Friday, February 27, 2009
We are sitting at her dining room table in Colorado. She is at one end with her computer; I am at the other end with mine. Paul is out somewhere picking up a mattress and box spring and frame. That man can pack more stuff into a van than anyone else on earth. It's like he turns it into Mary Poppins' bag. People came in here the last few days and couldn't believe we got all this stuff into the van and a scooter besides.
Maybe it's time we leave, because Emz has been plaguing me with questions like, "Why did you want to have children?" and "Do you think you're a really good writer?" Also, I just talked to Amy and she told me that Steven was cleaning the bathroom and he would light a match and spray it with a shot of air freshener and take great pleasure in the WHOOF. Yeah, time to go home I think.
I enjoy being at home. I enjoy being away from home. What I don't enjoy is arrving home, like the first 24 hours. That's when the tsunami hits. Everything yells at me at once, in equal volume. Everything. The newspapers on the living room floor, the garbage bill, the egg bits on the stove, the three phone calls to return, the article to write, the cat food bag that Hansie dragged onto the porch, the sad daughter who needs Mom time, the hungry boys, the husband who thinks by talking and needs a listening ear, the full laundry hampers, the rides to arrange, the students' photos for convention to critique, the mail to sort, the vitamins to arrange in the cupboard.
Ever since I read up on ADD I attribute this tsunami syndrome to it. Paul comes home and he can say, Ok, this needs to be done right now, this other stuff can wait. Whereas I find my brain in a complete buzz and I end up organizing my vitamin bottles when much more urgent things are waiting or I am so overwhelmed it paralyzes me and I can't do anything.
Two more trips and then God willing I'm home to stay for a good long while.
Paul gets a mysterious high from planning. He just absolutely loves to plan. This August is our 25th anniversary and he figured out that the only time we can take an anniversary trip is the following spring. So the other week we started talking about this and he was all about where would I like to go and for how long and on and on. Now this was smack in the middle of numerous trips to Redmond and beyond, and the last thing I wanted to do was plan another trip, especially a whole year ahead. And I told him so in not very nice terms. Now I feel sorry for him. Well, for all our differences we have lasted for almost 25 years, so there.
I enjoyed all the comments and perspectives on my ADD post. Just to set everyone's mind at ease, I have no intention of taking medication. Maybe a few natural supplements, but no Ritalin or anything. And I also don't see it as any sort of excuse for not doing what needs to be done.
Special thanks to Mrs. I for her encouragement, and for putting it so well: I think it is largely genetic, with some environmental conditions and nutritional compromises exacerbating the problem. You and I both were ADD-ish long before we were familiar with anything more tech-y than a rotary dial telephone.
Last night I was trying to email some Craigslist ads and Paul and Emily kept talking and it was terribly frustrating. And I thought, Ah, this is how my brain works; I can't filter out distractions. So I kindly asked them to talk elsewhere, and they cheerfully complied.
Which is not anything profound, maybe, but even minor increased perspective, clarity, understanding, and dot-connecting are good.
Probably the most helpful insight, which you won't get if you haven't been in my situation, is that housework really is harder for me than it is for other people. And it is ok to feel a sense of accomplishment for finishing something that other people find easy but I find hard.
Wait, you don't want to know all this. I'll be quiet now.
Except for one other epiphany: I forgot to bring extra tea along, so I bought some here--nice black quality Lipton tea in little pyramid bags. I boiled water in Emily's hot pot and brewed my tea. The first three times I thought, My, this is awfully weak tea for how much I paid for this. I made sure the water was really boiling well the next time. Same result. Then, the light bulb moment: Canon City is about a mile high. So water boils long before it reaches 212 degrees. And so of course it doesn't extract as much flavor.
Quote of the Day:
Emily: I have a picture of Brandon brushing his teeth.
Emily: (turns computer around and shows me Brandon in a bathroom mirror, brushing)
Me: What in the world? Where did you take that? Was it at youth camp? At our house?
Emily: It makes more sense when you remember this computer used to belong to Matt.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Then the time-before-last when I was at Emily's I was sitting there in the library waiting for the computer to warm up and glanced at the books on the shelf beside me and randomly chose one called something like ADD in Adults.
I flipped through it and there was a test to take to see if you have ADD.
I took it. And I cannot tell you how bizarre it was, as a 40-something mom and minister's wife, to mentally check off symptom after symptom. 40% is a positive diagnosis, said the book, and I was about 60%.
Obviously that piqued my curiosity and I did some research online. Now I will grant that a lot of these ADD sites have a not-so-hidden agenda of making money, so I took them with a grain of salt. But still. It is a strange thing to have your daily struggles delineated there, one after the other, with an actual name for them.
One website listed the following symptoms, all of which describe me to a T:
- Procrastination; difficulty getting started on projects
- Excessive disorganization and messiness
- Inability to prioritize tasks
- Underestimating the time needed to finish a task
- Difficulty sustaining effort over long periods of time
- Starting multiple tasks, but never completing any of them
- Missing deadlines
- Inability to screen out distractions
- "Zoning out" when others are talking
- Randomly skipping from topic to topic in conversation
- Forgetting appointments
- Constantly losing or misplacing things
- Low tolerance for frustration and stress
- restlessness, nervous energy
- have a hard time organizing projects and delegating work,
- have difficulty completing projects on time,
- spend hours at work, but get very little done,
- get distracted by trivial tasks, while neglecting the most important ones
My biggest struggle has always been with housework, and I have always felt like a freak for this. Other women seem to have this mysterious magic way of just getting it done and having time for other things, while I feel like I can work all day and not get anything done and I am always, always, behind and most of the time it feels completely overwhelming.
[A situation that is not helped, lately, by never being at home. Sigh]
Anyway, this is a whole new thought, and a rather nice one, that maybe there is actually an issue with how my brain works, and it has a name, and there are concrete ways of coping with it.
As opposed to a moral issue, and a matter of just making up my mind once and for all to be more like my sister instead of so lazy and undisciplined and scatterbrained, and all the other lovely messages my frustrated parents fed into my head because they had no tools for dealing with me, and I have to say I feel more sorry for them than for me.
It has been gratifying to read how-to-cope websites and find things that I've already learned to do, such as using timers to keep myself on task for 15 minutes at a time, and making detailed lists. [My lovely sisters used to find my lists and giggle at how detailed they were, and then add "breathe" and "go to the bathroom" and other necessary items that I had "forgotten".]
And it has also been gratifying to find that there are definite gifts that go with ADD, including--
(Quote from this site)
- Creativity – People with ADD excel at thinking outside of the box, brainstorming, and finding creative solutions to problems.
- Enthusiasm and spontaneity – People with ADD are free spirits with lively minds—qualities that makes for good company and engrossing conversation.
- A quick mind - People with ADD have the ability to think on their feet, quickly absorb new information (as long as it’s interesting), and multitask with ease. Their rapid-fire minds thrive on stimulation.
Hyperfocus: A Positive Symptom of ADD / ADHD
While adults with ADHD have great difficulty maintaining attention, those same individuals often are able to “hyperfocus” for long periods of time on tasks or projects that they find interesting. When they’re “in the zone,” people with ADD often lose all concept of time. Hours pass as if they are minutes. This single-minded ability to hyperfocus can lead to significant accomplishments, discoveries, and creative breakthroughs.
I am not saying, of course, that this is a definitive diagnosis and an excuse for everything. I am just saying it is a very cool thing to find words for vague things and names for nameless things and real people that share in something that can feel alone and shameful and secret.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The United Bethel ladies decided to restrict the retreat to UB ladies only, since this is their only event of the year and the purpose is to have a sister-bonding time.
My good friend Mary Kropf is arranging a small lunch event in the Plain City area on Friday, March 13, for women who won't be at the retreat. I'll be speaking for about 45 minutes and then we'll eat lunch and socialize. I'll have books available also.
You'll cover the cost of your own lunch. If more than 15 ladies show up, they can't take individual orders and you'll pay a prearranged fee.
If you would like to attend, please contact Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org. And be sure to thank her for doing this.
[Note--My apologies--I put an extra letter in Mary's email address. This is now the right one.]
Paul and I will be in the Dalton, Ohio, area (I think that's Holmes County) the week after the retreat (March 16-22) and Paul will be preaching every night at--oh dear I can't remember the name of the church and Paul can't either--but Leonard Wenger is the pastor. I'll be speaking at a ladies' brunch there one morning--the date hasn't been decided yet. Let me know if you want more information about this.
And then I'll come home and be quiet for a while.
Quote of the Day:
"Jenny, we should start a group called KAJAF. Kids Against Jo-Ann Fabrics."
--Ben, one day when both he and Jenny had the misfortune of going shopping with me
Monday, February 16, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
For one thing, I signed up Paul's mom for a Xanga site. She was wondering how to read our family's blogs via email. I have a Feedblitz blog feed but I didn't think there was any way for her to get the girls' posts without signing her up for her own Xanga. So I did. She is prayinggrandma. Don't expect her to post or even to check her site, but hey, it's there if she ever wants to share her life with the world.
Then, last night I went to my first high school basketball game ever.
Ok, this is really embarrassing to admit, that I had never attended a high school game, so you can all comment and tell me it's ok, you've never learned to ride a bike or something.
[And just a note, if you're going to send your kids to a public high school, please let them participate in something besides speech and yearbook, or at least go watch if they don't participate. But that is a rant for another day, and I have to admit both my speech and yearbook experiences have come in handy since.]
Anyway. Paul's nephew Justin, the tall and handsome redhead, is on Harrisburg High School's basketball team and they had a home game last night. Ben and Steven wanted to go. Unfortunately Paul was gone, the girls were gone, Matt was at the warehouse, and they couldn't reach any friends.
I got a brilliant idea. "Hey! Maybe I should take you!"
Ben looked dubious. "Well, maybe you could just go drop us off."
But no, I was warming up to this idea. "No, really, I'll take you! Yes! I will!"
Then I got all nervous and began to pump the boys. "Where do you go in? Where do you pay? Where do you sit? Do they play the national anthem? What if I yell at the wrong time?"
Ben said, "Mom, it's not the inauguration or anything."
Jenny said, "Just yell whatever Bonnie yells."
Well. Bonnie is Justin's mom and a seasoned veteran and she is famous for yelling her heart out--"Watch him, Justin! DEE-fense!"
I didn't think I'd better start yelling whatever Bonnie yelled.
Ben said, "If nothing else, just cheer when everyone else is cheering."
We went. My [adjective adjective] teenage boys scampered ahead so they wouldn't have to be seen with me, and they sat clear on the other side of the gym
I found my friend Regina and stayed close by her side. Love you, Regina.
Harrisburg played Santiam Christian. It was a nailbiter game and the final score was 34-32 Harrisburg.
Here were a few of my reactions:
1. Wait. What's with that?
There was this whole ritual thing before the game could start, a carefully orchestrated song-and-dance, with the teams running out at a certain time, and the fans lining up along the sides, and the team slapping the fans' hands as they went by. And a funny thing where each player would run in a zigzag slapping hands with various important people. Weird.
And afterwards the teams walked by each other and slapped hands. Slapping hands is an important ritual, I guess. Anyway, it was nice, like, let's not hate each other too badly.
And why didn't they shoot more? They would pass and dribble, dribble and pass [yes, I know these words], but they wouldn't shoot unless they were right under the basket in a tangle of arms and legs. Also weird.
2. Really now. I mean really now.
So what's the point of the contrived introductions? "Jus-tin SMUCKERRRRR!!!"
And the mega-micro-mini skirts on the cheerleaders. I don't get it. You shouldn't have to flinch when a girl bends over.
[I just thought of this. I once sewed a cheerleader skirt, back in the day, for my friend Sheila. I am sure it was longer than the ones I saw last night, but I still don't think I'd better put it on my minister's wife resume'.]
This year's seniors and their parents were introduced and the guys gave their moms flowers. Sweet.
4.Just play for goodness sake.
Ok, so the clock would start ticking, and they'd play for maybe 30 seconds, and a whistle would sound, and they would stop playing, and some people would applaud, or sometimes boo, although I'm not sure why, and then things would reshuffle, and maybe someone would shoot a freethrow, and then they'd finally play again. This happened many times. I wished they would just play.
Justin shot freethrows four or five different times. He made a bunch of them, I don't remember how many. But I was impressed by the pressure of having all those eyes on him and how he handled it. Surely this will come in handy when he's a preacher someday.
And the biggest "whoa" of the night was the coach. He and the team were right in front of us and I found myself mesmerized. He was so unbelievably tense that he would have made my Type-A BIL Rod look like a couch potato. Up and down, clenched fists, pacing the floor. [Oh and during the team huddles he crouched in front of them and I thought he was writing on the floor with his finger like Jesus with the woman taken in adultery. Later I figured out he had a white board he was drawing on.] And constantly, endlessly, this guy was shouting shouting shouting. It was too noisy for me to understand much but I did catch this:
Quote of the Day:
[to one poor singled-out kid who didn't burst into tears like I would have] "TRACY! Don't! let! him! get! there!"
[paces back and forth]
"YOU GOTTA SWITCH ON THAT!"
"I'M SO SICKA THAT!! OK???"
"We're gonna go down here, and go wide!"
[pushes up glasses]
"IS HE THAT STUPID?"
[draws on "floor"]
"Like this, right? We're gonna switch it after a [something something]."
[slight disbelief from students] "I don't care! You're Justin Smucker!"
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Today I was putting some stray buttons away when I was suddenly struck by how pretty and Valentinesy that little bag of pink buttons in the drawer was. Why not use them for decoration?
So I gathered buttons and goblets and doilies, and came up with this:
I have a nice brother,
My brother is Ben.
He's very smart.
And does write with a pen.
Hansie is huge,
He also is fat.
He likes nothing more
than chasing a cat.
I have a sister named Emily.
We argue all the time.
She has moved to Redmond.
And she didn't do any crime.
Steven is adopted.
I love him anyway.
We adopted him from Kenya,
And he is here to stay.
Pigga is Emily's.
She's a very big cat.
She's very friendly.
And she isn't even fat!
We found Peyton on the road.
He is Siamese.
He doesn't know how to put his claws in.
And he never eats cheese.
I have a brother named Matt.
He has red hair like me.
I love him very much.
And so I gleam with glee.
My name is Jenny.
It means white or fair.
I like to play outside.
And I like my hair.
Amy is my sister
and Amy is sweet
I like my sister
she is a sweet treat.
I love my mom.
She's not a bomb.
I love my dad.
He isn't bad.
Now that is my family.
I hope you enjoy,
All the family things,
About every girl and boy.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Today, out of curiosity, I tried to keep track of how often I talked on the phone. I think it was 22 times from roughly 8:00 to 3:00. Maybe more. I made some of the calls, arranging for Stephie and Lisa to go to Emily's today, and also arranging the dinner next Sunday when Ben is baptized. But the phone rang a lot too.
I don't know how often normal people talk on the phone but to me that seems like a lot.
My situation could be helped out if I had a headset so I could talk without having one hand tied up next to my head. I bought a little gadget a while back that plugs into the phone and has this little earpiece and another prong that's supposed to pick up your voice. Well. Somehow my ears are not normal ears and I can never make these little gadgets fit. They flop around and fall out and just plain hurt.
What I really need is a headset like I use when I talk on Skype--a serious set of earmuffs with a mouthpiece that stays in place. The problem is that my Skype set won't plug into my cell phone, which in my children's eyes is not far removed from the old crank-and-holler style of telephone.
I've seen people walking around airports and such talking into thin air. They always give me such a turn until I figure out they're not talking to me. Anyway, Paul says I can't go with a wireless setup like that unless I'm willing to upgrade my phone.
Oh ye techno geeks, is there anything that would work for me without making me give up my precious phone? Where would I go to find it? And if you want to spell out exactly what I should ask for, that would be ok too.
I have a Verizon phone but the Verizon people in their little booth always look so young and intimidating and easily amused so I never get up the nerve to ask them.
Update: Oh people, I love you, I really do. I read my comments and there were answers, clarification, instructions, even links. I didn't have to go to town or talk to patronizing tech people. I clicked on the Amazon link and there was exactly what I needed. I ordered two. "TWO?" said Paul, Emily, and everyone else I told. Well yes. Think of the possibilities. One for the house, one for the car. One to use when the other is lost. One to use and one to make me feel like I am well taken care of and all bases are covered.
Quote of the Day:
[I found this in my file. After church one evening last summer I was listening to conversations around me]
Men: You sold any of your ryegrass?
I sold almost all of it!
Really? Leonard sold his?
Yup. They say the farmers in the south aren't buyin' it. Prices are gonna come down.
Awww, they say that every year.
Moms: I put him in the sandbox and he hasn't figured out how to get out yet.
Teenagers: Have you ever sent a text and you were talkin about a certain person and you sent it to that person.....and I was like whoa!
Monday, February 09, 2009
2. Of the four lambs we got in that one batch, two died the first night. The remaining two, Thundering Typhoons (Ben's) and Cocoa (Jenny's) survived a bit shakily and were moved to the chicken shed.
Within a few days Cocoa started going downhill, eating less and getting weaker until he could no longer stand up. I had some conversations with the Ruler of the Universe about why in the world it had to be Jenny's lamb. I brought it back inside, made phone calls, researched, and finally on the advice of my BIL Kenneth, went to Junction City Farm and Garden and bought a bottle of penicillin. The two teenyboppers behind the counter insisted that this was the only stuff they had for lambs. The dosage was 1 ml per 100 lbs of body weight. Well, a ml is a fifth of a teaspoon, and the lamb weighed probably 8 lbs. I had no clue how to give such a tiny amount, but desperate measures were in order so I bought it and for four days gave Cocoa injections that were probably more in line for a midsize calf, but like I said, desperate measures.
Finally he got to where he could sort of lean on his front legs if you sort of propped him up, so Jenny convinced herself, but not me, that all would be well.
Then Jenny and I went to Emily's and the boys took over the feedings. One day I got a phone call from Ben, who wanted to talk to Jenny. Cocoa is standing on her own, he told her. Jenny leaped into the air, pumping her fist, a look of pure joy on her face. I silently and fervently thanked God.
Cocoa still isn't the most healthy specimen around, but he's alive and eating and improving. We are so grateful.
3. Amy is still at Bible school and doing well, I think. She's very very busy and a bit stressed so we haven't talked much lately.
4. I had a great time at the ladies' retreat Friday and Saturday. Since then I find myself chuckling at odd moments, but I can't tell my curious family what I'm laughing about. Oh my. So many secrets, so many stories. Maybe I'll have to work them into a future novel plot, thoroughly disguised of course. It was a very satisfying retreat. And when we went shopping I found warm fluffy pajamas for me and Jenny for $4.99.
Quote of the Day:
"Well, I'll have to remind her of the time I saved her life."
--Matt, when he found out how much Emily is getting paid for her book. [Not that terribly much, really]
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Thursday, February 05, 2009
However. By the grace of God the roads were nice today....again....only a few miles of packed snow, and the landmarks are becoming familiar: Sevenmile Camp, the sign for the Pacific Crest Trail. The top of Tombstone Pass makes a nice rest stop, since they keep the parking lot and restrooms open all winter. I listened to CD's of John Schmid and the KJV Bible and New Creation because I can't catch any radio stations. Jenny did her schoolwork most of the way. And that profound truth that I learned during our years in the North keeps being true: if you keep driving and driving you eventually get there.
This was probably my second-to-last jaunt to Emily's in Redmond. The next time I plan to go armed with helpers and Pine-Sol, and we'll help Emily pack up her stuff and schlepp it down all those stairs and then scrub the daylights out of her apartment.
Which means this whole Emily-across-the-mountains journey is coming to an end, even though it looked so nebulous and vague and desperate when we began. Which goes to show that God's grace is sufficient for the day, and if you keep driving and driving you eventually get there.
One of the many nice things about being at Emily's is getting restocked with Q'sOTD.
Quote of the Day:
Jenny[frowning at tuna can]: Why does it say, 'Chicken of the Sea?'
Emily: It's actually a misinterpretation. It's supposed to say, 'Chick of the Sea,' because it's really mermaid meat.
(as my sister says, Where does she come up with this stuff???
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Hiking in the mountain's
Over Christmas vacation my family decided to go visit my aunt and uncle's house.
One day we decided to go hiking, while the girls went shopping. On the hike
We took plenty of food and water.
The hike up was splendid, we had to weight on some people because
They were kind slow. We got to a place where there were two trails. Some
People took the one while the rest went on .We finally got to the place where
We were going to eat lunch. Where we ate lunch there were lots of rocks.
Beyond the rocks we saw the Appellation Trail. The Appellation Trail is the
Trail that run's from Georgia to Main.
Going down the mountain was much easier; we didn't even have to stop.
It also helped that we didn't weight for the old guy's. I had to be careful where I
placed my foot or else I'd slip. I slipped about two times, by the time I got down I was exhausted, but I still enjoyed it.
Sunday, February 01, 2009
I feel like a sheep doing this 25-things business, BUT I was tagged, so therefore I have to do it, because 1. I have the same curse as Ella Enchanted. If someone tells me to do something, no matter how stupid, I am compelled to obey. (Not that this is so stupid, you understand)
2. I am a bit ADD. Which is why you'll find 25 half-finished projects around my house at any given time. And I can't sit still in church.
3. I remember bad times more than good times.
4. I love going to other countries and have been to Poland, Yemen, Kenya, and Mexico. And I lived in Canada for 8 years.
5. If I had another life to live I would be a travel writer.
6. I am addicted to tea...black tea...especially Kericho Gold black tea from Kenya, although PGTips from England is good also. Nothing starts off my day like black tea.
7. I am also addicted to fabric. I like to fold it and feel it and look at it, even if I don't get around to using it. I have too much fabric but I can't get rid of it because it makes me happy just to have it. Oh, and pens too. Cool pens that are pretty and smooth and just the right heft make me very happy. If I don't have a pen with me I feel panicky and frightened.
8. If I had a third life to live, I would own a fabric store. Actually, I might be able to fit this into my current life if I live long enough.
9. According to this one test I took, my spiritual gifts are knowledge, teaching, and mercy.
10. I teach Sunday school and take in newborn lambs, otherwise I don't think I use my spiritual gifts much.
11. I love public speaking.
12. But I sometimes panic when I have to talk to people one on one, especially chitchat, like with the checkout lady.
13. I have a very soft voice. People cannot hear me, so often when I get up my nerve and say something to the checkout lady, she can't hear me. At least 25% of P.A. systems are worthless, especially if the audience is over 70 years old. Ordering at a drive-through is a trial for me. I have to lean out the window and holler for all I'm worth.
14. My sisters and daughters are my best girlfriends and I feel very sorry for women who have neither.
15. I have a lot of regrets and I don't do very well at forgiving myself.
16. I'm always surprised when people actually read what I write and I can't figure out why anyone would bother, but then when someone unsubscribes from my blog feed, I'm offended.
17. I am good at memorizing. The children say that I can pull out a Bible verse for every occasion, and that their dad can be reading scripture aloud and I will catch his mistakes from memory. I also know everyone's phone number. But I cannot remember where I parked the car at Costco.
18. I notice people's teeth first.
19. I like pictures and knicknacks of chickens and cats.
20. Sometimes I am oblivious to what's going on around me, and sometimes I sense so precisely what's going on, unseen, that it's almost creepy.
21. People always think I had an idyllic childhood because I was Amish. I don't get the connection. I actually had a sad childhood.
22. I like to be around people who make me laugh. I don't care how different they are from me otherwise--just make me laugh and I'm your friend.
23. I hate shopping at malls. I like shopping at garage sales.
24. I think my husband is the best--guy, preacher, husband, dad, teacher, the works.
25. I want to live to be 103 like my grandma.