December 18, 2013

Into Thy Calm: On Strength (Homily Magnus)

Into Thy Calm: On Strength (Homily Magnus): "Be thou exalted, Lord, in Thine own strength. So we will sing and praise Thy power." Ps. 21:13 The babe with the power! ...

November 13, 2013

XComGame 2013 08 10 14 13 18 57

I did a thing. 

September 15, 2013

Nannying and Marriage

Ugh, I've had to miss so much work lately. I hate it! I am excited to see my monkey boys again tomorrow though.
I had to spend two nights and most of two days away from my husband this week and I missed him terribly. Perhaps that sounds pathetic, but I really don't care. Even worse, one of the guys at my uncle's wedding was dressed very similarly to how my husband often dresses, and he even had the same color hair and skin tone and a similar haircut! I kept seeing him out of the corner of my eye and getting excited and then remembering that my husband was roughly three and a half hours away. I was so happy to see him Friday evening and he was so helpful in getting the bonfire started for my family. (We were at my grandparents' cabin.)

Perhaps the first audio format logo, the LP sy...
Perhaps the first audio format logo, the LP symbol appeared on countless records (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Wednesday night I got to stay with my Mom and we had a really great conversation about anything and everything on our way to her house. I really miss those. We talked about my friends and her friends, about her dog and my cat (her grandcat), house-hunting, and a million other things. The next evening we spent at a hotel. She timed me on my run and didn't even fuss at me when it started raining and I kept running!
Of course, while I was out of town, my friend LP had her baby. She had a little girl! My husband got to go to the hospital and hold her when she was only four hours old. I am so jealous. He also gave the proud new papa some peace of mind by going to their house and letting their dogs out while they stayed at the hospital for a few days, due to my friend having a c-section. However, I got to see the baby today! My husband said I was a natural and her mommy said she liked me! We were only able to stay for an hour but I will get to see them twice more this week. The little girl was a little fussy at first because she was hungry, but she soon snuggled into me and took a nice little nap once I walked her around a bit.
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August 31, 2013

Test 1, 2, 3....

August 24, 2013

Moving and pedicures

English: Supernanny, Jo Frost, at the Children...
English: Supernanny, Jo Frost, at the Children's Museum in Easton, Easton, Massachusetts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today was an absolutely insane day. It was also a very fun day. I am now detoxing by watching SuperNanny.

I perfected the lazy Saturday look this morning. I wore my checkerboard Vans slip-ons. It was pretty awesome, and perfect for helping my friend H move.

English: Vans headquarters, Cypress, California
English: Vans headquarters, Cypress, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This week I went through the arduous process of giving myself a pedicure. I even used a buffing block. It turned out rather well, despite my lack of a topcoat. I used OPI's An Affair in Red Square. It's a great true red, very classic.

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August 08, 2013

Coriander (Photo credit: Ruby's Feast)
T's hydroponic garden is doing great. We have celery, spinach, basil, parsley, thyme, sage, green onions, cilantro, and dill so far! We have tasted the cilantro, but we haven't sampled the others yet. The cilantro was so fragrant and yummy! It came straight off of our balcony instead of sitting for hours in a grocery store and/or truck or however else it is transported. The only hand that touched it were ours. It has been kept safe by wolf spiders and wasps instead of pesticides. It is so much fun to watch them grow and T gets so excited when a new little seedling pops up. It is fun to watch him and his enthusiasm is contagious.
 Soon I will start nannying again and I am so excited to see my boys! They are starting 2nd grade and fifth grade this year. I am also looking forward to making more money for less hours and not being on my feet as much as I am at my current job. I hurt my knee two years ago and it has never bothered me through running, mud runs, and various other activities. However, standing for 7 hours straight on concrete does make it sore. Who knew.
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August 07, 2013

August Goals {Monthly Goals Linky}

Monthly Goals
    How it works:
    The linky goes live on the first Wednesday of each month.
    1. Follow all three hosts: My So-Called ChaosA Peek at Karen's World, & Jenee Thompson
    2. Write up a post recapping previous goals & setting goals for the next month. The post needs to include the Monthly Goals button, use the code at any of the host blogs.
    3. Link-up your Monthly Goals post in the linky below!
    4. Visit other blogs in the linky to show support!
Bonjour! This is my first Monthly Goals post, so I don't have anything to recap. However, I do have some goals to set.

August Goals

  • Take Kazu (my cat) to vet.
  • Hang out with my friend Dougle.
  • Finish my Dad's picture frame.
  • Visit my Mother in law.
  • Get CPR certified again.
  • Watch The Fellowship of the Ring: Extended edition again.
  • Conquer Mount Washmore
  • Paint my fingernails
  • Cook dinner once this month.
  • Start running again.
  • Sweep out the pantry
J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring is...

What are your August Goals?
Grab the button and link up with us! :) 
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July 14, 2013

My Skincare Regime

English: Cropped from a scan of my own hand (I...
English: Cropped from a scan of my own hand (I have severe dry skin in the winter). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Thanks to Krystal's Kitsch for the idea for this blog post.

My moisturizer is Purpose Dual Treatment Moisture Lotion. The Purpose lotion has a 15 SPF sunscreen in it. I tend to have dry, sensitive skin. I moisturize every morning and if I don't, my skin feels awful and tight.
I use Basis Cleaner Clean face Wash in the shower. I usually purchase it at Ulta but sometimes I can find it at Walgreens. It costs under 10 dollars. I try my very best to never use anything but face wash on my face because anything else usually makes my face break out terribly. I don't use bar soap on my face.

English: SOAP
English: SOAP (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I usually shower in the mornings, because my hair won't behave otherwise, so that's when I use my Basis Wash. If I need to remove makeup at night, I use Yes to Cucumbers Towelettes.

Honestly, I'm pretty terrible about not removing my eye makeup. I have yet to find an eye makeup remover that doesn't hurt somehow. I'm also pretty bad about washing my face in hot water, because I like my showers boiling.

Walgreens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I use St. Ives Apricot Scrub twice a week to exfoliate my face. I usually use it on Mondays and Fridays. I don't really use washcloths, I use a pouf instead. Microdermabrasion and chemical peels are too expensive. When I was younger I was prescribed Retin-A and I used it for a little while. However, it was more drying and made me too sensitive to the sun. I do not use toner or eye cream.

Last, but not least, I use Neutrogena Clear Face Sunblock.
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June 14, 2013

Chambers and Hydras

Dungeon 2
Dungeon 2 (Photo credit: Tony Dowler)
So this afternoon, my husband and I will be playing Dungeons and Dragons with our friends Tay, N, and K. We are currently trying to stop a citywide riot from going down in large seaside city. We had to reschedule our session from Sunday because Tay's internet was down and K Skypes in to be our DM. Best DM screen ever, right?

Before we started playing this particular campaign almost a year ago, I hadn't played much Dungeons and Dragons, though I had wanted to play since high school. I had watched many games in which my ex-boyfriend was playing, and actually participated in one or two.

D&D uses polyhedral dice to resolve random eve...
D&D uses polyhedral dice to resolve random events. These are abbreviated as a 'd' followed by the number of sides. From left, d4, d6, d8, d12, d20 and two d10, both of which are used together to represent a d100, d%, or percentile die. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My character in this game is an eladrin rogue named Dezirinda. My husband is playing a human fighter named Ryan. Tay's character is a tiefling wizard named Morthos. Nelson just recently joined the group with an elven ranger named Leoven. We've discovered that a group of (mostly) orcs in the town has been inciting riots through the use of a spell that removes people's inhibitions. Currently, we're in an odd sort of...alternate dimension, I suppose? There are sigils all over town that will transport you somewhere else. We are in the in-between space of one of those. We have less than 24 hours to stop the riots or I WON'T GET MY SWORD BACK. The creature who has been leading the orcs took my sword, which also has some teleporting powers, and won't give it back. I tried to steal it back, to no avail. As a rogue, this is very troubling for me.

We'll see what happens tonight!
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June 13, 2013

Reading and Attention

US Navy 100302-N-0718S-095 Cryptologic Technic...
US Navy 100302-N-0718S-095 Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 1st Class David G. Burrell reads a Dr. Seuss book to students at George C. Marshall Elementary School during National Read Across America Day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When I was little, about elementary school age, I read tons of books at a time. I remember spreading them out on the table at the deli where my Mom worked. How did I keep track of them all? I don't know. At some point, I decided that I would only read one book at a time, in order to better focus on it. I kept that up pretty well. Until lately, that is.

Technically, I am reading six books right now. I started reading The Summer of the Spanish Woman a few months ago. It's part of a Reader's Digest Volume of Condensed Books from the '70s. I'm pretty sure I found it in my Great Grandmother's cabin over a decade ago. It is about Charlotte, a teenager who is forced to leave her home in Ireland due to someone else inheriting the property. It takes place mostly in late nineteenth century Spain. I'll be honest, I mostly rolled my eyes at the short description I read before actually starting the story. However, Charlotte is no Scarlett O'Hara, and I am finding it to be an interesting look at how women could gain and/or maintain any measure of independence or self-sufficiency in a culture that often tried to make them victims of their circumstances.

English: book cover of German Reader's Digest ...
English: book cover of German Reader's Digest collection book, 1988. simple shape cover design Deutsch: Buchdeckel Reader's Digest Auswahlb├╝cher, 1988, Bild 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Chicago-Read Mental Health Center sign
English: Chicago-Read Mental Health Center sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 Another book I'm reading is Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure. I honestly don't remember how I came across this book. I added it to my Amazon wishlist, so it was probably referenced in a blog post or something. ...I really want to like this book. But so far I don't. In fact, I have to make myself read it. It was written by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a Welsh minister. I don't know much about him, but his tone in this book reminds me of other arrogant, presumptuous ministers whom I've read or heard before. I won't name names. This time. The subtitle is a pretty accurate summary, at least of what I've read so far. I guess I was looking for something different, perhaps a look at actual clinical depression and how it impacts people spiritually or vice-versa. I suppose I should have known better. Perhaps an in-depth look at Scriptures that would be helpful to people suffering from depression, a survey of Biblical figures who were sometimes depressed, or something. Not this. To be fair, it was written in 1964, a time that I imagine the state of mental health was even more abysmal than it is now.

I'm also reading Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets...I won't go into great detail about that book for obvious reasons. This book was written by Kevin Leman, who calls himself a psychologist. It's supposed to be a practical guide to sex. I guess it could be, for some people. It just depends on your experience. I was blessed to have a Mom who was very frank and honest with me about sex, so I didn't feel like I really needed most of the advice in the book or that I couldn't just as easily get it from somewhere else, without some older guy making awkward references the entire time. It was kind of creepy, honestly. However, I can see how it might be helpful to someone who came from an extremely sheltered home. At the same time, I think it might create as many complexes as it might solve. It certainly made me feel stressed and insecure. I started reading it on the advice of my pastor, who did my husband and I's pre-marital counseling. That was over a year ago, and I just recently finished it. (I am still reading the 'extra' questions at the end of the book, which is why I haven't marked it as finished on Goodreads.) T still hasn't read it, but I'd be very interested to hear his take on it. Thankfully,  he is way more patient and understanding than any man portrayed in that book. To be fair to my pastor, he usually gives great advice, and everyone drops the ball sometimes. I think this was one of those times.

So those are three of the six books I'm currently reading. Madness, right?
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We like Adoption

Emblem of Hong Kong
Emblem of Hong Kong (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Last night, T and I talked about kids, genetics, adoption, and blended families. It was good. We talked about how excited we are to have kids. (I'm not pregnant, to my knowledge, but we are actively trying to become so.) I told him how I'm second-guessing every little symptom and twinge I have, wondering if it means I'm pregnant or if it's just hot or I'm just tired or ate something weird. We talked about how our kids are likely to have his black hair, since it's dominant. We talked about how even if we have our own kids, even if we get a 'matching set' (boy and girl), we'd still really like to adopt. He told me how he used to be uncomfortable about adoption, but now the possibility excites him. My husband used to think that adoption was an either/or prospect, that you either had biological kids or you adopted. However, our pastor's family includes his two oldest children, both boys, both biological, and his youngest, a little girl whom they adopted from Hong Kong. They are a beautiful family. Their daughter is thoughful and amazing and kind and smart. As are their sons. I talked to their daughter at length last night. She is also perfectly secure and willing to talk about her adoption experience. She is so very happy with her family and obviously feels like she belongs. I feel like this has changed my husband's perspective on adoption and I am so very thankful for their influence.
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June 10, 2013

Brothers and Mothers

The Flags on Memorial Day weekend
The Flags on Memorial Day weekend (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I'm lookin forward to seeing my brother soon. We are doing a Mud Run and I know it is going to be really amazing! I am so proud of him and his job and motivation. My Mom will be coming to visit me soon too. I invited her to the women's ministry meeting at my new church. I am looking forward to introducing her to some new and old friends and just giving her an opportunity to be encouraged. She hasn't been part of a church community in a long time and I think she could benefit from it.

T is taking good care of me lately. I hurt my knee playing softball and he has been making sure I wear my knee brace and rest. He has been working really hard and we have been planning our fall vacation! Right now we are trying to decide if it would be more economical to drive or fly. He has also been teaching me to play XCom:Enemy Unknown, which is surprisingly fun. Dinner Saturday night was a delicious Dijon Doused Steak that he cooked. I want more! Like, now!

I got a new job this week! I will be making cupcakes soon. I am excited about the opportunity to save up some extra money, since T and I will be buying a house soon. We are trying to save as much as we can! An old friend from church recommended me for the job and I am super grateful.

We spent Memorial Day weekend at the river and had a lot of fun. The water was really choppy, but we both went on the inner tube anyway and my uncle did his best to throw us off. I had fun, but my arms were sore for days! Just another reason that I need to build some upper-body strength. I also got to debut my new purple bikini. I tried to drink lots of water, despite my temptation to guzzle Mountain Dew. I also slept surprisingly well on the foldout couch bed. It was a wonderful weekend.
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June 05, 2013


Cover of "American Gods: A Novel"
Cover of American Gods: A Novel
My Mom booked a hotel for us for when we go to the Mud Run. We have been slacking off majorly on our running, so I'm a bit worried. However, she has taken a huge load off my mind by doing so, and I am incredibly thankful for it. Either way, as long as I finish the race and get super-muddy, I will be happy! She is also offering to buy me some new boardshorts and she paid for my car's oil change the other day. I am seriously blessed. I told her not to pay for the oil change and she said she wanted to, because I never let her do anything. I asked if she wanted me to be more needy, and she said no, that she liked me just the way I was. I love making her laugh.
I actually got up this morning with T and really enjoyed seeing him off to work. He too, makes me laugh and we really enjoy giggling at Kazu's crazy antics. He is a real spaz in the mornings. He was probably also hyper because it is not part of  his usual routine for me to be up so early. T also got me a paperback copy of American Gods last night and he downloaded it onto his Kindle so we can read it together! He is really getting into this reading thing. That was his New Year's resolution this year. We also managed to have a fight last night with no yelling or crying. (Okay, there was some swearing. Mostly on my part.) However, we resolved it quickly and I was really happy about that. I feel like we are improving our marriage all the time. Cooking dinner was a lot of fun last night too. Okay, so we didn't actually cook, but we prepped ingredients.
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May 18, 2013

antidepressants. Also, Descartes is still a jerk.

The chemical structure of venlafaxine (Effexor...
The chemical structure of venlafaxine (Effexor), an SNRI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So today I refilled my antidepressants. Several days before they actually run out, natch. Usually when I do this, I will tell my Mom and/or husband that I picked up my "happy pills" or my "anti-crazy pills". However, thanks to several recent blog posts, I've started thinking about why I refer to them that way and whether or not I should.
Apparently, there has been a new entry in the Associated Press Stylebook about how to communicate about and define mental illness. I'm going to go on record as saying this is good. Basically, it says "Hey, maybe don't attribute absolutely everything you don't understand to mental illness, hmmmm?".


AP Stylebook, 2004 edition
AP Stylebook, 2004 edition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This has been a long time coming, to say the least. Every time I hear this in the media or from the people around me, I cringe and wonder how long it is until I'm locked up. Even those who should know better, who should have adjusted to this concept as part of their profession, will act awkward or will callously dismiss something they don't understand as "That's CRAZY!".
 I hear it when I talk to insurance people on the phone when I'm getting no insurance. As they ask me what should surely be routine questions by now, there is a condescension in their voice, as if they are talking to a small child or someone who doesn't fully understand their own condition. As if I might flip out at any moment and slit my wrists as we speak. I see it in how the pharmacist won't meet my eyes when I pick up my meds, how they ask me hesitantly if I have any questions about the medication. This isn't my first rodeo, people. I've been taking these for 8 years now. This is just another errand on my long to-do list. Even if this was my first time picking up my meds, if this was all new to me, I don't think your demeanour would be helpful.

The Madhouse
The Madhouse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I used to work at a facility for teenagers with serious emotional problems. Many of my coworkers made disparaging remarks about the youth in our care, even after a ridiculous amount of training meant to teach us how to deal sensitively and considerately with such things. I'd like to say that they didn't say such things in front of the children, but that's not true. A lot of these comments centred around self-harming behaviors, such as cutting. No matter how many sessions we intended that were meant to educate us on better understanding these behaviours and how to approach them, my coworkers would inevitably say "That's just crazy! Anyone who does that must be sick." etc. They didn't know that I was listening, that they made me feel ashamed of my own self-harm, that I was horrified that those who were well-educated in these matters, who were supposed to be helping the kids dealing with these problems, were instead disgusted by them. Worse, they seemed to feel that it was perfectly okay to feel and act this way and that it was, in fact, the only reasonable reaction.

U.S. Library of Congress DIX, DOROTHEA LYNDE. ...
U.S. Library of Congress DIX, DOROTHEA LYNDE. Retouched photograph. date found on item. Location: Biographical File Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-9797 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
But the fact is, I do it too. Maybe not as maliciously, maybe not as obviously, but I do. I call people 'insane'. I call courses of action 'insane'. I call myself 'insane'. I usually do it in a joking manner, but does that really excuse it? I, of all people, should know that mental illness is not a joke. Does making it a joke make it easier for me, a person who truly does question my own sanity at times? Does it make it less scary, less intimidating? Maybe. But it also gives other people permission to not take mental illness seriously. And maybe that's what I want. Maybe admitting to other people that I'm scared is, well, scary. Maybe it's just too much trouble to try to explain myself and the things I struggle with and to correct the many misconceptions people have. Maybe I don't want to see that panicked look of pity on their face...again.
We fear what we don't understand, right? So I guess it's easier to just dismiss anything we don't understand as the result of a broken mind. And many people's minds are broken. But not beyond repair. Like I said, I do it too. Maybe in a smaller way, but I do. When it is late at night and my husband is delirious with sleep, talking in a silly voice, I tell him he's crazy. Why? Because I don't understand what he's saying. And then we giggle and go to bed(maybe). But maybe my doing that makes it easier for other people to do that too, in a bigger way. Like my coworkers who didn't understand why someone would self harm, and therefore assumed that anyone who would do so was a lunatic. Despite much information to the contrary, they wouldn't even think about the possibility that it was a (maladaptive) coping mechanism. It was much easier to generalise, slap a label on it, and put it out of their mind, content in their own superiority because THEY weren't crazy.

English: Jericho House Long stay care for adul...
English: Jericho House Long stay care for adults with mental illness and /or alcohol dependence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By making a joke about mental illness, we also relegate it to the fringes, to the stuff of fiction. It's a plot device, something that happens in movies and television shows, or in distant news stories. It's not something that the person next door, the person across the desk, the runner next to you, or your best friend could possibly be dealing with. It's outside your monkeysphere, so you couldn't possibly be hurting anyone you KNOW with your comments.
But you are. When I started to realise that I might have clinical depression, I was incredibly reluctant to admit it. Why? I didn't want to be labelled. I didn't want to be carted off to an institution. I didn't want anyone cramming pills down my throat. I was afraid to even talk to anyone about it. I was afraid to go to therapy. I was afraid to even try antidepressants, because I thought they would make me a zombie. This was all due to misconceptions spread by the media and by ignorant people running their mouths. I was also afraid of stigma. I was afraid that I would become nothing more than a diagnosis to the people I knew and loved, who I hoped loved me. I was afraid I would be defined by my depression. That I would become a thing, to be hidden away and talked about in hushed voices. At one point, I was afraid that I WAS nothing more than the depression, that there was no more of the real me left, that perhaps the real me had never existed at all. The disease eroded my soul. Antidepressants gave me, as my husband so eloquently says "the freedom to by myself" again.
But that may never have happened if I had allowed the stigma to be an insurmountable obstacle. People who are already hurting don't need further obstacles in the way of getting better. The disease itself is enough of an obstacle already. People with mental illness are not acceptable targets for anyone's jokes or disdain. Their struggles should not be trivialised.
Unfortunately, what we say starts with what is in our heart. Luke 6:45 says "The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." But I think it's also a cyclical thing. I think that what we hear and what we say can change our hearts and that then saying the right thing will come easier and more naturally. So I want to start by watching what I say. I want to speak words that make others feel accepted, relaxed, and welcome. After all, as Amy Simpson points out in her her.meneutics article (which inspired this post), Proverbs 16:24 tells us "Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body."
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