Thursday, September 19, 2019

Brain Dump

September Writing Challenge - Prompt #30:

Brain Dump

I've hit the point where the writing challenge has almost caught up to me. I've stayed a few days ahead with posts, but as of the moment I am typing this, I only have one more draft scheduled. This might be when the writer's block sets in (...again. I started off with some writer's block, but then I found my flow for a while).

Here are some random things that have piled up in my brain over the past few weeks.

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Three weeks ago (with my doctor's supervision) I went off my high blood pressure medication. I had to change prescriptions since my meds were making me cough (took me nine months to figure out it), so I asked if I could try going off medication altogether before starting a new one. We gave it a shot... a five-day shot, to be precise. Yeah... I have high blood pressure still. So I'm back on meds. I'm going to try to be off them by the end of the year. That means I have to find better ways to take care of myself. That's some hard stuff.

I also weaned off my anti-depressants. Because why not be drug free for a minute? I've been okay so far. I'm actually doing really well, and I'm very high-functioning right now. Why can't I just be like this always? I feel like this is who I really am. Why must it ebb and flow? It's really sad to feel as great as I do with the constant worry that I'm going to hit my wall any minute. I feel like there's a cloud chasing me, and it will eventually get me. Again, why can't I just be like this always?

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One interesting thing about my use of anti-depressants is that I have always gone on them when I've had a three-year-old (the only exception being right after I had Nicky when I had terrible post-partum depression. That was the first time I was ever treated for depression).

All of my kids have been really difficult three-year-olds. Is it just a coincidence, or is that what pushed me over the edge four out of five times? I dunno. But I'm not anticipating having any more three-year-olds. Maybe the new age will be 15, and I'll get to start a whole new regimen. I'll let you know.

But maybe I'll be a little better off now than I was during the toddler years. Maybe I don't have to keep worrying about it. Maybe I'm in a season of life that will be better for me.

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With Nicky starting junior high and Eva being in preschool 4 days a week, I feel like our lives have entered a new phase. It's been really good so far. I mean, junior high has the potential to be just plain awful, but Nicky is doing okay (save for one incident that broke my mama heart).

This week Nicky was one of four students chosen to represent the school in a golf tournament. He played on a team with his principal and her boss. This is so cool, especially for a kid who has stayed under the radar and been overlooked for most of his life.

When Nicky started school this year, I wondered if it might be time for a cell phone, but I thought we could go a little longer without him having one. Then within the first two weeks of school there were at least 8 incidents where a cell phone would have been a real life-saver. I ended up ordering a phone for Nicky from Gabb Wireless. Gabb phones have a touch screen that can call and text, but they have no internet access, no apps, and they can't send or receive photos.

It's been wonderful!

But Nicky is the type of kid who doesn't care about having a cell phone. He didn't want one. I have to make him take his phone places.

(That won't be the case when Daisy needs one. Oh how I dread the day!)

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Speaking of Nicky...

He's kind of like an old man. His knees creak when he walks and up and down the stairs, and he likes to wake up early to watch the news (the news thing is really a big change for Nicky because up until this year, we have always had to shield him from the news because it would give him such bad anxiety). He also gripes a lot about "people these days."

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Lately I've been wondering if I'm a weird. I mean, I know I'm weird (aren't we all?), but I've been wondering if I'm weird weird. Like maybe people walk away from me after an interaction, and they think, "Holy crap! She's weird." This is leading me to all sorts of paranoid thoughts about people not liking me. Maybe I'm not likable! Maybe people just tolerate me. Oh my gosh, what if I'm not fun? I'm probably not fun because I don't like to go up high. Can I stay on the ground and still be considered fun?

Oh, hello, Insecurity! Way to take over my blog post. Ya jerk.

It probably doesn't help that I don't know how to talk to people, and I end up saying really weird things like, "I enjoy the sensation of my nostrils being stretched."

(OHMYGOSH, am I doing it? Am I being weird?)

Moving on...



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But on a slightly related note...

I've been trying to be better about talking to people lately. "Friendly conversation" is not something I'd consider a strength of mine. I'm more of a "wave hello and move on" type of person. There are exceptions, of course, but for the most part, I don't really stop and talk to people unless they initiate it. I just assume everyone is busy and trying to get on with their days, and they probably don't have time to chat. Plus there's that nostril thing I was talking about...

But I really love connecting with people, and I think we can all use some human interaction, so I guess I need to do my part to make it happen.

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Here are ten things I'm a firm believer in:
  1. Twenty-minute naps
  2. Pockets in active wear 
  3. Dancing in the kitchen (or anywhere, really)
  4. Driveway recliners
  5. Dips and sauces
  6. Vans
  7. Temperatures in the 55-65 degree range
  8. Never skipping breakfast
  9. Journaling
  10. Getting up early 
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As you know, I love cooler temps (see #7 above), but I have to acknowledge that my aging body starts to get achey when it gets lower than 55 degrees. I go walking with some friends three mornings a week, and on Wedneday, it was 51 when we walked, and my legs an hips could sure feel it. It took a few hours to get them warmed up and comfortable again.

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And now I'm off for the day. If you made it this far, thank you for enduring my thoughts. 






Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Meee Yow!

September Writing Challenge - Prompt #34:

Something New

Last week was Daisy's tenth birthday. How is she ten?? I can't even.

I decided to try something new and take her to Tinkers Cat Cafe for her birthday. Scotty is allergic to cats, so he stayed home and did boring things like watch baseball. But my mom and my other kids joined us.

Scotty made me promise to not adopt a cat while I was there.

But...

I'm pretty sure I need Fennec in my life.


He loved me! He really loved me!

But as he snuggled up to me, I would repeat "Cat hair and kitty litter! Cat hair and kitty litter!" to remind myself that I don't want a cat.


So let's talk about the fact that cat cafes exist.

It's kind of weird, right?

You can go to a cafe and order a drink and a pastry and then go sit in a room full of cats. I opted to not have any food and drinks there, though they had some Italian cream sodas and a few baked goods that looked yummy. It does smell like cats there, though, so the appetite is easily suppressed.

At the cafe, you can reserve a time to hang out in the cat lounge. We went during children's hour which is Thursdays from 5:00-6:00. I had to make our reservations online a few days prior. It was $6 per person (the normal price is $8 per person per hour).


There were 15 cats, and they are allowed to go in and out of the lounge, as desired. The room has chairs, cat toys, books, brushes, etc. You are allowed to pet the cats, but you can't pick them up. I was lucky to have Fennec climb willingly on my lap so I could have ultimate kitty bonding time. 

My kids absolutely loved it, and the girl who hosted us in the lounge did a great job keeping the kids busy. They played with the cats, of course, but they also drew pictures and played games. They got to feed the cats some treats and brush them. 

It was fun little outing and prrrfect for Daisy's birthday!


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Boss of Me

September Writing Challenge - Prompt #8:

Routine

Lately, I've been working on implementing a new routine. As part of the uncommitted hour, I try to make a plan for my day. I know this is a responsible and highly recommended practice, but I've always been a little aversed to it. I struggle with feeling guilty over how I use my time, though, so I decided I need to be a better steward, especially since I have the luxury of a few hours to myself most days with Eva in preschool. I want to use that time effectively and wisely.

This isn't my first attempt at planning my days, but this time, I feel like it's more successful because my kids are older. All of my other attempts were thwarted by teething babies and tantruming toddlers. Trying to make and keep a schedule during those phases of life was just discouraging, which is probably how I developed my aversion to schedules in the first place.

Now I have a lot more control.

For the past couple of weeks, I've taken the time each morning (or the night before) to write down everywhere I need to be and when. Then I write down:
  • Things I have to do (appointments, fulfilling commitments to others, errands, etc)
  • Things I should do (exercise, one-on-one time with Eva, cleaning, service, personal study, etc)
  • Things that would be nice to do (reading, blogging, napping, etc)
I look at where my time windows are, and I fill them in accordingly. I only schedule the time my kids are at school. I don't worry about the evenings - they take on their own scheduling.

As I plan, I take into consideration which tasks can be completed while Eva is home, and which ones would be best to tackle while she's at school. This has made it so much easier to fit everything in. Then, throughout the day, I don't get distracted by tasks that aren't priorities, and I don't procrastinate as much. 

When I outline my day, I identify where I can allow flexibility. For example, last week I wanted to get to the temple, so I scheduled a time for the temple. But I also had a friend who was going through something difficult, and I wanted to be available to her if she needed support. So as I scheduled the temple, I made the decision that if my friend needed me, I would give that time to her instead (I made it to the temple).

Me pretending to be organized

I realize I haven't stumbled onto anything new here. But I'm excited about it because I feel like I'm finally in a season of life where I can function in this way. Also, I found a planning method that works for me. I've participated in some organization and time management classes in the past, and I've never felt like I found a system that suited my needs or my personality.

The primary reason this is working for me is because I've done a good job sticking to my plans each day, and I haven't rebelled. Any minute now this new routine could go down the drain. All it takes is a sick child, a bout of depression, or a spontaneous idea to derail my success! But for now, I'm thriving on having a plan, and I'm trying really hard to let my daily schedules be the boss of me. I feel happy about what I've accomplished since I started this routine. I really hope I can keep it up!

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Woes of Scotty’s Clothes


What the?!?

The dress code for Scotty's work is slacks and a button-up shirt with a tie. Church clothes, essentially. 

It's been interesting with Scotty riding a motorcycle to work because he keeps running into a little problem...

(Oh! Do you know that Scotty has a motorcycle? I'm not sure if this is something I've ever mentioned). 

But anyway, the problem...

He keeps splitting his pants while getting on the motorcycle. 



The first time it happened, he was on his way from work to an off-site meeting with a business associate. He tied a suit coat around his waist and went into a couple of stores on his way to the meeting to try and find some cheap replacement pants. He had no luck, so he decided to just keep the suit coat around his waist and begin the meeting by confessing that he'd split his pants on the way there. 

After the second time he split his pants (second time in a month to be precise), Scotty started using a more delicate approach to boarding his motorcycle. He claims he's now a professional at not-splitting his slacks. It's only been a week. We'll see... 

Those aren't the only pants casualties Scotty has suffered at work. Scotty's building has an amazing cafeteria that serves breakfast and lunch. One day he snuck down there for breakfast and ended up with bacon grease spattered on his crotch. This was at the very beginning of the day, and due to the location of the spill, he decided it would be best to go buy new pants. 

(Those "new" pants are pictured above with a giant hole in the butt). 

Scotty's pants aren't his only wardrobe problem. His work shirts suffer greatly from one problem in particular:


Scotty donates plasma to bring in a little extra money for our family, and every now and then, his bandages fail him.

Is there a lesson to be learned here?

Yes, I think there is.

Spare clothes in the desk drawer!




Sunday, September 15, 2019

Thoughts on Self-Worth

September Writing Challenge - Prompts #10 & 15:

Self-Worth & Letter

For most of this year, I've worked on earning my Personal Progress. Earlier this week I went in for my interview with the bishop to complete the process. I had the opportunity to tell him about the things I did for my value experiences and projects. I also shared with him some of my testimony of Jesus Christ.

One of the last requirements for Personal Progress is to write your testimony.

In my written testimony (and in talking to the bishop), I shared some of the things I've done to develop a closer relationship with Jesus Christ (I won't elaborate here, but I have always struggled to have a relationship with the Savior). I talked about two of the things I wrote about in this post. One being that I looked very closely at all of the art of Christ and identified some of the images that most closely resemble how I imagine the Savior to be.* The other being that I wrote a letter to myself  as if it were from the Savior.

Those things helped me grow closer to Christ, but I want to talk about the letter.

The letter wasn't easy. In fact, I didn't like doing it at all, but in hindsight, I can see how important it was for me. It was hard to write because in order to imagine a letter from the Savior, I had to be willing to see myself the way the Savior sees me. I've often been encouraged to see other people as the Savior sees them (or as God sees them), but until I wrote my letter, I hadn't thought a lot about seeing myself that way.

To look upon myself, knowing all of my flaws and shortcomings and being privy to all of my tantrums and selfishness, and to do so with compassion, love, and forgiveness is quite hard. But in doing it, I gained an entirely new sense of my self-worth.

When I was finishing my degree and working on my practicum, I read a study on a topic referred to as "perceived mattering." Perceived mattering is genuinely feeling like you make a difference - that you matter. Perceived mattering is an essential predictor of psychological well-being, and the key is the perceiving.You have to feel it. It's one thing to be told that you matter. It's an entirely different thing to actually perceive it. To feel it.

Sometimes I can perceive my worth. Sometimes I can't. Ya'll know I struggle with depression, and one of the worst things about depression is that it attacks your sense of self-worth. It seems so dirty, but there has been a lot of growth in the struggle.

When I truly look at myself through the eyes of the Savior, I can't not see my worth. I have to fight pretty hard to keep that perspective, but I can perceive that I matter.

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*If you are wondering, there are two pictures that I am drawn to the most, and both of them are pictures of Christ with children. This is one of them:


There's just something in His face and body language as He interacts with these children that depicts what I need the Savior to be. I need the Savior to be one who gets down on his knees to meet me where I am. 

And I need the Savior to look at me like this:


With pure love and understanding.

I also have to acknowledge the way the young girl is holding the Savior's arm. It's a grasp of stability. She is little, and she probably doesn't understand why she's holding him that way, but I do! He is keeping her steady. 

Saturday, September 14, 2019

What We Built

September Writing Challenge - Prompt #13:

Project

Early in the summer, our TV was on the fritz. I kept my eye out for good deals, and I ended up buying a new TV from Best Buy. It was bigger than our fritzed TV (which was 36"), so we needed to figure out what to put it on. Our previous "TV stand" was actually a really old computer armoire that was slowly falling apart.

In our minds, the set up is "temporary" because we plan on finishing our basement and moving the TV downstairs when we finally have a family room. But the thing is... the computer armoire was our "temporary" fix for the "finishing our basement" story, and it ended up hosting our TV for three years. When will we finish the basement? Maybe next month. Or maybe six years from now. I like to keep things suspenseful!

So even though our TV set-up is "temporary," we don't know how long "temporary" is going to be.

I had plans to find an old dresser from the thrift store to paint and put the TV on. You know, something cheap but cute. That way it wouldn't be a big financial investment, but hopefully it also wouldn't be ugly.

I checked out a few thrift stores, and then I realized that we have a backyard full of wood, and we could just build what we want!

So Scotty and I worked together to design and build a TV console for our new TV. It was a labor of love and afforded us many date nights in the back yard.


I've held back from writing about it on the blog because it doesn't photograph well. How vain is that? But really, it doesn't look great in photos because it's right across from a window, and there's no angle that really captures the amazing job that Scotty did putting it together (this angle was the best I could do to not get a horrendous glare).  We're pretty happy with how it turned out. It cost us about $60 to make.  

Friday, September 13, 2019

The Uncommitted Hour

September Writing Challenge - Prompt #1:

Morning

Ah, morning!

I love mornings, especially this time of year. I enjoy the cool, crisp air, and I like that it's a little darker. I won't like it as much in the next few months when it stays dark a little too long, but right now it's perfect. When the mornings are darkish, it makes me feel like anything I do before sunrise is extra credit. I like that feeling! It gives me the illusion that I'm ahead of the game.

With school starting back up, we've had to figure out our mornings. Nicky started junior high, and thus, ushered in a new phase of life for us. Now that we've gotten into our groove, I've found something I really enjoy about our new morning schedule. I call it the "uncommitted hour."


Nicky leaves for school at 6:45 and then I really don't have to start getting my girls ready until 7:30. Of course, they are usually awake long before then, so I've been letting them watch PBS until 7:30. This gives me 45 minutes of time between Nicky leaving and the girls needing attention. Hence... the "uncommitted hour" (which is technically not an hour, but the "uncommitted 45 minutes" just doesn't sound as cool).

I've been using this time for ME, and it's been wonderful. I might sit down to plan my day (more to come on that subject as I tackle prompt #8: routine), read my scriptures, get dressed, eat breakfast, or even stare at a wall. Sometimes I exercise. Sometimes I nap. Yes! Nap! I have laid down on the couch and napped from 7:00-7:30. I've gone for walks, loaded the dishwasher, showered, and even made grocery store runs. I also frequently end up at Chick-Fil-A for free breakfast!

The beauty about the uncommitted hour is that it is truly uncommitted. I don't approach it with expectations or to do lists. I leave that time open to tackle the "whatever," and if I happen to do something productive, it increases that "ahead of the game" feeling as I go into my day.

I'm almost hesitant to hit publish because I don't want to jinx my beautiful mornings. A month from now I could be in a completely different pattern. For now, I will live it up during the uncommitted hour!

(And if you've been wondering how I have time to post everyday for the September Writing Challenge - this is how! It's the uncommitted hour! I've stayed about five days ahead, so you're reading something I wrote days ago. Ah, I love being ahead of the game!)