Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Learning about Loss

In on year: one of my dear co-workers lost her husband suddenly of liver failure, another very close co-worker lost her son at age 22 in a terrible car accident, then her daughter less than a year later at age 25 from cancer. I had a baby that was very hard to love, then one very traumatic miscarriage, then another somewhat less dramatic miscarriage four months later.
I feel like I got the crash course on Loss. Loss of life, loss of dreams, of motivation, of hope, loss of love, loss of physical/mental capabilities. Loss of self. I have struggled to face the fears/feelings/and vulnerability that come with loss. 
I have experienced the heartbreak and sadness that come when a friend loses a parent, loses a friend, when dreams aren't realized, when expectations aren't met, marriages fall apart... But as i grow older and wiser, instead of pushing those feelings far FAR away, I've had to learn to just FEEL them. 
I pride myself on not being much of a crier. I like that my left-brained pragmatic self can avoid getting caught up in some of the drama of life. Over the years I cry almost never, yell less, and in general just calmed the hell down. HOWEVER, to avoid feeling negative feelings of anger, resentment, frustration, I also push away the feelings that are good- grief, empathy, sympathy, hope- anything that may cause tears or outward displays of emotion. 
For a while I didn't know what to do-I held back those feelings & then just freaked out in a huge breakdown of emotion built up over months. (Poor Brad!) Allowing yourself to feel sad, heartbroken, is scary. It's hard to just say "THIS IS AWFUL." and swim in it without wallowing in it. Does that make sense? You have to immerse yourself in these feelings, validate them, understand them, don't belittle it, while at the same time moving on with your life and not saying "woe is me" every moment of the day. It's a delicate balance.
Here's my dilemma- the more I let those feelings in, the more all the other ones come, too. Feelings of being left out, loss of friendships, insecurities, discouragement. I can't seem to have a soft heart and not have every other negative feeling attack it. How does one be strong AND sympathetic AND secure? I guess I just don't know. That's my struggle. We're working on it.
I'm learning to feel/express/accept and deal gracefully with all this. Grace isn't my strength. My strengths are more like "I can organize your office to make it more efficient." Things that you don't use feelings.
As a pause to reflect, which is usually in the middle of the night when I can't sleep or said baby is up screaming like he's being murdered, I see growth through the growing pains. I feel change. Necessary, good change. I'm grateful that these experiences have taught me more love & empathy & taught me to share my heart with others, even tho it's painful. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bring the parent of "that kid"

in our church ward a couple months ago there was a family with a very rambunctious little boy. he was very sweet but big for his age and, like a bull in a china shop, could not control his own strength and size. friends and congregation members would talk about him. he was "that kid." I was embarrassed for the parents and even more embarrassed of the behavior and gossip of the people around me. he's a three year old kid for heaven's sake!!??!

I always wonder: why we don't give each other the benefit of the doubt more!?!?

as a younger person I used to feel angry and upset when I had these feelings.I would react with sarcasm and rudeness. I have a very hard time expressing my feelings when it's something I do not understand. And this attitude towards each other, and especially children, I don't understand. In this scenario, now as an adult with more experience, I react more with kindness and with sadness. I always try to say something in their defense. I'm not perfect, and I'm guilty of thinking there are super obnoxious kids with terrible parents as much as the next person, but I try.

Faye is "that kid"at preschool.
She bit someone the first day. Scratched someone the second day. Third day was in time out. Fourth day she announced she didn't want to play with anyone. She's the only kid who tips the paint all over herself and the floor. Today she had an pee accident all over the shag rug that's probably impossible to clean....... The lists goes on. There have been more days so far with incidents than without. I'm am constantly dreading picking her up to know what it's been that day.
Luckily!! her teacher is wonderful and loves her& is very encouraging& not mean at all. She knows she's a kid. A 3 year-old emotional girl with practically no time to herself who likes, loves and asks for time to play or read books by herself. 

How do we as parents face the embarrassment and censure of other parents?? How do we treat our kids? How can I stop the other moms from labeling my kid forever??

The real and simple answer is: I can't. She's labeled. She's never going to have any friends from class because the parents are not going to want her to come to play at their house. The teacher is wonderful and encouraging, but she still has to lookout and spend special attention to make sure that my kid isn't acting out. Two of the little girls in her class she knew from before, with moms I know and loved from before. I thought it would make it easier because they know her, but honestly I feel like it just made it worse. instead of just offending people I don't know, I'm losing friendships. BC OF PEE ACCIDENTS. What??!! I know that the other parents are not giving my kid the benefit of the doubt like I would give theirs. It's a bummer. BUT a big learning experience.

I do not treat my kid any differently. I encourage and use lots of positive reinforcement for good behavior and I love her for who she is. Faye is very sweet, very artistic, loves crafts, loves to lead and be in charge, is overly crazy imaginative, and is aware of other kids' feelings. She's the first one to say "aw that person is sad!" and try to give them a hug. I know that right now, she only gets her mom 2 days a week, for 2 hours during Jimmy's nap. The other days I have extra kids I babysit and her time is shared. All things considered, she does OK.

I think as I've reflected on my own feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment, sadness, I've really learned a lot about the pressure we put on ourselves as parents, as well as the unrealistic pressure and expectations we put on our kids. Which is to say: IT'S TOO MUCH. It's ridiculous.

One of my best friends offers advice about potty training to me almost everytime we talk. I finally told her to can it, cause I've potty trained one kid and she hadn't even started potty train hers yet. I'm sorry that my kid has accidents on occasion! it happens! They're so happily playing that they wait too long to run and go. I finally had to come to the conclusion that it's not a reflection of me as a mother, it's just that she's a kid!! and a kid that probably drinks 48 ounces of fluid today. I am NOT a terrible abusive horrible neglectful parent- I just have a kid who has an accident once a month!

Let's just let our kids be kids, okay? Let's not freak out when they steal toys from others on the playground. Let's not judge them and tell them that they're horrible, and not let our kids play with them because they've literally bit someone two times in their lifetime. This kid disgusting drools all over the place all the time. This one is 3 years old and still uses one-word sentences to talk. This little boy only likes airplanes, that little girl will only talk to you if you address her as "Princess ."
THEY'RE KIDS!! I'm sure we can find something annoying about every single one. Let's make a pact to let kids be kids, okay?

And Faye, I love you for all your crazy. You zeal, your bright imagination, and even your inability to express frustration. It's hard to be 3 and frustrated. You will learn to express it better someday, and your mom will love you all the while. You are a wonderful joy me and will always be my lovely little lady :-)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A friend in faith

So I had a long, tearful heart-to-heart with my dear friend and ex co-worker Bridget today. I sought her advice. She gave freely with love and a little admonishment. We do not share the same religion, but we share the same love of our Saviour, Jesus Christ and faith in Him. I love this woman. She has been dealt one hard hand after another, especially with the deaths of her two children this past year. She is amazing, faithful, strong and humble. I am ceaselessly amazed and grateful for her friendship and advice.
Today I shed a few tears (I shed very few a year, as you know) and was bouyed up by her advice and encouragement. And humbled by her frank reprimands of my lack of faith.
We need each other in this big wide world. Feeling grateful and humbled by her example. How lucky am I to have such a person in my life!??

Monday, January 20, 2014

I love Doctor Bart Barrett

And this is why:
He is our family GP. He's seen my babies the day they were born, he sees me and my husband for anything and everything, and most importantly, he is a human being.

This last year has been rough. Seriously rough. I think I've seen Dr. Barrett more than my own mother this year. Two babies worth of visits, check-ups and colds. Two miscarriages worth of phone calls & tests. (Did I mention I had ANOTHER miscarriage a couple weeks ago? Fun.)

Anyway, so here is why I love him:
Today Faye had a weird rash on her arm, so I just brought her in to look at it & make sure it wasn't something super weird, or ya know, contagious. We were scheduled with the P.A., Brandy, so I gave Faye the heads-up that we wouldn't see Dr. Barrett (she loves him, so I didn't want her upset.) We were in the area between 2 exam rooms getting her weighed & measured when he came out of one of the rooms! My back was to him, but he instantly said, "HEY YOU!!" I turned around and said, "Hey."

He walked right over to me with arms outstretched and said, "How are you?" sincerely and gently, and then gave me a huge, real, tight-squeezing hug.

That is how every visit to the doctor should be. And that is why I love him.

If you live in HB or anywhere surrounding, you need him as your GP.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

So I quit my job the other day

Ok I didn't quit. I put in notice. Ok, I put in 7 weeks notice, that's, like, not even close to quitting. BUT when on Wednesday you decide that 5.5 years is plenty, and Friday you put in notice, it feels a lot like quitting. Like a rash decision, like you haven't really thought it out.

Worry not, friends, it was thought out!

I've been thinking about not working there for a year. We've had many many conversations about our family making some changes. We just didn't know really which changes would be first.

We got a car to fit more than 4 people=I need to keep working.
We want to save for a house=I need to keep working.
We want to have more steady income bc Brad is commission& the months are feast/famine=I need to keep working.
I make a RIDICULOUS amount of money for what I do = why would I quit???


This year has been rough. Rough mentally, physically, work has been crazy busy, stressful. I just feel done. Cooked, like a turkey. There is nothing more I can give. Which, when you have a family is not an option.

I finally just told Brad this job is drowning me. I can't give what I need to our home and family AND handle the stress and responsibilities of my job. I choose my family.

I feel AMAZING about it! The best part is how light I feel. I feel like I've been carrying a huge burden and all the sudden it's gone. I'm ready for a new challenge!

JMB has been my home for many years. It is the reason I up-and-moved to the beach& met my husband 3 weeks later. I am grateful for my time there. It has been a source of income, stability and pleasure. I've grown up. I've learned soooo much. I discovered talents I didn't know I had. I will always love it there.

This year everything was so off balance. I think the Fat Baby came to our family &all the sudden something indefinable changed. I think he came to test my limits and I've definitely reached them. Something needed to change& I'm finally READY to make it.

I'm excited. I'm ready. I'm happy. I'm relieved.

Oh and I'm working with my brother as his office manger, doing contract project work from home, tutoring math and nannying my brother's 2 kids 2 days a week, sooo... don't worry-i'll be keeping busy!


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Jimmy Boy

It has come as quite a surprise me, but it may be that Jimmy Barttels is the glue keeping me together at the moment.

For the first portion of his short life, he caused me more tears, pain, and lost sleep. Shattered any confidence I had as a mother, wife, caretaker. I lost all patience, any joy in motherhood. I learned to yell. I never yelled at Faye. There was no need. All Jimmy did was yell at me. Loudly. Work suffered. Marriage suffered. Faye suffered. He was, quite frankly, a little pooper. Sometimes I wished he had never come to our home, bc it seemed he only brought suffering and crying where 'ere he went.

The last couple months for me have been rough. Physical and emotional rollercoaster. And you know what is keeping me all together? The person who is keeping me the most grounded and keeps clearing the rubble from the end of the tunnel so the light can keep shining, even ever so little? Fatty McFatty Early Walker Happy Jimmy Barttels Guy.

He is so happy nowadays. And giggly. And learning new things. And just about the tubbiest, chubbiest, most kissable thing on the block! He brings light and joy into my life that I have needed. When Faye is having a hard day being two, this guy is a rolly-poly ray of sunshine. I feel like he and I are finally on the same wavelength. That there is some kind of relationship there. That we understand each other. Especially in the last week, on the worst days, when the worst things have happened (or not happened) in every other part of my life, this boy starts walking. He gives kisses. He takes ridiculously cute pictures that I just want to look at for hours. He brings pure joy to me when I need it most.

So, Jimmy, when your reputation in our family as being the most horrid, loudest, screamiest, shriekiest baby follows you around to adulthood, remember: You saved your mom and carried her through the darkest, hardest days. That even tho I fear there will be much grief to your mother at your hand, you will also bring her much joy and strength in trials. The prophetic words of your father in your baby blessing will ring true.
""Bless you that you will love your mother throughout your life. That you will see the strength in her and you will a strength unto her also."

Love you, Baby.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Another new experience? Check.

So I found out I was pregnant.
(I know.)

Jimmy was 6 months old.
(I know, right?! I know.)

It's amazing how quickly I was cool with it. Not cool- excited. Stoked. Ready. Willing. An hour after finding out, I had a new budget, and had already mentally thrown away, moved, organized, purchased bunk beds, saved money, stopped working, and had 3 kids. Kids come to our home. We love them. We will take them.

Grandmothers were informed. For excitement purposes and to make sure next year they knew they were going to have to help. A lot. (Both were excited.)

Fast forward a few weeks.
(I know you know what is coming.)

Bleeding& cramps. Died a little inside. I knew.

Fast forward 3 days. Go get an ultrasound I had scheduled previously. Turns into long tiring, stressful, two days of tests & wondering. Verdict: Ectopic pregnancy.

I mean, can't I just mourn in peace? Can't I just move on with my life without extra needles?! "No, I'm sorry," they say.

I guess it does make it easier that there was never going to be a baby anyway. Either I was going to miscarry or it could've killed me. Either way, same non-baby outcome.

I caught it so early we completely avoided surgery or long-lasting health effects. HUGE BLESSING. Please don't think for a second I don't think about that every minute. (That would be awfully ungrateful, no?)

I'm still recovering. The only word to describe it is EXHAUSTION. Mentally, physically. I seesaw between feeling tired&a little sorry for myself, and then feeling guilty for not being more grateful. (And let's face it, a touch of relief. Who doesn't want kids 15 months apart?)

I am tired of having to explain why I didn't go to work & disappeared for over a week & can't function lately, but at the same time I am dying to tell everyone so they can tell me it's ok and so they can cut me some more slack. (What a low opinion I must have of my fantastic friends& co-workers. Like they don't cut me& everyone more slack than they deserve?!)

I definitely feel like I've joined a club. The Miscarriage Club. Women who have had a similar experience know me better than I knew myself this week. The secret is there are actually TWO clubs with the same name/qualifications. I think everyone starts in the Emotionally attached/sad/wondering Club...and then most, quietly and without realizing it, move into the Closure Club. I'm not a member of that club...yet. It will come.

Hopefully more babies come to our home. Hopefully maybe less-soon.
Hopefully I can start sleeping better& stop being so tired& start feeling like myself again.

Experiences make us stronger. New experiences, especially. I'm learning to share more of my feelings with Brad. To trust him instead of just stare at HGTV all day. (Or Food Network. I mean, Beat Bobby Flay?! I love tv!)

Anyway, I think this year has been crazy. From start to finish I feel like I've been in washing machine. I really hope I can come up for air sometime soon. Perhaps there are some greater lessons to be learned from all this. (Duh. Of course there are some greater lessons to be learned.) If I am humble enough to learn them is another story.

Aaannd...that's it.

Monday, July 22, 2013


I am that. very.

I love my job. I love my office. I love the feelings of accomplishment, trust and confidence I feel there. I love that I am valued. I love that it's been the source of steady income in our marriage. Somedays I call Brad on my way home and I've literally said "I ROCK AT MY JOB! I am awesome!"
I also love my family. My kids make me laugh, my husband is a comfort  and strength. I care about my home. I know they all love me. BUT I do all the bills, the organization, projects, and  most of the cleaning and parenting and child-rearing. It quickly becomes a lot. I rarely feel like I can put a stamp on my time being a mother with "I WAS AWESOME TODAY!" Potty-training alone can really put a damper on your self-worth as a mother- it's THE WORST.

I had a conversation with a friend and she said she got annoyed that her husband doesn't vacuum the edges when he vacuums the floor. I sat there thinking "When was the last time I EVER vacuumed the edges???" A year ago? Probably longer, let's be honest. And for half a second I felt a bit inferior, or less of a housewife. BUT then I remembered: I WORK. Who the hell has time to vacuum edges when 20 hours of the week (or more) is completely unavailable??? I'm lucky that I vacuum at all some weeks!! PLUS I work from home, so I am literally LIVING IN MY OFFICE. I am checking emails in between diaper changes, filling out forms when people are watching tv, taking/making phone calls when people are napping. If I haven't finished a project, it's not like I can leave the office & go home & say "well, we can finish tomorrow, nothing more I can do today!" I can't ever say that. Every moment I sit and snuggle with Brad watching Doctor Who after kids are in bed has subconcious guilt that THERE IS SOMETHING ELSE I SHOULD BE DOING.
It is awful somedays. With one kid, working from home was easy, manageable, fun, the best of both worlds! It was the answer to prayers and the best decision ever.
But with two kids came not only two kids, but also a job description change. More hours, more responsibility, more stress. My office workload and my home workload both doubled at the same time. I'm surprised I haven't had a breadkdown. Seriously. Instead I hide from my feelings, I yell at my kids at the end of a long day of the baby crying non-stop, I miss out on all beach days, park play dates, and just stopped getting invited to anything bc I can never go.
I have very few friends who are moms and work. And when I see those friends, I feel like I have to cling on for dear life. They understand. They know what it's like!!! The problem is I never see any of those friends... well bc we BOTH WORK. sigh.
I guess I'm just venting. Not sure what the point of this post was to begin with.
I am just overwhelmed. No matter what I do something I getting neglected. I either play with my kids and take care of my home responsibilites to the best of my ability and my work falls behind; or I get a ton of work done and live in a disaster area where the dishes get done once a week and my kids get neglected. No matter what I do, I ALWAYS LOSE.
And it's getting old. I thought that in a few months all the changes would kind of settle in and it would get more manageable, but it hasn't. Can anyone shed some light on how to better manage time, responsibilites, guilt??

Liebster award

I actually have no idea what a liebster award is, but i like shawna, and she gave me one, so i'll answer her questions :) better late than never!
1. Do you love where you live?  Why or why not?
YES. i love HB. i love the weather, i love the city, i love our church, i love the beach, i love the community, i live 4th of July, i love that it's our home.
2. If you could change your name what would you choose? You can't say you'd keep your existing name-c'mon!
my whole childhood i wanted to be named rachel. no idea why, just always did. even in spanish class when you have to pick a new name i picked raquel. luckily i have a darling niece named rachel!
3. Do you have a New Years Resolution that you are working on or goal you made at the beginning of 2013 and what is it?
 yes. a few. brad & i made a goal to go on 2 dates a month, at which we have been fairly successful (except for january- if you count a night together in a hospital with a newborn as a date)
4. Who is the funniest person you know? oh man, there are a few. my friend vanessa & her husband jared are hilarious, also i feel like sara is always making me laugh. i can't think of anyone else. i should probably say brad, but then i would be lying ;)
5. What is your favorite restaurant? athen's west. i could live on their greek salad. in fact, whilst pregnant with jimmy i ate there at least once a week...sometimes more. if i can add my two cents to the celestial food court- we def need athens west.
6. If you could change one thing about your life what would it be?  that i could be more happy with it. 
7. If you could change one thing about our country in an instant what would it be? that we would be solvent. that people would realize that in order to help people the MOST, to have great healthcare, roads, schools, money should be spent responsibly. if there is no money, the problems cannot be solved. 
8. What is your favorite hairstyle?  my hair is short, straight, thin & fine. i have few options... i did like it when it was really short and red/brown in high school, that was fun!
9. If you could do service all day long what would you choose to do? i would tutor kids in math. sounds silly, but i miss teaching. or mentoring teenagers. i love teenagers. i probably won't love mine too much when they get there, but i loved teaching and spending time in young women. 
10.  What is your favorite store to shop at? target. hands down. i could spend hours in there. and i have. 
11. What do you love about yourself?  I work hard and have solid, honest, work ethic (thanks, dad!)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Jimmy is a pro at grabbing & getting to his mouth. anything else within reach(and everything I think isn't within reach, but suddenly is...)
He rolled over on Sunday & during tummy time usually scoots really far off the blanket or play mat. (Not that he's crawling, he's not, it's just that he is really strong & wiggly at the moment!)
He is 3.5 months already??