Saturday, January 23, 2010

For several years now I have been struggling, internally, with how I feel I should live vs. how the world wants me to live. I whole-heartedly desire a slower, simpler life with less stuff, more experiences; less judgement, more authenticity; less busyness, more contemplation; less media driven opinions, more discussions with thoughtful people; less of self, more of others.

Those are my desires. However the world around me doesn't match those desires and it is a battle that I must be very intentional about. Some periods of time I am successful. Many I am not. I've found that the more tv I watch, the less successful I am. The more I read, the more successful I am. Coincidental?

I've been feeling a little disconnected from these desires lately. Not that I no longer desire them, but that I haven't been living a very intentional life. I've swung over to the reactionary side of the pendulum for the last little bit. I have several things to blame for this: watching more tv, busyness of the holidays, starting a new job in the mornings that disrupts my previously well-established routine, getting up every morning at 4:45 to workout.

I haven't really FELT like being intentional. I feel tired and often choose to passively spend my time watching some tv while doing a puzzle, rather than to pick up a book - even though I have a HUGE pile of books that I want to read. I have this over-riding thought in the back of my head that I know the book I'm reading is going to take mental energy and I don't want to do that at the moment... (not reading any engaging, entertaining fiction right now).

God has been working hard to hit me over the head recently and draw me back. And for that, I am thankful.

Matthew 5:3 - You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

verse 5 - You're blessed when you're content with just who you are - no more no less.

verse 8 - You're blessed when you get your inside world - your mind and heart - put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

verse 13 - Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?

Psalm 119: 1,2 - You're blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You're blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him.

And my prayer for this week has been Psalm 119:5 - Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set.

It's time for me to wake up.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Our healthiest winter season EVER

Every year - EVERY year - Dave gets a cold right before Thanksgiving. Every year at least one of my girls has been sick around thanksgiving in addition to throughout the holiday/winter season. The year Georgia was born, all three girls had brochial/respitory illnesses throughout the winter and beginning of spring. I have fond or not so fond (how do you do that strikethrough thing?) of giving any one of them oral antibiotics as toddlers... crying, screaming, holding the nose so she would HAVE to open her mouth, wrestling to the floor, fine - we'll put it in your milk which of COURSE tasted different so she wouldn't drink it, wrestling to the floor (again), force the lips open, dropper in the side of the cheek, SUCCESS! And then she spits it all over the floor. Good. And this was the case for each one of them. Illness has always been a very pleasant experience here:)

Lets discuss the flu or whichever illness it is that induces 24 hours of vomitting... Only now do I have confidence that at least 2/3 of my girls can make it to the bathroom in time to throw up. I've done my share of washing sheets in the middle of the night, only to wash another load a few hours later. How about those days when Dave and I BOTH have the flu and we just pray that somehow the girls are safe on the main level of the house being completely unsupervised while we lay in bed miserable?

Or what about any random number of colds that pass quickly through the family? Runny noses, coughing, sneezing, etc. The most annoying part of the colds - in my opinion - is the continual decision process: Do I send her to school or keep her home? I certainly wouldn't want to be teacher who has a student walk in with snot running down her nose, however, she isn't bad enough to keep home. What to do? What to do?

We've had all of these. Sometimes I catch them, too, sometimes I don't. Generally, I have been the healthiest member of the family. Dave has not faired as well:) He catches them all. It usually starts with, "My throat hurts" and progresses into chest and head congestion. I've had my share, though: bronchitis, strep, colds. All of it = lovely.

Last year we attempted to bypass the illness season by increasing our vitamin intake. Dave was taking a ridiculous number of vitamins and supplements twice a day. He would set them out for me, too, but I never got around to taking any. No change. Our family didn't have any major respitory ailments, but we did have the flu and some random colds.

This year - as of today - will be considered our healthiest winter season ever. We have not been to the doctor since August. We bypassed the whole flu/swine flu scare with no symptoms. We (me and the girls, not Dave) have had one MINOR, short-lived cold that we brought home from Virginia at Thanksgiving. It was very mild and very short. Dave has had nothing so far. That, in and of itself, is somewhat miraculous:)

So what is different? Essential Oils. Seriously, this is the only thing I can identify as being different this season: we are religiously diffusing essential oils in our home. Dave is no longer taking all of those vitamins, but instead diffuses oils in his office twice a day. It is an all-natural way of boosting our immunity and so far I would say it has been working. I'm sure there are other factors that could be considered, however, this is really the one thing that we are doing differently this year AND we have not been sick with the exception of the one mild, short-lived cold that we recovered from more quickly than usual (and we brought it home from Virginia where we were NOT diffusing the oils for 5 days - coincidence?)

I don't think we have a magic answer and I'm not making money on this, but I want to share what I believe is our one difference-maker with anyone who is interested. I'm reading so many facebook statuses of people who have gone from one illness to the next. Its frustrating when your family is dealing with that. One kid recovers and BOOM the next is down with the same thing. It seems like it never ends. So if I can provide ONE idea for a family like this to try out - and provide personal testimony as to its (assumed) efficacy, it is this.

What we are doing and using:
A friend of mine extolled the vitues of essential oils for all manner of illnesses a few years ago. I tried to get into it, but found it was just too much work and expense to figure out which oils to have on hand, which ailments they would help and to remember it all on top of it. This year when the swine flu scare was making its rounds I got serious about it and asked her which essential oils would be essential to have in the home. She sent me a link to a blend of oils that boosts immunity: thieves mix. In addition, she told me that she had tinkered around a bit and had come up with a very similar smelling homemade mix that she was using in place of the actual blend - her recipe would be much cheaper and would last much longer. So I placed an order and got started and the healthy season began:)

Here is the list of oils that is needed to make your own blend of thieves:
eucalyptus 2oz (although you may consider buying an even larger bottle), rosemary .5oz, clove bud .5oz, cinnamon leaf .5oz, lemon .5oz, .5oz bottle (you may want more of these if you plan to diffuse in multiple locations). If you purchased all of these from it would total $43.55, which would be less than one trip to the pediatrician in our case. This supply list will make many bottles of your own blend. I would say that I've made at least 10-15 .5oz bottles before running out of the eucalyptus and I have much, much more left of the others. If you bought a premade blend of thieves it would cost around $42 for a .5oz bottle - and you would only get ONE .5oz bottle.

Once I made my own blend I started diffusing every night while we're sleeping. For the girls' rooms, I diffuse 5 drops (thats it - such a tiny amount) in a vaporizer/humidifier, which I would be running in their rooms during the winter regardless. In our room, Dave's office and in the rest of the house we use a vick's waterless vaportizer (if you decide to buy one of these, please don't spend $20 on it - I bought one at Target and one at Walmart for less than $15). We diffuse 3-5 drops on those little make up cotton pads that you can get at the pharmacy (100 for $1). So if you don't have any of these things, you're still spending less than $100.

Thats it - that is all I'm doing. It requires very little extra effort on my part - just whatever time it takes to make the blend once every couple of weeks and the time it takes to drop 5 measly drops into each vaporizer. And I've spent less than one doctor visit to do it.

Two things to note:
* if you decide to try this, email me separately for the recipe... not sure I should be posting April's recipe on the WWW.
* if you have a tax id number, you can sign up to be a whole saler of the oils through a different website and get them for even less. I happen to have a friend who is generous enough to extend this discount to me so I've paid even less than I listed here. Email me for more info on this one, too.

If you try this, let me know how it goes for you. April's family and my family have experienced great benefits from this and hope someone else can, too.

Another note: Peppermint oil has been a huge relief for many of Dave's frequent headaches in addition to some of my occasional headaches. Consider purchasing a bottle of that as well!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Ms. Peek

Ms. Peek turns 8 today!

Last night as I was tucking her into bed she asked if I would tell her the story of the night she was born. I was hungry and tired and she was going to bed later than I wanted. I rolled my eyes and sat down to tell her the story. I wasn't really in the mood for sentimentality, but as I'm learning with my oldest, she IS sentimental and as I've always known she is pretty sensitive. I also suspected, though, that she was hoping I would cry like I did when I told Bugly the story of when she was sick. Twisted as it may sound, I think Ms. Peek wanted me to get that emotional about HER... sometimes its hard to be an older sister that isn't as snuggly and cute-because-she's-a-toddler.

I was in no mood, though, for tearful, weepy retelling of the days after she was born. Like I said, I was tired and hungry and just wanted to go downstairs. But I launched into the story. And because I didn't feel like welling up I included all of the dumb, non-emotional details... my water broke, it gushed, Daddy shoveled in his dinner while I was in the bathroom, it was snowing, the neighbors across the street agreed to care for the Woof, blah, blah, blah. As I continued I found I was enjoying remembering all of those details... moreso the ones after she was born - when they wheeled me into the NICU the next morning - the first time I saw her for more than 10 seconds - she was lying on her tummy with tubes and wires coming from all directios and was sucking her thumb. She was strong and healthy. We visited her as much as we could and fed her as many bottles as we could. I changed as many diapers as I could and told her many, many times that I was proud of her for being so strong.

I kind of got lost in it all and soon, yes, I was welling up. And then I was crying.

The moment I held her (that would be about 8 hours post delivery) I was consumed by a love that I never knew existed - how could I? I'd never been a parent before. I've never held MY child before. That moment, my tiny 4lb 14oz daughter taught me love and I have never been the same. My heart has been exploding ever since that moment in time.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


A few random stuff running through my head right now:

* reading Abba's Child by Brennan Manning - actually just picked it up again after not being able to get to it all through December. In a word: Awesome. Today's little section talked about the inner child vs. the pharisee. Basically being in tune to the inner little child = fully trusting God. Well, who doesn't struggle with that? Because I do... somehow I have learned more and more of this last year, however, it still comes back to me and my control issues. Anyway, the part that struck me and that I'm thinking about this morning is that being in tune to the inner little child would = being open and free with your emotions and how you feel about other people. Gosh, really? So here's why I'm thinking about it... I feel so much love and affection and fondness and gratitude toward so many people in my life. I intuitively want to tell them, but defensively I won't do it because I think it freaks people out to get messages like that... I think I scared off many potential boy friends who could have eventually turned into boyfriends because I gave them some kind of note or card telling them about my affection and fondness... I didn't have feelings for these people, just genuinely loved them and was thankful for them as friends of mine. But alas, boys don't deal well with that kind of stuff, do they? Probably why Dave and I are together because he DOES do well with it.

* I was supposed to start a new job this morning, but there was no work to be done. So I'm bummed - I got a taste of it last night and it was fun. New job = buying tickets for a ticket broker and getting a share of the profits. There's more that goes into it, but thats the gist of it and last night I bought some SanDiego Chargers tickets and pretty much sucked at it, but there was an adrenaline rush like that which one would have when last minute bidding on an ebay auction.

* I gained 5 lbs since Halloween. Man, I suck:) Between candy, dinners with the in-laws, thanksgiving, BISCOTTI, and Christmas treats lavished upon us by Dave's clients I was screwed - I had no chance whatsoever. So I gave in and decided that if I was going to gain weight over the holidays then I was going to enjoy it. And I did. Very much. But now I'm hungry:(

* Dave and I are running a half marathon in Indy in May. Training started yesterday - I can run again! I mean I CAN run, but since I haven't run since September I suck. But I can run! So excited about that.

* Was thinking about going vegetarian, but ultimately decided that I'm just not sure I can completely give up chicken, fish and turkey. But I definitely can give up red meat. Really its more of an issue of needing to add more vegetables into my day. I can do good on fruit, I do pretty well with fiber, but I need more vegetables. And I don't eat much protein throughout the day, so I'm going to figure out how to cook lentils and beans and stuff. I really like that stuff anyway so it won't be hard to eat, just figuring out shopping and cooking them.

* Dave and I are going on a Jones trip to Steamboat Springs, CO in March. I'm giving up sugar at least until then. Need to lose at least these 5 lbs and hopefully more. 11 weeks until Steamboat! Oh my, I can't wait, I can't wait, I can't wait!

* Instead of doing the 80/10/10 thing, we decided to be super aggressive in paying off debt. We don't have a ton of it, fortunately, but we want to get rid of it all a la Dave Ramseyish style. We're incorporating his priciples, our life and the 80/10/10 idea to create our own plan. I made a poster. Because I'm a dork... but I love it:)

* Nora turns 8 tomorrow! She's awesome. Because of the above, I'm trying to keep her entire birthday at $100. I thought that would be pretty easy, but then children's place went and put jeans and stuff on sale. Jerks:) So now insteadof $100, I'm down to $50 for gifts (the clothes will be wrapped as a gift, but really who gets excited about that when you're 8?), school treats, and a Mcdonalds happy meal. I think I'll be okay - one advantage to having all grandparents out of state is that they send gifts to be opened on the birthday... so our birthday girls end up feeling like they're getting a lot and aren't being gipped by mom and dad:)

Friday, January 01, 2010

The End of Christmas Break

I seem to learn a lot about myself at the end of Christmas Break. Last year, Dave requested that I go to counseling because I was barely functioning by the end of the 2 weeks. No matter how much I tried to explain to him that Christmas Break is horrible for me and I would be better within a day or two of getting the house back in order, he was certain that I needed more than that.

What I think we failed to realize is that basically this request was along the lines of asking a gay person to seek counseling with the intention that the counseling will turn him/her straight. Counseling is NOT going to turn me into an extrovert. Plain and simple: I am an introvert and THIS is really difficult by the end of two weeks.

* noise
* chaos
* questions
* touching
* messes
* expectations
* interruptions
* no routine
* traveling
* absolutely no time to myself
* no place to escape any of this because it all follows me wherever I go

I don't think all of this would be much easier for an extrovert... however, knowing that I'm an introvert I'm learning more about myself today.

TODAY I am cringing at the mere sight or sound of my children. I hate that. But it is reality. I cannot find a place to get away from any of it. And when I thought I figured out a plan to get a few hours of break, I got a phone call indicating that I was expected to go somewhere NOW because thats what someone else wanted of me. So now what - do I miss seeing some friends? I know that I'm not going to be good company today - even if it is only until 3:00. But do I preserve myself? I feel like these are the choices that I'm constantly confronted with during Christmas Break.

Today I've learned that even when I enter Christmas Break with full intentions of just going with the flow and letting things happen for the two weeks - changing my expectations - I'm still internally distressed by something else. I've been good up until today. I've let the house and the laundry go. I've changed my expectations and had a good break. But what I've learned is that there is a direct correlation between how much disorder there is in my life and my ability to go-with-the-flow.

There is an extremely high level of disorder in my life today: Messes everywhere I turn. Bedrooms that need to be switched out. Toys that need to be sorted and given away. New Christmas gifts that need to find a home. Ripped and cut up paper EVERYWHERE. Snacks and treats galore. Arguing children. A few additional pounds on my body. Not enough water. Not many real meals. Much disorder. Because of all of that, I feel like I NEED my days to follow the plan that I set forth in my mind when I wake up. Sometimes my plan is to sit around all day and watch movies. Sometimes my plan involves an errand or a visit - at a specific time. What I'm learning today is that any deviation from that plan in my head causes a lot of internal stress for me. And this is not the case at the beginning of the break... just by the last couple of days.

So my note to myself is this: Next year I need to figure out how to get rid of my kids for a day or two at the end of the two weeks so I can reestablish some order in my life. I know I'm only two and a half days away from getting them back on their buses, but as of RIGHT NOW I'm not sure how I'm going to get through those two and a half days. My body feels tense. I'm crabby. I have a shorter fuse. I feel like the fight or flight response system is at high alert inside my body right now. I'm withdrawing more and more into myself.

I am not taking this time to complain about my kids. They aren't the problem. They're kids. They're doing what they're supposed to be doing. This is not a "When are my kids going back to school because I can't stand them?" post, but rather a "I need the routine of school back in my life" post: I need the same wake up time, bus time, lunch time, bus time, homework time, dinner time, bed time. The problem is the disorder and my inability to find peace in the midst of any of it. This problem exists for me at the end of every Christmas Break and toward the end of every summer.

I will be fine next week, its just getting there that is going to be the battle:)

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