Category Archives: Kids

Two Things

Two things I’ve been obsessing over this week: 1) I need to get back in the habit of running on a more consistent basis and 2) I want to try to get more writing done with my memoir.

The first one is easy, really. It’s just a matter of reminding myself that if I can just lace up those shoes and get out there, my fatigue will be kept at bay. It’s amazing how effective the regular running is at combating the MS fatigue I normally experience. It’s been the best weapon for fatigue, for sure. I’ve tried lots of things in the past but running has been the best. The tricky thing is, it only works if I actually do it. So my goal this week is to get back to it. I talked to my son about running, because he was saying he wants to start running to train for cross country in the fall (crossing our fingers they still let the kids run, geesh). So we agreed we were both going to go running every afternoon, and once he feels stronger – i.e. recovered from playing video games all day, every day – then he’ll probably go off and run on his own. He’s much faster than I’ll ever be but I’m so glad he slows down to run with me. He’s a lot of fun to run with because he does all the talking while I huff and puff alongside him.

That second thing I’m obsessing about is the memoir. This is much tougher, because I really have no clue what I’m doing writing a book. I am finding that I’m at the point of needing to organize what I’ve written so far, and I’m stuck. I’ve always been one who has to see to understand, so not having the ability to really get a clear visual of the outline of the book has me needing to brainstorm in order to get unstuck. I printed what I have so far, and this coming week I’m hoping to look at it under the crafting light and maybe take notes with a Sharpie, so I can see what I’m writing. I would really love to write this book by hand, but not being able to see what you’re writing poses a special kind of challenge. So. I’m not giving up with this, but I am having to be creative and think outside the box. If any of you are outside-the-box thinkers and have any suggestions for me, I’m all ears!

Seeing the whole picture

I had a good weekend. I can’t say it was much different than most other weekends, but after last weekend it was just nice to have some positive moments. Last weekend I was faced with a pretty frustrating situation. I had been informed on Good Friday that my long term disability insurance claim (the one they’ve been paying me on for 6+ years without issue) was being terminated. The letter of explanation detailed my level of activity with running and Bible study and so forth (based largely on what they read here in my blog) and my 20/20 vision that was noted in a recent visit to the low vision specialist.

Now, most people probably assume that 20/20 vision means perfect vision, but that’s not the case. I have a visual field defect, and that means I only see a portion of what others see. Of that portion that I can see, I see clearly, i.e. 20/20. So, to say someone has 20/20 vision does not always mean they are seeing the whole picture. And while I love to think about how this concept can be applied to life in so many abstract ways, my brain isn’t ready to go down that rabbit hole today. So maybe another day. Or maybe not.

All that to say, this letter of determination from the insurance company completely left out the details of my visual field defect. Of course, I’m appealing the decision and I have an attorney working for me to file the appeal. I’m really hoping and praying that God is in my corner on this one and that I’ll be able to restore my long term disability income. But if I’m being honest, I was livid when I initially received the news. Trembling, fuming, crying in the shower livid. However, I’ve had lots of time to pray about this and to hash out all my feelings with a few friends and family members, and I’m doing much better now. I’m still holding onto a little bit of bitterness, but I’m working hard to let that go. Last night I had written an entirely different blog post and I felt God nudging me away from the Publish button and towards reading James chapter 3. I’m so glad I responded to the nudging because James chapter 3 was all about taming the tongue. It was definitely a message meant for me. I love how God speaks to us so clearly, when we take the time to listen.

In other news – I haven’t been running much but I’m trying to get my stamina back up because I need to run a virtual 5k this week. I’ve never done a virtual race before but I signed up for this months ago and this is the week we are “supposed” to be running. I went for an almost 3 mile run yesterday, and only had to walk for a short portion at the end. In the first mile though, I nearly fell. I always wish I had these moments on video, because in my mind they are quite comical. I was running alongside the curb, on the street because there are fewer cracks to avoid, and at a whopping 13 minute mile pace, I ran directly into a fallen tree branch. I whispered profanities as I scrambled not-so-gracefully forward in order to escape the clutches of the evil tree branch. (If I don’t have a video, the least I can do is describe it Dramatically lol) I did not fall, thankfully, but I’m sure the van that was passing as I struggled to free myself got a kick out of the sight. I sustained only one tiny injury, a scrape on my shin, and am ready to get back out again as soon as the temperatures climb back up above 40 degrees.

This past week I’ve had a lot of great interactions with family members I don’t talk to nearly often enough, and that has been refreshing. Phone calls to and from my big brother and my oldest younger sister. A refreshing Zoom call with my cousins here in Michigan and down in Georgia. And grilling out with my husband and kids. All in all it was a great week. This coming week is when the online learning officially starts for the kids, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m winding down with BSF and FPU so those will be out of the way very soon. I’m looking forward to warmer days and praying that God would heal this world quickly, and sustain us in the meantime. Be well, my friends, be well.

School is back in session

This past week has been a challenging week. I was hit with some pretty crummy news on Friday, but I’m dealing with the situation and am trusting God at every step along the way. Pray for me, if you would.

We recently informed the kids they could no longer play video games all day long. From the hours of 10 am to 3 pm on weekdays, they are not allowed to be playing video games. Instead, they need to be cleaning their rooms, completing their regular weekly chores, and doing schoolwork. If all those things are done and they are feeling bored, they are welcome to do extra chores, take the dog for a walk, read a book, etc. Now if they have everything done and they’ve not given us any attitude, we are willing to negotiate extra video game time. Because we’re not monsters, usually.

We’ve known that the teachers at our kids’ schools have been working feverishly to establish online learning programs for the kids, so we’ve been warning them that the corona-vacation is ending any day now. Well, that day has come. We received instructions from all the teachers this week, and tomorrow morning we’ll have our first round of online meetings with teachers. I’m excited that the kids will have something to be working on that’s more engaging then say, Minecraft and Roblox, but I’m so nervous about how this new format is going to work. This is new for everyone so I’m hopeful that we can all be patient and gracious with each other. Again, pray for me.

I don’t know if I had mentioned, but we are still meeting for Bible Study Fellowship, only we meet on Zoom in order to comply with the social distancing. It’s worked out rather well, but I do miss seeing my ladies in person. We only have one week left as a group, and that makes me kind of sad, but relieved at the same time. Especially with this online learning for the kids ramping up. I had decided back around the Christmas break that I wouldn’t be returning next year to be a group leader, but I haven’t told my group yet. I don’t think they’ll care much. People hardly ever get assigned to the same discussion leader. And Lord willing, they’ll still see me around at regular Wednesday classes.

Oh my gosh, y’all. It snowed yesterday. Seriously. I woke up to see the ground covered in white stuff. It was a crazy day. And then here in Michigan we had a bunch of people protesting at the Capitol, which is all political nonsense that I try very hard not to get mixed up in. I absolutely despise politics and I know that probably makes me less of a grown-up, but I don’t care. I just want to stick my fingers in my ears (or just take off my cochlear implants, HA!) and pretend for awhile that it’s not as screwed up as it is. Don’t ask me how I went from snow in April to politics. All of it’s bizarre, and beyond comprehension. Moving on.

I have done almost no writing throughout this quarantine business because, well, it’s hard to write when your mind is distracted by a global pandemic. So I hear. What I’ve been doing instead is reading books and listening to podcasts. I’m actually finishing books I had started but was unable to finish in time. I recently finished The Boys in the Boat, The Greatest Generation, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, The Glass Castle, and Know My Name. Many of the books have been audio versions, which I find refreshing because they give my eyes a rest, and I can crochet while I’m “reading”. True multi-tasking!

The other hobby I have, at night when I’m too tired to do much of anything, is watching tv on my laptop (the smaller screen helps so I can see most of what’s going on while I read the captions). I have discovered an absolute gem for mental health and getting to sleep at night – Golden Girls reruns on Hulu. Check it out, and let me know if it doesn’t make you smile.

I’m hoping to get out this weekend and run a Bob Ross themed virtual 5k. We shall see. I haven’t run that far in awhile so it might end up to be a lot of walking. The original plan was to run this with friends, but now that we have shelter in place orders, that’s no longer an option. So I’m just going to run three laps around my neighborhood, and call that a race. I may even wear the bib!

I hope you are all doing well, and are safe and healthy. If you’re feeling a little lonely and blue, watch some Golden Girls. They’ll never let you down.

Dinnertime

I’ve always been a planner, and for the last several years I have established a routine of planning our meals on a weekly basis. I know meal planning is not for everyone, but it just makes things easier and way less stressful for me. With that last grocery trip, we are set for at least two weeks of meals. And since all the events have been cancelled, I now have something to fill out my fridge calendar:

But that’s not all the fun I’ve been having! Thursday I had a video visit with my new cochlear surgeon. We needed to meet so they could “establish care” which I guess just makes things easier when working with the manufacturer of my implants, especially when it’s time to upgrade to the newer model.

This coming week I have my regular Tysabri infusion. For the first time in years, I’m nervous about going to this. My last infusion was just days before everything shut down, but now we are in full blown shelter in place status and I am worried that I might pick up the virus and bring it home to my family. But my husband and I both agree (as does my neurologist) that the risk of another MS relapse is a far greater risk, and so I must get this infusion. The last time I missed a dose, I lost 60% of my vision, permanently. So I’m going, but I am going to be as safe as possible. Rather than riding the Spec-tran, I’ll be dropped off by my husband. I’ll be wearing an N95 mask (he had a few in the garage that his dad reminded him he’d given him awhile ago) and rubber gloves. I told hubby I thought I would look like some kind of freak walking into the infusion center and he said probably not, because everyone else there will be dressed the same. I don’t think the nurses are going to give me any grief over being too careful. So I’m sure it will be fine, but if you wanna mark your calendars to pray for me Wednesday, I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt.

I’ve really been enjoying our family dinners lately. We’ve always eaten together as a family, nearly every night, but family dinnertime feels different now. Our schedules are clear, so we are far less rushed. Nobody has anywhere they need to be. A couple nights ago we were all sitting around the table and legitimately enjoying each other’s company. We were talking about what we planned to do, where we planned to go after all this is over. My daughter brought up some great memories of a trip I took her and her brother on, to visit downtown Lansing. Together, we reminisced about all the places we visited that day and what fun we had. Then she said we should go again. Sigh. I love that girl. She’s a city girl, just like her momma.

I worry sometimes about my daughter because she’s extremely introverted, and she’s spent almost every waking hour of this quarantine holed up in her room, playing Roblox. But then she comes out and chats up a storm, telling me all about the fun she’s having. The other night we watched Dr. Strange together, at her request, and after the movie was over we discussed our favorite parts of the movie.

So, I feel like I’m bonding with each of my kids, in entirely different ways. It’s been really nice. This quarantine stuff certainly stinks, and it sure wasn’t what any of us would have planned for our lives, but I’m thanking God for the opportunities it’s giving us. Every storm cloud has a silver lining, and I hope that you are finding your silver lining amidst this storm.

There’s a new sheriff in town

For the past week and a half I’ve been allowing my kids to sleep in and stay up late, playing video games in their rooms all day. However, I’ve been listening to Celebrate Calm parenting podcasts and now I’m feeling motivated to be more intentional and proactive with engaging my kids in healthier daily activities. We will see how I feel about it in the morning, but after talking with the kids this evening, I think they understand that their state of total freedom is ending. They were laughing and joking and even offering up ideas for activities. So tomorrow I’m going to try to stay up when my alarm goes off at 7 am. I’ll have my coffee and devotional time with Jesus, and then I’ll scribble out a daily plan. Hopefully a plan better than the one I proposed this afternoon (pictured below).

I’m going to try to make this a fun, adventurous time. I’ll still want them to incorporate some official schoolwork, using the resources their teachers have been sending us, but I also want to capitalize on this time I’m having with them. This is like bonus time, and I want to take full advantage of this and use it to get to know my kids better. I’m looking forward to this and I’m praying God will bless this time. If all goes well, they will look back on this year with fond memories*.

*I wanted to call this new endeavor “Corona Camp” but my son didn’t think that was a very good idea. Not age appropriate, or something, I guess. I’m open to other suggestions if you’ve got any!

Nearly 2 months

It’s been a long time since I posted. I know. And it’s been a nice break, I suppose, but the wheels start turning again, and I have stuff to share, if you care to listen.

For starters, I left off talking about the memoir I’m writing. Progress is not at a complete halt, but it’s really slow going. I’ll get there, I’m sure of it. I’ve been focused on a lot of things that are happening now, so that detracts from the writing about the past. It was tax season for awhile there, so I had a lot of tasks to complete for the church. Getting W2s and 1099s out, filing them with the appropriate agencies, that sort of thing.

I’ve also been fully immersed in my daughter’s involvement with Girl Scouts, including some meeting planning and selling cookies. Being a part of this troop gives her a number of opportunities to reach out of her comfort zone and discover what she’s really capable of. When she does, she oozes with pride and I am one proud momma for sure. My son stays busy with wrestling and he always works hard and is continuously improving, and that also makes me proud. We try really hard to raise good kids but we can’t take credit for most of what they do well. We just stand back amazed and thank God, praying that we don’t screw it up.

I’ve been running a little bit. I joined a free good form walking/running class with a friend of mine, so two afternoons every week we get to learn how to walk and run properly so that we don’t injure ourselves. In four weeks, when the class ends, we’ll all participate in a 5k race together. It’s been a lot of fun mingling with other like-minded people and I’m learning a lot. I hadn’t realized I had sort of lost some of the joy of running but this class is helping me to rekindle it.

My fatigue level was pretty high there for awhile following the holidays but it’s getting a lot better. I have no doubt the regular running is helping. I’m still quite tired a lot of the time, meaning that I’m sleeping a lot more, but it’s manageable. It’s hard to explain the difference between fatigue and being tired. I guess I only know the difference because when I’m fatigued, I’m not yawning or wanting to sleep. I just can’t seem to move my body. My legs are heavier and walking up the stairs takes considerable effort, but I don’t feel like I could sleep. When I’m fatigued, my mind is often still very active, so I sit a lot and think about what needs to be done, and strategize how to get it done in the most efficient way. So I guess it’s not all bad. You’ve gotta look at the bright side, or the clouds will consume you.

One of the things I’ve been doing a lot more of is crocheting, because that’s something that doesn’t require a lot of thought or energy, so it’s the perfect activity for when I’m fatigued. I’m finishing up an afghan for one of my nephews, and when I’m done I’ll start on one for the next niece or nephew. I have 14 nieces and nephews, so I’ll be at this for many years to come. The plan is to complete them while they’re still in school. I’ve done six so far so I’m not even halfway through. It’s been a lot of fun so far and I just hope the ones who have received their blankets are enjoying them.

I’m starting another Financial Peace class a week from tomorrow, and I’m pretty excited about it. I only have 3 registrations, but two of them are people I met through Bible Study Fellowship, so I’m hopeful they will work the plan and stay for the full 9 weeks. It’s always exciting to watch people go through this class and to see what kinds of things change in their thinking and their habits. A lot of people believe you can’t live without credit cards or a high FICO score or a car payment, and to watch them as they learn the truth of a better way, God’s way, of handling their finances is truly inspiring. I always come away from every week of class motivated to keep on working the plan in our own home, and teaching the principles to our children. I don’t mind doing the class for only 3 members (at least 2 are married couples) but discussion is much more dynamic when you have more, so I’m praying we get more people signed up. We shall see.

I hope you all are having a good year so far. I’ll try to post more regularly to keep you posted on what’s happening in my itty bitty world.

Busy day, busy week

I told a friend the other day, “I don’t know how you people do it!” And by “you people”, I mean those who do lots of things, all in succession, repeatedly over time. Because dang. I am managing, it’s fine, but I lived in my warm cocoon of permanent disability for so long I almost forgot what it was like to have a full schedule. Like normal people.

I’m still permanently disabled, of course, but my new energy levels allow me to do considerably more, and I’m just now feeling like I’m getting the hang of it. Although I have been feeling lately that my fatigue is trying to creep back in and I am almost certain it’s because I haven’t been running. I plan to rectify that situation soon.

Today is an especially busy day because I had a dentist appointment this morning to get a crown set up, and this afternoon I have my regular infusion for my MS medication. It’s noon and my face is still half numb from the dental procedure this morning so it was very strange eating my lunch. I’m tempted to get a second cup of coffee but if I do I’ll have to do drink it through a straw. I’m kind of looking forward to the infusion because it will be a forced opportunity to take a nap. Not that I ever need forcing, of course. Naps are the bomb diggity.

My daughter turned 10 on Tuesday (yay for double digits!) and she is having a few friends over Friday night for a sleepover so I’ll be spending the day tomorrow doing some catch up cleaning and preparing the food for dinner. She chose tacos even after my multiple suggestions for ordering pizza, so I guess I’m cooking. Anything for my birthday girl. We all love tacos, so it’s cool. Before dinner though, we’re taking the girls to Playing Picasso so they can do some pottery painting. Then we’ll go back home and eat tacos, then send the girls in the basement so they can watch Harry Potter and be their silly selves without judgment from big brother. Birthdays are fun, don’t you think?

I’m hoping to catch up more on writing in the next few days, to tell you about what I heard God speaking to me at the abbey last weekend, and maybe some other random musings about that habits I’m hoping to hone (like writing). Growth and change, but all good stuff going on here.

Camp Deer Trails 2019

September is going to be a ridiculous busy month, but all for good reason. It started off with a camping trip with my daughter and her Girl Scout troop. This is an annual event that we participated in two years ago, only because last year she had only joined halfway through and was kind of on the fence about her commitment to the group. I’m happy to say she’s gotten more excited about being in Girl Scouts. We have a thriving Scout community here and I’ve made friends with many of the moms, so I’ve grown somewhat attached. Most importantly, this is a great way for her to stay active and build on her friendships with girls her age.

The first night we ate dinner as a troop at the Ponderosa on the way. Nice buffet, but kind of ridiculous expensive, if you ask me. When we arrived at camp we set up our our tents and bedding and headed down to the biggest bonfire you’ve ever seen. Go big or go home! They work very hard to make this bonfire, and the girls sing crazy silly songs while the older scouts and helpers roast marshmallows – I’m guessing at least 10 at a time – to make s’mores for everyone. It’s quite a sight to see and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed.

The second day was long and full of activity. The girls decorated an outhouse, had archery lessons, made crafts, played games, and had a costume contest. The theme this year was the Arctic so Natalie recycled her brown fox Halloween costume and renamed it an arctic fox, because apparently they aren’t always white. I am not much for costumes, so I wore a coat and winter hat. It was getting kind of chilly anyway so it made sense.

The last day was shorter but they still had time for boating and fishing. Natalie really loved both the boating and the fishing but I think the boating was her favorite. She was able to go out on the lake on a kayak (or a funyak?) and when she came back in she was ready to hop right back in another boat and go back out. She did really well with the fishing too. She’s not grossed out by the worms so she was able to bait her hook all on her own. She even caught a baby fish!

Over the course of the weekend the girls had quite a few disagreements with each other as they were often either tired or hungry. And of course they are in 5th grade so you’ve got some hormones coming into play as well. They were given a stern lecture though and they were able to straighten things out pretty quickly. My hope is that these girls all continue to build deeper and deeper friendships as the years go on. I couldn’t do life without my circle of amazing girlfriends so I know what a gift that can be.

That last day it was great coming home to a happy dog, a quiet house, and a hot shower! I had a blast but I’m ready for the next adventure. Bible Study Fellowship, here I come…

All things fall

This post is dedicated to sweater weather which, here in Michigan, is right around the corner. I love sweater weather. I love summer, spring, fall, and winter, and I love this state because we get all four seasons in equal parts. Each one is just long enough so that you love it when it’s here, but as it’s ending you are more than ready for the next one to begin.

One thing I notice is that when I’m out for a run, I’m much less miserable (that’s not to say that I’m usually miserable on a run, I’m just being overdramatic. It’s what I do.) It’s really nice to have the cool, gentle breeze, and then to come home and not be covered in sweat. Today I ran 5 miles, with a couple short walking breaks, and I was surprised when it occurred to me that I was not struggling to walk or breathe. I was quite comfortable throughout the entire run. Part of this is that I’m learning to slow down and give my body some grace when it needs it. I learned this lesson best by falling on my face last week, and I won’t soon forget it. I take shorter steps, for safety, and then when my knee gives me that warning that it’s about to give out on me, I walk for a bit. This warning comes in the form of a shooting pain in my knee just as my foot hits the pavement, and I have to really catch myself to avoid falling. As of yet, it’s not caused me to fall, and I hope it stays that way. I’m still really hopeful that I’ll complete this half marathon next month on my own two feet.

In more exciting news, my kids went back to school today! My son is in 7th grade and my daughter is in 5th. They both got the classes and the teachers that they wanted, so other than the fact that they can’t sleep in and sit around playing video games anymore, they are pretty hopeful this will be a good school year.

My son is going to be on the cross country team this year, which is totally new. He does love to run, and has often run with me, but I think cross will still be a challenge for him because he will need to build up his stamina. He’s a great short distance runner, but he gets tired and bored fairly easily.

My daughter is not into any sports, but she loves art and science and horses. We may get her in for more horseback riding lessons down the road. She wants to sign up again for Girl Scouts, which she has been rather finicky about in the past so I’m hoping it sticks this time. Our community has a strong Girl Scout community and its a great way for her to build friendships with her classmates and learn some cool stuff in the process.

My ItWorks business is going fairly well. I added a new customer last month but this month is kind of at a standstill because I’ve been so focused on wrapping up the summer and getting the kids back to school. I’d like to do more promoting of the products I personally use on a regular basis, so you might see that coming around in the next couple weeks. If you are interested in checking out the product line, feel free to hop over onto my webstore at stillmindy.myitworks.com. Most people who have heard of the company have heard about their weight loss products, but there’s actually a lot more there. My personal favorites are the greens and the skin care line, for example. If you see something you like, let me know and I can help you get the 40% discount.

I have my next Financial Peace University class coming up in just 3 weeks and I still only have 3 people/couples signed up! Not that I don’t love a small group, but I would really like to see more people in the class because it’s such a wonderful life-changing experience and there are so many people out there who need to learn this stuff. This is God’s way of handling money, so it works. It’s not easy, for sure, but nothing worth doing ever is.

Well. What else? Bible Study Fellowship classes start up around the same time as FPU, so I’m going to be extra busy. Actually, I’m hoping for FULL, rather than busy. I’ve been working a little at watching how I’m spending my time so that I’m using it purposefully and not wasting it. I do allow myself downtime to rest my brain, I’m just being careful not to stay there too long. It’s been helpful having the kids home because I kind of feel like they are watching me and so I’m less tempted to waste time, so we’ll see how that changes now that they are back in school.

On that note, I’m going to make sure kitchen counters are cleared off because my groceries will be delivered soon!

Who do you work for?

Do you ever encounter a child who likes to ask “why?” about everything? As in, “why do I have to do the dishes?” or “why do I have to clean my room?” And because you’re tired of giving them your well thought out, logical explanation, you give them the ol’ “Because I said so.”? Or maybe the child doesn’t ask why, but simply responds with a grunty moan, while muttering about how much they hate doing chores.

Do you know a child like this? Or better yet, are you perhaps that child some days? For me it’s a yes, and absolutely yes (some of you may have heard how much I hate folding laundry). So while I have been working hard to change my thinking and learn to just do the things before they get out of hand, I still have my days when my attitude is in the crapper. My kids have those days too, and I find it’s helpful to let them know I understand and can even relate.

23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Colossians 3:23-24 English Standard Version (ESV)

The other morning I was reading my devotional and I came across this verse. It spoke to me, and this chore hating procrastinator hiding inside winced a little, but the message stuck. So later when the kids were grumbling about chores, I shared the verse with them, and I hung it on the fridge for all of us to be reminded.

I realize throwing a Bible verse in here may not be relevant to you unless you are a follower of Christ, but I believe the message still has merit. I believe the greatest impact of our lives is not necessarily from the big notable things, but rather a lot of little things added up over time. The daily minutia. It’s like the butterfly effect. If we can wake up daily with the mindset that the small things matter to someone, somewhere, at some point in time, then maybe we can wake up feeling hopeful that if I can just do these mundane tasks with a smile, maybe it will make someone else’s day. Or from a believer’s perspective, maybe I can show the love and relatable humanity of Jesus by doing grunt work without grumbling. Honestly, that’s hard to do unless I truly believe that all of the work I do here at home is not just for my family, but ultimately for the Lord.

I would encourage you to sit down with that inner whiny child and let them know that the little things do matter. Start small. Do the hard things, little by little. It all matters to Someone. Just try it, I dare you!