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Thursday, July 26, 2012

How a tire changed me

My dads birthday was the other day. I called him to wish him a happy birthday.
"So what?" right?
AND I sent him a gift.
woop-de-doo!
But that, my friends IS a big deal and step in our relationship. To make a long story short, he made it a point to not be in my life as a kid and make what interactions we did have awful. So when I got older, out of hurt, I returned the favor.
Somewhere along the way I grew up, redefined my expectations of him and our relationship and we actually talk and text. Its by no means an ideal daddy daughter relationship, but I gave up on that a long time ago. And I have let go of a lot of the anger and resentment (notice, not ALL).

Fade to our conversation the other day. Its his birthday and well, he is damn well lucky to be alive. During our conversation he recounts a horrible accident that he and his wife had a few days before, roadtripping to California.

They are driving down the highway at about 70 miles per hour and they blow a tire. They can feel that something is not quite right with their car, it starts slightly fishtailing and is difficult to handle. Then it just blows. Their Jeep goes into the median, flips over like 7 times and ends up on its tires in the other direction of traffic. He is bruised and banged up everywhere. no breaks. She has 2 broken hands and a broken arm. She will have quite a road ahead of her. But both are very much alive.

While my dad was telling me this story, my mind immediately took me to an almost similar sounding story from over 10 years ago. Well, a similar sounding set up. Different ending. And all I can think is how lucky we were to survive it. To have no one get hurt. How for some reason God's hand was watching over us.

I went with a group of youth as a chaperone to a mission trip to Reynosa Mexico. We flew into McAllen, TX, then drove over the border into Mexico.There were enough of us that we needed 4 rental vehicles. We were there to do a VBS, work at an orphanage, work on pouring concrete for their forthcoming basketball court. It was an AMAZING time. Something I will never forget.

On the drive back to the airport on our last day,w e were running a little late and so all vans were booking it down the Mexican highway. While driving, my van started pulling ever so slightly. It was just barely enough to notice, almost like a very very slight fishtail. It felt strange and I asked a passenger if they noticed anything. THey said "no". However, my gut said "yes". I was a little afraid to slow up the group, but I followed my gut and began to slow down and pull over. During the pulling over process, the van started a horrible shaking and some smoke started coming from the rear of the vehicle. It was a little scary to say the least. But we stopped safely. I hopped out to see what the deal was...and there it was...a blown out tire.

A blown out tire, just like what pummeled my dad and step- mom.

I remember thinking at the time how lucky we were. The more I thought about it, the more I realized had I waited mere seconds to decide to pull over, we very well, me and a van full of kids, been flipped over in a ditch.  We were able to simply change the tire. I wish I could find the picture someone took of me at the airport, sitting next to the decimated tire. Of course, you might not recognize the me of that era.

It still humbles me to think about.
Why are some spared and others not. Why did nothing happen to us. Why was my dad spared, though injured. What lessons are there in such situations? Have I been living the life that God has given back to me? Is there a similar message to my dad. And why does it take such extremes to start to appreciate what we have?

Perhaps just this story is enough for me to remember how fragile life is. How we are moments away, or closer to some other destiny or path or choices. Is it worth being angry about the things we are angry about or hold grudges? Is it worth holding back on opportunities because we are afraid? Is questioning a situation really such a bad thing?

And maybe I should check up on my dad a little bit more often.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

seven

In case you didn't know, I am completely unoriginal.
The number of perfectly original thoughts I have ever conceptualized in my own brain is exactly: 0.
I lack creative inspiration that can completely create or design a new concept.

What I am able to do is to take someone elses idea, and shape into something that fits me a little bit more accurately. Every idea I have ever had, first came from someone elses mind.

For example, decorating. Do you think I just picked the colors on the walls in my home?  No, I consulted many magazines and a friend who is an interior decorator.

I suppose we all do this to some extent. i.e. all music begets music. We all use someone elses ideas to some extent.

Why the big explanation? Of course because I am about to copy someones idea. It won't be the first time. It certainly won't be the last. But this other idea really messed me up. And I won't be copying it exactly, by any means. But I am considering making a mini "Jenna-ized" version. And the idea is not fully developed. Because I have not finished reading the other idea yet.

What I have done is started reading a book. I wanted to be inspired spiritually. And that is what I got. I downloaded "7: An experimental mutiny against excess" by Jen Hatmaker.

First of all, Jen is an exceptional writer. I like the way she narrates, sees the world and in some way feel like we could be friends, even though she lives in Texas and is about 1000 times cooler than I am.

In recognizing her own need to change, be grateful, and be closer to God, she decided to "simplify" in some very specific and somewhat extreme ways. To get rid of some of those things that distract her (us) from God, gratefulness and our best selves. Those things include: food, things/possessions,clothes, media and 3 other things/aspects I have yet to read. 


Immediately I was both intruiged and convicted. I am so addicted to these very things that she talks about. I feel the pressure to keep up with the Jonses, to fill myself and life up with unnecessary things. I adore food and associate too many feelings and emotions to it, rather than just let it nourish me physically, which is all it is supposed to do. And you will probably never be invited to look at my closet. Not only is it a disaster, but I have so many articles that it is embarrassing. And always think I have nothing to wear. Its never enough. And this from someone who did not grow up with money. Sometimes I use these things to fill me up, rather than things that matter. Love, compassion, helping others, relationships,________ ...fill in the blank. Sometimes I just feel like I am missing something.

And yet I need none of these things. Its all excess.


Her experiments gave her one month to focus on each area. And circles around the number 7. For example for one month she could only wear/rotate through 7 articles of clothing (underwear not included). for another month her diet was limited to 7 (very nutritious) foods to be eaten in any combination. For one month she had to go through her things and have 7 item each day to give away to someone else.


Do you know that if you are reading this, that compared to the rest of the world, you're income is higher than 99% of the other human inhabitants of earth? Hard to see that when we are looking through our front window and seeing the neighbors yard. perspective is only what we see.


The book is written from a very Christian perspective. Which I am. But I also think she taps into the real Christianity. The kind that loves, serves, hopes, acts, listens...rather than the kind that judges, condemns, etc


So what am I suggesting? I'm not totally sure. I do want to finish this book first. but I do want to simplify. I want to be more connected to other people and god and myself than my stuff. To serve others more than my own compulsions. Thats what I think we are really here on earth for.I am considering a mini 7 experiment. like take each section myself and really reduce for a week each. but my own idea is not well developed.


If anyone else has an interest or other ideas to use this perspective,  I am all ears. And a little accountability is never a bad thing. Follow through has never been a strength of mine.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Giveaways

So, in case you haven't noticed on facebook, I have been liking an awful lot of business and blog webpages. I am not doing it to annoy you. I honestly wish I could figure out how to do it without letting the entire Facebook universe know about it. I keep trying to tweak my settings, to no avail. I really hate that about Facebook.

Why have I been "liking" all of these pages, blogs and businesses I have probably never even looked at? Well, the answer is I have gotten into the world of giveaways, contests, rafflecopter and basically trying to win free crap. Mostly baby crap, it started out with cloth diapers, then onto other baby items,  with a few Amazon gift card giveaways thrown in. All of these contests require you to "like" something on Facebook, follow on Twitter or follow a blog or sign up for an e-mail list. I do "like" these pages with the intention of gong back and "unliking" them. but then I am either too lazy or can't remember which ones are for a recent contest or an old one.

You probably don't know that I do have a Twitter account. I honestly only signed up for it to get more entries into these contests. So don't "follow" me on Twitter. It will only annoy you even more than my Facebook page probably already does. Its pretty much exclusively for these contests. Not that I really know how to use Twitter anyway. I think that there is no such thing as a complete sentence on this "Twitter"

So is it even panning out?
For a while, "no". I was about ready to give up when I got a notification of a "top fan" status on a facebook page. I then won a pretty awesome cloth diaper insert and a cloth wipe. (Geffen).
Shortly after I received e-mail notification that I won a really fancy schmancy set of baby wraps/swaddlers. Just today I won $20 gift card to a natural baby store.
For a list of great baby-themed giveaways check out www.change-diapers.com

I have also been introduced to this website Swagbucks. By doing web searches through them, filling out surveys, watching videos, taking a poll, whatever, you earn these points or "swagbucks". Just a few minutes a day really. When you get so many you can cash them in for things like giftcards. So far in just a few months I have earned over $100 in gift cards, most of them to Amazon. Which I have then used that for various baby things, like the little baby pool, some odor eliminating spray, a few diapers, etc.

I have a lot of what I need now. I kind of wish I had started looking for some of this free stuff last year before I bought any baby stuff. I would have loved to have spent a lot less, which I already felt that I was being pretty thrifty. But like everything else, I am a late bloomer.

Interested? If so, good luck!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nursing is boring

Hello.

For the record, I am writing this while Ben is napping. And while avoiding paperwork I need to finish for Catholic Charities (my little fill in work). NOT while nursing.

For starters, as another precursor, i am very glad that I made the decision to nurse my baby and was able to do it and was stubborn enough to get through the very difficult first 1.5 months of it. I feel like I am giving him some good natural stuff and creating some good bonding between us. And yes, judge me if you will, I do use it to pacify him as well. when all else fails to settle him down (even if he just got done eating)...he loves to chill with momma, in nursing position. And who wouldn't love cuddling this little snuggle bug?



Its amusing how comfortable I have come with just whipping it out, or just letting them sit out ALL OF THE TIME. Don't worry, if you come over for a visit, I always use my cover.

But the truth of the matter is, nursing is boring. Now keep in mind this comes from someone who is slightly ADD. Nursing can take anywhere from 15-60 minutes. Now, 60 is closer to when he was a newborn, and I have been impressed lately by his efficiency and sucking power to get it done much faster, at times in as few as 15 minutes. And I do love to watch him, and sometimes we have eye contact and it is beautiful. But how long can someone really maintain that for? OK, I mean "me". Can you stare at someone for 45 minutes? straight? I try. really i do.

And I talk to him. Don't worry. This kid gets non-stop verbal assualts (with very sweet words) from his momma. I wonder sometimes if this will help his verbal skills one day or hinder them (why talk if momma is doing it non-stop?)

I wanted to go on the internet while nursing. but then got nervous with some peoples imput and what I'd read that it may not be very good for him to have the heat of the laptop there or the invisible electronic rays/signals/whatever right next to his head. So I've pretty much stopped that. Including going on my phone.

There's tv. But lets be honest people, tv stinks. There are a total of about 3 shows that I care about watching (not including sports) and 2 of them are not airing right now. (my guilty guilty pleasures of The Biggest Loser and Dancing with the Stars)

So. besides that. I have found comfort again in my Kindle. I was using it a lot, but then waned. Now I am back. I have read a few hardcover books too that were given to me by various people. I love this device. Its a basic Kindle. But i sometimes forget how much I like to read. until I do it. I do it while nursing, working out, waiting at the dr. office, etc.

would you like to know what I've been reading?
 NO!??
too bad.

-I read and finished the entire Hunger Games series. Good at the beginning. However I think the author just grew tired of it by the end and rushed through it. Completely worth the read/time.

-Out of the Darkenss: the story of Mary Ellen Wilson.  Did you know that there were laws and organizations in the US to protect the rights of animals before protecting the rights of Children???                
Out Of The Darkness: The Story of Mary Ellen Wilson

-Ghosty Men: The Strange but true story of the Collyer Brothers. THE quintessential story about hoarders
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-Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet... I HIGHLY recommend this book. Good historical/cultural fiction that is heartbreaking. Few books have a moment that catches me so off guard as this one did.
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- Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls.  If you read The Glass Castle. This gives you some interesting insight into where her mother came from. A Good read.
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-Sing You Home by Jodi Piccoult. A somewhat controversial book, as usual by Jody. She always makes you think about social/ethical issues. She gives a glimpse at both sides. I don't recommend if you are pregnant. i started reading it while expecting and the first few chapters were somewhat traumatizing. I put it down and waited till after Ben was born to continue on.
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-Life of Pi by Yann martel. An interesting story of being stranded at sea. if you can believe it actually happened.
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-Currently I am reading this: 'In the Garden of Beasts" by Erik Larson. And if you like history (which I am somewhat obsessed with WW2 history) and anything else he has ever written (which I would recommend his other books too). its the story of the US embassador to Germany just before WW2 and how society was changing around him and what he did and did not do and his naivety. its a slow read. but chalk full of info
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and I keep trying to read "Cutting for Stone" but it is boring me. With enough encouragement I may be able to continue on.

I am super open to other book suggestions.
Especially if they have a spiritual bent. i am actually desperately in need of some good real life practical spiritually encouraging books in the vein of Donald Miller or Anne LaMott. I've heard Jenn Hatmaker is good. Any thoughts???

Wow.

See. I am rather ADD.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Memorable Anniversary

today marks 7 years of marriage to my Dear Husband.

1 year ago we did not spend our anniversary quite as we had expected. at all. We were not quite 1 month into knowing we were expecting. The day before I had been experiencing some minor bleeding, and was not sure if I should be concerned. I spoke to Bill about it and by the time we decided we should call it was late, so we/I  decided to call the next morning (felt bad disturbing family time- which I find out later he's a bachelor). My doc was not particularly happy with me for waiting and told me to go to the ER. So I did.

And so our anniversary was spent in the ER. Pretty romantic, eh.

It turned out that everything was ok. The scare was possible miscarriage. But upon inspection and tests, it was probably placental implantation? Apparently it takes 6 hours to figure all of this out. We did learn some important info that day...my blood type being o- and Bill's being positive, this is a problem, esp if this baby is positive. If our blood mixes, my body may reject any future fetus', esp if they are rh+. Unless I get a series of shots with rh antibodies. it pretty rare to have this blood type combo is a couple. At this er visit I got my first one. (and it was a good thing as my baby is Rh positive)

By the end of this ordeal, we are pretty emotionally drained. But still make it out to dinner later. We had much to celebrate.

I think what frustrated us the most was not really being able to share it with anyone since we weren't telling anyone we were expecting yet. I know we could have, but it was so personal at the time. we decided to wait until 2nd trimester to tell everyone because of the high rate of miscarriage in the 1st.  Maybe 2 people knew at this point. (and only because they asked point blank and I can't lie)

It can only go up from here,right

Well, here we are at 7 years. While I already know it won't be the ideal day. Bill now has to work (thank you train derailment in Northbrook...you don't think about how things like that affect all of the industries it serves. No raw material delivery means no production. Which means maintenance kicks into high gear since they won't be running...which is the department my DH heads up...gah!)

So if we're lucky, we will get to do dinner. Worst case scenario, we move it to a different day.
And in the scheme of things, while I love to celebrate (LOVE to celebrate)...its not the end of the world.

And we have a beautiful healthy baby boy who we did not lose 1 year ago.
And there is no "itch" at 7 years here.
And it becomes better each year and simultaneously more complex as we expand the latticework of who we are and what this family is and grow as people.
And when all is said and done, while nothing it perfect, I wouldn't change a thing.

May we enjoy 7 x 70 more. Good. bad and everything in between