Archive for December, 2014

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Merry Christmas 2014

December 31, 2014

Christmas 2014
Dear Friends and Loved Ones,

As the year winds down and we’ve just given thanks for all our blessings, we hope this finds you enjoying each day with your loved ones. It has been a year of new experiences and milestones for our family and we have much to be thankful for. the Chief will be heading out to sea just before Christmas so we will make the most of the month before he leaves.

The Chief brought his ship through the Panama Canal Again and is now “tramping” the Gulf of Mexico and up and down the East Coast. For the first time I got to drive to the ship terminal and bring him home. Our dads took the day to drive round trip with me and we got to tour the Chief’s engine room. Now my dad finally knows what the Chief does for a living—seeing it up close puts things in perspective! Glad we had the opportunity as it may not come along again with no set schedule or ports of call. We hope though that the girls will have a chance before the Chief retires.

T1 finished Middle School a straight A student and third place winner of the Regional Science Fair for her project on Engineering—Materials. She applied for and was accepted as one of the 2018 class of the CGS. It is hard to believe she has started high school. She continues rec league soccer, viola, bridged to Senior Girl Scouts, and has joined the drama club. She made 2nd alternate for Junior Regional Orchestra and earned a spot in the high school All County Orchestra. T1 is maturing by leaps and bounds and rising to the challenge of a demanding course load. Try as she might she hasn’t passed me in height (only 5’5 ½”) but she now wears size 9 shoes!

T2 finished 6th grade making Honor Roll all year and with a community service award. She made her debut as Mistress Josie Walker at the faire with our greyhounds. (In case you are wondering, the Chief will never get in garb and join us. Never.) T2 continues playing tenor saxophone and just earned a spot in the middle school All County Band, rec league soccer, Cadette Girl Scouts, and teaching herself Latin putting herself ahead of her classmates. This school year started off rocky with scheduling conflicts but she’s making the most of it (even if she still asks every now and then if she can be home schooled). She has joined the Debate Club and is putting her “passionate persuasiveness” to use. T2 got braces in August, is now back in glasses, and she has finally made it to 5’1”.

Me? Still doing great with my psoriatic arthritis. Still training and will have run three 5Ks this year—the Marine Corps Historic, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer (got my personal best time so far!) and will run the Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run on Dec. 14th. I am subbing more than ever and have added Clarissa’s two high schools to my list. Seriously, it is still babysitting. I am enjoying running the older Girl Scouts and watching these girls stick with it. I also started teaching a new version of my girls’ Bible Study on becoming women of God to a group of 7th-12th graders. It has been a revitalizing experience.

We had the trip of a lifetime in July with the Chief’s family—a Hawaiian island cruise. We celebrated FIL & MIL’s 50th anniversary as well as many other family milestones (the Chief’s 45th and my 40th birthdays). We also started planning BIL and L’s upcoming nuptials in 2015. We got to see where they grew up and to visit our Hawaiian o’hana—the Cs and Ms. Truly it was the trip of a lifetime full of so many memories.

The lessons we learned this year are it pays to have “connections” on a cruise ship (wink!), drag your children kicking and screaming to the teen clubs for their own good—and you’ll barely see them on board, our part in God’s story is being written and rewritten all the time—trust Him!, and Mele Kalikimaka is the right way to say “Merry Christmas!”

All our love,

SnipeWife, the Chief, T1 & T2
Crookshanks & Hedwig

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With Grateful Hearts

December 26, 2014

We just sat two hours in traffic for a trip that should have taken roughly 50 minutes. It had surprisingly only taken those 50 short minutes the previous 5 times we’d done in the past three days. I think we’re ready to sit at home for a little bit.

Newsboys drummer Duncan Phillips asked on his Instagram photo post this morning “As we end another Christmas season, I wanna know if you all got what you wanted, and if so, what was it?” and I will keep my opinions to myself about some of the posts but it got me thinking about our Christmas.

While so much has changed–friends have lost loved ones, friendships have died an unnatural death because of earlier events this year (see Parenting 1, 2, & 3), and for the first time in many years I wasn’t able to go to the local Candlelight Tour of Homes (something that always got me in a Christmas mood and something that I did for me)–I am not as moody or not in the Christmas spirit as I was last year or in other years if the Chief wasn’t home. Maybe my month of Thankfulness has left a residual feeling of good will or a peace that allows me to roll with things a bit more. Maybe it is because the girls are older and we were sans the spoiled temper tantrums we had last year although they are still pretty good at picking on one another.

Whatever it is … I’ll take it.

Sure I don’t have the energy I’d like, but it isn’t leaving me in a depressed funk. I think the Chief has been a little more understanding of the lethargy that makes me a little less than productive (and yet I managed to sub 3 days straight for the first time and I think he appreciates that even more). I think the Chief and I are a little more appreciative of each other.

So to answer you, Mr. Phillips, what I got for Christmas:

1. being able to sponsor two students at a residential foster case school along with our scout troop and being able to send T1 and T2 on a mission trip with the church to deliver those presents and minister to those students. I think our children got the bigger blessing of being able to serve others and gain an appreciation for the smaller things in life.

2. the Chief asked for a relief to cover him for two extra weeks and then a week before Christmas that relief told the Chief to stay home for Christmas. I guess because I’ve had experiences with other MMs and their spouses not being so generous or taking our small children into account I am especially grateful. I plan to send a card and some cash in the Chief’s seabag to give to his relief as they do the change-over to say “thank you and enjoy a night out on us.” As of this writing we still aren’t sure of when the Chief will actually rejoin the ship.

and 3. being able to anonymously give. As the Chief and I had conversations about life insurance and other uncomfortable but necessary things in light of a recent tragedy, I told him that it was weighing on my heart to by-pass the online funds and give directly to the family a substantial cash donation so that they could have some now. The Chief agreed on my amount and we asked our congregation to facilitate a check to allow us to be anonymous. The other part of this story is that I had been looking since Black Friday for a wok for the Chief–something he’s asked for but he has specific needs and because I wouldn’t just go and buy him a table saw, I’d usually just get him a gift card, I was about to give up and do the same for the wok–and on the 21st I had confessed to the Chief that I really didn’t have anything for him under the tree. He just shrugged and said, “We just took care of my Christmas gift [the check]”. When I say I admire the Chief for his generosity, that is an understatement. Truly.

And it is these things I think that have carried the Christmas spirit through this month for me. A busy but fulfilling and rewarding month (even if my race wasn’t ideal) and one that wasn’t too stressed out. We enjoyed our scout talent show and party (and saw a menorah lighting for the first time); the girls’ winter concerts and the Chief was here to see them!; a holiday party at one of my best friend’s; babysitting my nephews while the girls were on their mission trip (and giving my sister and her husband a night out by themselves for the first time in a year); Christmas Eve with my in-laws; Christmas day with my parents; and another family gathering on short notice today–even if we say in two hours of traffic to get home.

If I had to look back, I am so blessed to be in such a different place than I was a year ago, even with all the changes. And I love being able to give to others and present enough to do so.

Merry Christmas to all. God Bless.

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E.o.t.T.: This… and Fail

December 14, 2014

“It is funny how when you have autoimmune diseases your normal is the equivalent of someone else’s awful. Which is okay because they shouldn’t have to feel the pain we do or understand it. We wouldn’t wish this pain on anybody.”

Exactly. This. But like my rheumatologist said, “The good thing about running in the cold is that everyone’s joints will ache and you can tell them that this is what you run with every day!”

So I ran a 5K Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis this morning and what a fail.

Let me back up. I had my personal best time at the 5K I ran for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. Thought things would just transition right to training for the next race in 8 weeks. Didn’t exactly happen that way. We lost time for one thing or another. Oh, yeah, two incidences of tonsillitis in the month of November. Now I remember.

I remember the first time I tried running a 5K with the Chief walking Crook and Heddie and meeting me back at the car. Not bueno. 35:27 or something like that. 3 minutes slower than my new record. And … I had to walk some. Ugh.

About 10 days ago I developed intense pain in my left hand. Gripping the steering wheel or the bar at the gym made me want to jump out of my skin. And the residual burning pain… for the birds! I knew it wasn’t the bone so I also knew if I went to a clinic and they saw nothing on x-rays, I would be going to an orthopedist anyway. I just went right to the ortho. And yup, bones looked great. “Are you sure it is not numb or tingling?” “Yup. No tingling. Pain and burning.” So the PA went out to consult with the doctor. “She’s describing… Is it possible?….” then loudly from the doctor, “I don’t see why not. It’s entirely possible.”

“So, anatomically hands and feet are the same. Have you ever heard of a neuroma?” I had. My mother had them. In her feet. We’re talking about my hand. “What you’re describing is like that and I checked with Doctor So-and-so to see if he agreed and it is entirely possible that you have a neuroma in your hand.”

Seriously? Can I be any more of a medical freak?

6 days of prednisone to see if we couldn’t get the inflammation under control and no heavy lifting for 1 to 2 weeks. Oh, and don’t make a fist when running (my middle finger presses right on the spot when I make a fist). At first I wasn’t going to take the steroids because I really didn’t have a lot of pain at the appointment. The following morning I was driving the girls to school because I was subbing and I just barely touched the steering wheel and @#$%^&.

T1: Hey, Mom. Don’t use that hand in school. You might say something.

T2: Yeah. You might embarrass me.

Me: Thanks for your concern. Feeling the love.

I took the meds as soon as I got home from the job.

6 days seemed to only barely take the edge off. Of course I still tried benching (less weight though). I thought I’d feel like Wonder Woman like I did back when I took a short course of prednisone when we didn’t know I had PsA. Nope. I was so messed up and exhausted. Not a good week. I did manage to get in a full 5K but I didn’t time it to see where I was at–I was just wanting to get a full 5K in a week before the race. My sprints weren’t bad but I was running into the wind.

The pain is gradually becoming less and less so hopefully I can avoid a cortisone shot. Just the thought of that sends me into an anxiety attack.

Back to the race. I partied the day before. Sodas, caffeine, cookies, whoopie pies, chicken salad, etc. When we came home, I was a little hungry but didn’t eat anything. I couldn’t unwind at all and tossed and turned and finally took a third of a sleeping pill. 7 a.m. came way too early. Should have known when the cold wasn’t making me do the pee-pee dance that I was dehydrated. By mile 1 I was feeling queasy. My blood sugar was dropping fast. I needed more protein last night and perhaps this morning. After the race I was shaking for quite a while as I waiting for the watered down hot chocolate and the delicious scone the Chief and the girls brought me to take effect. Even later at church a friend remarked that I looked pale and puny.

The only thing in my defense is that for an arthritis run, there were way too many hills and there is a feeling amongst even the fastest runners the course was a bit longer than a 5K. I was psyched out by the course–I wish I had been mentally prepared. I couldn’t help it. I had to walk and that is the kiss of death because it hurts so much more to start back up. Everyone is congratulating me for finishing but it doesn’t feel like finishing if I had to walk portions.

Worst time results ever. 😦

P.S. Due to the tonsillitis, I am looking forward to possibly having a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. Yeah me.

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Musings of my Blog-iversary

December 9, 2014

So 11 days ago WordPress kindly reminded me that I have been masquerading as Snipe Wife for 4 years now. Wow. Hard to believe. I also now have 200+ followers. If you’ve read my blog long enough you know how I feel about at least 50 of those being robots or people who just want to hawk their own websites and having nothing to do with merchant marine affairs or anything else I post about. Really, WordPress, why can’t I click “delete” on some of these pointless follows? But 200 followers in 4 years is not bad for being an anonymous blog.

I had started the blog with much trepidation but with amazing support from a fellow blogger. I spent the month posting on FaceBook my 30 days of thanks and posted them on Dec. 1st. I honestly don’t know which FB friend started that but for 4 years now I have continued the tradition.

Four years ago I suffered probably the second most traumatizing event in my life. If you read the last few entries on that list, I described a desperation and despondency; anxiety that would spiral out of control; a pain that would stick with me for years. The purpose of the list is to count your blessings. I don’t post on FB “If you love Jesus, you’ll repost this” pithy sayings and “challenges” … instead I was trying to list what I was more than grateful for, knowing the source of all the blessings in my life. My intent was to never stand before anyone and say “Thank God I’m not like that tax collector; look at what I do” (Luke 18:9-14). My intent was not to make anyone else feel bad they didn’t have fabulous baby sitters to make their lives easier or to criticize anyone else’s husbands who can’t stand in the Chief’s amazing shadow. But my attempt to just show, rather than “repost”, my gratitude was twisted in the brutal attack.

The following years I debated even doing the list but I felt it was important to write these blessings down, to show my children later so that they too could appreciate all that we have been blessed with to cultivate giving hearts in them. I would struggle and lose steam as the month wore on and I got closer to the anniversary of that trauma. I questioned whether posting such a list was vain and pithy and whether it made others uncomfortable. And yet as I read the daily posts of other friends who joined in, I never saw the same flaws in their lists. I was encouraged and uplifted by their thoughtful lists. I was much harder on myself.

Interesting that I saw a lot of 3-day and 7-day thanks challenges starting in the fall this year. I did not participate because I was going to make my 30 Days of Thanks again this year. And it was going to be different. I was going to truly focus of finding something that day that I was thankful for. I would make it less of a laundry list. Yes, I always started off with giving credit where credit was due–that wouldn’t change. But if I was thankful for a rainy day then I would thank God for that rain. Yes, I’m still thankful for my fabulous friends and babysitters and I can’t live without them but I was focusing on the little things, the things we really take for granted.

I didn’t necessarily post every day; instead toward the end of the month I posted every couple of days. Not because I lost steam or had doubts… I just wanted to think about the thing I was most thankful for.

I didn’t lose steam because I didn’t hear those brutal words anymore. There was a fundamental shift in letting it go. Letting go and trusting in healing God provided me. It wasn’t over night but it was so much better than the two years of pain that left me with generalized anxiety and the onset of psoriatic arthritis. The healing continued to evolve and my trust in God has grown.

I’ve even told total strangers on the merchant mariner wives FB that I write this blog. I haven’t given up on this blog, I just write when the mood strikes me. I’m less self-conscious about it … even coming to terms with creating boundaries with the Chief about his input. Four years… lots to be grateful for, lots of lessons learned. Lots of healing.

To my 200+ followers, real or not, thank you for sticking with me on this journey.

 

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