Monday, August 31, 2009

We were at the campground almost all weekend and we babysat a friend's child both of those days so, I'm wiped out but it's not about to get easier. I started homeschooling again today, and it was a little rough. I'm also taking two classes myself, Annika's taking art classes, True's in Tae Kwon Do, they're both in piano and football and ballet start in a couple of weeks. Whew. So, yeah, I'll be busy.

Brett's friend came by and asked if we could maybe start watching his child for him on a regular basis. Um, no. Absolutely not. Fortunately, I'm not one of those people who thinks I can take on everything and then some. I don't think. Maybe I'll have to get a second opinion on that. It was Brett who said no. I, thankfully was not home at the time of the request.

So, I learned a couple things this weekend. Or reflected, rather on a couple of things. I've realized that just because I don't like something, it doesn't mean that thing is wrong. Today in my speech class, we were talking about culture and family culture. We were talking about how we should view differences not only without judgement but also without evaluation. That last part got me thinking. I recognize when I'm being judgemental, but it's very hard for me to not at least evaluate. And when I evaluate, I usually come to the conclusion that my ideas are correct and other's are wrong. So I guess that would bring me full circle back to judgement, wouldn't it?

Yesterday, I was "viewing" a certain aspect of my husband's family. It was an aspect that did not appeal to my senses. It ticked me off. It wasn't anything wrong, per se. I just couldn't comprehend it, and therefore didn't like it. First, I judged it. Then I silently asked for forgiveness for my attitude, and that should have been the end of it. But I kept "evaluating" it in my head. And even though I knew the behavior being displayed from his family wasn't wrong, I still wanted to pick it apart, comparing it to my family's behavior. That in turn, led me to a conclusion that okay, it wasn't wrong, but it was weird. So in the end I still got to be right in my mind.

Today during class it became clear to me that what I had been doing was evaluating for the purpose of justifying my feelings of superiority. Why do the way I do things have to be better, why can't they just be different?

Anyway, I thought that was an interesting learning example that I thought I'd share. I would write about my other realization but Verity woke up and it' s a little hard to write with her eating crackers on my lap.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Is Good Enough Really Good Enough?

Why does "good enough" seem like an insult? What exactly is the 'enough' implying because it never really seems to be interpreted as actually enough. Why do I feel ashamed most of the time that I'm not a perfectionist? I think, especially as a mother and a wife, it's hard to feel like you're ever doing enough, that you're ever doing things perfect.

That can spill over into other aspects of life as well. We're pulled in so many directions that maybe we're not giving a hundred percent to any one thing. Or even if we are giving our all, the outcome doesn't seem to portray that. I think this is what my pity pot a few nights ago stemmed from.

For instance, I like to draw. A lot. I'm better than many, but I wouldn't call myself a natural artist. I've been told now by two people who also like to draw that they don't do it anymore, because they're "perfectionists." I guess I could take that to mean that my work is not perfect, like theirs might be. But really, I think the statement might have eluded more to the fact, that just from a quick overview of my house, one can quickly conclude that I'm not a perfectionist. My house is far from spotless, and I'm cluttered. Try as I might, which I do everyday, to clean at least one room, or declutter one area, the house just never looks immaculate. I joke about it with friends, but sometimes I feel disappointed in myself.

Hi, I'm Nicole and I'm not a perfectionist. I also really don't like to cook. I do it, mostly because I have to. Not surprisingly, many of my meals are far from perfect. I take shortcuts. I read directions more as suggestions. It's a patience issue. I don't want to wait for the almond paste to chill for three hours, so I'll chill it for ten minutes, I don't want to mince, so I'll chop, and I make "dirty" mashed potatoes because I can't stand peeling.

I'm taking two classes right now. In my stats class, we complete the homework online and I just finished my first assignment yesterday. I got a ninety-six percent. Pretty good, huh? But guess what? I could do it over. We can do the homework as many times as we want up until the due date, meaning everybody should be able to get a one hundred percent. But I'm not going to redo it. I still got an A. And the bottom line is, I don't have the time. It took me forty-five minutes to complete, and I would have to start all over and repeat every question. So I'll keep my ninety-six.

That's okay. It doesn't make me a slacker. It was good enough. I need to decide which things in my life I really need to work on perfecting. The things which are most critical for my well-being and that of my children's. And so, as long as the food I'm serving is edible and tasty, does it matter, that it doesn't have the appearance of something from a fancy restaurant? As long as I like what I'm drawing and I'm not selling my artwork, isn't that what should count? Are a few extra things laying around the house going to matter to my children when they're grown or are they going to remember, rather, that I spent time with them?

That's what I need to perfect. My relations with my family and my relationship with God. And to be honest, I will never achieve perfection. I will only grow. God didn't make me perfect. He made me fallible and that' s the way I learn how to better myself. He doesn't allow us to make mistakes so we can feel inferior to others, or like we're failures in His sight, but so that we can see where there's room for improvement. But it's an unending process and each day maybe we get a little closer to who we're really meant to be.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pity Pot

So, last night I had a meltdown. Or as my husband put it, I was on a major pity pot. The pity pot of the century, I think he said. I guess it started earlier in the day, when I suddenly decided that I wasn't really great at anything. Fine at a bunch of stuff, but not excellent at any one thing. I know I already sound like I'm whining but just bear with me. Well, then I was pushed over the edge when I logged into my online class only to discover that my stat teacher is some crazy computer techno whiz. There were pages and pages of instructions on how to log onto an e book and secret agent access codes and downloads galore. I've taken online classes before and it's never been that complicated. When I realized I didn't know the crazy access code, I went into almost full blown panic mode. Anyway, I was pretty much crying to my husband that I'm a loser, listing off all of the everything that I'm not good at, like writing and drawing and cooking and cleaning and laundry and being a mom and computers and painting chairs and sewing and everything else I could think of that I should be good at. On and on I went and instead of reassuring me that, no, really I am good at all those things, he laughed at me! He did help me figure out my class (which is pretty pathetic, since he's no computer genius) and then got around to telling me that the only thing I'm not good at is laundry. When I blubbered that "I don't even spend time with the kids!" he pointed out that um, they've been gone most days for the last couple of weeks.

His efforts however weren't helping, and I was determined. I repeated my case until he finally brought me a piece of cheese (to go with my whine) and started playing a song on Annika's violin. I took a left over Valium and I'm much better now. Sometimes, we just have bad days.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Listening to Your Body

I'm going to write about a subject I think is very important. It's a topic of conversation I was just having with my husband over coffee, and he said, "You need to blog about that!"

I was talking to my best friend yesterday who has been having a hard time getting pregnant. She's been sort-of casually trying for a while now, though do we ever really casually try? Anyway, she's had no luck, and recently she's been wondering if she might have PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. She has a friend with it and through talking with that friend, realized she has many of the same symptoms. I told her that she absolutely needs to talk to her doctor about it. And she needs to specifically mention that condition when talking to him.

Maybe, the rest of you are already good about being assertive with your doctors, but I know that I, in the past have not been. I figure that they're the experts. They'll figure out what's wrong with me. And further more, I don't need to tell them what I'm suspecting because it might annoy them. I do think they probably get tired of all the self diagnoses people are performing based on their Internet searches.

But that changed for me with this ms business. My first noticeable symptom was tingling in the legs. After four years, yes four, I finally googled it. When I read that it was a symptom of ms, I found that I also had many of the other symptoms. I started talking about it with my husband and dad. I don't think they really thought I could have it, not because my symptoms didn't match up, but because who wants to believe that someone they love could really have a degenerative disease? But as my husband pointed out, although he put on a positive front, he also made sure I was seen by a doctor.

Before I went to the doctor, however, I thought I'd try a chiropractor. I thought, maybe we'll start small, the problem will be solved and that will be that. But at my consultation, the chiropractor confirmed that I did indeed have a lot of symptoms of ms. She also said(and this is important) that as women we tend to know our bodies. We are intuitive.

That's the key. I wholeheartedly agree with her. I believe, I did know what was going on. I had valid reasons for my suspicions. And so then when I did go into the doctor, I was able to tell him aggressively what I believed we should check for. A year ago, when I'd told him about the tingling, he'd merely suggested a physical therapist. This time, he scheduled an MRI. OK, and to be honest, I didn't aggressively tell him, my husband did, but still, it worked. Yes, I was embarrassed when the nurse said, "Now what makes you think it's ms?" in a slightly condescending tone. But who knows what would have happened if I hadn't gently guided the doctor into ordering the tests I needed.

So that was my advice to my friend. Tell the doctor what you suspect. Tell her why you suspect it. If it turns out not to be that, then good, but at least you'll know it's been ruled out. It's wise, to pay attention to what our bodies are telling us. It's foolish to ignore a recurring symptom.

The only thing I would add to this advice, is one cautionary rule. If you think you may have pinpointed something, then stop there. Tell the doctor, let him run his tests, but do not continue to research the disease, the problem or whatever. As my husband says, "Don't look in the back of the baby book.", speaking of the What to Expect When You're Expecting book. That book has a section in the back all about when something goes wrong in pregnancy. Don't read it folks! Not unless, that something bad, comes to be. Point being, even if you think you might have something, what's the use in reading all about every rotten thing that could come with it. You'll work yourself into a tizzy, lose sleep at night, and there's nothing you can do about it anyway. It is what it is.

At least, that's what I've learned from my experience. OK, so maybe I have ms. I'll get on the medication prescribed. Maybe I'll even join a support group, so that I don't have to bore or concern everyone else with all my fears about what the future could hold. But I'm determined not to drive myself nuts online, reading horror stories about people who became paralyzed, needing to be in wheelchairs, or who lost control of their bowels and their speech, etc. So, maybe I have it. I'll take it one day at a time. I'm sure not going to figure out the worst case scenario and then convince myself that someday that will be me. The value in knowing is that I can treat it, not that I can live the rest of my life in fear over what might one day happen.

So listen to your body. Do what's necessary to help heal it. And trust God for the rest. That about sums it up.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Campground Again

Well, we spent last night at the campground again and it was much more enjoyable. Many of the other campers had already packed up and left, it being the end of the weekend. So, it was peaceful. We ate split pea soup and smores. Or ham soup as I called it for the kids, and actually, they didn't eat much of it. I think it was the green hue and the mushy texture that turned them off. I did get Verity to eat a few bites by bribing her with Capri Sun. And True ate some just to be a good boy, because that's the way he is. My father-in-law ate two bowls, stating that it was delicious, but just as I was about to pat myself on the back for my excellent culinary skills, I spotted a sly look on my husband's face. "What did you add to it?" I asked. Both he and my dad have this habit of adding ingredients to almost every meal I prepare, whenever I'm not looking. My dad is not bashful about announcing that he added tablespoons by the multitude of garlic, but Brett at least tries to keep it a secret. Last night after failing the pinkie swear no crosses count test, he admitted that he'd added garlic powder, onion powder, and of all things syrup. Everything has to be a little sweet with him. He probably would have added ketchup had he not feared it would have changed the color of the soup from green to red. It was good, regardless. Probably better.

Then we made a campfire and had smores, or shmores as Brett and his mom call them. His mom eats them with shortbread cookies instead of graham crackers but it's just not the same.

At the end of the evening we brought home the baby, and this time Verity too. She said she wanted to sleep with Mommy and Daddy because Nanna "noi". "Nanna has booboo." Then she pointed at her throat and made a snoring noise. Translation, "Nana's noisy with all her snoring and I need to get some sleep tonight.

The babies were out within minutes of arriving home, so Brett and I laid on the trampoline and looked at the stars. I always want to say, "wow, the stars were really out" but that's not accurate. They're always out, we just can't always see them, right? Isn't that like so many intangible things. Always there, it's just that circumstances cloud our vision. Anyway,that's what I'll miss if we ever move back to the city. The stars. And I was thinking about how darn smart scientists are. To imagine and contemplate going to the moon, and then to actually come up with a way to do that. I'm sure it was a process put together by thousands of brilliant minds, over hundreds of years, but I wouldn't even be on the board.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

This has to be super short and sweet because I'm heading out the door. Campground again. Oh, yay! But I had to get at least a little bit of this down. So, I've been going back and forth trying to find any merit in actually keeping this blog. I guess, I know that everyone has something to say, it's just that I struggle with wondering if what I have to say really might hold any interest for anyone. It's one thing to write boring things in my journal, but writing boring things online... well, I don't want to be guilty of that. Though, it will probably happen.

Well, what I came to was finally this: so long as everything I write honors God, and I speak not out of my own wisdom, but from His, then it will be fine. Everything I do, I want to do it for His glory. Which is not to say, that I'm going to be preachy or compose daily devotionals. I'm just going to read what I write an extra time before hitting the post button. I promise to be honest about my struggles and my triumphs, the triumphs which only come through Him.

This subject was a lot longer this morning as I was talking to my husband over coffee. He wasn't awake yet, so I think he just thought I was rambling. I did go off on a tangent about academia, and Fox news and Peter Singer. Maybe, I'll enlighten you later on all that, but for now I've got to go.

Oh, also, I want to know how often people change their sheets. I'll put up a poll if I get around to it. And I will also try to get to the topic of being a housewife, because there IS a lot to say about it, and I don't believe it's boring.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Camping and Friends

So grumpy, with nothing really to be grumpy about. I'm just ready to be done with the day even though the day was fine. We were at the campground for the last seven hours. I guess, I just have to admit that I'm not so much the outdoorsy type. I'd much rather be at home. I'm a homebody. I can only take so long away.

It was cute though to watch the kids make friends. We're right by a playground, and so tons of kids gravitated toward our area. Before long, Verity was holding hands with a girl who looked only about a year older than her. When the girl's mom came and called for her to come in for dinner, the mom said about Verity, "She's looking at me like I'm the meanest lady ever." Verity was giving her famous look. She'll stare you down and you almost don't want to know what's going on in that little head of hers. I went up to her to comfort her and asked, "Did your friend have to go bye-bye?" She nodded and said, "That's my girl." I love how children can make friends so quickly.

A boy from True's baseball team showed up a little later at the campground right next to ours. Even though baseball's been over for two months they took right back up with each other. And yet, his mother who I sat next to, for what a million games, didn't even look my way. To be fair, we didn't talk during the season either. Maybe she's like me. Not unfriendly once you get to know her, but not one to make the first move.

What happens to us as adults? How do we lose that ease for making friends? I guess we can't just go and take the other's hand, titling them, "my girl." But what do we do then? Maybe I'm the only one with this problem. I don't even think this woman is someone I care about being friends with. But how can I decide that when I've never even tried? Bottom line, I just don't like to make the first move.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Day Two - Home from spinal tap

Well, I am home and recovering from the much dreaded spinal tap. It was really not that bad, and I don't even think it had much to do with the five valiums and one percoset that I took. Honestly. There was a little pressure, but I breathed deeply and slowly and am no worse for the wear. I brought my mommy. And my husband of course. But it meant a lot that my mother was there. I love it that though we go through our shares of ups and downs and disagreements, I know I can count on her when it counts. It was smooth sailing. The worst part of it was only when my husband decided to talk politics with the doc as he was performing the procedure. As soon as he stated his opinion on the health care bill, which was in stark disagreement with ours, did my heart rate start to rise. Luckily, my husband cut the conversation short, and I relaxed again. Despite the lack of political comraderie, I don't think I'll fire the doctor. He's compassionate and knowledgable and that's what matters.

I won't get the results of the spinal tap for a week. If they match up with what is common in people with ms, then I start medication. If not, then I will be referred out to Iowa City for more testing to figure out what else might be the problem. When we asked the doctor what else it might be, he said, "Oh hundreds of things, but we've tested for most of them." Not quite the succinct answer I was looking for, but I guess it will all be figured out sooner or later. I'm not as scared as maybe I should be. I trust God, that all will be well, or at least it's all in His hands.

For today, I get to relax. The doctor told me to stay down as much as possible today, but he also told me to drink a lot of caffeine to avoid any headaches. What do I do with that one? I bought a triple shot peppermint mocha from Starbucks on the way home, drank half and then tried to lie down. Obviously the nap wouldn't take and so here I am blogging. I'll try a movie here in a little while. The big kids are out again at the campground for the day and night. Dear mother-in-law left some money for us to get takeout tonight as well as a beautiful card and and EZ comb from the tv infomercials. Maybe I'll practice with that.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gosh, how often can I write on here?

I can't believe how much I'm finding I have to say. And I realized as of yet, I haven't talked about my kids. But truth be told, I'm not focused on them at the moment. My husband's parents are in town and they have taken over for a while, which means they are in good hands. They've been getting to go to the campground almost every night to stay in Nana and Papa's motor home so they're having a blast. Well, not the baby. She stays with us. But she is so easygoing and allows me many breaks throughout the day with her naps and her playtime. She's eight months and really, just a perfect angel. I'm sure I will enlighten everyone (is there anybody out there?) at some point about how wonderful and brilliant and truly special my children are but right now, I have ms on the brain, or in the brain, I guess. I have a spinal tap tomorrow. I guess that will clinch the diagnosis, although everything else has already been ruled out by the blood work.

Anyway, the question for all of my nonexistent readers is this: has anyone ever met someone and wanted immediately to be their friend? I've always been that way. I can decide quickly whether I desire someones friendship. Not to say, I haven't made plenty of friends with people who I wasn't immediately drawn to. I don't know if that last sentence made sense. I just took two percosets to "practice" for my spinal tap tomorrow (Doctor's orders) and I can tell I'm going to need to cut this a bit short. But to finish the thought process, I was going to share how I met a woman a couple of months ago who I was drawn to. She was ten years older than me, but seemed to be quite interesting. She too homeschools and at the time, I'd thought about trying to make friends. But I've never quite gotten the hang of making friends as an adult, so the opportunity passed. But bottom line is I do know that she too has ms. Since my near diagnosis, I've been thinking about trying to contact her, see if maybe she'd like to get coffee. It would be nice to have someone to share this with. But is that weird? Would she want to be approached under those circumstances? It's not like, I can say, "Well, I wanted to be your friend before, but now it just seems like fate!" Anyway, going to go relax now.

Day One - More Thoughts

So, I don't know how people are supposed to find this and read it. I'm not very computer savvy, and I don't understand all the inner workings of cyberspace and blogospheres. I suppose, I could alert my friends and family, but that seems ridiculous, so I guess I'll just keep posting into thin air for my own sake. There's a certain exciting sense of risk in that. Like leaving your journal lying on your coffee table - though I would never do that. I guess I'd rather have strangers read my thoughts, than people I know. I hate that we all seem to feel this need to cry for attention in some way or another. Take Facebook. I have an account and every time I update my status and press enter, I feel a little bit foolish. Like, maybe what I wrote, was totally pointless and no one's going to care. Which is usually exactly what happens. And to be honest, do I really care about what most of my friends are posting? Sometimes. But most often not. It's entertaining and a guiltless way to engage in other people's drama or lack thereof. People alternate between writing completely boring things about their life, or fishing for a taker. A hook to draw their audience in. And yet, it's somewhat addicting. I hate this information age and hate that it draws me in.

Day One

Here is my attempt at getting my voice out, though I am questioning why I feel the need to. I am, as my title states, "just an average housewife." And yet, I'd like to think I'm more. I'd like to think that by thirty I've learned a few things along the way that maybe I can share. Or maybe I just need a place to vent. An outlet for what so often doesn't get expressed. I have mixed feelings about blogging, and the idea that every one needs to be heard, and yet hear I am, as egocentric as the rest, sharing random thoughts with strangers. Whatever happened to a diary with a lock? But the information age calls me to join, to not let my voice be stifled. All I can really hope to do is share tidbits of my life. My life that somehow seems more relevant to me these days. Maybe it's because I am thirty, maybe it's because there is a part of a woman that gets lost when she has children, but that begs to be found, maybe it's because I'm sitting on the edge of a multiple sclerosis diagnosis, or maybe it's because I'm a child of God and He did indeed give me words to speak and a story to tell. I almost titled this "Confessions of a Failed Housewife." Not because I am, but because I feel that way about fifty percent of the time. I'll venture to guess that many others feel that too. Maybe we can come to acceptance together in our journey. Acceptance not of mediocrity but of contentment. We shall see. But now, I have to go, because my baby just woke up. Maybe I'll have time later to write a little more. But maybe not.