The Sparkle That Keeps Me Going On Difficult Days

My son has been sick and teething the last week or so and the spitting and screaming accompanied by late nights and refusal to sleep has got me feeling worn out.  I’ve been looking for my sparkle lately.

Ah well, we forgot to grab his cloth diapers. Wow, these paper things are expensive and the cost adds up!
Ah well, we forgot to grab his cloth diapers. Wow, these paper things are expensive and the cost adds up!

I am having trouble remembering the little things and the big things, which makes me feel awful.  I’m so worn out, I told Danny today that I’m worried our trip to Costa Rica next week will be a bomb.

he finds joy in playing in the curtains.
he finds joy in playing in the curtains.

Here’s me hoping that tooth comes in before we take off.

and playing peek-a-boo
and playing peek-a-boo

In this whirlwind of exhaustion, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for all that I do have.

I’m surrounded by family members that I don’t get to see very often and I love to see family.

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My son, although going through a rough spot right now, is so sweet and smart and funny, it’s hard to be annoyed that my hearing is going because he has destroyed my ear drums with all his screaming. I would do this mothering thing all over again and again, just to have the joy of being a mom. It’s kinda hard to explain unless you’ve been there.

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My husband loves me. So many marriages are in trouble, broken up and dysfunctional, that I daily thank God for bringing such a good man to me. WOW. He is also my very best friend.

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Time spent with family is priceless.  Even if we all sit around and quote movie lines, or better yet, talk about spiritual things – I’m surrounded by people who love me – I am reminded that not everyone has that in their life.

my niece enjoying my sister's perfect chip recipe.
my niece enjoying my sister’s perfect chip recipe.

I’m not living in poverty, I’m well fed, I’m well dressed, I’m educated

and when all else fails, there is chocolate.

All three of my sisters bake well, very well.
All three of my sisters bake well, very well.

Counting my blessings has help me find that missing sparkle.

p.s. Maddie P, I miss you too – hope your summer is going well back in Missouri.

 

 

Family Voice: Our Safe Harbor

With my father’s job as a naval officer, we lived on the Pacific or Atlantic coasts most of my childhood.  My parents made visits to Oklahoma regularly every year to see extended family. So, oddly enough, I regularly saw more of my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents while I was living on the Pacific coast than I have since I graduated from college.

L to R: my nephew J, Sister Kaylan, Cousin Hollie, Cousin Diana, Me, Sister Klara.
L to R: my nephew J, Sister Kaylan, Cousin Hollie, Cousin Diana, Me, Sister Klara.

When the option to travel or move away from home became available, I wanted to spread my wings and fly far away for new adventures.

Klara, Aunt Gail, Kaylan and J.
Klara, Aunt Gail, Kaylan and J.

It didn’t take long for me to figure out there was an emptiness  in my travels…I was missing my family.

I decided to move closer to home for a few years and was living in Oklahoma when my Aunt Tina passed away, but she and I had lovely visits before she left.

Cousin Max and Cousin Diana
Cousin Max and Cousin Diana

 

Hers was the first funeral of a close relative that I attended. I wasn’t expecting to laugh, but there were so many funny stories shared that intermingled with my tears were laughs. My family knows how to make me laugh.

After her memorial, the entire clan – we are a clan – went back to my Nana and Grandad’s house for comfort food and comfort.

Diana and Hollie
Diana and Hollie

Our family got together for a big Christmas in 2008.  That’s the Christmas that Rex bought Grandad some scratch off lottery tickets for a birthday present and Grandad won 12,000 dollars…yeah, we all got a share. Thanks Grandad, Thanks Rex!

my son and my cousin's daughter with Rex's fiance Sabrina.
my son and my cousin’s daughter with Rex’s fiance Sabrina.

Three years after Aunt Tina passed, and one year after the big Christmas, my Nana passed away.  The family again gathered, this time to remember the matriarch of the clan.

Cousin Laura and her son O.
Cousin Laura and her son O.

My Nana and Grandad were the unifying factor for us grandchildren up until that point.  It was then my Aunt Kathy, to the last request of Nana, who bought “the home” full of family memories. She now goes by KoKo/CoCo to the great grand children and Grandad lives with her as “the tenant.”

My mom and cousin Gene.
My mom and cousin Gene.

It was this same home that we have gathered in after three funerals of loved ones and countless visits to the grandparents to find love and comfort. The walls are full of laughter and the fridge is always full of bottle water and cola.

My son and my Father.
My son and my Father.

There is still comfort within it’s walls. My Grandad sits in his recliner waiting to tell you a funny story or share a memory.

Koko asks you if you want a cold drink or cup of tea.

A place we are always welcome to stop and find safe harbor from the daily drivel of news or trials that weigh us down and we can expect to find family.

My Aunt Gail (from my mother's side).
My Aunt Gail (from my mother’s side).

Family is forever and that brings me comfort too.

Rex's house mate/friend from Georgia, Seamus (pronounce "Shehmus" ya'll)
Rex’s house mate/friend from Georgia, Seamus (pronounce “Shehmus” ya’ll).

I can think of a better reason to have family gather, it’s called A Wedding and we should do more of those…or how about just because!

Auntie C suggested a reunion this summer, I can support that.

It’s True, What People Say About Hindsight

Dad's Retirement and a farewell to The Golden State
Dad’s Retirement and a farewell to The Golden State

In 1995, I was thirteen years old, my dad decided to retire from his first career – taking a major pay cut – to move home.

We left southern California and moved to Oklahoma, where my mother was raised and where my dad’s family had settled. Not the easiest move – one that I felt personally afflicted over – leaving best friends behind and the perfect weather…not to mention the beach.

Oklahoma, although my birth state, was in my opinion never going to eclipse my love for The Golden State.

I made more best friends, eventually acclimated to the schizophrenic Oklahoma weather patterns and spent time with family.

Family gathering at Auntie Tina's house with friends, one of many.
Family gathering at Auntie Tina’s house with friends, one of many.

My dad become a school teacher in his second career, making things financially tight for a family of eight – which was a hard adjustment for all of us, but we managed a comfortable life nonetheless. Looking back, it made me more grateful for the things I did get and allowed us to fill our lives with the most important people.

Dad enrolls in graduate school and becomes a teacher.
Dad enrolls in graduate school and becomes a teacher.

My dad’s parents lived in the house behind our neighbor, my mom’s parents lived an hour and twenty minutes north east, my dad’s sisters lived in town (walking distance really), one of my aunts taught my high school economics class and my cousins were a fixture at every birthday and family dinner. For years, the only brothers my older brother had were his male cousins.

Someone's birthday perhaps? We had a lot of birthdays with all the family near by.
Someone’s birthday perhaps? We had a lot of birthdays with all the family near by.

I can’t say I’ve spent as much time with some of my family since I graduated from high school and moved away – but, I’ve tried to make visiting family a priority in my life since and so have many of my family members and I am grateful for that.

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I am going to be putting on my family stories hat in the coming weeks. I have a mountain of old photos and with the passing of my 25 year old cousin on Monday – I feel like that will be something that my family will appreciate and it’s the least I can do.

Thanksgiving at Nana's house 2001
Thanksgiving at Nana’s house 2001

I still have love for California and make visits, but Oklahoma is my home and the place I leave my heart.

Homeschool Isn’t Always Done In The Home

The majority of my three years (3rd – 5th grade) in homeschool were spent in and around the home. My mother introduced me to David Copperfield and Atticus Finch. It was my mother who taught me the joys of reading. Before being brought home to be schooled, reading felt like work to me. Until my mother read aloud books that resonated with me, I could never understand why anyone would enjoy reading.

Field trip to Washington D.C.
Field trip to Washington D.C., one of many – because there is so much to see. Also (sadly) full of homeless men and women….trees strung with sleeping bags.

Then my mother, with her education in nursing, helped me appreciate the human body – it’s function, intricate design and purpose. I drew the outline of my tiny ten year old frame and proceeded to draw the entire nervous system.

Museum Of National History, Washington D.C.
Museum Of National History, Washington D.C.

My mom wanted to learn as much as she wanted her children to learn – so it only worked out too well, that she brought us to some of the most interesting places within a days drive to our home.

Baltimore Aquarium, Baltimore, Maryland.
Baltimore Aquarium, Baltimore, Maryland.

We lived in Pennsylvania at the time, so visits to Lancaster to see and mingle with the Amish, Philadelphia to see the historic place where our Nation’s government was framed, Washington, D.C. our Nation’s capital full of museums and other historical sites, Baltimore, Maryland and it’s aquarium (love, love), and nearby Harrisburg to see our state capital. We even made the trip to New York to visit Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

Touching pool
Touching pool at the Baltimore Aquarium

The summer before sixth grade, my mom asked me if I wanted to continue home school or return to public school. I love adventure and new things, so of course I jumped at the chance to start something new.

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Capital Building.Circa 1992, love the clothes? I didn't design jeans with pleats, I just had to wear them!
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Capital Building.
Circa 1992, love the clothes? I didn’t design jeans with pleats, I just had to wear them!

I had to ride the bus – the only time in my life I had to ride a bus – the longest semester of my life. I saw vulgar things on the bus, things I know any good parent would die knowing existed and the few children on the bus who had been taught manners – seemed to congregate with one another. Gratefully, my brother’s friend Lisbon, always made me feel safe on the ride to and from school.

Meeting the State Representative from our district.
Meeting the State Representative from our district. I think we’re all thrilled to be up so early in the morning….NOT. Isn’t my mom a cutie?

I ended up staying in public school the rest of my education, until I attended university and graduated from a private school.

With all of my education and experience in life, I may homeschool my children too.

Motherhood + Science = Awesome

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Today I’m grateful that my baby isn’t throwing up anymore – he went down to sleep around 9:20 pm last night. I went to my room to sit and crochet my long term project. I heard the baby start to cry around 10 pm, and normally I would let him cry a bit before checking on him, thinking he was just tired (he skipped his nap yesterday). Something told me, this was worth checking on.

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My poor son was sick – sick – sick. That’s about as graphic as I’ll get for you. I changed the baby into fresh clothes and took his soiled clothes and bedding to the laundry room. While I was starting a large load of laundry – my husband starts calling my name from our bedroom. What I didn’t allow myself to think at the time was, “this is his first child – he is the baby in his family – he has never babysat before and this is all new to him.”

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My husband was really scared because the baby was throwing up again and shaking (like big people do after such an event) and crying. Dan was scared and nervous that the baby was in grave danger. Dan looked completely hopeless.DSC_1023

After the baby’s second bath, I held him wrapped in a warm blanket on my lap and curled my hand around his. I thought to myself, “this is so wonderful.” He continued to empty his tiny stomach until about midnight, still wrapped in my arms. I feed him to keep him from dehydrating and he kept that down, so I put him in the crib in our room to keep an eye on him.

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Mommy and Baby suffer from the same problem, we are both cranky when we wake up.

I woke before 7 am to find he was still laying where I left him, fast asleep. I thought about my life before I became a mother and I couldn’t remember loving a job more than I love being a mother and wife. It’s hard work, the most taxing I’ve have ever had.

crying, eating, pooping, crawling, chaos machine that I love.
crying, eating, pooping, crawling, chaos machine that I love.

Which got me thinking about how the best things in life take work.

Work is a transfer of energy (from a system to the surroundings or vice versa). And as we all know – mass can be converted into energy and energy can be converted into mass via E=mc2 – therefore, there will be a physical manifestation where our work is being done.

This little person is the best reason to work, and I think his daddy would agree.
This little person is the best reason to work, and I think his daddy would agree.

I would venture to say, that some people choose to put their work into things that I could care less about – living in a Manhattan Penthouse and leaving their kiddies with a nanny whilst mommy and daddy earn a big income. (Would I love living in a Manhattan Penthouse? of course, but it’s not a priority).

The physical manifestation of my daily work is my child, my marriage, my family relations, my health, my education and my spiritual enrichment.

In My Fight Against the Universe

When it came to college physics, I cried my way through much of my homework. My understanding didn’t come easy, but I persisted, and made a B. Which I was willing to celebrate, because my teacher was not easy. Today’s post is about chaos. What does this have to do with my fight against the universe?

The black diaper to the left is called, "Albert" and has physic equations on it. I know, i think it's awesome too.
The black diaper to the left is called, “Albert” and has physics equations on it. I know, i think it’s awesome too.

I learned that Entropy – a function of Thermodynamics – is a probability of a system (this system could be your body or the Earth…the UNIVERSE) when left alone will work toward disorganization. So, if you stop mowing your lawn…the probability is that the grass will grow long and shaggy and not remain neat orderly.

Dan is recording the baby with his GoPro camera - making sure it's "monkey proof."
Dan is recording the baby with his GoPro camera – Daddy is testing out the camera with baby to make sure it’s “monkey proof” before our trip to Costa Rica.

That’s life right? If we just stop doing laundry, stop exercising, stop showering, stop meeting life….life becomes more disorganized. So, humans literally become superheroes in a quest to reduce chaos in society. Thank goodness the garbage man comes every Thursday to take the garbage away. Thank goodness I wash all those cloth diapers – the smell would become unbearable – I’m so grateful that I made the bed today, because I can think better in an organized room.

speaking of chaos...this is where baby proceeded to unfold all his cloth diapers and create more work for me...isn't he cute?
speaking of chaos…this is where baby proceeded to unfold all his cloth diapers and create more work for me…isn’t he cute? He is so excited with his newly developed climbing skills.

I happen to have a secret weapon to help ease my life in the fight with never ending disorder: Breastfeeding. What? Breastfeeding?

This boy is ready for bed
This boy is ready for bed….. this was the day he refused to nap. He wanted to stay awake to help me get chores done.

My baby is nine months old and almost exclusively breastfeed. I try to give him “grown-up” food, but he doesn’t like it. I don’t mind so much, because I don’t have to worry about making him food…the other up-side? I can pretty much eat whatever I want and I haven’t had any problem loosing weight, it melted right off. This may be gross, but his poop is water soluble, so I all I have to do is throw his cloth nappies into the washing machine – so that chaos doesn’t even have to go out with the trash on Thursdays.

He loves to climb up and then try to touch the ground. I'm easily entertained.
He loves to climb upwards and then try to touch the ground. I know, I’m easily entertained.

Yeah, the laundry is constantly moving, but since I already do laundry, what’s a couple of extra diapers thrown in the fray?

Keep fighting the good fight. Cheerio.

The Un-Invited Christmas Guest

Sweet Rolls

This Christmas was on track to become one of the best family gatherings ever. Grandad and Aunt were scheduled to come from Oklahoma on the 23rd, six of my seven siblings and a family friend were arriving on the 21st.

Friday morning my mother made a mountain of cinnamon rolls and bread for our family and local friends.

Mountain of Dough

 

Mmmmm, I love my mother’s cinnamon rolls.

 

 

 

Later that evening was our Church Christmas party, around 200 people came. I sang a Christmas song medley of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas/The Christmas Song.” I had a piano, a cello and violins playing for me during my solo – it had been a while since I have sung for a large group and it was quite fun!

Saturday our family decided to have a “traditional Christmas” dinner with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing..etc.

We were all grateful that we had our traditional dinner….because Saturday night was that last night before the un-invited guest decided to visit our house. Sunday morning we all woke up with what my husband describes as “the BG’s…Bubble Guts.”

The ‘Twelve to twenty-four hour’ stomach bug hit our house. Fifteen of the seventeen people in the house took turns emptying their stomachs…and our food menu got less exciting: ginger ale, chips, toast, Nalgene’s full of water.

I didn’t see Sunday’s menu. I never left my room. Monday – Christmas Eve – I didn’t move much and I was just hoping that Christmas Day I would feel well enough to sit around the tree with my family and open gifts.

Gratefully, come Christmas Day, I was feeling a bit weak, but well enough to enjoy the following:

Bacon Booty

Bacon Booty with homemade Marmalade and fruit tea

Santa Cup

Santa always brings cups full of mint M&M’s

CutiesCute Nephew and Niece

Tree Gifts

Presents on the tree…

Hairy Face

Cute Baby Boy with his uncle (who hasn’t shaved all semester).

There is more to come…stay tuned. Hope your Christmas was happy and healthier than ours!