Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I Need My Head Examined...

That's what my facebook post said today.  That's how I really felt.  What on earth have I gotten myself into?  Why did I do this?  I must be crazy.

A while back, I decided that I didn't want to go into the summer (ie. pool) season with three non swimmers.  I have had every intention of the girls being on swim team with the boys this summer but during our away gymnastics meets, we had some time at hotel pools and I realized that neither one of them were ready to be on a team... as in, neither one of them could swim, at all.  I find this odd since they lived in a beach town until we got them.  

As a side note, I would like everyone to know that swimming is the only extra curricular activity that we 'force' our children to do.  Both Ken and myself have a strong swimming background, his was with a swim team until he was old enough to coach, which he did and I spent many, many summer weeks on vacation with my grandparents camping at a lake and swimming and water skiing.  We both felt it was very important for the kids to learn how to swim, from a safety perspective.  In fact, I had a friend in college who could not swim and we had a hairy moment one night at a mutual friend's pool.  I didn't really care if it was swim team or swim lessons but I wanted our kids to be able to swim, and swim well.  Ken felt very strongly about swim team and it is the cheapest way to get them swimming well.  So when it all started, we told the boys that they needed to learn how to swim well for safety reasons and swim team was how Daddy and I chose for this to happen.  When they got to the point that they could beat Mommy and Daddy across the pool in a race, then they could choose whether or not they wanted to continue with the team.  So there you have it.  

Coincidentally, this will be the first year that we have one turn down team.  Rylan had a really rough summer last year.  He spent 12 hours a week at the gym working out for gymnastics and about 2 hours a day at the pool working out for swim and dive team.   That means that four days a week, he was working out, and I mean working out, for five hours a day.  On Saturdays, he rose early to go to the swim meet and left straight from there to go to the gym for three hours.  He was so tired and worn out, he was falling asleep everywhere and it just wasn't good for him.   This year, he has decided that he really wants to enjoy the pool and focus on gymnastics.  He is still going to do dive team, practice for that isn't as physically draining as swim team practice so he's opting out of swim team... and I'm really ok with that.  He can't actually beat me across the pool yet (and certainly not Ken) but I see his reasoning and he can certainly swim well, which was the goal.

Anyway, when I saw where the girls were with swimming, I decided that they needed to have some lessons before swim season rolled around.  There was only one choice when I decided that I wanted back to back lessons at each girl's level and ruled out nap times and times when we had to go to the gym.  They are on Mondays and Wednesdays and they started this week.  Of course, I signed them up long before I knew that Ken was going to be out of town on business four days a week during this time period.  As we were trying to get our schoolwork and chores done and get ourselves pulled together to go, I thought, "I really need my head examined for this."  Trying to get six kids and myself packed up to go and then showering afterwards and getting to Chick-Fil-A in time to eat before church... I must be crazy.

I have to say, it all went really, really well.  Despite the fact that the girls don't really do English yet, they both did really well in class.  Everyone had a great time.  I got in the pool with John and the big boys.  Diana and Juli joined us when they weren't in class.  Showering worked out and everyone was happy, happy, happy.  And it was really nice to be able to stop and just play with the kids.  Sometimes I get so stuck in what has to be done, whether it's cooking, cleaning, laundry, schoolwork or whatever... I forget that I need to be having fun with them, too.

And when we finally made it home and I got everyone tucked into bed, an eery silence fell upon the house.  I remembered exactly why I love the crazy hectic summer swim/dive team schedule...  there's no tomfoolery at bed time.  When their heads hit their pillows, they are out, because nothing wears a kid out like swimming.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Every Cloud...

has a silver lining....

or so they say.

I've had to deal with migraines my whole life.  My mom told me once that she could remember when I was 3 or 4 years old and I would come to her with a pasty white face, blue lips, and crying, saying that my head hurt.  I remember being in elementary school and having to go home because it hurt so bad.  I also remember one secretary who thought I was lying and would make me sit upright in the hard chairs in the office under the fluorescent lighting thinking that eventually I would admit I was lying and go back to class.  I have no idea why she thought I wanted out of class, I loved school.  I got straight A's.  I was the stereotypical teacher's pet.  But, I digress.

I missed a lot of school for migraines.  I missed a lot of college classes for migraines.  I could always tell which of my professors had actually had a migraine by they way they acted when I called to tell them why I had missed class... again.  After graduation, I missed a lot of work because of my migraines.  After Ken and I got married, I started seeing a neurologist for them.  I got some drugs to take at the first sign of a migraine.  It worked... about 1/3 of the time.  And the side effects were horrible.  The 2/3 of the time that they didn't work, I found myself dealing with a migraine AND side effects.  So I gave up on the drugs and the doctors.

Over the years, I have spent much of my time investigating and researching on my own.  I found out that I have hypothyroidism.  When I got that balanced, the timing of my migraines became more regular and more predictable.  As I started eating better, they became a little less severe.  As I have come to appreciate a natural lifestyle more and more, the migraines have become more manageable.  I started seeing a chiropractor and using essential oils and while I still had migraines, I was able to function.  For about six months, I did not have a migraine that completely debilitated me.  Slowed me down?,  Yes.  Changed my plans for a couple of days? Yes.  Kept me from driving?  Yes.  Kept me from being with my kids or fixing them lunch?  No.  Was I bedridden?  Nope.  Sent me to bathroom vomiting from the pain?  Thank God, no.  
Believe me when I tell you, I was very, very thankful for the respite.  Unfortunately, I haven't been so good about what I've been eating lately.  I haven't been to the chiropractor since before we went to Colombia.  And I've been paying for it.  I have had a lot of migraines in the past two months and I've had two that were completely debilitating.  The first one happened to fall on the weekend and Ken once again, was awesome.  He took care of the kids and the house and me.  

The second didn't work out quite so well.  I started getting a headache last Sunday afternoon.  By the time Ken left Sunday night (at bedtime) for his business trip, I was done for.  I got the kids in bed and fell into bed myself.  That's a rare thing, I typically HATE going to bed without Ken and avoid it as long as I can.  The night was hard.  I woke from the pain frequently and unfortunately, John woke just as frequently as I did, needing mommy love.  The morning was worse.  I had heard Connor and Rylan get up and I knew the girls were awake in their room, but I laid in bed as long as John slept.  When he woke, it was all I could do to get down the stairs holding his hand.  I strapped him in his high chair, got him some yogurt, and made it to the bathroom just in time.  

It was bad.  Very.  Very.  Bad.

Thankfully, Connor and Rylan have seen this before and were ready and willing to help.  They tried, but I realized a day like this was too much to ask of them.  I needed help.  If it had been just the older four, they could have watched movies all day.  That's what happened when Ken was deployed.  Actually, I think the boys secretly loved the days that I had migraines because they got to watch TV and play video games all day.  [Yep, I just wrote that for all the world to read.]  However, they couldn't take care of Juli and John ALL day.  Connor called a friend of mine who rearranged her morning to come over with her kids to help.  She brought food and fixed lunch.  About the time she got here, we discovered that my mom had actually called in sick to work and was home so I was covered for the afternoon and evening.  I'm so thankful for both of them.

My whole life, I could never see the silver lining in the cloud of migraines.  They were wasted days.  But as I lay on the floor of the dark powder room Monday morning, I called Rylan in.  I told him to go to the girls' room and let them know that Mommy said to come down for breakfast. (They are supposed to play quietly in their room in the morning until I come for them.  That post is for another day.)  He told them that Mommy was very sick and they needed to be very quiet.  Of course, both girls came running and looking for me.  Juli found me first and she just sat down beside me and watched me.  Diana came busting in and started talking in her booming voice.  I reminded her that she needed to be quiet and asked her to help Juli get her breakfast.  Juli was back from breakfast after about five minutes and sat down again.  She just watched me and after a few minutes she asked if I was sick.  I said yes.  She asked if I was crying.  I said yes.  She asked why.  I said that my head hurt... mucho, mucho.  She sat quietly for a while longer.  I asked her if she wanted to go play.  She said no.  She asked if I was still crying.  I said yes.  And then I looked at her.  She was crying, too.  I reached for her hand and tried to explain that Mommy is sick.  Mommy will be sick for one or two days but then Mommy will feel better.  I tried as best as I could, in my PJ's, disheveled and a mess, to convince her that I was going to be ok.  She was very upset.  She sat with me for about an hour, maybe more.  She held my hand almost the whole time.  At one point, she asked if she could lay with me.  So we lay together, spooning on the hardwood floor of the bathroom in the dark.

And that, right there, my friends, is the silver lining.  I have spent much time wondering if she was attaching to us at all.  She spends so much of her time trying to push us away that I wondered if she cared at all.  I'm not saying that in a snarky way.  I realize how much she's been through and I know she's having a tough time.  I know we need to love her whether or not she loves us back.  It isn't easy but we knew that was a possibility of what we'd be doing when we signed up for this job.  I just wonder if there's anything there.  Are we making progress?  Does she feel at home here, even a little?  Does she have any tiny little spark of love for us yet?  Maybe not love, but maybe a warm little fuzzy?  Possibly?  

Yes.  I think maybe she does.  I think that despite all the horrible crud that she's been through, despite how hard she tries to keep her distance and keep her heart safe, she cares about us... or about me at least.  It's a good place to start.  

I didn't want to have yet another migraine.  I certainly didn't ask for that.  But for the first time in my life, I think that if I had the chance to go back in time and do over those days without a migraine, I wouldn't have taken it.

Now I just have to figure out how to get back to the chiropractor with six kids in tow.