Monday, December 30, 2013

4-H

 My girls have joined in with our area's 4-H Horse Club this year and they have loved it.  In December there was a 4-H Fun Night that the girls and I attended and that is exactly what we had - FUN!


They had an opportunity to groom the horses and were able to have lots of hands-on experiences.  And, even though they were quite anxious about it, they finally stepped up for their very first ride.  They were instantly hooked!







 They rode the horses right up 'til dark then they helped do a few barn chores, fed the horses their evening snack, then helped blanket them down for the cold night ahead.


 

The 4-H Fun Night wrapped up with lots of giggling kids eating hot dogs and s'mores out by the fire while we mamas had a little chit chat.  It was a fabulous time!





Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Chatty December Morning




I'm feeling a little bit chatty this early Sunday morning.  The kids are asleep, my husband is already at work, the house is quiet, and I've got a hot cup of coffee in my hand.  The weather will be yucky today with lots of rain, but thankfully, that will bring in some much cooler, drier air.  Right now though, due to some wicked cloud-cover there is a strange orange glow coming in the windows with the first light.  I think I prefer good, old-fashioned color of gray.  The orange hue touching everything is really a bit creepy.  I'd go get my camera, but honestly, I just don't feel like it.  I feel like sitting right here for a while or at least until my coffee is empty.  Then I suppose I can start my day.


Today's to-do list looks something like this:

  • cook breakfast
  • get caught up on laundry
  • I need to call the pediatrician for Ethan.  He seems to have some swollen lymph nodes along his neck, from his ear to his collar bone.  *I just called - he has an appointment at 11:00*
  • unclutter every.single.surface so Christmas morning isn't more overwhelming that it already will be
  • I have to decorate our ugly Christmas sweaters for Christmas Eve's Dirty Santa game at my Mom and Dad's house
  • I have wrapping to do.  Oh fun.  (That, to me, is the hardest part of Santa's job.  Especially when you don't ever have a moment's peace in which to do such a big job!)
  • I have to get a handle on this year's anxiety.  It's been a doozy.
  • I have to rewrite my menu plan and make sure I have all the ingredients I need.
  • I really need to cut Percy's hair.  I'll feel so much better just to get him groomed!
  • I need to clean out Joe's cage.  Our little bitty squirrel-friend makes such a huge mess.
  • I need to move Buddy, our Christmas elf, to today's location before the girls wake up.  



 (He's been a silly elf this year.  The girls LOVE searching for the elf when they wake up every morning.  It's just a challenge to keep coming up with new things for Buddy to do everyday.  I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts though, they won't be little enough to look forward to finding Buddy before long and he'll be only a memory.)  {{I'll be back to this post to add the last of Buddy's adventures soon.}}

  • I need to start making some fudge for Christmas Eve and Christmas day, but I'm afraid that today is too early.  There are WAY too many hands in this house for that fudge to ever see Christmas Eve.   I'd have to hide it under lock and key.
  • I need to thaw my pie crusts.
  • I need to stop by the store (I'm dreading this, though.  I am so NOT a fan of shopping or crowds, especially this close to Christmas!) to get some sausage for my pigs in a blanket wreath.  I never buy sausage and I totally forgot it, even though the Pinterest idea was firmly in my mind.  
  • I also need some gelatin to make my homemade marshmallows.  So a stop at the store is in my near future.  Like it or not.  Besides, I'm sure I'll have a prescription to fill.  :-/

And, on and on it goes, much like your own to-do lists, I'm sure.  The only thing I'd change about this year if I could, would be my level of anxiety.  It really has been bad.  I find it hard to settle down and sleep, my mind is r.a.c.i.n.g. at all times and I can't seem to get it under control.  Maybe it's the financial stress - especially since we had a $1,000 car repair to make last week, maybe it's just the busyness of the season and the stress of Santa (which is another topic I could go on and on about), I'm sure the personal and family issues of the past six months have contributed greatly to my anxiety level since those issues have been borderline horrible/unbelievable in many respects, OR maybe it's from the Thanksgiving leftovers.  Who knows - but I'm looking forward to the new year, shaking off what's left of 2013.

I'm going to try really hard to remember what this season is about and let go of all the stress that I keep holding on to.  My Savior, my faith, my family, and our health is most important.  I truly am blessed beyond measure.



Saturday, December 14, 2013

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

My husband works at his family's open-air farm market, selling everything from fresh fruits and veggies to gourmet items, fresh baked breads and pies, to seasonal items like flowers, ferns, and Christmas trees.  The season has been super-busy so far!









One of our favorite things is being able to get our fresh Christmas tree right off the big truck and bring it home, usually before Thanksgiving.  This year I really love the smaller tree that we ended up with - it fits so much more nicely in our narrow living room than those fatter trees.  Even though we got the tree a few days before Thanksgiving, it was only this past week that I found the inspiration to complete the decorating in the house.




This is where our yellow lab, Cooper, sleeps at night.  On the mornings cold enough to have a fire, he stays put until we force him outside.  I can't say I blame him.  





Cooper's not the only one who loves sleeping by the fireplace and the Christmas tree lights.  The girls have insisted on "camping out" in the living room nearly every night since we put up the tree.  I can't ever seem to tell them no.  With mornings like these, I don't mind the extra blankets and pillows and mattresses strewn across the floor.





I hope your Christmas holidays are just as full of beauty and peace.

xo


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Leftovers from Thanksgiving - Sometimes They're Hard to Swallow





Lately I've been thinking about a lot of things.  I've been in a meditative mindset for a while now, actually.  I think about my health and how far I've come this year.  I think about how blessed I am to have my family and my marriage.  I think about how proud I am of the men my 15 year old boys are becoming.  I think about how much I want to teach my girls about being real and also how I want to protect them from the ugly expectations the world puts on women.  My girls are 8 and 10 years old, the younger has more of a long-legged, skinny-no-matter-what-she-eats type of frame and the older is more of a short-legged (like her mama) curvy girl, who has learned early on how hateful comments about weight can hurt you to the core.  Mind you, she is NOT fat.  She's just a pre-pubescent girl who is a little softer around the edges.

For the last several months life has been handing out one extreme slap in the face after another and I have been taking it all in stride until this last month and a half when things really began to catch up with me.  Stress eating moved in and I allowed it to.  My weight loss topped out at 55 pounds and I've been holding steady other than wrangling back and forth with 5-10 of those pounds in recent weeks.  It seems to be a gain/lose situation right now.  I'm a little disappointed in myself for not still losing weight, but I know that it's a decision that I make with every bite I put in my mouth and every run I choose to skip.  I'm a little disappointed that this (mental) plateau didn't hit after an 80 pound loss, but I'm also not going to hate myself because I have stalled for the moment.  All in all, when I look for positives, I'm proud of my 50 pound loss this year.  I'm proud that this Thanksgiving I was able to wear a size 16 while at this same time last year, I was poured into a size 22. I'm thankful that I can buy a normal misses size XL and not the 2X from the women's plus-size department.  I'm very happy with my doctor's reaction to the weight loss when I had to visit her last week.  In all those respects I have come a long way this year. And, by golly, I'm proud!

So, this brings me to the ever-painful, must-endure-seeing-family-members-who-insist-on-remarking-about-your-fat Holiday Season.  I love this time of year, but I also loathe it as well - for that one particular reason.  If I could skip extended family gatherings altogether, that would be great.  In these recent weeks before Thanksgiving I have rehearsed in my head, as I always have for as long as I can remember, how to handle the one thing I can count on - fat comments from HATEful family members.  I knew that everyone would be looking to see if my weight loss had increased from the last time they had seen me and that they'd probably realize that I'm at a standstill, or as they'd like to perceive it, I'm completely back-sliding and I've gained nearly all my weight back!  I have dealt with being treated badly, in regards to weight, for my entire life.  Several family members have been nothing but hateful toward me for as long as I can remember.  I have come to really despise these people - even more so as an adult because I cannot fathom how any human being can speak such ugliness to another human being, especially a child!  I'll never understand it.  I'm sure it has more to do with the insecurities of the person speaking the hate than it does with the handful of extra pounds I may have had as a child, but the damaging effects are very real and they never go away or even lessen for that matter. 

Another thing I painfully think about and feel anxious about is how to handle a painful-comment-situation with my older daughter should one arise.  What to do, what to say, how to make her feel like she is perfect just the way she is when some hateful adult wants nothing more than to make her feel bad about her body and ultimately herself.  So far I've been lucky and haven't had to address anything too major in regards to any of this with her.  Although, she remembers clearly a situation that I had to deal with myself in regards to a hateful attack on my own weight a couple of years ago.  Besides, she's already self-conscious about her body and she sees the physical differences between herself and her sister.  She wonders why her belly is round and her pants always need hemming.  She wonders when her body will change.  She reads books about self-care and worries about eating egg yolks at breakfast.  She covers herself up at all times - even during her beloved dance class, where she always stands in the back of the studio away from all the other girls.  Even when she is known to do the best splits out of anyone else in the entire class.  She is tender-hearted and compassionate.  She loves animals like no one else I've ever known. She is also painfully observant of everything and everyone.

Yesterday, at our family Thanksgiving dinner, without me knowing it, she had to handle a situation where an older family member singled her out in front of everyone and told her that she should 'watch what she's eating, because she's getting FAT.'  I didn't know that this had even happened until late in the evening when Thanksgiving was over and the kitchen was being cleaned for the very last time.  So all the mental preparations I had done to sail through yet another family holiday and keep all the fat comments in check were for nothing.  I wasn't there to protect her from being singled out among the other children, I wasn't there to explain to the old man just how SICK and TIRED I am of having to be ready defend myself and my child at every holiday gathering and how every gathering leaves me mentally exhausted and feeling like I don't belong - like I should sit in a corner and observe, leaving the fun for the normal family members (whatever that means).  I didn't get to make a scene in front of the family, leaving everyone who'd be there to witness it scared to cross my path again, sending them gossiping about it to those family members who weren't there, warning them about my rage.  I didn't get to cry tears of a broken heart in front of the perpetrator, making him see that I and my child are both human beings, too, and that carrying around a few extra pounds does not mean that your feelings don't get hurt and that your heart doesn't get ripped to irreparable shreds by hateful words.  No, I didn't get to do any of that.  I wasn't there in that moment to protect her from the ugliness that gets covered up all too often in the word family.

The only thing that soothed my pain for her was the fact that a cousin, reportedly, did step up and handle the situation with the older family member in a manner that I appreciated.  I just wish I would have been there for my girl, because I know that little confrontation broke her heart.  I know that this will make her even more self-conscious than she already is and will distort her body-image even more as she is entering those delicate pre-teen years.  I know this because this morning, when I awoke, I found her sleeping beside the book I gave her as a gift.  She goes to that book with all the questions she has about being a girl and dealing with her emotions and feelings about many different things.  She never said a word to me about this situation, but she may have mentioned it to her sister and her friend since they all camped out together in the living room.





All of this brings me here:  do I ask her about it?  Will my asking about it only show that other people are talking about her and this situation behind her back?  Does the fact that someone thought it should be brought to my attention reiterate what she feels is probably true?  Do I just let it go unless she comes to me?  Do I tell her to stand up for herself when she is feeling attacked - even by a family member?  Does telling her to stand up to the fat-police do anything more than make her feel like she's less-than and to expect to be sidelined every single time we have to do these family things?  Do I just let her learn on her own to rehearse her own defense against ugly comments the way I have done for the past 30+ years? I really don't know the answer to any of these.

I do know, however, that I am tired.  I am tired of feeling like I need to explain my weight or the weight of my child.  I am tired of it being the sole focus of conversation with everybody, all the time.  I am tired of feeling like such a failure with my extra, unwanted 40 pounds and like those pounds somehow make me a bad person.  I'm tired of watching my daughter, to whom I've tried so hard to teach self-love, get caught up in the same ugliness that has plagued me since childhood.  It feels as though the 50 pounds I have lost and the progress I've made are somehow invisible to these people who insist on hurtful comments.  No matter how much I improve, I only hear the negatives.  It doesn't matter that we stay far away from junk food and how everything we eat is homemade from whole foods.  None of it matters.  I'll always be that girl to those people, no matter how much I lose or how many miles I run.  Maybe that is the biggest reason for my opening up about this right now - just maybe I refuse to care more about these people than myself anymore and I am ready to take the respect that I and my daughter deserve.   At this point though, I only want to protect my daughter from being that girl, as well.  I want her to know that she is beautiful just the way she is, that she is NOT fat, that she is healthy and her body is beginning to bloom into life and that is an amazing thing to be cherished, not despised.  I think I also want to teach her how to let go of these people who continually hurt her feelings and treat her badly, even if they are family.  They don't deserve to be her family - or mine. 


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Changes

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There have definitely been changes in the light lately.  Autumn's golden hue has washed over everything with gentle strokes, bringing in the new season.  The last of summer's flowers are sleepily fading into slumber.


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The birds are busy.  Cardinals are being spotted on the garden trellis while hummingbirds argue over a feeder full of nectar.  The many sounds of chirping fill the air, my favorite being the mockingbird's call. 


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This afternoon as I type this post, the air is damp and rainy, but in a completely different way.  It's not hot and muggy, but rather quite cool, allowing me to have only two windows open rather than the air conditioner running steadily.  It feels so refreshing after a long hot summer. 


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Life has been full of changes these past few months as well.  Some changes are good ones, others are awfully hard to readjust to, and other changes are just simply unwanted.  But, that is the way life is, changing, yet still the same.  Somehow different, but not dramatically so.


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There are other changes that I'm dreaming about, praying for.  There are big changes that I desire to make personally and others that will involve my entire family.  I feel that we are being led by God to make some changes in our lives although I'm not quite certain what that will involve.  I do feel a strong conviction, yet I want to be sure I'm not taking things too far.


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The changes I desire most are to simplify, to be wholly connected with my family and these moments in which we're living, and to do what God would call me to do.  These desires are so pressing in my heart and mind these days that I don't think I can rest until I feel like they're fulfilled.




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I'm looking forward to what changes lie ahead of us, where we will be led. Whether it be far away with a brand new start or right here, making many changes right where we are is still undecided, but I'm ready to take our life in a newer, stronger direction.  Many good things are on the horizon for us, I just know it.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Daily




Days lately have been:



early morning coffee
beginning before sunrise.



 first light
full of changing light.



 oatmeal
beginning with warm oatmeal.



 after breakfast
full of washing dishes by hand since the dishwasher is broken.



 laundry
consumed with laundry.



waiting
spent playing with Percy.



 blondies in the making
used for an excuse to make homemade blondies one too many times.



 how to eat blondies
spent eating one too many blondies.  Whole.



 quiet morning
packed with deep house cleaning and our minds entertaining selling this place of ours.



tiny pinecones
looking more like fall.



 a little fall decorating has begun
spent digging out our fall decorations and putting a few out.



Percy
full of never ending doggy naps.



setting up the boys' 
lessons
spent preparing lessons.



math time
and doing school work.



A new friend
overflowing with excitement about this little guy that we were able to save from the dog.  Just a little longer and our squirrely friend can be released.



squirrel treat
spent making treats for the squirrel and birds.



he loves it
The squirrel approves!



reading lessons
lazy-ish, as we do some lessons right on the bed.



pizza night
lazy-ish the other night as well when we ordered pizza to go.  The best part was being informed that my homemade pizza was "so much better than this stuff!"



i love fall
beginning to show signs of fall artwork.




little bird

and watching the girls put on shows for us in their pet-packed room.