Friday, December 29, 2017

I'd Rather Be Fat Than Crazy: A Farewell Note to 2017

For 8 months I had mostly refused to buy myself any clothes.  The days and months after having a baby are full of change and uncertainty.   I had been down this road before and my bulging closet was proof of the varying sizes I had been over the last 7 years.  Why should I waste the money? I had lost weight before and would get where I wanted to be eventually.  What I had should cover my needs.  But my little race car's pregnancy was almost entirely different than the others and that included my weight gain.  I carried him differently and thus gained more weight in certain areas and not as much in others.  Plus, he was 10 pounds!  That meant more skin stretched further and more time for it to return to 'normal' if that's even possible!  Weight-loss this time around was more complicated because of stress, more physical healing, and three kids!  Tired of my fits of frustration while getting ready to go anywhere, Mr. Butler finally insisted that I go buy clothes that fit and would make me comfortable.

So, as I tried on clothes in the dressing room of Kohl's, I found myself repeating, "I'd rather be fat than crazy.  I'd rather be fat than crazy." over and over in my head.   Everything was either too big up top or too small on the bottom so dresses seemed to be out of the question. My pride screamed at me that I should be further along than I was in my weight-loss and recovery, but if there is one thing I gained this last year it's perspective.  About a year after miss Z was born, I physically and emotionally burned out.  In a nut-shell, I was overcome with sometimes immobilizing and unreasonable anxiety.  I remember being so afraid that I would never be able to enjoy my kids or even be up to having another one because of the hold it all had on me.  Fast forward 3 years and through the year we just had - full of stress, loss, challenges, but nothing like the problems I had before - and I can see things much clearer.   

I hate being uncomfortable in my own skin.  The extra weight just serves as a  reminder of the unhealthy side effects of stress, sleep deprivation and life changes.  All of this can be such a tool of the devil in my life.  I think all the insecurity of life that most people can feel is the devil's biggest tool sometimes.  But in the day to day, satan is defeated with perspective. Yes, I couldn't fit into things the same way yet, but I wasn't terrified of getting out of bed.  I was able to enjoy my kiddos and think clearly and sanely.

This year gave me the most fun, lovable, and good-natured little boy I have ever met.  Seriously, my race car is always looking for someone to smile at!  Not only that, but he is 100% healthy after a scare early on.  I survived the death of one of my dogs.  Not a big deal to most, but it was a day that I had dreaded since we brought Grace home almost 11 years ago.  This year was a huge financial burden, but it could have been so much worse.  I wish I was skinnier.  I wish we had never had to spend the second week of the race car's life in the hospital.  I wish my dog was still alive and chasing frisbees.  I wish our savings were built up rather than being drained by medical bills and car purchases. But I'd rather be afloat, than drowning in debt.  I'd rather be grieving a sweet dog than causing her pain and suffering.  I'd rather have an emergency room experience than risk the health of a fantastic little soul. And yes, I'd rather be fat than crazy!

Our perception (and opinion) of ourselves is such a complicated and fleeting thing.  In some ways, it just doesn't matter, but in other ways, if it's not satisfactory, it can change the course of our life.  I found clothes that fit and that made me more comfortable.  So go me, I guess, but more importantly it allowed me to recognize how we cope with the ugly and hard things in life.  There are days, months and in our case years of life that are full of exactly what we never wanted.  So then what?  We can quit and let the devil ruin the good gifts the Lord brings.  Or we can be thankful for what is and wait patiently for the good the Lord is bringing through it all.  As 2018 closes, I think of it like that high school nemesis that was always beating you out of things.  2017 was just wretched to me, but without it, there are so many things I would not have gained.  So for that, I say a fond farewell to 2017.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Magic Stix Washable Markers: A Pencil Grip, Inc. Review

The Pencil Grip, Inc. is at again and have released ANOTHER new product that you are going to want to include in your craft supplies.  We were given the chance to try out their new Magic Stix Washable Markers.  When your kids are consuming art supplies like food, it is easy to assume a marker is a marker, right?  According to The Pencil Grip, Inc. these markers are odorless, washable, non-toxic, but the big reason you should care about these?  They will not dry out with the cap off for 7 days GUARANTEED!  That is a pretty bold claim, but we have seen it tested and succeeded.  Some friends tested it much longer than 7 days and so far haven't seen it dry out yet!

They came in a nice plastic carrying case that secures each marker into a spot.  It was so nice that both kids decided it was theirs and of course arguing ensued.  Typical. :)  Whatever the case, they have been using them religiously for the past two weeks and no complaints or throwing them out, so I call it a win!  If you haven't tried out this company's products, you're really missing out! Follow the links on this page and you can purchase them off of Amazon.  

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Don't Be Annoyed When You Receive What You Ask For!

We had been wrapping presents all morning and everyone was a little 'whippy.'  When the racecar and miss Z naps, J has designated Quiet Time which usually consists of reading or school work.  He's been reading the Horse Diaries Series and currently had two checked out from the library.  One was a special edition, Jingle Bells, with trivia questions, a craft and a special recipe talked about in the book.  After he had finished his reading today, he walked into the kitchen with this book open to a specific page and said, "Momma? Do we have cream?  And what about baking soda?  Or Camdara?"  When I didn't recognize 'camdara' I finally stopped him to say, "What for?"  With a very sly grin he said, "I was thinking we could make these cookies that she made in the story."  Turns out the recipe called for cardamom, but he had a little trouble pronouncing it seeing as how we had never used it or mentioned it before.  "We don't have any cream, but I think we have the rest of it." I said.  Not to be deterred he said, "Could you text dad and ask him to get some on his way home?"  I told him I would talk to his dad and we would see.

Lately, this 7 year old has been getting so many big ideas to make things and do all sorts of stuff.  Balancing the two bigger kids with a baby can easily make me cranky because I just want to focus on one at a time.  Mr. Butler's offspring are consistently in a hurry to go and do!  So, here again is another project that J wants to do when I'm still trying to finish Christmas plans.  Initially, I internally rolled my eyes and huffed a big sigh of exhaustion.  But then a thought blessed by the Holy Spirit I think crossed my mind.  What is one of our main purposes in homeschooling?  We hope to instill a love and life-long desire for learning, independence and creativity!  Well, looky there.  It's working! It's really working!  The very thing that was annoying the daylights out of me was what we were seeking in the first place.

We have been incredibly blessed this year despite so much loss and struggle.  Why it is so hard to see those blessings when they are staring back at you, I don't know.  I'm thankful God works in many ways to save me from my bad attitude, especially when it comes to my spirited children!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Turning Holiday Stress in to Amazing Grace

As much as we love this time of year, the holidays can be so stressful. With social media begging you to compare everything and my family’s wants far outweighing their needs most of the time, it is enough to bring out the Grinch in anyone!  Nothing sucks the joy out of these special times faster than your heart being clouded with a big stress.ball.  Especially as parents, our moods set the tone for everyone else and those tense comments we make out of panic or frustration can easily bring the whole house into arguments, if we’re not careful.  For those of you who thrive under pressure and simply see the chaotic yuletide plans as an interesting challenge, thanks for all you do and we’ll try not to let you make us sick with all your crafty skills.   For the rest of us, it’s just not worth the mental breakdowns and the physical toll stress takes on our bodies.  We have to find a better way to balance what is doable with what is desirable.

When it comes to the holidays or special occasions, my ideas are usually bigger than my budget or my time will allow.  Sometimes it is the things I do to please others.  Other times I find myself committing to a job because no one else will.  Then, of course, there are my favorites that I can’t bear to skip or don’t want to miss out on.  I’m also an introvert, which means all of the people time can be extra exhausting.  Like most wearying things in life, none are so bad in and of themselves, but when I try to do them all, bad things happen.  Like the frog in the pot of water that doesn’t realize he’s slowly boiling, many of the things I love about the holidays are the ones turning me into the worst version of myself.  That is too heavy a price to pay when the entire purpose of this season is to bring joy, peace and family fulfillment.

So, what’s a family-loving mom to do to when she seems to spread holiday stress instead of cheer?  Take a breath and shift gears, of course!

Read the rest at Homeschool Review Crew and check out all the resources they make available to families!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Road Trip 2017: The Tale of Changing Plans and Expectations

Comparison. Expectations. Discontent.  I can be my own worst enemy and usually these are at the heart of it.  Everything we go to do can be lost to what we thought it should be or how we see others doing it.  We just took a family vacation to Flagstaff, Arizona that absolutely did no go the way we intended or expected.  I got some great pictures, my kids had some great experiences and Mr. Butler and I had some much needed time together for reflection and growth.  A successful trip it sounds like, right?  Yes, it was successful, but there was a ton that was just rotten and not how we planned time off.

The baby projectile vomited 4 or 5 times and prevented us from checking out a couple of surrounding towns like we'd planned.  After that day being so stressful we opted to stay in town the next day, which meant our Grand Canyon day was a lot colder.  We had fun at the Lowell Observatory and even came back later that night, but just as we finished a really neat demonstration, J threw up everything he had between the lobby and the bathroom.  Never before in my 7 years of being a mother had I dealt with so much vomit in such a short time span so by the time we got back from their MY stomach was feeling queasy.  So, since everything seemed to be crumbling anyway, I felt awful sick all night and finally willed my body to throw up just so I would feel better.  And I did. Mr. Butler and I both woke up the next day with headaches and feeling weak, along with come and go tummy troubles. Was it a stomach virus or some kind of flu?  Was it altitude sickness?  Honestly, I'm not certain either way.  It was all so weird and affected everyone differently (as in miss Z's case not at all!), but certainly not our idea of a good vacation element.

So, depending on my attitude, this could have been a disaster trip and waste of time or a successful time away where my kids got some unique memories and definitely a growth experience in my marriage and mental health.  The truth of the matter is that our perception of the way life normally goes for other people falsely feeds our expectations and then in turn influences our gratitude and attitude towards disappointment and unhappiness.  Poll those around you about their worst vacation experience.  There are all kinds of horror stories to be heard, but then somehow when it comes to our life we expect things not to be challenging.

There was one morning of this trip that I was just flat unhappy that everything was getting rearranged and in my mind just ruined.  As usual I had perfectionist ideals that were being thrown out the window and I wasn't happy with what was left.  Thankfully, one morning's attitude doesn't a ruined trip make.  At the end of the day I desire a healthy, close relationship with my family, a steady flow of fun learning experiences and more time to become the person God designed me to be.  In light of those goals, we had a fantastic trip and can't wait to do it again  - maybe minus all the vomiting!  So let's remember this:

1. Trips or life in general rarely go exactly as planned - and that's okay.
2. The ideal life we might see in a Christmas card or on Facebook isn't ideal or without trouble.
3. Be thankful.  Even be thankful for the vomiting.  ;)