Friday, May 27, 2011

My brain

My memory is off. Others like to say it's normal; that everyone has some memory loss as they age, have children, have stress; but for me it's more.

Today I went to light a candle and instead tried to light my mug of coffee. Not in an offhand picking it up without looking at it way; I actually was paying attention and picked up the mug of coffee and then tried for a bit to light it. Usually when I have these kinds of moments I'll get a feeling that's something's not right and try to figure it out. I looked again and after a second or two realized I was in fact trying to light a mug of coffee instead of the candle.

There's something about all of these memory issues that is just really off and I know it. I don't always realize right away what specifically is wrong, but I get a sense that there is something definitely not right and I have to work to figure it out. I now understand the confused or blank look I've seen older people get. It's because you know you are doing something off but you're just not sure of what it is. Or you know that you know something but you can't access it.

So far today I have forgotten I was folding laundry, tried to light my coffee like a candle, and forgot to return a phone call. All in all, not a bad day. I have lists all over, reminders, and sometimes I wonder how I'll be in a few years if I'm already like this at 35. I wonder if this is permanent or if it could get better with some kind of treatment.

I've always been a little scatterbrained,  I used to joke that I'd read so many books that my mind couldn't keep up. Now I read books to keep my mind working. I play games on my phone and the computer and can tell by my scores what kind of brain day I'm having. The tough days are when I can't understand what I'm doing, can't process what I am reading or watching. I crochet and knit but some days I have trouble remembering how. 

Now that I am finding more balance and getting more rest I see that I have less of the really bad days. I have more of a sense of my limits and can mostly stay out of that endless cycle where I burn myself out and then have to rest for days to catch back up. I'm finding my new normal and it's helping. I have more peace about my situation, I'm not as scared or sad or frustrated. I still have those times, but not as much. I feel sometimes like God has given me permission to slow down, to simplify. God knew I needed a change, that I needed to accomodate my health better and he gave me that change through friends, family, and others. It doesn't always seem that way at first, but when i continued to talk to God, to seek Him in my struggles (mostly!), I found peace and comfort. I found it through the words of the Bible, through that voice in my heart, and through loved ones and strangers. I can only hope and trust that God is taking care of me, of us, as He has promised to do.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gavel Nazing

The people we know and love have these entire other lives and range if experiences we have no idea of. And when we learn of them we can't really understand them. Maybe parts of them, but not their whole.

My sisters live their adult lives in an area I am slightly familiar with, but not the way I know the place I live. They have different friends and favorite places and familiar grocery stores. I haven't yet seen my youngest sister's house, but I picture them in the places I've seen. They went before away for college, making this whole other life that I only saw glimpses of.

I think of my best friend who I know so well and who knows me so well and that we each have so many experiences we won't be able to share them all.

And my children, who live here with me, that even now they do so much I am no part of it, that as much as I've known them, from their conception on, that there is still much I don't and won't know about them. What will it be like as they grow, as their lives become more and more independent? Sometimes I have this drive to know them; to know all they've done that day, all they are thinking and feeling. I find myself questioning them and stop myself because I know I can't know them so well, that it's irritating and invasive to be asked so much. That's one of things I didn't realize until I had children, just how nosy I was. I think it's because I am so open that I just expect it to be so for others. My poor kids, hopefully I can learn to let them live their lives without having to know all the details.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


I really, really love the peacefulness of hearing all the different birds outside as the breeze and their whistles and chirps float through the window. I love that summer is coming and spring is here, complete with thunderstorms, although I'm not as fond of the tornadoes. I love seeing all the bushes and trees grow from sparse, barren sticks into full bundles of leaves and flowers. I love hearing the wind rustle through the tree leaves, feeling it come through the open windows and hit my skin in soft, cool waves.

I love the kids tromping off into the woods and coming back with handfuls of flowers that we put into cups and arrange on the counters and tables. I love that one of them found an eagle feather and another is hoping to catch a glimpse of a coyote while all are hoping the wild turkeys stay far away.

We're living now in the places we grew up, and our kids are going on adventures just like the ones we've gone on. Finding the treasures we once found. Discovering secret spots in houses and outside like we once found. Hitting trees with sticks, imagining what you'd do if you did happen upon a turkey or coyote. Climbing onto tree stumps, hiking through the woods, looking in the trees for birds or animals, taken to a place of imagination and magic.

We've been taken from a situation of chaos and plopped into the arms of comfort and simplicity and it feels very, very good.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lions, Tigers, and Urgent Care, Oh My!

I'd planned to have a fairly quiet night of picking up and doing some laundry with the kiddos but life had other ideas. Drew fell on and then off a trampoline, falling onto the edge of the trampoline-direct hit to the shoulder-and then onto the ground-direct hit to the shoulder and face. His friend's mom called me right away, and from the sounds of it it was a tough fall to watch. (I'm feeling for her because there's something about any sort of breakage of another person's kid that is enough to induce the worst of the guilt-just in case she reads this I will again say that's why they're called accidents and you have absolutely nothing to feel bad about.)

Drew was attempting to be pretty stoic, he'd already cried in front of people-something that's pretty tough for a ten year old boy to do-and I could tell he was hurting. He was emphatic that he was fine and there was no need to see any doctors or anything, all while wincing and holding his shoulder. He still had grass embedded in his cheek. I told him I'd rather go to be sure and not have to do a worried visit to ER in the wee hours of the morning, so off to urgent care we went.

The girls got out their homework and settled in for the long haul. A friend and her daughter came in, so we caught up while I filled out paperwork and waited. Then into the exam room with the boys where Drew and I joked and talked to ease his nervousness and I attempted to keep Colin occupied (and stop him from touching the spinning stool/sharps container/blood pressure cuff/light/garbage/the floor/anything else disgusting or fragile & expensive by having him count to various numbers, spell words, and then look for different colored cars through the window.

A nurse, a doctor, and an x-ray later and we learned that there were no fractures, thank you God! just some bad bruising. After picking up some children's ibuprofen and cool ice packs and food for everyone we arrived home just before 8:00pm. So much for that free quiet night where we did a few chores and went to bed early.

We crammed the chores into about a half hour, three people bathed, and got settled in only to have the power go out. Then it was assessing that no one else's power was out and after finding the breaker box and resetting the switch to the miracle of electricity, getting the people calmed down enough to actually fall asleep.

Finally, it is quiet. I laid down with my book and dozed off. Only to be awakened at 2:00am by the weather radio to alert us that severe thunderstorms were coming (not uncommon in Iowa in spring.) So far the thunderstorms aren't that severe. Hopefully they stay that way.

I'll end this fairly banal post by saying that I'm actually pretty surprised that this was our first trampoline-related injury which means that the girls made it 12 years, Drew 10, and Colin 8. We don't have our own trampoline, but many friends do and my parents had one for awhile as well. I was the mean mom when they were young who wouldn't let them go all over the neighborhood and jump on trampolines even though the other kids could. I always felt bad because I know trampolines really are super fun, but I also was pretty paranoid that the odds weren't in our favor and its hard to make sure the kids are following the appropriate trampoline rules while gallivanting the neighborhood. I find it a little ironic (and funny) that given my previous vigilance that our first injury is in a safe place with a friend who takes awesome care of the kids in spite of their penchant for rowdy boy fun. Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor?

Saturday, May 07, 2011


I became a mom in 1999, inducted in a crazy way with the birth of our twin girls, Abbie & Arenne. It'd taken us a year and a half to become parents and we were having discussions about whether we'd look into seeing doctors or just halting the process and going back to college. We'd just about decided to move to Iowa City and choose college when I found out I was finally pregnant. My husband and I were very, very excited and more so (as well as profoundly shocked) when we learned there were two babies. I remember going to lunch and not saying much beyond wow and oh my, trying to hold back our enormous grins and the overwhelming logistical thoughts of having two babies at the same time. Their coming in to the world was quite eventful, they were born at 30 weeks and spent the first 7 weeks in the hospital. They were lovely babies and we had so much fun (between all the feeding and diaper changing and keeping them out of things); and have grown into such lovely, funny, intelligent, and individual girls.

Drew came along in 2000. Our first two and our third are 16 months apart. I remember my husband in denial that I could possibly be pregnant so soon, our twins were only SEVEN months old! I went to my parents and sat down on the stairs my mom had been vacuuming, started crying, and said, "Mom, I think I am pregnant again. What will I do? I only have two hands!" Drew's birth was wonderful, fun, and even my grandparents from California were able to be there. The girls started walking the day I went into the hospital to have him and were outside in the hallway shrieking and laughing with my parents and grandparents as their little brother was born. Drew was decidedly not an easy baby and his nickname of "Extreme Child" was well-earned. I like to joke that he got all of his angst out of the way in the first two years, he's the most easy-going kid now, as well as quick and funny.

Colin came along in 2002. We'd gone back and forth on having another child and just when the vasectomy talks began we decided we weren't done. I also insisted that we start trying asap because I wanted to do all the stages at once; I didn't want to get out of diapers & potty training only to start all over again. Colin came into the world 3 weeks early, spent a few days in the NICU and has been filling our lives with excitement and hilarity ever since.

This is us, waving goodbye to my sister in 2003 (?), its one of my favorite pictures. Four kids in 3 1/2 years and still standing. We had a lot of fun, went on lots of adventures, and now I have a hard time remembering how I did it. ;)

This is my mom, Laurel, with Abbie & Arenne on our Memorial Day camping trip last year. My mom has taught me so much about being a mom and about being a person. She's given me love, strength, independence, faith, and a sense of humor. She is incredibly funny and quick-witted and showed me how to laugh at life. She has done things in her life that have shown me how to be strong, to put yourself out there, and to perservere. She's shown me how to win and how to fail. She made sure I grew up knowing God; something that means more to me now than ever. She taught me how to love my siblings and how to love my children. She worked in a non-traditional jobs for woman program when I was a baby, working on a road construction crew and later worked her way up in the business world and taught us how to golf, love the Hawkeyes, and appreciate wine. She is a great mom, but an even better grandma. I love that my girls will learn how to love and mother from their grandmas.

Above is my mom's mom, my Grandma Donna, with my nephew Jackson and myself. I love this picture of her laughing and holding Jack Jack. This woman has four kids, eighteen grandchildren, twenty-some (still counting) great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild with another on the way. Unequivocally she has been the biggest supporter and encourager of my interest in literature and writing. When I was a kid she always made me feel loved, her hugs are the best; as an adult she's a tremendous example of how to love others, how to live, and to love and live even through the tough times. She gave, and gives, each and every one of us this tremendous sense of who we are and who we have the potential to be, and that she loves us all no matter what. Her cookie jar has been full for my entire life, always. Never empty. With that many grandkids and greats this is a feat in and of itself. She also remembers each and every birthday and anniversary, something I wish I had inherited.

This is my dad's mom, my Grandma Milly, with my nephew Tommy. The two words often used to describe her are energetic & youthful. She is something to marvel at. She's loved me, encouraged me, and taught me to walk with my spine straight and head high (complete with the book on the head and pulling back of the shoulders). She's taught me what it means to have drive, to be proud of who I am, and helped me get out of bed by popping open the shades and banging on the birthday bell in the mornings. (Once you've heard this sound, you won't forget it.) The rest of the grandkids heard it only for birthdays, but when I lived with my grandparents it was my alarm clock. I don't get to see her as much now, as she and my grandpa live in California, and I definitely miss her hugs. If there was one reason I'd wish for money, it would be so I could visit my family as much as we wanted-or at least more than we've been able to.

All of these women have taught me what it means to mother, to raise and love your children. They've shown me lessons throughout my life, been tremendous examples of who women should be, and that mothering never stops. I continue to learn from them and be loved by them and I am thankful that God blessed me with each of them. For as much as I love words, there just aren't enough to convey the enormity of the love I've been given and continue to receive.

Happy Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

I really should be better

at keeping up with people.

I am no good at sending out letters or emails, cards or notes or even school pictures of my children. I put them up so that I can sit down to cut them out and write the name and year on the back, except I never really get around to that cutting out bit. And then at some point I move them to my photo storage bin (one of many) and then forget until one of my sisters reminds me that I haven't sent pictures in a long, very long, time. I'm thinking I may just give them all at once when they graduate. More efficient, no?

Facebook is helpful for people like me, those of us who think often about sending someone a note or birthday card or pictures of the kids concerts. For when I think, I wonder what so and so is up to, but never get around to emailing, or calling, or even texting.

At one point I won this handy card organizer at an alumni banquet and I was pretty darn excited. I remember sitting down to write everyone's birthdays and anniversaries in it and putting cards in the proper months and getting all the addresses into the handy address book. I was ready, I was organized!

I found that handy card organizer as we moved a few weeks back. With most of the cards still in it, waiting to be written in and mailed out. I also found all of the files I'd once made for the kids' school paperwork-three of them, the girls were in kindergarten and Drew in preschool. I don't think I've had an efficient filing system since.

So, I'm thankful for Facebook, and email, and cell phones. But mostly for my loved ones and friends who still like me no matter how forgetful or scatterbrained or absent I can be.