Wednesday, September 25, 2013

In the Midnight, In the Moonlight.

Image_thumb[3]

So, I have this friend who went through a heart wrenching divorce last year and has since sworn off jumping into a serious relationship so she can focus on her cool kids and career... but unlike myself who would probably stop shaving my legs and use the now vacant other half of my bed to hold midnight snacks and vampire trash novels, she has quite cheerfully thrown herself into loads of casual dating, totally puts herself out there, and is somehow as engaging and funny as always while she deals with her new normal and the day to day grieving (and restructuring) process that comes from the total annihilation of that little thing we call hopes and dreams. Her reward for this mischief?

Among her suitors she is dating a MOUNTAIN MAN. Like, she met him when he was TRADING leather in the mountains, he sleeps on a rot iron bed in the small cabin he built with mud and straw, showers with "two water jugs hanging in the sun", and last week sent her a text that said:

"Ive been scraping a hide that I started yesterday. And smoking hides. And Ive got an elk to skin in a couple hours. I might have a rifle sold, so I may have to go an mark it as sold on the internet. And soaking a hole with hide water to dig out for log fence Im building. What are you up to?"

I'm telling you this because when she calls me and tells me on their first date he picked her up in full cowboy getup and they made out in his truck in the rain, well... I can't help but think it's kind of a tragedy she doesn't indulge all of us with Facebook status updates about this.

(you know, since she's a respectable person, and I wouldn't know a secret if it punched me in the mouth)

Whew! I feel better. See, lady, I told you this belonged on the internet. Just think of all the single thirty something moms you've inspired to get out there with their awesome selves!

Now I have to go. I'm setting up the hose to spray over the driveway and I'm going to try and convince Jon to make out with me in his truck when he gets home from work.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

command code equals deleted

The following message was delivered to one Mr. King when his wife cried over the couch cushions as they were found cast all about the beautiful living room of her beautiful home, and I AM NOT ASHAMED. That's why I made you your own version here. If a tree falls in a forest and there is no computer around for me to blog my feelings about it, does it still make a sound?

...

Okay software engineers, do you remember that first program you wrote? When years of study, months of work, and maybe days and days of programming finally came together, and the program opened... And it worked? The thrill?! The pride?! 

Now imagine, even though it will always be a magical point in history, in order to ever write anything new again, you always have to write that first program again. From scratch. Every day. No matter what you do, or how you attempt to save it, by the time the sun rises, the careful lines of code have evaporated, and everything you've created depends on those lines being in place, and there is definitely no way to create anything new without them... 

Of course, through the years you've probably tweaked it here and there, streamlined the process--it's not like it's even hard anymore! (or challenging, or fun) You could write it in your sleep. It used to take days, then hours, but now (when everything is running right, nothing is overheating, and your memory is at it's finest) you can write it in as quickly as a couple hours. 

No big deal.

Just A COUPLE HOURS of your life.

EVERY.

Single.

Day.

Imagine waking up and knowing even though yesterday was the best you've ever written it, you even sort of enjoyed it again, as your feet hit the ground, and you Sonicare the sleep smell out of your mouth hole, you know it's gone. 

Well, now you know how I feel about housekeeping. 

Some of the rewards of my job ARE like writing a program; they come in explosive bursts of SUCCESS, or soft whispers of affection... but in between those sweet executable double clicks when the pieces fall together and the fans of the hardware whirr to life in anticipation...  

Couch cushions. 

Folding clean clothes. 

Kitchen counters. 

Shoes in the hallway.

Leaves on the front porch.

Dog poop on the back porch.

Clean dishes in the washer.

Dirty hair on other people's heads.

Trash cans.

Then work up some equation that takes the essence of those tiny tedious chores, times it by a thousand other random jobs, then develop an algorithm to determine which parts of the brain the repetition of those will begin to eat away at first...

...and that's my day in terms a software engineer <cough> jon king <cough> could understand. 

Except I'm pretty sure I've never had a magical moment with laundry. 

...

Side note engineers: this post in no way reflects the part where, while your actively, CURRENTLY! typing, small humans can walk up and begin smashing keys with jam covered digits. And if you're really good at your job, you don't even get to push them aside and fix it quickly, you have to fold your frustrated hands into your armpits, stand behind them patiently, and walk THEM through the clean up process: 

Double click right there.

No. Not there. Over. 

More.

More.

Too far. Go back. See that sideways triangle without it's bottom? (Because you have to use words the uneducated spawn of your loins will understand) Click there.

...

But that's a post for another day. Now this Mormon mother is going to look for the program written in the tiny keychain flask Urban Outfitters probably intended for hipster twenty somethings, but should really be marketed in Good Housekeeping. They. Would. Sell. OUT.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Don’t Wait

It was a hard spring, and summer came down like a hammer. Living in the "American dream" doesn't change those facts one bit, just because it's a privilege to have the troubles I have, I'm still the one who has to decide when to plow through or sit down and cry. 

Or both.

But we did it! And now that we are on the other side of hardhammersummer, I see even more clearly how very treacherous it got, and I see how many people are still in theirs, and how many people have survived theirs in the past, and how many people have one a comin' but I'm pretty sure they haven't been watching the weather forecast and I wish they would buy an umbrella, like, yesterday.

I would lend them mine but it’s full of holes. That’s cool though, because I just found out

I am ferocious. 

I am not a quitter.

And I am smarter and braver than I ever believed.

Finding the right school for Russell was never a question of "if" for me, it was always a question of "when, and where, and how long will I look? How hard will I try, how often will I cry tears of frustration when doors close? Will I have to open my own school to do this, and am I ready to give up everything else I ever wanted to do, or be, to do that?"

When the educators of Carden Academy welcomed us to their school last week it was the best day of my life. 

Period. 

Why? We took Russell out of public school 6 weeks early because of serious concerns with his teacher, another student, and our continuing education about what it means to be an extraordinary person with ADHD. After Russell was kicked out of two preschools, we found our sanctuary at Cottage Preschool where we learned that he wasn't just saving it for me, but when any adult with a spark of their own takes the time to "get" Russell, not only does he flourish, he shines. 

After we left Cottage for kindergarten, the glow began to fade until two years past found us with the fresh sting of rejection after a local private school called him "too enthusiastic" during a two day trial. When we found Carden, they too had reservations after his two day trial, but after speaking with them, they relented by giving him the opportunity to attend summer school. 

Between that offer and his first day, we were informed that his public school teacher had been dismissed at the end of the year, and was blocked from ever returning, even as a substitute. I can only speculate what her termination papers say, but after having spent hours and hours in her classroom, I felt both validated that our public school standards are at least not laying on the basement floor, and Out. Of. My. MIND. That Russell lost his first grade year to a teacher who routinely stopped her class to tell them how they are making her "already difficult life even harder" when they raise their hands while she's talking, and who, when I witnessed another child repeatedly assault other kids in the class, would shrug her shoulders and say SHE didn't see it (because my parent voice means nothing?)

I'm glad we took him out, because that is how I was able to spend enough time with him to realize we were in a medicine crisis.  I'm glad we had the opportunity to clear our systems and regroup, but that sentence doesn't really cover how AWFUL that dance is, withdrawal, dosage adjustments, not enough patience to go around, labels being reassessed... feeling completely inadequate, as a parent with labels of her own to battle, to be everything the people in my family need from The Mother.

So Russell left Kindergarten at the top of his class, but began his first day of summer school Carden below grade level. 

And Two days in... I knew we were in trouble. I could see it on him, hear it in his voice, and that's when I realized I had undermined him by letting him know this was trial summer school. The third morning as he ran out the door I decided to tell him a great loving lie, hugged him tight, and congratulated him with all my heart for making into Carden because I KNEW he could do it. Then I promptly made a phone call and had an appointment with his teacher and principle even though she basically told me she was planning on calling me Monday to deliver bad news, but I could come in if I wanted.

I had a weekend then. I gnashed my terrible teeth, and rolled my terrible eyes, and then cried my horrible tears to some very important peeps, and I went to that Monday meeting with a proposition. 

Give him a chance.

Let me see, for my own scientific purposes, if allowed to settle in for what might take longer than other kids, if he won't become more than we can see now. "Educate me on education" I asked them. And let me see that I am wrong when I say that some kids may attended Carden, but Russell is the kind of kid who will BECOME Carden.

I knew he loved it, I knew his cursive that he picked up faster and more beautifully than any 8 year old his teacher had ever seen,  was worth fighting for. Yes, I was fighting for cursive!

And these extraordinary educators met my challenge! Because of my proactive nature, and because the day I told Russell was IN, his anxiety dropped and so did some of the troubling issues they were going to tell us about. I told them what I had done and was prepared for cold rejection, for statistics and compliments on character as they shuffled us out the door, but instead they allowed us the gift of time! His teacher began putting in an extra hour with Russell every morning.

And I was grateful.

And scared.

He got better and better everyday! Leaps and bounds on his school work and his behavior at home!  But I knew... four weeks to catch up, to settle down, to get it together...

As hard as I tried to prepare myself for the inevitable dismissal, to really glean what I could from the experience, the day before his last day of school I crumbled. I am ashamed to admit I lost faith... I think it was simply too painful to hope for, and I didn't know how I was going to be able be for him in his life what this one school was for a month.

When we went to the school, we passed a woman heading to her car in tears. I know the school sounds elitist, but after spending time in the classroom, it's really not that... it's a learning style, it's the Carden method, it's a quick pace, and even though I was sad, I trusted them, that they would let me know if Russell would feel behind, inadequate, and essentially "on trial" everyday he was there which isn't good for anyone.  

We began our conversation with some of the finer details of Russell's academic struggles and learning style, and suddenly we were in a conversation where they were referencing our first meeting, when I said Russell would "become Carden" if given a chance, of how at the end of that meeting I told them "Russell will get where he is going because I am his mother; it's not the weight once lifted and it's done, but the length, and I will ALWAYS be his mother."

Then they welcomed our boy with tears in their eyes. They praised his character, his effort, his cursive, his art, and his teacher told me in all her years teaching she has never met an ADHD child who is so WILLING to course correct, and who has been able to connect with the other children so they root for him when he works a math problem at the board. 

I am so proud of him. I am proud of us. I kept it together for the most part in that meeting, but when we left the building I was instantly wrapped in the ferocious arms of the best father a boy could ever pray for, and I cried a salt river all over Jon Kings nice work shirt, and I saw the triumph shine in his beautiful face--the man who religiously drew goofy stick figure pictures on every brown lunch bag Russell ever took to preschool all those years ago. 

...

Fight for your kids. Start now. Don't wait. SEE them for who they really are, that information will guide you more than any outside source on the planet. There are experts for everything, but we are the Worlds Experts on our children--we could be interviewed on the news and it would say that under our names! Believe in your ability to navigate, because that belief will be your compass, and it's NEVER too late to get your bearings. 

With hope and gratitude,

Alissa Rae

russell

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Damn You Catherine Zeta-Jones

And not for that time you said "I know a million dollars is a lot of money to most people, but to us it's just not."

No, I'm mad at you because even with your five luxury homes, full time staff, and measly "millions" of dollars, you still checked into a seaside care center to manage your bipolar, which essentially means the rest of us with our overflowing pockets filled with tens of dollars are totally screwed. 

I mean, I guess I am grateful she was so graciously public about her ongoing management of bipolar, but mostly I'm mad that even she can't "fix" this, or at least keep it private using the Scrooge McDuck swimming pool of gold coins she keeps in the basement. 

...

Do you know what they call two overlapping conditions? Co-morbid. Isn't that MORBID?! What's wrong with co-existing? Or even conjoined? Like some amazing three armed two headed goat, but we get co-morbid? It makes me feel like a slab of grey human in the morgue of those ABC crime shows. 

The fact is, ADHD is kind of like one of those sleazy characters on Melrose Place that will sleep with anyone. ADHD and OCD? Oh yeah, they hook up all the time. They would probably hook up more but they spend a lot of time washing their hands and then forgetting why they were washing their hands. I assume ADHD and ODD have a lot of angry make out sessions. But ADHD/bi-polar? They are so sleazy I assume they must have thousands of secret love children. ADHD will totally be your baby mama.

I'm telling you this because when you start down the road of ADHD awareness, it's suddenly not good enough that you've become willing to accept it as part of your life, but suddenly you have to consider all these other lovers. No one told us it was a package deal, and I would really prefer a monogamous relationship with one mental illness if that's alright. I mean, I'm Mormon but I'm not THAT Mormon. 

Sigh. 

Okay, so finally I just accepted the pattern of highs and lows, seasons of feeling immortal followed by seasons of total despair, sometimes cycling through an entire year of seasons several times in a day. Although I should pause and mention the gift of ADHD with bipolar is preferable to me than what I have witnessed in singular bipolar. In the same way we can never make our brains be quiet to sleep, or watch a movie without fidgeting, it's also that non stop chatter that will talk you out of dangerous highs and lows. Because it seriously never shuts up. 

...

I tell you all of this because as my FB friends know, I went to check myself into the hospital yesterday because switching off the Resperidone sent my heart murmur into a tizzy and I couldn't feel my lips or feet or hands because of my low blood pressure, and for weeks I was having ten second rages where I didn't feel like myself, and as I got off the medicine that was causing that, they seemed to get worse and also added ten second hopeless fits that were not who I am. In between those fits, I felt nothing. Like a void of human emotion, and I wanted to care, sort of, but I didn't feel anything enough to want it that bad. 

Isn't that sad? Here I am taking medicines I'd rather not to try and be my best self and it turns me into a stranger and makes me dizzy. And the first two weeks of it were so great! I remember the week after I began taking it, such an overwhelming sense of clarity, and relief that I wasn't terrified anymore. After what we just went through with Russell and school, and being rejected from a stupid snobby school, then falling apart in his current school, to being on the maybe list for another great school, all the while dealing with his intense mood swings that usually lashed out at me with articulate specifics of my failures toward him... I was sort of living in a shell shocked place. The Resperidone was a God send those first couple weeks... until I got foggy and didn't notice it. And stared to change, and didn't notice it. And then became angry, and noticed it, but didn't know why. 

...

And now you have the background of what led me to the hospital yesterday, but what I haven't told you yet is that I didn't end up checking in. I might be a little cracked, but once they hooked me up with a mobile heart monitor and I had the overwhelming support of my family and friends I was able to step back, call my therapist and get over to her office. I turned myself and my bank account over to her, I don't have a money swimming pool! Together, she has helped Jon and I plan an affordable five day detox from the inpatient facility of my OWN bedroom. After our appt she sent me to acupuncture, then Jon and I had dinner and I came home and slept hard for twelve hours. 

This morning I was off to visit my psychiatrist, then back home where I am writing this. I am going to watch and follow a yoga breathing DVD when I'm done here, and then if my legs (which are still seizing with charlie horses from the withdrawal) will cooperate, I am going to the Angels vs Yankees game with Jon and his brother and wife. 

I'm just trying to breath. 

I just want to live. 

I can't do this without your support. 

Already our local friends have risen to the occasion in helping with the kids, my doctors have risen to the occasion by taking the time to really help me schedule this weekend and set me up with appropriate outpatient care, and my far away family and friends have lifted my spirits by their non judgmental and unconditional love and support. 

I should be embarrassed by this I guess, but I'm not. I WANT to share this with anyone interested enough to read it, because even though I resent her indifference to having oodles of monies, oh! and a PUBLICIST to carefully word everything for her, I'm glad Catherine Zeta Jones didn't try to fix this herself at the expense of her family, and that she isn't ashamed to admit we all need help sometimes. 

Some more than others...

Yeah. Of Sunshine.

IMG_20130609_091813

(p.s. they are totally worth it)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Depression After Success

That (the title) is a THING. It's like a real thing! It's been called a lot of names by psychologists over the years, but Dr. Hallowell seems to have coined that perfect three word phrase when he made it a chapter title in one of his many awesome ADHD books (Driven to Distraction etc.)

O.M.G.

Depression AFTER success. 

DEPRESSION after SUCCESS.

Go ahead, let it sink in. Then if you google it you will find all these links to ADHD blogs, to bi-polar blogs, support for Olympians who return from the games and fall apart, mothers who finally get pregnant after years of infertility and IVF, people who survive cancer, people who finally have their dream home, addicts who have been sober for about a year, college graduates...

I think everyone gets some "depression after success", but for the people like me (and the people I am most drawn to in life), it is a DEFINING and non stop cycle in the life experience. An intense project, good or bad, gives you purpose, intention and deep satisfying focus. It releases you from the guilt of the other things in your life you may not be managing all that well. Then imagine after you spend days, weeks, months, even YEARS becoming good at something, a mini expert... when the task is complete not only are you left with a void where all your focus used to channel, but you are left with all this knowledge that must now be stored away--and all your left with is Tuesday, May 21st 2013. You wake up. It's your birthday. Your youngest child started school yesterday and the dog potty trained really fast.

You were an excellent mother of babies. You WILL be an excellent mother of children, but today is the first day with no full time babies and it was SO hard, and so FUN, and went by so fast... I didn't get to say goodbye.

Depression After Success brings to mind the days after Alice's very successful Mary Poppins Birthday party where we dressed up four tiny girls as the practically perfect nanny and took them to the carousel. I try to be on top of my own mental state and I remember saying to Jon the night of the party after the kids were tucked in bed, "The next four or five days are going to mess with me."

What I recognized from past episodes, but still didn't understand, is that I was already feeling the VOID. For weeks I had been filling my down time by hand stitching white roses to a hat or googling "umbrella with parrot handle." Some of you may be aware I never posted the pictures of that party, I got depressed! I think I couldn't bring myself to finish the project! Of course when I was finally better I was already distracted with a new pile of shiny emotional trinkets and "ToDo's"

So what makes me different than any other person who ever planned a birthday or a wedding, trained for an event, or built a house? Well, when life events aren't creating intense focus projects for me, I will seek them or create them myself, but the NEED for it can cloud my judgment about what that project should be, often gravitating toward the closest source of chaos. 

Like the time we had to pay off the fence on a house we didn't own for three years AFTER we sold the house. It was a simple misstep, when we lived there Russell was very young, our new home wasn't landscaped yet, so I threw myself into elaborate planning which eventually included a beautiful fence I decided to finance for 0% interest for five years... but of course when the void of that completed project hit me I turned my focus to the unfinished basement and quickly realized it would be a long time until we could fix it up the way I would want to... so we put the house on the market. 

I'm glad we sold, I'm glad we moved, it made us available to move to California... but it also gave me three long years to think about why I was still paying for a fence on a house I didn't own. If I had stepped back and looked at the big picture, the move to California was inevitable and I probably should have scaled back expenses that wouldn't really increase the value of the house. 

I'm glad to say I learned a lot from that, but I needed help. Fortunately my years of occasional therapy make me sort of fearless about being proactive, so after we moved to California, with the help of Jon, a financial advisor, and even a therapist to assist in the difficult money conversations between husband and wife, we started making much better goals and realistic budgets. You have to do that stuff, I married him for his wide shoulders and big brain--not because we'd make great business partners. You have to work on that part! And you can't blame each other for what isn't working. I never showed him my résumé before he married me, I just promised him he could see my boobs. 

:) sorry dad. I should have warned you about that one 

<insert lots of evil childish laughter here>

The reason I tell you this is because I found a couple great articles about Depression After Success and by far the most helpful one talked about how, in the same way a soldier returning from a mission has a debriefing, every finished success deserves a "Debriefing." You can see this good post by clicking here.

In my case, I have just completed being "Mother of Babies" so Sunday night when I was beginning to grieve I decided to tackle the two part assignment, the first part being the debriefing. It went sort of like this:

- What was the outcome of this project? Healthy, independent, engaging children who are excited to learn and have adventures.

- What is good about the outcome of this project? They are still alive.

- How do I feel about my performance? Great! Well, okay. A little disappointed but mostly really good!

- What mistakes did I make that slowed or otherwise negatively affected the completion of this project? The learning curve was tough for me. Surrendering to the loss of freedom and beginning to enjoy that loss as a blessing took me a while. I regret to report there were some spankings. I did my best, but if I knew then what I know now I think that could have been avoided. 

- How could I avoid making those mistakes in the future? Be engaged in the present. Tune out the noise of life and give more importance to eye contact, deep breathing, and take time for myself.

- What was the best part of the project? What was the worst? Oh my! The smell of a newborn neck, gummy smiles, the sound a diaper makes when they crawl, first words, first SENTENCES, holding hands, listening to their prayers. The worst is feeling alone, when they cry and you're too broken to calm them down, toddler poo pants that are like changing the diaper of a long haul truck driver.

- What strengths did I discover in the completion of this project? I am ferocious. I am capable. I can rock a carton of milk to sleep on my hip for ten minutes before realizing I'm still carrying it around and my arms don't feel sore the next day. 

- What new abilities or knowledge have I learned from doing this project? Um, that before I knew nothing, and now I know everything except I can't remember most of it.

- What do I wish I had known when I started this project? That you don't have to make excuses, if being a parent is easy for you, good on ya, but if you can't make it to a play date because you simply don't want to, you can just say that and other mothers understand. 

- In one or two sentences, what were the lessons of this project? To see myself as someone worthy of nurturing as I learn to nurture people I made in my body. To use those love hormones to love myself, and to never stop moving forward.

YOU GUYS! That was just the debriefing! The next part (that I will spare you the play-by-play of) about building on your success is equally fabulous. 

I wish that not only I, but everyone I knew, would take the time to do this after a success. A long fought one, or just a well planned birthday party. I dropped Alice off at school today and I don't feel empty. I made that beautiful, bright, capable girl. She is totally ready for school. I DID THAT. She helped, but you know, even through all my mistakes, I did it. I prepared her for this part of her life.

Depression after Success? I'm sure it will happen again, but not today. It's my birthday and I'm going to eat cake.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Party animal, that’s me.

I have a problem, and I've been such a spaz about it I don't even know how to explain myself. 

Let's start with the part where I am totally not professional. Like, if my coworkers (children) had access to the internet, I would have been fired a thousand times by now.

Okay, that's all I can say while "others" of an actual professional nature might be listening-- please excuse me for a second...

Ahem! Attention Professional Ladies and Gentlemen of Alex and Von; please refer to my stellar and completely professional introduction to your products here:

Please Don't Lick My Face

<wait for it...>

Ok... are they gone?

Whew!

Being professional is hard! Sometimes I feel like such a weirdo. My end game is so different from what most people are moving toward I don't even begin to know how to explain myself. Like the part where I want you to come over and get free samples and I really, for REAL, don't care if you buy anything. 

It's tricky because I was raised in a store. IN a STORE. When I was five I was arranging soap and rugs and asking people, "How are you doing today? Can I answer any questions for you?"  hoping they wouldn't say yes because I had no idea what to say after that. 

I know HOW to be professional. I know how to open a storefront on etsy or sell Chinese antiques on eBay to make some extra dough, but that's not why I signed up for this gig. I signed up because I am SO picky. I signed up because I was devoted to the Body Shop for years, I would wait for clearance events and stock up on their wonderful vitamin c face scrubs and vitamin e illuminating moisturizer. I would pounce on a good deal for an eyeliner or foundation at department stores or online, and I was devoted to Maybelline colorfast lipstick for about five years. 

3 years ago when I lost the first fifty of my seventy pound goal, I hit a plateau. That's when I paused and got the book "How Not To Look Old" by Charla Krupp. I loved it! Feeling more fresh faced, applying my makeup correctly, buying pants that weren't to small, and getting the right underwear just gave me that little boost I needed to lose the last 30 pounds. 

Last year I was so disappointed to look Charla up and find out she had died from breast cancer. I was stunned and so sad, but since she was a woman who made a living trying every beauty product ever invented I have to admit it made me rethink something I had been trying to avoid--what is in my make up? And lotion. And shampoo. 

I'm not trying to be insensitive, the causes of cancer are complicated and rude, but I threw away my colorfast lip gloss anyway after I did minimal research before discovering it had such a small amount of lead in it they weren't required to list it in the ingredients. 

I'm not made out of money, people! I live on a strict budget that has, on occasion, tried to molest me through the computer screen. I started investigating my makeup more, spending a little more, and over a few months gradually budgeted to switch out some of my long time favorites for things that were more natural at places like Sephora, or Nordstroms, or the AMAZING Lush stores that have been popping up. 

Fast forward a couple years and, honestly, you guys would be crazy not to take advantage of all my experimenting by checking out the products I have found through Alex and Von.  No one even asked me to become a consultant, I went to a party my organic guru neighbor was throwing, I ordered some products, and a day after I received and used them I was knocking down her door trying to find out how I could make this stuff available to my friends. 

I'm SO picky about where my dollars go, but there are not words to express how refreshing it feels to work hard all day, and suddenly be washing my face with Mint White Tea Foaming Wash. It's like a present for my FACE! For my nose, for my bathroom sink! Then I treat any trouble areas with the Purity Spot Treatment that doesn't suck all the good stuff out of my face. As a 33 year old woman who has tried everything from Oxy to Proactive to expensive sets from Oil Of Oley, I was about to surrender to the dermatologist for a Rx for Accutane. I'm too old for the awful monthly hormonal breakout! Now I can't believe I'm saying it, but this stuff has been kicking butt! On my, um, face. 

Not only does it immediately soothe the undesirable swelling and redness as soon as you apply it, but it's also eliminating acne causing bacteria. I follow it with the light and lovely Acai Moisturizer that has such a delicious scent I wish I could brush my teeth with it.  There's no other way to say this; I haven't had an ouch zit in over 8 weeks. Before that, I can't remember the last time I didn't have at least one sneaky monster frustrating me somewhere on my nice mom face. I'll give you an update in six months to see if this trend held up.   

Even more than that, I discovered for what I could pay for one massage, instead I could have week after week of "spa experience" at the end of EVERY day—just by owning the TO DIE FOR Honey Almond Body Butter. I have never used ANYTHING like it, it starts as a solid then melts into your skin as it reaches body temperature. It is not heavy, I can slather Alice head to toe, and it gives her pink ouchy eczema skin luscious nurturing moisture for hours and hours without being slimy or heavy. 

That said, I still wasn’t gonna do parties. I don't want people to cut me out their newsfeed because I've taken on a “stay at home business.” I don't WANT to bother you, and I don't ever want you to think I've only invited you to my house to sell you something!

But when I thought of having regular casual get togethers... (shhh...)  I sort of got excited!

And that’s how More Monday began. In one post I’ve gone from No Parties, to YEAH! Parties! I love how this has evolved, I love the group of rad humans that have been coming together over here and on our facebook page, and I am thrilled selling the people I love products that fill every corner of my own home, not to mention my friends that have also become consultants, filled their own homes with goodness and are somehow getting paid for it.

That’s what they call a win/win, or in this case Party! Party! Join us soon ;)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Once you see it, you can’t un-see it….

I wear dresses. A lot.

I wear make up everyday.

I shave my armpits several times a year for heavens sake!

And I'm a feminist?

I think I'm a feminist! Huh. I guess I didn't realize it because I was raised by an artistic independent mom, feisty intelligent sisters, and my father was a big strong man whose presence filled a room without any need for him to be extra patriarchal about it. Later I married a man who has a beautiful open smile, wide shoulders, loyalty and purpose in every action he makes, and doesn't care if I talk about my feelings (and everything else) on the internet. 

I wasn't raised in any particular religion, but I was raised amongst Mormons every day of my youth. I was able to partake in many benefits provided by what would later become my chosen religion, but I realize now that I was lucky to be able to do that and still avoid being prematurely subscribed to the consistent and often subtle messages delivered to Mormon youth during their spiritual education. 

I cringe even writing that because I know how it will make some people cringe reading it, but there's this thing I've never been able to put my finger on and the other day I was suddenly faced with a blue print mapping my dilemma so eloquently, I didn't post anything on Facebook for TWO DAYS. 

Two. Days. 

That's, like, a hundred years in Facebook time. I could be dead for all you people know! I'm sorry for any alarm I have caused but I read an article that thoughtfully examines and compares the new LDS youth teaching guides for young men and young women and my head stopped functioning.

(You can read the whole article in here: Exponent II Spring 2013)

Check it out if that's your thing, it's brilliant, but the ten seconds that has been flash frozen in the front of my brain is this:

image

And all of a sudden I could see. I could SEE. For the most part, we call our boys to action, to leadership, to responsibility, and we call our girls to believe, to understand, to support and edify.  All great things! 

But the distinction--suddenly my brain has been one domino after another of aha! memories clicking into place.

For instance; I all of sudden see the draw I had with the guys in my youth, particularly after high school when I was a wayward 18 year old living a few blocks from BYU campus. I wasn't so far gone to be "dangerous" but I was a sheep just far enough out of reach to need a Shepard.

I have never in my life presumed to have visions on behalf of another person, but, wow! Suddenly in retrospect even I am a little taken aback at how encouraged and appropriate these young men felt it was to tell me what the spirit had impressed upon them ABOUT me. In the context of my love life, not my physical well being or education, but my romantic life was an area which they were being spiritually guided to advise me about? 

If this had happened one time, I would totally not bring it up here. Maybe it was a special case? Maybe I'm being disrespectful of someone putting themselves out there? But the truth is, it happened to me with almost every eligible bachelor I came into any extended contact with during that time. Easily more than 20-25 times in a 9 month period.

What's interesting about the man that eventually did take me and marry me in a Mormon temple is that he was a recovering alcoholic, sober for a little over a year, out of the Navy, and beginning college for the first time at age 27. Though he'd been baptized at 8, he'd never really been active, and to this day has never been "impressed" to advise me how to alter the course of my life. We travel side by side, sometimes we take turns pulling the other through a heavy tide, but our hands have remained clasped and I have taken that for granted in the way it has supported the WOMAN that I am. 

The thing is, the BIG THING, is this is not a Mormon thing. We were watching Swiss Family Robinson for the first time with the children tonight, and oh! The imagination! The adventure! That movie stands the test of time, we were all captivated and Russell has already begun drafting the perfect treehouse in his mind... but the women in that movie. Sigh. I don't know if you remember how they save that "boy" from the pirates and she turns out to be a girl, but watching it tonight... well that's when I knew my transformation into the title of feminist was complete. I will NOT sit here and watch this with no comment. I will not allow my children to absorb her behavior as even the tiniest bit believable despite me voicing no qualms that it only took them ten minutes of movie time and, at most, a couple weeks of real time to build and furnish five levels of tree house including a fully functioning kitchen with plumbing and an ice box stocked with, wait, is that corn?! Corn. 

No, go ahead, believe the corn! Believe the boys took the extra days needed to hang drapes before getting their mother and young brother out of the lean-to shelter on the beach and safely into the tree at night. But don't you (not for one second!) believe that when a giant boa constrictor wraps itself around your brother in the murky swamp and tries to drown him, that the person who was as tough as a boy until you discovered she was a girl an hour ago suddenly can't make it to the side of the marsh without your help before you go to aid your brother from the snake that is trying to EAT HIM. 

She's fine. 

And if she's not? Boy or girl, she is too delicate to live and it's just natural selection doing it's job. Don't laugh! It's an important job.

In conclusion, if feminist means I want everyone to feel like I do; that I can be whatever I want to be, even if that's a stay at home mom, and still be a leader in and out of my home, have strong opinions, nurture friends and strangers alike, proclaim, meditate, apologize, or set someone free with confidence, boss my husband without being called a nag, and be bossed without feeling controlled, then yeah. 

After I read that article, I went to church and had an amazing discussion with my Sunday school class of 14-16 year olds about something unrelated, and when they left the girls went to watch a spiritual movie and have popcorn while the boys had a special guest speaker and were required at the end of the lesson like a "pop quiz" to write a "pop talk." Something about it reminded me of the activity at last years youth conference that was a favorite and involved the boys carrying the girls across the street because they couldn't do it without each other, but I didn't hear about any of the girls carrying the boys across in the same spirit and THAT would be my idea of a powerful team effort. 

I couldn't help but see it. And now that I see it, I really don't think I can un-see it. It's not about taking something away from our men, it's about making sure we are empowering our girls with the strength of their voice to speak, of their hands to bless, of their feet to travel. The youth I have been so blessed to teach could not be better examples of what my church is able to give to their children. My girls are sharp and strong willed, my boys are honorable and devoted. I can not speak to the current youth where I was raised, but looking at my California young women I can't help but wonder if they have felt the call to lead simply because they are not the norm for their culture. As they are coming into adulthood with peers who are beginning to make some serious adult choices, more is required of their spiritual sense of self if they continue to stay on this path. 

In the end I was left sitting there thinking about what an important guide my patriarchal blessing has been for me, and also years later sitting across the desk from Mrs. D at cottage preschool when I was just about to sink below the waves while I held my family afloat with sheer force of will and a good husband. These are two Mormon miracles in my life brought about by revelation, and they came at the hands of a man, and of a woman.

As it should be. 

I am a grateful Mormon Feminist.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

It’s For The Children

Wait! No need for an intervention; I know I'm a little Facebook obsessed these days. My poor blog is barely speaking to me! But seriously, in between the long conversations I have on here about my feelings, kidney's, and LIZARDS, Facebook is where I have the most fun and you should join me with the button on the upper right if you haven't already.

I'm also obsessed with photo editing. I love that extra little creativity I get to add to a moment. It's not about eliminating the authentic feeling of a picture, but about transferring a feeling of what it was like to be there.

For those wondering, on the iPhone my TOTAL favorite photo editor is called "Wood Camera" and for my iPad I'm partial to "Camera+" and InstaCollage. You know, just FYI since I tend to try a million apps before I pick favorites. The most IMPORTANT update my blog has missed was the one that involved THIS GUY:

photo (1)

Yes, Osem is his name and it comes from the following Russell Art at the spider loving age of five:

photo 4

Orb Weavers ARE Osem, and Osem is TOTALLY awesome too.

Anyway, thanks for not harassing me too bad about my Facebook enthusiasm lately. I'm in the mom stage where I do a lot of "hurry!!” ...then wait. I don't have a bazillion Facebook friends, so I feel pretty free doing my best to entertain myself as I share our life in bite size pieces. It's a lovely feeling to be connected to so many people from all area's of my life and I hope you can tell I like you by how I trust you with all the information you would ever need about my armpits. That's my love language, you know: Armpit TMI.

Also, if you didn't see this:

photo 1

That is my Facebook BOOK. It only cost $80 bucks to print 302 beautifully hard bound pages of updates, photos, comments and links from my wall for the entire year of 2012. Unfortunately for you (or fortunate depending on how much information you want about our adventures in education or the play-by-play of Alice teaching Osem about human anatomy), if we are Facebook friends you now have ringside seats to the perfect solution for the wife who took three weeks to immortalize two wedding pictures in glitter and stickers. The Facebook BOOK is how this ADHD mom can finally capture, compile and easily access the magic and chaos of the years I get with my young kids.

Life is our miraculous, sometimes tragic, and always precious gift. I feel an enormous responsibility to the children I brought to this planet to be a balanced, loving, encouraging parent who will foster their learning, independence, and stability. I feel an equally great responsibility to those who didn’t or do not have the opportunities I have, to do this job well, and never behave entitled to have the family I do, to be living in the year 2013, or to dismiss the resources available to us where we live. I know my fellow moms feel this same way. I know it in the way they take so many opportunities to express gratitude and pictures on Facebook even though the life of every good mom is difficult and tedious no matter how you Instagram it. I’m lucky my particular friends also make time to share difficulties and quotes that inspire them.

I guess some people are addicted to Facebook. I can get addicted to technology in general, but right now, Facebook is a conscious choice I happily make. I am out and about in the world, I enjoy my kids and friends and community everyday... and I love sharing that with the my Facebook community, too. I get to know new friends quicker, stay up to date on old friends, and engage with my family almost daily in a way that makes us all virtual neighbors.

Which brings me to my final disclaimer: if we are Facebook friends, at some point I guarantee I WILL comment on your stuff, "like" it, or message you. If you don't remember who I am, or how we met, or why I'm commenting on your stuff, you should unfriend me right away because I consider my news feed a great source of entertainment and information and impulse control is not high on my list of skills……

You are disclaimed :)

Now I'm going to try and figure it how to upload the video of Osem and his first encounter with a lizard. Until next time, see ya on Facebook, peeps!

Friday, March 29, 2013

I love a good parade!

I'm obviously not the first person to think this, but if we are talking bible here, I'm pretty sure the resurrection of Jesus happened the way it did because it was supposed to teach us not to fear death... but if you look around, as a culture, I think we fear it more than ever. 

If you have a minute you should watch this video, I saw it once a long, long, time ago and I have never forgotten it:

The living children or grandchildren take up the bones of their ancestors from the ground, they "re-flesh" them with paint, wrap them in silk, then have a parade through the village as they take their honored loved one to their final resting place in the family mausoleum and then celebrate all day. I LOVE THIS. It’s not a sad day for them. I would seriously love it if my grandchildren carried my painted and silk wrapped bones through town, singing and joyful, to our family crypt! I hope they would eat a lot of dark chocolate that day and watch reruns of Judge Judy and Cops, pray to my dead cats, kiss and hug each other more than is appropriate, and go somewhere they can see the whole sky when the sun sets. 

I don't know what is up in my grill but I am so not interested in the Easter Bunny this year. Maybe it's the passage of time… I know I’m not the only person going through the transition when the people who have run the universe you live in, your parents or grandparents, are no longer the immortal beings you remember. You know; how you find yourself worried about them, or regretting how young they might still be if you hadn't been such a butt stink when they were raising you? However we got to what I call our "omnipotent thirties" (when we have the small children, the crazy schedules, and find ourselves running the universe), we are now more aware of life's many paths, the importance of our choices, and interestingly, I think we are more conscious of the imminent END then when we were in our "all knowing twenties."

And holy cow, life is hard. And oh my gosh, life is so wonderful it's sort of terrifying. 

Lately Russell (you know the SEVEN year old) has been contemplating his own baptism and the meaning of life and his ultimate demise. I wish I was kidding. He is supposed to give a talk in church in Sunday about "if Jesus stood beside me" and he is so stuck because suddenly the explanations about Jesus aren't cutting it: "Is he dead? Or isn't he? You can't be both." Real quote.

Um, he's undead? 

Listen Russell, I like to let you work out stuff on your own so I try not to push my opinions on you, but hear me now: maybe I don’t know this, or mean it in the same way other people mean it, but Jesus Lives. He died and now he is alive. for real, or in your heart, or in the bible, but he is far from dead... and I will live again, too. If I live in the clouds, on this earth, if I come back as a blade of grass, I will never be done, and I am not afraid to die. Our time, it is OURS. Every good day we have can NEVER be undone, the bad things to come don't scare me because they are part of my ALL TIME. You know, and eternity. The good and the bad help us understand why we are alive. I can't stop bad things from happening, but no one can ever stop the good days we've already had. They will exist in the universe forever. This isn't religion, this is science, Man! And Jesus? Our heavenly parents, our families on earth? They can't be undone, it's already happened. That love has already been given, it is already in the air, it is already fact and that is what matters.

Will I rise out of the cold embrace of the earth in a fresh new body someday? I don't know (and probably not if I keep talking like this), but that's a lot of people! It's kind of more than my brain can process (have you been to Disneyland on a Saturday in the summer? Like that, except with more people and less ice cream) …but I hope so. And if I don't, know this: I am at peace. You know, ‘cause I'm dead, and because I’ve already put my love in the air, into fact, into existence and whether I'm sleeping or awake, it can't be undone. 

Don't be afraid my children. Be brave. Be kind. Be faithful if you can. 

So we are skipping Easter. After church we are heading to an old cemetery down south with the kids to make rubbings on the tombstones. We're taking a picnic lunch, our camera, our giggles and our reverence. We will talk about all the ways we can live again, about the people below our feet, the angels all around us, and what the word resurrection means to us, in our family, today. 

I'm really looking forward to it :)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Son of a Mother Screaming Goat!!

Last night I stood completely naked in my four year old daughters bedroom full of firemen and my husband, and it was not a dream. 

That HAPPENED. It is on the permanent record of my life and the saddest part is I'm not even a little embarrassed.

You see, it all started with a pinch in my tummy, not my back or my side, just an uncomfortable "ugh" below my belly button to the left. I'd had a nice day, fine evening, and I decided to just get in the shower to shake off the pinch. When I got out, I heard a furious lean pink machine crying a demand for a third bedtime story from her tired old dad, so I wrapped myself in a towel, headed up the stairs, and then proceeded to collapse into the fetal position on the cute new rug we had just purchased for her room yesterday. 

The end.

Seriously. My memory from that point until now is kid of like a foggy strange nightmare. The pain... listen, I have done pain, but the speed of this, the relentless rage of it... I am still completely ashamed of the way I could not stop screaming. My poor kids, Russell was hysterically scared and as I was pleading to the new carpet to show me any mercy, Alice cheerfully said "I'll help you mommy." Thank you Jon for calling 911 right away, and thank you Jody for taking the kids right that second no questions asked, because all I know is that suddenly there are tromping black boots all around me and I'm still a huddled dripping mess in a towel on the floor cursing at anyone trying to slip a dress over my head. When they finally asked if I would like to be carried to the ambulance or if I could walk there I gritted my teeth like my ancestor Wyatt Earp, grabbed the dress off the floor with one hand and told them "I can go, but get out of my way because I am going to run." 

Then I stood as the pain sliced me like Hell fire, pulled the dress over my head and proceeded to run down the stairs, out the front door, and up to the waiting gurney where I threw myself back into the fetal position and cried like Alice when Jon wouldn't read her that third book (in other words: with all my might).

My friends, I would have been a terrible pioneer.

An hour or so later, amid morphine and all the nice nurses and paramedics comings and goings, a man asked if I wanted socks? "Yes, please, and if you could also sock me in the face until I'm unconscious that would be cool." 

"Don't worry, that's coming," he replied as he lifted the sheets and prepared to put on, wait? One of my own favorite stripy socks? I look up and it's not a nurse, it's MY man! Seeing his face was like breathing in clean cold air on a hot muggy summer day. "It's you!" I finally sit back a little and laughing he asks "so you didn't know it was me when you asked me to sock you in the face, huh?"

Things got worse there right after that, but in between fits I was still able to hammer out what I thought was an alarming yet amusing update for Facebook while my husband looked on disapprovingly, when suddenly, wait for it... humph, it was gone. My belly hurt, my ribs were screaming, but the violent stabbing had finally subsided. 

Turns out I had a stone that passed pain free through my kidneys only to get stuck in my ureter which is the last inch of the tubes that go from the kidneys and make the final deposits into the bladder.

Also, funny thing (hysterical really), the ureter is also the place in your body with more nerve endings per square millimeter then any other single place in human anatomy. 

No, really, a terrible pioneer.

Anyway, the moral of the story is: if you plan on going to the ER a lot, you should pack an emergency bag otherwise your well intentioned husband might bring you something to wear home that is almost as painful to look at as it would be to pass through your ureter:

photo (1)

Thanks to Jody, Paige, Isabelle and Kristina for helping out with the kids on short notice, to everyone else for all your nice thoughts and kick ass curse words, Russell King for the back rubs and making my name into funny art, and to Miss Alice for climbing in my covers at 6:30 am to hold her daddies hand while tucking my hair behind my ear and eventually telling me this weird story about being Rainbow Brite, talking to the "reg-lar" Rainbow Brite and eating candy until she died, but then they fixed her with "skitters and chinners and kenalls" and then when she wasn't dead she went to the winter woods and showed Tinkerbell's sister where she died and they laughed and laughed. And they ate more pink candy, and it was pink, and it was delicious. That's pretty much verbatim, make of it what you will but it cheered me up with its weirdness. 

That's all for now, if you need me tomorrow I will be at the pool continuing to be grateful about the not traveling across the country in a covered wagon thing. Good night!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I stand all amazed.

My life is a glorious struggle. Does anybody know what I mean? The tedious nature of every days that have moments of beauty or tragedy that can steal your breath, and then it's time for bed and you do it all again tomorrow.

I read this great analogy about a professor who asked his students which glass of water was the heaviest, a 6oz, an 8oz or a 10oz. Of course they all said the 10oz, but he had not mentioned how long they would be required to hold it outstretched. 6oz may not seem like a lot, but day after day, or year after year of holding it with trembling arms... eventually it will slip and crash to the floor. He was talking about depression. 

It was a beautifully simple metaphor that I understand too well. Right now I take one small Adderall and one small Xanax twice a day. I was taking prozac, but have recently switched to Lexapro because of the dry mouth I was getting, and that overlap as I switched was (not) awesome. There is nothing more comforting than grabbing the bag of RX's marked "mom daily" and having a million bottles clanking together since I also have a few things I rotate through to help me sleep, some organic, some prescription, some behavioral skills; I like to mix it up so I don't build a tolerance to any one thing, but sleep continues to elude me and runs from my ceaselessly racing thoughts. 

Then of course, getting into the sleep state is such a difficult transition for my brain that leaving the sleep stage is also very difficult. My fully alert self has such frustration with my dream self. Almost daily they can be so real, I honestly struggle to leave them behind and know I'm in my bed, in my real life, and I need to get up.

Elvis is in the house I guess: meds to wake, meds to sleep, meds to cope... but! They work. And they work well, I feel WELL. I feel connected to my brain with the Adderall and I don't feel the Xanax, it just takes the edge off the physical side effects of the Adderall and keeps my highs and lows in check. The Lexapro is okay. I liked the Prozac, but seriously, the dry mouth and the dry eyeballs were like sucking and blinking on sandpaper. 

I tell you this because I don't care if you know. I just don't. In a hundred years I'll be dead, my great grandchildren might read parts of this blog and feel better about the meds they need to take. My own KIDS might read this one day and know that it was never easy for me, I hate the idea of people thinking, "yeah, you take meds, but it worked for you so well and it's harder for me. No one understands." 

My lovely fellow humans, I understand. 

And I'll never quit. And I'll never get complacent. And I'll never make peace with it, which means I'll never stop fighting to be the best version of myself I can be using all the resources available to me. I desire to be my authentic self. I desire to be well. I desire to find the middle ground on those goals. I owe that to myself. 

And I owe that to my family. 

I am leaving a mental health legacy for my family. The way I live now, the foundations I set for my children, the peace I make with my preceding gene pool, will have a ripple effect through the generations that follow me down my family tree. I know this like I know a lunch of perfect fries with perfect fry sauce is more effective than any antidepressant on the market, but my hips shouldn't be the only ones to bear my emotional burdens. 

I rambled through all this medical crap to tell you three stories about the power of behavioral therapy and providing our children with emotional intelligence in addition to all the other dance moves available to us.

The first took place several months ago. Russell has the difficulty of truly believing, at seven years old, he has the knowledge and authority of an adult and will relentless assert this as an adult would if another adult were to tell them what to do. This behavior is often disruptive, many times inappropriate, and sometimes even dangerous. So one day after a blow out, a stomp off, and a grand finale of rage tears I found Russell in his room despondent and somehow still simmering. I sat him on my lap, I did not revisit what had began the event, but used some of our other skills to talk quietly for about half an hour. At the end of the conversation he said to me:

"I get it, mom. You know what it is? It's like I'm dancing by a cliff with my eyes closed, and you just don't want me to fall."

Gasp. Dear Lord, please grant me whatever I need to raise this person well, because he is going to change the world.

The next story, last night actually, things had boiled over in a way I was not handling. I can't be something I'm not, I'm switching meds, I'm a little depressed, I'm getting my house ready for guests, I'm volunteering at the school, I'm working on grandma's cookbook that is a week overdue... Which is when Russell mashed the big red button that is my greatest trigger point when he told me know one cares about him because I wanted him to take three bites of dinner before I got him milk. He became more and more agitated until finally his accusing eyes were boring into my soul, and his chin was trembling with the heartbreaking depth of his belief. My WHOLE LIFE is devoted to him and Alice and Jon. I snapped, I hauled him to his room, I silently removed every item in it, I dumped all his markers and crayons into a trash bag, I took his sheets, blankets and pillows, his posters, his toys and every stitch of clothing in his closet. I left him with a mattress, gave him an old big T-shirt to change into, and then quietly told him with my own simmering rage "maybe you need to understand what you are saying when you say no one cares about you, and take some time to notice all the ways in which you are cared for."

Then he laid on the floor and called under the door how much he loved me, how I'm the best mom in the world, how sorry he is, how I should throw all his stuff away, he just wants me to know how much he loves me. 

I'm ashamed. I'm ashamed I write on this blog as if I have a clue about how to help our ADHD kids and then lose it like someone who doesn't know better. I'm ashamed of the way I felt nothing when I did it, and nothing afterward. Like an empty shell.

Twenty minutes later, he was in my room and we were screaming like reality TV villains. I have never done that IN MY LIFE. No one listening, everyone hurting, nothing making sense, nothing hitting home, just angst, and hurt and trying to find out who is going to come out of this as the "victor". 

And then he looked at me and yelled: "Your life would be easier if you just had Alice! I make everything hard! I should never have been born..."

Shit. Oh shit. Oh holy shit. Now, as a person who swings through emotions myself I know exactly how he feels, we have had had conversations where he has said stuff like this before, and I also do not believe in ever telling someone what they are feeling is not what they say it is. I shut my stupid mouth. I blinked hard, I rubbed my fingers over my temples and I looked at him, square in his beautiful red face.

Then he knew he had my attention and again he said "I never should have been born... even though," he looked up, looked me right in my eyes "even though the world was waiting for me to be born." Breath stolen. "And you know what?! I really believe that, I know the earth is waiting for everyone on the planet to be born, it's waiting for us, and it's waiting for us to be hero's, or not, but it's always been waiting for us."

I pulled him on my lap. I rocked him, I told him he was right, and I told him I have always been waiting for him, too. I told him some people live their whole lives and see some pretty things, and see some ugly things, but people like us, artists and singers, when we look at the world we see things that are MAGNIFICENT, and sometimes we see things that are DEVASTATING, some people see a little color in the world and we see it ALL. That means sometimes you're going to hurt, but those are the most important times to eat, and breath, and make it to tomorrow, because that is where you will find the beautiful things again. Some days you just have to give over to hopelessness, and pray to God to fill your body with the warm honey of his love, and then push it through your limbs and fingers and toes and hair until you can feel the light of the goodness that never really leaves you.

"The world was waiting for everyone of us. I know this."

Dear ancient spirits who guide my family, please guide me as I raise this remarkable man.

And finally, I was frustrated yesterday afternoon when I heard that during carpool Russell had called an older high school boy fat. When someone tells you this, you just want to hide your face, you want to scold, I just cringed and I could see on his face he regretted it. I did not bring it up again, but today my friend who drove the carpool gave me the full story.

As the older boy got into the car he declared "I had a shitty day." Russell has never met this older boy and was quiet but then the boy said "yeah, today was totally fucked up." This is when Russell from the back third row seat piped in "You should not say the f word. That word is gross and stupid." As my friend is telling me this, I'm thinking a lot of things, but one of them is how to help Russell ignore stuff, since he just can't seem to help himself and correct the behavior of people around him, but he's seven, so I was shocked when I found out the older boy decided to teach him a lesson by barking "Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, FUCK!" 

Um? What?! 

My driving friend immediately told the kid to shut his trap, and then went on to explain to Russell "you know how your mom says there are words in life you have to earn? Well, this guy has been through a lot of hard things in his life and maybe he has earned it at his house, but not in my car, and he isn't going to say it again." I assume this was accompanied by some kind of awesome mom glare through the rear view mirror. 

There were a few beats of silence and then Russell said:

"Even if I earn that word, I'm never going to use it. Or the shit word." The older boy snarls and asks why that is and Russell replied matter of factly:

"Because I am an artist. Because I am going to put beautiful things into the world. If I can put ugly things in the world, or beautiful things, I want to be the one that makes the beautiful things, and says beautiful things."

Dear Jesus, if you are reading this, please don't let me fail this boy. Dear Universe, if you have reasons for giving a small family of four three brains that are wired squirrelly, please make it be for a reason, and please let me work for that reason. Dear Dead Cats, please tell Fern to stop putting lizards in our shoes. 

In the name of hope and tomorrow, amen.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Since, apparently, I have nothing left to lose.

First, I would like remind you about the time I was taking a precious 30 seconds to myself when Alice slid the turkey thermometer under the bathroom door and declared "Here, mom, this will tell you when you are done."

Then I would like you join me in laughing a little too loud and a little too long because I assumed that would be the first and last bathroom story I would feel the need to share in a public forum.

Duh. MOM = endless supply of "hysterical" stories that take place in a room that prior to children I was able to pretend didn't exist when in the company of cute boys. 

So it's Sunday morning, when I find myself daintily perched on the unmentionable porcelain throne while wearing my new favorite skirt which happens to be 6 layers of flowing olive green floor length chiffon. Minding my OWN business! In a rush to get out of the house and to my very dignified calling as a Sunday School teacher for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints...

...when under the small crack at the bottom of the door...

...followed by the frantic sound of claws, furry bodies slamming, and general low to the ground chaos...

...a big,

slithery,

toothy,

sharp fingered,

lizard! comes FLYING across the floor, smacking into my bare feet, and then SCRAMBLING UP MY DRESS. 

I was actually surprisingly calm and collected; as long as that description includes shaking my skirt like it was on fire until finally swatting this damn thing off, grabbing handfuls of the suddenly excessive layers of slippery fabric and holding my legs straight out in front of me while shrieking "HELP ME! HELP ME! HHHHHEEEEELLLLLLPPPPPPP!!!"

Now for just a second I would like you to imagine my sweet husband brushing his teeth, minding his own business, and also being the only person left in this house who affords me any bathroom privacy. I can't imagine there are many things you would like to hear more than your wife scream behind a closed bathroom door, and for his polite knocking on the door I thank him.

But for his polite knocking on the bathroom door?! When I'm screaming "HHHHHEEEELLLLPPP!" I also kind of sailor curse him.

"JUST OPEN THE DOOR!"

"Why?"

Is that fear I detect from you, dear husband? I'm in here with a prehistoric creature and YOU'RE AFRAID?!

So of course I calmly responded with inarticulate rage yipping and hollering while my legs began to threaten lowering the remaining dripping fabric close enough to the floor to allow another reptilian scaling.

"Open. The. Door." Said in the scariest voice I could manage which finally prompted the cautious turn of the handle and revealed not only Jon, but both of my darling children and two evil cats, all with eyes as big as silver dollars.

I wish I could tell you I had the common sense to have pulled my skirt up around my waist in the beginning so that when this grand picture opened I could have been sitting like a proper lady, legs propped up, cheeks covered... but I'm afraid I did not want any part of my cute new skirt sitting on the back of the toilet so instead it’s wrapped around my thighs and my eyes were shut so tight I was almost sure that if I couldn't see them, they couldn't see me, right?

Eyes shut, legs giving out, brain about to explode and all I can get out is "Lizard! LizardlizardlizardlizardlizardlizardLizardLIZARD!! LIZARD!!"

Thank goodness Jon saw the size of it, exclaimed "Whoa!" and finally jumped into action!! Unfortunately it was to find something to pick it up with. I repeat: SOMETHING TO PICK IT UP WITH.

I am not ashamed to admit the next words out of my mouth were in line with my previous lady like conduct when I cried, "Jon King! So help me; you are a grown man, you were raised on a farm, your children are watching, and if you don't get this lizard away from my bare butt right this second I am returning you to your mother and requesting a FULL REFUND!!"

Needless to say he grabbed the dinosaur and quickly threw it out the back door saving our marriage, the lizard, and what little was left of my dignity. 

Which I needed so I could write this and obliterate it completely.

You're welcome  :)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

You gotta have faith, Faith, FAITH!

Okay, I'm going to try really hard not to step on any toes here, but I'm on a journey and in order for me to get help on my journey I have to speak from my truth. 

(That was my version of a disclaimer :)

So, it has recently come to my attention that I have a problem with the word faith. More specifically, I have many negative associations with the word. 

What a weird thing to say, right? Only, I don't think it's that weird now that I’ve put my finger on it. I get so squirrelly in my chair when people get all religious in sing songy weepy voices, or quote a scripture that seems to signal the end of a conversation I thought was just getting started. I'm not trying to be rude, I actually have to grip the chair to keep myself from sliding out of it in an attempt to disappear, or you know, BE ANYWHERE ELSE, when someone cuts off a conversation with the words "you've just got to have faith."

Now would be the time for you to close this blog post if I've just made you uncomfortable. 

Here is my truth: I do not want to replace the word "fear" with the word "faith" just because being afraid makes me uncomfortable. When some people speak of faith they conjure an image in my mind of someone crouched in a ball with their hands over their ears squeezing their eyes shut and repeating the things they have been promised at a later time if they will just maintain this version of the fetal position. I find myself thinking at them with all my might:

Stand.

Up. 

God gave you arms and legs and life! To fill your mind with opportunity and wonder! To give you knowledge of good AND evil so you could return to him a more complete version on yourself, one that you participated in shaping. The church I attend on Sundays was STARTED with a question in a grove, and now I feel that there are two groups of people, those who still ask questions, and those who seem to react as though wondering or questioning is blasphemous. 

To be clear, I do not believe faith is a bad word, I think I just need some new reference material for what that word means to me. The one definition I've always liked is: Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (New Testament, Hebrews, Chapter 11)

I like the words "substance" and "evidence" in that quote since I often feel like I'm flailing around for a railing or something. That is the faith I am seeking, and obviously that substance and evidence has to come from my own understanding or participation. This is not something you can really give or take, even though there may be times you can snuggle under the warm blanket of someone else's faith, the substance and evidence you carry will eventually have to be your own if it is really going to keep you warm. 

So what hoped for things do I have evidence of? Well: there is a force greater than myself that cares about what happens on my earth journey. I don't know why, I can't justify why someone would be born to a short mean life in a war torn nation while across the planet I would have a night where I am guided to the forest where we would eventually buy our home, and KNOW, before I had any proof to give anyone including my most beloved, that this spot is where I would raise my children.  Why would someone give me that knowledge? Why, when there is such neglect in the world, would I have been given visions of my bright future when I was a homeless 17 year old? No, not visions; knowledge. Sometimes I have been given knowledge about things that will happen in my life, exactly who will be there, and other pretty specific information about the moment and I never tell anyone because it almost seems too freaky, but when these moment come to fruition, I always wish I had so we could scrape our jaws off the floor together. That is a tangible thing I can not personally deny, and it erases for me why "pure science" would be the only thing at work on this planet. 

But I've never seen a ghost, I've never had important biblical persons appear in a dream and wake with the need to write it all down, I've never had an incredibly moving experience receiving a blessing except the nervousness of feeling like if I don't cry everyone will know I didn't feel anything when they look at my dry cheeks and that means something is totally wrong with me, right? Like a soulless shell wandering the planet who someday will commit a ghastly crime and the news will show the haunted faces of characters in my past saying "There was always something wrong with that girl..."

People talk about the birth of their children being the moment the universe opened its arms and golden truth flowed through them like a crashing storm. I may have been overwhelmed by the blinding newness of my tiny beautiful humans, but I had more questions then EVER after they were born.

But substance? Yes. They gave me substance over time. They are the reason I was born. They are here to show me who I really am. They are the substance of all the things I have hoped for my whole life. 

But I need some faith. I don't know how long I can stand the way my boat gets tossed around the hills and valleys of everyday life. The way I can have ultimate confidence in myself one moment, and crippling doubt in the next. Sometimes I read my own damn blog and wish I knew that girl! I bet she would have tons of good ideas to help my family! 

I hate extremes. Even growing up "not Mormon" in Utah, I was never anti-Mormon. I had as much interest in hearing "the things Mormon leaders don't want you to know," as I did in hearing a 16 year old boy who wanted to date me bear his testimony. I just mind my own business, so I found myself totally thrown off balance last week while playing a game of Bubble Witch and listening to the TLC show "Sister Wives" and finding out that not only was Joseph Smith a polygamist (which I knew) but he was married to 33 women, many who were still married to other living men who were not told, and in fact did it ALL in secret. One of my beloved heroine's of Mormon history, Joseph's wife, Emma Smith, was never told about the marriages, denied it vehemently publicly and privately only to find out shortly before Josephs death that it was true and in fact, he was married to many of my other Mormon heroines that were among Emma's best and dearest confidants, the same women who together founded the original Relief Society that still functions in our church to this day. 

I have to say, I hate the thought of her being humiliated and deceived this way. My heart really broke as the reality of what that must have been like for her sunk in, and knowing that she continued to be a woman of tremendous dedication and faith until her death made me pause like nothing has in a long time. The amount of children she buried alone would make most people fall completely apart, and she was a rock, the original kick ass Mormon woman, and I felt so crappy for the bad turn she was delivered. 

Lucky for me, I happen to be the sister of one of the worlds leading brains for all things Mormon women's history. I mean, she was only quoted in the New York Times last week, and when she's not directing her ward’s primary choir, she is the co-editor of Exponent II, a poetic and insightful Mormon Women's publication filled with art and an array of female voices at various stages of spiritual growth, and more than I’d like to admit to my big sister (especially publically), it is often what inspires me to get my sarcastic butt to church.

So while I'm already in the midst of this "new meaning for faith" kick I've been on for a few months, suddenly I'm sitting with my sister and her Johns Hopkins Professor husband who did much of the research and is quoted in Rough Stone Rolling (the thick biography of Joseph Smith as told through authentic historical documents). We sat on the porch in my “foretold” forest backyard, and my mind is being blown by the calm and almost bemused delivery about facts dating back to the conception of the church I take my kids to. I wasn't having a bible basher yell in my face outside of the Manti Pageant, or in a pot smoking haven in some Park City basement apartment partaking in Mormon trashing, I was outside! Being educated by worlds experts on my religion while our kids made swords out of sticks and pretended to slay each other while shrieking and laughing, then laying exhausted sprawled on their backs in the thick carpet of clovers to find designs in the leaves overhead. 

I don't know. I don't really know what to say about any of this, except to say my faith journey is taking me down roads I did not anticipate. I have always been fond of Joseph Smith, and I have been more fond of my religion lately than I ever have been before, but sometimes you have to take time to reorganize things as new information filters in or one day it might all come crashing down. For NOW, I am going to leave myself with a challenge and if you made it this far, I would love you to join me: 7 days of faith. I am going to post one comment per day on this entry of something I have faith in. This is not just a Mormon thing, my favorite spiritual music is sung by the SLC Calvary Baptist Choir and my favorite preacher shows up to a nearby elementary school every Sunday to lead his Rock Harbor congregation. I promise not to ever tell a fib, be sarcastic, or claim I have faith in anything I still only hope is true, and I promise to honor anything you guys might share if you don't mind letting me snuggle up under your faith blanket for a minute :)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mary Poppins Costume Grand Finale

1

If you get Mary Poppins overload just yell Uncle! I probably won’t stop posting Mary pictures, but it will startle anyone nearby, and that would be funny. I am almost done with the slideshow from the Mary Birthday Party, but before I put Alice’s dress in a shadow frame for her wall, we just HAD to put it on one last time and see if we would finally get our Mary and Bert to meet the REAL Mary and Burt.

There was minute, fully costumed in the car, when we heard that Mary would not be at the park today. Determined to make the best of it we arrived anyway only to be flagged down by Disney Employees waiving their arms calling “Turn around!”

Brace yourselves!

THIS

is the magic that followed:

1416302822

I. Cried.

I didn’t mean too! But that dress, I made it for Alice for fun because she loves Mary, and then it took over the last few months of our lives in a practically perfect way. I’m so grateful for the beautiful sunshine that came out today and for the opportunity to have big dreams for my tiny humans, to live in a place where they are possible, and then be there when some of them come true.

Amen :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

In Case Of Emergency

My ADHD tabs have remained mostly unchanged up there, and I check them sometimes to see if they are still valid, always ready to cringe, yet usually surprised that I still pretty much stand by what I had to say about this subject when I was just getting my feet wet.

BUT

I know so much more now! And without complicating things by adding a little info under each tab I am going to put my cup holder right here where everyone can grab it quickly!

(I say “cup holder” because when my big sister was attending her first day of kindergarten she pulled the fire alarm by the drinking fountain thinking it must be where they keep the cups, and I love her and that story)

SO, here you go guys, my BEST and MOST successful advice, items, books and links for when you find yourself at the "What Now?!" Crossroads of this crazy ADHD ride.

1. A label is not something you WEAR like a beauty pageant sash, it is a DOOR that you open.

Behind that door are people and resources and coping skills for making a successful life. A label is a quick way of identifying with someone who has has faced similar struggles, only they are totally nailing this life thing! Sure, you can try to figure it out yourself, but why WOULDN'T you want to know what they have gathered in their tool box? Listen, I'm lazy and selfish, if I can, I will always opt to save myself some time and from unnecessary heartache.

2. Sometimes? Act like you've just been involved in a car accident.

I swear it's the slow motion catastrophic events that will ruin your life in a far more permanent way than an earthquake or a heart attack. Those events demand ACTION. They demand your ATTENTION. You will take time off of work to ADDRESS them. I CAN NOT stress this enough: apathy will ruin your life.

In every ADHD life cycle there are moments where the walls crumble and a teacher or a doctor or a police officer or a divorce lawyer will make you look at the ugly thing, and right then it has your attention, but as soon the the worst part of the crisis is past, walls begin to rise again quickly. “I will do it tomorrow, it's just a phase, the medicine has fixed it, everything will be fine...” and you MISSED your car accident! You might even miss the moment when your son needed his legs set by a proper doctor and then the physical therapy required so he could walk correctly in the future.

3. By the time someone tells you that you, or your child, or your spouse! has ADHD, they and a hundred other people have already thought it a thousand times.

When a teacher says "you may want to look into this." You better get off your butt because NO ONE wants to be the bearer of that news. It’s my professional mom opinion that if they can avoid telling you for one more year, they will. By the time you are hearing about it, it has been discussed with other teachers, principles, day care providers, possibly even other parents. Do not sugar coat this information for yourself, do not say "well, we'll see what the next teacher says" go to a DOCTOR. Go to a behavioral specialist, or get them evaluated through the school immediately.

As grown ups our days fly by, but do you remember how the four years of high school felt like a whole decade? Or how much agonizing time was in between Christmas' when you were 8? For our kids, a day is a long time, and day after day of not having tools to keep out of trouble WILL wreck havoc on their beautiful shiny brains. I speak from experience. To this day I still feel like there is something essentially wrong with me, even though I know that feeling comes from years of living on the verge of being reprimanded at all times; by others or especially beating up on myself for one dumb thing or another. So…

4. BE NICE TO YOURSELF

When I'm so mad or fed up with Russell I could lose it, I say "I am a good mom. He is a good boy. I am doing a good job." Suddenly, even though he is still pouring a bag of oats over the back of the couch, I have the ability to say "Can I please have that?" remove it with no anger, walk to the kitchen, come back and sit down. "Now what should we do?" I ask. He might rage up the stairs, he might cry and say he sorry, his behavior is still his, but now my temper is not the focus of this situation, because, huh! I am a good mom, he IS a good boy, and I am doing a good job.

5. READ THIS YESTERDAY: Kids Parents and Power Struggles

The name is so serious, but OMG, this book is sharp, compassionate to the reader, and changed my life. Period. It doesn't have unrealistic expectations, it also falls under the "be nice to yourself" idea and, because of that, I am about a thousand times more receptive to all the great coping strategies she includes. And she never uses labels if those still bug you, it really addresses the humanity of everyone involved in the situation. Plus you will leave this book with the most important information you might ever bring the table in this adventure: Know Your Parenting Style.

6. THEN READ THIS: 10 Days To A Less Defiant Child

I will be honest, I skimmed this book because I already read a lot and don't need the baby steps of information, but it's written in a great bullet point style that is easy to flip through, Jon has read it page by page, and I would say the yelling in this house has gone down about 90%. Russell didn't change when we read the book, WE changed. I don't agree with everything he says, but I got three huge things out of it:

Never let someone else bring you down to their level, even in punishment it rewards them (consciously or subconsciously)

Living life by the saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” does not make you a weak parent. I suddenly had a NAME for parents that don’t give their kids clear expectations inevitably followed by screaming at them ten minutes later: worker bee’s! I am far too lazy to deliver the pound of cure a little patience and forethought at the beginning could avoid.

Finally this book led Russell and I to making up number 7…

7. "I am extending a hand of friendship."

This phrase lets no one off the hook. It doesn't say I'm right, it doesn't say you're right, it says: when we woke up this morning we liked each other, now let's act like it.  Russell LOVES language and the power of language, so these words aren't too advanced for him, it’s almost like a ritual. When I start to boil over, or he does, or Jon with me, or Russell with Alice, we close our eyes put out a hand and declare "I'm extending a hand of friendship." Then you wait (maybe peeking a little). Everyone gets quiet, and eventually everyone gives in because if  you want this time out trick to work for you, you have to work for it. The minute your skin makes contact and hands clasp... everything changes. It's not magic, and the patience it requires is tedious sometimes, like when you're at the mall with people watching... but I stand with my hand out reached and we pause. Then, after fingers are clasped, the one who extended the hand has to ask "Are you okay?"

It still doesn't let anyone off the hook, but it validates their angst. Rules still apply, consequences still apply, but love is also applied.

Those two phrases have changed our lives.

8. SLEEP

Russell has a weighted blanket. It has also changed our lives, you can make them but when I priced them out it was only a little more to get it done correctly and professionally with fabrics of our choice. He also has a large oscillating fan in his room (because the little fans are too loud), and he has a simple sound machine with 10 sounds. For the first time in his life he goes to sleep easier, and stays asleep longer.

9. Eat Real Food

This falls under the car accident mentality, I know you don't want to, but I'm not asking you to go on a diet to lose weight, I'm telling you for the sake of everyone in your house: eat real food! Don't go crazy, don't become a vegan prophet, don't get overwhelmed! Just get Michael Pollan's Food Rules and start thinking about it. Take a little more time at the store to read labels. Buy lots and lots of dark chocolate from Trader Joe's. Russell is not gluten allergic and our pediatrician said its not healthy to take gluten out of your diet if you're not allergic, but goodness knows I would do it in a heartbeat if I knew it would help.

Also, medicine makes food a nightmare so Russell has his own snack shelf. He can eat anything on it at any time, as well as certain things in the fridge and freezer. Midnight, morning, after school, DURING DINNER, I don't care because being on medicine at seven years old is challenging and that's one way we can be understanding.

10. Sign up for email updates from ADDitude Magazine

Then, just every once in a while, open one up and click on an article that interests you and read at at least 30% of it before going back to check your Facebook. This will help you not feel ALONE, or like you might be making up some of your problems, or that no one can do anything about any of this. People can and they are and, whew, we really are not alone in this!

11. MEDICATE

Do it. Do it well. Become a connoisseur and use the BEST information both Eastern and Western Medicines have to offer, then breath deeply, and know that what works today may not work tomorrow. In fact your medicine needs will change for your WHOLE LIFE. Accept that now, shake your fist at the sky like I do, but accept it, and never get complacent with meds. And NEVER MEDICATE WITHOUT SOME FORM OF BEHAVIORAL THERAPY. Psychologist and psychiatrists are two TOTALLY different animals, you cannot get your needs met by just one or the other. Period.

Most importantly, never accept that feeling like crap for no good reason is okay.

12. Aroma Therapy.

Don't over think it or overpay, go to amazon, get some oils, keep them in your house, your car, your purse, by your bed, in your fridge. I don't get caught up in what they are supposed to be for; calming, energizing etc., I just pick what I like and it's wonderful how a smell can make you instantly present in your own skin.

13. Beam Me Up Scotty

Accept technology. I spent a year telling Russell enough, get off the computer, you don't need the iPad right now... then I stopped. I say sure! And... no one died. I have accepted that all those families in the Star Ship Enterprise used technology as part of how life FUNCTIONS for them. I've embraced it and while we still take total zero technology breaks for a week every once in a while, I love Russell, and I respect his love of games and the art of games, and his skill at them. I am an active participant in his technology life, and he has more input on my blog and Facebook than you'd ever imagine.

We have plastic gold coins displayed proudly in the middle of the house, one gold coin is one minute of Minecraft. The satisfaction of twenty gold coins clanging into the Good Boy Jar is quite fun, and removing five here or there can be a devastating blow for someone unwilling to take a dish to the sink… until they find a way to earn them back ASAP.

Plus we live in a forest and he asked for a pick axe and geodes for Christmas. Technology works for us, not the other way ‘round, and that’s always the goal.

14. Empower Your Bright Child With Language

My last piece of advice is for you and your child, or you and your INNER child. I don't care if that makes me a hippy dippy weirdo, our kids (inside and out), need to understand they are not bad. They are not broken. They are responsible for their actions, but making amends is so much more important than never screwing up.  Understanding the way your brain craves adrenalin is CRUCIAL to self esteem, a person isn't bad because their brain wants to be connected to itself. With ADHD it's just not. It's trying to create its own paths and excitement and movement and sensory input to feel connected. That's just science, man! Not a bad seed. I promise you, if you don't include your kids in this process now, they WILL stop taking their meds in high school. They will not have coping skills when it's time to leave home. They will not know as much about their brain as you do when it time for them to be the one taking care of it.

Russell has seen diagrams of the brain, he can probably explain ADHD to a college class, he knows all the famous figures in history who were brilliant and a little “off their rockers,” he knows he has everything a person needs to change the world, and most of all, that we are a family proud to be a part of the moving and shaking that comes with this.

Even when we yell about it with our brightly colored “love of language” sailor cursing.

Good luck guys. Let me know if I missed anything!