Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Restlessness



I'm restless. When I get restless, I reorganize things. Reorganize thing is code for moving furniture most of the time, much to my husband's dismay.

I usually "reorganize" when my husband is at work. Once upon a time we live in a tiny house in Watertown, CT and I was pregnant with our first child. I had two weeks of maternity leave before my "due date" which stretched out to nearly four weeks, and I "reorganized" frequently -  this didn't work out to well for my husband, who got home in the wee dark hours of the morning and would trip over pieces of furniture that weren't there when he left the house hours before. 

Restlessness usually sets in during the short, yet oh so long, days of Midwinter. Perhaps it's because I need some sort of change from cold, gray days. Maybe I'm just sick of looking at the same house insides all day, every day. 

These days, I'm physically unable to move most of our furniture, so the arrangement of our house has been fairly static for a while now. A long time. Too long. It's starting to drive me crazy.

The problem is, there's really nowhere to move things. I seem to have found an arrangement that works really well. Well, kinda well, considering our space limitations and the furniture on hand.

My dreams as of late have involved everything from Extreme Makeover Home Edition coming to fix up our house to winning an Ikea shopping spree to moving into a new house. Always, I wake up disappointed that it's not true. 

So what to do? A good Spring cleaning comes to mind. But it's cold. So very cold. Can one do Spring cleaning in Midwinter? Maybe. If one can find the energy. Therein lies the problem - my rest-less-ness. I haven't been getting much sleep these past few weeks between illness and pain and children and insomnia. Rest-less-ness and restlessness don't play well together. 

I'll have a cup of tea, read a good book, calm my restlessness, and think about it for a while. Perhaps until Spring...or until we have time and money to make my makeover dreams come to fruition. At least until after a good nap.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Saying Goodbye


Just hours before we left for camp this past Summer, one of our cats, Garci, died. With no time to mourn, we were on our way. Arriving home after a fun week, the kids were uninterested in any sort of formal goodbye, so were given space to mourn in their own way. It was a time of mixed emotions, with tons of summer fun amid feelings of sadness and loss. 


This week we face another goodbye. Since Garci's death, our other cat, Lola, has been acting out, doing things from hiding under chairs and attacking the kids' legs to soiling beds and baskets of laundry. Her playmate gone, she seems overwhelmed with the activity in the house and restless without her companion. Deemed a behavioral and perhaps environmental issue, we had to do something. 

Then came the conversation with my doctor. With my ability to fight infection greatly lowered by Remicade and a cat who wants to inappropriately "adorn" her favorite spots, such as our beds, I was advised it would be best for us to rehome the cat - for my health, and for her happiness. After numerous phone calls and finding a very kind woman willing to help us find her a home, Lola will soon be moving to her new family. Her new environment will be a better fit for her need of quiet attention. 

The kids have had time to prepare for saying goodbye this time. From what we've learned we should be receiving an occasional email update from Lola's new family, so our minds and hearts can be at ease that she is safe and well and happy. 

I, for one, will miss my beloved Caregiver, my Unconventional Teacher. It may, perhaps, be most difficult for me to say goodbye. As I talk with the kids about the sadness and pain that can be associated with goodbyes, I need to remind myself as well that those feelings are ok. That it's ok to be having a difficult time with this. That for-the-best isn't always easy or only joyful. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Blessed Burdens


Sometimes I can't sleep because my mind is racing with all the things I need to accomplish.  

I had x-rays of my hands and feet last week - I have some sort of growth coming from a bone in my left hand. Painful and concerning. I'm eagerly awaiting results while trying not to think about the possibilities. I also need to get bloodwork done for three different doctors at two different hospitals. And go to the bank, grocery store, and thrift store this week. 

My eleven year old daughter has concerning thyroid test results so has an appointment with her primary care provider to further investigate. My thirteen year old is having sleep issues, my five year old is having some sort of reaction to food, and my eight year old is having Aspie meltdowns on a regular basis. The fifteen year old is being fifteen in his own special way. We have upcoming eye doctor appointments times five and dental appointments times four. I need to find counseling for one or two of us, occupational therapy for another, and physical therapy for me. Although when we'll fit in any type of therapy is beyond me.

Oh, and we have homeschool co-op, Tuesday Night Sunday School, church choir, Daisy Scouts, Dungeons and Dragons days, MtG tournaments, and worship, not to mention housework, a home repair list the size of my forearm, and a revamp of our family finances to tackle. I lead breastfeeding support meetings every month and am silent auction coordinator for an upcoming seminar. I'm on the TNSS planning team, am lector at church, and also do Coffee Hour at church every couple months.

This is our life. I'm not complaining. All of this - ALL of it - can be seen as blessings. Really.

When I go to my doctor appointments, I get time to myself. I drive there alone and listen to whatever I want to listen to. I get to sit in waiting rooms, relax, and do some reading. I sometimes even stop on the way home and treat myself to a coffee or even a movie, husband willing.

When I take my kids to their appointments, it's one-on-one time with them. We give ourselves plenty of time. We talk, blast their favorite music, or mutually enjoy a bit of peace and quiet. Sometimes we stop for a treat or a spin around the thrift store before we go home.

When we all go to our various activities, they feed our spirits, they soothe our souls, they stimulate our minds, and most are just plain fun. Each medical appointment brings us closer to health, or at least to understanding disease. The housework and home repairs mean we have a roof over our heads, even if finances are tough. That we have finances to figure out means my husband has a job, which is a tremendous blessing. 

I can worry about all that needs to be done, the diagnoses to come, and how we're going to fit all of this into our schedule, or I can feel blessed that we have health insurance, income, time, love, faith, an amazing family, and supportive friends. 

Some people look at my life and say that I should let go of some of the burdens that I take on so I can concentrate on my health and my family - that perhaps volunteering or helping or homeschooling or ...or...or are too much. Perhaps they don't realize what blessings all of these things are - that in my world of chronic pain and illness and depending on others, being able to give support to someone else helps me feel balanced; that using my brain to think about things other than medical appointments and teaching strategies and finances helps me to not feel overwhelmed with life; that doing what's best for my family is difficult at times, but is always, always, a blessed burden. 



Thursday, January 16, 2014

On the Brink



On the brink.

In the same thought celebrating and mourning life.
At the same moment feeling pure joy and utter sadness.
Feeling life full to bursting yet draining every ounce of energy.
Hunger to go out and do everything is equaled only by longing for endless rest.

On the brink.

The edge of love and hate; of full and empty; of ecstasy and insanity.
All there is is time; myriad possibilities; hours stretching out endlessly.
Motivation clashes with ambivalence; mental energy with physical malaise; want with will.

On the brink.

Trapped by cold, by uncooperative body, by a wall of to do tomorrows that never get done.
Imprisoned by shoulds and wants and coulds but lacking in cans and wills and doings.
Life passing; time taking its toll.

On the brink.

On one side, light and hope and progress.
On the other, darkness and despair and stagnation.
Balancing on the knife-edge, trying not to fall the wrong way.

On the brink.

Midwinter madness has set in.

Lean toward the God-reflection in the faces of loved ones.
Keep the darkness at bay in their Light.
Feel Joy reaching out from the other side of Winter - 
Cloaked in sunlit warmth and technicolor.

We reach over the edge together,
Touching leaves and flowers, sun and sand
With imaginations and memories.

On the brink no more. 

Feet firmly planted in the clouds,
Jackman green and Ossipee blue
will carry us together through Wintery doldrums 
until the return of warmth and lively green.








Tuesday, January 14, 2014

On the Road

As fairly busy homeschooling family, with my many medical appointments, with trips to New Hampshire for Camp and Pennsylvania to visit family, we're on the road quite often. This past year, we saw many interesting sights while on our travels:

Jeep O' Lantern?

So much farm-friendly and fiber-friendly goodness here!

Interesting paint job!

Love it!

So many things to love about this - a literacy-encouraging pig and "Try Jesus" to name two. Try Jesus ... no pressure! Or to quote that old George Jones tune... "Try it, you'll like it, Love is good for you!"

Groovy!
I'm not sure if I'm excited or scared to see what we encounter on the road in 2014!


Monday, January 13, 2014

Rockin' It Since '96


We were barely twenty-one years old.


What were we thinking?

We lived in the Waterbury apartment then, our first home together. I spent the week beforehand laying on my stomach on the black metal futon that made up the bulk of our living room furniture and watching tv all day having slipped on ice and injured my back. You took great care of me, leaving me a cooler of food and pitcher of water so I would need to move as little as possible while you were at work. I prayed every day I'd be able to walk by the time I needed to take those very important steps. 

We lived on a wing and a prayer back then. And we had such hopes - such dreams. Your plan was for two children, maybe. Mine was for five, at least. We didn't know what we wanted to be when we grew up. For the very grown-up thing we were getting ourselves into, we really had a lot of growing up to do. I feel blessed we got to learn and grow together. 

We were barely twenty-one years old. 

What were we thinking?

I'm not sure we were thinking - we were just living and loving and doing what felt right. For me, it was one of those God things. One of those things that just felt like it needed to happen, not because of some selfish want, but because it was supposed to happen. For all the overthinking and anxiety I did and had back then, this was one thing question and worry never touched - it was just too right. 

Watching the sunrise that day, I rejoiced in what the day held, what the day meant, and in the possibilities that lay ahead of us. I thanked God that we would be Walking Together back up the aisle and into forever together. 

And suddenly we were husband and wife. January 13, 1996. It seems a lifetime ago. 




Eighteen years later and I have a feeling we still have some growing up to do - at least I feel that way when we're cracking up watching How I Met Your Mother. I'm so glad I didn't have to spend years finding my The One. You were right there, in those crazy pants, right when I needed you. I feel so blessed, and am so grateful to be able to say that we've rockin' it since '96. Eighteen years. Always remember...





Saturday, January 11, 2014

Melted


An "arctic blast" made its way through Connecticut. With temperatures below zero and several snowstorms to deal with, the kids' snow gear lived in our kitchen for quite some time. Just a walk to the mailbox required layers of clothing. Only the coldest of the cold days kept the kids inside. 

And then it happened. A few days ago temperatures soared into the teens. And today - today we woke up to a world of fog and rain, with temperatures climbing above freezing, into the forties and beyond. In addition to rain, rapidly melting slow led to huge puddles and even flash flooding, causing a few accidents and a bit of damage when combined with intensely foggy conditions. 

This warm-up seemed to have another victim, as evidenced by the photo below. Zachary melted - right there on the kitchen floor. The poor kid never had a chance. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Better Living Through Chronic Illness


As I drove down the highway it dawned on me: this is the best I've ever felt the day before my Remicade infusion. I had a rough week fighting off illness and dealing with migraines, but my joints are doing OK all things considered and my inflammation seems minimal. Could it be that I have found treatment levels that actually work?

My excitement grew as I thought about the ramifications of being functional the majority of the time. It was as if a while new world was opening up to me. My spirit soared as my mind raced with possibilities. 

And then I got out of the car, into the arctic world, and onto my painful feet. Joy shattered like an icicle hitting the pavement. Despite how good I feel, I continue living in a body rife with limitations. Moton's neuroma in my left foot makes walking painful on a good day, tortuous on a bad. Arthritic and/or spondylotic damage to my knees, back, and other joints will mean a lifetime of pain no matter how well my psoriatic arthritis is being managed. As it did immediately after diagnosis, it again dawns on me that never again will life be as I had envisioned before this disease took its toll. 

But something is different now than it was when I first got diagnosed - I see this as a reminder, not a tragedy; as an opportunity, not an ending. 

This is how I know the disease has changed my life forever for the better.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Motley Crew of God's Children



His words carry through the congregation, "I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." 

Her words ring in the silence of the sanctuary, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is his name..." 

They preach the sermon, sharing the sacred stories with all gathered. 

Her voice carries for all to hear, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people..." before she is joined by the winged multitudes, saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." 


He smiles and says nothing as his cohorts announce, "Let us now go to Bethlehem, and see this thing which has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us!"


All sit in rapt attention as the sermon continues, "But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. This is the Gospel of our Lord.." (Luke 2)


To some, it might look like a Christmas Pageant, but to me, it's the best sermon of the year so far: a motley crew of God's children - ages 2 to 74 - sharing their faith through telling not only the story of the birth of our Savior, but preaching about what Christmas really is about. With halos and wings and hay bales and sheep; with God's word and a glimpse at the past; they tell us that Christmas may be about candles that remind us of the coming of the Light of the World; songs to glorify His name; Christmas trees that serve to point the way to Heaven; and Gifts because of the God's greatest Gift to us. But in the end, they remind us, "We couldn't have Christmas without Jesus!" 


On this twelfth day of Christmas, before we "put Christmas away" for another year, we take one more moment to hold Christmas in our hearts, to fill our souls with the Story, and to nourish our spirits in the Birth. 






Friday, January 3, 2014

Antici


The Christmas season is drawing to a close. My birthday, New Year's celebrations, and my husbands birthday have passed. The long-awaited Epiphany Pageant is in the works, with a rehearsal tomorrow and the Pageant itself on Sunday. Then, on January 6, Epiphany, we have one last little celebration, then put our Christmas decorations away. 

It is then that I finally feel like my new year has begun. Maybe because we can once again settle into our normal routine...or in this case, a new routine. I'm hoping to use our Time a bit differently. I see family time in the morning before Daddy goes to work; daily journaling for the children; weekly or monthly projects; finding a new rhythm to our days. For me, daily work on my health - movement, rest, nourishing and nurturing my body, mind and spirit. 


However, there is one thing I am greatly looking forward to that can't seem to come fast enough. After holidays and birthdays, one would think we'd celebrated it all, but one last thing remains: our anniversary. Our celebration will look a little different this year. It will start with a Remicade infusion for me, and a trip to my parents' house to drop off the kids for my husband. Then we'll have a whirlwind five hours or so post-infusion to do something before meeting my parents, children, and my sister's family for dinner to celebrate birthdays and our anniversary. I don't even know what we're going to do with those five hours - what do "normal" people do on a Friday afternoon to entertain themselves, anyway? I find myself eagerly anticipating whatever our little celebration turns out to be, as any time I get to spend truly alone with my husband is precious. I can barely wait!

...pation. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Key



It's 12:36AM, January 1, 2014. 2014. 2014. Maybe if I type the year enough it will sink in. 

My three eldest children, my husband and I are watching Jaws. Wonderful movie to watch before bed, especially for kids who don't watch scary movies. It's rated PG - I have no idea how - but it freaks me out. A strange way to start the new year. The littles are upstairs watching their own movie for as long as it takes for them to pass out. I'm sure it won't take long.

The best laid plans went a bit awry tonight. I had envisioned a night of movies, games, and wonderment. I fell asleep at 8pm and drifted in and out through a movie and a half. The movies of choice this year were Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Disney's 1973 Robin Hood. Even so, it's a wonderful night. 

The key to our New Year's Eve was this:


Opening the big jar, we each pulled out a handful of memories, the first from New Year's Day 2013, the last, just days ago. The jar included tickets from plays and movies; drawings; descriptions of events and conversations; even a wine cork. Sharing them, laughter spilled out, smiles abounded, and tough times were forgotten. It was a wonderful reminder of how good our life is and how precious these memories are. I see a collage of memories project in our future, and an empty jar awaiting 2014 memories. 

This is what life's about, really- making memories and not only treasuring, but sharing the good ones; letting the bad ones go. Taking a walk down Memory Lane every so often to remind ourselves to live in the moment, to laugh, to cry, to live life instead of letting it pass us by, and to look forward to a future full of such heartwarming keepsakes. 

Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.- Corrie ten Boom