Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Something(s) to Smile About

Yikes! I have so much I want to record and I just can't get to the computer to do it. I keep thinking I will enter a phase in life when I will have the time and freedom to write as much and as often as I would like, but I'm definitely not close to that now. Even as I plunk out a few words now, my time is limited, so I've decided to simply post a few moments I've happened to capture recently that make me smile from deep within, moments that make me to-the-core grateful I am a mother.

First--Hallee. Okay, so looking at this horrible ankle picture, you've got to wonder why on earth this would make me smile. Truthfully, it didn't at first. It made me groan--over and over. Hallee was playing volleyball in a little tournament in practice and came down on someone's foot. It was a pretty bad fall, and I knew immediately she had done some damage. This is what her ankle looked like by the time we got home. Ouch! I took her to the doctor the next day and he told us she had torn a major ligament in her foot (can't remember the name of it right now) and would need to sit out of volleyball for 4-6 weeks. Well, that was horrible news. She had two tournaments coming up in the next two weekends.

Now to the part that's actually happy about all of this. I'm so proud of how Hallee has handled the whole situation. She absolutely loves volleyball and sitting out has been emotionally painful, to say the least, but she has had the best attitude. Not only that, she has gone to the tournaments and cheered her team on. That makes me very happy. Anything that helps build character in my children makes me happy.

The other perk of this injury is that I've been able to spend more time with this girl--something I love--as we've gone to physical therapy together. There's always sunshine after the rain, right?

Here is her foot after a few days. The swelling spread out and man, was it bruised.

Then her toes turned black and blue and looked like they might fall off (they didn't, of course, but she said they felt like they might:)
The other thing about Hallee that makes me smile all the time is how she plays with Berkley. They are so darling together, and Berkley loves this girl, let me tell you. I love this picture where Berkley is trying to do just what Hallee does. So cute!

Next is Nate. I wish I had more pictures of this boy because man alive, he is busy! He has been playing basketball and baseball for months now and is such a little athlete. What makes me smile, though, is how diligent and concerned he is with his school work, despite his schedule. He has been such a great asset to his class this year, especially his teacher, who has had a bit of a stressful year.

We recently had an experience with Nate that made me smile with every piece of my heart. He was feeling a bit discouraged about baseball and began complaining to his Dad and I that he wished he could have more chances to play more positions (he plays center field). We encouraged him to set up a meeting with his coaches and talk with them about it in an appropriate way. He agreed it was a good idea, so Dan set up a meeting and the three of us met with two of his coaches. I told Nate this was his deal and that his dad and I were there to support him, but he needed to do the talking. I wondered how it would go, knowing it would not be an easy thing to do. I also encouraged him to apologize for his behavior the weekend before when he had pouted a few times after striking out. We had had a conversation about appropriate ways to deal with disappointment and frustration and how pouting was never acceptable. I knew I was asking a lot of this kid, but I felt this was a great opportunity for personal growth.

I was so impressed with what took place! We sat down and Nate began the conversation by looking those coaches right in the eye and saying he first wanted to apologize for his behavior the weekend before. I was somewhat shocked, to be honest, but so proud of him. I think his coaches were caught a bit off guard, too, but they talked with him about it and gave him some great advice on how to handle strike-outs in the future and how to be a good leader on his team in regards to this. Then Nate asked calmly where they saw him playing this season because he hoped to be able to develop some new skills and have opportunities to play in a couple of different positions he had been working hard on (like pitching). What ensued was an open and honest conversation about his abilities, what he could work on, and what they all hoped to accomplish this season. Dan and I hardly said a word. It was simply a wonderful conversation between Nate and his coaches. It was open and respectful, and I was just as happy as a mother could be! I hope he remembers this experience so he can always handle things so well.

And here is a picture of Nate pitching in a game recently. Because he has worked so hard at it and expressed a desire to be given the opportunity at times to show what he can do, he has been able to pitch a couple of times, and I have to say, he's done quite well. 

Regyn is next. That girl just makes me smile regularly. She is so upbeat and helpful. I've been extremely grateful for her obedience lately and desire to just be a peacemaker (something my other kids, quite honestly, have been struggling with). Regyn also happens to be very dramatic. This is a bandaging job she did recently on what she considered a major injury. Six bandaids and one wetwipe later, she felt so much better!:) The funny part is that there is only a tiny little floor burn under all those bandaids. I tried my hardest not to say anything about the price of bandaids or the practicality of only using one on such a small owie, but I'm afraid I didn't succeed. Darn! It's a weakness of mine. Maybe next time.

Now to Boston. He jumped on my bed the other day looking like he was fresh from a Home Alone scene--slicked up hair, bathrobe and everything! He told me to take a picture. It was so adorable, I just smiled from ear to ear. Man, I love this kid (even though he's been a tough one lately)!

Here is a close-up of this handsome boy.
I've decided I need a separate post of Berkley. She is just at that age when she does stuff to crack me up every day. Here are just a few moments that have made me smile lately.

She has started posing when I say I want to take her picture. This is her favorite pose.

Is this cute or what? Little ones in towels make me smile.

Berkley loves doing funny faces or funny things with her eyes. She thinks she is so hilarious--and she kinda is!

She loves the frosting on cakes and cupcakes but not the actual cake. Here is her latest frosting mustache.

It cracks me up how early little ones learn about technology these days. Here Berkley is listening to Hallee's Ipod. Again with her facial expression. Makes me smile every time.
 Lastly, any time my children spend time together (without fighting), I smile from ear to ear. Here are a few shots of such times.

Here they are playing Minute to Win It. The next few shots are of this crazy game.

This really makes me smile. It's Boston with vaseline on his nose from one of the Minute to Win It games. So funny!

Oh, and I can't forget this guy. He makes me smile every day, he's such a great husband and father. Here is a snapshot of him (or at least the top of his head) during our Minute to Win It FHE. I love it!

So many things to make me smile. And boy, do I love to smile!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

When Your Best is Inadequate--but Enough

It's been a while since I've been able to get to the computer to write. Life is busy, of course, but the main reason I have been MIA, so to speak, is that I have not been well. For the past three months I have struggled with a couple of health issues that have made life so much more difficult than normal. The good thing about phases like this is that they always make me appreciate the strong, healthy body I usually have and the ability to take care of my family.

Thankfully, none of my problems are life-threatening or long-lasting, but I mention them because I have struggled to feel adequate in my efforts as a mother and wife the past few months, often feeling weighed down with thoughts of failure and disappointment that I have not been as attentive, as consistent, as patient, as fully committed to our family system as I usually am. I think these feelings can creep up so easily and begin to destroy our self-worth, making us feel like we are not enough, when in fact we are.

In January, my neurologist put me on a new medication to try to prevent migraine headaches. It sounded so great to think I could live a life without constant head pain, but after only a few days on the medication, I realized the remedy might be worse than the original problem. I experienced every side effect possible, including numb hands and feet, dizziness, shakiness, dry mouth, stomach cramps, inability to think clearly, and more. After only one week I told my husband I wasn't sure I could deal with it all. I promised myself I would give it a fair shot, however, and would continue the medication for at least one month.

It was not easy. I found myself being exhausted by 5:00 p.m., and if I sat down for any period of time, I would immediately fall asleep. I had to literally force myself to keep going until bedtime. I had to force my mind to think through the fogginess and mentally talk myself through times when I thought I would pass out, like when I was teaching Relief Society lessons. My life was not the same.

On top of this new medication, I was experiencing acute abdominal pain almost daily due to ovarian cysts that kept forming and rupturing. Some nights I would be in severe pain, wondering if I needed to go to the Emergency Room. I never did go; I just talked myself through each experience, reminding myself I made it through the last one and could do it again. I went to my doctor numerous times (Dan went with me each time--he's so wonderful in that way, so caring and involved), and we would spend a lot of time discussing options, trying to decide what to do. His approach was to exhaust every option before doing a surgery to remove everything. I thought being cautious was a good idea, but when the options we tried did not help at all, we decided surgery was necessary.

Last week I had a hysterectomy and a removal of my left ovary as well. I hope this isn't too much information to share on a blog, but it's hard to share my thoughts without being straight forward about what I've been dealing with. I spent one night in the hospital and then came home to heal. Holy cow! Let me just tell you, it is not an easy surgery to heal from. Many women who had experienced hysterectomies told me I was going to be down and out for at least a couple of weeks and to not overdo it, to just be patient. I listened. But, to be honest, I just thought I would be different. I have had many surgeries and have bounced back from each one without a hitch. I was sure this would be the same.


I have hardly been able to function at all, spending most of my time on the couch or in bed. Just a few days after surgery, I got a migraine. This was the second one in less than two weeks. I stopped taking the medication--cold turkey--which I do not recommend (one is supposed to gradually wean off of it).

Needless to say, I have been quite miserable. And needless to say, I have not been at the top of my game as a mother and wife--not even close--for the past three months. All of these health issues have worn me down and made life so much more difficult. I had so many days when it was all I could do to endure the day and cover the basics, let alone go the extra mile. And because of this, little by little, I have felt worthless and discouraged, knowing my children need more of me than I can give them.

I guess I'm sharing all of this because, as uncomfortable as this whole experience has been, I am learning some things that I think are so valuable. And the most important one is this: We can only do our best--sometimes our best is absolutely amazing and sometimes it's barely adequate, but if it's our best, it's enough! When life is good, and I am healthy, I can be the consistent, focused, present, patient, on-the-ball mother I feel my children really need and deserve. When life's circumstances intrude and I am struggling with health issues, my best may only include the barest important basics of the day. Either way, I am enough.

It's so hard to remember that. I see my children slowly unraveling due to my inability to be fully engaged like normal, and it's easy to blame myself and feel discouraged. I've had to constantly remind myself that I will heal, I will regain my strength, and I will be able to mother in full force again. Until then, my children will be okay. Yes, they will probably have an adjustment period where they must be reminded of what is really expected; and yes, it will probably take some time and serious effort to get everything under control again. But we will get through it.

I want to write all of this now, when I am weak and struggling, so I can remember clearly this important truth. And I want my girls to know it wasn't always easy. I want them to know I battled discouragement and inadequacy at times, but I got through it, and so can they. I want them to read this and know that they are enough, even when life seems to shout they are not.

I feel so blessed to be healthy most of the time and able to take care of my family. I know there are women who struggle with far bigger health issues, ones that never go away, and my heart goes out to them. I know I will heal and I will regain my strength, and I am learning to really appreciate that. I also have tremendous gratitude for the many people who have stepped in and helped our family--with dinners, child care (my three youngest children went to Wyoming for 5 days, being cared for by my sister and parents), cards, flowers, and more. The service rendered has helped significantly! I am so grateful for an abundance of wonderful people in my life!

Life is good. There is always so much to be grateful for. But when times are a little tough and I am less than I want to be, I hope I can remember I am still enough!

This is pretty much what I've looked like for a week. Yesterday Berkley fell asleep and snuggled up to me. It was heaven. I thought she would be mad at me for leaving her in Wyoming for nearly a week, but when she got home, she smothered me over and over with kisses and just kept repeating, "Mama." It was the sweetest thing ever!