Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Things that Make You Go Hmmm

As I sit here hoping Madison hits the hay before midnight, I'm thinking what I should blog about today. I'm still processing from this past weekend, and seeing as my last blog was so entirely deep, I thought I would stay a bit surfacy today. I totally inherited my dad's defense mechanisms. Stay away from the deep, vulnerable crap...it will always get you into trouble.

I hired a housekeeper. Yes, I know I am a stay-at-home mom and should be able to handle the three kids, the never ending laundry (especially with the new addition of cloth diapers), the greasy, grimy build up on anything and everything the boys touch, and so on and so forth. But I can't, so think what you will. She only comes once a month to take care of the deep cleaning I can never tackle. Heck she cleaned stuff on Monday I haven't cleaned in my life. My house must have been a disaster area too because she didn't even make it to the basement. It took her 8 hours to get through the first two floors. How embarrassing. If I didn't feel like a failure before...man! But that's besides the point. It felt good to walk around after she left and see the clean. Normally I just feel like I'm buried in a sea of muck...probably because I am.

When I picked the name for my blog, I did a little word play with my name. If only I had known how prophetic I was when it came to the "hills" of chaos. Life is chaotic, especially with two rambunctious boys, one needy little (yet completely adorable) girl, a fabulous and sometimes grey hair-creating husband, and all the other things I shove into my priority list. Sometimes I'm going up hill and feel like I'm never going to make it to the top, much like the little engine that could. Other times, like on housekeeper days, it's more on the down hill (or a downward spiral, not sure sometimes) slope when you feel accomplishment and excitement. I think I'd like to find the place where the chaos is a bit more organized. Of course that would require me to learn how to be organized and stick to it. It's funny how I'm really good at organizing other people's crap, but when it comes to my own, I have no idea where to start. Maybe I should hire a housekeeper for my life, a lifekeeper. Although I think I just described Jesus' role in my life.

Speaking of Jesus, I did have a quiet time this morning, if you could call it that. My goal was to get up at 6:30, take a shower, get some coffee and have my quiet time all before the boys woke up around 8:00ish. Good news is that I was up at 6:30. Bad news - so were the boys. Thanks to Neil I did get a shower. Afterwards, I came down to Owen and Blake chowing down on some corn pops (don't judge). I thought I'd sneak off and have a quick quiet time while they were eating. I opened my five minute devo book and successfully read it. I even got in a little bit of journaling before Blake started to wonder where I'd gone. He's in this whiny, insistent phase that is just about the drive me up a wall or off a cliff. So once he finds me, he is not about to let me go. I had to stop and just laugh at myself trying to journal around him or even at one point on top of him. Yeah, like that was a real intimate time. Oh well, five minutes is still five minutes.

Of course I didn't get to work out today. I wasn't really expecting to, but it would be nice to be able to get in a moderate butt kicker at least three times a week. Lately I'm getting in one maybe two days at the gym. Problem is that I have to get an appointment for Madison, and I am fully at the mercy of their schedule. Sometimes I grab a 30 min slot b/c that is all that is available. You should see me try to cram a meaningful workout into 30 minutes including traveling upstairs to the locker room and changing. It's really quite a hoot. And then there are the kids themselves. If they're sick, forget it. If Madison has to eat when I come in for my 30 minute time block, forget it. Yesterday I had to skip out because I thought Owen was coming down with something. Tomorrow I have a short 30 min. time slot which I'm hoping I can extend a little if someone else cancels. (But I also have a play date at 10 and a 30% off coupon to use at Old Navy). I'm not sure if I'll have the van on Thursday so I didn't make an appt, and on Friday I have an entire hour and a half. Woo hoo. I actually think I'm going to work out with the my friend, Amanda. I love having a buddy. Hopefully she'll kick my butt into shape.

Time for me to hit the hay. Remember it's your job to keep me writing everyday. Thanks Manuel for always being supportive. It's encouraging to know you still read my blog. For those of you who wonder who this Manuel is, he was an avid reader of my dad's blog who became one of his good friends as well. He's also fighting the cancer battle, so if you get a chance lift him and his family up in prayer. In a lot of ways, I feel like he's looking out for me now that Dad's gone.

Time to hit the hay. Here's hoping the kids sleep til at least 7:30 in the morning. Oh & the pictures are just for show. They were taken today. Blake woke up crying from his nap about 40 minutes after her went down. He climbed up into my lap and dozed back off for an hour. Needless to say I didn't accomplish much during naptime today.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Retreat from the Chaos

Allow me to preface this by saying (more like demanding) that I am still NOT a grown-up. This past weekend I retreated from the chaos of my everyday life. That's right folks, I went on a Women's Retreat with 270 other ladies from my church. I don't go on many women's retreats. In fact, I've only been on one that I can remember and that was through my old church back in Atlanta (oh how I miss Spring in GA, but that's beside the point), and that was a disaster. In my mind retreats such as this are more for the grown-ups, the mature women of faith in the church that sit around crying, singing hymns, and talking in Christianese.

Now granted I may be 30 and married with three wonderful children, but I am certainly no grown-up. But for some strange reason I felt compelled to go and drug my friend Katy along with me. Maybe it was because it offered me an excuse to get away from my lovely yet draining boys. Or maybe I'm a little tired of being the rebel. Or maybe, just maybe, God had an all together different reason. Either way I just knew I was supposed to be there. And it was only as I was returning home that I truly grasped why (at least in it's entirety).

I'll go to the fluff before I reach the depth. The weekend was great. Katy and I loaded up Joyce's car. Yeah, we couldn't take our own cars because our husband's needed them to tote around the rest of our kids. We strapped in the babies, plugged in the GPS, and headed towards Rocky Gap (beautiful place by the way). Madison and Beckah were the only babies in a room filled with estrogen. I felt like I should have started a waiting list of people wanting to hold Madison. It was great cause Lord knows none of them would have been swooning over my two boys. It's amazing how they start crawling and suddenly people want nothing to do with them. But what a blessing to have people so willing to take your child so you can cut your meat with both hands or take notes from a heart-wrenching talk. We were placed at tables, "randomly assigned," and it was with those 9 women that I would live life for just about 36 hours. We were a mixed brood to say the least. Katy & Michelle were with me, and oddly enough (though completely God-appointed) my friends Melissa and Natalie were with us too. And then there were two of the speaker's friends from Galox, VA and a couple women just a few years my senior from Grace. After each teaching time we would break off into various places around the resort for a table talk.

At the end of the first table talk, Heidi asked if anyone wanted to share something on their hearts. Before I knew I was blurting out one of my deepest struggles. You see, one year ago this week I left Maryland and traveled 10 hours with two small boys to Augusta, GA to be with my dad. Four weeks later he died from a three year battle with renal cell cancer. Lately I've been struggling with death. I'm a Christ-follower and believe that when I die I will go to heaven, but when I think of the end of this life, my body literally shakes in fear. Several times over the last couple of months, I've doubted if what I believe is what I really believe. Would I have this fear if it were? I shared this fear with these women, some friends and some strangers, and asked for their prayer and support. Over the rest of the weekend God began to reveal to me why I've been plagued and haunted by these thoughts.

I don't think it's a coincidence that these things start to surface around the year anniversary of my dad's death. When I first came home from Georgia, the day after the Memorial service, I was fine, confident of my father's place in eternity and experiencing peace that surpasses understanding. As time went on though, I began to avoid him and things that reminded me of him, not because I didn't want to remember my dad, but because it was too painful. When I close my eyes and try to picture him, all I see is his lifeless body. I can't seem to get back to a time when he was just my daddy. When "Be Thou My Vision" (the song that he walked me down the aisle to at my wedding and the same song we processed to at his funeral) comes on the radio, I quickly turn the channel. I feel like I am haunted by those 4 weeks. Don't get my wrong, I'm glad I went. I'm glad I was there, but I don't think I've ever really dealt with it all. For weeks people close to him called me a hero. They couldn't understand how I could do what I did. Heck, I don't even understand it. But be assured that I was no hero. I did what I was called to do for that time, and it was the hardest thing I've ever done. When I got home, all I wanted to do was be home, and that was easy to do since I could jump right into my life and be a wife and mom again. I figured I had plenty of time to flush through all this junk piling up in my heart, but then one thing after another piled itself on top, burying the pain deeper and deeper.

Two weeks after I got home, I found out I was pregnant, which prompted us to put the house on the market. No one thought that house would sell in 24 days, but it did. So I'm doing camp, buying and selling a home, moving, and being pregnant all at the same time. There just wasn't time to process. When we were settled in our new home and camp was over, life filled in the empty spaces adding to the layers. Honestly I think these paralysing fears are simply my body, mind and soul telling me (screaming in fact) that I have to dig it back up and deal with it once and for all. If I don't I will never be able to close my eyes and see the dad I loved and not just a body free from it's soul.

Through this process, I've made a commitment to myself to blog everyday, even if it's has nothing to do with David Foster. Blogging is therapeutic for me and helps me to process through all the crap inside my head. Things run through this head of mine all the time, and I think to myself, 'I should write about that." Then I forget or get too busy and I find it's been a week since I last posted. By that point my mind is so filled with mumbo jumbo I have no earthly idea what to write about, so I don't. Poor excuse I know. For those of you who read often, keep me accountable to my blog. Email me if I'm not living up to my commitment. I need that accountability. While you're at it, ask me if I've spent time with the Lord or logged my food for the day or told my kids that I love them. Man how I need accountability and prayer. Sometimes I feel like I'm drowning in my own chaos. There is only One who can pull me out of the mud & mire and place my feet on the Rock.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Welcome to Sickville

Anyone know an insane asylum that is close to home and only takes those moms on the verge, you know, the ones with three sick kids at home? I barely remember normal. My friend Sarah once said (like a week ago) that the longer we're outside of normal, the abnormal becomes the new normal. Please NO!

It all started last Saturday, which was a whole other story in itself, at Ashleigh's birthday party. I lean over to give Owen a kiss while he's eating cake and realize..."Crap he has a fever." I would have left then, but Neil had taken Mat back to the house (a half an hour drive one way) so that he could go be with Clare who'd just been in an accident (all part of the other story I wasn't going to tell write now). Neil had barely placed his foot in the door when I handed him a kid and directed him back to the car. Even with a fever Owen seemed somewhat normal, so this was the good day. By Sunday Blake had joined the ranks of the ill...still acting like his usual self. Sunday night Madison decided to join in the fun minus the fever. At this point it was more of a nuisance since we were stranded at home. I kept Owen home from school on Monday for what I thought would be a recovery day. By the end of the day, all three of my kids had made the transition from normal sick to ornery sick. Blake wouldn't let me go and was simply miserable. Owen, though he still had energy, had no patience and decided it was more fun to whine and cry about everything (even his fork falling on the floor). Madison, though not as annoying, would gag herself into vomiting. Yes, that was a highlight wasn't it.

Tuesday didn't get any better, though I did venture out to Target armed with Lysol and tissues. Honestly I think that was more for my sanity than others. It seemed to be passing by Tuesday afternoon. Madison was doing better. Owen seemed completely normal sans the cough. Blake still had a fever, but was showing signs of recovery. We even ventured out to Chick-Fil-A for dinner. Of course we didn't let the kids play, but it was nice to get out and be with people again. I found myself conversing with anyone who would listen and realized I was starved for adult conversation.

Owen went to school on Wednesday while I took Blake and Madison to the doctor. She found nothing beyond the basic cold. On a side note, Madison was 10 lbs 1 oz and 22 1/2 in long...still petite and looking great. I was hoping to be able to work out, to go to this Mom's potluck at Owen's school, and possibly even get my hair done...but did none of it due to Blake's fever.

Thursday seemed to bring with it a sense of wellness, but it was all a disguise. By the time Neil got home from work (and most of our Bible Study was already here) Owen had almost completely melted down. He literally sat silently in his Daddy's lap until bedtime. In fact, he was in bed before Blake for once.

This morning both kids woke up around 8 am (sweet) with no fever and minimal coughing. Let's just hope it sticks. I'd like to get on the one way train out of Sickville and return to Normalville as soon as possible.

A Glitch in My Merci!

As you know I recently had a baby, a beautiful baby girl, and with new babies comes a wide variety of gifts and well wishes, delicious meals and welcome visitors. Not that I have a lot of free time, but I have been diligently working on my thank you cards on and off for two months. Yes, I know I technically have a year, but the longer I wait, the less it probably means to the recipient of said thank you card. To date, I've written almost 20 cards, but I'd probably only given them to 3 or 4 people. The rest were sitting in my purse ready for delivery, at least until Friday when I leaned over to pick up my purse and emptied my water bottle into it instead (not on purpose). Thankfully my phone was in my hand, but the thank you cards suffered a fate worse than the shredder.

Let me just tell you what this does to my motivation levels. Until this unfortunate event, I only had a handful of cards left to write. Now I have to start at square one, and to be honest, I have no idea who actually got a card (not like there were many). Needless to say, I'll be spending whatever free time I can carve out attempting to rewrite the cards already written as well as the ones that never were. I take great pride in writing thank you cards, something my grandmother instilled in me from birth, attempting to be creative and making sure the sentiment is true and genuine.

So why the confession of unfortunate events? I just wanted those of you who gave Madison cute little outfits or gift cards that bought her a few cloth diapers that your "Merci's" are coming...it just might literally take me a year. But let me assure you that Madison is adorable naturally, but all the pretty, frilly outfits just make her even more so. As always I feel so supported and loved. So until you receive your actual card, I'd just like to say "thank you."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Writer's Block

I know. I know. It's been two weeks since my last entry. Can you believe that? I think that is the longest I've gone since my Dad died last April. Every day, several times a day, I encounter "bloggable moments," and yet, for some reason, I simply haven't done it. Ironically when I sat down tonight to write, I couldn't think of what to write about.

Here's the deal. I need to give my blog definition, a purpose. Is it here for me to simply sound off about whatever happens to be running around in my mind? Does it exist for my to dote on my family? Or rant about political issues? Speak about my spiritual journey? Or continue my war on customer service? The answer: (drum roll please) I have no stinking idea. I love to write and the topic never seems to matter much to me, but does it matter to those who read my blog.

Last night at our neighborhood association meeting, our president leaned over and told me that my blog is hilarious. This is definitely a flattering comment to say the least. I didn't even know she read it, but what would keep her reading it? Of course this begs the question, does it really matter if anyone reads it? In my mind (and it may just be my mind) if no one reads it then why blog at all? Before my dad asked me to update his blog, he thought it important for me to know just how many people had read his blog in it's two year existence...over 70,000 hits. For some reason knowing that number meant the world to him. It was a way he could measure success. But is blogging suppose to be a popularity contest or should I just do it to do it? I don't know the answer. I'm really just rambling on in hopes that I come across an answer in my free verse.

If I had to pick a few key points to help recap the past couple weeks, I'd have to lead off with Weight Watchers. This time (last time pre-children I lost 40 lbs doing the online program with my former boss and mentor Tammy) I decided to join the meetings. My lifetime goal is 139. If I lose two pounds a week I should hit my goal in 15 weeks. Yep, if you're good at math, then you know I have 30 lbs to lose. So far, since joining, I have lost 2.6 lbs, but I weigh in Saturday and I should be down another 2 or so. I like Weight Watchers because it forces me to think through what I eat and since I track it online, I can ask myself "do I really want that doughnut hole to join 4 years of Red Robin french fries on my thighs?" It's definitely a lifestyle change which makes it even harder when my mom calls me to gloat about where she is dining...yep, you guessed it, Red Robin. Since she called right at the beginning of Bible Study, I decided I would pray for her. Hey, isn't she supposed to be doing WW as well? What a slacker! Mom, I'm just kidding. You're entitled to your bottomless fries and peach tea. Uh, maybe I will save up some of those flex points and reward myself when I hit my next goal. Real good Hillary, reward weight loss with greasy, grimy super delicious food. I'm guessing that's like an alcoholic rewarding 6 months sober by heading out to happy hour.

In other news: What a day we had today. It was supposed to be a nice, quiet (ha ha ha I almost wrote that without busting out laughing) day at home with the kids, but then Neil's dad called and said he was passing through and would like to have lunch. Since he's a trucker I knew that lunch was a loose term when it came to time, so I decided to go to Essex to pick up some cloth diapers (yep, I'm diving in) from a chick on Craigslist. I left my house around 10 am and literally felt like I was in the car for the next 4 hours. Here's my lesson of the day...just pay the darn toll. I put the address into my GPS, which I refuse to give a silly name, and it asks me if I would like to avoid tolls. Stupidly enough I decided to give it a try. It can't be that bad, right? An hour later (should have been 30 min max) I arrived in Essex where I picked up 17 diapers of all different varieties. I intend to start using them this weekend on both Blake and Madison.

Please Lord don't let my good intentions lead my down a road of failure and wasted time and money. You can do this, Hillary. Just think of all the money you'll be saving. Sorry, sometimes I just need to give myself a quick pep talk especially when it comes to this whole world of cloth diapering. Seriously, it's not like going to Target and picking between Huggies & Pampers. There are so many different varieties, accessories, and secret hand shakes. All right, I'm not sure about the hand shakes, but I'm pretty sure there is some secret society of cloth diaper peeps whose goal is to confuse you into not using them. Don't believe me? Just google cloth diapering and tell me how quickly you can figure it out. Now that I've bought some, I'm trying to figure out the whole laundering process. You'd think there would be some sort of master manual, like a bible of cloth diapering, but there's not. I know several people that use them and they all have different opinions as to which diapers to use, where to buy them, and how to care for them. Talking to them just confused me more. It paralysed me, making me feel so overwhelmed by the pure volume of information, that I simply couldn't make a decision. So I'm glad I found these on Craigslist. They were a great deal and gives me the opportunity to try out several varieties.

Anyways, totally not the point of my day, but a fun tangent. We picked up Papa, my father-in-law, in Jessup and headed down to Tampico (awesome Mexican restaurant in Laurel) for lunch. It was good and I'm glad we got to see him even if it was for a couple hours. Hopefully he'll make it up this way more often. The day was a wash as far as naps went, but sometimes you just have to through the schedule out the door and deal with the consequences later...which came about the time Neil arrived home from work and I had to get things ready for Bible Study.

Tomorrow we're back on track beginning with a quick workout and then a meeting at church and lunch with friends...all before I have to pick Owen up from school. Tomorrow night is all about happy hour with Clare (& Madison) while Mat & Neil hang with the kids at home. Let's just say I can't wait for that.