This Is NOT An “End Of Year” Letter. It’s A Brain Dump. About The Year. Since We Are At The End Of It.

Sometimes I think about writing a Holiday/End Of Year letter. You know, like lots of families do…kind-of recapping the year, and talking about how everyone is awesome and things are great! Then I think about this…This year has been one of the hardest years I’ve ever had. Full of pain, sacrifice, and loss. Full of joys, good memories, and a few realized dreams. You should go back and swap those…do the happy one first. The next year is starting out hard, but with some faith, a little perseverance, and some more sacrificing, it should be better at the end than at the beginning. I’m looking forward to that. I am really mad at the Mayans. How dare they be wrong! To get me everyone all riled up and worried for no reason. Thank God I didn’t get that bomb shelter I wanted to put in the back yard…or all those treadmills to ward off the zombies in the zombie apocalypse. I was We were so close to over-reacting! This year saw Jessup getting his permit and license, and his first two jobs (at the same time-literally within a day of each other). Ainsley has a job that she loves, and she has proved so responsible that she’s getting other side jobs as well. Over the weekend I went to a retreat of sorts with some of the kids from our church youth group. It was a weekend on purity. Not only before marriage, but also after. Giving your whole self to your spouse…all the best parts, not the left-overs. It made me realize that I don’t always give all the good stuff to Barry. Sometimes he gets the left-overs. He needs to get my best. The United States doesn’t have a national fruit. Well, not according to Wikipedia, and we all know that that’s the gospel of all things. We need a national fruit. Ainsley and I vote for strawberry. I don’t make New Years’ Resolutions because when I wake up on January 2nd, and realize that I’ve already broken one all of them, I feel bad. I don’t like to feel bad. So, I have a list of things I’m going to try to do. I say “try”, so that, if one day out of 20 I fail, then I don’t feel so bad. Kind of like why I will never be on a diet. If I fail for a day or two, or four, I don’t want to feel like I’ve failed everything. So, I try to eat less, and I try to eat healthy, but if I don’t, it’s ok. I’ll try again the next day. This has worked beautifully for weight loss. I’m very proud of myself this year…while I’ve been stuck at the same weight throughout the Holiday season, I’ve also been Stuck. At. The. Same. Weight. Throughout. The. Holiday. Season. Do you realize that that’s not a bad thing? I’ve plateaued, but that’s amazing! I’ve not gained. I’m going to put the number of pounds lost at the bottom of this blog post, and for now, that’s the only time I will mention it. Someone I adore suggested I blog about my journey through that fickle countryside of “losing weight”. I hadn’t even really considered it before, and while I think it’s an amazing idea, I just don’t know if I’m ready to go there. If I did it, I’d have to share my actual weight. I’d have to let the cat out of the bag so to speak, and while I will be uninhibited about it when I eventually reach my goal weight (which you may be surprised to learn is not that thin…just much healthier), I am still so ashamed that it got as bad as it did…that my weight got as high as it did…that I was as unhealthy as I was. In fact, I didn’t even tell Barry where I started out until around September or October…that was four months into this process. Right now, you have no reason to believe that I didn’t start out at 150 lbs., and just get better from there. In fact, if you do think that, and you tell me, I may never admit my beginning weight. Ever! It’s quite obvious from any photo taken of me in the last 15 years, that I might weigh a pound or two over that…but you don’t know for sure, so shut up about it already. I am keeping track on an app on my phone. Each day I weigh myself (which is going to be a big, fat fail-pardon the pun-if I don’t remember sooner rather than later to buy a new 9V battery for the scale), and I record the weight. It’s a nice app. Simple. Easy to use. It has a passcode so that no one can look at it. It has a graph so I can see the progress. The only thing that would make it better is if there were a little tiny skier on that slope, and I could watch him/her ski down the hill of weight lost. Not a big deal. Of course, this last month or so would be more cross-country skiing than downhill, but it’s all good. There would only be bumps…no hills to climb. Since my conversation with my friend, it’s been on my heart to blog about the highs and lows of this. To blog about the times I’ve wanted to eat a pan of brownies, or the package of bacon in the fridge. Or mix the two. There are still days where I slip up. And I’m not even regularly exercising yet. Just being careful with what I eat, and watching my caloric intake. Keeping it under my magic number of calories allotted for the day. Maybe I’ll write more about it…my mind seems to be slowly heading in that direction…you can tell from just this post. I don’t know if it would be helpful to anyone else, but it would be cool (even if no one ever read it) to look back at what I went through, and what I failed at, and succeeded at, and to remember. One of the things I like best is that, when I was at a conference this weekend, and the elevator was full, I stepped back to wait for another one, and a teenaged person said, “There’s plenty of room, hop on!” I said, “No, I won’t fit on there”, and they said, “Are you kidding? Two of you would fit on here, get on!” No one even moved to let me on…and I fit. It’s those little things. Those little moments when you’re so used to something being one way, and it slaps you in the face that it’s not necessarily that way anymore. It’s different. It’s better. It’s like when you look at a picture of yourself that you just took, and you wonder how your got just the right angle to make your face look so thin, and then you realize that it’s not the angle. Your face is not as fat as it once was. Speaking of that, I need a new profile pic on Facebook…that girl with the really fat face is bothering me, even though it might be the best picture I’ve ever taken of myself. BTW, while I don’t eat as much bacon as I want, and I haven’t had a brownie in months, I still eat lots of cheese, so there’s hope for you, too. ;)

I got off on a tangent…here’s my list of things to try for 2013:

1. Give Barry the best of me.

2. Give my kids the best of me.

3. Give God all of me. He deserves the best, and He can handle the rest. (I just made that up. You can totally steal it, but if you make it into a shirt or something, I want some credit…or money. Money would be my preference. I’m not Forrest Gump. I can’t afford to just give out my golden thoughts for free while I run across the country three times and my stock in Apple climbs higher and higher.)

4. I’d like to take a picture of all four of us (my little family) every day for a year. I have always wanted to do this, and I’m determined to try it. I’m not sure how the logistics of it will work yet, but I have about 9 hours to figure it out.

5. Be more faithful about my blogging and writing. Maybe even submit something somewhere.

6. Money stuffs. Keep a journal of money spent, keep a list of goals. It worked for losing weight, maybe it can work for losing debt. When I looked at the calories I was taking in, I changed the way I ate. If I look at the way I’m spending money, maybe I can change the way I spend. It can’t be worse than doing nothing. FYI, doing nothing doesn’t appear to be working. Save yourself the grief, and make a plan.

7. Not be so freaked out over things like the number 6. That way I don’t waste your time (and mine) typing up a 7th thing, just so I don’t have 6.

(You may notice that weight-loss is not here…it’s a change in lifestyle. That change is already made. It doesn’t need to be on the list anymore.)

While most people spent their Spring Break on vacation lying in the sand on some fabulous beach, or skiing in the Rockies (Who am I kidding? I don’t think anyone got that much snow last year), or hanging out/drinking/studying, I spent mine in the ICU at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines. I lived there the entire week. I only left two times, because it was also the week of Parent-Teacher Conferences for my kids, and I don’t miss those for anything. Also, popular opinion says that it’s important to bathe now and then, and since I couldn’t use the bathroom that my comatose mom was never going to use, because it wasn’t my bathroom, I needed to take care of things at home. Side-note: Every time I had to go, I had to leave the ICU, go far down the hall and use the public one. This silly rule teaches you two things: 1-they are not worried about the comfort or accessibility of anything for anyone other than patients. 2-your bladder can hold a lot more than you give it credit for. When I came back to Boone for these two nights, I also showered and got clean clothes. It’s probably a good thing that not one person came to visit me the whole week. Then again, they might have just smelled me from the hallway outside the ICU, and turned and ran the other way. I didn’t do any schoolwork. I didn’t really do anything. I just sat there. I did get a lot of games of DrawSomething in. It’s grasping at straws, I know, and I don’t think that really counts as an accomplishment. I appreciate all those DrawSomething opponents who helped me keep my mind off of where I was and what decisions I knew I’d have to make. I spent quite a bit of that time talking to my mom, who after a day and a half (out of the five) never again responded to me. It was kind of like a lot of our times together…all a one-way conversation. There were no deep sighs, though, so there was no way to tell if she disapproved of what I said. She probably did, but I’ll never know. I figured if it was really bad, she’d let me know. About three days in, I started saying stuff that I’d always wanted to say…sometime just to see if I could get a response out of her. She was only able to wriggle her toes, or squeeze my hand, and that all stopped more than three days before she passed away. I begged her to wake up. I needed to know some things. Things I thought I’d always have time to ask her. Things I will never know. Some of these things are things I’ve always wanted to know. Some are new things. I’ve spent a good chunk of this year writing them out, and then trying to let those things go. It’s not working as well as I’d hoped, but it’s something I’ve got to learn do. I’ve got to move on, and not dwell on it. That’s one of the reasons I started this blog. I’m not as faithful at it as I’d like to be. As far as writing goes, I finished a couple things in 2012. Not big things, but things I’m proud of finishing. Things I’ve had to really work through, and force myself to write out. I can’t wait to get all this Christmas crap out of my house and back to the storage room in the basement where it belongs. It’s driving me crazy. I think it’s all getting taken down Wednesday. That should also bring the guest room back to order, since that’s where most of the mess of Christmas has been dumped. I hope that next year we can get some new decorations, and get rid of some of the old. Not the old cool stuff, but the old “this will do until we can afford to get something that doesn’t make me want to puke” kind of stuff. *fingers crossed* The largest watermelon ever grown was 262 pounds. I need to finish writing out all the things that went on surrounding my mom’s death. I need to remember all the stuff, and while I have quite a bit written down, I don’t have it all. I’m wondering if I can say things I want to write down into my voice memo app on my phone and then write it from there. Sometimes I get ideas while I’m driving or can’t have a notebook, and I need to get it out before it’s forgotten. It’s funny how when I was a teen, I’d go to a conference, or retreat, and I’d make some kind of glorious commitment and swear that I’d change my ways, and then I’d go home and get busy with the stuff of life, and I’d eventually forget all about it. It’s not funny “ha ha”, it’s funny “peculiar”. I thought it would change when I became an adult, but it seems that there’s more to get wrapped up in, and there’s more of the stuff than there was. I am praying and hoping with all my might that I don’t forget how moved I was Saturday night. How convicted I felt. I hope I don’t forget what I said, and thought, and felt, and promised. I keep coming back to these two things: my mom, and this past weekend. I miss my mom far more than I ever thought I would. I’ve spent so many Christmases without her, that it wasn’t totally different. There wasn’t an empty space at the table this year, because there has been an empty space at the table for lots of years. There was however no phone call. And no one really even mentioned her. The kids did say that it would be weird to not get anything from her this year. They didn’t mean it selfishly…just more as an observation. They’ve gotten (since birth) an ornament from her every year at Christmas, and one of them commented on how it would be weird to have last years’ ornament be the last one. Then we dug around, looking for that last one. I was so grateful that (a few years ago) I marked on each one “Grandma Jo” and the year. I started the tradition of getting each of them an ornament each year as well, so they did get something. And they will continue to get something…until I’m dead and gone, and Barry’s new trophy wife doesn’t know all the traditions, and ruins everything, all the time, forever. She’s going to be so out of the loop. I should leave her a note or something.

I apologize to you, my faithful reader, that I have missed two Friday’s in a row. This is not intended to make up for it, just let you know that you and this past year are on my mind today. There are lots of words, so it’s like there are two of them, and if that’s not enough…then just get over it. There will be another one on Friday. Probably (but no promises) less depressing than this one.

That is all.

No it’s not…

48 (since June 1, 2012)

Now that is all.

The Evolution Of The Extra Room

Not many people are blessed enough to have a home with an “Extra Room”. I’m grateful every day for the space we have in our home. I hope and pray that this room is used to its fullest potential, and is comfortable to all who stay in it.

When we moved in a year ago, it was the Office. It also functioned as a napping room for one of my daycare kids. It was also a storage room.

Image

Then, when we decided to bring my mother into our home, it became Mom’s Room. A couple of friends came over and helped me strip the wallpaper off the walls and ceiling. That took 7 1/2 hours. It was a Saturday.

Image

ImageImage

The next day (Sunday) was my anniversary, and the next day (Monday) was the day my mom went into the ICU in Des Moines. She never left the ICU. That week was Spring Break for me, and I had planned to use that time to finish stripping the walls, and paint the walls, and get the room ready for my mom. I moved into the ICU room to be with her every moment. She died Friday of that week.

The room sat empty (and incomplete) for over a month. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t go in there. Every time I walked in, I cried.

We had to have the ceiling repaired (due to cracks underneath the wallpaper), so a friend of ours came in and did that. The ceiling was drywalled, and textured, and painted, and it looks like new now.

Image

ImageImage

I can finally go into the room without bawling every time, so we have now finished painting the walls.The picture molding is up. A carpet remnant is down on the floor (which is not in the best shape), and we moved my mom’s furniture into the room. Her furniture has been sitting in the garage for nearly three months because the room wasn’t finished.

ImageImageImage

All that needs to be done now is to decorate. I think that will be fun. I’ve decided on some coordinating colors to go with the walls, and it will be the first room I’ve ever decorated.

I think that (aside from the color) my mom would have loved the room. Boysenberry Jam is the name of the color. It’s Valspar. We got it at Lowe’s. It took two coats to cover the walls. Our walls are plaster. As you can see from one of the above pictures, one coat wasn’t enough. I’m not a big fan of purple, but I’m using it anyway. I can’t have all the rooms be a grayish-blue and brown. (This is me branching out; growing as a person)

Our first guest comes into town on Friday to stay with us. I hope it is comfortable for him. He’s a Navy buddy of Barry’s, and I’ve never met him.  ::nervous::

I will post a couple more pics when I get the room completed.

EDIT: It’s done! Here are a few more pictures…

Since the walls are a deep purple, I’m trying not to use much purple anywhere else. I want that to be the main color. The sheets on the bed are green, but they won’t be seen, so the main color for the bed is a silver/gray color. Two pillows are purple, but they are a nice accent with all that grey. Also: Gray cat. *sigh* There’s a picture above the bed with trees (because I have to have trees). The tea cart has pics of friends and family, and those pictures will change now and then. I wanted green to be the “punch color”, so there are pops of bright green all over the room. There is a green lamp with a white shade that has green trim. Next to the bed is a green side table and the hideous old dresser (that magically matches the wood in the room). On the dresser is a glass thing with green decorative balls in it. Above the dresser is a mirror, framed in a dark silver, that I hung by myself. *pats back* Gray guest towels are ready to go on my mom’s hope chest, and a rocker that’s as old as Noah. (Not really, but I think it’s the chair my grandmother rocked my dad in as a baby…so that’s pre-1932) All in all, I’m pretty happy with it. There are a couple more things I need, but it’s done enough for now.

– Kicks