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November 20, 2014

Well, Hello There...

Allow me to (re)introduce myself...

Since my last post:
Sarah helped Dominic by pulling his first loose tooth!
Wow! Can't believe losing teeth has
already started for him
My "oldometer" ticked up for another year
(how awesome is this card?)
We test-drove, took home for a day, committed to buying
and then backed out of buying a new car
(maybe I'll post on that someday)


Sarah's 8th grade volleyball team took first in division,
and 2nd in City Tournament. What a great year.
Great girls and coaches!

I found a box that had these pajamas in them and they fit Vincent now!
Holy moly, he is getting big (and even more cute, if that's possible)
Took the boys clothes-shopping and found these cool
Lego Star Wars pajamas for Dominic. Perfect.
Wow, it has been awhile, right? I admit that the longer I go without writing anything substantial, the less I care to do so. We've changed our course in the past couple of months. That's a good thing, but it also means that a new form of "busy" has materialized.
First of all, Craig is still working nights. And that is fine honestly. He had been working nights for the past 10 years at the casino. It's just that the hours are a bit longer, so he's going in more like late afternoon/early evening and working through the night. The good part: He is home in time to help get the kids all ready and off to school before he goes to sleep and he's up in time to get them from school before heading off to his next day of work. The not-as-good-but-bearable part: This means my day really begins when I get off work. More on that later.

Secondly, the job is such an improvement over the casino. He's working at the Ford plant on the assembly line. The benefits are excellent and he gets paid overtime when he works it. Novel concept. :) I think he seems to enjoy the work he does, too. Craig's always liked cars (Vincent's obsession with them gives me some idea of what Craig may have been like as a child) and this gives him an opportunity to be up close and personal with at least one make and model. :)

So while all of this has occurred, we have had to make some changes to the way things run around the house. Craig used to do all the grocery shopping, for example, on Friday mornings. Well, that isn't possible every week anymore, so I have had to re-learn how to grocery shop and fit it into an already jam-packed weekend. The first two times I kept going over budget. It was really ticking me off. But the third time I did it, I made my list and I pulled out my phone and added things up as I went and ... Woo-Hoo! ... I was under budget and I got everything on the list! Also, Craig used to get some of the laundry done on Thursdays/Fridays and that's not happening anymore either. This past weekend was the craziest as every person in our family had to get their laundry done on Sunday. I am planning to get on that earlier in the weekend coming up so we don't have that happen again!

And then...there are the activities for the kids. Right now, Sarah has club volleyball, Dani has swim club and Helen has basketball. I'm thanking God for inspiring me NOT to put Dominic and/or Vincent in anything right now because I could not get them there. Mondays are the craziest since Helen and Dani both have practice at 6:30 and then Sarah has practice at 8 all the way across town. I think I'm getting a system down and this coming Monday, I think I'll be able to do it with one less trip across town (I've been heading over there twice -- once for drop-off and once for pick-up) since I will just have us all hang out across town while practice is going on. Dani has practice MOnday through Thursday. Sarah has practices Monday and Wednesday. Helen's practices are Monday and Saturday. So there's a lot of driving around for me during the week. I have no doubt that it is all worth it, but it's been an adjustment for me because I had grown to love having my evenings free to do as I wished.

I had already started going to CrossFit in the early mornings (5:15 -- bright and EARLY) so that hasn't changed. Craig's able to make it to the 6:15 a couple of times a week, too. The kids are pretty good at getting up and around most mornings -- now that the girls are pretty self-sufficient in that arena. So, the exercise is still happening.

As you can imagine, the schedule in the evenings makes it difficult to do dinner. We do a lot of breakfast for dinner so far. I hope we can get some good crockpot things going now that the cold weather is here. But we seldom eat together. Dani is usually grabbing something early so she's ready to swim. There are snacks, with no real dinner-time routine. It kind of drives me bonkers and makes me think I suck at this whole Mom thing, but I don't know what else to do at this point since the evenings are just too crazy for anything else.

Through all of it, though, I was able to spend the weekend two weekends ago (the one before Veteran's Day) doing a huge clean and purge of the house. So now at least, I like being in the house for the time I am there. Our garage is clean and uncluttered and so is our basement. I know where everything is in the storage room, too. And I have been on the kids to keep it straightened up, too (you would not believe the places I found the many puzzle pieces and telepods the boys had scattered all over -- well, maybe you would). The side benefit of being so busy? There really is only so much time the kids are in the house to mess it up. :)

We'll see if I can get the 7 drafted posts in any shape to be published in the near future. #dontholdyourbreath

That's just a little bit of word-spew from me to let you know that while I may feel like I am drowning, I'm still alive and well. And happy, for the most part.

Cheers!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 




November 3, 2014

Monday Mumbles - 78 (CrossFit Competition Edition)

Happy 9th-to-last Monday of 2014. (Why do I like counting down Mondays?)

Let's mumble, shall we?

1. First CrossFit competition ever this weekend is in the books. It went all right. The hard part about doing things for the first time is not really knowing what to expect. The things I will make sure I do better next time:
  • Buy/Wear clothes that fit properly. I haven't updated my workout wardrobe very much in the last year...it showed -- fortunately not too much -- but adjusting my clothing while trying to complete burpees or transitioning from jump rope to sit-ups was not that much fun.
  • Drink more water. I didn't get dehydrated, but I don't think I was in the best shape where water intake was concerned.
  • Try to farm out my kids to friends' houses if I can. My kids do an awful lot to pitch in and help me out on a regular basis -- I'd like for a day I am competing to be fun for them instead of a drag. They just aren't into this CrossFit thing like I am (yet).
  • Stick with Paleo regimen for the whole month leading up to it. I fell off the wagon when the gym's "30-day challenge" ended at the beginning of October and never really got back on it before this competition. My body processes food more efficiently eating that way and I really do notice a huge difference.
2. That being said, I had a good time and I think I did pretty well for my first competition. I ranked 15th out of 28 women in the scaled division. My ranks in the workouts broke down like this:
  • WOD 1: 9th -- this WOD played to my strengths as Deadlift is one of my better lifts and the weights were good for high reps
  • WOD 2: 23rd -- this WOD was one of my weakest lifts -- Snatch. But, I did PR (80#) but it was only a power snatch. I need to keep working on sticking a Snatch in the squat position. Dang 41-year-old hips and knees!
  • WOD 3: 16th -- I completed this WOD last for the day and I felt wiped out. I thought afterwards that maybe if I hadn't eaten my meal about 60 minutes before, I might have been better, but I don't know. It was a paleo meal, so the food wasn't the problem, but maybe the timing of eating it? It was a WOD that was 3 rounds of 400m run-30 single jump-rope jumps, 20 ab-mat situps and 10 shoulder-to-overhead presses. By the third time I headed out for 400m run, I was over it. It helped me push to get through that last round, but I know I didn't run the way I typically do (but, of course, my pants were falling down, too). However, I think 16th is probably about right for that performance.
  • WOD 4: 12th -- this WOD was one where you picked up 80 pounds (two plates that totaled that) ran down to a sled-type thing, loaded the weight and then pushed it to the finish line. I did it in 27 seconds (well slightly more than 27 seconds). I liked that WOD a lot, but it was over so quickly!
  • The way the competition score seems to work is to add up your ranks in each WOD and that is your score. You want a low score. My total points were 60. It seems like if you want to be in the running to win a competition, it's good to win at least one of the WODs and/or be in the top 10 for most of them. (The competitor in me takes note of such things.)
3. My kids were great. I wish I would have taken a picture of them being good. I had Dani, Dominic and Helen with me. Sarah stayed at home with Vincent since he'd been fighting off a cold most of last week. Dani got up from her perch to come watch a couple of the WODs, but on the last one, she informed me she was just gonna wait in the chair. ha.

4. When we got home, I was wiped out. I couldn't really rest that much, though. I guess my body needed to calm down a bit from the day. I have also noticed this phenomenon when I have run half marathons or even when I did my triathlon. You'd think you could take a nap...but you really can't.

5. Oh and during that last WOD, I thought more than once that I was never doing a competition again. I'm sure that feeling will pass and I'll do another one. I'm too competitive not to.

6. I was HUNGRY Saturday night, too. Now, I typically can put some steak away. I am a meat-loving fool. But I even surprised myself with the amount of steak and crab legs I ate Saturday night. Yes, I stopped at the grocery store and picked out a couple of bacon wrapped filets, a ribeye and a pound of Alaskan Snow Crab Legs. I didn't eat all of it Saturday night...but a pretty good portion.

7. I was so wiped out, that I forgot to set our clocks back Saturday night before I went to bed. Doh! So, Craig and I got up and got ready to go to 8:00 a.m. Mass Sunday  morning and were just discussing getting the kids up when Craig looked at his phone and saw it was only 6:00 a.m. and not 7:00 a.m. I just went and ate breakfast. I guess that's a positive.

8. Helen and I had a little afternoon date yesterday. It was fun. She's so sweet.

Mommy-Helen Selfie
9. I am clearing out our storage room so that we can then clear out and clean the other side of our garage in the hopes we will buy a new car soon and have a place to house it. I went through one box in the storage room that had this "love note" from my Sarah. It is probably about three or four years old.

I miss Sarah's love-notes

10. We have a busy week ahead. We spent about 10 minutes before dinner yesterday going over how it's all going to go down. Lots of driving for me, lots of kids getting their homework done efficiently and being ready to go when it is time.

So, deep breath. Here we go.

Have a great week!


 



October 31, 2014

One Year of My New Life

Remember this? Here I Go Again

One year ago today, I walked into the Weight Watchers At-Work meeting to weigh-in for the "first time" again. I am happy to report it was my LAST "first time" and I made changes that started that day and stuck with them now for a year.

One year ago on November 1 (tomorrow) I went to my first CrossFit workout. I had surgery six weeks before and had abided by the "no lifting" restrictions. But I was cleared and ready to go. I remember that workout like it was a year ago. :) We did back squats. We did Cleans. And I was oh-so-very sore all weekend long. (I also came down with Strep that weekend, which was not so fun.)

Today, I reread several of my posts over the past year and I link them for you now:


Tomorrow, I will compete in my first CrossFit Competition. I'm nervous. But it's the good kind of nervous. I am entered in the scaled division and I just hope to do the very best I can and see how it goes.

As I think about this past year the main thing that comes to mind is my focus on maintaining these changes I have made. AS my initial "Here I Go Again" post mentions...I had always been an active person, but the food was my problem. I'm not going to lie, even with the changes I made this year, the food is still my problem. It's something I cannot ever let myself become mindless to ever again. I will forever need to keep track of the food I eat on a daily basis. I will forever need to regroup after my inevitable falls "off the wagon" and get back to tracking.

Actually, I've been "off the wagon" for about four weeks now. It's just been crazy with our schedule and Craig's new job. I'm hopeful I can get back on now. Does that mean that I've gained 15 pounds? No. But it means that if I don't get it in check, I might. Does that mean I haven't worked out? Nope. Still haven't had more than a 2-day layoff for exercise in a year. But the exercise isn't the problem.

I recently reviewed the time since November 1 to see about workouts and was pleased to see that it was true that I had not had more than two days in a row with no formal/vigorous exercise since then. Even when we had a 2-day road trip for our vacation, when we arrived at my sister's, I headed out for a 5K just to get something in on that 2nd day. I try not to obsess, however, my anxiety kicks up if I start thinking I won't be able to get a workout in if I didn't get one the day before.

In the last few months, I've had some interesting internal struggles with what I've done and how it impacts my family. First of all, there's no question I am healthier and a better mom when I feel good about myself -- both my actual health and my appearance. Secondly, I know I'm showing my kids what a healthy life looks like and I'm proud of that. The struggle comes in where the potential for weight-related problems rears its head with my kids. My kids are growing right now and are active and make (for the most part) healthy choices in the kitchen. But it was recently pointed out to me what my transformation in the past year may look like to them -- especially my Helen, who wants so much to be like me in all ways. I believe my kids are proud of me for making healthy changes, but I worry that my girls (especially my girls) gain or retain some part of MY insecurity with weight and body image by seeing me work so hard to change my own weight/body to fit something I am happy with. This is a real concern. I want my girls to know they are beautiful no matter what. I worry that because they've watched this transformation over the past year, that they may think that I don't think I am beautiful no matter what. So, that's probably a post for another day. But it's something I've had on my heart for a few weeks.

For today, I am going to celebrate. I'm going to celebrate the fact that my weight is in a healthy range, that my cholesterol (both the good and the bad) are in optimal ranges, that my resting heart rate is fantastic and that my blood pressure is excellent. Today, I celebrate the fact that I know eating a cookie is not going to derail my health because I know to limit my intake to just one (or two! haha) and not eat the whole box. Today, I celebrate that I understand how processed foods and sugars impact my body and I know how to make healthy and moderate choices on those. I celebrate the fact that I can Back Squat 185 pounds; I can Front Squat 145 pounds; I can Hang Squat Clean 130 pounds; I can do good-form "perfect" push-ups to the tune of 10 at a time; I can do unassisted kipping pull-ups. I could go on, but I won't. I feel so empowered from all the goals I have reached in the last year and for that, I am grateful and I want to celebrate it.

Many of you have sent me congratulations and celebrated my success over this past year. Thank you for that. I knew that I needed a lot of accountability and  checks to keep me going and I appreciate that you all agreed to help me with that.

My journey is still far from over, though. Because I believe the hard part is in the maintenance. Yes, losing weight is hard -- I'm not going to deny that. But I'm discovering that maintaining those changes when the weight is gone can be its own kind of incredible struggle. When the focus is not so much on losing and you can widen your lens-of-life and look at more things everyday -- taking the time and the part of your lens to continue to focus on your health still takes effort. Some days that effort is easier than others. But no matter what, I must continue to focus on maintaining these healthy changes.

My focus continues to be on these main things:
  1. Tracking my food in a food diary
  2. Exercise most days of the week (this typically means one true rest day per week and sometimes two rest days per week, depending on the schedule...usually NOT two days in a row if I can help it)
  3. Stick to the Paleo philosophy most of the time
So, I'm going to allow myself a "Birthday" Treat -- if you will.

My New/Healthy Life is 1-year-old today.


October 27, 2014

Monday Mumble - 77

Good Monday Morning. It's about the time of year where I count how many more Mondays there are...so including today, there are TEN more Mondays in 2014. Okay, that's scary. Let's mumble, shall we?

1. Craig and I had a rare chance to get out with a couple of friends for dinner Friday night. We hadn't been able to see this couple in well over a year. In the meantime, she's battled and beaten breast cancer, our kids have all gotten older (and busier!!) and we had a great time catching up with them.
Sweet friend and she's so pretty!
One of the best parts was that they needed to bring their youngest since their daughter wasn't feeling well enough to watch him. He and Dominic are about 8 months apart in age and have always gotten along so well. I love how it seemed like we all just picked up where we left off. We had a great visit.

Dominic and his friend with dessert
ummmm, face first? haha
2. The Royals are in the World Series. They are currently down in the series 2-3 to the San Francisco Giants. BUT! The series returns to Kansas City tomorrow night and I am praying they win and push it to a 7th game Wednesday night. Of course, I hope they win the whole thing, but one prayer at a time, right?

3. This coming weekend I will compete for the first time in a CrossFit competition. I am excited! Craig is signed up, too. Of course, his new job decided to make working Saturday a "Mandatory" day, but if they switch it to "Voluntary" he hopes to still be able to compete.

The Coach Friday Morning caught this photo while
I was swinging a kettlebell :)

4. On Saturday (day before yesterday) I strung together pull-ups for the first time! They are still "Kipping" pull-ups, but I didn't fall off the bar and I did four in a row! Then this morning, I did pull-ups with the whole workout. That made me feel accomplished! I continue to attend my workouts in the mornings before work. I'm grateful for Sarah being willing to get up early and help me out with this. Considering Craig's schedule will be nights, this is going to have to continue for the foreseeable future.

5. So, the new job for Craig. It's going well. He's working a lot. I think he likes getting paid overtime (something he didn't get in his last position) and we're wading through all the benefits, which are very good. We're getting used to the new schedule. This week is a transition week, next week he starts his "for real" shift, which is nights. We did nights when he worked at the casino, so no biggie there. But I do have to figure out transportation for all the kids activities a bit differently. I'm going to be working all day and driving around all evening it looks like.

6. Sarah's volleyball season with her 8th grade team at school is going very well. They are undefeated and having a good time. Starting next week, she'll be attending some special sessions and/or practices for her club team as well as finishing out the regular season for school. It will be busy!

7. Dani gets started back up swimming (again) Monday next week. They had a change in Aquatics director at the Y who has spent October trying to ramp up the program a little bit and ensuring coaches can be at practices. Dani still wants to improve enough to try and make it onto the competitive team through the YMCA. She still needs to perfect her Breastroke and Butterfly. I know she'll do it with some hard work. She set a goal to be ready to try out in February, so we'll see.

8. Helen is all signed up for basketball this year. She wanted me to help coach again, so I said I would. We haven't found out our practice time(s) yet. That may very well throw a wrench into things, too. Hoping to find out soon!!

9. The first quarter for school ended last week. We have conferences this week. After our initial assessment with Helen, and adding some opportunity for one-on-one study time with her godmother, she salvaged the first quarter nicely. She still has some work to do in Math, but as she went in for her Friday quizzes last week, I told her, "It's a new quarter! Double-check your work and take your time to get started on the right foot."

10. The new schedule for Craig means we have to figure out a new day/time to get grocery shopping done. We've done a couple of different things so far. One week, Craig went on a Friday evening. Then, I had Friday off work a week ago, so I was able to do it then. But this past week, there was no opportunity to go until Saturday. Oi vey. I do not like grocery shopping on Saturday midday. I am NOT going to do that again. I'm looking over next weekend's schedule and trying to see how we can switch it up this time. That's the hard part about Craig getting weekends off just like me -- except that he's worked an extra day the last couple of weeks anyway -- the option to do certain things during the week when it's not crazy-busy has been almost eliminated. But, we'll figure it out, I am sure.
Vincent dressed himself Saturday.
And he was crazy in the grocery store, too.

Have a great week!

 

 



 

 

 

October 22, 2014

Parenting Conundrum -- Help? AN UPDATE!!

I'm one of those people that doesn't ask a lot of advice from people. Especially about parenting. It's not because I know everything and don't think that others have anything to offer me. It's more that, when I read blogs or internet threads where advice is dispensed, there is so much that is variable. There's a lot of, "Well, this worked for me....not sure it's the right thing for everyone" and "Every kid is different" and an awful whole heckuva lot of "It depends."

Why would I write a blog post now to ask for advice? Well...a situation has occurred multiple times at my house the last few months and I obviously have not handled it well since it continues to happen. So, I'm coming out of hibernation (why haven't I blogged lately??) to ask for some ideas and/or advice on how to handle something.

You don't even have to be a parent to help me on this. Think about siblings doing similar things...or friends.  :)

Set the stage, here: I wear makeup. Some people might say I wear a lot of makeup and some people might say I don't wear enough. Just about everyone could give me some tips on how to do it better, I know that.

Girls like makeup! Go figure!! :) (Photo Credit)
I have three daughters in my house. They are ages 13, 11 and 8. None of them wear makeup on a daily basis and the oldest will wear it on weekends (the school rule is no makeup). The oldest also has some makeup she's received either as gifts or that I have purchased for her in the last year or so. The younger two haven't expressed much interest in makeup at this point and they do not have any in their possession.

Here's the recurring situation: Someone uses my makeup. No one owns up to it. An accusation that I don't really remember how I left my things typically ensues. And that is typically followed by suggestion that maybe NO ONE messed with my stuff. Today, the suggestion was that my husband must have used it.

I know someone used the eye shadow applicator because I see that the person applied blush (rouge-tinged bristles -- when my eye shadow is clear/very light neutral color) with it. I wipe this brush clean each time I use it as the bristles are a special material that helps apply the powderless kind of eye shadow. Once it was used for blush, the culprit did not clean it off AND inserted it back into its sleeve the opposite direction of how I keep it.

I know someone used my foundation brush because it was damp (perhaps it got dropped in the sink??)

I know someone used my eyebrow comb/brush because it was missing (in this instance, it mysteriously or miraculously showed up in its proper location within a day of my registering annoyance that it is gone and I know someone used it, and then lied to me about it).

I know someone used my makeup (in general) because things are out of place. I am meticulous with my stuff and I store it exactly the same way when I am finished every single time (thank you, OCD). The child using it clearly doesn't understand why anyone would do that -- which is why said child thinks she can get away with not owning up to it and trying to convince me that perhaps my husband (???) is the one who has been dabbling in my makeup (Yep -- that was actually uttered this morning).

Here's the thing: I think it's NATURAL for a girl to want to wear some makeup. I wear makeup because I like it! I am sure my girls want to wear it, too. And I am not opposed to them learning how to use makeup and wearing it (just not to school since that is against the rules). I am hurt because this situation where they use my makeup without asking makes me think that they believe I would not let them use makeup. I think I've been fairly reasonable about the whole makeup and clothes things with my girls. I've been flexible, but held firm on certain things -- but none of the things I've felt the need to "hold firm" on have been makeup related.

So, if one of my girls asked to use my makeup, I would most likely say "yes" (if no rules were being broken) and also see if it were time to get her some (more) of her own.

Here's another thing: I don't like lies. If I confront a child of mine with a question like, "Hey, did you use this makeup thing?" I expect an honest answer. When I believe I am being lied to, it hurts my feelings and also makes me angry. I think it hurts me more than angers me, though, because I don't know why my kids want to deceive me.

THIS situation occurred this morning: I came home from working out and was getting ready for work, used my foundation brush and found it damp, then found my eye shadow brush had been used and put away incorrectly (completely different from how I store my brush). My first thought was that it was the oldest. When confronted, she denied it. I can't imagine it had been either of the younger two, but I asked them and they said they hadn't. used it.

No one every owned up to it. I went about my routine getting ready. I thought about how I could get the truth from my girl(s).

My solution for this time is that no monthly allowances will be paid until the person who used the makeup (and did a pretty shoddy job of putting stuff back) makes herself known to me. I don't JUST MEAN November allowances -- I mean no more allowances EVER until the person owns up to it. Allowances are these girls' only way of obtaining money (well, the oldest gets babysitting jobs...) so I am hopeful this will work. I even said, "you can come to me individually, if you want. I promise you that the anger I feel toward being lied to will most likely be overcome with happiness to forgive and move on once the truth has been acknowledged." And, knowing how I felt in the past with situations like this, I believe it to be true. Once I know the truth, I can address the initial lie, discuss the harm that it caused the relationship, but then move on from it. Especially with one of my dear children.

I did tell the girls that the longer I am lied to, the more angry I am about the whole thing and that I wouldn't have been all that angry if the person had just owned up to it from the get-go.


Photo Credit

Let's be clear about something: My anger = disappointed look, a little bit of yelling. So, the fear of me being angry that they use my makeup without asking first is a little weird, in my opinion.

So --  my question(s) for you, readers:

1) Is there a better way (i.e., more efficient) to get the information from my girls, than just withholding their monthly allowance? (I do suspect the oldest, but man, she was figuratively digging in her heels even as we drove to school...)

2) How can I stop this lying? I'm of the opinion that when kids start lying, they start with small things (like saying they didn't use mom's makeup without asking, when they really did) and when they get away with it, the lying moves on to bigger things until the kid is just an all-out liar. I don't want to push my girls away, but I'm really hurt by the lying. And it's my job as their mom to call them on it, put a stop to it and make sure they understand what they do to our relationship when they lie to me.

3) Once this is settled, I fear that I've got a trip to a makeup counter in my future to get a full set of something for at least the oldest. But I don't want to "reward" this bad behavior (if, in fact, she is the one who used the makeup and then lied profusely -- AND wanted me to consider that CRAIG used my makeup!!!)

Please respond in the comments or even tweet me or IM me or e-mail me. I am not lie-awake-at-night stressed out about this, but I'm quite interested to read your thoughts.

UPDATE!
I called to talk with the kids after school and asked my oldest if anyone could tell me the truth yet. She said that the youngest confessed to it while they were at before-school care this morning. So I got the youngest girl on the phone and she also told me that it was she who had gotten into the makeup. We talked about how I was not angry that she wanted to play with the makeup, but that I do wish she had asked first. I likened it to the times recently when she has gotten upset at her brothers coming into her room and playing with her dollhouse without her permission. I also told her that it really hurt my feelings that she lied about it.

So, we talked about respecting people's property and being honest.

I guess the girls will get their allowances now, and I probably don't have to go to a makeup counter yet. The 8-year-old has a few years of "playing" before using makeup becomes a real thing, haha.

Thanks for the comments so far! Stuff like this always gets to me!!

October 16, 2014

Happy Birthday My Love!

Today is Craig's birthday! I kept thinking about what I might write about Craig this year, but I couldn't come up with anything more than what I wrote last year. As I re-read this post from last year, I realize how much of it still applies. No, this year has not been full of loss. As a matter of fact, it's been a year full of winning. I've gained my health back by losing weight, getting stronger and fitter and faster. Craig's moved on to a new job that we think will be an excellent turn for our family. Adjustments are hard, and we're working through this one just as well as we have all the others -- much thanks to Craig and all of his wonderful qualities. The kids are getting older and we're facing new challenges together.

And ultimately, that's why I celebrate Craig today. He and I face all of the everyday -- the fun, the sorrowful and the mundane -- together. I walk beside this wonderful man every day of my life knowing that God blessed me far beyond anything I could have ever desired the day our "two became one" and I thank Him every day for creating such a wonderful soul.

So, a little Throwback Thursday action for you.

Happy Birthday, you sweet, gentle, caring, loving man!

*******

October 16 is Craig's birthday.

I've always been happy to celebrate the day of his birth, but I think this year, I praise the day even more. This has been a difficult year for us and I've leaned on Craig far more than I ever expected to need to. I knew he'd always be there for me and could handle my leaning on him, but I just never thought I would.

You see, I'm the kind of woman who can handle anything. I grew up starting at the age of 8 without my father, helped care for my younger siblings, dabbled in unmentionable activities in high school -- and survived it all. I take pride in my ability to do many physical things -- I'm a good athlete and I'm competitive and I win. A lot.

When we opened our marriage to new life in our children, it happened for us (pretty much) whenever we wanted it to. When I have gone for promotions at work, I've (pretty much) gotten them. It really wasn't until about 11 years ago that I truly started to understand that I am blessed more by Grace than my own means...but a lifetime of a lack of humility is difficult to tame (though I'm always trying).

This year, I haven't won very much.

Losing Gregory was the hardest thing I have ever endured. Having pregnancy end in death was not something I ever had a mind or heart for (who does??) And while that's the biggest hard thing that's happened this year, there are others.

I've struggled in my job. You see, I have a complex where I want all the people in my group I manage to like me. And it's been a hard lesson to re-learn that I can't please everyone.

Discerning God's plan for our family size was difficult earlier this year. Gut-wrenching actually. Discovering through prayer and discernment that my final foray into childbearing would end the way it did, with no chance at a "happy ending" to console me was almost impossible, if not for Craig, would have been impossible. He helped me to face my selfishness and lack of trust. It was somewhat selfish that I wanted another baby, because it wasn't what is the best thing for our family. And though it was difficult, Craig helped me to wade through those feelings and prayers, and reminded me of all the ways we are blessed.

I'm the more uptight and intense partner in this marriage. Craig is gentle, forgiving, loyal and unwavering.

I want what I want and I want it now. Craig reminds me that sometimes God's blessings and timing are very different than ours.

I have been an emotional wreck for most of this year -- sobbing through Mass, not to be counted on to assist with the children. And at times, feeling like doing nothing around the house, even when there is clearly much work to be done. And there is Craig, rubbing my shoulders, giving me a hug, taking charge of Vincent at Mass, cleaning the house, disciplining the kids -- doing his part AND my part -- because I am not doing it. Craig has been rock solid and is the reason our home hasn't fallen apart in the midst of all the chaos this year.

So...I asked Craig what he wanted for his birthday and he said he didn't want presents (unless the kids insisted, ha). I know he likes cards, but I am so bad at picking one out. There are many cards that could tell Craig how much he means to me, but I have this public blog and all...so I thought I'd write it here.

Happy Birthday to the kindest, gentlest, strongest, most caring man I know in this world. My children are blessed to have him for a dad. And I praise God that He saw fit to bless me with Craig for a husband.

October 16 -- my world is infinitely better because Craig was born on this day.



October 15, 2014

Remembering Gregory

Complete and total darkness.

A gaping hole in my heart.

The feeling of having the wind knocked out of me over and over for 48 hours straight.

Taking deep breaths, only to realize I cannot breathe deeply enough to eliminate the pain I feel.

Photo Credit

When I remember February 28 through March 2 of 2013 -- these are some of the things I remember. I'll never forget how it felt when I heard the ultrasound technician say that she could not locate a heartbeat at my mid-pregnancy ultrasound. I'll never forget talking to my doctor on the phone as he tried to comfort me but also let me know what we could/should do to move forward. I will always remember grappling with the idea that for a period of time (probably about 10 days) I had carried Gregory's body, even though God had already called him Home.

Honestly, I still try to think about those 10 days and figure out if I could have known something was wrong. The only thing I come back to is how terrible I felt on the Thursday night a week before the ultrasound. We were having a snow event in Kansas City and I was staying in a hotel so I could be available at work the next day. I'd eaten the dinner provided and had the worst heartburn and stomach ache I had ever had while pregnant. And I was incredibly tired. The whole pregnancy with Gregory I was tired. And I kept playing it off: "What mom of 5, plus 1 in her belly, isn't tired?!?" Even my doctor admitted that he passed off my complaints of fatigue in that fashion.

In the end, it didn't matter if I could have known sooner that something was wrong. Ultimately, the infection that claimed Gregory's life was lethal, even if it had "resolved" as the bloodwork showed. I've come to grips with the fact that I could never have done anything to effect a different outcome. I simply did what I was called to do as a mother -- I loved my baby fully from his conception until his natural death -- and assisted in the creation of another soul for Christ.

I pray and ask Gregory to pray for me often. I ask him to pray for me to be a better mother to his siblings, that I can raise them to join him someday in Heaven. I ask him to pray for his siblings, too. When I "talk" to him, I remind him how much his siblings love him. I tell him how his siblings remember him. Dominic remembers that he has a brother in Heaven. Helen has asked about Gregory from time to time. Dani has included Gregory in her writing in the past. Vincent was too small to remember, but he knows there's an extra birth stone on my "ring with all the kids on it" (my mother's ring) and he's heard the other kids point to it and say, "That's Gregory." Sarah, being the oldest and, quite honestly, the more private of my children when it comes to emotional expression, doesn't say much. But I know somewhere in there she also has a love for her baby brother.

Of course, I don't need a day like "Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day" to remember my sixth child, my third son. (I would imagine that Breast Cancer Survivors don't need the month of October to remember what they went through either.) Every day there is a way that I remember Gregory. Sometimes I simply glance at my ring and I'm reminded instantly. Everyday that I use a physical Rosary to pray the Rosary, I think of Gregory.

A beautiful gift from Gregory's godparents
I have pictures and memorabilia the hospital gave me so I can remember what size Gregory was when I delivered his body. I don't need them, of course, to remember how his whole hand fit on the fingerprint pad of my index finger. Even though his head was tiny, his facial features were already so much like his siblings.
 

No, I don't need a special day to remember that I cried and my heart ached for so long as I worked through the seemingly endless grief of losing a child before I was ready. And try as I might, I still haven't had an overwhelming peace that I understand God's ways in this. I know that understanding will most likely only come when I meet God face-to-face at the end of my life.

I suppose having a "Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day" gives me an outlet to write about Gregory, to share my memories publicly, and to share his brief life and the love for him as a member of our family. I go back and forth about how much I should or shouldn't talk about Gregory. When people ask me how many kids I have, I typically say that I have five. Because in the physical realm of this world, that is what people see. Especially when I have just met a person, it seems awkward to launch into a story about my sixth child who is no longer with us. I'm okay with that. Only those who know me personally would "get it" when I say I have six children. But on a day like this, I can openly acknowledge Gregory -- and all the unfulfilled desires of my heart that are made evident in that acknowledgement. It's true that I feel like someone is missing at times from our family -- but then I realize it's not that he is missing from our family, he is simply with us in another way. He's praying for us and he is happy and united with God.

Sometimes I think about our (very) human ideas (with our earthly attachments...) of Heaven. I'd like to think that my grandparents are in Heaven and they see Gregory and welcomed him when he came. My grandmother had two children that didn't survive to adulthood (one stillbirth and one child who died when she was 4). I'd like to think that they were there, too. and the babies lost in pregnancy from my siblings. Even Craig's Dad, who passed away 5 years ago -- I'd like to think he is there showing Gregory "the ropes" of Heaven life. Oh, and how can I forget Aunt Bea?!? She loved children and babies. Perhaps she and Uncle Alex hang out with Gregory and she makes him her Fudge. Haha. that idea really makes me smile.

I don't need a special day to remember Gregory. But, Gregory is someone worth remembering on a special day.