Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Give Them Truth And Let Them Choose

Life is a funny thing. We grow up desiring some really superficial things, only to become 'adults' and realize that now that we are old enough to do whatever we want, it's not really worth doing.  Well, most of us anyway.

I've seen friends and family turn to drugs or alcohol. I have seen the dark sides of addiction in too many people that I've cared about. I am a born helper and knowing that there is nothing I can do to help someone kills me. When they make that choice for change, though, I can be there for them. It breaks my heart waiting for that choice, and sometimes, it just doesn't come. 

Why do we want all these things? Why do they seem so exciting before we can try it? Macboy is 13, I know that many kids his age have already experienced drugs, tobacco, alcohol and even sex. I also know that he is not doing any of these things. I am close to my kids, I am here and I am accessible. And also, one of the first to know what he is doing, because he tells me. I'm clinging to this relationship for as long as I can. I know that there will come a time that he won't want to tell me, but I hope we can get around it.

Yesterday was 'Health Day' at his school. All kinds of presentations were given all around the school and they classes made their way through them. I'm proud, because he said he didn't really learn anything that he didn't know already. I'm proud because I was the one to teach him most of that. I never want my kids to have to learn from other kids. I will always answer their questions and try to prepare them for what is coming.

But this Health Day did lead to an interesting discussion about drugs between him and I. We haven't had to have a lot of those drug talks, but we've had a few. He asked me questions about addiction, because he knows that I've had a long battle with nicotine. We've had an alcoholic in our lives. I've got a strung out cousin who is in and out of jail and rehab. I think we both felt better. 

I'm not saying we're angels, us parents. There are our own times of experiments and such. Though I can't speak for what the Trucker was like before I met him, I know that I have made good choices with my life. I won't lie to him either. If he is old enough to ask, he is old enough for honesty.

My downfall was drinking. I grew up with alcohol in the house and the first time I had rum (and got tipsy) was in grade 6. I was drunk often through grades 7-9. Not good. I was smart, though, and my marks didn't slip too low. And when I hit high school and the kids were all just starting to get into what I'd already done for awhile, I was kind of done with it. By the time I was old enough to legally drink, I was an extreme hangover walking. It quickly became painful to drink. I do have drinks every now and then, but it's not something I really enjoy or ever look forward to. More than 3 of anything and I'm down for a minimum of 24 hours. Which just can't be done when you have three kids!

Macboy is very logical. He often reminds me of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory and it cracks me up. Our conversation yesterday was quite philosophical, really. And it's not really about health or the effects on a body. He asked "Why do people choose to give up control of themselves to a chemical substance?"  "Would you let someone else make all your choices for you? At least, if it's a person, you have a chance because they might not be stupid. A chemical makes no sense. Has no conscience. Doesn't care about YOU."

He then quizzed me about my nicotine addiction and my caffeine addiction.  Smart boy, that one.

What I don't understand is why time and nature work the way they do. Why do laws state that we must be such and such age before we can drink or buy cigarettes. Sure, it makes it harder for younger kids to get, but really, it just makes them desire it more. I think in some ways withholding access to these things makes the user more excessive when they finally can get it themselves. Many of us have that year or two of partying like mad, 'college years' and all that. Many of us try it out, and then realize that it was never worth the hype and the health risks are not worth a few short hours of whatever it is we've had. Many of us stop a lot of these dangerous things. But not all of us.

I find, with my kids, that anytime I try to restrict something, they just want it more. Candy, video games, staying up late, whatever. I am not a very strict parent, I'll admit. I have boundaries that can not be crossed, but I always make sure they understand why I have set those boundaries. My boys have both tasted beer and wine. Neither of them like it. It wasn't something I had that they couldn't. And now, it's not an issue at all. They simply know that they didn't like the taste. They ask why I have any of it, I answer as honestly as I can. I don't really know. In small doses, in moderation, I enjoy a few drinks with friends. I can relax in a different way and loosen up. But I don't do it all the time because drunk Wendy is not Wendy. 
No matter what anyone says. 

I believe that you can't be a different person just because of alcohol. I think some traits are lying under the surface, regardless of drugs or alcohol. The sober person can make the rational choice to NOT act on those impulses. An intoxicated person loses that inhibition. We do things we normally would not do. There is a reason we are inhibited! If we were ever intended to act the way we do when we are drunk, we would act that way everyday. I simply don't understand it. I guess I'd have had to become an alcoholic to understand, and if that is the case, I'm grateful to never understand.

I think it is simple human nature that makes us desire what we can't have. The grass is greener mentality. When we have it, we don't know what it means anyway. And then we grow up and realize it was never worth having anyway. 

Think of how much time we can waste in our lives, experimenting with things we never wanted to begin with. I can't imagine how much farther ahead I could be in my life if bars were nothing special. I grew up in a time where children were allowed in some bars up until a certain time of night. I sat and played games with friends while our parents drank together. I saw how they acted stranger and stranger after each drink, and I saw what I never wanted to be. 

I don't want to subject my children to seeing what I have seen, but I do want them to grow up knowing the truth. And I will continue to tell them things they may not want to hear, I will give them the truth they deserve. I will pray daily that they make the right choices when their time comes.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Close My Eyes And Think

The itch to write is really strong lately, but the words are just not flowing. Or, perhaps they are and I'm just not listening carefully enough. I need to slow my mind, stop the racing. Stop and focus on one thing.

I thank my previous education for my typing skills. They give me the power to close my eyes and just let the words pour from my head to the page, without a filter in between.

The sun that was so warm and bright this morning is hiding behind dark grey clouds and I feel like my motivation is hiding with it. So, I close my eyes and take in my surroundings. The kids are giggling downstairs. For a few brief moments they are all playing together. The giggles like a song to my subconscious, if only I could tap into their joy and steal just a tiny bit. Would they laugh less or would I be able to join? Probably neither. Perhaps stealing a little strength would deflate them. It would just bring everyone down.

Stop, breathe, listen. Inhale.... Mmmmm... Lilacs. Our tree is in full bloom right now and someone has put some flowers on the table. Sometimes, the scent is overwhelming. It is just another distraction. Sometimes, the light and the kids happy noises and a TV and the flowers and the smell of dinner cooking.... it's just enough to leave me reeling. Too much, just too much happening all around me. I crave silence and darkness to bring me back to earth.

This time, the scent of the lilacs - a combination of white and purple - is soothing. Like a warm caress of spring, wrapping me up and making me whole. It's a scent of home. It's a scent of spring. Spring is new beginnings, birth of the flowers and buds on the trees. Bugs and construction. Progress, for whatever that's worth.

I am making progress. I've been sticking to this weight loss plan of mine and doing okay. Today, I lacked appetite but I forced myself to eat breakfast and that turned things around for a while. I will still be on track after today. Progress is good. I have a dream of a new version of myself held firm in my mind. I don't need a degree to define me, I don't need to be skinny either. I know that I am enough, just as I am, right now. But I am taking steps to grow. I don't ever want to stop growing.

We cut back the lilac bush every few years. It grows tall and reaches the powerlines over our yard. It grows wide and hangs over the neighbor's fence. It constantly grows. No matter how much we cut down, it surges back in almost no time at all.

I'm glad I'm not grass, though I do sometimes relate. I struggle and persevere only to feel like I've had my head chopped off and thrown down, but I keep growing up. Keep starting over and pushing. Nothing really stops it.

I love to lay in the grass in the middle of summer. When it is soft and lush and green. Both literally and figuratively, nothing makes me feel more grounded. I am just a small piece in this life puzzle. Playing my part as best I can. Occasionally improvising and, often, dealing with an unexpected change of direction.

I am happy, for whatever that is worth. I don't know that in the grand scheme of things, it really matters a lot. it makes it easier to get things done, to spend time with my family and help them be the best they can be. When they are at their best, I feel I've done my best. This is my purpose. To find my dreams, to chase them and to teach those I love how to do the same. I want my kids to surpass my accomplishments. To grow up and 'show me how it's done.'

Some of my best writing comes in these times of melancholy. Some of it comes from anger. Sometimes, it's tear stained paper. But it's all emotion. The benefit of writing fiction is that I can take that litle bit of me and turn it into something so much more. I can turn it in to someone elses dream. I can turn it into someone's nightmare. The point is, I can change it. I can take my sadness and write the success of a protagonist. I can take whatever I'm feeling and make it anything I want.

This is where I thrive. If the rest of the world could get a tiny glimpse of what occurs in my head, they would want to live there too.

But life happens on the outside. And so, I must open my eyes and return to my reality. Guess it's time to cook some dinner and I should probably fold that laundry I've been avoiding all day.

And I am grateful that my reality is actually pretty good. I am blessed.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Reading and Rambling

I'm in the mood to write right now, but I have no clue what I actually want to write about. So, hold on to something, we're going on the rollercoaster ride of my brain with no real direction. I usually find that the road I want sort of makes itself appear. I'm just going to type all this randomness until something happens, or until I'm just done. Okay? Okay.

No, wait... I have to go switch the laundry...

Have I ever told you how much I hate doing laundry? At least I made three bucks on this load. I hate that no one checks their pockets here, but I love that no one checks their pockets. haha

I'm feeling mellow today. I finished a novel this afternoon, last of a series of 6. Which is funny because if I had known when I read the first one that there were six, I probably wouldn't have started it. I read one, then found out there were more. Thought it was a trilogy until I came across the fourth. Then I was done for a month or two. I thought it was strange that the story didn't really end. Each book has it's own ending, so you do feel that it is over, but that one seemed like it should wrap up the whole story, you know? And out of the blue, I stumble into "Book Six Has Been Released!"

Ummm... six? really? So I scramble to the library and get book five. Read it in a couple days and then checked for six. The library had copies on order, not even in yet- THAT new. Placed my hold and relished the feeling of being the first library patron to read this copy of this book... Yep, I'm that kind of book dork.

Anyway... I finished it today. I loved it. I really felt connected to the characters, even though they were under 15. It was well written. If I tried to describe it, you'd probably think I was nuts. The storyline is kind of sci fi, but very cool if you give it a shot. If you want some reading that will last awhile but not get boring, give the Gone Series by Michael Grant a try.

Well that was interesting. There are book trailer videos on the home page at that site. Funny how video doesn't really match up to your imagination.

Ever done that before? Picked up a book that you would have avoided if you knew it was a series?

I'm starting Perks of Being a Wallflower next.

I started a weight loss plan two weeks ago. Tracking over at SparkPeople, eating better and exercising more. I'm down 3.5 lbs so far. Lets hope I don't spring back up!! I hate that. I lost twenty lbs. last year but then gained 15 back in no time when I quit smoking. I'm done with that. This weight is coming OFF. I have a closet full of really nice clothes that I want to wear again. Dammit, I want to be too small for them!!! But first things first, I will go one day at a time and just keep paying attention and making good choices. I don't want to 'diet' really, no drastic measures. Just maintain my health and pray it all comes together.

24 school days left until summer.  Sad that I started counting down before the kids did.

Its a grey rainy day here today. Normally, I'd hate that. Today is okay, it's been so dry and there have been fires all over the place. We need the rain. I swear I can already see the grass getting greener.

This didn't really help my need to write. And it probably didn't provide much in the way of entertainment for you. It's a little heavy on the book review side too... I should watch that. I read a LOT. I apologize, sometimes it spills over.  Like when I read the Alchemist, it held on to me for a long time. I can't wait until someone else can say they got sucked right in to a novel that I wrote. But, my character is kind of in hiding write now. She's lost in the back of my mind. Perhaps thinking of what she needs to do next. I don't know. I know that she will make an appearance again very soon. She never stays away long. And usually, it's about 1 am when she starts filling my head with ideas.

Take care friends... I'm off to cook dinner and probably read some more.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Now We Are Really Living Right

This weekend was a long weekend for us, extended a little extra by choice. It was a wonderful weekend. We traveled to visit in-laws who live 5 hours away. Saturday was a day for the Trucker to enjoy his family. I chose to stay behind with my kids at their house, while everyone enjoyed an afternoon of golf.

First, I'd like to mention that in my dark places and dark days, I hated those moments. I felt the pressure of packing and preparing just to arrive somewhere and be 'stuck' at the house with my kids. I have often felt that it was time wasted; after all, I could just as easily spend a whole day alone with my kids at home. Why drive five hours to do it?  This time my perspective had shifted a bit.

I realized I had a perfect opportunity to do NOTHING. I didn't have to clean house. I didn't have to do laundry. I had absolutely no commitments anywhere. So, the kids and I had a glorious day of doing... nothing.

Which leads to the second point. In the process of doing nothing, we did so much more. I had no timelines, no deadlines, no chores; so, when the kids asked to do something, I could easily say "Yes."  We relaxed, took things slow and did whatever we felt like. It started with a little soak in a hot tub; Angel Baby quite enjoyed it. After lunch, we walked up the street to the park. We played until we just didn't feel like playing anymore. It was a great time and I have a ton of pictures. (I won't be posting them, sorry, I don't post many pictures of my kids here). We headed back to the house and relaxed. I read and the kids played. Then, we were due for another dip in the hot tub... because, well, when you have a hot tub at your disposal, you USE it. It's just a simple fact of life, right?

I did go out with the adults in the evening for a few hours, but up until then the kids had 100% of my attention, all day. A rare treat for all of us. They didn't have to wait when they asked me a question. I didn't have to put down a phone or turn away from a computer. The kids didn't even turn on the TV for the whole day. We were all content to just do what felt right to us.

One thing that made me feel good, one of many things that day, was that it didn't seem strange or awkward to any of us. The kids were not shocked by my attention. This was a great reminder that I must be doing something right. They know that they can count on my attention any time, so it was not a weird adjustment when I shifted and focused on them for a full day. That makes me proud. 

Even that night, when I crawled into an unfamiliar guest room bed, I was filled with such a feeling of peace. I was calm in a way I hadn't been for months. I've moved my life away from those dark places and can truly feel the sunshine in my life.

This peaceful feeling carried me through the whole weekend. And as we set off on our five hour drive home, the vehicle was a happy place. 

No one had any reason to rush. We stopped in so many little places on our drive home that it took more than seven hours to make our 5 hour trip. There were no electronics in the vehicle. The kids played and giggled that full belly giggle that makes everyone laugh. We explored a few places along the highway that we'd never stopped at before. 
By the time we got home, we were all exhausted but not with that 'drained and empty' feeling from a boring five hour drive. We were exhausted from happiness. Each of the kids fell asleep quick that night, and all three with smiles and sweet dreams.

I did try hard in my dark days to make these little moments happen. I am certainly glad that I did! I'm happy that no matter how hard it was to roll out of bed and even get dressed some days, I just kept doing it. I'm glad that even though I had days where I just wanted to lock myself in the bathroom just to get away from children, I didn't. I sat and listened to the crazy exaggerated stories that my children fed me twelve times or more. I looked them in the eye when they spoke as often as I could manage. And now, it's just something that happens all on it's own. I don't have to force myself to step off the beaten trail and do something different. I don't have to force myself to dive in with the kids and live like they do. I can just BE.

The old story goes "Practice Makes Perfect" and this is one instance where every ounce of practice I put forth has paid off tenfold. Even the Trucker is picking it up, he had no hesitation at all to stop at these random places and explore, just like we did on our long mountain trip last year. We are a much better family unit than we have ever been before and it just comes naturally. 

We are finally living life right.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Far From Perfect But Refreshed Anyway

I'm sure you have noticed some changes here. I hope you like what you see. I felt that since I write so little about Food these days, the theme was misleading. 

I am resigned to deal with the available options in Blogger, which are few, but I want to have some separation of topics as well. Hopefully it will help you to find what you actually want to read about. I've had a wide variety of stories listed over the last couple years, but I'm trying to find a decent way to share it all with you. 

I decided to change the heading of my little blog as well. No longer focusing solely on the negatives of what I can't do, but a fresh way to say "Hey, I'm not perfect. I can't do everything. But there are some really cool things I can do, or try to do anyway."

Welcome if you are new here. And thank you
if you have been here before, I'm glad you came back.

I am starting my degree in September and I am nervous. I'm worried about time management. I'm worried about Angel Baby transitioning. I'm worried about parking downtown. I'm worried about sharing classrooms with kids that are not much older than mine. But I am also so excited. I'm incredibly inspired and I am so ready to work for this. I do intend to write as much as I can about the trials and triumphs of returning to school. I have searched for blogs from others in my position and I'm really not finding anything helpful. There are single moms in school, 20 year olds with a baby, college after divorce... Some are even quite faith-based and not really about school at all.  Not that I have anything against single moms or young moms, and nothing against moms with faith, I am simply trying to find something specific.

So, I will share. I believe that going to school will be much more complicated than working full-time. I will have my class hours, but I will still have to juggle homework and studying along with taking care of my husband and three kids. This is going to be a huge transition for all of us. Many changes will come in the next several months as we try to work together to cover the bases that I'm missing since I will no longer be a stay at home mom. Maybe, through my trial and error, we might just find some great ideas or time-savers that everyone will love.

If you have a blog about a mom going back to school in similar circumstances, or know of one, please post in the comments or send me a message on Facebook or through email (you can find it in my profile). I'd love to find some.

So, please, while you are here, take a look around. Let me know your thoughts. Share any blogger tips you might have to make things better. Tell me what works and definitely tell me if something doesn't work!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Running in Place - A Treadmill Adventure

I had to cancel my gym membership last summer. I wasn't really thrilled about it, but when I left my job I had to reduce my expenses also. I've been struggling with fitness since then. I've also been battling nicotine addictions and that has caused big fluctuations in my weight also.

I am now three months smoke free again and I feel great about that. I managed to get through it this time without horrible binging since I chose healthy snacks to munch on and I measured them out so I wouldn't just eat indefinitely. BUT... Nicotine DOES affect my metabolism. It was a painfully long road to lose 20 lbs before and within 2 months (not even) I had 15 of them back.

So, I've been on the lookout for a treadmill for awhile. They are just so BIG and so expensive that I never seem to find something I like. One day a few weeks ago, I mentioned this to my Dad. He has one in his basement that is not being used and I asked if I could buy it. He said I could have it free as long as I hurry up and get it out of there.

Three weeks of shuffling, debating, trying to find the perfect spot to put a big machine like that, and I was off to pick it up. Surprise! It's small. It's actually got a shorter deck that what I remembered and I was fortunate enough to fit it in the corner of my bedroom, exactly where I hoped it would go. Dad had recently lubricated the track and I needed to make some adjustments to the tension and such. Got it set perfect and humming along.

I was totally pumped up. I had my workout gear on, tunes at the ready, Angel Baby was all set up to play on my bed. Pulled my hair back. Grabbed some ice cold water... Started up the machine.

Five minutes in to a still slow paced walk, the thing started surging. Sudden bursts of great speeds then a lag and back to the original setting. The motor is sparking each time it surges too. SIGH. I have a few calls to make now to see if it will be worth fixing at all, or if I now have a big machine to run in place on.... without a motor.

I swear, it is one step forward and two back all the time.
image via ifamilykc.com

Yes, I am aware that there is a sidewalk outside. But have you ever tried to walk at a decent pace with a preschooler in tow? I have the energy to do this in the morning, but the childcare in the evening. Something will work out... I know it will. Just have to keep being patient.