Yes, it is!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Son Has Become Enamored...

with my bosom.  Yes, my girls.  And Ben is just 3.
So today after Zumba, I came home and got a shower before I was to take Jackie to choir practice and Awana.  Just as I got out of the shower, Ben comes running in to let me know that he had wet his pants.  So, with a towel wrapped around me, I took Ben's pants off and seated him on the toilet to finish.  Just as I did that, the towel that was wrapped around me came unwrapped.  Of course, Ben got a full view of me, sans clothing, and he promptly pointed up to my breasts and laughed.  Yes, I know, they're funny looking.
After I brought Jackie home tonight from the church, I sat on the sofa and Ben came over to sit on my lap.  He was being my sweet, snugly little boy when I felt the slightest pat on one of my breasts.  I just figured Ben didn't realize where his hand was at the time.  So no big deal.  That is, until he turned and with both hands, Ben quickly pinched me.  On both sides.  Ouch!  And yes, I was fully clothed.  I jumped and pulled Ben away. 
I couldn't help but remember when Ben did that same thing in December 2009 when he was just 2 years old.  We were in Texas for the holidays and to celebrate a relative's 90th Christmas birthday.  On New Year's Eve, Tim's cousin made reservations for everyone (relatives & friends) at a restaurant.  We were all waiting for our reservations to be honored.  I don't know what the delay was about but it was starting to get late for our little ones and they were starting to get a little wired in an effort to stay awake.  Finally, I picked up Ben and stood there in the waiting area with Ben cuddling on me.  Suddenly, he pulled back and with both hands, he quickly honked/pinched me.  In plain view of not only our party, but also the strangers seated around us.  I looked up quickly to see if anybody had just witnessed and it was quickly apparent to me that I had quite the audience.  People, including the strangers, were nearly rolling on the floor in laughter.  I could feel my face turn red from embarrassment.
It is such a joy to have my little boy. ;) 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Character Award Nomination

Jackie came home today with great news.  This is the second time this year that she has been nominated for Character Award. I'm so proud of her.

After this morning's episode with Ben, I wonder if he would be nominated as THE character of his class.  After I brushed Ben's hair this morning, he insisted on wearing one of his sister's hair bows. I told him no and that we need to get him to school.  He balked, so in order to keep the peace this morning, I obliged and told Ben that he could wear while in the car.  We got to the school and before I let Ben out of the car, I tried to take the bow away from Ben.  But he balked again.  I know I'm going to ruffle feathers but in order to get Ben to cooperate and walk into his class, I let him keep the bow on but I pulled the hood of his jacket over his head to hide it.  As soon as we got to Ben's class, I told the teacher assistant, Lisa, that we were having a little problem, hence the reason why he still had the hood on.  She looked at me with concern so I gently lifted up the hood enough for Lisa to see the bow.  She stifled a laugh which in turn made me nearly roll on the floor trying to stifle my own laughter.  Then Ben, being the character that he is, looked at me and Lisa, gave us a huge smile, and then he pulled the bow out of his hair and handed it to me.  That boy!  He has had me in stitches all week with his little antics. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Meuve La Colita

We learned a new Zumba routine this past week.  Suffice it to say that we all laughed hysterically throughout nearly the entire routine.  It was fun, though!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Vitamin D Deficient

I got one of the results of my blood labwork today.  It looks like I am deficient in Vitamin D.  Apparently, my number should be over 40 but right now it is at 13.  Obviously, that's a huge difference.
The nurse put in an order for a prescription Vitamin D supplement for 2000 IUs per day.  That sounds like a lot and it is.  And, she recommended that I drink orange juice fortified with Vitamin D and calcium as I do not drink milk or eat cheese.  And while I take the supplement, I will have to get bloodwork done every 3 months to ensure that I'm not taking too much.  I guess it can be dangerous to consume too much Vitamin D.
I did some research after getting the results and I am hopeful that by taking this supplement, I will soon be able to start running again. I've had shin splints for several months now and recently, I've  been experiencing symptoms of plantar fasciitis.  I know shin splints are common and I also know that if they continue, it can lead to other stuff like stress fractures.  I've been wondering if my heel pain is related to the shin splints.  After researching vitamin D deficiency, I am starting to believe if the recent bone pains I've been experiencing is also related to the deficiency.  I did not mention the bone pains during my doctor visit last week because I really thought it was related to working out a lot and of course, aging.  But what I read is leading me to believe otherwise.
I will hopefully pick up my prescription tomorrow or Friday by the latest.  I'm looking forward to seeing how this will make me feel physically.  I hope to see some results quickly.  Even though I don't particularly enjoy running, I would really like to get back into it if I can get these shin splints, heel pain, and bone pains under control.  Hopefully, the Vitamin D supplement will be the answer.
Even though I've been experiencing more bone pain in recent months, I have not let it hold me back from my fitness routine.  You can call me obsessed at the moment.  Since starting my fitness routine nearly a year ago, the positive effects have outnumbered the negative.  So needless to say, I'm going to continue to work through the pain with the hope that this new vitamin prescription will help.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Why ATMs Should All Be Created Equal...

And why husbands should not go to the grocery store alone.
Okay, before anybody flames me, I should affirm that I do love my husband.  I do, I really do.  But this ADD stuff?  I could live without it.
So yesterday my husband informs me that he had to report his ATM/debit card lost.  He called and told our bank that the ATM that we used mid-week captured his card because of the amount of money that we withdrew.  Captured?  Hmm.  That boggled my mind.  It wasn't as if we withdrew a thousand dollars.  In order to be good stewards and not use a charge card, we actually withdrew a little less than $500 from our checking account to pay the auto repairman the balance due after he repaired the damage to my car left by a hit and run.  Do you think the ATM would really retain a debit card for withdrawing that amount of money?  I don't think so.  My suspicion is that T left his debit card behind at the machine after he withdrew the money.  And instead of putting his debit card in his wallet immediately after the withdrawal, he stood at the machine and counted the money while his card waited for him to grab it.  I know, I was there.  However, I don't recall if T grabbed his card because he was standing at the machine counting the money while I contended with the kids who were seated in the back of the SUV.
When T went to use his card on Friday, he realized he didn't have it in his possession.  Now this is not the first time this has happened.  It seems that anytime T uses a machine that requires the card to be retained until the transaction is terminated, T has a difficult time remembering to grab his card back.  And instead of listening to the warning chime, he assumes that the beep is because his picture is being taken after using the machine.  Seriously folks, at least that was the excuse a few months ago when this very thing happened the first time.  But the excuse he gave to our bank for the missing debit card?  Classic.   My new rule from here on out is that T is no longer allowed to use an ATM that requires the card to be retained inside the machine during the entire transaction.  He must leave immediately and go to the nearest ATM that only requires that the card  be slid through the card reader.  Do you know what I'm talking about?  Well, T does now.
So now that T has no debit card, he either must wait for his new card to arrive or use his credit card.  Today, T wanted to go to the grocery store to get lunch items for the weekend and for work.  He made no mention of loading up on groceries.  In fact, the pantry is well stocked at the moment.  He mentioned that he had no cash on hand and that he would have to use the credit card.  I, wanting to avoid using the credit card, offered T my debit card with the promise that I would get it back as soon as he arrived back home.  And I assumed that he would remember that my PIN for my card is the same as his PIN.   So, off he goes with Jackie in tow.  I don't know why, but soon after T left, I started to panic because I just had a feeling.  A bad feeling.  And my hunch was right.  About an hour and a half after he left, T arrived back home, extremely irritated.  Oh boy, I knew I should have gone with him.  I thought T was going to the store for just a few items, not all out grocery shopping.  First, T went to the BX to buy t-shirts and socks.  He tried to use my debit card but when the cashier asked to verify the card, T was denied.  So, he used the credit card.  Okay, I was fine with that.  It wasn't as if he was charging food with the credit card.  So then he makes his way to the commissary.  T loaded up with groceries and when he went to pay for it, he requested a small amount of cash back so he could pay the bagger a tip (this is a military commissary thing for those who are unfamiliar).  The cashier entered the amount that T requested and told T to slide the card down the card reader.  All seemed to go smooth until the cashier did not hand T the extra cash that he requested.  When T asked for the cash, the cashier informed T that he couldn't give him that money because it was a credit card.  What?  Ughhh.  I just had to shake my head when T explained that because he had a problem using my debit card at the BX, he decided to go ahead and use his CREDIT card at the commissary.  And because it was a credit card, T could not get the cash to pay the tip to the bagger.  Unfortunately, we were charged a few dollars for something as evidenced on the store receipt.  I guess I'll have to call the commissary and the bank on Monday. Ughhhhh.  Also?  Before T left the house, I told him that the commissary rarely verifies my card and that he more than likely would have no problem using it.  It's too bad that T decided to deviate from his stated plans to me.  That trip to the BX really threw him off.  Dang ADD.
As I put the groceries away, I told T that I didn't not expect him to get that amount of groceries. His response? That's why he wanted me to go with him.  Heheheh.  First of all, he never asked me to go with him and second of all, he had said that he was going to get just a few items, not go shopping for clothing and a cart full of groceries.  If I had known he was going to grocery shop, believe me, I would have gone with T because he really does not know how to grocery shop.  And because he let a little 6-year girl tell him what she liked and he bought it without considering how this same little girl has previously asked us to buy these certain items and then decided she did not like them after all.  So now I have stuff in the pantry and refrigerator that is there for display purposes.
While I was still putting groceries away, T told me that he also bought stuff for dinner.  Okay, I did notice baking potatoes and fresh broccoli and a steak.  I assumed that is what he bought for dinner.  Since I don't eat red meat, I just figured that I would eat just a potato and broccoli.
Soon after I got the groceries put away, T asked me what was for dinner.  I couldn't help but stop in my tracks.  Did I hear him right?  I thought he bought stuff for dinner.  Arghhh.  I told him that I though he bought stuff for dinner.  Well, not the steak.  The steak was for him but he didn't get anything else for me or the kids.  I just had to shake me head.  I could not even respond.  And I didn't want to say anything else for fear that I would make him feel even worse after the ordeal that he had just experienced.  So, I just sat on the sofa and read a fellow blogger's blog.  Then a few moments later, T asked again what was for dinner.  Okay, now that I had a few moments to decompress the stress of T's ordeal, I got up to look in the pantry for ideas.  I immediately noticed taco stuff.  I asked T if he wanted that and he gave me an affirmative.  So, I get everything together quickly and noticed that I did not have fresh lettuce and we needed another tomato.  So Tim offered to go to Dierberg's just down the road from us.  I gave him explicit instructions for using my debit card again.  He seemed surprised when I reminded him of my PIN.  It was immediately apparently that he must have forgotten that we both have the same PINs as I had requested years ago.  I told T that we needed just lettuce and tomato, nothing else.  I was so proud of him when he arrived back home in minutes with the requested items in hand.  Everything appeared to go smoothly for T.  That is, until T said that I was going to be mad at him.  What now?  He said that the 2 little tomatoes cost him nearly $4.00.  Well, I knew Dierberg's was a higher priced grocery store.  But $4.00 per pound tomatoes?  I asked T if he bought the beefsteak ones.  He showed me the tomatoes.  Oh no, those were not beefsteak.  They were just the regular greenhouse variety.  So, I took a closer look at the store receipt.  I noticed just 2 items, lettuce and shallots.  Shallots!  Shallots. You know, that onion-type of vegetable.  And it looks nothing like a tomato.  No wonder those 2 little tomatoes were nearly $4.00.
I then asked T if he went through the self-checkout.  Yes.  But he said he used the code that was stamped on the sticker.  Fail.  He entered the wrong code.  Ughh, ADD.  So we enjoyed some expensive tomatoes tonight with our turkey tacos.
Lessons learned this week?  Do not let ADD husbands use ATMS alone and do not let ADD husbands go to the commissary alone.  And?  Make sure ADD husbands know the difference between shallots and tomatoes and to use the attended check-out lanes at the grocery store.
Tomorrow will be a better day.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Joys of Raising My Boy

I look at my little boy and see a baby still.  But he's no longer a baby.  He's three years old.  But I still have to remind myself that my little Ben is a big boy now.  He's doing big boy things.  He goes to preschool, too.  And he has a mind of his own.
Lately, some of the things that Ben has been doing is making me realize that my baby boy is growing up all too quickly.  And he figures things out so quickly that it boggles my mind.  A couple of weeks ago, Ben discovered how to disengage the lever door lock on the pantry door.  It is not an easy thing for little hands to maneuver.  In fact, even my 6-year was unable to disengage it until a couple of weeks ago, around the same time that Ben figured it out.  So now the kids are helping themselves to whatever they want in the pantry.  Grrr. 
My big boy is also a mischievous boy.  Lately, he has been a real big tease with the dogs.  In fact, Dugan is getting downright irritated with it and I don't blame him.  I do try to keep Ben from getting to crazy with the dogs. 
While cleaning house today, I walked past the sofa and noticed something behind it.  I looked closer and there was a box of cheese crackers.  Now the kids know my rule of eating in the kitchen and not in the family room.  It appears that Ben had helped himself to the crackers in the pantry that he now knows how to enter, and proceeded to sit next to the sofa while watching TV.  All while snacking on the crackers.  When I came around, Ben quickly hid the box of crackers behind the sofa hoping that I would not see that he was eating in the family room.  He thinks he's so smart.  Well, actually, he is.
The mischief did not stop there today.  We had a snowstorm last night that dumped several inches of snow.  After the snow stopped falling later in the afternoon, the kids asked if they could go outside to play in the snow.  So, they got bundled up and excitedly ran outside to play in the snow.  Ben quickly learned how to make a snowball to throw at his sister.  Needless to say, Jackie was not too thrilled about it.  Ben loves to irritate his sister.  After Ben had enough of throwing snow at his sister, he decided that it would be a great idea to throw a snowball inside the house.  Ben came up to the door with a snowball in his hand, opened up the door and promptly threw a snowball into the house.  It happened so quickly that we did not realize what Ben was up to.  He is so full of mischief and he knows it.  Thankfully, the snow didn't go too far and just landed on the hard floor in the foyer.  Easy cleanu-up. 

My boy is also growing up on the potty front.  And I'm not all that thrilled  You see, I like the idea of training little boys to potty while sitting on the toilet.  You know, it just keeps the pee messes to a minimum.  So Ben sits on the toilet and I've even taught him to wipe off  after he pees.  Good mom I am, huh?  I don't want him walking around with pee stains on the front of his pants.  Now Ben would rather just shake it off.  I can only assume that he learned that from his father.  So tonight, my big boy learned to pee standing up at the toilet.  I was a little sad for a moment.  Sad because  that means he is no longer a baby and is growing up into a big boy. And I dread the thought that my cleaning duties have just increased.  Aghhh! 
I enjoy being the mom of a little boy more than I ever imagined I would.  I remember when I was 5 months pregnant and finding out that we were going to have a boy.  I was totally unprepared for that idea.  This sounds terrible but I didn't want a boy.  I wasn't sure I would know what to do with a baby boy.  And since I always wanted a little sister, I guess I was hoping to live vicariously through Jackie by giving her a little sister.  But alas, that was not to be and I am so grateful.   My little boy is so fun, mischievous, loving, and just plain cute.  He's just the cutest little boy around.  And he just makes my heart melt with his sweet kisses and tight hugs.  I sure do love my son, mischief and all.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

So Happy Today

I had a doctor's appointment this morning for routine stuff.  I asked the nurse to tell me how much weight I've lost since I started working out in February of last year.  She was able to go as far back as March of last year and the difference between then and now was more than 16 pounds.  This is exciting news.  The nurse also reminded me that I also have to consider the muscle mass that I've gained, otherwise, my weight loss might possibly be more if I didn't lift weights and just counted on diet and light exercise.  Of course, I knew this.
I remember when I first joined the gym at the encouragement of a friend.  The first thing I knew I wanted to try was Zumba.  I was hooked right away.  This is coming from somebody who is not a dancer and not very coordinated.  I took dance for a very short time when I was much, much younger and found it to be kind of boring. But Zumba?  Not boring.  It's almost like a party atmosphere and I love it.  After a couple months of just doing zumba and a little bit of cardio exercises, I added personal training to help me build strength and stamina.  That is when I got back into running, too.  A few weeks after I started doing zumba, I noticed a slight difference in how my clothes fit.  Nothing major, though.  It wasn't until after I cut out sodas and other junk and got serious about strength training and running that I started to notice a real difference in how my clothes were fitting.  This motivated me to continue doing what I was doing.  There had been many times that I felt like quitting the strength training because it was grueling and exhausting.  I felt self-conscious and thought many times that I was just too old to be starting this stuff.  But when I saw the numbers at the scale continue to drop, I knew I had to keep trudging along.  I'm so glad I did because I finally got to where I actually enjoy working out most of the time.  It is also a nice feeling when I hear others encourage me to keep up the hard work.  It certainly is hard work, no doubt. 
Since joining the gym, I have tried other group exercise classes and I have enjoyed most of them.  I don't particularly enjoy the spinning class.  But I really enjoy zumba, ABC Fitness, and Kickfit/Turbokick.  I am currently into my third week of a 7-week kettlebell class.  Now that is a grueling class but I am looking forward to nice results with my arm and shoulder areas.  That is what keeps me going to that class because otherwise, I would have dropped out by now.  It is most certainly not a fun class.  In fact, I think I like it even less than spinning class.  But, I made the commitment for 7 weeks and I'm determined to get through it.  Thanks to Theresa.  It was her idea. 
I should also say that this past year has been a much better year depression wise.  I have shared previously about my battle with depression and anxiety.  I write about it much better than I talk about it.  I'd been told many times how exercise improves moods and helps with depression.  Well, I am proof that is true.  Regular exercise has definitely made a dramatic difference with my moods and confidence.  I still struggle with it at times, though. And I still struggle regularly with panic/anxiety.  I've cut out sodas pretty much and I limit my caffeine consumption to help me keep my panic/anxiety disorder in check.  
Since becoming more open about my struggles, I've had many people tell me what an inspiration I am.  When I first started this blog, I did not set out to be an inspiration to others.  I didn't think much of myself so how could I be an inspiration to others?  This blog started out merely as a way to keep our long-distance family and friends in touch.  But it has evolved into somewhat of a therapeutic tool for me.  It has also turned into a sort of networking tool in that I have been contacted by others and vice versa to share similar stories.  And in a sense, it is a learning tool for others and for myself.  This blog is more than I expected it to be and I'm thankful. 
Back to this morning.  The nurse practitioner was very pleased with my stats including my weight.  She said I was looking great and to keep up the good work.  She was concerned, however, that I am not taking in enough Vitamin D or Calcium.  I don't like to drink milk or eat cheese.  So she gave me a list of other foods and vitamins to help me get more Vitamin D.  She also ordered bloodwork for Vitamin D and some other test, a CA-something.  So now I have to add another goal of adding enough Vitamin D to my diet.  And does anybody have experience with endomitrial biopsy?
I am looking forward to a great year of wellness.  I am determined to continue with this routine of regular exercise not only for my own benefit but also for my children.  I want to be a good example of healthy living for my children to one day pass on to their own children.  It is more important than ever to me that I continue to live as healthy as possible so that I can be available for my children. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

If I Had Been On the Mayflower...

This is what Jackie brought home from school today.  While some of the other students wrote things like Buzz Lightyear, Barbie doll, baby doll, skateboard, Jackie definitely has her priorities right.  So thankful. 

Healing Begins

I was linked to this beautiful song on youtube after watching another video.  I'm not too familiar with the group that sings it.  However, I think this is would make a good anthem for my blog.  The group that sings it is apparently a christian group but the religious message is nearly covert with the exception of one mention toward the end.
The lyrics are included on this link.  Enjoy!

I Just Don't Seem the Type

Yeah, I don't seem the type to do a lot of things.  This post is inspired by a recent comment I received.  The dialogue involved a comment about hiphop vs. Zumba.  This other person included a comment about how hiphop is more professional than Zumba.  Then I commented how I like Zumba because it is for everyone at all levels.  Then this person says I should try hiphop because it has more booty popping to which I responded that my favorite zumba instructors include a lot of booty stuff. I was not, however, opposed to trying hip-hop.   Everything seemed cool.  That is, until I received a private message commenting how I don't seem the hiphop type.  You know, I don't mind when people say I should give something a try.  I'm game to try anything.  Well, almost anything as long as it doesn't involve something like skydiving or bungee jumping, or something that could potentially put my life in danger.  I have kids to raise, you know?  But, to tell somebody that they don't seem the type to do something positive is just plain wrong.  I am one for encouraging people to give something a try and I've become even more passionate about doing so in this past year after making some positive changes for myself.
For most of my life, I've always been told that I don't seem the type for whatever.  But I am here to tell you that appearances can certainly be deceiving.  I may appear to be somebody who isn't capable of much but I've been known to fool many people over the years. All because I didn't appear the type.  Whatever.
I've had to prove myself time and time again. And I get sort of tired of it but I'm determined that I will no longer be a doormat.
Early on, I had to prove to my dad (by adoption) that I was not going to be the unwed, welfare mother that he just knew I would become.  I have to assume that he must have thought that having babies out of wedlock was hereditary.  After all, not only did my mother have me out of wedlock, but my grandmother (Mother's mother) was already quite pregnant when she first got married. So, it was just inevitable that I would follow suit.  Right?  Well, I proved Dad wrong by getting my high school diploma and later on my college degree while I worked full time to pay a mortgage for a home that he never thought I would own.  All without becoming pregnant! That high school diploma was my ticket out.  No way was I going to ruin that plan by having a baby.  Years later, an aunt shared that she also thought that I would become an unwed mother.  I really don't understand that because I never gave anybody a reason to think that of me.  So glad that I was able to prove these people wrong.
That same aunt was surprised that I was able to hold a job for a long period of time.  Again, I don't understand why she thought so little of me.  Perhaps it had a lot to do with Mother's son who, still to this day, is unable to hold a job for any length of time. 
I remember telling a couple of people that I was considering joining the military.  Unfortunately, I believed the folks who told me that I wouldn't make it in the military.  I really regret listening to them.  I missed out on an opportunity there.  So that was one time that I proved others right with their opinion of me.  
I also proved a lot of people wrong by graduating with honors from high school and subsequently with high honors (3.9) from college.  And I worked full-time plus overtime while attending college. 
I remember being at a party in my early 20s.  I was all of 105 pounds but that didn't deter my excitement about the chance to try windsurfing.  When it was my turn to give a try, I overheard several people in the background say that I "can't do that, she's too little/skinny."  Guess what?  With just a little bit of assistance, I got the sail up and took off.  I even have a picture to prove it. I've been windsurfing just a handful of times since then.  The same with jet-skiing.
I was told once that I didn't seem the type to ride roller-coasters.  Well, I used to be a fanatic and even had a yearly pass to Busch Gardens so I could ride all I wanted to.  Unfortunately, I no longer ride them because they make me dizzy.  Darn ear problems.
I remember when I first started working for a major corporation (worked there nearly 15 years), the supervisor explained how I might eventually earn bonuses.  Eventually. A couple of my co-workers took it upon themselves to let me know that it would be awhile before I would qualify for a bonus.  Awhile. You know, since I was new and still learning the job.  And I probably didn't seem like the type who worked hard enough to earn bonuses.  But I was a hard worker and very dedicated to my job.  And.... I earned my first bonus during my first quarter there!  Again, I had to prove people wrong.  And they weren't happy.   Of course, having such a guilt conscience, I felt a little guilty at first because I felt a little bit as if I took away from their bonuses.  After that, I consistently earned bonuses and made a few enemies along the way.  Then I started speaking up for myself (yes, I was known as the quiet one for awhile) and many of my co-workers were really thrown for a loop.  I didn't seem the type to defend myself.  Imagine that.
I proved a couple of people wrong when I studied for and received my Florida real estate license.  I never became active at selling real estate.  The main reason I even thought about selling real estate as a hobby was because I was so interested in looking inside the really old, beautifully remodeled houses around the Tampa Bay area.  I wanted to explore them.  But I was too busy working full-time and overtime and studying for other classes.  But I remember the two people's comments when I started to study for the license,  One of them said "Oh, Sammie, you can't do that."  And the other person essentially told me that I won't pass the test.  Oh yeah, I had to prove these people wrong.  Again.  So, I finished the course, studied for the test, and drove across the state to take the test on my appointed date.  A test that more than 50% of test-takers failed the first time or two.  After I handed in my test, I waited patiently for my results.  While I waited for the results, I couldn't help but wonder if I was about to prove these other people right instead of proving them wrong.  Because, whoa, that test was brutal.  Finally, I heard my name called up and I was handed a sealed envelope with the results inside.  I was so anxious because I had just witnessed several people leave disappointed that they would have to re-take the test if they wanted the license.  I was elated to see that I had passed and not only that, I had a very good score for a first timer.  Score!  I could not wait to get home and call these two individuals to tell them the good news.  The first person didn't seem too happy with the news.  Not sure why because she, herself, was a real estate salesperson.  The second person sincerely seemed happy for me and admitted the reason why she didn't think I would pass.  She thought I studied things too deeply. I'll admit that she may be right on that.
I could list so many examples of how I've had to prove others wrong about their perceptions of me.  But, I'm now going to share how I've proved myself wrong.  In good ways.  In ways that even now, I feel like I have to pinch myself to make sure it's all real.
One of the first ways that I proved myself wrong was the accomplishment of earning my college degree.  When I first started taking classes, I felt so worn down by this point that I really did not think I would make it.  But, I did.  And I did it all while working full-time (plus over-time).  And I won a scholarship to finish my junior and senior years. That scholarship was the reason I was able to graduate free of student debt. 
I surprised myself by buying my first home while in my mid-20s.  Up until then, I really thought that I would never own my own home because in my mind, home ownership required a huge income.  The process was so nerve-wracking and I really doubted my ability to actually own a home. I was ready to back out of it all.  But I trudged on and am so thankful that I did.  Oh, I miss that place so much.  I drive by it every time I go back home to Florida.  I miss it so. Here is a picture of my very first home that I bought.

I could offer other examples of how I've proved myself wrong.  But the biggest example is that I became a wife.  And a mother.  I always doubted my ability to be a wife.  Growing up, I didn't have the best example of a marriage.  In fact, the idea of marriage terrified me for years.  I would change my mind about it at times but I always ended up deciding against the idea of marriage.  I rarely allowed men to get too close to me for fear that they would have ideas of marriage.  I also swore that I would never have children.  I just knew that I did not have the ability to be a mother.  But just as with marriage, the idea of children occasionally crossed my mind but deep down inside, I just knew I could not be a mother.  Having said that, I have always had a heart for adoption and I thought that maybe one day I would adopt an older, needy child.  When I think about that, I don't know why I felt more capable of parenting an adopted child over a biological child.
Now rewind 9 years ago next month when I finally tied the knot.  (And in the meantime, I probably proved to a lot people that I wasn't gay after all. You know how people are if somebody isn't married or have children by age 25)  It isn't easy being a wife all the time.  Sure, I miss my single years at times. I was able to do whatever I wanted to, whenever I wanted to.  But I do not regret becoming a wife to my husband.  And it's been a wild ride for sure. 
A couple of years after we got married, our precious little daughter joined our family.  Wow, now I'm a mother. I was nervous, excited, scared, happy.  But all that quickly gave way to doubt.  Again.  Especially, when it became apparent that I had a huge challenge on my hands with a colicky baby on top of dealing with post partum depression.  But somehow we survived.  I may not remember much of that first year, unfortunately, but we got through it.  And motherhood wasn't so bad after all.  But as much as I loved my little girl, after that harrowing first year, I was not so sure about the idea of adding another child to our family.  So imagine my shock when I became pregnant with my son.  I vacillated between fear and excitement and wondered how I was going to handle two children.  Two children!  I remember the time (way before Ben) when I took a fellow military wife to take her vehicle to an auto shipment center in preparation for a move to Germany.  Jackie was not quite 2 years old.  Edina had a baby and a 3-year girl.  I was watching all three children while Edina was inside the office taking care of paperwork.  Edina later shared that while she was taking care of the paperwork, she had observed me taking care of all three children and thought that I looked so natural as a potential mother to three.  Ha! Really?  I just remember feeling overwhelmed caring for all three kids by myself. Perhaps because they were all so close in age?  I don't know but I do know that I had a hard enough time dealing with my own high maintenance daughter and just could not fathom having another child. I just brushed Edina's sentiments away.  But as fate would have it, now here I sit, with two beautiful children.  I wouldn't change it for anything.  Especially when my precious 3-year old son comes over to me, moves my hair away from ear, and kisses me next to my ear. He just tickles me every time. He is so cute and I just love it.
Motherhood has been full of challenges so far and I know it will continue to be challenging.  I may never win Mother of the Year ( or even Wife of the Year) but I love being a mom more than I ever imagined.  There are so many ups and downs (maybe more of the latter at times) but I am proving to myself that I AM capable of being a wife and mother.  My kids are my world and they give me purpose. 
It's hard to believe that it's going on 9 years since I began my journey into marriage and motherhood.  And I still have to pinch myself often to make sure it's real. 
I know, this is another long post but this is something else that has been on my mind for a long time and the recent comment spurred me to action here.
For those people who doubt the abilities of others, shame on them.  For those who discourage others from trying something positive, just because they don't seem the type, shame on them.  We should serve to encourage others to try something new.  I think I'm going to find a hip-hop class.  Who cares if I don't seem the type?  It can't hurt to try it.  Right? 
So, for those who are interested in Zumba but say you're not coordinated, or that you don't know a thing about dancing, or that you are heavier than those people they show on TV (yes, I've heard that one, too), get over it and come to the party.  Most people there could care less about how much/little you weigh, what you wear (as long as you're covered in the right places), what you look like, what your body shape is, or even how coordinated, er, uncoordinated you are.  We are all there for a purpose; to have fun while getting fit.  The beauty of Zumba is that it is for everyone and the moves can be modified to your own comfort level.  Just get over your doubt about it and give it a try. 
I will admit that I doubted my ability to keep up with Zumba.  I also doubted my ability to be able to get fit again and lose weight.  I went to my first Zumba class because I was curious what all the rage was about and to give it a try.  I was hooked right away.  And I was terrible at it, at first.  But I kept at it and am able to follow the routines and keep up relatively easy now.  If I can do it, then you can do it, too. I'm more fit than I was during my skinny years.  And I've lost weight the weight that I had gained in the last couple of years.  Another thing that I had doubted that I could do. 
Oh, and those people on TV?  They're professionals. 


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I Think Christianity Is An Exclusive Club

To be a christian is to be a member of an exclusive club.  A club that I don't belong to.  I've never been one for clubs anyway.  I've always had a difficult time fitting in.  Either I didn't dress right, talk right, make the right amount of money, was not attractive enough, etc.
Having just said that, there is just one church where I truly felt like I belong but unfortunately, the military yanked us away from that.  Ever since then, I have felt very out of place at all of the churches that we have attended.  As of now, I only attend for the sake of the family.  I don't partake in any of the extra activities unless it involves my children.  My children enjoy going so I'm not going to take that away from them.  I'll let them make their own decision about religion as they get older.
I've done a lot of reflecting this past year on what may have led up to my religious "crisis" as some of my religious friends have referred to it as.  I really think it all started during my childhood.  I never thought I would reach this point but now that I have my own children, I am determined that my children will not experience what I did when it comes to religion.  Now don't get me wrong, there are some good memories but many of the bad experiences out-shadow the good. I must face the fact that my early religious experiences have shaped who I am today.  Now, one might find it ironic that I would even take my children to church.  It is.  But things have changed over the years and more than likely, my children will not have the same negative experiences as I.
Without going into too much detail (well, I'll try not to), I will start by saying that my first church experience involved going to a Pentecostal church (Assembly of God, to be exact).  I was just a little girl when Mother started to attend church.  I think it was right after we moved to North Carolina and one of our new neighbors talked Mother into attending church.  Life changed for her.  And I would like to say that it was a positive change for the first several years.  As a very young little girl, I remember positive experiences.  But things started to change as I got older.  There were so many things that happened at that particular church that it would just be way too much to cover here.  There was a lot of brainwashing going on.  And a LOT of judgment. I always felt that I was the biggest sinner of all and that God would not listen to me whenever I sinned.  As a little girl, I literally feared God and could not fathom how he would even listen to me at all if I sinned. That was just how I was taught.  Or at least, that's how I interpreted it.  I remember one time saying "heck"  at some sort of church event and the entire room of women became silent.  Even as a little girl, I remember feeling like I had just committed the worst sin ever.  I remember hearing the preacher preach against premarital sex, alcohol, cigarettes, cursing, wearing shorts (women), and so much more.  Every time I wore shorts, I always wondered if I was condemned to hell.  (I remember a lady from church saw me, in my own neighborhood, wearing shorts and she chastised me) My dad was an alcoholic and he cussed a lot and I always believed he was condemned to hell because of that. I lived in fear for so much of my life that I was going to go to hell. Maybe that is part of my anxiety problem. Fear.
I remember that although I was a participant in many of the youth activities, I never really felt like I belonged to the club.  I was always picked on for something. Whether it be my coke-bottle-thick glasses or my clothes, I was picked on.  Sometimes the kids seemed really nice to me and at other times, they were downright mean.  I had this one friend who was always nice to me and I got many of her hand-me-down clothes for which I was so appreciative.  But I never really felt like I measured up to her.  Even though she was just slightly younger than me, I looked up to her because she had such loving parents who made sure all her needs were met.
Speaking of clothes, Mother was not good about meeting my clothing needs.  She was just too cheap and counted on others to give me their hand-me-downs.  As a result, I often wore mismatched or old clothes.  This always bothered me and I knew others looked down on me for it.  Mother's son, however, got new clothes because he didn't have anybody to give him free stuff.  I remember at one point that I had just one dress for church.  Wearing pants to church was a no-no at the time.  I didn't even have any dress shoes even though I begged Mother to buy me just a cheap pair.  Nope.  So, I was forced to wear this dress and tennis shoes to church.  The dress had a tie-back.  I remember one Sunday during Sunday school, when we were dismissed I got up to leave and the chair came up with me.  The boys sitting behind me had taken the tie to my dress and tied it to the chair.  I was crushed. That is one memory that was seared into my brain because it showed just how worthless I was at that place.  But that was just the kind of crap that I had to put up with.  I often suffered in silence because I knew nothing would be done if I had said anything.  I was not a favorite and therefore, I was unimportant.
I remember going to camp with these same kids.  I loved going to camp but only because it got me away from my home environment.  I never hung around with the kids from my church, though.  I had to find my own new friends.  I was very insecure and that made it difficult for me to forge new friendships.  The insecurity only got worse as I got older.
The adults were no better.  Again, sometimes they seemed nice to me and other times, I was just a burden. Oftentimes, if something bad happened, I was looked at as the guilty party.  Perhaps that is one reason why I have such a guilt complex still today.  I was a good kid and tried my best to please people.  I stayed out of trouble but because I looked dumb and oftentimes didn't fight for myself, I was the easy target for blame.
There were a couple of times that I tried to participate in fund-raisers for Missionettes or whatever else there was and I was not allowed to.  The reason?  Because of Mother's son.  He had a history of stealing and lying so therefore, I was deprived of participating in certain events due to his behavior.
There was a guy at this church who I felt was making some moves on me.  He would give me hugs in such a way that made me feel uncomfortable.  I knew this feeling very well as this was not the first experience that I had encountered in my young life.  So, after a couple of episodes from this man (who was very well-liked by the way), I tried to tell somebody.  As usual, I was just trying to cause trouble.  I was told that he was just trying to show me Jesus' love and that he wasn't trying to harm me.  Yeah, right!  I heard from somebody else in recent years about this same thing happening to them.  But that person was very special to everyone so I'm sure she was believed and not accused of trying to stir trouble.
I think I was around 14 or 15 years old when Mother quit going to church.  She started reverting back to her old ways of smoking, drinking, and even dating other men while she was separated from her husband.  I still attended church but I always felt like my family was being judged severely and that we were all condemned to hell.  As a young teen, I was very sensitive to other people's comments and maybe a little too sensitive but this is what I perceived from others at church.
One may ask why I even continued going to church.  That's a simple answer.  The main reason was that it was better than staying home even if it meant that I wasn't treated with much respect.  Also, I was so afraid, due to that preacher's sermons, that if I did not go to church, then I was going to burn in hell. As a young person who had known nothing else in regard to churches, I really believed that.  After all, the preacher often chastised the Catholics, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the Mormons, etc.  I really believed the only way to heaven was to continue to attend this sick church and continue to be brainwashed.  I really believed that if I wanted to be healed of something, the only way was to have this preacher lay hands on me and not by another preacher at another church.
I know this sounds like a lot of BS but unless one was there, one cannot truly understand how severely many of us were affected by this church.  And I'm not the only one who agrees on this.
During my last year of high school, I finally broke away and started to attend another church whenever I could get a ride there.  I had such skewed idea of religion that at first, I felt guilty and as if I was sinning when I left this other church but I gradually learned that I was going to be okay as long as I went to a God-fearing church that believed in the Bible.
After I moved to Florida, I started to attend another Assembly of God church but soon switched and started attending a Church of God with my aunt in Tampa.  It was okay but again, it seemed that if you didn't dress right, talk right, have the right money, weren't pretty enough, etc., then you weren't as special.  But because I didn't want to go to hell, I continued to go to church. I remember at one point that I was going to go to hell, that I asked for salvation nearly every single day.  As you can probably already see, I was so messed up when it came to religion.  I really didn't know what was the truth and what was going to keep me from going to hell.  I was in my very late teens to very early 20s.  And this is around the time when my anxiety disorder really picked up and I started to struggle with panic attacks.  I really think the extreme fear of going to hell had a lot to do with this as strange as that may seem.
I continued to attend church with my aunt for a few years until I broke from that and started to try other churches.  I finally ended up at a very large church in Clearwater, Florida where I attended for nearly 10 years.  I met some great friends there and for that I am grateful.  Even when I struggled through dark times in my life, there were a handful of people who really did care.  But looking back at that church, it had many problems.  There are just too many things to go into detail.  But when you consider that divorce was rampant there even though it was preached against, then something was severely wrong.  And right around the time that finally decided to quit there, the pastor ended getting divorced himself.  Something that he preached against and here he was doing it. That preacher had way too much pride, in my opinion.  One memory is forever seared in my mind that affected how I perceived this "man of god".  This girl, who was slightly developmentally disabled, was so proud of this framed religious print that she bought for her little apartment.  She brought it to church to show this pastor, her pastor. I witnessed her waiting for her turn to speak to this "man of god" and to show him her new print.  As soon as it was her turn, she walked up to him.  As soon as he noticed what she was going to do, he waved her off and went immediately to the next more important person to talk to.  That greatly affected me and made me think more deeply about this preacher's comments that the "church is a hospital".  In my mind, what he meant by this comment was that the church was a place for everybody; young, old, frail, strong, rich, poor, mentally ill, developmentally disabled, eccentrics, substance abusers, gay or straight, etc.  I don't know what this preacher really meant by that comment but it was quite apparent that this young girl was not very important to him.  My heart was crushed for her.
Now you might have noticed that I mentioned gay/straight.  I believe gays should also be welcome in churches.  I don't believe living in a gay lifestyle is moral but just like a drug abuser is immoral and is welcome to attend a church, then a gay person should be just as welcome.  What's that saying?  Isn't it "hate the sin, love the sinner?"  So there you go.  I don't agree with the gay lifestyle but I will not hate the gay person.  I have loved ones who are gay and they know my feelings on it but that I will never forfeit my relationship with them.  But they understand that I do not agree with that part of their lives.
As I got more into my adult years, I started to make my own decisions without as much influence from others in regard to religion.  I just got sick of other religious zealots trying to cram their own philosophies into my brain. I got sick of preachers getting into the "prosperity gospel".  Oh, I could get into some heated discussions over this.  Suffice it to say that I strongly feel that people need to take care of their own basic financial needs before they even consider sending any of their money to these money grubbers, especially the ones on TV. 
There is so much more that I could share but I will fast forward to after I got married and we started to attend an awesome church in Brandon, Florida.  The pastor of that particular church was the untmost best pastor I have ever experienced.  He was a true man of integrity.  He loved everyone, including the down and out, the gays, the poor people, EVERYONE.  But as much as he loved everyone, he preached straight from the Bible which meant that he preached against immoral lifestyles such as substance abuse, homosexuality, gambling, lying, cheating, etc.  And he did with LOVE.  LOVE.  He loved people.  Perhaps this is why the large gay group in Tampa showed such compassion when Pastor Pollock was tragically killed a couple of years ago.  Well, most of them showed compassion.  I remember Pastor Pollock as a man who did not put himself above others (like so many pastors in my past).  I remember him as a family man, a man of such integrity that I had utmost respect for him.  This man was just very unique and very special to all of us in his congregation.  I remember Pastor Pollock blending with the congregation on Sunday mornings and during the greeting time, he made his way around to as many people as possible to shake hands.  He was a friend to EVERYBODY.  Or least he tried to be.  He didn't put himself on a pedestal like so many pastors past. Pastor Forrest was well-loved and highly regarded. I so looked forward to Sundays because I just loved his sermons.  After the military moved us to the St. Louis metro area, we knew that we would not find another church like it.  No church is the same as another, we know.  I felt like I left a piece of me in Brandon. I missed my church terribly.
Unfortunately, two and half years ago, Pastor Forrest along with one of his sons, was killed in a plane crash.  I remember falling to my knees in prayers when I got the news that he was missing.  I begged God that he would be found alive.  He had a wife and five other children who needed him.  Surely, God wouldn't take such an incredibly special man from his family?  I remember the news that his plane and his body along with his son's body was found.  I refused to believe the news.  I just could not believe that God would take this man away from his family and from the thousands of other people who loved him.  I hardly knew the man personally but I felt like I lost an awesome brother.
Looking back, this is about the time that I started to have many questions about god but was unable to find answers.  Then this event just threw me in a tailspin about my faith.  I just could not understand how a loving god could take this man and his very young innocent son away from their family.  The loss of this young child so tragically just shook me to the core. Any loss like that shakes me but this really affected me because this is a child that I had the privilege to meet.  It causes me to become anxious about losing my own children.  Like I said, I have an anxiety disorder.  A year ago in November, a good friend of mine lost one of her sons in an accident.  I'll never forget because just the night before that (actually just hours), she brought her little girl to Jackie's 5th birthday party.  We talked about E and how he was starting to turn his life around and was going to start college in another state near the grandparents.  I was so happy for my friend, S.  Little did we know that just hours later, she would get the phone call that every mother dreads.  Again, I just could not believe how god would take such a young life away.  It shook me and caused me more anxiety about my own children. Again.  This latest event made me question my faith even more.  I just cannot understand how a loving god can take away such precious assets, lives who have potential to make a huge difference in so many people's lives.  I still often think of S and how happy she was that night at Jackie's birthday party.  And then just hours, her world was turned upside down.  I just don't understand it.  At all.
So, in the past couple of years, I really don't know where I stand in regard to faith.  I believe there is something out there.  Just not sure what at the moment.  A lot of people ask me about my faith but they don't seem to really care.  Their response? "Well, I'll be praying for you."  Good, I appreciate the thought.  Unfortunately, I don't believe most people are sincere enough to do it. 
I know this probably sounds like a lot of rambling and some things are probably repeated.  But here you have it, for those who want to know why I struggle with faith.  There is so much to this but it's just too much to write here.  I don't want to bore anyone but perhaps this will provide some answers to those who question my faith.