Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks--18

C-baby is a big girl these days, seven years old. She still encourages us to dress her and help her with everything; being the baby sister has its privileges. She is warm and snuggley. She still adores me with all of her cute little self. She still thinks I can fix it all, and because we are blessed to have healthy happy lives, I mostly can fix all the things that torment her little world.

She is a blessing I didn't ask for, and in many ways, didn't deserve. She was my one unexpected pregnancy and I have my very own little miracle story regarding her conception and birth. Even so, I was very, very angry about being unexpectedly pregnant. (I knew, in theory, what the .8% stood for in birth control, but those were other people. Not me.) Sometimes God blesses us with people in our lives we didn't know we needed. C is one of those people in my life. I adore her. She brightens my world. 

Giving Thanks--17

V, ah my lovely, V girl! How I love her. At one point I was fairly certain that if I died they would have to send me to a taxidermist and turn me into a stuffy or she'd never sleep again, but now that she is almost twelve, she's doing the separation thing quite well. She still wants to be with people constantly, but she's branching out. This child is the world's boldest missionary. She wants nothing more than more friends with her at church. She loves people so very much. I am grateful for the example she's setting for me of never assuming people will say no and loving people just the same whether they say yes or no.

Giving Thanks--16

Taking a break from cooking Thanksgiving stuff. I'm zonked and I have half a month of thankfuls to catch up on, so I'm guessing this is going to be rather stream-of-conscience-y. It happens.

OK, so next up on my thankful list is my second son, L. He is currently fourteen and on the verge of the attack of the hormones. I believe it was Sammy Keyes who said, "It's like having a mad scientist in my head. 'I wonder what will happen if I mix these together?'"* Honestly, I'm pretty sure he's out to kill me or check me into a madhouse. So a thankful about my beloved L? A little hard to come by this month.

I can honestly say I adore him. His horns have always held up his halo. He has a devilish sense of humor and I'm just the kind of person who appreciates a devilish sense of humor. I am grateful beyond belief that he didn't die when his appendix went out, or the time he took his life jacket off while rafting as a non-swimmer with his great uncle and fell in, or any of the other times he's done wild, crazy, dangerous stuff he never tells me about. I'm grateful that he has time to make it through the mad-scientist-hormone-hell and become the great man I know he will.

*Yeah, I looked online and couldn't find the exact quote and I don't own the book and the library's closed so this as good as it gets today.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Giving Thanks--14 & 15

14. I'm very grateful to have working cars. One for me and the kids to do our thing and one for my husband. Until you've lived with an unreliable car or without one entirely, it's impossible to realize just how much having one means. It means being able to get people to activities. It means being able to get to work, to the grocery store. It means being able to help people with rides, not having to beg for rides of my own. I am truly deeply thankful for our cars.

15. I am grateful for my Vitamix. I know it's shallow, but I love that thing. We use it several times a day and my green smoothies are smooth, so I can eat all those veggies without having to chew them all (so much WORK). I am grateful for the book Eat to Live by Joel Fhurman which has been helping me become healthier and healthier and has been helping give my Vitamix a workout.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Giving Thanks--13

I'm thankful that I constantly have people to talk to and riddles to listen to and singers to listen to. Yeah, all of those reasons are why I can't write right now. "Talkity-talk-talk. Mom-mom-MOM-MOM." But hey, I'm never lonely.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Giving Thanks--12

I am thankful for N, my 16-year-old daughter. I've had some difficulty writing about her, because there are some sacred events surrounding our decision to have a third child and my pregnancy and also because you are going to think I'm exaggerating when I tell you about her. The gist of the matter is that N is a gift from God to our family. She's beautiful, inside and out. She's not perfect, but she is a joy to parent, a joy to have as a friend. She's not like me much at all. She's happier and kinder and much blonder. She loves clothes. She loves people. If she could be surrounded by friends every minute of every day, she would still crave more people to love. It's like the kid has been filled to the brim with love and she just has to give it to as many people as possible. She's strong and graceful and smart and creative. Dang, this chick is creative. If there are two ways to look at something, she comes up with a third, fourth and fifth, and the fourth and fifth will have you doubled over laughing. She is a defender of the defenseless. Just when you think you've got a cute little funny kitten that you can ignore, she will turn to a roaring tiger, ready to tear you apart, because she thinks you are picking on someone. She will take you down and then turn right back into the fuzzy ball of love, ready to make amends, provided you don't try that bullying thing again. Anyhow, she's an awesome person and I'm lucky to have her in my life.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Giving Thanks--11

Vetrans. I'm thankful for them.

My grandfather, my brother, my sister, my cousin, my father-in-law, brother-in-law, they each did different things, served in different branches, but they all signed up and showed up. Some of them served in wars, some didn't, but they all dedicated a portion of their lives to being in the USA military to protect our country. I'm thankful for the families that send their sons and daughters, husbands and wives out into the world to be bored, to be uncomfortable, to be shot at, while the families try to make ends meet, try to maintain their relationships, try to do the work of two parents by themselves. It's a hard thing we ask of the military and their families and I'm very grateful they give it, to protect and serve us all.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Giving Thanks--8, 9 & 10

8. So grateful for music.

9. And theatre.

10. And Doctor Who.

All brighten and bring happiness to my life.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Giving Thanks--7

I'm thankful for living in a beautiful state where fresh produce is available year round at a reasonable price. It is a luxury much of the world is denied.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Giving Thanks--6

I started this on the 6th, but I had a nasty headache all day. Everything came out "Bad noun passive verb typo typo no ending punctuation," and I decided I'd be better off writing later. So ANYHOW, on with the thanking.

I am thankful for medicine. I am thankful for migraine medicine and antibiotics and cold medicines, but most of all I am thankful for psychiatric medications. SSRIs and all of their cousins have saved the lives of countless people. They have kept people off of drugs and out of drunk tanks. For generations, my family has dealt with broken relationships, broken spirits, and addiction issues. One of my direct line ancestors died of "wood alcohol poisoning and exposure." Seriously.

My chemical imbalance began when I was very young. When I was ten I wanted to die with every part of myself. I tried to kill myself by sitting with a wet towel on my chest in front of an open window in winter. A character in a book I'd read had been successful in contracting pneumonia and dying through this method. I failed to grasp the futility of attempting it in a Northern Californian winter. My family laughed at me and called me Sarah Bernhardt, queen of melodrama. Except I was serious. Deadly serious.

The darkness lightened eventually, but it came back, again and again. At thirteen, at seventeen, at nineteen, at twenty-four, and at twenty-seven. Between ten and thirteen I gained an irrefutable testimony of the existence of God (see Giving Thanks--1), a God who did not want me to kill myself, and a firm belief that I would continue to exist past death. So I never tried to kill myself again. But I wanted to. Oh, how I wanted to stop. Just stop existing. Never to feel the pain and hopelessness and sorrow again. At those moments a sure knowledge of God's love was less than joyous.

One day, in the middle of my major depressive disorder, something changed. I realized that my misery wasn't just affecting me. My beautiful two year old son had lost his "expensive" belt (twenty bucks) that I'd purchased for church. I found myself ranting some crazy thing about the belt and my son was crying and my daughter was searching frantically for the belt and I saw clearly. I saw how my mother and father had destroyed portions of me with their craziness and how their parents had destroyed portions of them and how I would destroy my children if I kept it up. I saw how my hours of silent crying and envy of people who contracted deadly diseases and died in car crashes, all of that crazy was bending my children toward the dark that enveloped me. I realized that my children would only get the one childhood.

And I saw a doctor. I'd seen a psychologist when I was ten and then again when I was seventeen and again when I was twenty-two and I'd learned a lot of useful skills. Skills which frankly were keeping me alive. I'd learned how to write through my feelings and recognize cognitive distortions. I'd learned how to talk back to the crazy. Useful. But still the darkness remained and that longing for death.

The doctor prescribed an SSRI. And I was healed. It wasn't simple. I had to try different kinds of SSRI and I had to work through the side effects. But it went away and stayed away. I quit taking them twice to have two more babies, during the non-medicated second pregnancy a combination of hormones and situational issues plummeted me to a level I'd never been before. I got to the point where I was sure everyone would be better off without me and a deadly suicide plan formed in spite of my best cognitive efforts. I began taking an SSRI again, because regardless of the risk to my baby, she would be 100% dead if I killed myself. Again it was like magic. I took my pill every day and the thoughts stopped. I could write. I could think. I could laugh, play games. Feel the Spirit. Love God. Love my family.

So, yes, as odd as it sounds, I am thankful for meds. I'm thankful that my now 20-year-old daughter and my 19-year-old son love me and don't fear me. If I was diabetic and took insulin because my pancreas couldn't meet my needs, I would take it and feel perfectly reasonable mentioning it in any setting, but because it's my brain, I feel a little cautious in mentioning it. Will telling come back to bite me in the butt? Given the stigma of mental illness, it might. Yeah, my brain has some sort of genetic brain chemical imbalance, but if I take my medicine, I am fine. It's really a modern miracle. I imagine how differently my family history would read if my mother and father and their mothers and fathers had taken an SSRI. The past doesn't get to be rewritten, but I sure as heck can write the future. I can tell my children and my children's children that it isn't necessary to drink away or smoke away or scream away the dark.

If you currently are experiencing depression and suicidal feelings, I encourage you to seek help. Medications and counseling can save your life, can save the quality of your life and the life of those you love. Please reach out. 

 Here is a link that can start you on a path to healing:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Giving Thanks--5

I am thankful for my yvil sister. I'm thankful for her sense of humor and her intelligence. I'm proud of her academic accomplishments. My kids adore her. I adore her. I'm thankful that she has worked hard to stay on earth with us.

If you want to read more about the yvil one: I wrote about her years ago.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Giving Thanks--4

Sleep. I am so thankful for sleep, the ultimate reset button.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Giving Thanks--3

Conveniently it is J's birthday, so it's an easy pick.

I am grateful for my oldest son, J.

J is easily the most handy of all my kids to date. He can fix the computer or a bike or the leaky faucet. He built me a big fence around my yard this summer. (His summer construction job was a bit of a flop, not nearly enough hours, so I hired him. I have yet to pay him, because I have no gates yet and I learned my lesson about paying contractors before the work is completely done. That's a story for a different day though.) He's an easy kid to brag about (just click "J" at the bottom of the post and it will take you to many a brag-fest). He's self-motivated and smart. He inherited his dad's natural musical ability. He left the nest in September and I miss him horribly, but he only went to UCDavis, so I can retrieve him when I begin missing him too badly.

I've got too much to do today to write an essay about his strengths and weaknesses, but trust me, he's a kid to be grateful for.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Giving Thanks--2

I wonder if it would be cheating to list my family one by one. Maybe, but what are they going to do, revoke my thanking privileges? Where to start, oldest, youngest, the one making the most noise right now? I think I'll start with my oldest daughter, E. 

I am thankful for E.

I remember when E was about five months old a friend asked me how being a mother was. I answered that it was so much better than anything I'd imagined, so much easier than I was expecting. She was beautiful, brilliant and a delight to be around. I think I raved for a good ten minutes which in retrospect was certainly bad form, but I'd fallen in love, so deeply in love that all manners had been thrown to the wind. And of course I hadn't hit potty training or learning how to do fractions or hormones or learning to drive or teenage rebellion or her completely backwards sleep schedule yet, all of which confirmed that parenting was not easy-peasy.

Nevertheless, my relationship with E continues to be one of the biggest blessings of my life. She's brilliant and resourceful. We geek out on Doctor Who together. We laugh at the same things. We enjoy similar books. She helped me raise and slaughter the meat chickens (and promptly became vegan). In consequence, she's voted most likely to help me through a horrible project without whining. If I had to be stuck on a desert island with someone, she would be in my top five picks.

She ran off to UCBerkeley this summer. Letting her be her own grownup person has been so much harder than I was expecting, but so much more rewarding. Last night I went out to dinner with her and just stared at her beauty and absorbed her light, and I realized that as deeply as I loved her as a baby, I love her more now, so much so that sometimes I throw manners to wind and write a whole blog post about her.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Giving Thanks--1

November is my thankful month, not that I don't give it a solid shot at being thankful other months, but November is the month I consciously decide to count my blessings one by one. It helps me in so many ways, lifts my mind toward God, and opens my eyes to things I take for granted.

Today's Thankful: I am thankful for God's love. I am grateful for my mother and grandparents teaching me of his love when I was very young and for all of the teachers and missionaries who also testified of that love throughout my life, but most of all I am grateful to God for revealing that love to me as I've prayed.