and i really look forward to spending my days with her after a good night's toenails in my face, no head butts to my chest, no groping for my shirt (well, there will always probably be a little of that, but what's a girl to do?).