Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Lessons on a 5k

I managed to finish the Couch to 5k and it feels great. I've now had four runs since I officially finished it and all I keep wondering to myself is how much I might be able to accomplish if I keep taking care of myself. My stupid ankle bothered me for awhile, then it didn't, then I rolled it during a run and now it is letting me know it's there on a regular basis. But I hope to overcome this. I strengthen and stretch it regularly. I want to keep going because I need to keep going.

I don't feel like I've solved anything on my runs but there are moments when the thoughts and struggles I have have rolled around while I listen to Wicked and In The Heights (because at this point I run to musicals and need a few more in my collection). Tears have been shed during and after but they have all been therapeutic.

At other times I am running with a smile on my face. Proud of myself for doing something I didn't think I'd be able to do. Happy that at that exact moment nothing is hurting and I'm able to push myself a little harder to eventually get to the next stage of all this. I'm not sure what that stage is but maybe in the spring I can work my way up to a 10k and in a few years do a half marathon. I have no idea.

Sometimes the weather concerns me. Considering that I live in an area known for frequency of rain, over the past 12 weeks (one I had to skip due to illness) I've only ran in the rain once. Yesterday I thought would be day two in the rain. It took me awhile to get out there because I was worried about what weatherdotcom was saying about wind and rain. We're at the end of Sandy's path but I haven't heard destruction reports for our little town. (The only thing that woke me up last night was Little Man and a fever.) The rain held off except for a few sprinkles here and there until I was completely done my run. What was I so afraid of? Anxiety is one thing I need to learn to let go of.

I have a lot of work to do until I get to the place I want to be: to love myself. Maybe this running is a first step. I'm learning to be proud of this accomplishment, trying very hard to turn off the voices in my head and listen to the only one that matters, and trying to accept that where I am is good enough. I'm also letting go of negative thoughts here and there. When I worry about my ankle or my knees I listen to my body, try to change my stride so they don't hurt and then keep going. I toss the worry aside and find a way of moving on.

I look forward to each new run. Just me and the asphalt trail each morning. Sometimes I get to watch part of the sunrise which is always an added bonus. Little Man doesn't cry every time I leave and Sweet One always understands that Mum-mum needs her jog to feel better. After I'm done using her yoga mat for my pre-run stretches she asks if she can do her exercises (a kid's yoga video) and so we're both taking some time to care for ourselves. It's an important thing I need to teach her. And it is important for me to not feel guilty about taking this time for myself. I'm getting better at it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pumpkin Heads

My Dad used to make awesome Jack-O-Lanterns. They have noses and ears that stuck out, eyebrows and so many other details. And this was pre-google search "angry mean jack-o-lantern". We always loved watching to see what they would turn out to be.

One year when I was in grade 6 we had huge pumpkins.

We went to the same school that my mom taught at.

My mom's birthday is on Halloween.

So I'm sitting in class and start hearing about something going on in the school. There was a man with a pumpkin on his head. "Who is that?" I was curious but when I saw our pumpkin in the school I wasn't really surprised. (Once upon a time school's weren't locked and someone could come and do a bit of a halloween prank without being handcuffed!) Yup. It was my Dad! He had put on his work coveralls and a ski mask, then placed the giant pumpkin on top of his head. Later in the day my Dad asked what I thought of the whole thing and I said I was embarrassed. Then he said, "I had a mask on my face. If you wouldn't have told them, no one would have known it was me!" He got me there!

I thought of this all afternoon was I was making the Jack-O-Lantern's with the kids. Sweet One really wanted a mean/scary one and I figured that Little Man's should balance things out with a big goofy smile. They're not quite as nice as my Dad used to make but the kids love them.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Learning Curve

Recently I had Big Love add the kids to our Optional Dental Plan. Or rather, it should be named Giant Waste of Money!

I can not describe just how much the health insurance system scared me when we moved to this country. I didn't even go and see a doctor until we had been here for almost three years simply because it intimidated me and, fortunately, I never had a need. But when Big Love was handed a pile of papers to fill out and sign when he first started his job here, there was one that was for a Dental Plan. Without looking into how much it was going to cost us we signed up. We figured it'd be great to have that coverage.

The open enrollment period for the Optional Dental Plan and other things available to Big Love through his pension plan came around and I asked him to get the kids added. Sweet One needs a cleaning and who knows what might come up with Little Man. A few days later he told me that it was an additional $50 per month. I almost passed out. How could it be that much when it would only cost me $65 to get Sweet One's teeth cleaned? It didn't make sense.

So I looked into it further and over the past six years we have probably paid nearly $4500 in dental premiums. I can honestly tell you that had we paid cash we would not have paid anything close to it. Cleanings are under $100, I've had one cavity that needed to be fixed up and still had to pay $100 for deductibles, etc. We decided we were being ripped off. Especially when the annual cost would be $1400 now that we added the kids.

Needless to say, the kids are being removed and come January 1st, we are going to be removed as well. I'll take the extra $60 per month that had previously been paid into the plan, put it in another bank account and use it for dental fees. I'm absolutely convinced that at the end of the year I will have a nice little collection of pennies for my savings.

I can only chuckle at how much money got thrown down the drain for this. We didn't even use it for the first year or two! Insane. Well, the insurance agency made some nice cash off of us and we learned a lesson we won't forget.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Songs for my soul

When this post was first published it showed up in my reader and I read it. (Wow. Fancy. Exciting. Completely spontaneous, I know!) Shortly after reading and listening to samples I ordered Ben Rector and The Civil Wars. Both CDs I thoroughly enjoy for absolutely different reasons.

And then there was the Sara Groves. Nothing was telling me that run out and grab it immediately and so it sat on my wish list for awhile. Then my Dad died. (Everything seems to revolve around the before and after of my Dad dying these days. I wonder when I won't use that as my reference point.) After being home for a few weeks I started feeling like I needed something. I went back to my wish list, listened again to the snippets of tracks and knew instantly that I had to get the CD.

When it arrived I got it onto my iPod and started listening. Being busy with supper preparations I didn't hear many of the words but was instantly calmed and soothed by the music itself. It was definitely what my scrambled soul needed to hear. I've always been a person who listens to new music over and over (ask my sister how many times I made her listen to specific Celine Dion songs in high school and she may start to puke) and this CD was no different.

The day I went for my first appointment with my counselor was the first time I had a chance to listen carefully to the lyrics. On the 40 mile drive home I felt a strong connection to Mystery. I had just spent an hour letting my broken heart pour open hoping desperately that I might start to heal. I was exhausted. My sister had found her way of communicating with my Dad since his passing and I wanted my own moment. ("I'm trying to bring you here.") But I knew I had to let go, take a breath and believe that if there will be a moment like that, it will come not when I'm clawing at the door trying to get through, but when I least expect it.

A few days later I was becoming more familiar with other songs and it wasn't until I was listening to Open My Hands* as I drove home from dropping off clothes at a consignment sale that I stopped and said to myself, "this might be Jesus music!" As soon as I got in the house I did a google search and sure enough, Sara Groves is a Christian Contemporary.

I don't listen to Christian Contemporary. I have many issues with the theology that many of the artists support and preach. There are many things I feel uncomfortable about when listening to them that I am not even completely sure of.

I went back to the original post I read on Pioneer Woman to see how I may have missed that Sara Groves was in fact a Christian artist while at the same time being completely intrigued by her.
Nobody captures the holiness of the ordinary more beautifully than she does,...Each song is like a great poem that needs to be unwrapped, pondered, analyzed, then put back together again. If you’ve been looking for calm, soothing music that will feed your soul, look no further.
And that was what I was looking for. This particular album is more theistic than Christian. The faith she sings of can be applied to so much that is out there. Belief in something out there that is bigger than ourselves, that encourages us to love one another, that helps us work through our hurt, to be open to beautiful things and to believe that we are enough. Maybe that's what I'm more comfortable with it. No get out of jail free card is being promised (Jesus is the answer!) nor is she self righteous. Lately I am often lost and uninspired in my own faith but I know that it is there. I'm searching for my own answers these days and sometimes I'm scared I won't find them. That I won't have any signs to tell me I'm on the right track. I will try to live my life to the best of my ability and grow each day, somehow. And this is what I hear in these songs. And it helps me.

*This link is to a live performance and the fact that it sounds just like the CD makes me respect her even more as an artist.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Never Ending Breakfast

My son loves breakfast. There must be something that happens while he is sleeping at night. Perhaps he's dreaming that all the food he wants to eat is running away from him. If I had a dream that coffee (even though it's decaf) was running away from me, I'd want to drink as much as I can in the morning! Whatever it is that gets his appetite going, there's nothing to stop it once he wakes up.

Take this morning. It is 9:08 and he is on his second breakfast. He started out around 7:30 with a healthy serving of steel cut oats (we make them in the crockpot and then eat leftoers). Shortly after his sister left for preschool he was screaming bloody murder, only settling down once he was in my arms and could see the evidence that more food was on the way. He is now just finishing up a scrambled egg and two mini gluten free muffins. (Minus the nuts. My kids don't like the nuts. And minus the gluten. I subbed out the regular flour.) His plate is now on his head to show me that there is absolutely nothing left on it. Frozen blueberries it is!

There are other mornings when we don't make eggs and he'll eat up to four helpings of the oatmeal. At first I couldn't believe he was always so hungry but then once I got used to throwing food at him every 45 minutes or so, he got a little less cranky in the mornings. On Big Love's day off, I still have to remind him that no matter what time it is in the morning, even if he ate half an hour prior, if Little Man is fussy it is most likely that he is indeed starving and will die if he doesn't have something else in his mouth immediately. When in doubt, add food. Especially if it is before noon.

He'll still eat a decent lunch for the most part and then he seems to taper off his eating until supper.

Well, he's on his second helping of the blueberries, has a decent blueberry beard and a few blue streaks in his hair. The commentary as he puts them in his mouth is quite nice, as is the head bob. It really must be a party going on inside his mouth!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


My Dad wasn't part of my daily life for the past four years. I made that choice to stop hurting so much and it helped. But it doesn't help the fact that he isn't on this earth anymore. Each night I pray that he will watch my children grow and help them when I can't. But it doesn't seem possible. It doesn't make sense to me that he isn't still alive.

The two month anniversary was hard. It is actually a three day thing for me because there is the day that he fell and two days later he was taken off of life support. Something starts to stir a few days before it all begins and once it hit this time, well there were moments that were not pretty. I yelled at Big Love for not understanding that it is still so hard, for bringing something up in an indirect way, for buying the wrong dilly bars .... I couldn't make sense of what was going on but I needed more understanding and patience from him. (I had never actually yelled at him before.) We ended up laughing a bit together at the end of that 'conversation' so I know things will be ok.

I will be ok. I am not right now. But I will be. Everything seems scrambled inside of me. There is just so much I can't make sense of. I'm making it through the day but it is all so exhausting. Even if I'm not actively thinking about it, it is still there. I'm so tired. We've had sickness in this house for 2.5 weeks and it is not helping anything..

I have hope that it won't always hurt and that I won't always be sad. Another appointment on Friday but I'm starting to think that 2.5 weeks is a little too long between them.

Being so far away is hard. Technology promises us that it will be easier to get a hold of people and right now it is not fulfilling its promise. I know they have so much going on in their own worlds but not hearing from some people leaves me feeling a little bit worried and empty.

Maybe I'll get a good night's sleep tonight and things will seem brighter. We're going away to a cabin for two nights starting Monday and it will be nice to be in the quiet stillness.

But I'm just too tired to think or to make any progress anywhere and so I will watch some tv. Because it is nice to just shut off if I can't get anywhere.

Sometimes I annoy myself. Like when I wake up the next morning and realize that PMS snuck (is that a word? blogger says it is not.) up on me and could be why last night felt so stoopid!