Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sometimes it happens

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 When Alif was in the hospital, I spent many hours staring at his monitors. In the first weeks the numbers were frightening: they were constantly changing, alarms were going off regularly, and we'd learned enough to know what his numbers should be that when they weren't, we were afraid. Most of the time things stayed pretty even. He was in critical condition (even grave at times), but mostly the numbers stayed kinda sorta where they should be.

That's a little like the way life is right now emotionally. We're settling in to life in our "new normal" and for the most part, even though things kind of stink a lot of the time, the emotional barometer stays pretty even. There are even days now and then that feel pretty darn easy. We laugh and talk and enjoy each other as a family, the sun is shining, and we're appreciating everything we have. There are other times that feel harder. We feel the impact of our losses more deeply or a new loss pops up or something that has seemed okay until now suddenly feels permanent and that can be hard to deal with. But mostly, we just carry on. Day after day, step after step, we just - do.

But every now and then it hits. Something comes out of nowhere. I remember one of the early days of Alif's illness last April, I was in his room in the ICU and all I had to go by were those numbers on the monitor. I had grown used to alarms going off, so when the blood pressure alarm sounded I was on edge but not worried. His nurse wasn't around but I was sure she would hear the alarm and come adjust something and the numbers would go back to where they should be. 80/70 . . . 68/65 . . . oh my, I wasn't thinking this was a good sign and I poked my head out to see if someone was coming. 60/58 . . . 55/48 . . . oh my gosh, where ARE they? When his blood pressure went to 41/33 I yelled into the hallway, "Someone come help! His blood pressure is 41/33!" My mind was in TV drama mode, seeing that flat line beeping across the monitor . . . I was really panicked. Several nurses rushed in, adjusted the meds, and the situation improved. My blood pressure went down as his came back up.

I had that kind of moment on the emotional front today. I'd had a beautiful morning. I woke on time, showered before anyone else was awake (a rarity these days) and took the kids to their enrichment classes. Canaan and I love our "buddy day" and I was especially excited today because I'd responded to a post on a homeschooling group to purchase three years of science curriculum for about half what I would have otherwise paid. Imagine how humbled and blessed I was when this sweet lady *gave* me the books. It was just one of those sunshine-in-your-face kind of days. I took Canaan to the park, ran a couple errands, and soon we were headed back to the charter school to pick up the rest of the kids.

And then we drove past Burger King. The last time (and one of the only times!) we ate there was the day Alif got sick. My mind instantly flashed to Alif next to me on the bench, Rudy across from us singing Broadway-style, the kids playing in the disgustingly dirty playgym. That day is crystal clear in my mind, because it was the last day my life was normal. The last time I said goodbye to my husband as he drove off to work. The last day I went about my day as usual, without worrying about Alif.

Tears sprung to my eyes and I pouted. "I want that BACK, God! I want my husband back. I want my LIFE back. I want to go back there!"

My emotional monitor was beeping, and no one came to adjust anything, because they can't. No one can change what has happened in our lives. No one can fix Alif's vision, his cognitive challenges, the constant, constant worry I have that the new valve won't last or that he'll contract yet another infection. No one can make it so that he can work or drive again. These are things that eat away at me when - well, when I let them.

Then the guilt sets in. We have SO much. We have God, each other, our wonderful children, our home, everything we need, really. God has blessed us in so many ways. It's crazy to feel the pain of our losses so intensely when we've been gifted so much. But sometimes it just IS. It's hard.

I'm thankful that these moments don't usually last for long. By the time I picked up the rest of my kids, I was ready to enjoy them and carry on with everything we have going on today. I'm thankful for a God who understands that life sucks sometimes and doesn't berate me for having a hard day.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

Sunday, January 01, 2012

January 2012 menu

I finally buckled down and made a one-month menu. I've wanted to do this for a long time, as I'm often late with grocery shopping just because it takes time to make the menu and shopping list. This way I can do the bulk of our shopping 2 weeks at a time and just have a quick trip in between for produce, milk, etc.

I simplified big-time with this menu. We like a lot of variety, so usually we don't repeat too many breakfasts or lunches and definitely not dinners. I decided to make a weekly standing menu for breakfast and lunch and just keep it easy. There are a few variations to keep it interesting, but it's the same idea each week. I'd love to improve on this by focusing more on nutrition, but just having this planned out (and thus avoiding fast food!) will help a ton. Also, breakfasts & lunches will have fruits & veggies added in - like oatmeal days there will always be a stir-in like apples, peaches, raisins . . . you get the idea. So here goes!

1 b-s'mores (hey, just keepin' it real)
l-soup & cheesy garlic bread
d-fil's birthday (eating at their house)

2 b-bean omelet
d-"chik-fil-a" nuggets (made at home); sweet potatoes

3 b-oatmeal
d-roast; swedish baked potatoes

4 b-yogurt, muffin, fruit
l-turkey sandwich
d-croissant poppers; salad

5 b-cereal
l-snack lunch (this will be a bento-style or muffin tin lunch)
d-chicken spaghetti; green beans

6 b-breakfast burrito
l-english muffin pizzas
d-chicken salad; breadsticks

7 b-pancakes (usually will make a clean-eating high-protein type with various grains)
d-asian salmon; rice; salad

8 b-smoothie
d-turkey burgers; fries

9 b-egg scramble
d-pork chops; homemade applesauce; cauliflower

10 b-cream of wheat
l-taco salad
d-chicken stacks; rice pilaf

11 b-yogurt, muffin, fruit
l-tuna sandwich

12 b-cereal
l-snack lunch
d-zuppa toscana

13 b-breakfast burrito
d-meatloaf; mashed potatoes; carrots

14 b-pancakes
d-baked penne w/sausage

15 b-smoothie
d-tuna casserole; broccoli

16 b-omelet
d-quesadilla w/turkey; oven roasted veg

17 b-grits
l-tortilla soup
d-chicken stir-fry; black beans & rice

18 b-yogurt, muffin, fruit
l-ham sandwich
d-shepherd's pie

19 b-cereal
l-snack lunch
d-split pea soup; tortillas

20 b-breakfast burrito
l-bagel pizzas
d-trader's pizza

21 b-pancakes
d-vegetarian chili; cornbread

22 b-smoothie

23 b-egg scramble
d-white chicken chili

24 b-oatmeal
d-lasagna; garlic bread; salad

25 b-yogurt, muffin, fruit
l-salami sandwich
d-chicken pot pie

26 b-cereal
l-snack lunch
d-roasted red pepper soup (TJs); cheesy garlic bread

27 b-breakfast burrito
l-english muffin pizzas
d-quiche; salad

28 b-pancakes
d-caprese grilled cheese

29 b-smoothie
d-breakfast for dinner: egg sandwiches; bacon; fruit

30 b-omelet
d-sandwich on bread roll

31 b-cream of wheat
l-taco salad
d-spicy honey chicken; quinoa