Thursday, July 5, 2012

Some Frustration and Discouragement

I haven't had my acupuncture for over a month. I'm starting to really feel it. I can tell now that it was what made the difference in my energy level, and lower pain level. So, now that I've gone over a month without, I'm not able to jog much at all. My doctor finished her residency in May, and won't begin practicing at her new location until September. I thought I could maybe wait for her, but it seems I need to continue getting the acupuncture from someone else until she begins. Tuesday, I did lots of walking. I took my girls with me to the bank, the store, then the half mile walk to the playground. Then we played. Then we walked/hobbled home. Yesterday, we went to Tony's grandparents' for a 4th of July picnic. So, we basically grazed and visited all day. Today, I hurt so much that I'll be taking a little nap as soon as I finish this post. I'll be making some phone calls this afternoon to figure out to whom/where to go. Please pray for me! I don't want to postpone my well-being!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Run Number 8, I think

     Oy, I am more than a little annoyed with myself. I said I was going to blog more about my C25k adventure. I should have told ya'll to nag me a little, so I would. Also, I've hit some speed-bumps here and there. I'm trying to think of them as speed-bumps, rather than failures, because failure would only be if I quit or gave up, and I am not. I'm trying not to beat myself up when I struggle more, or skip a run. Trying to work on positive self-talk. So. I'm going to go back and share some struggles/speed-bumps from my little journey thus far.
   I have skipped, or postponed runs several times due to lack of sleep, a period, lack of motivation, and whatnot. I'm trying not to be too hard on myself about it. I haven't given up! That in itself is huge. I need to remind myself of that.
      One issue I've run into a couple of times is distraction. I tried letting Allie run with me, but we have different paces. Duh. She's not only a couple feet shorter, she's been running semi-regularly, and I haven't for twenty years. The kid is fast, energetic, and her pace is steady; mine changes erratically. The problem with this is, of course, that I run the risk of tripping on her, or having her riding my bumper, so to speak. This distracts the crap out of me. Then I have to tell her to speed up or slow down, which wastes precious breath and throws off my rhythm. The slightest interference with my breathing pattern throws me off. This is humiliating for a veteran choir nerd. You wouldn't believe the breath control I used to have! Also, being six, she's pretty sure if she's awake she needs to yap. If I'm in the room with her, I need to listen and respond. I cannot. So, as it turns out, I can't run with her. Sad, as she really wants to, and I really want her to.
     Part of my struggle today was Miss Allie distracting me with her cheer-leading. She means well, and is being so sweet, but I'm so easily distracted. I'm trying to remind myself that this tendency to become distracted is part of the Fibromyalgia. I'm easily overwhelmed and easily distracted, and Fibro is to blame. My other issue with today's run was that I've got this stupid cold or sinus thing that is making breathing more difficult. I couldn't breathe well enough, and I had to waste breath telling Allie to please stop distracting me, so I had to cut it short. I made it only halfway through. I'm reminding myself that that's okay. It's only the second time I've cut a run short. That's nothing, out of 8 runs for someone who is so out of shape, dealing with chronic pain and fatigue, and has not run in twenty years. See? Positive self talk. For someone in my position, I am doing great. Go me. Thank You, Jesus for lending me some strength.
     I'm still on week one, by the way. Remember how I said I'd do each "week" for a month instead, to pace myself? I'm glad I made that decision. I may go longer than a month. It'll help if I do my run three times a week, as I'm supposed to. Today is the first one I've done in a week, and that last one was the first in a week. I know I'll feel better and do better, if I run thrice a week. No excuses. I just have to get up before the kids. Unfortunately, this means getting up at 5, so I can finish before they wake up at 6. I hate mornings. 
     I have to admit, though, running starts my day off great. Like, better than coffee. I really said that. I'll say it again. Starting off my day running, gives me a better start than starting with a cup of coffee. For real. Absolutely. You know how you always here people say that getting exercise is energizing? I always figured that for total hooey. Using energy gives you energy? Please. But it does! It's like some kind of special reward for getting up off your can! 
     There's another great reason to keep this up! More energy! For someone with Fibromyalgia and/or Chronic fatigue, this is huge. It's like a special delivery of more spoons
     What I want to do is run Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week, and blog about it on Friday. This will help me keep track of my progress and help me drag my silly carcass out of bed on those mornings. Really dang early. I never regret it. I need to remember that.
    I'm feeling accomplished, and I plan on making that feeling a norm. I need it. I'm getting kinda ramble-y now, so I think it's time to close. Thanks for reading!
 ~The Empress~

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Eight-year-old Empress, Fibromyalgia, and What I'm Doing About It

Hi there. I have a secret. A huge secret. For me, anyway. I'll give you a little back story before I spill the beans. When I was a little girl, (yes, little) I loved to run. I loved to bike and ride my big brother's scooter, but mostly, I loved to run. I was one wiry, active little girl. I had the occasional leg pain in the evening- likely after one of my more active days, but I don't remember clearly- but little more could slow me down. I often sang while I ran or biked, usually Do Re Mi from The Sound of Music. I ran because I could, because it was satisfying, and just for the sheer joy of it. 
Then, I turned 8. I don't remember precisely when, but some time during that year, I began to feel a slight resistance when I ran. It was almost as if something was physically holding me back. It started small, and I actually remember very clearly the first time that I felt it. It gradually gained weight, until eventually I felt as though I were running through water, or wearing heavy leg weights.
I don't remember if it began before or after the running-through-water feeling began, but one day, my knee gave out. Just decided to stop bearing my insignificant weight, and for no apparent reason. It annoyed me, as I was in the middle of a wonderful run. It slowed me down, but didn't hurt much. Scraped my knees on the gravel of the driveway, (for about the millionth time of my life) but that was nothing. Just had to wipe off the blood and get going again. I was one tough little booger. 
Well, over the next months, these things happened more and more, and began to hurt. One day, I stopped running. I figured it hurt too much. Pain took the joy out of it, and made me angry, frustrated, and embarrassed. I could wish all day that I hadn't given up; that I had pushed past it, and kept going, but I was eight years old! No one knew what was happening to me. Not for nearly a decade, and by then it was too late. I remember, not long after these events, I was called fat for the first time. In PE, which I used to enjoy, but now hated with a firey passion. It was one of those horrible fitness test days, where everyone had to do specific stretches and work outs, and be weighed and have their fat measured. I even remember the name of the boy, who said it, though he was otherwise completely insignificant to me. I won't name him, though he'll never read this probably. He was just an eight year old kid, who had no idea the impact that would have on me. It was my turn for the gym teacher to measure the fat of my calves with the little forceps-looking thing. (How was this ever allowed, especially in front of other kids?! Do they still do this?!) He was measuring. I wasn't thinking about it really. Just wanting to get to recess.
Then this boy said, "Misty has the fattest legs in class."
That was it. My first time being told I was fat. I don't think I really was at that point, just a little chubby, but that doesn't matter. I was an eight year old girl! Anyway, that began a life of being teased, made fun of, laughed at for being fat. Never mind that it was mostly out of my control. Never mind that I didn't know what to do about it, or if anything could be done. It stuck, and has been a theme from peers, strangers, and my own hurting heart ever since.

Fast forward to high school. During the first year or so, Mom was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. We'd never heard of this before, as it was a new, almost unknown syndrome. No one even had theories yet about what to do about it. I ended up being diagnosed, then excused from PE by my doctor of the time, as it was too physically, emotionally, and mentally painful. I was bullied until I had just stopped going anyway, not only by students, but by the teacher! ("Better do your push-ups, class, or you'll end up looking like Misty!") Not worth it. If my dr hadn't excused me, I would have dropped out of high school then and there.
 By now, most of you have heard the drug commercials' generalized description of Fibromyalgia. They cover very little, so if you really want to know what it's like, read my post titled How To Learn What Fibromyalgia is Like for Me. Be sure to click on the links to get others' descriptions and explanations.

Okay, enough of the back story. You either get it, or you don't. I'm tired of hurting, and being exhausted all the time for no reason. Plain sick of it, so here's my big secret. Are you ready?

I have started the Couch to 5K program. Yes. I'm serious. The program is designed to transform a person from a couch potato to a runner in 9 short weeks. Today, I did my third run of the first week. I won't fool myself by expecting this to only take 9 weeks for me. That would be silly and discouraging. What I do hope for is that I can do it in 9 months. I'll do each "week" for one month. Shorter if I really feel up to it, but I'm aiming for a month each.
I'm doing this for me, for my body, for my husband, to show all the meanie butts who made fun and hurt me, but most of all, I'm doing this for my three beautiful daughters. I want to give them the example of a healthy, active mother, who can push past the pain, and the years of hurt and hate, and just run. I want to be able to run and play with them. I want to be able to catch them should they try to run off in a public or otherwise unsafe place. This is my ultimate goal.
I plan to blog after each run, but I won't punch myself in the face if I miss. I hope to use this blog as a way of being held accountable, so that I do not skip a run or give up. I also really hope that others who are struggling with fibromyalgia, or other chronic illnesses, pain, or fatigue may take encouragement, and see that this can be done. I can do this. I am doing this.

Encouraging comments, and kind advice welcome. Just hit the comment button at the bottom of the post. If you have something mean, rude, discouraging, or nasty to say, skip it. I've already heard it for 20 years. Chances are, I've said it to myself. I'm done with that. My husband will moderate the comments section, and delete anything unhelpful or abusive before I ever see it. So there.

Thanks for reading. Go out and do something healthy!!

Philippians 4:13

 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

On Siblings

You know you have grown up when, instead of being envious of your "only child" friends, you begin to realize they are totally missing out. Thank you, God for my sisters and brothers.

I realize this is another ridiculously short post, but hey- it's my party. I'll cry if I want to. What?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Teen Years

     Being a teenager is hard. Being in high school is hard. At least for some (most?) of us. I have heard of a few people who enjoyed their adolescence, or at least claimed to. But for many of us, myself included of course, it is often a miserable, trying time. Obviously, we all have different reasons for it. Depression, body changes, new emotions, new faces, new schools, awkwardness, self esteem issues, judgement and rejection, fears of many kinds, social pressures, academic pressures, parental pressures, any number of struggles can make this time in our lives so hard. We struggle to fit in, or try to stand out. We try to follow or lead the crowd, we try to learn, or try to avoid it. There are so many things to think about and be confused about or distracted by.  
     As a teen, I struggled with my weight and a hoard of physical problems, and on top of these, I often faced nearly crippling depression. I have fibromyalgia and, in those days, (less than a decade, shut up) it was not widely accepted as a "real" illness. PE was pure hell for me. I couldn't do what most of the other kids could. I was in constant pain, and my self esteem, because of these things, took a huge nosedive. I was made fun of as being fat and lazy, when I wanted nothing more to break out of this fat suit and run like the wind.
     With such low self esteem, it was difficult to make friends, or at least good ones. At first, anyway. We'll get to the happy part later. I felt lonely, isolated, and worthless. I sometimes cut myself. Or burned myself. Small self mutilations which I hid for a long time. I was careful not to scar most of the time, so no one really suspected. I ended up sharing with my parents, but that was much later. Even after that, it took a lot of years, and a lot of understanding from a few amazing people to really make me stop.
     One of my favorite (least favorite) fibro symptoms is brain fog. I get confused, overwhelmed, disoriented, and struggle to retain some types of information. I struggled a lot in my classes because of this. I excelled in English, and did well in electives (such as art, writers' workshop, and choir.) I mostly went home and spent time alone, wishing, praying, and hoping for a change. It came.
     I had many things also to be thankful for. So many blessings. I am blessed with wonderful, understanding parents, to whom I have always been close. I could talk to them about nearly anything, and often did. I was involved in the youth group at our church, and had a growing faith. I wasn't always close to a lot of the youth group kids, but a lot of that was due to my own judgements, and my fear of rejection. I didn't try hard enough. I went to everything I could make it to anyway. I'm so thankful that I did. No matter how hard it was, I always felt so much better when I attended church and youth group functions.
     I prayed without ceasing, (something I'm trying to be better at again) I sang my heart out in worship, I tried to be an encourager to others, whether outcasts (perceived or actual) like myself or social butterflies. The biggest impact the youth group had on me was the fervor with which they (we) served others. We went on mission trips, fed the homeless, and helped put together food boxes during holidays. No matter how close or far we were from one another, we banded together to serve. I miss that.
    My faith in God, and my youth group, and youth minister helped me to work out who I was. Who I wanted to be. I tried to thicken my skin to the pressures of teen years, and let the insults roll off of me. I worked at being a good influence on others, rather than falling under others' influence. (I know that I often came off as self righteous and judgmental and I pray that I never hurt others' faith or potential for faith because of this.) I also found a wonderful, loving group of friends. At school.
     I joined choir and had a group of people who shared with me a love of music. Also, I found a friend, counselor, and ally in an absolutely amazing teacher. Someone who told me what I needed to hear, even if it hurt a little. Someone who listened to my problems, however superficial, and either gave advice or just a smile and nod. Always just what I needed. {Thank you, Lee Frick. You will be in my heart forever, and I hope to see you in Glory.}
     The reason I'm sharing my story is to let teens know that they are not alone. I was there. Sometimes it seems like yesterday, but it often feels like a different life. I pray that I don't ever forget, though. I want to be there for my children, other young people I know and love, and anyone else I can who is going through such things, or have gone through such. I want you to all know that it can get better. Find someone you can talk to. A counselor, a teacher, a youth minister, an older sibling, somebody. You need a listening ear. One without judgement. One who has been there. 
     I want to take the time to pray about these things, because putting these struggles in God's hand will have the biggest impact. He knows just what you need, and He loves you.

    Father in Heaven,
I am remembering painful times, as I see young people, teenagers, sailing the rough waters of high school. I want teens today to know that they aren't alone. That they can find a friend. I want them to know the peace that I have gained, and learn to rely on You. I want young people to ask for Your comfort and guidance, Your strength and wisdom when they are in need, rather than looking to unhealthy, dangerous pastimes. I thank You, Father, for always pulling me through the deepest muck, and reminded me that You are there. I praise You for Your goodness, and am so grateful for Your sacrifice, and Your unlimited love, grace, and mercy. Without these, nothing good could ever be. Please hold the teens of our world in Your hand, and give them the strength and courage to fly through these rough times unscathed.
  It is in Your son, Jesus' holy name that I pray,


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Not Baby

Well. It has finally come. My two year old Brenna-baby now identifies herself as Not Baby. I'm a little sad, but also proud of her developing personality and self awareness. Also, she's really stinking cute. Still. Here's our conversation this morning:

Brenna climbs up next to me on the couch, and says, "Hi Mommy-Silly-Goose."
I reply, amused, "Hi Brenna-baby." (This is where it gets interesting.)
"No! I not Judy!" she points to Judy, her 11 month old sister. "Judy there!"
"Well, I know you're not Judy. You're my Brenna-baby!" I say this while replaying my response in my head, sure that I called the right kid the right name for once. Pretty sure I said "Brenna-baby."
 Brenna rolls her big blue heart-breaking eyes, and says, "I not baby! Judy baby!" She says this last while pointing to Judy again.
"Ohhhh..." I seem to be getting it, finally. "You're not a baby anymore? Just Judy is?"
"Yeah, Judy-baby. Brenna-Not baby." She seems content that her message has made it through my silly head now, and wanders off.
  There you have it. My Brenna is a Not Baby. My favorite part? The fact that all of this was spoken through a binky, while clutching her blankie. Looks like she's more baby than she thinks. She'll always be baby to me. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Say What?!

Allie Rachelle, realizing her tummy was full, exclaimed, "Sad mouth!! I can't eat anymore!!"

Say What?!

After trying a new cereal today, which features flax and cornmeal as main ingredients, Allie Rachelle proclaimed, "This cereal is total dumpster!" Unfortunately... I agree. Couldn't have said it better.

Say What?!

My 2 year old, Brenna, has been keeping herself busy this morning by stacking unopened plastic containers of baby food. One of her baby food towers fell, and she yelled, "Oh no!! Baby food hopping!!"

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Say What?!

I have decided that for the next however-long-I-feel-like-it, I'm going to post a kid related quote of the day. From either one of my three precious girls, me, or the hubby. I may or may not share the context. Depending on what amuses me the most. Enjoy.

"Judy! Do not brush your hair with cornbread!" ~Me.

Friday, May 4, 2012

How To Learn What Fibromyalgia is Like for Me

Hi there. Miss me? Because it's been a while. I lost the little bit of writing mojo I had worked up . I couldn't think of a worthwhile post that didn't have to do with my body issues. I don't want this to be a blog all about my issues, but this is a big piece of who I am. I try not to let it define me, but it does color other areas of my life. Anyway, I am who I am, and my body is what it is. I'm working on it. It's a work in progress just as I am a work in progress. So, here goes. 

How To Learn What Fibromyalgia is Like for Me:

1. Walking (on a “good” day)-
Sprain your left ankle severely. Have someone beat or dislocate your right knee (might I suggest Tanya Harding?). Try to figure out which side is worse, so you can limp properly. Put on a set of ten pound ankle weights. Put on a fanny pack full of rocks, and turn it so it hangs over your bum/fanny. Find a child or small adult (85-100 lbs should do) and carry them over both shoulders. Now go for a walk on a slight incline. Try to keep up with a healthy person who is power walking. Try to breathe properly and not pant like a hot canine.

2. Walking (on a bad day)-
Do the same as in number 1, but add some jumping jacks before you walk to make the knee and ankle worse, add two more sets of ankle weights and another rock-filled fanny pack. Paint your shoes with wet cement. Let them dry, then put them on. Carry a heavier adult (maybe 120lbs) over your shoulders. Walk up a steep hill.

3. IBS-
(This should be done in freezing weather, so you can sort of mimic the chills) Have someone randomly “spike” your food with a strong laxative, without warning you when or where this will happen. When it suddenly hits, repeat number 2, (no pun intended), take a shot of everclear (so that when you're outside in the cold, you'll feel hot inside and cold outside) and try to get to a public restroom down the road, without drawing attention to your desperate condition or having an accident.

4. Migraines-
Have somebody boot you in the back of the head a couple of times, wearing steel-toed boots, then punch you in the forehead and each temple. Have everyone around you increase their speaking volume, and turn up any radios, computers, tvs, etc. Close your eyes and rub them hard to make “fireworks”. Now squint and try to continue in your normal activities.

5. Depression- Do all of these for years, while trying to care for your family, keep your house clean, hold a caregiving/CNA job, spend quality time with three children and a spouse, and maintain your positive outlook and sense of humor. Try explaining this entire experience to someone who only understands a totally foreign language. Try to make it clear to them that you are not lazy, self-pitying and weak, and that you really are doing your best. Try not to scream when they tell you what they think is your real problem, or what you should do to make it better, or share any other presumptuous, uneducated little morsel, which you, having dealt with this for years, have most likely already heard of and/or tried. Try not to take it personally, or be hurt or offended by it when people come into your home and judge you and turn up their noses because your home isn't up to their standards of orderly perfection. Try to be cheerful and energetic.

6. Fibro Fog/Brain Fog- While doing all these things, try to think straight, speak clearly, and remember words. With forty-seven people of varying ages and IQ's speaking at you and demanding your immediate attention. Try not to forget anything. Names, dates, numbers, plans, etc. Form complete, intelligent sentences without having to pause and collect yourself.

Now, you may have the general idea. Maybe.

I don't share these things to gain pity, or to cause anyone to feel guilty. I'm trying for understanding. I'm trying to explain something that is considered an "invisible" illness, so that maybe folks will not be so quick to judge. I tried to make this kinda lighthearted, but I think I failed in that. But oh well. Hopefully, it will get the point across. 

I have learned to laugh my way through this. Here's a good post about how laughter can help.
And, here is another post about what Fibromyalgia feels like.

"Life is pain, Highness; anyone who says different is selling something." 
Wesley/Man in Black from The Princess Bride

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Interview With Allie (Rachelle!)

     I thought it would be fun to introduce ya'll to my fabulous five year old ("I'm almost SIX, Mom! Does that make you feel old?!") by having her introduce herself. I admit, I Googled funny interview questions for kids, but I did add some of my own, and changed up some of the others. I may have skipped one or two which I knew would make me sound like a jerk. (Hey, it's my blog!)
      Allie was ready to start her interview this morning, as soon as she ate, helped Brenna, 2 tomorrow, get breakfast, and kissed Judy, 7 months. So, while I waited for the wonderful hubby to make me a tasty breakfast, we began.

Empress Momma: What is your happiest memory? 
Allie Rachelle: Umm... When we go to Grampa's company picnic!!
EM: What do you like most about being a kid?
AR: We get to go to school!!
Peanut Gallery (Tony, since he's listening): Good answer!
EM: Very good answer! Okay, Allie; What word would you use to describe yourself?
AR: Rachelle...
     Side note: Her name is Alexandria Rachelle. We have called her Allie since before we even had an ultrasound telling us she's a girl. She recently met, for the first time since babyhood, Rachelle-my maid of honor, after whom she is named. She decided that week, and has insisted ever since, to go by Rachelle. I'm fine with this and have tried to comply, but it's hard to break habits. You know?
EM: Do you know what "describe" means? It's when you say someone's funny, silly, goofy, busy, tall, short, pretty, weird... Anything like that.
AR: Pretty? Yeah. Pretty.
EM: Yes, you are. What advice would you give your parents?
AR: What's an... advice?
EM: When you tell someone something they can do better, or can improve on.. how to do something.
AR: [Smirking, with full dimples] Tuck me in!!
     Back story: A couple of nights ago, we told Allie, I mean Rachelle, that since she's in the habit of getting up forty million times (to get a drink of water, tell us she's itchy, beg to call Gramma, etc) after we tuck her in, we will no longer tuck her in. We will resume tucking her in when she has put herself to bed each night for a week, and stayed there.
EM: If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
AR: A bunny! Because I love it and that's my favorite animal very much!!
EM: What do you like to do for fun?
AR: Ummm... Let's see... Go to the duck park!!
EM: Tell me about a funny time in your life.
AR: Watching Tom and Jerry. Because they go 'Bang bang!' and they run all over the place and they hurt each other and they turn each other inside out! And Loony Tunes, too. I like funny shows. 
EM: What is your favorite thing to do and why? 
AR: Play ping-pong... I don't know. There's lots of things I like to do. 
EM: What else?
AR: I like to be funny. I like to be pretty. And I like to laugh. And I like to cry.
EM: You like to cry?
AR: Yeah.
EM: Why do you like to cry?
AR: I don't know. I like the feel of it.
EM: What is your favorite thing to do with your friends?
AR: [With a look which clearly expresses what a stupid question this is] Play with them... 
EM: Play what?
AR: I like to play with them outside and swim with them in the summer. I have to go to the bathroom. That's what I like to do. [Giggles and runs to the bathroom]
EM: [Calling after her down the hall] While you're in there, think about what you love about Brenna!
AR: [Now that she's done her business] I like when she plays with me. When I want her to play with me. I like when she laughs. [Spaces off for a minute] I like it when Brenna's sleeping. It's adorable. I love when she dances and sings! SHE'S SO STINKING CUTE!!!

EM: What do you love the most about Judy?
AR: When she sleeps and when she smiles and when her tiny tooth shows when she smiles. I like it when she cries, because it's so sweet. I like when she tries to suck on my toes, because it's funny and it tickles. And she's cute and adorable.
EM: What is the nicest thing you've ever done for someone?
AR: Hmmm... When I told the lady on the way to church that I would pray for her that she would get her money back.
     Back story: A few Sundays ago, as we walked to church, we were stopped by a woman on a bicycle who looked distraught. She told us she was a single mom and had lost her last twenty dollars somewhere between home and Fred Meyer, and just wanted to get food for her kids. I usually take these things with a grain of salt, as there are so many people out there who tell sad stories to get money. She was pretty convincing, though. Enough so that I almost cried as well. I told her I really wished we could help her, but we're broke, too. At this point, Allie looked her in the eye and said, "I'm so sorry that you lost your money. We will pray for you to get it back." Then I cried a little, the rest of the way to church. What a proud moment as a mom! Our daughter is so sweet and compassionate! I hope she holds onto that. (Updating that story, though, the same woman told the same story to Tony and his brother a week later, as if it had just happened. She obviously didn't recognize Tony from the previous meeting. We did pray for her again and wish for the best, whatever it is that she's dealing with.)
EM: Yes, that was very nice, Allie.. Rachelle. You make me so proud when you are sweet to people who are hurting and when you pray for people!
AR: That was sad.
EM: What do you think you'll be doing ten years from now, when you're fifteen. [Almost threw up in my mouth]
AR: [Grins mischievously] Having a boyfriend!
EM: No, you won't. Why do you want a boyfriend, anyway?
AR: [Giggles, then whispers in my ear] To kiss.
EM: No way. Not until you're thirty.
AR: [Pouts] That's a long time. I don't know... Going to high school?
EM: That's right. Focusing on high school, instead of boys.
AR: [Sticks her tongue out at me]

EM: What is your favorite thing to do in the summer? 
AR: Swim! And go to the beach!!
EM: What do you think makes a person good looking?
AR: Having all the kinds of jewels and makeup, and having their hair up pretty.

EM: So they have to have those things to be pretty?
AR: Yes, and having pretty dresses and pretty high heels.
EM: Why can't they just be pretty the way God made them?
AR: Well, they can. But they will be more pretty than they are.
EM: What is the grossest thing you can think of?
AR: Ummm... A dead person. [I'm dropping that subject!]
EM: What do you think about boys? [Phooey. Didn't we already cover this?]
AR: Some boys are cute. Like my dad is. [Blushes]
EM: What about boys that aren't cute?
AR: Well, some of their things are cool. Kind of boyish though.
EM: What do you want to be when you grow up?
AR: A horse trainer. Or a person that works in a store.
EM: What makes you laugh?
AR: Watching funny shows. And telling jokes and stuff.
EM: What is your favorite joke?
AR: [Squinches her face up, as she makes one up in her head] Why did the dog zombie cross the road?
EM: [Rolling my eyes, I blame her father] Why?
AR: Because he had his brain birthday! Hahahahahahahahaha!!
EM: Huh? [I don't get it] Who is the funniest person you know?
AR: Opa! [Opa is her grandpa on Tony's side. If you know him, this is pretty funny.]
EM: [After I stop giggling] What is your favorite book?
AR: Bunny books. 

EM: Any particular one?
AR: All the bunny books except for books that are boring.
EM: If you could meet anyone in the world, who would you meet? [I'm fully expecting to hear Jesus, since she tells me all the time she wants to meet Him]
AR: The girl who plays Hanna Montana! And... [grinning and smirking at me] Justin Bieber!!!
EM: I just threw up in my mouth.
AR: I know, Mom.
EM: What did you think of this interview?
AR: Cool. I like it. So we're done?
EM: Yep.
AR: Then you can get back to cleaning. [Promptly walks away to finish getting ready for school]

So there you have her. My number one daughter. My miniature. My little smarty pants. Isn't she cute(obnoxious)? I'm a proud momma.


Friday, January 20, 2012

About My Muse, My Best Friend, My hubby

Let me introduce you to my best friend, the love of my life, my strength, my husband Tony. 
      Tony and I met at Camp Yamhill during the Senior Teen camp in the summer of 2000. We spent time with the same ornery group of friends but, at the time, both had our eyes on different people. Didn't really pay much attention to each other, though I remember enjoying a skit he was in during campfire. I just remembered him as the main character's lackey. It was not love at first sight. In fact, we were just acquaintances. I feel, in retrospect, that God meant it that way. We were close to some of the same people, but were not prepared for one another. Those who distracted us at the time unknowingly did God's work. We both had obstacles to overcome and grow from and personal and spiritual changes to make. Besides, we were kids. He was going into his freshman year of high school and I was going into my second year. Babies.
      Fast forward (or skip, to you younger folks) to 2004. I was in my second year at a small, ,Christian liberal arts college, Cascade, and finding my place among friends who had the same love of God as I had. I had recently written up a long, exhaustive list of what I required in someone I would spend my life with. I even categorized this list as "non-negotiable", "prefer to have", and "I'll probably settle for less." I prayed over it, and made the decision to focus on my spiritual life and my relationship with God, and let go of the desire for romantic love. That would come when He willed it. I enjoyed being at school and singing with the choir, but my academics were lacking. I'd always struggled with this due to retention and brain fog issues which are a frustrating part of Fibromyalgia. I had become somewhat of a quitter when I started struggling to understand or couldn't figure out what the instructor expected of me. I'd just stop showing up or I'd take notes, retain as much information as I could, but give up on getting the assignments in and passing.
      I also was, and have been most of my life, struggling with depression and anxiety, as well as insomnia. Again, these are common with Fibromyalgia. I often fell into despair for no apparent reason and would journal, or sleep. I was just coming out of one of the worst dark times after having lost my beloved uncle just months before. I started spending more time with other people and hanging out in the common areas of campus instead of hiding out in my dorm. 
       A lot of my friends from Camp Yamhill ended up going to Cascade as well, including Lynn, a friend whose dad went to school with my parents. I noticed a kind of familiar guy spent a lot of time with her. Figured it was her boyfriend. He was kind of cute, though, in a scruffy, frowny sort of way. One day, I happened to ask her who the cute guy was, to which she replied, "Cute? Gross. You don't mean my cousin, Tony, do you?" Ha! Good, I could begin developing a crush.
      Tony and I had a couple of classes together, APE (American Political Economics? I don't remember. It was a class that I unconsciously black-listed and mentally blocked) and choir. I sat in front of him. Mmm... Baritone. I love me some baritone, and he was a good one (still is.) I don't remember how it began, but he was soon incorporated into my group of friends. My best guy friend, John (or Mougli, to some), hit it off with him, too. We all played pool together, while listening to music, usually Cake, often Pink Floyd. We'd also play Apples to Apples, which is totally a riot with a bunch of smart alecks with ridiculous senses of humor.
       I learned in a communications class that the best time to get to know a guy is while playing a game or sport. Guys need something to do or look at to be able to get into "share" mode. I, of course, took full advantage of this knowledge and got Tony talking. We came from similar backgrounds and shared religious and political beliefs, and he loves his mama. These were on my list. Non-negotiable. (Eventually, I'd find he had every. single. quality. Every one that I had listed and prayed over. Even the ones I thought I'd end up settling on.
      The more I learned about him, the more I liked him and the cuter he got, but I was determined that I would focus on God. I had been sleeping better at night for a while, though never amazingly. One night, I realized I couldn't sleep (even medicated) because I was so excited to see, talk to, and spend time with Tony. I couldn't stop thinking about him long enough even to sleep. This became a pattern. I'd struggle to sleep at night, but not with unhappy thoughts and despairing, but with renewed vigor and zeal for life! I had really come to actually like who I was and felt that God liked who I was, but I was also wondering constantly how Tony saw me. It occurred to me that he never called me "dude" or anything like most of my guy friends did. He didn't see me as "one of the guys!" I was pretty sure of it. 
      I tried to broach the subject with Mougli without revealing anything, but he saw. He knew. "Ah know you like him," he drawled. No, no. I wasn't crazy about this guy. Just curious. He's different, that's all. Obviously, my friend is crazy about his new girlfriend, Rachelle, and wants everyone to be happy and twitterpated, too. One night, Mougli and I were on the phone ALL NIGHT. He was trying to convince me to reveal my feelings to Tony. He understood my apprehensions, as I had a history of falling for my guy friends, only to be let down. But he thought I really should let it out. Get it off my chest so I could learn Tony's feelings. 
     I had this (still have, actually) Arby's oven mitt toy from a kids' meal. A friend had given it to me. If you pull the thumb down, it reveals different answers like a Magic 8 Ball- "no,""ask again later,""maybe,""yes, yes, yes!"
      I kept getting "Yes, yes, yes!" every time I'd ask whether I should tell Tony how I felt. I know, lamest thing you've ever heard. This kept coming up EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. The whole time John and I were talking. So, I told him fine. I'd tell Tony that I was really starting to feel something for him. At lunch the next day. John let out a "Whoop!" and promptly told me to go to sleep. I didn't, but I tried. Even took my sleeping pill. Couldn't sleep anyway. 
      On the way to Chapel the next day, I asked Tony if we could have lunch together, just the two of us. He said yes. We went to Chapel, then choir.
      Lunch came and I sat at a table with my "food" and waited. A couple friends tried to sit with me as I waited and I shooed them gently away, saying I had to talk to someone. I may have hurt a feeling or two (sorry!), but soon I was at a table alone with Tony. I couldn't breathe. Yes, cliche. I know. Get over it, though; it's true. Seemed we were alone in the world. I don't know how long I sat there before saying anything, but I finally decided to go for it.
      "I can't sleep. I can't stop thinking about you, and wondering if you think of me. Basically, you are wasting my Ambien. I'm taking my pill at night, butIcan'tsleepbecauseI'mthinkingofyouandIcan'tstop," I paused. Tried to get a breath. "I'm finding myself more and more attracted to you."
      [Insert crickets here]
      Tony was eating. Lucky. I was too nervous. He finally glanced up. "I thought you seemed... attached."
      Oh crap. I'm going to be shot down.
      "You can eat, Misty," Tony looked nervous. Uncomfortable. Good! At least I wasn't the only one! I ate a little. Tony told me he wanted to "take some time to think about what I'd said."
      I actually don't remember the rest of the day after we went our separate ways. I just remember another sleepless night. This time, I had a tiny spark of hope, since he didn't screw up his face and go "Dude! You're one of the guys!" which is the usual reaction. Maybe, he was thinking of how to let me down gently, but at least he knew I was a girl! Maybe there's a chance.
      The next morning, on the way to chapel, he revealed to me that he was attracted to me too. We held hands during the prayer in chapel, then kept holding on. 
      After that, things moved faster. We had already spent most of our non-class time together, but now we were together almost every waking hour. The next evening we were watching a movie in the common area, and suddenly he was kissing me (sorry, friends, for all the PDAs, but I didn't see anyone else. It was just my love and me. Yes, love. That happened almost immediately.) 
      I felt... complete. At home. Relieved. That missing piece to the puzzle was there. The last time I remember attending APE, Tony looked over at me in class and told me he loved me. I told him the same. This was only four days after we were officially dating, but it felt like we'd known each other forever. We lived in the same building, goofed off with the same friends, even went to the same church once I began joining him at the church he'd attended all his life. 
      The rest has gone so fast. We were married a year and two days after we began dating. 10/21/05. We've been through the ups and downs of our first years of marriage, first time parenthood, second and third children, the stresses of unemployment and financial struggles, preeclampsia, surprise babies... Throughout everything, he's been my anchor in the storm. Candle on the water. [Insert your favorite cliche] He's my best friend, the best dad I've ever witnessed, adoring our daughters, and my very favorite person in the world.       
      Thank You, God, for this man. He is infinitely patient with my health problems, limitations, disabilities, and dramas. He is smart, he is funny, he listens to me, he's interesting (even on topice in which I'd never been interested before), and Tony loves our three little girls. a lot. Tony loves me. He LOVES ME! Even knowing every single thing about me, and living with me for six and a half years.
      In fact, we love each other more and more. Our relationship has had its rough times, but our hold to our faith in God and one another, and our love for our children, have, and always will, clear the obstacles. Put them behind us. We are forever.
 This picture was taken this past summer, by our five year old, Rachelle, a couple of weeks after our third daughter, Judy was born. That's my I-look-like-crap disclaimer.

"Our" song, Love You Madly, by Cake

“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”
― Dr. Seuss

Thursday, January 19, 2012

First Post. Happy Birthday, JudyMom!

Today is my fabulous Ma-in-law's birthday, so I think I'll begin my blogging adventure by writing a short post about JudyMom. Are you worried? Don't be. Here's why- I like her. A lot. *GASP* In fact, she is one of the most important people in my life. It's true. I'm not after brownie points. JudyMom has a great sense of humor, is loving, forgiving, kind, secretly sensitive (don't tell her I said that), down-to-earth, and generally great. She raised three amazing sons, has a full time career, teaches Bible classes at church, and is a talented card maker. She is a wonderful person and I'm thankful to call her my mother in law.