Friday, April 30, 2010

And Now, a Song and Dance Number........

Caitlin has a very hard time not being the center of attention, as evidenced by this lovely dance number she did for everyone at Brandon's last soccer game. Unfortunately, I can't show you the first few she did at home, since she's only in her undies and there is some nudity involved. I'll keep those to torture her with later. So enjoy this public display.... wind and all....

video

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What We've Been Up To

Finally!!!! She has a bike! She is excited!!!




Caitlin would personally like to thank those of you who have given her Target gift cards for Christmases and birthdays. She is now the proud owner of a princess bike (she's not really into the princesses, though, she's just into pink). Her friend down the street also got a new bike, so now there are two four-year-old girls riding slowing around, getting helped their brothers and friends. I guess it helps to have other experienced bike riders on the street.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Updates

I would like to blog more often. Blog updates float around in my head constantly, but rarely get put down. Life is busier than it use to be, but more than that, every time I sit down when the kids are home, they know. They know I'm trying to blog. Brandon comes over and wants to talk or wants me to read to him. Caitlin wants to look at family pictures, or look up instructional video on youtube about how to play the bagpipes (don't ask). No matter where they are in the house or what they're doing, the minute I sit down they are all over me. It's like they sense the possibility that I might want to relax!

So... on to P4 updates. What have we been up to lately?

In late March, Brian and the kids went out to California for a few days. I stayed behind. We've done this once before, and it was wonderful! The weather was much more cooperative this time than it was last time, and hardly snowed! It was cold, but not horrible. I tried to set up some lunches or dinners with a few friends and acquaintances, but only one person was available. We had a nice time. I wish I was making more headway in that area, but it isn't happening. It's all in God's hand, so I'm trying not to question His timing.

Brandon has started soccer. Although he isn't all that great at the game, he tries very hard and seems to enjoy it. He runs, passes, kicks, and plays goalie. He's always so exuberant after the games, going over all the little things he did, and how he was sure his team won (they don't keep score). We got him little shin pads, little cleats, and a little soccer ball (and they are all so small!). We have practice on Thursday evenings, and games on Saturday. From what we are seeing, this won't be Brandon's last soccer season!

Plans for vacation with Brian's family fell through, so we made plans our own. We're heading off to Florida in a few months. I've never been, so it should be fun. We rented a little bungalow on an island not too far from Tampa. It has it's own pool, and is also close to the beach. This is our first family-only vacation since we went to Hawaii in 2005. We did spend a few days in Santa Fe a couple of years ago, but it was short and was more of a get-away than a vacation. I'm really looking forward to Florida. I love getting away! The kids are excited, too, but that died down a little when they realized how far out it was! We have to finish school first, then are heading out to my parents house for a week, and then after that we go to Florida. We shouldn't tell them things too far in advance. Caitlin asked me everyday for a month about going to Nana and Grandpa's house in late March. I'm not sure why I thought this would be different.

Spring has made a small appearance in Colorado. We've had a couple of weeks in the 60's, and even a couple days around 70! There's no snow on the ground. Trees are starting to bud, a few flowers are blooming, and the grass is starting to green up. Pollens are unusually high, so Caitlin and I are sneezing a lot, and have gone through many, many boxes of Kleenex. Now if only the crazy wind would stop, it would be great! The kids are outside almost every day, too. In the last year, 8 kids have moved on to our street, and 6 of them are under the age of 10. It's been a mixed blessing with some neighbors, but the others have been wonderful. After our first 18 months on our street, we are finally not the only ones with little kids! All but one of the kids are boys, but the one girl on the street is Caitlin's age, and they get along well. God is good. I'm thinking we should start having weekly BBQ's at our house, open to all, to get to know the neighbors better.

We signed Caitlin up for pre-k next year at her preschool. We're doing 3 days per week instead of 2. She enjoys school very much. I'm not sure if she wants to be a big girl, or just loves learning, but she insists on doing "homework" when Brandon does his homework, and often sits next to me and listens when Brandon does his daily reading. She plays teacher and pretends to read to us like her preschool teachers read to her. She holds the books out so we can all see the pictures. Her stories are pretty amusing, too, since she makes up a story about whatever it is she sees on the page. Her last story went something like this: "There were a lot of cows. And a dog. And a duck found a crayon." Then on to the next page. "The pics went to sleep" (the pigs were really getting bubble baths).

All in all, life is going smoothly here in Colorado. Brian and I are exploring a few options for community around here. Things in that arena have faltered, but we are moving on. The kids are doing well, and except for my ailments, the family is in good health. I'm looking forward to summer. Only 7 more weeks of school. Yeah! I love that we get out before the end of May. I'm just sad that all the VBS's in our area must happen the weeks of June 14 and June 21st. I don't think we'll hit any of those. Oh well. We'll survive. We always do.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Folliculitis

Folliculitis.

Never heard of it? Well, neither had I. Until Thursday.

Two weeks ago, when Brian and the kids were gone, I was out shopping. It was great to have some time to myself! While in a dressing room, I noticed that the back of my arms were bumpy. Like I'd just gotten the chills, but yet I hadn't. The bumps didn't hurt, so I just assumed that they were from dry skin. Colorado is so dry that if you don't coat your entire body with lotion, you end up with dry skin in the most bizarre of places. I get dry ankles and shoulders. Weird. Later on that day, I noticed that I had the same bumps - skin colored, but raised up - all over my lower legs. That was certainly odd. I mean, no one looks good under the florescent lighting of dressing rooms, but this was ridiculous!

A couple days later I started itching. A lot. It was the bumps, and they had started to spread from my calves to my thighs. I bought some anti-itch cream and Benedryl, and started to question everything in my house that I was using. All my lotions and detergents were tried and true. In fact, I hadn't used any new products in a while! I was at a loss. It got to the point that I wondered if my new sheets were to blame. I'd washed them before using them, but it was the only thing I could pinpoint that was new.

A couple days after that, the bumps were red, inflamed, and itched to the point of madness! I was on so much Benedryl that I wanted to nap all the time. On top of it all, I'd been sick for over a month (catching cold after cold after cold), and now had a sinus infection. So off to the doctor I went. Congestion, bumps and all. The diagnosis? Folliculitis.

Folliculitis is a bacterial infection of the hair follicles. It causes the follicles to swell up, turn red and itch, and sometimes blister and crust over. Lovely. It can start off with something as benign as shaving with a blunt razor, or being in a hot tub. Mine is what's called superficial follicultis, and was likely caused by being in a hot tub (which I was over the spring break), or from being sick and having extra amounts of staphylococcus bacteria on my skin. Not only does it itch, but heat makes it worse. Having a laptop on my lap is excruciating, and makes my skin crawl. Being out in the sunshine makes my skin crawl. It's starting to get warm here, and the intense sun isn't helping! I'm on a two-week course of antibiotics for the folliculitis, and for the sinus infection. It seems to be working. The rash is slowly getting less and less (and no longer spreading), and the sinus are acting more normal. I'm suppose to wear loose clothing for a week, and not shave. I'm in my sweats a lot lately, since it's still too cold to wear a skirt - even a long one that covers my unshaven legs.

I'm ready for this to end at any time. There are many things to be grateful for. This rash isn't on my face, like the last one. My antibiotic round is only two weeks this time, instead of six. I'm glad it's not yet summer. I can still wear long pants without overheating, but the urge to scratch is driving me crazy. Besides taking the antibiotic and some steroids, I'm on copious amounts of Benedryl at night, and am putting on anti-itch cream like lotion. I'm sleeping great, but feel hung-over in the morning. Two cups of coffee isn't making a dent in waking me up, and I don't do more than that. I am seeing relief, but I wish it would come faster. Every time I'm touched, hugged, take a shower, or the wind blows, my skin gets irritated. I'm waiting for the day to come when having my kids on my lap doesn't start a full-blown scratch-fest. It can't come soon enough!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Finding Our Niche

On Easter Sunday many families from our church had Easter brunch at another family's house after service. Normally I wouldn't think anything of this, but this particular Sunday Brian and I were wondering if we were going to have our normally scheduled LifeGroup (small group) meeting. There had been talk about changing the Sunday nights from the 1st and 3rd of April to the 2nd and 4th, mostly to accommodate the church's women's retreat and, oh, possibly also Easter, but nothing had ever been set. No one had said anything at all about the group dates being changed. But the Facebook photos showed it all to me. The fact that three out of the five families that attend our LifeGroup were attending dinner elsewhere pretty much confirmed things in my head.

I'm not bothered about not being invited to this massive group Easter gathering. There's no sarcasm here - I'm really not. Although I like the host family, we aren't all that close with them or most of the other families invited. What has been bothering me, and more often than just this weekend, is the fact that we haven't been able to "find our niche". Brian said that the other evening, and it really sums up how I've been feeling about our current situation. I haven't been able to convey how I feel in a concise, clear way that others would understand, but that phrase really fits. We desire to have friends. More than that, we desire to have Christian friends and be part of a Christian community. We've lived in Colorado for almost 3 years and, on almost all levels, I still feel like an outsider looking in. When I look within the groups I'm involved in I don't see a place for me. Or a place for us. The sad thing is when I look at those groups, and the individuals that make up the group, I don't feel like I even want to belong. I've wanted to be part of groups of people before, and become friends with the individuals involved, but I don't have that feeling at all right now. It's strange. It's isolating. It's not how I normally feel.

We like our church. We've been at CBC almost 3 years (in July), and like the pastor and worship leader quite a bit. Sundays are nice. We go, and we have a good time. The kids seem to like their classes. But that's about where it ends. With the exception of small group meetings, there is nothing mid-week for families or kids, so our church existence is really a Sunday to Sunday thing. I attend a women's Bible study mid-week, but I'm not excited about it. The first year was not such a great experience for me, and sometimes I think I'm there just so I won't be home alone every day of the week. I use to attend the MOPS group there, but I got tired of being one of the oldest participants (by far), and living so far away from everyone else. We live on the fringes. Although there were a few other moms in the group who around my age, the rest of my table group was about 12-16 years younger than me. The average age of moms in this MOPS group is around 32, with a couple of kids around 6 and under. I know I should be able to get past this, but we have nothing in common except being mothers. I need more. The first year of MOPS was great and I really liked it. Wished it was every week. The second year was okay. I got through it. The third year - well, I stuck it out until the semester Christmas break. I haven't gone in 2010. This is so very much not like me. I'm responsible. I stick it out until the end. But in this situation, I just can't see the point anymore. It feels futile. I've been attending another one on a different day in Boulder, which has been helpful, but I've only been there a short while.

Brian and I have attended a local LifeGroup from CBC since September of 2008. For the 2009-2010 year the leaders changed our group from meeting weekly to meeting only twice per month. We must have missed that meeting, and we've never known why the change was made. However, meeting infrequently has made us realize how much we, and our family, need something more. Meeting every other week has really changed the dynamics of the group. It doesn't feel like a community. The families involved all seem so busy, sometimes to the point of exhaustion, that there's no place for us. We are deliberate in our attempts to keep our family from being busy all the time while still enjoying activities, thus leaving space for others. I'm afraid, however, we're the only ones who value this. I'm also getting very tired of the female dynamics of the group. The other women spend a lot time whispering in the kitchen, and then are quiet when I come in. It's not about me, mind you, but it does mean I'm not involved, and this lack of inclusion makes me feel unwanted. I've tried to make plans and get together with these moms at other times, but there's no interest there. Nothing says "let be friends" like constantly being brushed off. When you then see those same people having get togethers and making play dates with others, especially those who live far away, you know you were never in the running for a viable friendship. Acquaintance-ship is where I live my life most of the time. It's a little lonely, but at this point, I'm tired of trying. Although I liked most of this group, I'm starting to feel like our group meetings have been a waste of Sunday evenings for the last year and a half. All it really did was give us something to do.

We've been trying a few other churches. It seems like only a few months ago that we were doing this, so I didn't think I'd be searching out churches again so soon. We tried a church nearby, RCC, and have decided to try it out for a while. It's very small and so not our style that I'm surprised we decided to stay. We've agreed to go every other week - on the weeks our small group doesn't meet - and then go during the summer when our small group is on hiatus. We'll re-evaluate the situation in the fall. The pluses are that it's very local, only a few miles away, and draws heavily from our town. In fact, the pastor only lives one street away. CBC draws mostly from small, conservative towns 15-20 miles north east of its location, which is already 12 miles north east of where we live. RCC doesn't come off as ultra-conservative, like our current church, and the people are not nearly as young. Most of the people we meet at CBC that are in our life stage are about 10 years younger than us. They're very conservative. We're not connecting. The other plus about RCC is that the kids really like it. They know some of the kids and Brandon even sees some of them at school. He doesn't talk about kids/friends at CBC.

I feel like a broken record, always complaining about my "horrible" situation. It's not as if we lead some sad life here. We're doing quite well. The kids are good. They're happy and healthy. Brian seems fine. But this area of my life weighs heavily on my mind. It's as if a piece of me is missing. We've been here almost 3 years, and I just hoped we'd be further along in the process of community. Instead, we have realized how much we don't have charm and charisma, and don't appeal to the majority of the people we've encountered. I need to figure out how to relate to Colorado. I *have* to learn to become friends with the natives. If we moved tomorrow, I don't think anyone would miss us (maybe Big J, but really, no one else). We would have been a little blip on the radar screen of our little town in Colorado. I keep hoping God will provide answers or an out, although I don't exactly know what that entails.

I really want to enjoy my life here. I want to look forward to Bible studies and small groups. I wish I could find a women's/mom's group that I like. I miss going to the Mothers Together in Menlo Park. The drive there was awful, but I remember the feeling of relief - the sigh of "I'm finally here, yay!" - when I'd get there and sit down at my table. I only stopped going because our church started a women's bible study. If we'd stayed in CA, I probably would have gone back to Mothers Together after Caitlin was a little older and mornings became a little easier. I remember liking small groups before kids. I liked our church's family night on Tuesdays when we lived in California. All of my meaningful groups can't be exclusive to California! I've been hoping that writing about it may help me to process it all, but I'm not so sure. It use to help, but nowadays I always come off sounding a little depressed. I'm looking forward to summer - two different weeks away from Colorado, no CBC, and new options. I don't know if I'll return to my women's bible study in the fall. I've looked before for other options, but had no luck. Again, I don't want to be home by myself all the time. At the same time, I want to be vulnerable without being trampled on, and I can't view the group anymore without that in the forefront of my brain. I want Brian to have friends. I want my kids to look forward to church, and for God to be visible in our lives. Who knew I'd feel so unconnected and isolated in the middle of a group. Let's hope the we find a niche fairly soon!

Pronation Update

Some of you have asked if my wildly expensive custom orthotics that I got back in late November have helped me with my ankle/foot/knee/leg/hip pain. The answer is yes. I am happy to report that the strange little plastic things that I now walk on have made great improvements in my well being. Although the pain is not 100% gone, the little bit that is left is not as intense as it use to be, and doesn't last as long.

The orthotics were suppose to help keep my ankles and knees aligned, straight, and prevent the ankles from rolling inward (or outward, I can't remember) every time I take a step. I am suppose to wear them at all times, morning until night, except when sleeping. Seriously - my podiatrist told me to wear them in my slippers and keep my slippers right by my bed, or right by the shower, so that I can put my feet in them as soon as I get up. And, for the most part, that 's what I do. The plantar fasciitis problems are all but gone, my knees rarely hurt, and things like standing upright are not debilitatingly painful. I no longer grimace when I'm walking. People use to constantly ask me if I was alright when I was grocery shopping because I always looked like I was in pain!

I also think I've figured out what caused the problems..... my house. More specifically, the hardwood floors - the entire downstairs -of our house. I'm not a fan of wearing shoes in the house, so I would kick them off in favor of slipper or bare feet. This became a necessity during the summer of 2008 when I had hurt both feet. They were so swollen that wearing shoes was rather painful, and I took them off as soon as I got home. The pain started not long after that. It seemed so sudden to me. Both feet, in pain, all the time. After researching the topic of what may have caused this sudden onset pain, I found many articles and posts regarding people having problems after moving into a house with tiled or hardwood floors. They went from normal to massive pain and problems in anywhere from a few months to a year. Same with me! We hadn't even been in our house a full year when I started having issues. And I went from no pain to huge amounts of pain. Granted, my body was prone to this in the first place, but I think that having the hardwood floors exacerbated my issues and brought the problem to a whole new level. I've always had wall-to-wall carpeting before. I did have issues with plantar fasciitis in one foot during my pregnancy with Brandon, and now wonder if some of that was caused by the hard tile floors of our kitchen and bathrooms. I also had sciatica in the same leg, which I haven't had since, so I'm sure some of it was caused just by being pregnant.

Now, I have to wear shoes or slippers at all times in the house. I'm not a fan, but I keep telling myself that it helps. I'm also not a fan of what you can track into a house when you wear shoes in it all time time. The dirt itself is icky, but the chemicals and other elements that you bring in with you are so much worse. We don't have any crawling babies anymore, but still. Eww! It will be interesting this summer when it's hot. So much of my body temperature is regulated simply by whether or not my feet are covered, that I don't cover them in summer. I wear sandals or go barefoot in order to stay cool. I'm not excited about having to encase my feet in shoes when it's hot outside. Sandals that work with my orthotics have not been easy to find. However, I have another friend with a similar problem (and similar orthotics), so we're keeping each other updated on good shoe finds. Shoe shopping is a drag these days. I'll sometimes try on 30 pairs of shoes, and none work. The ones that do usually work are expensive, too.

In short, though, the orthotics are working. I have started walking again. I wanted to today, but he 60 MPH winds, along with the 10 degree wind chill factor, are preventing that! I need to work off the weight I've put on in the last year or so (probably from sitting around because I was in pain). I think I'll just ride the exercise bike today, and save the walking for a day that I won't get blown away!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Back to the Pocket

I was amused by today's quote on my little "Church Sayings" daily calendar (which I did *not* buy, lest you should think differently of me!):

"The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back into your pocket."

Hmmm.... that makes quite an interesting statement about tithing, doesn't it?

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Tooth #2

Brandon's second tooth came out today. This was the first loose tooth, but the second on to actually be loose enough to come out. Hitting his jaw on the deck while playing outside today probably helped it along. I'd like to say he has a nice gap in his mouth, but the fact the other two adult teeth are already growing in make that a moot point.