Monday, March 11, 2013


Exactly what is normal?  If you asked a hundred people you'd get at least a hundred answers!  For me, normal varies on any given day.  Today, normal was mopping up a blue Downy lake in the utility room before my first cup of coffee!! Yesterday normal was going to church, getting Mel to volleyball, helping Jessica with her 4-H talk and having a relaxing evening with the family!  If you want to look at the bigger picture, like maybe our family--I'd say we are a pretty normal family.  Husband, wife, three kids, three cats, one dog, a couple of fish tanks, three vehicles, a mortgage...pretty typical for our area give or take a cat or two!  But Sunday morning, my vision of normal was brought into question.  However in order for Sunday to make sense as normal, I suppose I will have to start with the events from eighteen years ago.
In 1994, Ted was in college and I was a service desk girl at the local Walmart store.  After Anna was born, we had planned to continue our normal-Ted with college and work, me with work.  An amazing boss allowed me to take 12 weeks of maternity (six were unpaid but we made it work).  When I went back to work in February of '95 I had grown used to being at home, fixing meals for my college boy and spending every moment with my #1 Angel girl.  I was miserable at work, I came home crying every day and it didn't help that the lady who was supposed to provide our childcare had a family emergency and was unavailable-we just couldn't find the right person and I refused to put my sweet baby in one of those daycare centers. after a couple of weeks, my handsome, intelligent husband said the words that would alter the rest of my life,

"QUIT.  We will find a way to make it work."

We did find a way.  The journey was often difficult but we did make it.  In those early days, Ted worked the closing shift almost every night at Braum's.  Being the Mom, I would snuggle into bed in the evenings with Anna, reading her books, telling her stories, playing games of pretend and then falling asleep in her Winnie the Pooh world.  When Ted would arrive home, I would get up and go to our room.  Thus began the world of co-sleeping.  (I didn't know that term in 1995 but came to be familiar with it after the birth of Melissa.)  As Anna grew, she would often toddle into our bed during the night or early in the mornings-she didn't like being in her room alone.  (There were too many wolves there so her young mind thought.)

Sweet Melissa came along seven years later.  I was older, more experienced after all I'd been a Mom for so long surely I was on the right track.  We were excited to welcome another pink bundle to our world.  I quickly set up a bassinet sleeper right next to our bed.  When the time came to put her into a real crib I couldn't bear to be separated so we put her crib in our room, next to the bed.  That was okay for a while but I still felt separated, the night time feedings were unsettling for all three of us.  Something had to change.  So I got the brilliant idea of taking one side off of her baby bed and attached it to our bed.  Perfect!  She had her own space, couldn't roll out into the floor but could comfortably be nursed back to sleep.  Weekend mornings were a favorite time because Anna would wake and join Ted, Melissa and me where we would just hang out in our bed and be a family.  Long after she was weaned, she still continued to sleep in that little crib until she was three when along came Jessica.

Jessica only stayed in our room about six months, Melissa alone in her room was anxious for her little sister to join her so we obliged.  However our weekend morning family time continued...

Now these weekend morning cuddles didn't happen every weekend but when they did, they were magic.  Kids laughing, talking about all the important things in their lives, watching a funny movie or the Food Network so we'd have new recipes to try that day...or sometimes, just being close and listening to one another breathe (or fart)!!  As the kids have gotten older and our lives have become busier, the opportunities for family cuddle time have been few and far between.  Some weekends, I wish I had a magic wand I could wave to make those leisurely mornings happen more often.  But alas, I can't.  Even when Anna is home, the cuddle isn't something that can be forced-it just is.

So, yesterday morning I was feeling particularly lazy.  Handsome husband had received a wee-hours-of-the-morning call from work which coupled with the time change made for a morning of an almost altered state of reality.  After completing his call, he crawled back into bed...after cooking breakfast, I headed for the shower and the urge to join him was irresistible...then Anna comes through our room, looking for a hair dryer and joins Jessica comes running in to tell me something and realizes what is happening.  We quickly begin calling for Melissa and the magic is complete.  As we're laying there all talking, laughing and occasionally farting,  Anna breaks the moment and tells us that we are "weird" that no one else has cuddle time!  It seems one day she was talking to her more sophisticated college friends and mentioned cuddle time-her friends were taken back and wanted to know what she was talking about.  She explained and they were all "oo-o-o-h....that's strange."  We then continued to discuss whether it was strange or not--we reached a unanimous decision that it isn't strange, it's our normal.

I am crazy blessed to be the Mother of his spend my days educating them, cleaning up after them, washing their laundry and establishing a life that we consider normal.  I hope and pray that one day when the girls are grown and have families of their own they each will find a normal-whether it's family movie night, Friday night dinners or even the strange weekend cuddles I want them to experience what I have, the ultimate happiness that can only be felt when you stop and realize how crazy blessed you are!  Go find your NORMAL!!

(The foot picture above is not my work-even though I have a thing for feet, this image was borrowed from Stefanie Pace.)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ready to share...

My close friends and family know that the last four months have been very hectic and full of many changes in my life.  I hit an extreme low and by low, I mean the absolute pits which are really lower than low.  I was tired and exhausted all the time.  Not just ho-hum, I could use a nap tired but the tired that you can feel everywhere in your body.  (My kids lovingly told me the other day that I sounded like a commercial for depression when I described how horrible I was feeling.)  I didn't nap, I wasn't even sleeping more than normal because I was afraid if I let myself slow down I'd never get up again.  I wasn't enjoying anything because all I could think about was how tired I was.  I felt like I was in a brain fog...kind of like this polar bear. 

Flashback to last year when I invited some of my favorite Mom friends to join me at Crystal Bridges for a night out.  We met at the Mellow Mushroom and had dinner.  I quietly listened as two women who I really respect began telling about their lifestyle changes-one was her personal journey and the other had included her entire family in the changes.  Something called Paleo/Primal.  Now I had seen the changes in these ladies, their bodies had become more shapely but their minds, their minds had changed also.  One is a mother of four who has returned to college-she is doing fantastic in a field that is heavily competitive.  The other told stories not just of her changes but those in her children-I could see the changes in them, too.  I just hadn't put it together with a way of eating.  That was my first glimpse that what I eat could really affect my energy and mental status.

More recently a dear friend from church shared with me that she and her husband had modified their family eating to Paleo and what a difference it was making.  Changes in their body-mental and emotional states as well.  I was slightly intrigued but not enough to jump on yet another "fad" regime that would only wind up disappointing me in the end.

Early January, I made a call to ChurchLady and asked her about my fatigue/exhaustion.  I was wondering if she felt different with her way of eating.  She began to flow about how much better she and her husband were.  Telling tale about waking up faster in the morning, feeling full, enjoying real food and changes she saw in her childrens behavior.  Hmmm, maybe just maybe this might be worth a try.

So, on January 4, 2013 I woke up and began a new life-a life without sugar or grains.  A life eating food as close to the source as possible, more organic, more grass fed and hopefully more nutritious.  I made this decision not to lose weight but to feel better.  With moving my parents closer, having a terminal family member in Oklahoma, a daughter in college, two very active daughters at home, a husband who was about to experience more health issues in two months than he had in 20 years of marriage--I had to do something.  My doctor had done a full blood work up in December and all my levels were "perfect" there was nothing medically wrong with me. After all, what did I have to lose?  I've kept pretty quiet about it because I was afraid that I would just fail again.

In one short week, I was absolutely amazed at how much better I was feeling.  Sleeping well all night and waking up feeling refreshed not sluggish.  I wondered could this really be due to what I'm eating?  Then I had a crazy day-you all know exactly what I'm talking about-one of those days where you are the person in the Village who is lending a hand to a friend in need?!?!?!  Worth every moment because I'd do anything for my friends but this day was a little more hectic because of my own schedule so I slacked on food-I ate some breaded stuff.  That night my stomach cramped and the next morning I felt like a troll-a grumpy troll who didn't want to get up!  Wow-what an eye opener.  I'm not doing that again.

So here I am 61 days later and my kids asked me last week if I would be eating like this forever.  My response was "as long as I am feeling as good as I do right now-I'm eating like this!!"  I used to think people were crazy when they talked about foods poisoning their bodies but now, I'm a believer.  My body feels younger, I have a new energy and clarity that has been missing for far too long.  I want to do things I've never done before-can you believe that in April I am doing a 5K?  Crazy huh?  I know I won't be able to run it-I've got a ways to go before I can run-but I will make it every step of the way and who knows next year I might just be running a 5K.

I'm not telling you that you should go Paleo or change your way of eating.  I'm just sharing with you how crazy blessed I am to have discovered that a few changes could drastically alter my entire life.  The last three weeks have been hard-gallbladder surgery for Ted, biopsy for me-just got the all clear YAY, trips to Oklahoma, losing a great friend in a tragic accident...things that probably would have been far more difficult to handle 62 days ago.  So when you see me and I'm happily munching on an apple or dried okra and passing on the cake-please don't ask me if I feel deprived or if I miss those things because quite frankly I'm not deprived I'm enjoying foods in a way I never imagined and more importantly, I am enjoying things with my family that I had been missing because I was eating things that were causing me to be in a fog.  As an added bonus, 28 pounds have gone missing...I hope I never find them!

A few weeks ago, a friend had this as her Facebook status:

"I know this is cheesy, but it's true. In July of 2011, my GAP long and lean jeans were a size 12, and I wore Spanx under them. Today, my GAP long and lean jeans are a 6, and they're loose in the waist. I see and hear people complain all the time about their weight and the way their bodies look. Either make peace with it, or do something real about it. A year goes by fast, but a lot can change."

Thanks Trisha for the reminder-a lot can change if we're willing to take that first step.  Doesn't matter if it's losing weight, having more energy, cleaning our house, building our confidence or whatever...we're all crazy blessed now get started!!  Today IS the day!