Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Overload

I read a lot of books...all at once.  I started thinking about how many open and un-finished books I have laying around.  They're all practical in some way.  I love fiction, but find I'm an irresponsible parent when I open one of those.  I get so obsessed with what happens next and how it ends, that I won't put it down or tend to basic needs of my kids.  So, practical books in short 10-minute stints it is for me.  

I've found most of these books are themed around simplifying, and controlling the chaos in my life.  Maybe God is working on my heart in this area???

Here are the ones I currently have open.  I'll do my best to give a brief synopsis, but will likely butcher it.  And let's face it, I haven't completed any of them, so these aren't critiques for the most part.

1) 1000 Gifts, by Ann Voskamp.  I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!  It is absolutely life-changing.  She has been through the trenches.  Not a person who has developed a hokey theology based on something fluffy.  She very vulnerably shares her life and tears apart the scriptures to show where God has changed her outlook to one of constant thanksgiving.  This book has begun to really mess with me on days I want to complain.  She has done an excellent job at showing how we can trust God's goodness in all of life, even the painful parts.  She is a very poetic writer, and some of her sentences are so rich that I will pause there for several days to try to chew on it for a while.  

2) Organized Simplicity:the clutter-free approach to intentional living, by Tsh Oxenreider.   I haven't made it very far in this, but I like it.  She has some practical applications for decluttering, but her overall goal isn't just to make you purge your belongings, but to develop a life-purpose for your family.  Wouldn't we all live more fully if we actually thought about what was meaningful in our lives and wrote out a purpose...something we wanted others to see without reading, just by the actions we take?  Yes.  I haven't written one yet, but it is inspiring.  Of course, one episode of Hoarders on TLC is enough to make me want to throw away any meaningless thing in my life.

3)  Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family, by Mary Ostyn.  What I wanted when reading this?  Step-by-step plan and detailed schedule of how she keeps everything clean, everyone fed, everyone loved and happy, so I can stop trying to figure it out on my own.  It's not that.  It's an easy read though.  It seems to normalize the feelings of a mom with a larger family.  The looks and comments you get in public are universal, apparently.  Not that 4 kids is a huge amount, but in public you'd think it was 13 by the comments I get.  She does have some practical ideas that are really common sense, just not a detailed schedule that will take all guesswork out for me.  It's probably better that way.  In reality, when I see some moms schedules written out where they rise at 5 am, keeping every single minute structured until they lay down at 10 and "keep their husband happy," I get a little nauseous.  

4)  Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach, by Howard Glasser and Jennifer Easley.  This book has been truly transforming.  I sort-of wish the title were different, because when said "difficult child" reads the title, it's a little painful.  I told her the truth: it's actually about transforming the parent so that the child feels more loved and her needs are better met.  But, if they titled it in a way that it's meant to change the parent, probably nobody would read it, because we want to believe it's all our kids' fault.  I love this book, because it's helped us change the way we do things.  It's natural for parents to just get in this cycle of "kid acts up, parent punishes."  This book encourages "upside down parenting," where you notice everything your child does...not praise it, just offer neutral comments, like "I see you're coloring with a green crayon..."  It feels so unnatural at first, but it's amazing how quickly your child perks up with this.  It has to go beyond neutral "good job!" comments...they know those are neutral and not really noticing them.  Then, when they trust you more because you notice them more, you can implement a points system, and simple corrections when needed.  There are so many details in this book.  I am doing it a serious injustice.  It's a book filled with much wisdom and no guilt.  I like it so much that I've bought it twice.  Why?  Because I returned my copy to the library and they never found it.  Darn it!

5) Family Feasts for $75 a Week, by Mary Ostyn.  This is nice.  She gets healthy eating, and goes beyond couponing (which I just cannot seem to do), and gives practical ways to feed a big family.  I struggle with keeping down my grocery budget.  It is expensive to eat non-processed food.  This has 200 recipes as well.  I've only tried a few, but I like it.  Many of them are cultured, as she has 6 adopted children from other countries and wants to feed them food that will remind them of their first home.  Lots of tips in this book...I pick it up a lot when we're watching tv at night and I want to think of a dinner recipe or plan, or want a few tips.

6) Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream, by David Platt.  I literally just opened this last night, so I definitely can't tell you much.  But, I am moved by the first chapter...seriously moved.  I try to be a person who doesn't just follow all of our cultural norms, but I am amazed by what is written how much I've truly allowed myself to be shaped by our culture.  I decided to get this book when a friend posted on facebook that she had read it, went out and bought a house on auction, and wants to pay off debts and adopt as many children as possible.  It messed with me, so I bought it.  So far, he lists several of the things Jesus actually says, and how that looks like "radical abandonment," and even says, "We're settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves."  Ouch.  He also says, "We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with.  A nice, middle-class, American Jesus.  A Jesus who doesn't mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have.   A Jesus who would not expect us to forsake our closest relationships so that he receives all our affection.  A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts, because, after all, he loves us just the way we are.  A Jesus who wants us to be balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter, wants us to avoid danger altogether.  a Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American dream."   I probably didn't make you want to read this book, I'm guessing.  I do not find capitalism evil, and don't expect to by the end of this book (because I don't believe that's the goal).  If not for people who make money, we don't have any to make a difference in the world, but I do expect to have a changed heart in what matters most to me...because I do love Jesus enough to figure out how to love Him more than me.  So there!  

7) Stepping out of Denial and Into God's Grace, by John Baker.  This is the first book in the Celebrate Recovery participant guides.  If you haven't heard of Celebrate Recovery, you should Google it and find out.  It's an amazing program targeted at everyone.  Basic premise is that we all have "hurts, habits, and hang-ups" and we can use our relationship with Jesus to find healing.  I have this amazing group of women that I meet with weekly (when it isn't summer), and we decided we could do this step-study together.  I started it thinking I really didn't have much to discuss, but God's amazing grace would tell me otherwise...that I have plenty to change.  It's so good to be open to change.  

This concludes a glimpse into what I'm reading and doing.  Have a nice day!

B is for Botatoes and Balogna

"B" is for "Botatoes."  Why?  The other night Jossie says, "Everything we're eating for dinner tonight starts with 'b'!"  "Really?" We reply.  "Yes," she says, "Beef, broccoli, bread, and botatoes!"

Big smile on the inside.

Joe enlightened her, of course.  

Oh, but those are the moments.  The moments you want to write on your heart forever.  Like the times when they laugh, and throw their heads back, and bat their cute long eye-lashes at us.  The moments where they climb higher on the playground and wait for your joy at their accomplishments.  The moments where they snuggle, and grab your face and say, "I love you sooo much!"  The moments when it hurts to look at them because you love them sooo much more!  The moments when the clothes they pick out look so awful, but they are so confident and happy in them that you just don't say anything.  The moments when they sing songs of pure joy, and make-believe.  When they spontaneously sing about how much they love Jesus while nobody's listening in the back yard.  

Those moments bring a joy that is hard to put into words.  

Now, why "B" for "Bologna?"  

The other day Yahoo! had an article about how "they've" discovered that people with no children are actually happier.  And that's where I give a resounding "Bologna!"  (Cuz I surely wouldn't use a more uncivilized word that starts with B here!  I won't lie, I'd rather).

What has happened to our society that we actually study and believe such things?  We are like frogs in a pot.  We don't even know that it has hit a boiling point.  What are our priorities?  Sure, it's easier to accomplish, go out to eat, socialize, make money, and feel important.

No doubt.

Don't get me wrong, I get that there are people who want children and can't, or are single.  Or maybe even think they are too messed up for kids.  I'm not really addressing those issues, because that's not what this article was about.  It was a general statement that children are inconvenient, burdensome, and even that they are financially just a "bad idea."  

There isn't much glory for the world in chubby dirty little fingers, and wiping noses, and comforting injured little toddlers.  Or in breaking up fights over who had the favorite Barbie first, or sending kids to time-out.  Not much honor in dirty houses because relationships with your children come first.  Not much excitement when you stay home most days and your greatest accomplishment looks like a shower and you fed the kids, and maybe you read a couple of books to them, and encouraged some math lessons.  Nope.  

The article talked about how important "me time" is.  I guess it's lost on me.  I'm not saying I don't get over-touched, or that I don't love going to the grocery store alone.  But, I have to fight with every fiber to not believe that I'm missing out on something because I don't take personal vacations, or have the nicest clothes, or get manicures, or care about the latest star news.  No, I actually like my kids. And for that matter like being around them.

I want them to enjoy being a part of our family.  I want them to feel secure and to want to spend their time with us.  I want their souls to prosper, more than I want a beautiful home and a life that is successful in the world's eyes.  

How do you study and tell the Yahoo! peeps that children teach you about how great the love of God must be for us, if it resembles and exceeds how much we can love these sweet souls?  How do you put into words the level of love, and how parenting isn't always easy or clear-cut, but it's always worth it?  It far exceeds the financial drain.

The problem with our society is narcissism.  It's such a problem that we don't even recognize it when it's diagnosable.  It's all around.  We thrive on this sickness.  On me-ness.  We reward it.  We use and manipulate others to get to the top.  We whine about all the things we don't have if people around us do.  It's beyond "keeping up with the Jones'"  Our self-love and adoration is producing such false studies as this one.  It's evidence for years has been seen in the ultimate sacrifice of children's lives.  We're taught that if you don't use responsibility in the first place, and wind up carrying one of these financial kill-joy babies, then just eliminate it.  Because it's all about your choice, and what you want, and what's convenient.  Two-thirds of all viable pregnancies in New York city are ending in abortion.  Does anyone see a problem with that statistic besides me?  Does it seem to have anything to do with our self-importance?

It's true.  It's never convenient to have a baby.  It's never easy.

I wasn't trying to get political here, that's not what I want from this blog.  I didn't even have the topic of abortion in mind when starting this entry, but in realizing the nature of why this article emerged, I can't help but see the trends in our convenient society.  And to be honest, I don't hate women who make that choice.  I hurt for them.  They've been lied to that it's not a big deal.  I believe for most women, that eventually the reality of ending a beautiful and innocent life haunts them and tears apart their hearts.  There is forgiveness for them, but it doesn't change the fact that most will eventually be tormented by their decision.

OK, major rabbit trail there...

Back to people who are "happier" for not having kids.  Do they know what they're missing when a baby's breath slows and comforts to the sound of your voice singing?  When he wraps his chubby fingers around yours.  When she giggles at everything you do?

And, oh those hugs.  Only reserved for Mommy and Daddy.  The special, lingering, trusting, undeserved, dependent hugs.

Sometimes it's hard.  Really hard.  Sometimes you have a child with an illness that requires any chance of "me-time" you could have dreamed of having.  Sometimes that illness is debilitating for life, and you love them all the same.  Sometimes those kids grow up to make bad choices, and those parents ache for their child's peace in life.  Sometimes a parent loses a child and their heart feels like it's been ripped from their chest.

Ask any parent if they would trade in all of the "me-time" and financial success in the world for the chance of avoiding that pain.

I don't know any.

Because they love and are deeply loved.  And that is happiness.  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ghetto Immune

Remember my decision to be "Ghetto Woman" instead of trying to compete with "Pioneer Woman?"  Who can compete anyway?  She's just awesome.

Well, the ghetto lives on, and we continue to reside within.  I might be exaggerating a bit, as it's not really the ghetto, but there are a few homes that make me nervous.  (Obvious drug deals, late night heavy traffic coming and going, frequent visits from police, etc.).

The other day I was out watering my front flowers, which sadly are dying due to the ridiculous heat in June we're experiencing.  Anyway, I could hear a police search helicopter nearby.  You always know it isn't life-flight, because it doesn't just head in one direction, it keeps circling.  We live close enough to some shopping centers, that it isn't totally uncommon for one to be circling at night in search for a thief.  This was the middle of the day.  

You know you're immune to it all though when you just keep watering your flowers and the neighbors pull up and wave.  

Then I got a call from Joe while I was still out there saying there was a police standoff with some guy less than a mile away, who had fired a bunch of shots and carjacked someone.  OK, that was enough for me to say, "Kids, let's go inside."  

They, unfortunately heard my conversation and then needed to know all about the "bad guy."  For Norah, she was quite disturbed to know that "bad guys" were actually real.  They enjoy reading books with their Daddy like, "The Hobbit," "Narnia," etc.  She can handle those "bad buys" because they're fictitious.  But, to have to reconcile that there are people who make evil decisions and put others in harms way, that was a whole other ball game.

She said, "Mommy, kids really don't like the real scary things like, bears...lions...and real bad guys."  

Later at dinner the kids needed resolution for this story.   How much do you tell them?  The reality was, he had kidnapped someone, was in a police chase, pulled into Wal-Mart and fired about 15 shots in the store (not harming anyone), and then walked out and tried to carjack some foreign-exchange student from China, who refused to give him his car.  "Bad Guy" then shot the man and killed him in his car.  At this point the police are closing in.  He carjacks another family...lets them get out at least, and then tries to drive off firing shots in the air, and was subsequently shot and killed in the car by the police.

Maybe a bit much for the kids??

Norah's getting increasingly anxious at the thought of a real bad-guy possibly wandering around, despite my assurance without details that "he's no longer a threat, Honey."  We're sitting at dinner discussing and she looks at Joe and says, "You should shoot him wif yo' guunn."  

We don't call her "No-Mercy-Noni" for nothing!

Disclaimer:  Joe doesn't go wielding any guns around for the children to see, nor talk about such things.

Needless to say, when Joe assured her the police had already done that, she dropped it and never talked about it again.  

Life in the Ghetto...

It's complicated at times.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Craziness Example

This is just a follow-up to the last post.

After 3 days of numbers that pretty much stayed above 300, I was frustrated.  She was acting increasingly goofy, as in, lacking in self-control.  She did not have ketones, which is miraculous in itself.  She was not having any obvious sickness symptoms, which is a given that she'll have high numbers and need a higher insulin rate for a few days.  During that time, I had changed her pump twice, thinking I must have given her a bad site that wasn't absorbing well.  I had changed insulin bottles, thinking her older one maybe had gone bad for some unknown reason.  I had given her a shot to correct, to see if that would show me if it was her pump, or just her body needing more insulin than what I was giving her.  I had increased her rates to 120%, then 135% when that wasn't working, then 150% a few hours later.  When that seemed to do nothing, I upped it to 165%, and finally at 9 pm last night, after a few hours at 185% she was at 156 blood sugar, then 121 at 10:00.  I proudly exclaimed, "Hallelujah!"  Then when Joe tested her at midnight she was low, and that was with me dropping the rate down to 170 for the night, because though 185% was finally working, it seemed too high for an entire night.  Ugh!!  I'm expecting her to be high again this morning, because he just cancelled that temporary basal rate in the night...we'll see.  She's still sleeping, which is fine, except when you're a diabetic mommy you can't help but have that thought in the back of your mind that she could be so low in her bed that she's now comatose.  


To add to the craziness are things like taking her to the Allergist for her regular appointment yesterday, and telling him that she might be fighting something because her blood sugar numbers were high.  He asks what I mean by "high," and I told him 200's and 300's (actually mostly 300's, but I felt better throwing in 200's as well).  He gives me his bug-eye shocked look, and says, "That's REALLY high!  What are you doing about that?!"  

Really?  I didn't realize THAT was high!  Wow!  I must really not have a clue about these things!  I apparently don't know the first thing about taking this disease seriously. 

OK, I feel better.  I know he probably wasn't implying that much of failure on me, but it's hard not to hear that in a "REALLY?!!!" sometimes.  I went on to explain in 1 sentence or less that it's part of the "every day is a guessing game routine, and I give her more and more insulin to try to bring her back in range" deal.  

To add to my "mother of the year" award comes moments when I make Sophie feel guilty for actually wanting "more carbs?!!"  As if she is personally responsible for making her blood sugars so high because she wants to eat like normal.  Such a good thing to imply to your daughter who can't help that she has this disease.  I, of course, didn't heap that much guilt on her, but it's hard to keep your feelings out of the way when you've tried everything you can think of and she won't come down.  In my mind the only logical solution at this point is to make her eat nothing but protein, until she gets back in range.  Not a popular idea with a growing 8-year-old.  

Well, she's awake now.  Not that I was really worried...

Off to see what today holds!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Diabetes...Mommy the Pancreas

It's been a while since I've discussed Sophia's darn disease. It's going ok, all things considered.  I took her to the doc today for her quarterly check-up.  Her A1C was 7.5%.  I was kind of bummed.  It's actually a good number for a growing child.  Her doctor is always kind and encouraging, and says "she's just perfect," like every time.  It was up .3% from last time, and I really expected it to have gone down.  Maybe it's just a mind game I play, or maybe it's comparison to other diabetic kids with better #'s, but I really felt like I had been on top of the numbers and she was going to be below 7 this time.  FYI...the ideal range is between 5-7%.  You and I are 5 or lower.  

It's a daily responsibility to guess appropriately everything she eats and make sure she gets the carbs put into her pump.   Then if her blood sugar numbers are normal (I don't worry much if they're below 150), then we rest easy and are thankful that she's getting the correct insulin that she needs.  But most days have a number that's over 200 at some point, and then if I'm not doing 20 other things and can wrap my brain around it, I need to check if her last carbs were even entered (in other words, did Sophie put the carbs in her pump, which then administered the right amount of insulin?).  If they were, then I need to think about if I guessed the carbs wrong. If I'm certain I didn't, then I watch for her next number to see if it's high.  If she's not coming down with corrections, then I need to see if her insulin is old.  If not, does she need a site change because the current one isn't correcting well?  If all those things are ruled out, then after a day or two of higher numbers I need to put her on a temporary increase, and that's a guess of adding 20% more all day to an extra 90% if she's sick.  

Then you add weird factors like this was birthday weekend for she and Jossie, and so there was added stress, and added sugar (yay for cake!!), and she was high all weekend.  Then factor in added exercise, which should be making her low and very often does during the summer.  So many things to analyze on a daily basis.  Never a day off for a mommy of a diabetic.  The most difficult decisions are definitely in the middle of the night.  Joe, bless his heart, hasn't slept decently since Jude was born.  He sacrifices his sleep almost nightly to get up and test her, correct her, take her to the bathroom, etc.  (If she's running high then her urine output is much higher, which can lead to wet beds).  Often he'll try to wake me and ask what he should do about a correction or not.  I am so foggy-headed...especially if I'm not the one who got up to test her.  I make bad decisions sometimes in those moments, because I just can't think about it.  She occasionally wakes up low in the mornings (below 70), but never at a scary number, so I'm thankful we've never truly put her in danger with too much insulin in the night.

To add to frustration sometimes, her behavior gets much worse by day 2 or three of higher numbers.  That would be today.  She just struggles to use a calm voice, or struggles to be reasonable.  It's very challenging, because we know why she's out of control, and yet we have to teach her to try to control her behavior and trust us to help her make good decisions.  I wish I could give that disclaimer when in public, but it is what it is. 

It sounds negative, which I'm not trying to be.  I'm thankful to be her Mommy...and her pancreas!  I'm in love with that girl.  She has an inner beauty that is hard to beat.  She has grown and matured so much in the last year.  She truly is a great helper with her baby brother, and he totally adores her.  She has overcome many fears, and has gotten very strong physically.  She has become a fantastic gymnast, and is learning to swim...even jumped off of the high dive last week in swim lessons.  Ok, she's a little bitter about that one.  

God is so good to us in it all.  I see His hand in so much of her life.  I see His strength in all of us never giving up on keeping her healthy.  I feel His grace to keep believing and in keeping an attitude of overcoming, not one of being victims.  

He didn't choose this for her, but He can make beauty from the ashes of our bodies and souls...and He does.