Wednesday, June 8, 2016

I Hope They Remember...

I know that my kids are aware of many of my issues ... my anger, my despair, my easy frustration. I see them react in different ways, and it makes me sad that they have such a messed up mom. But then we have bright moments of glimmering joy, and I hope that they remember...

I hope they remember the bat walks we've taken at twilight, even putting pillows down on the path by our creek, so we can more comfortably enjoy the interesting creatures swooping over our heads...

... the countless hours we've spent reading all kinds of books together, a sweet bedtime routine and a way to pass long hours in the car. Little Women, Watership Down, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, The Penderwicks, Huck Finn, Tales of the Kingdom, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, Anne of Green Gables...

... the walks we've taken in the snow, enjoying our footprints, watching the falling flakes, sliding on icy surfaces...

... many hours at Pohick Creek, wading, climbing 'The Boulder,' spotting snakes, hiking for hours, and even creating sparks by throwing rocks at a boulder at twilight...

... trips to the beach in almost every eastern seaboard state as well as California, Canada, and other countries, jumping waves together (even when I wore an XXL swimsuit), building tunnels and castles in the sand, seeing sharks and jellyfish and ghost crabs, watching sunrises and sunsets, collecting kelp...

...  songs sung together, loudly with our stereo or radio playing, softly with my guitar at bedtime, in harmony with extended family as Grandpa expertly played guitar, in church every week...

... homemade meals made with love, bringing us together at almost every meal, pleasing our senses as we've smelled bread baking and tasted cinnamon rolls, African stew, or hand-crafted pizza...

... that I said "I'm sorry" when I'd messed up or hurt them, and that I said "I love you" and gave hugs at least every night...

... being encouraged in their gifts, being spoken of proudly, being told they're loved no matter how well or badly they do at something...

... the freedom they've had to explore, take risks, enjoy creation, and be themselves...

... the changes I've made in better eating and finally exercising on a daily basis. Maybe the weight I lost and the health I gained will be an inspiration to them when they face something tough, or they have to decide between a healthy or unhealthy habit...

... the fun of hospitality and the joy we had in hosting friends and strangers for overnights and meals...

... the love of extended family, and the many visits they've had with cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-aunts and -uncles. I know it all starts to blend together, and they may not remember the specifics, but I hope they remember they are cherished and rooted...

... that learning can be spontaneous and fun, and stem from the very world around us, that understanding history is key to moving forward in a healthier way, that math is crucial in every walk of life, that science is a wonderful exploration of the breathtaking world in which we live, that art and music are the languages of the soul, that the written and spoken word are precious and world-changing...

... that the Church is beautiful in its diversity. We've worshiped in Mennonite, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, Anglican, Pentecostal, Methodist, Covenant, Christian & Missionary Alliance, non-denominational, traditional and contemporary, 'high' and 'low,' Scottish, English, and Jordanian churches, in English, Arabic and Spanish, and there's been truth and beauty in each one...

... the respect we tried to always show to those who served us, and also the honor we gave to people in or from other countries. Our time overseas was when the kids were quite young, but I hope they remember that we loved people no matter how they looked or the language they spoke, and that we in turn were loved by strangers. I hope they don't lose that sense of the world being big and small at the same time.

My prayer is that these precious memories, truths and worldviews will take root and blossom in my children's lives, and that when they look back and remember, the sweet will outweigh the sad...

Monday, June 6, 2016

One of our Favorite Quick "Go To" Dinners

I am not a very organized or scheduled person. So it's not a surprise when there are many late afternoons that I'm left scratching my head about what we're going to eat for dinner that night. Sometimes I'm even still scratching my head as late as 7 PM (like I did today!) Thankfully, though it was late, I remembered one of my family's favorite meals: West African groundnut stew. ("Groundnut" means peanut.)

Previously I'd always made this in a slow cooker, but tonight I made it on the stove (and microwave) and it worked just fine. It's a recipe for which I almost always have the 5 ingredients on hand, is flexible in terms of amounts, and is loved by all 5 of us!

Quick version:
Get a pot of white rice cooking.
Microwave frozen boneless chicken pieces until cooked, or mostly cooked. (Tonight I did 6 tenders for 8 min.)
Chop 1/2-1 onion and saute in pot with a little oil. Add diced chicken. Cook a few minutes (until chicken is done and onions are clear).
Add crushed or diced tomatoes to taste. (Tonight I used a whole 28 oz. can of crushed.)
Add a few scoops of peanut butter, and cook on low until you're ready to eat. (Tonight I covered the pot and simmered for probably 10-15 min.)
Serve stew on rice. (I always add salt and crushed red pepper to my own helping.)

Crockpot version:
Put all the ingredients (including frozen chicken pieces) in the slow cooker (I usually use 1/2 onion sliced, not chopped, and maybe not an entire can of tomatoes) and cook on high for a couple hours, or leave on low all day. This eliminates the need to defrost or cook chicken.

I'm sure you could do more with this basic recipe to make it healthier (like add spinach) or more suited to your tastes. You could use any kind of tomatoes, but it's canned that I tend to have always on hand. You could use other kinds of meat, but again, chicken is what I tend to have in the freezer. It's a very flexible dish!! And oh, so YUMMY!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Mental Health??

I had heard that the state of America's mental healthcare left much to be desired, but now I'm seeing up front and personal what a struggle it really can be. It's a shame that at the point when one is depressed, perhaps as low as they've ever been, it takes such an effort to find affordable help. It is not as straightforward as looking at a list of insurance-provided doctors and then making a phone call or two. (Even that in itself can feel overwhelming when one is desperate for help.)

No, of course it could not be that easy. Even after making a list of local names and numbers, and then starting to dial them, mentally preparing to introduce myself over and over again, I faced obstacle after obstacle, leaving me wondering why I even bothered. There were the numbers that were never answered, and the ones on whose machines I left a message. There were the doctors who answered but are no longer taking new patients. The doctors who, though on my insurance's list, don't actually take Medicaid after all. The numbers that were incorrect. The numbers that turned out to be for a general office, the secretary of which then redirected me to another number ... and another... and another. If one could feel dizzy from making phone calls, that's how I'd feel.

So I've actually made zero progress, other than finally booking an appointment with a new GP. People claim there's good in that. ("At least they'll prescribe meds for you.") But I don't want medication as much as I need someone to talk to, someone to listen, someone to help me get out of this stupid quicksand I'm sinking in.

Maybe I have to wait until I'm desperate again and then use inpatient help since outpatient seems non-existent. Great way to prevent disasters. Way to go, American "health" system!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

"Do you think you're at risk of hurting yourself if you go home today?" my midwife asked.
"No, I'm too weak. Even when I want to give up, I'm too scared and weak to actually do anything about it."
"That's not weak. That's brave. It's brave to everyday keep facing a life that's giving you pain. It's brave to not give up," she answered, and of course I started crying.
I don't feel brave. I don't feel anything good. I feel like I'm trapped in anger and despair. Not about life in general, but regarding a certain relationship. And then that colors everything else, and at times, I do despair about life in general.
I don't know what's going to happen next. Maybe I should have listened to my midwife and let her send me right to a hospital. I felt like that was too drastic. But now that I'm home and trying to find someone to help me, I face the discouragement of slogging through lists and making phone calls that come to nothing. Anyway I feel so messed up that I don't know how anyone could make something good out of my broken pieces. In my head, I know it's possible, but in my heart, I don't believe it for a second.

Life in Numbers

1 - baby in my womb, kicking and hiccuping, preparing to come this summer
     - minivan that meets all our family's transportation needs, both locally and over long distances, including New Orleans, Georgia, Boston and the Maritimes

2 - years of Steve's PhD program completed
     - pet guinea pigs, named Ginger and Pepper, who provide many cuddles and squeaks

3 - years we've lived in our current townhouse
     - years we've been part of Capital Baptist Homeschool Co-op
     - kids in the house, bringing lots of joy and noise
     - years left in Steve's PhD program!

4 - years we've lived in metro D.C.
     - years until Naomi graduates from high school
     - years we've been part of IBCHE, a local homeschool support group

5 - years since we left Jordan
     - years since the kids and I took our last international flight