Friday, November 30, 2012

Working mama blues...

The transition from a stay at home mom to a working mom has not been an easy one. It hasn't been easy on me, on Kelton, or on the kids. I don't really know how to describe it except hard. I have to work. Our family needs the money from me working until Kelton either gets on disability or becomes able to work again. But he is not happy as a stay at home parent or with not being the provider of our family in a financial sense. And I'm not happy "bringing home the bacon." I'd much rather be at home in my kitchen frying it up.
The worst transition has to be for the kids. Kelton has tried, but is not a homeschooling parent. And that's fine, not everyone is meant to homeschool. And we're okay with sending the girls to public school this year once Christmas is over, but it still is a reminder of what we've lost as a family. And right now as a one car family, if Kelton has to go somewhere while I'm at work, he has to borrow his mom's car (I work too far from home to make bringing me to work financially feasible most of the time). Her truck only has enough room for Zane to go with him, so the girls wind up staying with my mom and Rick. Which is great because they have grandparents willing to keep them. But it makes it to where we see even less of them. The girls don't understand why mom has to work and only gets to see them for maybe an hour a day. (This is a big reason I was looking for overnight hours.) I see my relationship with my kids suffering for the sake of working, and it breaks my heart. I just keep praying that once I am able to either be back at home full-time, or even cut down working to part-time that it isn't too late to repair that damage. I doubt it will be on their ends, but I don't know that I'll ever let go of the guilt I feel for them being in this predicament.

If I am able to separate myself from these feelings, working is actually going well. I do like my job, I get paid well for what I do, and I work with some pretty great people. My only issue is that I'm gone from my family too long. It's 45 minutes away, so on a day when I'm not working overtime, I'm gone a minimum of 10 hours. From 9:45am to 7:45pm. Lately, I've been leaving for work by 7:15am, so I'm gone 12.5 hours. I get home, we eat dinner, and then the kids are in bed between 8:30 and 9:00pm. Right now I rarely see them in the morning since they're late sleepers. Once school starts, I'll see them for breakfast and to drive them to school (they'll walk home together after school). Very, very little time with them. Of course, I see Zane more since he has no real schedule right now, but even he is out by about 10:00pm and wakes once to nurse at night and then is back out.

I think my major issue right now is burnout.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Being my True Self

I don't know what's changed, but in the past few months I've slowly started to be the person I have always wanted to be. That person I was in my head, the one I was without all the filter and censors we put on ourselves so we're 'presentable' to the public at large. No, I'm not as skinny as I want to be. I'm not as tattooed as I'd like, and I'm sporting a growing out pixie rather than the dreadlocks I want. But my essence is truer to myself than it has ever been.

Maybe it was turning twenty-eight. Maybe it has been having all of the niceties of life that I used to build the picture of the perfect life torn away (job loss, health issues, poverty, losing our home, and having to rely on the kindness of others to make it through). Maybe it's been an answer to my prayers. Maybe it is all those things- or none of them at all. Whatever it is, I love it! There is nothing that can compare to looking in the mirror and seeing yourself. Not a mask you put on for the world, but just YOU.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

In the hoop...

I've followed Sarah Janssen's blogging at Walk Slowly Live Wildly for a long time now. Including her blogging about hooping. Yes, hula hooping has gone to the grown ups. Before seeing it on her blog, I honestly had no idea. And hoop! So beautiful.

This past July, I finally purchased a basic "naked" hoop from etsy. It'sade out of irrigation tubing, and isn't exactly perfectly round, something I'm trying to figure out how to fix. I covered the hoop in duct tape rather than pretty colorful gaffers tape that is commonly used, as I knew it would be getting scraped up from falls, drops, and runaway spins. All of those things have happened and there are holes in the duct tape now.

I couldn't hoop for most of August. It was just too hot to work up a sweat outside in the humidity! Finally, nights are cooling down. After the kids are asleep, once the baby has nursed, I find myself heading outside most nights. The only plus side to hubby's nasty smoking habit is that even on nights I don't feel like hooping, I wind up outside to tell him something. If I waited until he was done smoking, I would forget. Motherhood has left me with a swiss cheese brain. When I go out there to talk to Kelton, I wind up grabbing the hoop to keep my hands busy.

When I started with that 38" hoop, I could waist hoop for maybe minute at most before it started it's twirling drop to the ground. Though the hoop has a way of crashing into my ankle or shin on the way down. A painful reminder to keep practicing! I quickly became a fan of hooping with my hand, my arm above my head.

Now I have waist hooping down, and am trying to learn to waist hoop in the opposite direction. Learning new moves is the ultimate lesson in humility. The second I start thinking maybe I don't look completely spastic, that hoop gies flying off my body, leaving me running after it and laughing at myself. The fact that nobody can see me is another benefit to night hooping.

A week or so ago, I started praying while hooping. I don't own an mp3 player, and have no ear buds for my phone, so I've been hooping silently from the start. Prayer definitely helped that, and I find my prayers while hooping feel more natural ans less forced. It has been an unexpected blessing to find a new way to connect with God.

Tonight I took the phone out and laid it in a chair with Pandora on while I hooped. Suddenly, I was trying tricks I'd been afraid to try before. I was moving more when hooping with my arms over my head. It might have even been able to be mistaken for dancing! Which is amazing, because I have no skills on the dance floor! For the first time it clicked in my head that I could, with a LOT more practicing, dance with my hoop like the women in all the amazing videosy daughters and I have poured over on YouTube.

Speaking of the girls, my dad bought them hoops from the toy store. They love them. The seven year old loves using my hoop, too. A testament to how short I am, I can share a hoop with a 7 year old! I am looking forward to family hooping trips to the park.

Since beginning to hoop, I feel more comfortable in my skin. I feel more connected to my body, I can feel muscles working that haven't worked in a long time! I'm happier and find hooping really helpful when I'm feeling anxious or have had a crazy hard day patenting. I'm so grateful I found hooping! I think I may ask for hooping lessons for Christmas this year, since I pick things up a lot quicker when somebody is right next to me showing me what to do.

Have you ever found yourself loving something you never thought you'd like doing?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Change is coming...

Autumn is nearly here now. The nights have the a crispness in the air, mixed with the lovely scent of fire from a neighbor's fireplace (oh, how I miss a home with a fireplace!). This time of year has always been my favorite. It's held a certain magic for me my entire life. When the temperatures cool and the leaves begin to change, I feel my soul awakening. I'm an odd bird; I come alive in the autumn and winter (and early spring, to be fair), and prefer to spend my summers hibernating away from the heat and humidity.

This time of year is also the busiest for our family. In September we have my dad's birthday, the anniversary of when hubby and I started dating (we celebrate this as much as our wedding anniversary...12 years this year!), and my Pa's birthday. Now, Pa passed away in 2003, but his birthday still holds a special place in my heart. October has our wedding anniversary (9 years this year), my mother-in-law's birthday, and Halloween. Oh, Halloween. This is one of the MAJOR holidays in our house. We love it! November now has Zane's birthday. My boy is almost a year; how did that happen?!?! Then Thanksgiving as well. December has Joey's birthday (which is also my Ga-Ga's birthday, again it's a day to remember her), Kelton's birthday, and of course Christmas. LOTS going on! There's always a reason to celebrate in the fall around here!

I am 95% certain that I will be getting hired for a full-time customer service position I interviewed for on Thursday. I'll start in October if I get hired. I'm very confident in how the interview went, and am anticipating a phone call extending a conditional offer of employment (have to do the background check and drug screening) early next week. Working full-time will be a huge change. It's something I haven't done since I had to quit my job due to hyperemesis while pregnant with our oldest. So, seven years. I am both apprehensive and excited. We've gone nearly a year without regular income. It's been by the grace of God that we've made it out relatively unscathed. But, having regular income that will be enough to pay all of our monthly bills and a teeny bit extra for those unexpected expenses? I cannot begin to explain how huge of a blessing that would be. I credit the mental boost those crisp mornings and nights give me for nailing my interview. Now, if I'm not offered the job, that would be a crushing blow. BUT, I have another place to call for an interview if that happens.

School is also happening this autumn. Both for me and the kids. We did wind up sticking with homeschooling the girls. We're down to one vehicle, and if I were the stay at home parent, it wouldn't be a big deal for me to walk the kids to and from school everyday. But, hubby is going to be the one at home. There's no way he can be expected to walk a half mile each way every single day. Sure, some days he may be able to do it, but other days it would practically kill him. Also with the schedule I'm likely to be working, I'd get home in just enough time to put the girls to bed. I would miss out on them all week, every week. Neither them or I want to have just two days a week where we get to see each other.

I've recently become a bit obsessed with hooping. I ordered myself a basic, "naked" hoop from etsy last month. I'm still not the best at it, but I'm sticking with it, practicing and improving. I find myself hooping most late at night (big shocker, there, eh?). After the kids are in bed, the dishes are in the dishwasher, and the sun is down. I head to the driveway with my hoop and just move. I've never been someone that could meditate. In massage school, we had some students who fell asleep during their massages they were so relaxed. Then you had me. I was the girl that was lying there running budgets and grocery lists and all kinds of weird, random thoughts through my brain. But when I was giving a massage, I could shut my brain off. It was just my hands working, the only thoughts being ones of peace and serenity. I was centered, I was focused. Such a different change of pace from my normal, frenzied self. I feel very much the same when I'm hooping. It's just me and the hoop, and God out there. I don't have an armband for my phone, so I haven't been able to listen to music while I hoop. Instead I find myself praying while hooping. It's a great time to just connect with God and open my heart and soul to His message for me. The girls really want to hoop, too. They try with my big 38" hoop. Anna-Lee (7) is able to do it pretty well, but Joey (4) and Lucy (2) really need smaller hoops. Our Shopko had some on clearance, and a friend said to check Dollar Tree as well, so we're going hoop shopping soon.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The summer is drawing to an end. Thank goodness, I say! To say this summer has been challenging is putting it very, very nicely. Our family has had a rough go of things for a while now, but these past three months have easily been the most trying and difficult season I've experienced in my twenty-eight years. I won't go into details, because there is no point in focusing on and rehashing the negative. What I will take from these trials and challenges is faith that God is always there. Even when things have been so dark, when my prayers were prayed in gasps in between aching sobs, He has been there. Giving us the underlying calm. The promise that things were working for His plan, and that He would take care of us if we just had faith. This time has made me a better Christian, a better wife, a better mother, and a better person. But, if I do say so myself, I am ready for a new season in our lives to begin!

This week I will be signing our two oldest girls up to attend public school. School started here on the 15th of August, but we had planned to homeschool them again this year. However, lots of discussion and prayer has led us to this point. The girls are so excited! I'm apprehensive, but excited for them. I admit a lot of my apprehension has to do with us not being morning people. At all. But we will adapt.

Tomorrow (well, today, actually), my husband will take the first step towards having a trial of a spinal cord stimulator. It's just a psychiatric evaluation. They need to make sure you aren't paranoid and going to be pulling wires out of your back because you think the government is trying to control you, after all. ;-) But, it is a big deal. Because once that is done, they can schedule the trial placement of the stimulator! Leads will be put into the spinal column using an epidural injection, and they will be connected to a transmitter on a belt. He'll have that for five days. The trial will be considered successful if he experiences at least a 50% reduction in pain. Some people experience more, but the doctor has told us 50% is what to look for reasonably. I am praying it is a success. If it is, they take out the trial leads, wait four weeks for the back to heal, and then place the permanent stimulator. It is just like the trial one, but the transmitter is implanted in the hip. This is his best option for pain relief.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Well, now, it's been a while since my last post! In some ways, so much has happened, and in other ways not much at all has changed.

We did not get our garden put in. I have a small container herb garden with basil, oregano, lavender, and rosemary. I may add to that since I can winter them indoors. And we have one lonely tomato plant in a large pot. Unfortunately my husband's medications were causing an interaction, and most of May was spent in bad days rather than good days as far as his health went. The whole month is kind of a blur, and any homemaking/homesteading efforts were put off to take care of us as a family first. We do have the chickens though. One, who remained much smaller than her fellow coopmates, did not survive the first heat wave of summer. I am afraid she was just too weak and small to deal with the temperature change. So we now have four hens. I am thinking of trying to find two more to add so we get back to our original six.

The Coop, and one of our clothesline poles.

The biggest thing in May was we have an official diagnosis! Not the constant "we think it is this," "no, wait, now it's this," or "we don't know what's causing the pain, but it'll probably be there forever." An actual, verifiable by tests, diagnosis. Praise God! He has what is known as Syringomyelia. Simply put, there is a cavity in his spinal cord (not column, but the cord itself) that is filled with cerebrospinal fluid. There is no cure for it, and we are unsure right now what caused it. Sometimes an injury could cause it, but neither of us can recall an injury between when he had an MRI that showed nothing, and when this pain started. Sometimes there can be something blocking the normal flow of fluid that can be the cause. This could be his case, but we don't know. Or it could be idiopathic in nature, and just simply be there. The orthopedist who discovered this described a surgery to drain the syrinx (the name of the cyst), and referred us on to a neurosurgeon. We meet with him July 5th. Twenty three days.

The emotional roller coaster of this entire journey is taxing to say the least. On my husband even more than me. I am constantly in awe of him for being strong through this and for his main concern being caring for the kids and I. Both of us are hopeful that this surgery can be done quickly, and that it will help at least get his pain to a manageable level. He has progressed to using a wheelchair outside of the house. Which is good because we can get out of the house and he can do stuff with us and not pay for it with days in bed in even more pain. Because he CAN do everything he used to, but it will knock him down for a long time afterward. Using the wheelchair has given us the chance to resume taking walks at night and going to the zoo.

Kelton (hubby) and Zane (6m) heading to the library.

In another case of God being so, so good to our family, we were able to get a mobility scooter. For free. I found one on Craigslist halfway between here and where I needed to drive to register for college. We need to figure out how to get batteries for it so he can use it. I am putting one of my camera lenses on eBay, and picking up my massage table from a friend this week to sell. If just one of those sells, it should buy both the batteries we need. Once he can use that, we can go even more places, and for longer walks. Not that I mind pushing the wheelchair when we go out, it is certainly getting these legs of mine in shape! But the hills at the zoo are no match for a wheelchair, so we have to stick to the main buildings...this would give us more freedom. 

Our girls are on a vacation with my mom and her husband. Tonight they were eating out in San Francisco. I am doing well at hiding my jealousy. ;) At a time when we can't provide them with a vacation, this is such a great opportunity for them! We are just happy that they are having so much fun, and waiting for them to get home. The house is far too quiet and I miss their chaos! Last week they had their dance recital. Well, the two big girls did, that is. They did so amazing! I love their studio, and they are both looking forward to returning in the fall. 

Reese (4), Myself, Zane (6m), 
and Anna-Lee (6, and grumpy from stage fright) before recital.

I am applying for full-time overnight work. Praying I find something quickly. Kelton has started the process of applying for disability since we don't know after he has this surgery how long it could take to heal or how much improvement he can even reasonably expect. I start classes on July 11th. I did manage to get all 3 classes (English Comp 1, Public Speaking, and Structure & Function of the Human Body) online. It's a very...serious course load, but I'm up for the challenge. Kelton and I are both committed to getting ourselves and the kids on a better schedule and routine, so I'm fitting homework into that so I have no excuses.

The next few months are going to bring so much change. Surgery. School for me. Our two oldest will begin public school in August. Kelton will continue to heal and progress. Last night we tried talking about where we saw ourselves in a year, two years, five years, etc. We couldn't do it. Because there is SO much that we just can't even pretend to know how to plan for. But, through it all, we have faith. Faith that God is good. We have to believe that He is using this all to better our lives. Already, though we have had very trying times, we've also had so many blessings. People in our lives at just the right times, and things happening that we could have never had happen without some divine intervention. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spring is well underway, and the warm temperatures are starting to hint at the rapidly approaching summer. Last weekend we moved the chickens out to the coop. They aren't quite sure of the outdoors just yet, but are venturing into the run more and more each day. I need to clip wings as I lift the top of the coop to refill their water and the younger chicks (who we got at the feed store at the beginning of March, so they're around 10 weeks) can now fly up and escape the coop if they want to.

Tomorrow we are building our raised bed. Our town has a "junk day" twice a year, where you can throw pretty much anything to the curb and the trashmen will pick it up. People from all over the metro area tend to go junking, driving around, seeing if people are throwing out trash that will become their treasure. Well, a lady down the road from us was throwing away a lot of old boards. Boards that are perfect for building our garden bed. We're not growing much this year. Some pepper and tomato plants. And herbs. That's pretty much it, honestly. But we have to start somewhere, I guess. With the stress of moving and DH's health stuff, a lot of our homesteading plans seemed to go to the wayside. I haven't even been able to get a clothesline up.

Speaking of my husband's health, he has applied for disability. That sounds so final. Almost like giving up. It isn't, we still try our hardest to cling to hope that one day he will feel healthy and normal again. And it seems that every step forward involves one or two steps back. I try to be strong, and stay positive. But that often involves bottling up my stress and worry to hide it from him and the kids. So once a month or so, it seems that the lid blows off the bottled up emotions and I take a couple of days and need to spend time crying, wallowing, feeling sorry for myself, for us, and feeling understandably angry at whatever it is that is causing this. Once I let myself feel those things and get it out, life starts to feel manageable and reasonable, and yes, hopeful again. It is the loss of hope I dislike the most about those times.

We know the disability process can be a long, arduous one, especially if he is initially denied and we need to appeal. We're prepared, and prayerful that it won't be necessary. The woman at our local office said that locally in the cases like his, it is common to get approved on the first application. And my dad and stepfather both got approved through the same office without appeals being necessary. But, they were much older when they applied, and while it shouldn't change things, I know that him only being 31 may make it harder to get approved.

Today he got a call about the MRI he had last week. The initial MRI was only on the lumbar spine. This one was on his thoracic and lumbar spine with contrast. The call today just said they found a disc issue in his thoracic spine and want him to come in Thursday morning to discuss it. While I generally think avoiding medical intervention is best, I am PRAYING they say there is something they can do that will improve his, and by virtue of being a family, all of our, quality of life. Because right now he doesn't have a lot of quality of life.

The stress is getting to me, and it is trickling down to the kids. They are often with grandparents because it is hard to take care of a husband in pain and the kids. And that is wearing on them, and on us. I hate how separated we are. I am starting a job, because we have to get some sort of income into the house. And my oldest has been progressively getting more and more...sad. There is more often than not a sadness about her. And that breaks my heart. She is such a joyous child, such an amazing soul, it hurts to know we are affecting her this way. She told me today she is afraid for me to work, afraid she'll never get to see me. Oh, that hurt my mama heart in such a big way. I am making a much larger effort to spend time with the kids. To really be present when they are around. There will be a lot more walks to the park, story times, and just quality time.

Right now, I am unsure of my school plans for the summer. I had to leave my spring classes. The daily stresses just did not do well with homework. I am hoping with this new job I have the money to drive down to the college and register for summer classes. I may not be able to get my financial aid in place in order to do that in time. In which case, I just start in the summer. If the disability is processed by fall, that will make it a lot easier, because it will be possible for me to not be working and just focusing on school. I really want to put my all into my classes, and get the most I can out of my education. Thankfully, by finding this program at the community college 50 miles away (and the program is offered online, so it isn't that I would constantly be driving to campus, only if I miss getting into an online class I needed to take in a certain quarter), I will be unlikely to need to take out student loans to go to school. The Pell Grant should easily cover both tuition and books. Such a blessing to think of graduating with no new student loan debt! Even if loans are necessary, the total cost of this program for tuition, books, and fees is less than one year of tuition only for the lowest cost local program I was looking at.

I feel like maybe things are at a turning point. From having so much constantly thrown at us, having bad news at every turn for months on end, to maybe having some hope that things are looking up. Finding out what the plan of action is on Thursday is going to be a big turning point. Being able to start my job will be another one. I arrived today to be told my background check wasn't in and I couldn't start yet. It would be very nice to start to have questions answered. To have uncertainties made certain. No matter what happens, though, we'll get through it the best we can. It's all we, or anyone, can do. Some would look at these past couple of years, and the past six months in particular, and ask how I can go through the things I have and still believe in God. And doubt has crept in here and there. But through this all, I have an underlying faith that His hand is guiding us. That one day, we'll look back on what feels like an incredibly dark time, and we'll see that it was working for good all along.