Monday, February 26, 2018

A day in three acts

[Normally I love Mondays.  Josh takes the kids to school and the van to work, and I get to sleep in (good in these times of nighttime pain), have a slower morning, then I walk to the max at the post office and take the max to meet him.  He picks me up and we drive to his apartment in Hillsdale and then I come home with the van, usually just in time to deal with dinner.  Today, was a day.]

On Thursday or Friday an email went out from the Relief Society saying that there had been a death in the ward and asking for food contributions for the funeral on Monday.  I told the RS president that I was happy to make a cake, but that she'd have to pick it up because I wouldn't have a car and would be on my way to the max station to meet Josh.

On Sunday evening I went to the pantry to get a cake mix out to put on the counter so that I wouldn't forget that I'd promised to make this cake.  Much to my surprise when I got to the pantry all of the cake mixes were gone, having been used to make cupcakes over the past few months. 

"No problem," I thought, "I've made plenty of cakes from scratch and I can certainly do it again..."


Act I  Before Noon

Monday morning I woke at the lovely hour of 10am.  I'd had quite a bit of pain in the night, so I was relieved that I had been able to sleep later.  I took my time waking up, had a glass of electrolyte water and my handful of vitamins, and then came into the kitchen to start making my cake.  I googled to find a good recipe, softened my butter, and then started to preheat the oven.  Right as I was pushing the last button I had a sinking realization...Russ had used every last bit of flour Saturday night to make pancakes for the girls for dinner.  Every. Last. Bit.

On a regular day I would have just run to the store to buy a cake mix.  But, of course, it was Monday, my day with no car. 

I grabbed the computer and wrote a desperate email to my ward's women's email list. 

Sisters I am totally having a crisis.  

I promised to make a cake by 2 for the funeral today thinking that I had a mix in my pantry.

Well---not only do I NOT have a mix in the pantry, Russ used the last of the flour making pancakes!  (what a good dad to make pancakes for his kids!)

And wait--it gets better!  I don't have a car today because Josh has it at his job, AND I have to leave here by 12:45 (1 hour and 40 minutes from now) to take the max to meet him because the triplets all have dentist's appointments today!  

Can anyone help me out???  If you have a solution for my problem, text me.  I'll be anxiously waiting to hear from you.  Any of you.  Anxious...


I trusted that the good women in my ward would come through for me and within 2 minutes my phone rang with an offer to take care of the whole thing for me, then came another phone call offering either cake mix or flour, and lastly and email offering cake mix or flour *and* a ride to the max!  I happily thanked everyone and went out to sit in the hot tub for a little while. 


Act II  Noon-4:30pm

I didn't leave myself quite enough time for my normal cottage cheese & frozen blueberry breakfast, so I put it in a tupperware in my backpack (that held Rachel's book for after the dentist), grabbed another water bottle of electrolyte water, picked a podcast, and took off for the post office.  I made such good time I was there 6 minutes early and didn't even have to jog at all! 

While I was on my way my friend Susan texted me with some questions she wanted to be able to discuss with someone in her ward.  I thought about those and looked for some links while I was on the max, and told her that I'd call her after I'd dropped Josh off, while I was on my way to pick up Jared and then the girls for their dentist's appointments.

Josh and I had a fun visit on the way to his apartment (and I finally finished my breakfast), and when I dropped him off I immediately called Susan.  She's always such fun to talk to and was excited to hear that I'd been to a Terryl and Fiona Givens fireside on Saturday.  We hadn't even finished covering her questions when I picked up Jared and drove him to the dentist.  (It will be interesting to see what he took from the part of the conversation he heard!)

I dropped him off, kept chatting, drove back to Glencoe, picked up the girls, drove them back to the dentist and dropped them off, still talking.  Then I sat in the Costco parking lot (where I went to buy some flour!) and chatted for 15 more minutes before saying goodbye so I could go in and do my shopping in the few minutes before I needed to be back at the dentist's office. 

I had been so involved talking to Susan that I never had thought to drink my 2nd bottle of electrolytes, but there in the last few minutes I was really thirsty.  Then when I was in Costco I went to the bathroom and I was a little alarmed at how obviously dehydrated I was.  Not sure how that happened, I'm normally (not that this day was anything normal!) really good at hydrating!


Act III  After 4:30

As I started loading my Costco purchases into the van I got a text from Lorraine, reminding me that last night we'd planned to walk at 5 today so we could talk about the fireside. I told her that the dentist was running late and that I wasn't sure what time I'd be back.  She agreed to meet me at 5:30, but then while the kids and I were on the way home she texted that she was exhausted (she was very involved with the family having the funeral today) and that she was going to head back to Vancouver and would call me on the way home so we could just talk on the phone.  (My feet weren't sad not to walk again today.)

When I got home I put some rice in the rice cooker and then we unloaded all of the groceries.  When Lorraine called I grabbed my headset again and more electrolytes and sat down (exhausted!!) in my room to talk with her.  We had such a fun time talking about the different questions and answers at the fireside!  Before I knew it she was home and saying gooodbye and I was Ready. For. Dinner. 

Russ had come home while I was talking, deboned the chicken, added the Costo curry sauce, and started eating with the girls.  I got a plate and sat down with them at the table, saying with a tired sigh, "I may be out of words today.  😉 And I am Ready. For. Bed."

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Mother thoughts

We often sit behind a young family in church.  I usually watch the motion of the children and am grateful for this place in time, when my kids (usually) sit still without needing my attention and I'm able to focus more fully on the meeting. 

Today, though, I watched the 6 year old boy snuggle up against his mom and watched her lean her face against his head, and for a moment I was jealous.

You see, I still love my kids like that.  I still think they're adorable and amazing.  I would love to tuck them under my arm and rest my head against theirs... But I know exactly the resistance and discomfort that that would bring.  Every now and then I get a moment, but for the most part I feel like mothering these adults and almost-adults is mothering at a little distance rather than the mothering with all of the snuggling.

I wouldn't trade.  My grown and almost grown children are so amazing.  I'm delighted by the people they're becoming.  

But sometimes I do miss the snuggles.  

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Lessons from Fall

Summer is my favorite time and every year I feel punched in the gut when I realize it’s really going to end.  But then once I reconcile myself to the change of season (especially if the skies stay blue) I am enchanted by the beauty that is Fall.  I’m also endlessly interested in the lessons (spiritual and not quite spiritual) that I learn from the things around me.
#1) The first year we were in Oregon I noticed that the leaves changed colors for a long LONG time.  First one kind of tree and then another, a succession of intensifying colors and leaves falling.  For a while I was a little cranky about this---I thought that it would be a lot more beautiful if everything turned at one in a glorious finale of color.  Like Maine, I thought.  (Not that I’ve ever been to Maine at all, much less to see the leaves.)  But then I realized that this gradual Fall had a serious benefit because it stretched out the beauty over a longer time.  Instead of one major moment there were a series of smaller moments. 
Sometimes I might want my life to feel like a (picture of a) Maine autumn looks, like the finale of a fireworks show.  But in reality it’s probably better to pace myself, to stretch out the moments of joy and fun and happiness over more time rather than experiencing them all at once. 
#2) In Hendersonville one time my dad took me for an autumn drive to show me some trees.  I can’t remember exactly how we got there, but I remember what we saw once we arrived—enormous flame colored trees around the perimeter of a factory.  He told me that every year those trees were brilliantly colored.  I’ve noticed that in the years since—that the trees that are beautiful one year are also beautiful the next. 
It was an adventure the first fall or two in Oregon (or would have been, had I been emotionally stable enough to appreciate it) learning the spots of fall beauty in the area.  The scarlet trees behind the gymnastics club, the multi-colored trees lining Evergreen, the late turning tree in the yard across the street, the red trees on the way to Glencoe, the burning bushes in the Costco Parking lot and at Intel.  Each year I watch for the now-predictable places of beauty, watch for them and cheer inwardly when they hit their peak of beauty.
I think maybe life is like this--that there are  predictable places of beauty in our lives, like a Christmas LotR marathon, family game nights, and a beach trip with friends.  Pieces of beauty small and large that dot our years, coming back every year to delight us.
That is also good for me to remember.  That the beach trip is over for this year, but it will come again.  That there are always things to look forward to, predictably beautiful moments that will bring happiness and joy.
#3) I can still remember the year in Durham that I was determined to take a picture of the perfect autumn leaf.  I looked and looked and looked.  And much to my surprise, I never found one.  Because when I looked up close, the most beautifully colored leaves were never perfect.  I finally had an a-ha moment: the colors come as the leaves are dying.  The colors are a moment of brilliance before the leaves fall from the trees and the trees go dormant. 
I thought for a long time that year about the profoundnesss of this understanding--that there can be flaws in things that are amazingly beautiful, that sometimes the process of death brings great beauty.  And I remember it every year as I scuff along the sidewalk through brightly colored leaves.
So forgive me, Autumn, for dreading your approach.  And thank you for your beauty and the lessons you teach.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Times and Seasons

"Do you still blog?" Jason asked the other night while we were talking on the phone. 

"Maybe once a month if I'm lucky," I answered with regret.


Blogging isn't popular anymore like it used to be, but I never blogged because it was a trendy thing to do.  I blogged then for the same reason I wish I was blogging now--because I had pictures and words and wanted a place to record them.


For whatever reason(s) I just can't seem to find the time in my life for a lot of things right now.  So I keep reminding myself that this season is extremely finite.  In fact I try not to look at the endpoint because it looms so large.  When it finally does arrive, I'll have time for different things, hopefully even more blogging.  But for now I'm just going to enjoy this season. 

[Blogged from my bed on my phone when I was supposed to be sleeping. ]

Monday, September 4, 2017

A nighttime miracle?

I’ve had some amount of pain during the night for years thanks to my unstable SI joint.  Thanks to medication it’s been well managed for over 3 years and wasn’t really something I thought a lot about.  Last year around Thanksgiving, though, a thyroid medicine change caused an enormous spike in my nighttime pain.  Instead of just being in my butt it was tension in my hamstrings, calves, and feet.  And instead of being managed by my medication, it was like being on fire all night long.

In the intervening months it’s been up and down, with an awful lot of down.  Unexpected things have set it off and sometimes the things that I have tried to manage the pain have ended up making it worse. 

It wasn’t very bad at the beach or on the cruise, which I now think is due to the excellent physical therapy treatment called “putting your legs in the warm minerally ocean for hours every day.”  Sadly this successful treatment isn’t covered by insurance.  Sad smile

In the weeks since we’ve been home from the cruise it’s gotten worse and worse and made my nights more and more miserable.  Two weeks ago I even bought a portable inflatable hot tub on Amazon, thinking that surely soaking in the hot water every night before bed would provide some relief.  To my surprise/disappointment/frustration it wasn’t helpful at all, although sitting out there every night with Russ was definitely a relationship benefit.


Last Sunday I noticed an announcement in the bulletin about a blood drive on Thursday.  I tend to ignore those announcements these days because the last time I gave blood a couple of years ago I bled so slowly that I timed out and they threw away my blood.  It hurt WAY too much for that to be ok with me, and I figured I’d have to find other ways to be a good citizen.  But this time the announcement said that there is a blood shortage in our area and I thought maybe, if I could find a way to increase my chances of donating successfully, I would donate again.  After church I did some googling (what did we do before google??) and found two suggestions: hydrate well (which I’d already known and already done) and take aspirin to thin the blood.  I tracked down some aspirin that day and took it that night and the next day, and worked on hydrating even more, even though I was really always drinking water already.

On Tuesday I had a massage with a new massage therapist at work.  I explained to him what my biggest problems are right now—the car accident shoulder, and the night time fiery tension.  After the massage he said something I wasn’t expecting to hear.  He said that my leg muscles felt very dehydrated, and that when muscles and fascia are dehydrated they can drag against each other and cause pain. 

This was interesting AND frustrating, since I was already trying so hard to be hydrated!  It made me think about the fact that while I was always drinking water, I rarely actually felt hydrated.  But I didn’t know what to do about it.  It was also frustrating that despite having had an excellent massage, Tuesday night was hugely painful.

Wednesday night was YW, and it was a combined personal progress night.  I didn’t want to go because I never want to go (though I’m always happy once I’m there) and I considered not going because I figured there would be plenty of leaders there and no one would miss me.  But I grabbed my water bottle and went, though a little late as always.

I was sitting between my friend who cuts my hair, and one of the other leaders.  As I grabbed my water bottle to take a drink, I told Kathy that I was signed up to donate blood the next day but I wasn’t very confident that I’d been able to, because I was having such a difficult time getting hydrated.  And then she said,

Sometimes I put a teaspoon of chia seeds in my water bottle because drinking the water with the chia in it makes the water stay in my body longer and hydrates me better.

My first thought was “that’s so strange" and my second was “good thing I have some chia seed I’ve never been able to figure out how to use, I’m totally going to try that.”  So Thursday morning I got up, grabbed a full water bottle, and added 3/4 t. of chia seed, shook it, and started drinking. 

Wow was that strange.  Kind of like drinking water with frog eyes in it.  But it wasn’t unbearable and so I kept drinking it.  The first thing I noticed was that I needed to go to the bathroom much less throughout the day.  The second thing I noticed was that when I went to give blood (after having had at least 6 chia seed spiked water bottles throughout the day) the needle went in much more easily and they got enough blood in time!!

[Fun facts: You have 20 minutes to donate blood.  It took me 9.5 minutes this time.  The guy said he thought the average was 6-7 minutes.  Russ is an excellent blood donater and currently holds the record for the Red Cross bus at Intel for a 4.5 minute donating.]

The third thing I noticed was that my muscles stayed relaxed.  All. Night. Long.  It was AMAZING and I was so grateful that I wanted to cry.  I was afraid to celebrate too soon, though, because I’ve had other randomly better nights.  So Friday I focused on more hydration again and again on Friday night I was fine!  Last night was my third good night, and that was after working outside for 7 hours in the heat on Cindy Lynn’s deck!

I’m hopeful for the first time in a long time.  I have prayed and prayed and prayed about this.  I have taken so many supplements hoping that they would help that buying a hot tub didn’t seem like an unreasonable expense.  I even investigated and bought (and am using) hemp oil, which is supposed to help with pain and sleeping.  Finally I feel like I have a real answer to my prayers, a miracle that occurred in the most random way possible.  I’m so glad I decided to try to give blood this week!


On Friday I googled more.  Some people, it seems, have problems hydrating well with plain water, which almost all I ever drink.  For the time being I’m going to try to drink only my frog-eye water, water with electrolytes in it, or at the very least, water with a pinch of sugar and a pinch of sea salt.  I’m very curious to see if I notice any other changes as I become better hydrated.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The tank top miracles

I always wish I could really see all of the places where the Lord touches my life, see and feel and understand which bits were evidences of divine love.  Would I be surprised?  Have I recognized many already?  Are there so many more I'm not seeing?

I wonder.

Sometimes something will happen and I'll think that it was a convenient coincidence...but then sometimes something else will happen that, for me anyway, solidifies the situation as a Tender Mercy.  Like the tank top miracles a couple of weeks ago.

My car accident shoulder has been bothering me this year.  Not in an every-minute-of-the-day kind of way, but at night and with some kinds of movement.  One day I was at work and mentioned to the naturopath that I probably needed some acupuncture on my shoulder.  A couple of hours later she came out of her office and said that she'd had a cancellation and could do it that afternoon after I was done working.  As I was sitting on her table and she was getting ready to start I had a little sinking feeling...she was going to need me to take my sweater off to access the front of my shoulder and that was going to make me uncomfortable.  But then just as quickly as I had that thought, I had another one.  In an unusual turn of events I was wearing a tank top under my sweater!

That morning I'd picked a v-neck sweater to wear and had wondered if it would be a little too low, so I'd also grabbed a tank top to wear under it even though in the back of my mind I knew that I regularly wore it alone.  Who knew how grateful I'd be for that tank top just a couple of hours later!

I think I told Jared about what had happened later when he asked me how my day was.  I told him I thought it was probably a tender mercy, and how grateful I'd been to have the tank top on under my sweater.


About two weeks later I was at work again and my shoulder was bothering me again.  I had to reach under the desk to pull out a plug and re-plug it and the action of reaching was seriously painful.  When I mentioned it to Hilary she told me that she had an opening on her schedule again that day.  (I should mention that both of these last minute openings were highly unusual, she's often booked out a week in advance.)  So once again I found myself sitting on her table, having that sinking feeling about needing to take my sweater off, and once again in EXACTLY the same way I realized...I was wearing a tank top!

It had happened in just the same way.  I had taken down another v-necked sweater that I regularly wore alone, been concerned that it would be too low, and put on a tank top first.  I hadn't even thought about it after that because (as it always does) within a few minutes sweater pulled up in front and the tank top wasn't even visible.

Sitting on the table in Hilary's office I happily pulled off my sweater.  But part of my brain was on fire.  "Did you SEE that?!?" it asking.  "Not once, but TWICE!"  Those random thoughts in my head (that really do sound like every other thought I've ever had) nudged me towards the tank tops, on days when having a tank top on was going to bring peace to my heart.

Tender mercies indeed.

Election Fallout...

I just saw a post on facebook talking about someone having a hard 2016 and feeling like they were still recovering from the last year.  I'm still not over 2016.  One of the parts of my life that seemed relatively stable last year that I didn't think needed that much worry (beyond the normal amount, anyway) was Cindy Lynn's health status.  I never expected the election would go the way it did, putting her access to healthcare in jeopardy.  That in and of itself is traumatic, but what's been worse has been the almost absolute silence from all of our family members.  I feel like I don't even know how to process it. I'll work and work on it and get to a place of calm (not necessarily peace, but at least neutrality) and then it will come up again in Washington and start all over again in my heart.  I normally chat with my sisters in a group chat at least several times a week--after the election I didn't feel able for almost 2 months.  I have felt so betrayed on so many levels.  And while I'm succeeding at surrendering to some of the difficult situations in my life, surrendering to the idea of my precious child not having access to the life saving medical treatments she needs...I just don't know how to do that.