Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Easter


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Easter morning the girls woke up and the first thing they did was search for there Easter baskets to see what the Easter bunny brought. Naturally right? We hid them to make it fun. They searched and searched. Baskets found they explored there prizes. About two hours or so later Anna had a temper tantrum. I had popped all the balloons from my daughters birthday party the night before ( I was cleaning up and it was cathartic to pop them okay?!). She was pissed that i had popped them because she wanted to play with them and walked across the living room and kicked her Easter basket across the floor!
Straight to her room she went for time out and I took the Easter basket I had so painstakingly put together for the Easter bunny and i felt sad. I felt sad because i didn't think they really understood what Easter really was about. I felt guilty that I had not given them some idea of Jesus, of something bigger than the basket she had just angrily kicked across the floor.
I'm not overly religious, I was raised in a Catholic Family. I went to CCD every Wednesday, church most Sunday's and most certainly every holiday. My Dad was adamant about it. As i got older my belief system changed. I began exploring spirituality and trying to figure out what i believed in. I decided at that moment that i would never force any particular religion on my children. I wanted them to figure out what they believed in for themselves. Never the less i was feeling sad that they didn't know the origin's of Easter or really any other holiday. They thought it was about getting gifts. So i sat down with them and asked them if they new what each of our holidays were about. I got the normal, well Christmas is about Jesus and his birth, and Valentines day is about love. "Halloween?, I'm not sure maybe about scary stuff, but we don't know why", and Easter, my kids had no idea about Easter. I felt so much guilt for not passing on my Catholic roots to my girls, even though i didn't believe it. I however decided that it was a great teaching moment. I sat the girls down and turned on my computer and i asked them if they wanted to learn the origin of all of our holidays. They were excited actually!! I got excited. I asked them questions along the way. What there thoughts were on God, on Santa, on the Easter bunny. It was interesting to hear what it was that they thought each holiday was about.
I grew up thinking that there was only one way. One religion and that all other religions were wrong. I grew up with my dad thinking it was funny to stand on the front porch and listen to what the Jehovah's Witnesses had to say and then telling them he was catholic and to have a nice day. Rude? Yes. As I got older I started questioning things. The why of things. I wanted a more in depth answer to my questions. I didn't want to hear "well that's what the bible says". The scientific part of me needed answers. When my two oldest were 3 and newborn my guilt for not having them baptized had my anxiety through the roof. I thought for sure my dad was right and my kids were going to go to hell for not being rid of "Original Sin". So In Lincoln City at an Episcopal Church I had them together; baptized or presented to god. I want to say that I felt relief when it was over and I did, but I think more I felt relief that my dad wasn't going to be ashamed of me anymore because I hadn't done it sooner. 
My two youngest children were born in a time when my life was chaos. My Father died when my youngest daughter was 10 months old and I was going through a hell driven divorce. Baptizing them was not on my mind and the circumstances surrounding my fathers death made me question even more my religion and my spirituality. At that point I was angry. I didn't believe that my children were born with sin. I didn't believe we were born sinners and I didn't believe that my children were going to hell for choices they hadn't even begun to realize they could make or not make. I thought its my job as there mother to ensure they didn't sin. My job to teach them to make the right choices. How was baptizing them going to help me with that?

Anyway I opened the Internet and typed "why do we celebrate Easter?" I was so excited when I saw that it gave the ORIGIN of the holiday and how each religion was incorporated and how each detail about Easter was explained. So we looked up Christmas, we looked up Valentines Day, we looked up Halloween, and New Years, and St. Patrick's day.We looked them all up.
What I discovered is that most of our religious holidays are a mix of Pagan and Christian beliefs. Really a mix of all belief's to some extent.
I new after this teaching moment with my two youngest girls that I had been right all along to let them decide for themselves what to believe. I also discovered in the end , that ultimately we are all pulling from the same energy force. What we want to accomplish in the end is the same thing a human man named Jesus wanted. A world where acceptance of one another is key. Where giving outweighs getting. Where love is more important than hate. It is what i will  strive to instill in my children and my grandchildren for as long as i live. Amen!!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Weekend Warrior

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Been looking forward all week to the nicer weather that we had this weekend! Saturday was warm and sunny. The kids played outside all day, the chickens were out cleaning up the worms from the rain the few days prior. Mark and I were outside doing much needed yard work, and just breathing in spring.
I'm racking my brain trying to figure out what  kind of garden to put in this year. Over the course of the last two years we have literally gutted our back yard, and started over from scratch. Loads of dirt were brought in, we built a rock/cinder block retaining wall, planted grass, made new flower beds, and planted some fruit trees. However the lower half of the yard? That is yet to be touched.It is where I would like to put my garden. I know I want raised beds. I know I want lots of veggies. However I am a huge fan of pinterest and I cant decide on a design. When you have a mental illness like bi-polar disorder decision making is very difficult.I am the most indecisive person on the planet. I can't even make a decision about what side to part my hair. I can never decide what to have for dinner. I can never decide if I want to clean the house or work outside. I usually end up trying to do everything in one day because I cant decide what it is I really want to do. I cant seem to separate, and prioritize items on my to do list. I think pinterest is a bad idea for people like me hahaha. Focus is hard for me. My thoughts are always all over the place (which i'm sure you can tell from my blog posts...lol).I do however try my best. I love to be creative and that is why i write, for me getting it all out of my head and written is therapeutic for me.
I'm almost never sure about what i want, but im always sure about what i don't want. Weird right?
I really want to be creative as far as this garden.
So I'm looking for help wherever I can. Below check out the pics from when we first started the yard.
What will probably happen is Mark will listen to me, look at my millions of design ideas and then he will end up deciding for me. I will go along with what ever idea he comes up with because I simply can't decide but I want it done.
I wonder if its this hard for everyone? I wish I could just be one of those people that says "Yes!! That's it, that is what I want!" and then execute. However i am not. My disease makes that almost impossible at times,even with medication.The struggle is real.

Share with me your struggles with decision making and how it effects your daily life.
What do you do to prioritize?
Do you get anxious just thinking about all the things you want to do? f so how do you redirect your thoughts?
We have come along way in 2 years.Now we are at a point for the garden to go in, and i'm overwhelmed with to many ideas. I want it to be unique, and beautiful. I want to grow vegetables, and flowers, and fruit. Shoot me some pictures of your garden, or favorite flowers. Tell me if you struggle with indecision, and how you are able to say "Yes thats what i want!"

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Stress, Mental health and The Parent

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Every morning i sit on the  edge of my bed and tell myself, "today, is going to be a good day","I'm not going to be down today even if i feel overwhelmed"."I love my life". "I love Mark", "I love the kids"."We are happy".
I tell myself this because having five kids and working full time can be so overwhelming that sometimes it feels like everything is falling apart, even when it isn't. I also have bipolar disorder,so when things feel wrong they feel really,really wrong. So i have started this little mantra. I listen to motivational speeches on my way to work every single day. It pumps me up. It makes me feel like i can take on the world and anything it throws my way. They tell me to keep moving forward, to never give up. I'm the kind of person who needs to hear that every single day. "Don't give up".I also take my medications.
So much is going on at once in my life right now that it requires me to repeat that mantra several times a day lately.
My grampa is sick and I'm worried about my mom. My two oldest daughters age 19 and 20 are both in college and working full time. They are figuring out the reality of life after high school very quickly. That its super hard and not as fun as they thought it would be. Which in turn gives way to the occasional melt down.So naturally as there mother i worry. I have a 16 year old who feels left out of her older sisters lives because they are so busy. She has been handed the role of the big sister/ babysitter after school while I'm at work. She is a tremendous help , although I'm almost positive she feels like she has no life.So i worry that she feels used and under appreciated.
The two youngest have ballet and swim on the weekends. We are remodeling our house. We have 3 dogs one of which cost me $207 dollars at the vet this morning because he has a staff infection. My chickens have turned into she devils for no apparent reason which requires me to enter the coop with caution while retrieving eggs, and herding them back into the coop with a broom. The dog's pee is ruining the grass we planted last summer, never mind the on going battle Mark has with the mole that is also destroying our yard. The garden i wanted to plant? Well it's still a work in progress because i have had absolutely no time to work on it. So i worry that our house and yard will never look the way we want it to.
Mark just bought a boat, so now fixing up the house has gone to the way side while he plays with that, and i just got kicked off of his health insurance because "domestic partnership" is only for same sex marriages apparently (I'm not judging, just disappointed).
It sounds like I'm complaining i know. I'm really not. I am stressed yes. I however am happy to be this overwhelmed. I am grateful that i have children to take to ballet, and swim lessons, and soccer practice. I am proud that my two oldest girls are learning to be responsible and are going to college. I am glad it's hard on them because they will learn in the long run that all that hard work was worth it. I am grateful that Mark can have a hobby such as his boat because it is what makes him happy. I am glad we have chickens because they provide us with egg's and poop. Yes poop that i might some day use in that garden i have no time to put in! hahahah!! I love having dogs because regardless of the messes and vet bills and pee stained yard and poop to scoop (sorry a lot of poo talk), they make us smile. They lower our blood pressure, my girls adore them and sleep better at night snuggling them. I am happy that i have a job where i help people , make a decent living, and can help mark with our finances. I am grateful that i have been a part of my grandfather's life and now after my own experience with my father , i can help my mother with his death. I am grateful that i no longer am trapped in an abusive marriage. I am happy that the struggles my girls and i face now are normal everyday struggles that every person experiences at one time or another. Instead of living in fear of what the next day will bring.
I used to look down on faith,hope,happiness. I believed i would never feel it. I was just slumming through life, doing only what is necessary to survive. I was in a dark place for a long long time.I was in a fog so thick at times.Every time i thought i saw sunshine, it would start to rain again.
So many of us struggle with just accomplishing daily task's because life is heavy. It really can feel like a heavy burden. For  a lot of us , just getting out of bed is a struggle. Did you know that 18% of people 18 years of age and older suffer from some type of anxiety or depression? (Source: National Institute of Mental Health). Did you know that anxiety and depression is treatable but only about 1/3 of people are treated? Did you know that women are more likely to be affected by these disorders than men? Why? I know that a lot of it is genetic. I have been told that my bi-polar and anxiety are a real physical ailment, caused by a lack of certain chemicals in my brain and that someone in my family probably had or has the same disorder. I have also been told that the environment that i lived in prior to the last six years contributed to making it worse. I believe it is a combination of both.
Our environment? Yes our environment.
Stress we put ourselves under to be liked by everyone. Stress we put on ourselves under by staying in a broken marriage. Stress at our jobs, stress raising kids. Stress is every where.Stress IS our environment. It is how we choose to perceive the level that these things control us.
We need to breath.
Try Meditation.
We need to relax.
Try taking a bath with candles for light.
We need to remember that we part of something so much greater than the opinions of others and what is expected of us.Stop worrying about wether or not you are liked and except that not everyone is going to like you.
You need to know that it's hard.It's painful at times. Some times you are going to want to throw in the towel. Your going to just want to get in your car and leave it all behind.
Don't .
Please try to remember:  YOU ALONE ARE ENOUGH. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO PROVE TO ANYONE!! Take it one day at a time. 24 hours at a time.
I encourage you to get up in the morning and name five things you are grateful for in the morning before you get out of bed. I encourage you to get motivated and do things that make you happy. 
If you don't, know what that is, then try something new each month until you figure it out. Step outside your comfort zone. I'm not going to tell you to live a stress free life because its not possible. Instead look for the good in all the bad and focus on that. I encourage you to simplify your life. Stop wasting time and energy on material things and focus on your spirit. Encourage those you see around you struggling to ask for help.Helping others i believe is what helps us, and if doing all of these things still isn't helping you, then please ask for help from a professional. Mental health is so very important.Not shameful.
"COURAGE IS GRACE UNDER PRESSURE" Ernest Hemingway


www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/stress

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Growing Old

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Getting older.Nobody wants it to happen. Unless of course you're a kid, then you just can't wait because you think it's going to be magnificent. It is and it isn't. Over the course of the last two weeks i have been thinking a lot about what i want out of life. Perspective has once again been pushed upon me as I watch with so much grief , my grandfather struggle with dementia. I watch my mother age with each passing day from the stress of caring for him. I want so desperately to turn back the clock, so she has more time with him. I wish that she did not have to experience him forget who she is.
Seven Years ago i lost my own father to a disease that attacked his brain called Leukoencepalopathy. He had lucid moments, he also had moments where he thought i was my mother, or my sister. My dad was 56 years old when he died. Less than a year later my mother lost my grandmother.
We have been through a lot. Death is hard. It rips you apart. You feel like you will never be able to feel Joy again. You do though. Your joy becomes even stronger i think. You look at life differently. You appreciate each passing moment more. The significance of it all becomes more important. We overcome our grief. It never leaves, but you overcome it.
“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful”-Joshua J. Marine
I have been reflecting on my life for the last seven years. At first i was just so lost.I was a single mom trying to figure out how to survive without the one man in my life who was constant and who did his best to never let me down my father. I reflected on thirteen years that i thought were wasted on a man who never loved me. I felt alone. I wanted to hide in my little apartment with my four kids and survive. I'm sure that is what my mother is trying to do right now. Survive this grief that she is feeling. So many emotions swirling around her head and she is just trying to survive. When we are children, we rely on our parents to keep us safe, and i don't really think that changes later in life. I think we count on our parents to always be there, and i think we take the time we really have with them for granted. All this is making me realize the importance of spending quality time with my kids. It's not the amount of time. It's the quality of time. What you say to them, what we teach them, how we make them feel, is what will help them get through the times when there an adult and they feel alone.We have to help our kids deal with there emotions, we have teach them survival skills. I am sure that is what my grandparents did for my mom because i know for sure that , that is what my parents did for me.They taught me and raised me with strength and grace and in the midst of shit going wrong in their lives,they handled it.A million different ways on a million different days , but they handled it. I grew up watching the strongest parents and grandparents there ever were. It took me until i was 38 years old to realize this. I am strong, and graceful and i can handle anything and I have them to thank for it. I can only hope that i am teaching all my kids the same thing.I hope they are watching me and the shit going wrong in my life and watching how i handle it. I hope that they leave me gracefully out into the world and i hope that they remember they are strong, that they are survivors.
My horoscope today says: Your composure and confidence provides you with natural source of vitality. Even adverse circumstances appear not to be a problem for you. You immerse yourself in life without hesitation.
Ironic? I think not. Thank you Mom and Dad, Thank you Gram and Papa.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Backyard Chickens - Is it Really Worth it?

Starting our Urban garden and raising chickens!!

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So my Family, and I a year and a half ago decided to raise some chickens. We had just bought a house that December. Big lot, with a big backyard backing to a forest. Enough room for a garden and a chicken coop and really whatever else we wanted to do. We had been talking for some time,and still are about being as self sustainable a possible. This includes Solar Panels, The garden, and yes chickens. Its not as easy as it sounds. Mark built this awesome chicken coop and we worked really hard at making sure it had all the amenities.Little cubbies so they could nest, and a big branch inside so they could perch at night. We read that is what they like to do. It was fun,it was exciting to think that we were gonna have our own eggs, and maybe we could even sell a few cartons to neighbors if they wanted fresh eggs.

It was fine at first. The kids loved having these little chicks to take care of, and we kept them in a box in the garage with a warming lamp. One day while we were out in the backyard working on the coop we left the back door open. Mark was working hard on the coop and not really paying attention to what the dog was doing. Then he noticed that our Lab was digging a hole of in the far corner of the yard. He yelled to our daughter Emma who was 8 at the time, to go and see what Charlie was burying. She casually walked over and moved the dirt aside reached in and pulled out ….” AHHHHHHHH!!! DAD OH NO IT'S A BABY CHICKEN!” She dropped the limp baby chicken and went running, up the deck stairs and into the house bawling her eyes out.
Mark looked at me and i looked at him and he went into the garage and came back out with wide eyes and said “He got them all?!” Questioning... as if I should know that the dog had been sneaking into the garage and carrying each baby chicken in his mouth out to the back yard and burying it!! 
I didn't have words, i just turned and went into the house to sooth our now traumatized 8 year old.This was her first death experience. We had never even had a fish, that died. I wonder if a fish would have been easier?
By now my 5 year old had heard the news, and the amount of gut wrenching , heart broken , tear falling could be heard down the block. I soothed, and Mark hunted down the dog who happened to hear the commotion and was now hiding under the trailer at the side of the house. After the girls were calm ,and I had given the speech about life and death, and how it was not Charlie's fault, I went outside to help my husband find all five of the buried baby chickens. We gathered them all ,and we buried them, and we made a wooden cross ,and we had a funeral for those five chicks. 
What's funny is to this day Charlie our 120 lb lab will not go near that grave.Nor does he bother the now fully grown chickens that we have. Had he felt the emotion coming from our daughters who were so heart broken? Was it the command that Mark gave him to never do that again? I guess we will never know but either way, he no longer likes chicken.
That was the beginning of quite an adventure with our chickens.
Six months later we found one chicken in a bucket of oil that mark had left out after working on the truck. So we found ourselves in the kitchen bathing our chicken, washing her with dawn dish soap. She survived her oil bath and is as healthy as ever.
The Chickens started laying. They laid and they laid and they laid.
We made egg salad and scrambled eggs and hard boiled eggs, and fried eggs. They laid and laid, and then we weren't eating the eggs as often. We would have four dozen eggs in the fridge. I started giving them away to people at work. Not even making anyone pay for them, because why, it wasn't really costing much on our part and i just needed to get rid of some eggs. I wanted to help people also, i plan on doing that with any produce i produce (haha). It takes a village right?

Even with all these little mishaps, it's kinda fun having chickens. Yes there is a lot of eggs. Yes you have to train your dogs and your kids about the chickens. Yes its kinda messy, you have to clean there coops often because they Poop A LOT!! They can even be cranky at times and chase your children across the yard , and your kids will think that a monster is after them and they will be screaming as if their life is about to end.You will have to save them, and try not to laugh at the same time. It's worth it
with the rising costs of produce, and eggs, and meat, it's more important now more than ever to teach ourselves to sustain ourselves. I believe in the grand scheme of things, there is going to come a time, especially if Trump becomes president, that we are going to have to know how to grow our own food, how to can our own food, how to preserve ourselves. I know for some that may seem far fetched, and apocalyptic talk. I however believe that we have become lazy as a society and as a human race. We need to teach our kids how to grow food, and hunt, and build things, and survive. NOT just in the technological world they are facing in their future, but it's up to us to remind them that life isn't that easy. That there is a history, and we can't rely on anyone but ourselves. 
With Knowledge of the past and how things used to be done they will be able to re invent and make things stronger and better. New ideas for growing food, and building and making life better, and cleaner and helping preserve earth. All those things come from something as simple as  teaching them to plant a garden or raise chickens. Not only that it will get you, and them away from the TV!!! From your phone!!! Outside into the fresh air. Your body will thank you for all the movement!!!
You will create life and energy and memories that your children will always remember.

Stay tuned as i start my new Garden Boxes and maybe a few more funny stories about our chickens!!

Thanks as always for reading!!!



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Sometimes I wish I was someone else

Getting New computer can really suck sometimes. As I began todays blog I hit some random button and completley deleted what I was typing. ...