Ice is the New Black

So last weekend the state of Texas was shut down due to a nasty ice storm. This was no surprise to me because although I was raised up north, I’ve been in Texas for almost 20 years. (Clue: They don’t use salt here – just sand(??)).

To some, my title quote may indicate a reference to a certain Netflix series regarding a prison sentence but that is not the case. My four days iced in with my handsome husband and 3 maniac kids was a perfect fit. Just like that little black dress or the sleek black pants that ALWAYS make you feel good about yourself. It was a completely relaxed little vacation from the world.

We didn’t clean (much) or decorate for Christmas or worry about anything. My son came up with a new term “relaxed homework.” This refers to his new style of laying in bed, watching television or listening to music while completing homework. (Granted, there is a TON of rechecking going on in this process) It’s easy, slow and low pressure.

My husband played video games with my son, like together…at the same time. While they played they talked. They really talked.

The girls played in the ice and went sledding and played in the ice. They also watched cheesy lifetime holiday movies until we were all begging for them to change the channel. (Spoiler alert: The girl gets the guy…always)

I cooked for real. There were a lot of OOOHs and AAAAAHs when I presented the variety of soups, breakfast items and creative lunches. I felt like a chef lauded by millions (or 4 – whatever) when I presented the final dish Monday night. Shrimp and grits with fresh green beans was a big hit.
I also got a boatload of laundry done but now I’m just bragging.

Now they are predicting another storm front next week. Yeah, I’m praying for ice.

Love Child and Proud of It

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50 years ago, my parents married at the age of 18 and 20. As the story goes, they had to travel from their home state of Florida to Georgia to elope because my maternal grandmother would not consent.

When they got there on March 17, the judge would not marry them because it was closing time and my mother was not “in a family way.” On March 18, 1963 my parents were married in a courthouse in Georgia and that is how it began.

4 years later, my sister was born and I followed 4 years after that. I call myself a love child (and my sister too) because I have never seen two people more in love than my parents. They were less a pair and more a unit – as in 1 unit.

We didn’t stand a chance. When we
each tried to play our parents against each other, they foiled our evil plans with their good communication. When we smart-mouthed or challenged our mother, we “waited until our father got home.” Our parents were always a united front when we children misbehaved.

I call myself a love child not just because of the love my parents had for each other but because of the love for us and discipline with each other they had to employ – consistently, repeatedly and reliably.

In a season of thankfulness, I have to include my thanks to my parents for being such an example of love and solidarity.

I Called 911 on Tuesday, What Did You Do?

Tuesday morning, my son woke up with an upset stomach. No fever, no vomiting, just a couple of bouts of diarrhea. At 7:20, I dropped his sisters at school and came back to take him to middle school.When I came in he said he REALLY didn’t feel well. The mommy bells in my head were going off so I told him to lay down on the couch and rest with me. I set my alarm and decided we would see how he felt at 8. At 7:53 he started kicking me and I thought he was having a bad dream so I touched his leg lightly and said his name…he didn’t respond. I stood up and saw my son on his back seizing; arms and legs pulled into his body, eyes rolled back in his head and what sounded like gasping. I rolled him on his side and got my phone to call 911. All I could think was “Dear Lord, Please DO NOT take my baby today.”

It is by the grace of God that I was able to recite my name, address and phone number to the 911 operator. I was shaking uncontrollably. It was about that time when he stopped seizing and lay there completely unresponsive – with his eyes open. “OH GOD HE’S NOT RESPONDING!!” I shrieked. The operator calmly asked, “Amy, is he breathing? Is his chest moving?” Yes, he was breathing. She talked me through the worst of it; reassuring me as I locked up the dogs and cleared the way for a stretcher to get through the house to him. he was motionless for about 5-6 minutes when the firefighters arrived.

He wasn’t lucid until they had him loaded on the stretcher. He saw my face and looked very worried. The face quickly changed when they asked him where he was – he looked like he thought they were crazy for asking him if he knew his own living room.

In the ER, all his tests (CAT scan, blood work, etc…) looked good. Wednesday he went to see his pediatrician who referred us to a neurologist for an EEG and ruined his life by telling him he was not allowed to play in his first baseball game of the season that night. She cleared him for all activities by this weekend except television, video games, swimming and baths.

Apparently, it is not unusual for adolescents and children to suffer a first time seizure. “Each year, 120,000 children seek medical attention because of a first or newly diagnosed seizure. Of such children, approximately 37,000 develop recurring seizures or epilepsy. Many first seizures result from an event such as trauma, hypoglycemia, or a high fever. Such provoked seizures might recur whenever the precipitating situation is present, but they generally do not require long-term treatment.” (http://www.gillettechildrens.org/fileUpload/Vol15No2.pdf)

I would have liked to know this, so I am sharing my horrifying experience with you. File this away in the back of your mind, parents: If your child has a seizure, clear the area, turn them on their side, time the seizure, and do not put anything in their mouth (My son bit his tongue). You will FREAK OUT and that is okay.

I will be praying for my babies, your babies and all of you tonight.

Color Me Happy

Can colors really make a difference in our mood? Think about when you wear a sleek red dress, a soft white sweater or those tall black boots. Color can dictate the way we act and react. I truly believe that color has an effect on the mood of a room. I have butter yellow walls in my dining room, bright and light blues and greens in the bedroom and soft neutrals everywhere else. Don’t get me wrong, I love a red dining room as much as the next gal (mine was red before yellow) but I have become hyper-sensitive to anything that can add to the already ever-present kid-on-kid smackdown bouts in our house. I am constantly looking for a way to reduce the stress on my over-scheduled, overachieving children.

For example: My son has had a hard time going to sleep at night. He seems very stressed. I thought it was middle school stress and helped him manage it using essential oils and a soothing routine. Last summer he got a quilt from my mother. This amazing quilt has flaming basketballs stitched on a black background. This weekend when we washed the quilt, I didn’t get it dried in time so he had to use another quilt with soft neutral colors. When I came up stairs to start our calming routine he looked calm and fresh. He said “I really like my room like this. Its just so bright and happy!” He was asleep within minutes.

The color chart above seems to work and I have found that these ring true in most cases. Some say its the intensity of the color, some the vibration. I dont really know what it is for certain but I know that colors really have an effect on our mood and emotions.

 

 

It Could Happen To You – Or Already Has!!

Compassion
– noun – a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

So, I have this thing I do when someone tells me about some horrible event in their life. I tear up. At first I thought it was middle age but realize I’ve had this problem since I had my first kid. Then obviously, it must be hormones, right?? Nope, I had them checked and all levels are normal. I talked to a psychologist friend and her unofficial diagnosis – compassion.

I must have hit a point in life where I felt for others as much as I do myself. Crazy as it sounds this phenomena can happen after a “phase of growth” or life-altering experience. Some people are ever stricken with it FROM BIRTH! (I picture Jesus, Mother Theresa, Quan Yin and the Dalai Llama here – is that right?? Llama like the cattle??)

Whatever the cause, I’m stuck with it and now every sad movie, sob story and lost kitten can be the impetus for sobs or a call to action. Sometimes I like to help people without being asked (gasp).

I shudder to think what might happen if we all become stricken – like a plague of do-gooders!!! If you have been infected with this plague, please post a comment and let me know the effects on you. It would be great (I mean horrible) to have a nice list of good deeds:)

Holiday Stress Made Less

This is the time of year we all tend to rush more, spend more and generally stress more. Worries about clean houses, appropriate gifts and party invites can make this a time for blood pressure to rise and bank account balances to fall.

I am no exception to the rule. We traveled across country for Thanksgiving again this year. I worried about what to pack, what to eat, what to entertain the kids with and everything in between. As our departure approached, I started a new meditation routine. I began meditating every time I worried about something outside of my control.

It didn’t make all my worries disappear or magically solve my concerns but it did allow me time to take a step back and look at the situation from another perspective…and it worked. for example: I didn’t scream out loud when I forgot the food I packed for the trip and I barely winced when I returned from dinner with a friend to find my daughter had vomited and refused to allow my mother in law to care for her while I was out.

The payoff for this mindful exercise; a week of being mothered and spoiled by my Mother-in-law. Late night talks followed by early morning fun with the kids were topped off with amazing food and warm cups of tea.

Thanks to a little meditation and preparation, I am thankful for a great holiday and hope to continue this through the coming weeks of more holiday fun and stress. I wish the same for you.

Call Me Crazy…No Really

So as I have posted and posted this month, I have been pushing to get our house and health in order before the holidays hit.┬áHome organization has been the theme beginning with getting the girls room in order, then the master closet (Nightmare) in order and now, the “spare room” will become my office (until one of the girls decides she can’t stand to live in the same room with her sister and …blah blah blah…drama drama drama…boom, I’m out of an office). Anyhoo, back to the spare room.

My husband literally threw many large items into the spare room while we were organizing. I expressed my displeasure in a not so subtle way (expletives happen). Since then, every time I open the door to that room I am instantly mad at him in an equally heightened manner. (in a groundhog day, re-do, kind of way)

Because he became weary of my constant fits of anger, we made a plan to rent a truck and take the broken furniture and extra stuff to the dump and donation facility this weekend. When friday rolled around and the driveway was truck-free, I was fit to be tied. I called him and delicately asked when he would be picking up the truck to which he responded “I don’t think this weekend is a good time with all the kids activities. Why don’t I just take the day on Monday and do it myself,” and those were the last words spoken before the onslaught of my criticism about plans not kept etc.

After I hung up, I realized what just happened. He offered to do this horrible job BY HIMSELF so that he could lessen the stress on me and the entire family and I reacted like a spoiled child who didn’t get her way. I must be crazy! I dialed him back immediately and apologized profusely for being an idiot, looking a gift horse in the mouth and such.

His response: “(shocked silence)…Is this really Amy??”

Lesson learned.

Worst Before Picture EVER!!

Its just so bad and so embarrassing but here it is:

This is my master closet. Messy, dirty, disorganized and a MAJOR point of stress for both me and my husband. About a month ago, I decided to get this closet in order and since then, I have chipped away at this “closet chaos.”

I had a plan in mind for months (that is how long it has been this way) and all the plan got me was, well, a plan. So I gave my husband (Scott) free reign and said ” do what you want to do,” and he did.

He extracted most of the items on the floor and I started on the extra items (boxes and bags of “stuff” thrown in the closet over the 10 years we have lived in the house). ┬áToday the closet is not done by any means but it is much better.

I have faith that I will complete the project before the holidays. There is a lesson here and I’d like to say it is “make a plan and stick to it” or “this miracle change can happen overnight” but the truth is when you load up on crap, it takes a lot of time and work to get it out…and sometimes that means you have to just start work and hope for the best.

You can look at this closet story as a metaphor for life – clearing out the bad stuff and whatnot but the real life takeaway is this. Sometimes you just have to fish or cut bait.

The Bubble of Protection

Every night I have a bedtime routine for my kids. Each of them has a different routine they have established. Its a way for them to tell their mind to “turn off” and go to bed. Though the beginning of the routine starts differently, then end is the same for all three. I say a prayer and draw a “bubble” around them with my hands. The bubble is the boundary that cannot be broken by anything bad. It establishes God’s protection around my babies and gives them a visual of what they imagine in their heads is the layer of protection provided by the Almighty.

The prayer we say is one I found in a very old children’s book of prayers my Aunt Mary gave to me. All my kids have memorized it through repetition and I thought I would share it with you.

Loving Father, put away,
All the wrong I’ve done today,
Make me sorry, true, and good,
Make me love Thee, as I should,
Help me feel by day and night,
I am ever in Thy sight,
Heavenly Father, hear my prayer,
Take Thy child into Thy care,
Lets Thy angels, pure and bright,
Watch around me, through the night,
Amen

Sweet dreams and good night.

Out With the Old…

The past week has been filled with shopping, stuffing my house to its limit. I have decided that living in a house one empty take-out tray away from an episode of “Hoarders” is no longer acceptable. I have run through the scenarios in my head: clear the downstairs closet, then the dining room, the playroom, my littlest’s room then my closet…or my closet, then the dining room, the downstairs closet…and decided to JUST DO IT.

Of the 5 areas of interest, I have completed 2. Here are the highlights:

– Filling both of the trash bins (I really do save everything).

– A place to keep my 5′ by 3′ bin rack of batteries, lightbulbs, cords, chargers…etc. other than the dining room. (Welcome to our home, may I offer you a safety pin, double sided tape or a nintendo DS pen?)

– The 12 seconds it took for someone to snatch the dollhouse I put in the alley. (seriously…12 seconds…creepy)

– Finding the beer pong game (Scooooorre!!!)

– Spiders nest #1, 2 and 3. (ewwwwwwww)

– A little girl with a big hug and the exclamation “this is the best thing you have ever done for me” (Not even the gift of life is better than a clean room).

With that, I can continue my clutter cutting with a revived positivity…and a game or two of beer pong.