Sunday, January 29, 2012

I Feel Good . . . I Knew That I Would

Let's hear it for James Brown!  I feel good!

Thanks to my dear and faithful blogging friends, I feel like a new woman!  The past three nights I have made a few changes and I'm back to sleeping mostly through the night.  Amazing what a few hours of uninterrupted sleep with do for a soul.

Here's what I did:

  • cut back on time spent on the computer last two hours before bedtime
  • took a 3 mg melatonin two hours before bedtime
  • drank a cup of chamomile tea about an hour before bedtime

By the time I got to bed, settled in and opened my current bedtime story (The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman), I lasted about 20  minutes before nodding off.  I took that as a sign and turned off the light!  The first two nights I got up once to use the bathroom, somewhere around 3-4 am (virtual tea party time!), but promptly fell back asleep for an hour or two.  Last night, I didn't even wake up to use the bathroom until 6 am!!!! WOW!

Besides getting my sleep back, I've been getting more exercise.  Friday afternoon as Kailyn and I were taking a walk out by Lacamas Lake, she mentioned that it might be fun to check out the 5:30 pm Zumba class at the gym.  Why not?  Well, I usually use my knees as a "not yet" excuse, but I was feeling kind of chipper, so I said "Sure!  If I can't take it, I can always just go walk the track until the class finishes."

We arrived a few minutes early, and I talked with the instructor about being a newbie, with knee issues.  She said to modify and have fun.  I did.  I modified (that was the easy part, as there was no way my body could do what she was doing!) And, I had a blast!  I don't think I quit grinning the entire hour.  The music saturated me, loud and raucous, and there was a whole lot of shaking and shouting going on in that room!  ( Many of the "regulars" wear these sparkly little tie on skirts and can really make them shimmer!) What a fun way to work up a sweat!  I told Kailyn I want to go back next Friday night!

Just to be safe, I came home and iced the front and back of my knees and legs for a good long while. But, that energizer bunny feeling lasted and on Saturday morning I woke up feeling like Wonder Woman!  I decided to pop over to the Saturday aqua aerobics class (I haven't been regularly for over a year) and give it a whirl.  I soon discovered that I was pretty challenged "in the river" (our pool has a built in "river" with a current that I used to love, but my knees aren't quite up to that yet). So, I hung out in one of the little "pools" and did the exercises along with everyone else and felt I got a pretty good workout.

After the hour of aerobics, there was a 30 minute water yoga class, so I stayed.  I'm still feeling a little sore from the stretching, but it's a good sore.

Whew!  I've had quite a weekend. It could have been very different, as I was not very happy when I weighed myself on Friday morning.  I've been haphazardly attempting to watch what I eat, and doing a fairly decent job of it.  I've been weighing in at home on Friday mornings.  I was excited that after the first three weeks I had lost 7 pounds.  Then I went to a nutrition class and got super serious.  I tracked everything I ate, followed the plan faithfully.  This past Friday morning I had gained 3 pounds!  I was not happy, to say the least.

Fortunately Kailyn brought me back to reality with the comment that I'm still ahead of the loss by 4 pounds, and maybe it was just a fluke, or water retention, or whatever.  I didn't want to listen . . . but I did.  This was on our way to treat ourselves to pedicures.  Somehow, after that, (and maybe a decent night's sleep) I kind of turned my misery around and that's when we went for a walk.  The rest of the weekend was so positive, I'm just not going to dwell on the weight gain. I'm now tracking online at a website I think DJan sent me. It's really neat because it breaks down everything nutritionally and helps me see where I'm missing nutrients, and where I'm overloading. (Thanks DJan!!)

I want to keep this positive attitude, so I'm just going to keep on tracking . . . and exercising! Oh, and keep what's working for my sleeping success! I feel GOOD (da, da, da, da, da, da, da) I KNEW that I would.  Oh yeah!

Thanks to each and every one of you who commented with great ideas for sleeplessness.  I really like the idea of a virtual tea party, but I hope to be sleeping through it!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tossing and Turning

I've brewed a cup of tea, in hopes the warm chamomile will ease my work weary mind into numbness.  There is nothing disturbing nagging my thoughts, no recent lapses in judgement, or worrisome upcoming decisions.  I am simply wide awake at midnight.  If it was Thursday night, it wouldn't be bothering me as much, as I have Friday off.  Instead, I have a teacher workshop all day tomorrow.  I guess, if I have to be sleepless, it is better to be heading to a district directed work session on teaching reading interventions in a few hours, than facing 27 fifth graders who got more sleep than I did! I don't really have to be "on" tomorrow . . . I just have to be present.

Sleep hasn't come easily to me for quite some time.  I can't remember when I slept through the night without waking up two or three times, and utilizing the facilities at least once.  I'm sort of used to interrupted sleep patterns.  But usually, I've fallen asleep by now.  Tonight (well, now it's last night) I read until about 10:45, and though I wasn't nodding off, it seemed like turning out the light was the right thing to do.

I drifted for awhile, a few songs playing in my head, (don't ask which ones, as I can't remember!) and some random thoughts about blogs I read just before calling it a night. Mostly though, I tossed and turned, unable to get comfortable or fully relax, with my eyes wide open.  I still don't feel tired, even though logic tells me that I certainly should be.  I've been awake since five am, and in less than 4 1/2 hours it will be that time again!

Nikki, my black Lab, was snoozing in the living room when I walked through.  Once she realized I was up for longer than a drink of water, she moseyed into the family room with me, and is now snoring soundly a few feet away.  She has no trouble sleeping, or getting back to sleep when disturbed!

There are a million and one things I could be doing, and at first I toyed with working on a project, but I don't really want to be that awake.  Writing is about all I really want to do, although even that is boring me now, as it probably is boring my readers!

To save us all, I think I'll answer the call of my book and read until I drift off to sleep.

What do my blogging friends do when they can't get to sleep?

PS ~ I want to thank those of you who left such uplifting and supportive comments regarding my last post.  Reading your words of encouragement was heartwarming for both Kailyn and I.  She truly feels she made the right decision. For the next few weeks she will hang out at school with me, and finish sorting and organizing in her bedroom (much needed!).  This weekend, we are going to work on our plans for visiting Europe in June and hopefully book our flights. It helps that she's been there and has some ideas about accommodations and transportation. Kailyn is looking forward to spending her 21st birthday with her sister, Jessica, in Bellingham.  The following weekend she will head back to Central for spring quarter.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Returning to the Nest . . .

My daughter is home to roost, for awhile.  I'm glad she is, although I feel a little selfish to admit it.  She has been my rock and my sanity in the classroom the past two weeks, and the occasional bone of contention at home, although I say that with sincere fondness.  It's just a bit of an adjustment to go from empty nest, to partially full, especially when it was unexpected.

Kailyn should have left at 6 am Tuesday, for another five months in France.  For many legitimate reasons, she made the decision not to go.  It was an agonizing choice.  When she first told me she wasn't sure if she could go back, I didn't really understand.  I knew she had been homesick, and felt very isolated in France.  I knew she was lonely, and had a difficult time finding friends that shared similar interests (sightseeing and traveling versus partying continually).  When she finally did make two good friends, neither of them lived on campus, and both were there only the first semester. She spent many hours alone, walking and sightseeing, and wishing things could be different.  Having always had numerous friends, she was disconcerted to find that building friendships with varying language barriers was so much more difficult than she had expected.  Still, she tried hard to make the best of her situation.

I knew all that, because we skyped a couple times a week, and every time we skyped, I could tell she was sad.  She told me she wasn't sleeping well, and I could tell she was losing weight. I told her to eat more, and read herself to sleep in French. I listened, but I didn't hear. I didn't understand, not really, because I've never been completely alone, "a stranger in a strange land".  And, resourceful and strong willed, and determined as this child is, I expected that she would do as she always has done: tough it out.

Writing about this now makes me cry, as I came so close to wanting to force her to return to a situation that was becoming exceedingly uncomfortable for her.  I kept my opinions to myself mostly and suggested she make a "pros and cons" list and think about her decision, cautioning her that she would have regrets if she didn't go back to France.  That was a little over two weeks ago.  She called and made herself an appointment with a counselor, whom she has seen twice and has future appointments scheduled.  I watched her wrestle daily with her options, and I began to feel fear about her leaving.  I was worried about her health . . . emotionally, physically, mentally. When she finally made the decision to stay home, I'm not sure who was more relieved.  She told me later she was able to sleep for the first time in months.  That broke my heart. Her eagerly anticipated adventure in France had taken a huge toll on her.

These days I see my youngest daughter with new eyes.  I recognize the adult within for the first time.   Watching from the sidelines as she worked through her France experience, tallying the gains and losses, painstakingly making her decision, I came to appreciate the awareness she has gained, and the growth she has made, as an adult.  Without asking for (or allowing) my assistance, she made all phone calls and emails to take care of her final decision, many of which were really hard calls for her to make.  She bravely faced some who challenged her, attempted to make her feel guilty, or wrong, or irresponsible. When she shared an email from the coordinator at her college, it brought tears to my eyes, as he wasn't very nice to her. I gave her a hug and said, "It's a good thing I'm not replying to him!"  Kailyn stood up for herself. She made arrangements for the transport of her remaining belongings back to the US.

The life lessons learned over the last few months have been enormous, overlapping and attaching themselves to Kailyn and I in ways neither of us would have anticipated.  Perhaps, it was the element of the unknown that caused the lessons to worm their way into our consciousness; pry open the hard shell of expectations and assumptions and lay them out, raw and quivering, leaving us both forever changed.

I am the mother of two fiercely independent and uniquely individual daughters, grown up and away from their mother's hovering, anxious wings.  Jessica is soaring into her own wild blue yonder, blazing her own trail, grabbing whatever life has to offer, digesting what comes her way. Kailyn is home for awhile to roost, appreciating the safety and security of the nest she calls "home".  I am discovering that the less I am needed as a mother, the more I feel wanted as a friend.  It's a really nice place to be.

New Year's Day Hike ~ 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

4:00 AM Phone call

In the erie half light, I glanced at the clock, 4:20. Who would be calling so early? I dragged myself out of bed to stop the the incessant ringing of the phone.

"Good Morning! Due to inclement weather Evergreen Public Schools will be closed . . . "

My groggy mind instantly kicked into wake up mode!  A snow day!  Oh boy!

David asked, "Who was that?"

"Evergreen Public Schools.  That's the first time they've ever called to let us know. It was snowing a little when I went to bed, but I figured it would be gone by now."

David promptly drifted back to sleep, but I laid there, wide awake, and wondering what it was doing outside. Shrugging into my robe, I grabbed my slippers and my camera. I had to go see for myself.

I know.  I agree!  Not much of a snow day in my mind, either!!
The footprints are from last night when my neighbor walked over for a chat.

I walked out and put my toe in the snowy slush, listening to the steady dripping from the eaves.  Once again, my district had made the call too early . . . a two hour late start would have been perfect! Now we will be making up the day, but this snow isn't any fun for the kids to play in, and there isn't enough of it!

For all my blogging friends who get real snow in the winter, I'm sure you're laughing at our piddly dab.  But, you have to see it in context.  We rarely get enough snow to even stick on the ground, so we also have few snowplows, and few folks have traction devices. (Not that we'd need either to get around today!) I guess for the safety of novice snow drivers, the school districts in our area often err on the side of caution.  And to be pitifully honest, many of us get downright giddy with the prospect of any white stuff, likely a left over from the two times during my childhood I remember having enough to actually play in!  

While I slightly resent the idea of giving up a day in June for this, I will look on the bright side and accept this gift of a bonus day at home.  David just left for work, at his regular time of 5:20 AM, so I have a few hours to read, putter and hang out with Nikki by the stove. I may even do something productive . . . but, maybe not!

Thank you to everyone who supportively responded to my recent post about"Losing It".  I've tried to remember to acknowledge your comments when I read latest blogs, but sometimes I forgot!  I always appreciate the love and encouragement I receive from my dear blogging friends.  What a privilege and honor it is to be considered important in your busy lives.



Friday, January 13, 2012

Losing It

I lost it yesterday - I went ballistic in the kitchen over the mess (Kailyn had made Cheese Zombies and a double batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies for her dad the night before, and cleaned up most of it . . . except for the COOKIES which I had already ate entirely too many of!) and the bags of junk food, and general chaos on the counters.  I lost valuable "prep for work" time as I was suddenly a crazed hag yelling & swearing & screaming about how much I hated the disorder of the house, my body, myself, and life in general.  It was a rampage of epic proportions and I scared myself half to death. I can't remember the last time something similar has happened, but it's been years.  I was teetering on an emotional breakdown, and had 15 minutes to get to work and pretend I was sane and safe!

Of course, I woke Kailyn and she groggily came out asking what was wrong.  By that time, I was mostly crying, but still raving a bit and she got the general idea.  I sobbed that I was so sick of myself, but that I didn't have the guts to do myself in.  I don't truly think I'm suicidal, but saying that out loud scared both of us. Our roles reversed and she held me and mothered me.  I've been motherless for the second time, since 1996, originally in 1960.  It's been a long time since someone has mothered me, although sometimes I've felt that from my sister, especially when my son died. This was the first time I was mothered by my daughter. I felt more shame, then gave in and allowed her to hold me as I cried.  My daughter, my mother - somehow, I never expected that. I felt her love, her acceptance, and I felt myself healing a little as she comforted me.

I pulled away, and attempted to pull on my big girl panties and headed for work, still crying, still scared of myself, praying aloud, "Oh God, oh God, oh God" the entire drive and into the parking lot.  (This isn't quite as dramatic as it seems, as I only live a mile from work, but still!)

My rational brain knows that this 'breakdown" was in response to an accumulation of stresses: not feeling good (having a head cold and sore throat the past few days), my knees not working very well, my weight (mad at myself for eating the cookies), Kailyn's angst about France (a whole other blog topic), my angst about Kailyn's angst, general fears, and the biggest one: my not picking up after myself - snowballing into no one picking up after themselves, avalanching into chaos everywhere you look!

When I got to my classroom I heard a familiar voice call out, "Babbitt!" in greeting, and I hollered back, "Davis!" then went searching for where a former teaching pal was subbing - gloriously right next door! We chatted awhile and I asked if he had a job the next day.  He didn't and agreed to sub for me.  I nearly sobbed in relief.

I got through the day, with Kailyn's welcome and knowledgeable assistance, born of hours hanging out in my classroom.  She did the read aloud (one of her all-time favorites, A Long Way from Chicago) and mostly taught the math lesson, as I had a dry hacking cough that overcame me when I talked more than about two minutes straight. In between teaching and working with kids (keeping my distance, even though I probably got my sickness from one of them!) I also put sub plans together. Kailyn and I left just before four as I had physical therapy scheduled.  She was going home.

I was five minutes late to PT (I'm usually early!) and Mindy could see in my eyes that I was under the weather, so she went easy on me.  I hurt and she said that when my body is fighting infection it will affect my knee.  I tried going up and down the stairs again, and I hurt both directions. But, we're zeroing in on the muscles I need to work on, so I think I may still see success.  I was told not to overdo until I see her again on Monday, but to do what I can.

When I pulled into the garage and started into the house, I could hear the vacuum.  Lo and behold, I opened the door and my house was miraculously restored to order.  I don't know how Kailyn managed to do it, but in less than an hour she had picked up and cleaned the main rooms, something I would have thought would take me most of Saturday to accomplish. She had soup simmering on the stove, and we added left over Cheese Zombies, the ultimate comfort food. (not the best for weight loss, however!)

And so, I let myself sleep in this morning; sat and read the paper.  I am moving slowly.  My head is heavy, my throat still hurts but I haven't coughed much  . . .  although I haven't had to talk to anyone yet, either!

I lost "it" yesterday, yet, in the process, I found something else.  I found that the world won't crash to the ground when I'm not in control. (Well, I kind of already knew that.)  I found that I can let go of the control I think I have, and allow my daughter to comfort me, to mother me.  And, I found that it is infinitely comforting to have someone mother me, to be held in love, and, that it's ok for me to not be the mother all the time.

Powerful lessons from losing it.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

European Vacation Plans

Several years ago, when our oldest daughter, Jessica, went off to college, I began a "savings fund" with hopes of sharing a "Mother/Daughters" trip somewhere to celebrate both girls finishing college, if and when it happened.  I had a chunk of money taken from my check and automatically put into a savings account.  A few years back I read "Traveling with Pomegranates" by Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Kidd Taylor, which further inspired me to keep saving. At the time, David wasn't all that interested in going, as he grew up traveling the world via the Army, and isn't keen on being too far from home.

Last year our youngest daughter, Kailyn, talked to us about her desire to participate in an immersion program in France her junior year of college.  She spent the first semester in Caen, which has been mostly wonderful, although she suffered greatly from homesickness.  It's been a treat to have her home the past three weeks, but, she will return to France for the rest of the school year.

Plans have changed, sort of.  Now we're planning a European family vacation in June.  I use the word "planning" loosely, as there isn't a solid plan put down on paper as yet.  We attempted to discuss our collective "wishes" during the week following Christmas, while all four of us were mostly under the same roof, a rare occasion. While driving to the beach one of those days, we made a list of places we want to visit, and momentarily discussed which country we should fly into, but that was about it.

Since then, I've gotten progressively more stressed out about the idea, with visions of National Lampoon's European Vacation dancing in my head.  I'm the only one in this family who has never been outside the US (unless you count British Columbia, which hardly counts, even to me).  The girls and David have been to numerous countries. I am worried about getting there, getting from place to place, finding accommodations and recognizing what I'm eating.  I'm also fretting about "missing" great places to visit because I know next to nothing about Europe.

I googled Rick Steve's European tours and was ready to book one, making life simple, until my husband talked me out of it. He reminded me that our 21 and 23 year old daughters are not going to enjoy hanging out on a tour bus with a bunch of old folks and/or young families. Put that way, I decided I probably wouldn't enjoy it much, either! The idea of being stuck on a bus for several hours every other day didn't appeal to me, once I looked at the sample itineraries.

David said, "Let's just wing it! It will be an adventure!"  This is so totally out of character for my husband I thought he must be joking, but he wasn't.  Kailyn researched renting/leasing a car, which actually makes some sense, as we would have unlimited freedom of where to go and when.  After looking at Eurorail prices, for the four of us, it could be cheaper to go with a car.  Of course, driving with my husband in traffic in America is a little stressful at times; across the pond, on the other side of the road in strange territory, it's downright frightening to imagine.

At this moment, the only thing we're sure of is that we will be meeting Kailyn, somewhere in Europe, in June.  We've tentatively chosen June 19th to fly out of here, (mainly because her boyfriend, Nick, is meeting her June 12 and they are spending a week traveling to visit his family in France). Financially, we think we can manage about three-four weeks.  That's all we really know.  I've done a little investigation on airfare, and have a general idea of that cost, but other than that, I feel like a blind person without a cane (or a dog).

And so, I thought I would appeal to my blog friends, who live all over this great big world.  Does anyone have any suggestions of European places that must be visited?  I know we'll see the main attractions, but I'm honestly more intrigued by the out of the way, unique and non-touristy type places.  Perhaps that's why I'm kind of leaning towards renting/leasing a car.  My one request of my family is that we visit the Isle of Jersey, where my ancestors came from in the 1600's. As it isn't too far from where Kailyn is living, she has assured me that my wish will be granted.

This is the adventure of a lifetime, for me, and while I'm anxious and stressed out at the planning, I am giddy with anticipation of unknown possibilities.

Who has a place in mind that I must visit??  I will appreciate any and all suggestions and ideas! Perhaps there may even be the possibility of meeting some of my blogging friends in far flung places for a spot of tea while we are "over there" a-wandering!