I am not a fan

We half-heartedly “do” the Easter Bunny. We never really make a big fuss over it, but we don’t refute it either. The kids all get Easter baskets full of candy and little gifts, but we really put the focus on the true meaning of Easter, the Resurrection.

Despite our lackadaisical emphasis on the Easter Bunny, Jonathan is obsessed. One day we were running some errands and he asked me if I liked the Easter Bunny. I said, ” Well, I am not really a fan. I guess that he’s ok, but I think that real focus of Easter should be on Jesus, not some silly bunny. ” His mouth hit the floor. He looked at me in disbelief. “What?!?” he asked me. “Mom, I am a fan of Jesus annnnnd the Easter Bunny.” I just chuckled and thought that was the end of it. Well, it most certainly was not. He was apparently really bothered by the fact that I told him that I was not a “fan.” He started to ask everyone else in our family what their thoughts were on the Easter Bunny. And he made a point to call me out each time. “Mom said that she isn’t a fan. She probably won’t even get any candy” he would say with a raised eyebrow. That night, he asked Coley if she liked the Easter Bunny. She said that she did and she hoped that he would bring her skittles and jellybeans. He nodded his head and asked her if she had ever spoken to the Easter Bunny. She smiled and said that no, she hadn’t. With that, I sent him up to bed. A minute later, he yells downstairs (in a high squeaky pretend voice), “Coley? Are  you there? It’s me the Easter Bunny! I am going to bring you Skittles and jellybeans!” Coley and I looked at each other and practically lost it. “The Easter Bunny?! Wow! What are you doing here?” she responded. “I just wanted to tell you that I am going to bring you some candy because you are a fan!” he answered in the “EB” voice. But then, in his normal voice he asks, “Sissy, who are you talking to? It sounds like the Easter Bunny!” To which the “EB” voice answered, “It is the Easter Bunny Jonathan!  I am going to bring you candy too!” Oh my gosh, we were dying. It was hysterical. I am telling you what. That kid is something else. And I might not be a fan of the Easter Bunny, but I am definitely a fan of Jonathan. It should make for an interesting Easter.

Boring…so delightfully boring…

So here it is…the first official post on the new blog. I feel as if I should have something monumentally inspiring and thought provoking to say. But I can happily say that I have nothing of importance to talk about and honestly after the last couple of months, I will happily take boring and mundane. I was just reveling in the normalcy of this weekend. It was just a plain old boring and wonderfully ordinary weekend. Ahhhhhhh … Saturday the weather was beautiful and the kids played outside all day. My husband and I took my sweet little bogle for a walk. I mean, come on! Walking my dog?!? How much more normal can you get? We watched a movie. We went to church. I made homemade shamrock shakes for the kids, which elevated me up somewhere near rockstar status for about 4 1/2 minutes. The husband and I took the dog for another (?!?!?) walk. I read a book. We had dinner. My kids played a board game, as in a game that did not require an ounce of electricity. All of them played together and didn’t fight. ( OK, maybe they fought but I was blissfully unaware because as I said earlier…I was reading a book!) It was basically as normal and ordinary as you could get and I loved every single second of it. Today I had a a lovely lunch with my youngest. During which he informed me that, ” Macterneens (nectarines) are like fake peaches that basically taste like nothing.” I just nodded and stifled a giggle. I am going to soak up as much of this everyday  “everydayness” as I can because you and I both know that the chaos is right around the corner.

The Titanic…

I have noticed that all of my thoughts and feelings, and therefore my blogs, have been so desperate sounding. Rather angry. But I am not surprised. That is how I feel, desperate and angry.

I feel as if I am on the Titanic. I am up in the crow’s nest with my little telescope thingy. I can see the iceberg. I can see the impending tragedy, the doom up ahead. I am screaming my ever-loving head off, trying to warn everyone, but they are all happily dining below. Dancing to the beautiful violin music, being lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of the ship. They are clueless to the giant iceberg sitting just below the surface waiting to cause utter destruction. The iceberg in this case is the eating disorder (ED). The Titanic is my home and the happily clueless people are my family. I know that it isn’t a fair statement. I know that my husband isn’t clueless or happy, for that matter. I think that he is just as worried and terrified as I am. But his is more optimistic than I am. He wants desperately to believe that we just might be able to steer clear of the iceberg. Maybe, just maybe, we will veer off at the last minute. As usual I am the pessimist. And as much as I would like to agree with him, well…I just don’t.

The reason is that my daughter, at the moment, is the captain. She is steering us straight into the iceberg. She isn’t doing it to be malicious or hateful. She just isn’t that person. She is doing it because she is completely oblivious . She has no idea of the potential damage that the iceberg can inflict. She looks ahead and sees a little shadow in the water, something that might be an annoyance, but can’t really hurt anything. She is blinded by the constant onslaught of self hatred that the ED feeds her. She is damaged, unlovable, unworthy. She can’t see beyond the very tip of the iceberg. Instead it is full speed ahead….

But we have been in these icy waters for six years now. I know that a little shadow can be devastating. So I am sorry if I can’t just sip my wine and happily waltz to the orchestra. Nope. I am in the crow’s nest and I see it coming. And there isn’t a damn thing that I can do about it.

After my last post, we had a lengthy talk with my lovely girl. I asked her if she had read my blog. She had. I asked her what she thought of it. She hated it. She was mad. And honestly, I figured that she would be. But that was a choice that I made, and I would and will, again. I explained to her, again, that my weapon of choice is prayer. I explained that I was gathering an army of prayer warriors. And she didn’t need to like. I don’t really care if she likes it. But I will not stop. I will continue to pray for her. And I will continue to beg for prayers for her. Because here is the thing…we can’t avoid the iceberg. It is there, big and bad. There is no way to circle it and avoid damage. If you get too close, you are done. And we have certainly been too close. There are gouges and dents in our hull. The water is slowly starting to trickle in. The happily oblivious people are noticing that their feet are starting to get wet.

But I am not going down with a fight. I am hanging onto the crow’s nest screaming my pleas and prayers to God. I am clinging to the hope that He will rescue us. He can repair the damage that the iceberg has caused. In fact, he can just remove the iceberg completely. That is what I am waiting for. I am waiting for complete healing for my girl. I am waiting for healing for all of us. I am waiting for God to remove the freaking ice berg.

Heavenly Father, I beg you to hear my humble prayer. Please grant my daughter, and all those that suffer from this wretched disease, healing and peace. Please flood their hearts with your grace and mercy. Please provide their family and friends with understanding and forgiveness also. Heal them from the hurt that this disease causes to all that encounter it. We need you, Lord. Amen

The only weapon that we have…Another unedited therapy post.

The love that a parent has for a child is something that you really can’t explain. It is an overwhelming, intense, primal and sometimes scary feeling. We have all heard of the term Mama Bear. Everyone knows that you don’t get between a mama bear and her cubs unless you have a death wish. As a mom, there is such an intuitive drive to protect our kids. I get it. I feel it.

So, my friends, what do you do when the person that is trying to hurt your child IS your child??

As a family we have been battling mental illness, in the shape of anxiety and depression and a pretty severe eating disorder. I say “as a family” because it affects all of us. Every single one of us is damaged by this.  When your nine year old announces that his sissy’s worst part of her day is eating dinner…well, that just sucks.

There is this cycle that we go through. It started about 6 years ago when she stopped eating. After months of watching her rapidly decline and not being able to do anything about it, she was hospitalized for a month. That was one of the hardest things that we have ever had to do. Taking our 14 year old daughter and dropping her off for an indefinite time period to a hospital over an hour away because her organs were beginning to shut down…it was a nightmare. Our family had this constant cloud of fear and panic just settled over us. It was almost suffocating.

This was followed by years of therapy that she basically refused to participate in. We “forced” her to go but after two different therapists basically told us that we were wasting our time and money because she wouldn’t speak…what do you do? So much frustration there.

This was followed by a period of what we thought was improvement. She “seemed” to be ok. She slowly appeared to come back to us. My beautiful, sweet, thoughtful daughter came back to us. She smiled again and seemed to be ok. I wrapped myself in this feeling of relief and allowed myself to relax. I reveled in the feeling of things being normal, or at least as normal as this family gets. I was lulled into a false sense of security. Security that things were good. My kids, my greatest blessings were good and healthy and happy. Things seemed to be bright again. We could breathe.

But then the clouds slowly come back. You start to notice things, skipping meals, excessive exercise, bouncing and nervousness where there had been peace and calmness. You try to push it aside, hoping that you are just imagining things. Are you making things out of what really isn’t there? You  hope so,  but you know, deep down you just know that it is back. Actually, not back, but rather still there lurking about waiting to steal our joy.

And then it is just there again. As big and bad as ever, actually worse. Things are worse and there is nothing that we can do. I have read book after book, article after article about eating disorders. They all say the same thing. It is the same thing that doctors and therapists and friends that have fought this battle themselves, all say. There is nothing that you can do. NOTHING. You must try to separate the eating disorder from your child. Your child is not the eating disorder. The problem is that after a while it is really hard to do. It is hard to see my beautiful, sweet girl. I know that she is still there, but the lies that this illness tells her has made it increasingly hard to see her. She is being taken over by the belief that she is not enough. She is unlovable. The only way that she will reach perfection is by attaining a specific weight. Then she will be worthy. Then she will able to be loved and love back.

My heart breaks because I feel so helpless. I am frustrated and I am angry…so very angry. I keep telling her over and over again, that my frustration is not at her. We love her and we are not mad at her. Our love is not conditional on her recovery. If this is something that she will battle forever (and there is a good chance that she will), we will love her through every step of the way. That will not change, ever. But the mama bear comes out and I just want to shake her and scream,”Why can’t you see it??? Why can’t you see the truth?” But at the same time, I want to hug her and hold her and protect her from….herself.

I want to tell her that her value and her worth has nothing to do with what she looks like or what she weighs. It doesn’t even have anything to do with us, her family, despite how much we love her. It has to do with the fact that she is a creation of God. He loves her so much that he created her perfectly in His image. He loved her enough to send His son to die, so that she may someday go to heaven. That is what gives her value. That is where her worth comes from. Not the size of her jeans or a number on a scale.

The thing is that I have told her that. Her dad has told her that. Again and again we have told her this. But it falls on deaf ears. She cannot hear it through the noise of the eating disorder.

I am not satisfied to do nothing. I am not satisfied to sit back and wait for her to collapse so that we can have her hospitalized. We can require her to go to therapy, but we can’t force her to want to get better. This is not enough. Doing NOTHING is not an option. But after years of doing this, after years of waiting for it to “get better,” I know that we can’t do anything. That is we can’t do anything except to pray.

Except to pray…it sounds so insignificant. All that we can do is to pray. It sounds like such a small tiny thing. The thing is, that is not true. It is not a small insignificant thing. It is the most powerful weapon that we have in this battle. It is the constant onslaught of prayers that will eventually crack open her heart. We only need a tiny crack to get in. Just a teensy tiny crack. Because once her broken, damaged heart is cracked open, the floodgates will open. The grace from all of the countless prayers from countless people will pour into her heart and start to heal her. Her wounded self image, her warped sense of value and worth, the damage that she is doing to her body as well as her soul, it will start to heal.

That is what doing nothing but praying will do.

Please join me my friends in praying for my daughter. Join me in praying for all of the wounded souls that are battling this disorder. Pray for the healing, pray for the teensy tiny little crack to open in their hearts. Just pray.

*I know that there will be people that question my choice to share this with all of you. I know that some people (namely my daughter) who might be angry with this choice. I am ok with this. I need to feel that there is hope. If you are in the same situation, I want you to know that you are not alone. Prayer my friends, that is the key.


Bleacher mom for life…

 It is ridiculously hard to make friends as an adult. Seriously. If I didn’t have kids, I think that I would still be sitting in my little craft room drinking wine and feeling sorry for myself. But thankfully, I do have kids and that means that I have kids’ activities to attend. Kids’ activities = other parents( ie adults). Even still, being surrounded by other parents is no guarantee of interaction. Every sport has it’s own level of parental involvement or rather parental investment. If you have kids in sports you know what I mean. If you don’t, allow me to enlighten you.
Soccer parents: most of them have more than one child playing so they move from field to field, chatting with different people along the way. Usually you end up spending the most time at the youngest child’s field just because they like to see you around, where as the older kids roll their eyes at you and are not a big fan of parental spectators at practices. Games are another story, but, “Oh my gosh mom, you don’t need to stare at me all during practice. It’s creepy. geesh…” Because of the rotating nomadic nature of parenting soccer kids, there is usually some overlap of parents and you can usually connect with a couple of them, giving you a core group of parents to talk to as you move from field to field. This is where I met a few sweet moms that invited me to join their Mom’s In Prayer group. This was a godsend. I was able to met and befriend several really great women. I found a little bit of a sense of belonging that I really needed.
Football: It’s been a while since I have had football players, but from what I remember and from what I have witnessed, they are a hard core group of dedicated parents. They usually practice 5 days a week with games on Friday or Saturday. That is 6 out of 7 days of nonstop action-packed commitment.  That doesn’t even count the never ending off season training, lifting, etc. You are your own breed of sports parent. I applaud you football parents. I don’t want to be you, but I applaud you.
Baseball: Another outdoor sport. You can be sitting in the sun baking  or under umbrellas shivering and soaked. You feel a kind of solidarity among the parents, because you are all in this thing together and it could go on for hours…literally hours. (They should really consider having a time limit on baseball games because, OMG, they can be ridiculous!) You sit and cheer on one another’s kids because you know that each out and each run gets you closer to the end. That is not to say that I don’t enjoy baseball games, because I really do, but seriously people…HOURS!!
Volleyball: The first of the indoor sports to discuss. I never played so I don’t really understand all of the rules and things ( I still don’t understand the square dancing thing that the girls do at the beginning, but that’s just me.). But I love to watch the kids dive all over the place after the ball. The games seem to be so brief and if you are at a tournament, there is a lot of shuffling around, but the parents that are there are in it for the long haul. This allows for some parental interaction. Nothing super intense, but pleasant.
Finally Basketball: I will admit that this is my favorite sport to watch. I played basketball for years (I wasn’t very good, but I loved it.) so I understand it. There is just something about the smell of a gym, and the sound of a ball swishing through the net that just warms my heart.There are a few types of basketball parents.  I am one of those…ummm…vocal (some might say obnoxious, but I prefer enthused) parents. I can get a tad bit carried away during an intense game, and I tend to cheer a bit too loudly for my husband’s liking.( I can usually tell when he has had enough of me when he a) puts his finger in his ear so that I don’t  “blow out his eardrums” or b) he starts to scoot a little bit farther and father away from me and is eventually three rows down and 5 seats over. ) These parents are usually there for every game. We are all cheering for each other’s kids and love it when the kid that doesn’t get a lot of playing time sinks the basket. There are the parents (and also grandparent) that are there strictly to be good parents. They aren’t really interested in what is going on during the game, but they are dedicated to their kid and want to be there for him/her. They are talkers. They like to talk about everything but what is going on in the game. Then there are the parents that would love to watch the game but have other, smaller kids with them, so that the majority of the game is spent making trips to the bathroom and the snack bar. These poor parents never have a clue as to what is actually going on during the game because they usually don’t see more than a minute and 15 seconds of the game at a time. Been there done that. (Thank heavens for older kids that can babysit!!) While basketball parents cheer for all of the kids and there is a definite feeling of camaraderie, it is a hard group to crack. It is frustrating to me because I had my group of baller parents. We had been in the bleachers from the time our kids were old enough to shoot a ball. We had watched the kids grow from little 3rd graders that could barely dribble and walk at the same time, to high schoolers flying up and down the court making passes without looking, just sensing where the other players were. We stood side by side on senior night, with tears in our eyes as we looked up to our graduating players. It was my basketball family. With Isaac entering 7th grade, I was ready to watch the next wave of bballers grow from little 7th graders to big bad seniors. I had been watching these boys for the last 3 years play ball in elementary school and it was time to move up to the next level. And then we moved.  Not only did Isaac leave his teammates, I had to leave my basketball moms. This sucked. It still sucks. There have been a few nice parents that have reached out and talked to me, but in general, I sit with Brian and whichever kids wanted to come, or I sit alone. Not fun. But I know that these things take time. I have to stick it out and so does Isaac. And just as Isaac and his new team develop their chemistry and find their groove, so will I and some bball parents. I hope.
**As a brief side note, I have actually met several perfect lovely people that I would consider friends since moving, several being neighbors within walking distance. (One that has a particularly sweet brand new baby that I could just scoop up and steal…but I won’t…maybe.) So I am not sitting here wallowing in loneliness as I stare at the wall all day. I just wallow in the bleachers.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…for real!

It was almost a year ago when Brian and I first stepped through the front door of our home. I had gone to Steubenville with Brian for the University Christmas party. In a twist of events, that can only be described as miraculous, we were invited to check out Chris and Linda Padgetts’ home. As we walked up the front steps, I was struck by the beauty of the gorgeous front door. We walked into a house bursting with kids and activity and Christmas and charm and a lot of other good things. I fell in love. It probably helped that Chris and Linda have 9 kids too, so I felt immediately at home. In my Christmas obsessed mind, I was already hanging garland and decorating our tree in the front room. As we walked back to our car, I told Brian that if I was moving to Steubenville, it had to be into that house. He laughed and pointed out that we didn’t even know what the asking price for the house was. I told him that I didn’t care, it was that house…period.
Fast forward a year or so… we have been so abundantly blessed. We bought this big, old, charming, Hough-sized home. And it is finally time to bust out the Christmas decorations. I have to admit that after thinking about it for a year, I was actually kind of nervous to do it. In our old house, I had a system. I could get the entire house decorated from top to bottom in a day. Now I was starting from scratch. EEEK!
I know that a lot of people think that it is still too early to decorate, but I was born in December and Christmas just flows through my blood. I can’t help it. But, I absolutely recognize the importance of Advent and preparing to receive the little baby Jesus into our hearts on Christmas day. We do Advent readings and prayers and light our Advent candles. We try to push the importance of giving, not getting. We have a list of different service projects that we would like to do over the next few weeks. And a new addition to our decorations…our Advent tree. It is decorated with pink and purple bulbs and each night as we do our Advent prayers, we replace a pink or purple bulb with a silver one. By Christmas it will be all white and silver! It is a tangible way to remind the little ones that we are preparing for Christmas and they can slowly see that it is getting closer.
2015 Advent Tree
A cool thing about this new house, that I didn’t have in the old house…mantles and fireplaces! Our stockings have been hung with care and a lot of 3M hooks.
We also have a fireplace in the living room.  We placed the nativity set there as a reminder of the real reason of this holiday.
And finally we put our tree up. The husband has outdone himself again. Every year, I am sure that he has chosen the prettiest tree and will never be able to top it. And every year, he does. He came up big this year with a beautiful Fraser fir.
Our new ornament
Ta Da!
It has been a crazy, busy year of change and chaos. A new job, new house, new schools, new friends, new church… But it has been a good year. It is obvious that this was all in God’s plan and as He gradually allows it to unfold, I am in awe of his blessings.

A different type of blog

One of the things that has always weighed on my heart is the whole issue of abortion. I know that it is a touchy subject, although to me, the truth has always seemed crystal clear. I have always wanted to somehow stand up and be a voice for the unborn, but for the last, I don’t know, zillion years, I have been pregnant or nursing or herding a little flock of Houghlings about. Because I wasn’t able to go out and take a stand physically, I have always opted to do so spiritually, offering up prayers for the unborn. The end of abortion is a constant intention during family prayers, each night. It is a tricky one to explain to the little ones, but still something that I feel needs to be addressed, albeit very delicately.  In their little minds, it is impossible to even imagine a mommy not wanting to have a baby, let alone destroying the life of a baby that is already growing in her belly.
We are now at a point in the life of our family that the kids are all a little bit older. Jonathan, the baby is already 4. This makes it much easier to actually do things. So that is just what we did. We volunteered to participate in our church’s Life Chain as part of Respect Life month. So from 2:00 until 3:00 this afternoon, we stood along Sunset Blvd holding signs and peacefully praying for all of the lives in jeopardy.
As we held our signs, and the cars drove by, many honked there horns and gave us a thumbs up sign. Many smiled and waved in support as they drove by. I was standing there looking at my little ones, thinking about how this was such a good lesson for them. They were seeing first hand how great it is to stand up for something that you believe in. That is when it happened. A young 20ish looking girl came out of her apartment building across the street from where we were. She stood there looking up and down the street as she smoked her cigarette. Before I knew it, she was in her car and driving slowly down the street flipping us all off. Thankfully the little boys had no idea what she was doing, but the other kids looked on in horror. A few minutes later it happened again. And then a young “man” (I am using this term loosely, because there was nothing manly about what he did.) drove down the street, put his window down and yelled out  as he passed Hannah and Gianna and the little boys and I, “Women deserve the right to f*%@ing choose!” That is how you are going to address children?? If you don’t agree with what we were doing, please, feel free to come and discuss it with me, their mother, but there is no reason to use that kind of language around my children. I was upset and frustrated by the incident, but then I realized that standing up for what you believe in and for what you know in your heart is right and true is what we are called to do. But in this fight for the truth, there is always persecution from the dark side. That is what makes the fight necessary. We have to speak up. We have to be willing to fight. Sometimes the fight is in the form of a discussion. Sometimes it is prayerfully standing alongside the road with a sign or praying in front of an abortuary. Sometimes it is in the form of praying a rosary. Whatever the way, we just need to keep fighting.
The signs that we were holding, read things such as “Jesus Forgives and Heals” and “Adoption, a Loving Option”, “Abortion Hurts Women” and “Abortion Kills Children.” All of these things are true. There was nothing printed on the signs that could be taken as false. Abortion does, in fact, stop a beating heart resulting in the death of a child. And adoption… oh my, there are so many childless couples that would love to adopt a tiny baby. In fact there are many couples with a lot of children that would be thrilled to welcome another little one into the family. ( I absolutely would!) But the one sign that really resonated within me today,, was the one that said that abortion hurts women. I do not believe that every woman who chooses an abortion does so, fully believing that it is absolutely the best option. I cannot allow myself to believe that every woman that has an abortion, does so without a shred of remorse or regret. I know that there are women that feel that due to a medical issue, whether it is an issue with the baby or the mother, that they have no alternative. The belief that it is, somehow, merciful to end the life of a special needs child, breaks my heart. My heart aches for these women.  I don’t care what brought them to this point. It really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that they need our prayers. They need our compassion. And ultimately, they need the forgiveness and mercy of a Loving Father.
Please pray for the end of abortion.
Please pray for all women that are contemplating abortion.
Please pray for all women that have had an abortion.
Please be a voice for those that can’t speak for themselves.