Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Life according to Summer of 2017

I feel like the last four months have flown by.  We have been doing a lot of traveling, home improvement projects and then there's the whole pregnancy thing.  Oh yeah, for those of you who may not follow me on any social media, we are expecting baby #2 in February!  Contained in this blog post will be some miscellaneous pictures, some updates on pregnancy and some thoughts about life right now.  

Lets start with baby stuff in the form of FAQs: 

How far along are you? I am 12 weeks exactly right now

How have you been feeling? Honestly, not so great.  Lots of nausea and fatigue.  Not to mention the emotional/hormonal roller coaster.  Everyone (read: Ben) has been so patient with me as I haven't always been my most cheerful self.  Having an active toddler always adds an exciting twist as well.  But now its starting to level out and I feel much better overall.

Are you finding out boy/girl?  Yes we are.  Because I don't do that kind of surprise well.  We found out with Asher and were really grateful we did.  

Do you have any names picked out?  This is a tough one.  We had some we were pretty set on, but then did some re-evaluating and now are kind of back to the drawing board....suggestions are welcome! 

Do you look pregnant? I'm including this...not because its frequently asked, but because when I tell people I'm pregnant, they immediately look at my midsection.  sometimes its a long glance, but mostly its just the quickest of eye twitches as they try to get that nano-second view of my enlarging girth.  And then they make comments on how they never even noticed and I don't look pregnant at all, and they look more pregnant than I do.  *sigh*   In my opinion, yes, I'm starting to look pregnant.  At least I feel like I do.  So I wear it proudly and don't even attempt to hide it.  This is part of why we told at 10.5 weeks.  I was tired of hiding the pooch.  

Are you guys so totally excited!?  Yes we are!  I'll admit, we (mainly me) were a little apprehensive in the beginning.  Not because we didn't want a baby, but I had a miscarriage before this pregnancy and was hesitant to be overly excited.     My friend let me borrow her personal doppler for hearing the heart beat and it has been a comfort to be able to hear that little swish-swish whenever I want to.  

Are you ready?  Can one ever be fully ready for such a major transition as bringing another life into the world?  We are excited and confident in God's blessing us with a growing family.  We acknowledge that there are many things we won't be entirely prepared for but we are excited to take it on!  I can hardly picture our family with another baby.  Another personality.  Another human who will forever be a part of us.  

Okay...Next topics!  

Life as of late:  
Ben and I decided earlier this spring to turn our garage into a three-season living space.  We hadn't really used it for our cars and really wanted a place to entertain and spend time outdoors.  We didn't anticipate how much work/time would go into it.  We should have...we've seen enough Fixer Upper to know that uncovering walls and looking at foundations rarely goes without a hitch.  Since our garage is ancient, we had to do some major work to solidify the walls. One corner had zero support and was sinking like 6 inches into the ground.  Most of that is Ben-esque work and therefore I have kind of been out of that.  It has exposed in us things that haven't yet been exposed in our four years of marriage.  I am glad we are learning how to navigate the bumps with a fairly small project like a garage remodel and not an entire house remodel where our whole lives are turned upside down.   It has been a growing process with both of us being stretched, and while it isn't always pretty, we are grateful for the sanctification. 

On a personal note, I am not one who is easily overcome by anxiety or depression.  However, given the combination of current events and social media, I find myself being more effected by these things than ever before.  I used to engage with one particular person on facebook, feeling like the conversations were productive and intelligent and though provoking (for both of us).  Then there were two instances where I was completely misunderstood by her friends who were witnessing the dialogue.  They were kind of harsh and unfeeling in their commentary.  I'll admit I took it personal and it crushed me.  I was attempting to have a truly constructive conversation and was seeking to learn more and ask good questions and I was somewhat obliterated by two complete strangers.  I backed off after that.  My friend is always good about maintaining respectful conversation even if it is clear we don't agree.  I will always appreciate that about her.  But I just couldn't do it publicly anymore.  Combine that experience with the comments section on just about any article or news blurb and it can be really discouraging.  I was sucked into reading these things but left feeling gross, confused, frustrated, and honestly a little anxious and depressed.  It wasn't good for me.  I took a break from facebook for a little while.  It was a good reset.  I am now able to click away from comments or articles that aren't edifying and uplifting.  I have been seeking out worship music, sermon blurbs and scripture that help refuel and refill my soul with truth.  I found myself crying the other day listening to a Rich Mullins song.  I've known the song forever, but the truths he was singing about just refreshed my soul in ways that it hadn't been in a while.  

So I guess I encourage you (and me) to take a break.  Look away from the computer or phone.  Resist the urge to read the comments.  And soak your soul in some truth.  Bask in some Scripture or a favorite worship song.  I find that I think more clearly, respond more reasonably and am far less shaken when I have a good fortification of truth.  


On to some pictures! 

A picture of Asher and his Grandma D and Grandma-Great Z.  


Asher and Reese enjoying "driving" with Papa on vacation!



All the heart eyes!  



Little fish loved being in the water with Daddy! 





Reading books with Asher's buddy Noelle



The phase of Asher getting out of his toddler bed dozens of times at bedtime and sneaking the door open and peeking out. Thankfully that phase has passed. 



Being a stinker and teasing cousin David by poking him with his feet 



It's so fun to have cousins around his age! 



Forgot jammies one night so Grandma found us a soccer shirt that was a wee bit too big.  Asher kept saying, "It's so cool!"




Baby announcement!  


Auntie Claire and all her nieces and nephews! 



More heart eyes.  Love these boys! 



When the cousins came to visit (for a week!) we tie-dyed shirts.  Aren't they cute on the bench in the woods!?



I just love this picture for so many reasons. 





He loves getting shoes out of our closet and clomping around in them.  he is always so proud of himself!


Well there you have it.  The whopper post.  I'll give more updates of baby stuff and other happenings as they...happen!

au revoir! 



Thursday, April 13, 2017

Eighteen Months

Due to exciting and fun times in California, this milestone post is about a week late.  Not too much has changed in that time so it is still accurate =)  
Asher is a year and a half old.  So much has changed in the past six months that the halfway mark definitely needs celebrating!  

Being Asher's mama has been such a joy.  When I think about the things I want to write down here for my own memory's sake, it is hard to sort through it all.  So I guess I'll just dive in, list style.  

*I don't have many stats on him, as I haven't taken him to the doctor too recently.  He is still running a little shorter than most kids his age, and is a solid 25.6 lbs.  

*He is sleeping about 11-12 hours a night.  He was waking up at 7-7:30, but this week it has been a solid 8:15.  Maybe he still isn't adjusted from CA time. 

*One nap a day for about 2-2.5 hours.   

Favorites
*Food: any and all.  Especially cookies, meat, cheese, pickles and blueberries.  

*Book:  Little Blue Truck books, Cars and Trucks and Things that Go.  Ben gets home at night, Ash gives him a big smile and says, "Hi!  Books! Read books!"  He LOVES when Ben reads to him.  Probably because he does fun voices and noises. 

*Music: Donut Man, Mary Rice Hopkins, Slugs and Bugs (Album 2), and a worship mix I made up.  Also he likes me to sing and play the piano (ok, he likes to "play" the piano too...)

*Toys:  crawl-through tunnel, cars, wooden puzzles of trucks and animals, pots and pans.  

*Activities: Zoo, Mall-walking, sliding at the park, and above all, WALK!  He wants to walk everywhere, and getting him to hold my hand is the newest challenge.  

*Words: His vocabulary has exploded the last few months!  He has about 60+ words that he uses consistently.  But some of his favorites are- "Tchucks" (Trucks).  Cars. "Tchain" (train). "Seeyah" (Sierra).  Joe. Rose.  Papa.  Mimi.  "Gahma" (Grandma).  "-sic" (music). "Sahchat" (Snapchat).  "Peas" (Please).  "Cooookies"  And if you ask him, "Asher, who loves you most of all?"  He will give the toothiest grin and say, "Jeeeesussss!"  

*Off-limits, but oh-so-tempting:  Dog water.  Computer power button.  Toilet paper.  Mommy's night stand drawer.  Coffee mugs.  Phone.  

Challenges (for him and I!)
*Asher is a strong-willed child.  He doesn't like being told no.  And he will throw tantrums until he forgets why he is mad...but will stay mad on principle.  Seriously.  It gets to the point where being pouty must be really satisfying to him.  Any and all who previously doubted this due to Asher's normally charming nature...well...they doubt no more.  

*As previously mentioned, walking and holding an adult's hand.  He hates it.  And will go limp and fall to the ground, making it difficult to walk or to hold his hand.  He doesn't want to be carried either.  Finally today we made some progress and he held my hand without going limp or twisting his arm and walked for about 3 minutes.  

*Slowly weaning off the Paci.  It is another of his favorite words.  We have resorted to spelling it.  He still gets it for night/nap time, but we are pretty consistently taking it away for awake time.  Exceptions include airplane, church sometimes, my one child-care job 2.5 hours a week where the other 5 kids all have them and he would steal theirs otherwise.  He isn't always happy about it.  He asks for it probably an average of once or twice an hour.  But he has been accepting our no more and more without complaining.  Especially if his favorite music is offered as a distraction.   




Despite these (rather few, and pretty normal) challenges, Asher is still charming, happy and delightful.  Anyone who has seen him knows his smile lights up the room, and he offers them with abandon. He has got the cutest sense of humor, is quite ticklish and offers a fist bump and a high five to anyone who will humor him. Although he is easily distracted by any number of moving machines.

  He loves babies and can hardly contain his excitement when he actually gets within 2 feet of one.  Being outside, surrounded by trucks, cars or trains will keep this kid happy for a long time. 

You ask him where something is and he puts his finger to his mouth and says, "hmmm....eh-it-eees" (there it is) in the cutest voice.  Half the time he hasn't even found it...he just knows that the phrase generally follows, "where is it?" 

He finally will choose me over other people or notice if I'm not in the same room as him.  It took over a year of his life for me to be a preferred person.  He was always so busy socializing with everyone that he wouldn't notice if I left.  And I'll admit, it does make my heart melt to here him say, "Mama!  Mama go?"  And the way he grins and exclaims exuberantly, "Hi!" when we get him up in the morning or from naps...seriously adorable.  


Right now he has one of my shirts around his neck and he is carrying a little bowl saying, "fe-fish" (goldfish) and making little pathetic whiny noises.  He is adorable, and he tries my patience, and he delights my heart.  

A book my sister-in-law Meg just gave me talks about how the sanctification of parenting is like being put in a rock tumbler.  It is no longer the gentle process of junior high sanctification, where we got to sit in a quiet spot like a stone in a gentle brook...water gliding over us and slowly smoothing out rough edges.   Oh no.  This is like a rock tumbler.  Being bounced and shaken together, all the rough edges felt and acknowledged quite clearly...but hopefully with some serious smoothing happening.  Parenting reminds me daily of my need for grace.  And how the grace I receive from Jesus is sufficient for parenting Asher today.  

It is a process.  And I'll just say that I'm forever grateful that one of the little rocks in my tumbler is Asher Warren.  

Here are some pictures from the past week or so! 

At the observatory.  He likes the grates in the floor.  


Sometimes I look down and see the goofiest things.  
One sock off, fingers in his ears and his paci in his mouth all crooked.  

He is so observant.  He hears and sees airplanes all the time (takes after his Uncle Johnny that way!) 



Oh look there's another one! 



Don't know what this squinty-eyed smirk was about but it makes me smile.  



Throwing rocks in Eaton Canyon.  He LOVED it. 


"Woooowwww!  SPLASSSHH"  (direct quote)



Ben took me out for a birthday lunch in CA at a favorite place called Marston's.  It was a sweet date, with delicious food and of course good company!  


Asher not quite sure how to do piggy back rides with Papa.  His motto was basically: hang on for dear life! 


Auntie Krissa with Emery and Asher!  Em is almost four months younger than Asher, but a bit taller...



Asher reading books in Papa's nice big chair.  
(Both of his Papas have nice big chairs...we'll have to get a picture on Papa D's next!)



   






 

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Spring-ish

Spring.  It is here.  Officially.  Hopefully for good.  One never knows in this wild land of Minnesota.  

The other day I was thinking about how grateful I am for my time at Biola.  A lot of my former classmates talk about how they hated the "Biola Bubble" and that it wasn't helpful for them to transition into the "real world" where not everyone thinks like you.
I disagree.  Biola wasn't the exposure to the real world.  It was the preparation.  (although a lot of things I faced at Biola definitely qualified as exposure for this sheltered home schooled girl ;))

What my time at Biola did for me was give me words and tools and confidence in what I believe.  I felt that after leaving there, I was able to articulate my beliefs with more depth and evidence.  I left knowing my Bible, my God and my faith better than when I arrived.

All that to say...

 Lately I've been fighting the lie (and subsequent feelings) that I am foolish.  Not sure if that is the right word.  I'll expound and maybe you'll follow.

Since I don't work, I have to find other ways to exercise my brain cells.  Not to say that parenting doesn't take brain cells.  It definitely does.  But I feel like this season of life is relatively predictable and we are in a pretty easy routine.  That is bound to change at some point...but in the meantime I have to do something.  One way I've done that is to engage in conversations on potentially touchy topics with a person that believes things differently than I do.  On the medium of Facebook.  *cringe*

In the past, I have tried to avoid these kinds of conversations, as they haven't always led to productive conversation.  But after a few threads that actually remained civil, thought provoking and mature, I was bolstered and ultimately continued.  A lot of these conversations have centered around God/Christianity...and have occasionally dipped into social/political issues.  For one of my friends, I am one the more conservaite Christian friends she has on facebook that she will actually listen to.  That is partly due to the way I have engaged her in conversation.

I owe a lot of that ability to things I learned at Biola.  Some of it is practical...like I just plain know the Bible better.  Some of it is inspirational.  My theology professor was this guy who just loved sharing about Jesus.  He would tell stories about hanging out in his gym's hottub and end up having these conversations with people where he shared about Jesus.   I think the thing that inspired me most was his confidence.  to just dive in there and do it.

So I've been convicted to engage.  To not be ashamed of what I believe.  And to give it my best shot.  There are often times I don't articulate what I'm thinking very well.  Or I leave the conversation feeling like she must think I'm an idiot.  But honestly, that's okay.  Or it should be.  The Enemy likes to tell me I'm foolish, and I totally messed up any chance I had.

Sometimes I say stuff that is so clear and I just want to be like, "BAM!  YES!  That.  So much that.  GO SUZY!"  And a few seconds later I read it again and I'm like, wow, I'm  not sure I actually wrote that.  That is when I'm convinced that the Spirit gave me words.  Because I typed things that surprised even me.  Things that I believe and I know I've heard...but with an eloquence that I didn't just pull out of thin air.  I am humbled again that He uses me to speak such solid truth.  

That continues to confirm that opening my mouth and speaking is actually being used and is productive.  I don't know the results...meaning, I don't know if my words will ever impact or change anyone's life.  But what I do know is I am called to be faithful and proclaim the glory of God here on earth, no matter who listens or changes.  And as long as I'm speaking his word, it doesn't ever return void, but will accomplish what it is supposed to. 

I might be planting.  

I might be watering. 

But God definitely gives the increase, whether I get the privilege of witnessing it or not.  

And maybe being foolish in the world's eyes isn't so bad.  After all, Scripture does say that God's wisdom is foolish to man.  

A song I've been mulling over lately goes like this: 

Seems I've imagined Him all of my life as the wisest of all of mankind
But if God's Holy wisdom is foolish to man, he must have seemed out of his mind
For even his family said he was mad, and the priests said a demon's to blame
But God in the form of this angry young man could not have seemed perfectly sane. 

When we in our foolishness thought we were wise, he played the fool and he opened our eyes.
When we in our weakness believed we were strong, he became helpless to show we were wrong. 
So we follow God's own fool, where only the foolish can tell.  
Believe the unbelievable, come be a fool as well.

So come lose your life for a carpenter's son, for a madman who died for a dream
Then you'll have the faith his first followers had, and you'll feel the weight of the beam.  
So surrender the hunger to say you must know, have the courage to say, "I believe"
For the power of paradox opens your eyes, and blinds those who say they can see.

(God's Own Fool by Michael Card)

Anyway, this really hit me that if my goal is to not look foolish by the world's standards, I probably won't make that goal, as long as I'm representing Christ.  And I guess I'm okay with that.  

So, come be a fool with me, eh?  


 


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Bright Whites

Today I stumbled across an instagram account.  You know the kind.  One where all the pictures are clean and white and perfect.  The thought I've had a million times crossed my mind, "How do so many people have such identical bright white lives?!"  Then out of nowhere one post on this account said, "click the link in my profile to read my step-by-step process to clean white photo editing."  

This pretty immediately confirmed two things: 
1. It's all edited
2. I'm about to join the club of bright whites! 

So I read her post.  I downloaded two apps (yay for finally realizing what #vsco stands for...) 
And I started editing.  My goodness it was tedious.  I tweaked, and I zoomed, and I cropped... I have minimal artistic prowess, scant amounts of patience for the process and the results left a bit to be desired.  
It was just plain too much work.  Bright White can't be worth all this. 

But it is, my head keeps telling me.  You might get hundreds of followers that want to join the bright white club too!  Your life will look so mysteriously simple.  So clean and neat.  So unique yet so consistently predictable. 

But. The work. The time.  The tedious brush strokes!!!  Maybe their lives are just clean and bright and white and I'm just decorating my house wrong and dressing my kid in too many colors.  (She did say she edited though.)

The wise words of my mother echoed in my head, "Suzanne, you can't expect great results if you aren't willing to fuss with it a little."  Granted, we were talking about my hair. How I wanted curls but refused to spend the time with a curling iron.  How I wanted volume but didn't want to use combs and hairspray or any kind of product. How 2 minutes of pulling it into a semi-neat pony tail was too long already. 

So I sacrificed.  Sacrificed ideally awesome hair for an easy morning routine. 

And I'm seeing another sacrifice on the horizon.  I think I shall sacrifice a place in the Bright White club.  But I'm not sure what for. Laziness, at the very least.

 At most, it's because I don't want to get sucked into something that I'm sure will become a source of pride for me.  But that desire for pretty pictures and lots of white and superb lighting is really pulling at me.  Their bright white lives somehow look better than mine.  Their #realtalk somehow feels more fancy and less lame than my real talk because their pictures are perfect.  My pictures are blurry, shadowed, dark, with too many colors and edited right there on instagram *gasp*. 

And what had started out as innocent fun sharing of snippets of my life has turned into this mess of insecurity and confusion and bewilderment.  I wish I knew these moms better. The Bright Whites.  I wish I could see their houses with less touch up.  With the off white, the shadows, the conflicting colors, the messes quickly shoved out of the way in favor of a pristine photo shoot. That would be #realtalk to me.  It would make me feel less alone.  

But alas it won't end the Bright White epidemic (until the trendy tides shift).  So my next best option is to grow up, knock it off and be okay with my choice.  I'm not willing to fuss with my pictures.  I'm not artistic enough to pull it off anyway. So I'm gonna just document my life and my cute kid (who is bright white all on his own, thank you Germanic ancestry and Minnesota winters...).  I will enjoy my colors, shadows and messes. Admire their ability to be so darn consistent and artistic and patient. 


This isn't to say that anyone who chooses nicely framed pictures with lots of white and clean, crisp lighting and editing is bad or prideful.  I appreciate your ability to create such pieces of eye candy. But I have to bow out.  And keep telling myself it's okay.  Of all the problems facing all the moms, this surely can't be the worst.  

But it is indicative of a pretty common-to-mom thing...Insecurity.  And it shows up in different moms in different ways, am I right?  We are okay with our choices and life until it comes up next to someone elses that looks shinier than ours, in some way.  They've thought about things we didn't even know were things.  They've decided something is important to them and now we feel like we should take up the same causes.  We fret and worry and wonder and second guess. We miss out on the little joys of the choices we have made because of the ones we wonder if we should make.  

*sigh*  Definitely just preaching to myself at this point.  And hoping that there are other moms in this with me.  And I'm not just saying this so that we have something in common...but because I really do struggle.  Just as my poor husband.  He is so validating and works hard at keeping my mind on the right track.  But it comes down to believing the truth that I am a good mom, he is a good dad, we love our kid and we won't look the same as any other mom and dad in the whole wide world.  We bring a unique mix of our family histories, our personal preferences, our mutual goals, our fabulous personality flairs...and it is our story.  And for that I want to choose to be grateful.  


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fickle February

Ah Fickle February.  That is what we have dubbed you, since you have plunged us into shivering cold temperatures, and then surprised us all with a few gems that hovered in the high 50s-low 60s.  While I will always be grateful for warm days, it has felt a little defeating to then go back to relatively normal temperatures.  That tantalizing taste of spring weather really got my hopes up.

This post will be primarily summarizing pictures of our month or so.  I'll be doing an official 18-month post for Asher at another time.  He has done so much growing this month, and it has been quite fun to witness.

He truly loves animals, and meeting Paco the cat was no exception!  Not really sure how Paco feels about it...but I can probably guess.  



We like to walk around the mall on week days when it is empty.  It kills a lot of time, because Ash will spend 5-10 minutes at all the rides staring at them.  Especially this one, because...trucks.  



He is such a cuddly fellow.  One day, he was playing with his car and came up and laid his head on my knee like this for quite a while and just kept playing with his car. 



More of that animal love in practice.  Sierra is such a good sport and lets him get away with just about anything.  He is kind of in an aggressive-love stage, where he just wants to interact with her so much he ends up grabbing at her skin and her ears and poking her eyes...all while giggling and smiling so big.  Surprisingly, Sierra just sits there.  Unless he goes for the tail, then she moves quickly. 



Went ice skating.  Forgot gloves (silly Mama).  ended up using Daddy's.  They cinch at the wrists, so it actually worked out great...and looked hilarious. 



Okay, so I know I'm his mom...but I generally think Asher is a really cute kid.  However, he has got the ugly-cry perfected.  Seriously.  his face contorts really strangely and it is often all I can do not to laugh.  Especially if he is just throwing a tantrum, like he was here.  
He has lately been resorting to a good cry (complete with HUGE tears) and follows it with throwing himself dramatically on the floor or throwing whatever he has in his hand in defiance.  I can tell we will have our hands full in the next few years! 


Enjoying the conservatory on one of those frigid days! 



Asher got the adventure of his little lifetime when we went up to my friend Crystal's parents' cabin and did some ice fishing!  to say he loved this little "truck" is a huge understatement.  


Driving said "truck."  Ice is fun and challenging to drive on!  


Asher's love of animals extended to the bait tank.  He had a blast dipping out minnows and touching them.  


riding in the "truck" pretty much lulled him to sleep every time we drove between ice houses. 



After lots of hours, only one fish was caught...and it wasn't even in the house I was in!  Ben was with the spear-fishing group and they got this big guy! 


Grateful for these friends, and for Crystal's parents who were so generous and hospitable! 


The men taking a snooze.  They claimed they didn't want the other to feel bad for sleeping so they kept each other company.  



Celebrating Crystal's birthday!



My book-loving boy. 


So he recently decided that prayer is really important (one of the imitations I'm grateful he has picked up!)  Quite often he will say, "Pay" and fold his hands...and will repeat it until we offer a little prayer.  This generally happens between bites at dinner time, whenever he gets on his chair or generally thinks a prayer should be said.  He has been picking up cues at church and sees when people fold their hands, kneel or close their eyes, and prays along. 



On one of the warm days we went to our park that has a splash pad.  Of course it was off, but Asher ran right to it and kept trying to coax water from the fountains.  It has been shut down since September, but apparently he remembers what it does!  


Belly slides are the best!



Swinging doesn't last as long as I had expected...



Shadow discovery! 



And of course, with warmer weather comes lots of MUD.  And these are the days having a dog are not as fun.  You can see her at the top of the picture looking away in shame, because usually wipe off her paws by the back door before she traipses through the house.  


Overall, it has been a great month.  We are going to have a pretty busy spring...we have the goal of attending FOUR weddings between April and May.  So far, three are for sure happening and we are working on the fourth.  Lots of travel, family time and warm weather!  





Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Influences

Boss.  Manager.  Supervisor. 
Whatever the title is, this person can really influence and shape a work place experience.  I have had some real interesting ones.  

There was Jennifer.  She was my first real boss.  We got along great...and she always seemed more like a friend than my boss.  

Joseph told me, "You're only here as a favor to my buddy Mike (a former manager), so I hope you are as good as he says you are."  He also made fun of how hairy my arms were, "Suzy, you have more arm hair than all my Mexican cooks combined..."  I think we were friends, though.  

Dan wanted marriage advice, and it seemed like every shift we worked together ended up becoming a therapy session. 

Daniel had a motorcycle, which I rode once or twice.  

Arnold seemed tough on the outside, but was soft and gooey on the inside.  Though he rarely smiled or handed out praise, he did say I was the best intern he ever had. 

B told me I wasn't being sociable enough with my guests and needed to show more of a dynamic personality. 

Mike said some inappropriate things, so I went to his supervisor.  And then didn't get the training for a promotion I was promised. 

Jennifer (a different one), taught me more about Special Ed and working with troubled kids than almost all of my education.  And we are still friends, so that's a plus.  

Then there was Andrew.  I think about him a lot.  He impacted me more than I think he will ever realize.  And we only worked together for about three months.  

He was one of two people to interview me for the teenage group home position.  I remember that interview because he said it was funny that I was the only person who didn't give "running" as my preferred way to destress.  

The staff of Xavier House got really close really quick.  And Andrew was always present to answer our questions.  And if he wasn't at the house when we needed him, he would come over.  It was obvious he not only cared about his job, but cared about his staff and clients.  We would spend hours in the kitchen of the house talking through hypotheticals and situations that would arise with our client.  He was a little awkward.  But in a funny nerdy way.  His sense of humor was dry, but often quite funny.  Tough stuff didn't get him down.  He wasn't a complainer.  He had to work many shifts when we were short staffed.  He often encouraged us to not complain as well...but gave us space to talk through frustrations.  He empathized with the hard stuff, and enjoyed the fun stuff.  He was practical and thorough, but always up for a good time and spontenaity.  

The day I decided to give my notice and leave, I asked if I could talk to him.  We both knew what was coming.  Neither of us wanted to have the conversation.  I had never quit a job before like this.  It was taking it's toll on me, emotionally and physically.  And unfortunately the higher ups (above even Andrew) were making aspects of the job very difficult to carry out.  He knew why this was happening.  

We went to the unit next to our side of the duplex.  It was empty, so we sat on the floor, backs up against the wall.  I didn't know where to start.  His face said he didn't want me to start.  

When I got it all out, he looked at me and nodded his head (nodding was a classic Andrew response any time he was confronted with unpleasant news and was formulating his words.) He said, "Is there anything I can do to get you to stay?  If I transfer you to another house?  I really don't want to lose you."  

I told him I was done.  That I always knew this level of mental health care was not really my area of expertise and I needed to find something new.  

He nodded his head again.  Then said, "Well I want you to put me down as a reference.  Then when anyone calls, I can tell them that you were one of the best staff we had.  That you came to work every day ready to go, and hit it out of the park every time."  

It made me want to cry...I did cry later.  I have had a lot of supervisors give me praise and compliments and say what an asset I was.  But this time was different.  

I had felt like I failed at this job.  I had never quit because a job got to me.  I had never given up.  I had to swallow my pride and admit that I wasn't that good at this.  I felt like I let my team down...and that I let Andrew down.  I was one of the first three hires for the position, and they were having trouble hiring and keeping people.  I knew they were scrambling for people to cover shifts.  And yet he still said that.

He didn't need to.  He could have just shook my hand and said the usual business stuff.   I suppose it was possible he was making it up.  Maybe that is what he says to all the people who give their notice. It seemed like he meant it, though.  And in any case, it was what I needed to hear.  And honestly, his words echo in my head a lot...especially when I am feeling like I have failed or have little to offer.  

Last night, he randomly showed up in my dream.  It was totally random and even in my dream, caught me off guard.  Not too much was said, then he left. But I woke up thinking about him and those words came back to me.  

Andrew, I doubt you will ever read this, but thank you.  Not only for being the kind of supervisor that was respectable, but for caring about the people in your job.  Not just for putting aside your own comfort to do your job well, but investing in your staff to help us be the best we could be.  And most of all, thank you for saying those few, impactful words to me.  They were simple.  But they were what I needed.  I was able to leave the job with my head held tall.  Knowing I made a hard decision, but the right one.  And most of all, I knew I wasn't a failure.  



**If you are a boss or supervisor...never underestimate the impact you are having or could have on your employees.  Leadership is a role that shouldn't be taken lightly and can do a lot to help shape a person.  

Friday, January 27, 2017

A Mama's Gut

Vaccines.  

There.  I said it.  Whew.  Now that the word is out of the way I can get to sharing.  Some of you might combine the title with that word and be inwardly cheering.  Some of you groaning and shaking your head.  Either way, maybe just hear me out.  Or don't.  You can leave the blog.  I guess I really don't care.  I'm not a career blogger.  But I digress...

So one of the joys of motherhood is the sudden and overwhelming power to make decisions for you wee little bundle of squishiness.  It sounds fun.  Finally we can put into practice all the stuff we've been secretly compiling while judging the parents around us.  We are experts.  We know exactly what we'll do and how we'll do it.  And it WILL go exactly as planned.   I know that mindset well.  I was one of those.  Kind of. 
But when the reality of such power sinks in, it shifts from empowering to terrifying.  At least it did for me.  And I'm pretty darn confident.   

The point of all of this is...vaccines.  That one got me.  Got me big time.  I have a fair amount of anti-vax friends.  And many more pro-vax friends.  Then, being the free-thinking individual I am, decided to do my own research.  

Enter Mom-Blogs (Totally not like this one, promise...lol).  

Oh the Mom-Blogs.  Passionate, loving, opinionated, defensive, articulate women.  On a mission for the good of their babies.  And the opinions they share?  Oh those span a vast, expansive range.  Like, here to the MOOOOON.  And everything in between.  

The only consistent theme was fear.  People were trying to prove their points with fear.  If you vaccinate, you risk injury and reaction and DEATH (maybe not literally).  If you don't, you risk injury, disease and DEATH (again, maybe not literally).  But they sure had your kids (and you) paying the price.  How is a new mom supposed to decide anything when both parties are adamant?  

After months of angst, tears, calls to my mom, prayers with Ben and journaling, I made a decision that worked for my conscience.  We decided to space out Asher's shots, and not get some of them.  I did my research and saw what each one was for and what they prevented, and decided.  I got a lot of mixed reactions from people who found out.  But I had to do what worked for me.  

And honestly?  Even then, I worried and fretted all up until the appointments where I either got him shots or didn't.  And then I left the clinic praying ferociously--yes ferociously--that nothing would happen to my sweet baby.  I would watch to make sure he was still smiling the next day.  Responsive.  Not dying of a disease.  Or dying of a reaction.  It was horrible

But the ones I fought the most?  The doctors.  I've had two now.  And both have belittled me.  Made me feel stupid.  Laughed at me.  Threatened me.  And tried fear.  

"Don't you know there is absolutely no reason to delay any of these?" 

"We are doctors, we have the education."

"If you take your baby into the ER with whooping cough, don't come crying to me." 

*When I declined the Rotovirus vaccine: "If you lived in the South with limited medical access, then your baby could die of dehydration."

"Oh, looks like you are refusing vaccinations.  Do you know how dangerous that is?" 

"Your baby could get meningitis and die.  I've seen babies die from this."  

"I'm supposed to let you decide but there is no reason to do what you are doing."  

When I declined the Hep B vacc: "Your baby could be exposed to dirty needles here, at the clinic."  (I wanted to tell her that if that was the case then there are bigger problems than my declining of the shot...But I gave her my crazy-mom look instead).  

I have a problem list.  "Health Maintainance and refuses vaccinations."  That list is the only one the nurse looks at, so she thinks we haven't had any.  And I have to explain it.  Every. Single. Time.  

What they don't realize is the more disrespectful they are, the more I really don't want to listen to them.  

Needless to say, I'm shopping for Doctor #3.  Because I shouldn't dread the doctor's office.  

All of this leads to this thing I told one doctor.  "You may think I'm crazy.  I trust you as a doctor, but I have this gut feeling as a mom, and I can't ignore that.  So I'm doing what I feel is best right now.  And that could change.  But please respect me as his mother, and I'll respect you as his doctor."   I thanked him for "having the conversation," even though he was being a jerk about it.  I was trying to validate him as a doctor in hopes he would validate me as a mom.  

{funny story, one day after some tense discussion AGAIN, he finished his exam of Asher and said under his breath, "Well he is really healthy so you're doing a good job, keep it up."  Literally, so quiet I almost missed it.  Unfortunately it was too little too late.}

So this gut feeling?  Well I've recently been introduced to some information that has confirmed some of this feeling.  
It wasn't packaged and delivered with fear.  It wasn't intended to scare me into a change.  It was merely well-researched and delivered.  It may not be the whole story, but it sure made sense to me.  So I'm slowing down and taking it into consideration.  

Mercury poisoning.  

I won't go into all the stuff I learned.  But even though the vaccinations supposedly have mercury removed, there are still some with "trace amounts"  of thimerosal (ethyl mercury).  It is a preservative. That is its only function.  And it is toxic.  To take it out would mean a loss in money for some big pharmaceutical companies as they would need to resort to single-doses and different production practices. 
 There are obviously still two sides of the story.  And even looking online, I only saw things like "Such small amounts, this vaccine should be considered free of thimerosal."  Much of the available science denies the presence and effect of thimerosal on babies.  And yet, they are the reputable people.  
But it all made sense.  A lot of the history of vaccinations and why thimerosal came into being.  And the results of mercury poisoning which are identical to many health problems that currently  face too many of our children today.  And there was a distinct spike in these health problems when this was added to vaccinations.  

Anyway, this leads me to where I am now.  Aware.  Researching.  Asking doctors for vaccination inserts to read ingredients.  Asking for single-dose shots.  Being driven by facts and research not fear.  No more hysteria. 

I am not anti-vaccination.  It is obvious that it has helped our country eradicate many harmful and deadly diseases.  I have gotten many for Asher, though spaced out more than the recommended schedule.  However, I am against mercury poisoning.  And I encourage any mama to do some research about mercury poisoning with regards to vaccinations specifically.  I share this not to cause a conflict.  I'd love to hear (kind) feedback of you moms and your experiences.  Doctors you have that may be different than mine.  Your gut feelings.  I want dialogue that can lead to understanding and learning from each other's experience and smart brains.  Without all the shaming and fear and harsh words.  

I think this is an important conversation because I KNOW I'm not the only mom who has struggled over this decision.  And I don't think fear should be a motivator from either direction.  We need to make informed decisions that we are comfortable with.  And then trust our babies into God's capable hands.  I cannot add one day to Asher's life by fretting over these decisions the way I have.  I am here as a steward.  I've been given the gift and honor of raising this boy.  I don't want to miss out on the joy because I'm scared every decision I make will make or break him.  

What I know is that we are all motivated by love for our kiddos and I think that warrants some rational thought and confident decisions.