Friday, September 30, 2016

Musing #36-Crockpot Lemon Pepper Chicken

Yesterday was
Before we can remodel the kitchen we have to redo all the plumbing in the house. So, I still have no workable counter space. It gets tricky. Even Crockpot meals...But that's the easiest, so here we go again. And it's the end of the month, so cooking supplies is getting low.
Time to get creative.
(Husband loves Meal-Surprise)
But tonight's actually turned out pretty good.

Lemon Pepper Chicken

We used four chicken breasts
half an onion
2T salted cream butter
and lemon pepper (lots)
1-2C Chicken broth

In the crockpot on low for 4-6 hours

But here's the kicker
At least 30 minutes before serving, shred the meat. It will be SUPER tender because of the butter. So you literally just have to stick a spoon or wooden fork in it and twist. But it needs that half hour to reabsorb the juices. If you notice it slurping them up really fast, and there aren't any left to absorb, add some chicken broth or water for it to soak in. There really isn't much worse than dry chicken.

We served it with some cheese broccoli (I'm missing the steamable regular broccoli at Sam's Club, there is WAY too much cheese...and barely enough broccoli...) and rice. It was really tasty.

Kind of 'blah' looking. I usually like a more colorful plate, but it was quick, easy, filling, and yummy. So, enjoy your day, and eat well too!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Musing # 35--Rainbows and Fortunes and Freedom from Narcissists

Yesterday Husband's parents came looking for us. Luckily, we have some good friends who understand the damage these types of people (narcissists) do and were willing to intercept them and not give them forwarding information.

I'm going to be real with you. I have never seen Husband quite so shaken as we sat there trying to eat, knowing that they had actually come to a place we used to be, and looked for us. It definitely strengthened our resolve in what we are doing to protect Chip and Dale.

Good thing we were eating Chinese, because we got fortune cookies. And usually I get something awesome like 'you have lots of friends' but this one was a good one. As I looked at my little family, my resolve strengthened to enjoy them, and hope for the freedom we are fighting for from the narcissistic abuse from Husband's family.

Then, as we walked out of the grocery store a little later, a spontaneous rainstorm had apparently happened while we were inside, and we came out to this:

A triple rainbow...they were the whole arc (the third one is very faint in the middle of the two...), and spread the entire span of the sky. Utterly magnificent, and no camera could do it particular mine. But just another symbol of hope (to me personally...we all have things that bring us hope and piece...and stunning things in nature do that for me)

Chip...the imagination child extraordinaire...wanted to find the end and the pot of gold. I was the bummer and said we needed to get home and do homework. But Husband, turned the car, and we chased that rainbow. At the very end of the road was a magnificent scene where the rainbow was bright orange and the sky around it was a deep purple-y blue with clouds. Again, my camera skills couldn't capture it. But I felt overwhelming hope that our future would be safe and amazing.
God is good.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Musing #34--Cookies for Breakfast

We had cookies for breakfast today.

They were delicious. I suggest starting any day off with a cookie.

That's not our typical routine. It was because yesterday, while up at the school. Dale wrote in his writing journal that when he got home from school he wanted to make m&m cookies with mommy.

Well, he's been asking for a long time. And our kitchen just isn't conducive to baking--or anything else--I'll post pictures soon, it's pretty unusable. But how can you resist a school writing journal plea?

So, Chip and Dale and I made some cookies...Whenever I haven't cooked in a while, it's a disaster. This time was no exception. The cookies flopped. Big time. And the kids went to bed so sad to not have cookies they were so excited about.

So, I remade the cookies last night, and this morning, I thought, what the heck. Life is more fun with surprises and the unexpected. So they had a cookie and a banana for breakfast.

This has been my favorite 'thing' cookie since I was little. I put any kind of chip in it. From crushed candy bar to a mixture of chips. These are m&m and peanut butter chip cookies.

Musing's 'Thing' Cookies

1C Butter
1C Margarine
1 1/2C Granulated Sugar
1 1/2C Brown Sugar (packed)
3 eggs
4t Vanilla
4 3/4C Flour
1 1/2t Soda
1 1/2t Soda
1 1/2t Salt
1 1/2C 'Things' (Chocolate chips, Butterscotch chips, m&m minis, White Chocolate Chips...etc)

Mix shortening through vanilla
Add in flour
Stir dry ingredients together
Blend in
Mix in things

Bake 8-10 minutes @375

(I'm new at do I make a printable/downloadable recipe?)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Musing# 33--Fight or Flight

I'm just now realizing I very much have more of the 'fight,' than I do the 'flight.' In the fight or flight syndrome.

I always have. It comes with the territory (red hair). Dealing with narcissists is a whole different ball game than addressing regular confrontations, and it is driving me mad, because you can't fight. They have no empathy. They are master manipulators. Their world and understanding only consists of them and twisting everything to validate the image they want to portray of their lives and even our lives.

There is a website I find quite a bit of information about surviving narcissistic abuse from.

This picture was on her FB page, and I love it.

It not only is my happy place (a beach somewhere), but the words remind me the reason there is no contact. That my drive to 'fight' and defend myself to the onslaught of lies that are being spread to hundreds (no lie there) of people about me and my family is only their effort to draw us out of the woodwork to gain back the control over us that they lost by us leaving.

Thank you, Little Red Survivor, for this. I needed it today.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Musing #32--Can't Deal With Narcissistic Abuse Today, So I Laundry

We found out about some more rumors and lies that are spreading about Husband's family.
A friends from literally across the country called me last night and said, 'I heard, the weirdest story.' And proceeded to tell me a complete lie about myself heard, from Husband's relative's wife's mother. That's how far these lies are being spread. She, thankfully, is the dearest of friends, and told her friend that there are two sides to every pancake and that she knows me well and knows that that story could not be true. I am grateful today for gossip stoppers. And dear friends. But I have a debilitating migraine as I try to deal with how to emotionally handle the relentlessness of his family and their attacks on my family.

This is a very mild occurrence in comparison to the many others we've dealt with, but coupled with the history, my body reacts with the fight or flight physiology and without my permission, shakes and migraines come and I just can't deal today with their hatred, lies, and abuse. I can't process anything logically when my body is in psychological protection mode, so, I've decided to laundry instead. It takes no thought--so my aching brain can just turn off, it is muscle memory--so the shakes don't matter. And, when it's all done, I have accomplished something, and they have not won my day.

All good in thought, but a tricky thing when your dryer looks like this:

The sellers of the house left all their appliances. Which was great, because then we didn't have to fork over thousands for new appliances, while reeling from a down payment. They did leave the disclaimer that the appliances were really old and may not last long. They weren't kidding. This dryer shakes and squeaks and the kids run for their ear protectors and leave the house, and I take valuables off the shelves. So Husband took it apart, thinking if we could salvage it, we could use the money for some other projects instead of a new dryer. (Good news, it looks like the wheels in it are completely replace those (like $8 each) and hopefully it will give us a few more years.)

Well, he decided to investigate the dryer while I had a load in the biggie, expect clothes left in the washer smell mildew-y and gross.

I've always wanted a clothes line, but have read the horror stories of kids tangling themselves in the wires and dying. So, we took the massive curtain rod that was in the house, with super heavy drapes (made the room feel like it was closing in on everything), and Husband hung it up, outside under the back porch. and I have a 'clothes line.' I can take it down any time, or it's high enough that I can leave it up and even Husband's height can walk under it.

I actually love it. Clothes get that fresh air smell. Don't get the pinched shoulders from clothes pins. My kids are safer. And I can take the hanger straight to the closet.

It makes me happy. And right now, I need things, little as they may seem, to boost my mood.

Are there things in your day, that have made it better? Little or big? I'd love to hear what makes your day brighter.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Musing #31--The Christian and the Jew

Yesterday some of Husband's old neighbors were in town and we met up for lunch.

These neighbors were second parents to Husband and had boys his same age. Loved him like a son, and accepted him for who he was. And consequently, accepted me immediately because Husband chose me, and they trusted him. And accepted our kids, because they respected us as parents and the good things we try and teach our kids. And we, in a short year, build a beautiful, open relationship. (All things that did not happen with his own parents)

These neighbors and friends are Jewish...*gasp* and Husband's parents have been after them for years and years and years to follow their superior example and join the Christian church in which we all belong. Hounding them to the point of disrespecting their Jewish heritage and beliefs. (Which, Christians have Jewish heritage Understandably there was no open communication about religion or beliefs. And it was all because the Jews were too stubborn. (I hope you can sense my sarcasm and frustration.)

Well we met up for lunch at our friends' request at a place that is dear to us because of our religion. They even asked for a tour, and peppered Husband with questions. (He's much more knowledgeable with the history). And in return they shared wonderfully interesting facts about parts of their religion and beliefs that paralleled, or perhaps dissected ours. It was open, respectful, enlightening, and wonderful.

Now, I am still a Christian. They are still Jews. And we are still friends.

The difference between the years and years of 'missionary work' done by Husband's parents trying to teach these friends about our religion, and what happened yesterday was the expectations behind it all. Husband's parents believe and love their religion, the problem comes when they disrespect anyone who does not believe and love their religion in the EXACT same way that they do. Husband and I believe and love our religion but our expectation was to understand our friends more, and to help them understand us more, still be friends.

It doesn't matter to us what religion or culture you come from. If there is respect for others, lets be friends and learn from each other. That's what we're looking for too. It is not all one way or the other, we all have things to share.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Musing #30--Yelling at Kids--Giving them a voice

I don't know what it is about crayons, but they multiply at our house. About five years ago, I had to do something with the excess. I saw a number of ideas on Pinterest and decided to make a couple canvases. I glued crayons to the canvases, then blow dryed them like crazy, turning the canvas to direct the wax as much as I could. Mine aren't nearly as professional or neat as the ones I saw back then, used crayons and all, but I love them.

I was musing about these on my walk back from dropping the kidlets off at school this morning. It had rained last night and I thought of the picture with the kids in the crayon 'rain.' 

I still have no voice. It's going on a week now of painfully croaking out bits of sound when I want to try and talk. I've had to be very selective of what and when I say something to my kidlets. 

Yesterday at the library I saw a dad whacking his son upside the head and yelling at him. What? I don't really know, but the boy was in tears and the dad kept yelling. And today, a mom pushing a double stroller and pulling a dog was screaming orders to 'run kid! go! now!' to her confused kindergartner to get to school. Now, I get it. I have been known to loose it, go scream frustrations into my pillow. Get on my soapbox to kids who just nod their heads, and think mom's lost it. Or impatiently rush my kids along. No judgement from me, I don't know the whole story here. 

As I mentioned before, being sick...with no voice...has given me time to observe. I watched the looks on those kids' faces. I saw the look on the parents' faces. And neither one was what they wanted, they both looked hurt and discouraged, in both cases--and others I observed. And then I looked at my kids' faces, and I decided to quietly hand Chip a tissue instead of ordering her to blow her nose...again...then give her a hug. Or let Dale be a little more rambunctious than I usually would, but went over and gave him a hug when he started to get too wild instead of hollering to calm down or take it outside. I chose not to yell the orders. One--it hurt waaaay too much, but also, I kids need more love and recognition, a voice if you will. When I have mine. I don't let them have much of one. Which is a large part of what Husband is dealing with. He had no voice growing up. It was his parents' way...only...ever...period. And rage attacks would occur if one would deviate a centimeter from what they wanted. So, I've decided as I've observed and listened to lots of voices...not many of them little ones...that I want to give my kidlets more of a voice.

I can be that guiding and teaching force in their lives, but they have great brains in their heads and can think of great things. I want to hear them. I want to discuss them. I want them to speak up.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Musing# 29--My Train Wreck Called 'Wedding Day'

We just recently 'celebrated' our 10 year anniversary.

It seems like, for most couples, this is a milestone that calls for a trip to Hawaii or a cruise or a night away or candle-lit dinner in the yard with twinkle lights or something amazing that usually occurs depending on budgets and time. 10 years is a big deal. I kind of feel like we faked our way to 10 years. Like it was all a sham almost. We hardly know each other. Shoot, in light of current events, we hardly know ourselves.

For our 10 year anniversary, we bought an (ugly-with-potential) house, husband started a new job, we moved to a new state, and we decided not to get a divorce. And we decided to try again.

So, in reality, I kind of feel like it's our wedding date all over again. And our 20 year anniversary, will really be our 10 year.

That confusing train of thought led me to muse about my wedding day. Oh what a train wreck. My mother, was trying to control things in her way...we are of a similar mold...just different ideas. I wanted pictures, lots of them. I love pictures. In 'her day,' she only had a couple pictures and those weren't important to her. We didn't see eye to eye on the importance of caused friction.

And then there was Husband's mother....I feel like I should add a 'dun, dun, dun....' tune to this. This could get long, so lets just talk about a couple things: She wore a white dress. Yup. She did. Made disapproving faces in all the pictures. And was caught with pouty faces on the video saying things like 'what a sad day, etc' more than once. And with her husband sang a song at the luncheon (where we had specifically requested no 'talent show stuff') that literally had the words "she's good enough for now, until something better comes along." But before the pictures and luncheon, when we arrived to enter the room in which we would be united, she met us outside the door, gushing all over the place, pretending like she hadn't tried desperately to break us up for the last few months. Then, when she had wedged her way between us, and we weren't holding hands anymore, she escorted my fiancee' into the room, and I trailed in after.

And that, was a foreshadowing of what her roll would be in our lives for the next 9 years. (Not even going into Husband's father's roll, which was worse...)

I've been musing over that the last few days, and trying really hard to move past it and see the path that we are on now. But I'm feeling robbed of the last 10 years. I'm feeling angry at them for the abuse and manipulation of their son. I'm angry at the toxicity that they brought into my marriage without my permission, and despite our efforts. That it took total break of contact to start to repair the damage of the last 10 years. That my kids have to deal with and understand, at such young ages, a kind of selfishness and manipulation that they should not have to.

Despite all my research on the matter, I am not handling this well. I know all the steps. But putting them into place is not as easily done. Right now I'm just angry.

Here's to hoping I can have a better perspective tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Musing #28--Doers vs Philosophers

Before getting sick, my parents were in town. And for us that means PROGRESS! With all capital letters, ten exclamation points, shouting, whatever you can think of that means tons of stuff getting done.

(Including figuring out how we can ventilate our squatty attic so it can ventilate our house. Dad just knows stuff. Go Husband!...he did NOT fit up there. I've never seen him shaken from claustrophobia before)

I've always had this theory about Husband's family vs my family. My family are 'Doers.' Something needs to get done, and you jump right in. If a problem arises, you solve it as it comes, but the main thing is progress. See something happen. Make something happen. DO something.

Husband's family is made up of Philosophers. They can sit around and talk about a project, analyzing all the problems they could possibly run into backwards and forwards, insideout and upsidedown until they are making up problems that they will never run into, but want to talk about anyway. They never get around to DOing anything, but feel well accomplished that they have talked about it and are the only people to have ever figured it out and are the only ones to know the best way to get it done and everyone else is wrong.

Enter Husband and I. In the beginning, I was always so frustrated because nothing would seem to get done. He would research things while I was there saying, 'so, do you want the blue one or the green?' 'Should we put it here or here?' etc. We just didn't know how to work together. I wanted progress, he wanted problems addressed before they had a chance to arise. It was just the cultures we were raised in.

When I finally realized what was going on, I could take a step back and let him research, a little bit, and then require some progress, knowing that if we could figure out how to combine the two, we'd make a great team.

It took us a long while, though, before working together with things was a reality. (Like, in the last couple months of our 10+ years of marriage)  The nature of his childhood and growing up years was in an atmosphere that was not conducive to individuality or individual thought. With narcissistic parents who victimize themselves with the emotional, psychological, and gaslighting abuse it was an additional hurdle for us to realize and overcome in working together. It took us realizing what his parents were doing, and he is still coming to terms with that, but understanding the harm it causes himself, our marriage, and our family has made a huge difference.

It's been great as he's become a little more of a do-er and I've become a little more of a think-er and together we are getting a lot more done.  

Monday, September 19, 2016

Musing # 27--Being Sick

Dale amazes me. We were walking home from church and he finds a pine cone. It was a large, perfect, picturesque pine cone. And as his nickname would suggest (Chip and Dale--the chipmunks, because my kidlets gather acorns like they will starve this winter) he collected it and treasured it for the long walk home. As we were nearing the house we passed his friend's house. His friend's mom was outside and Dale hollers to her "Why wasn't [friend] at church?" To which she answers that he was sick. Dale walks up and puts his treasured pine cone on the chair next to where she's standing and (without making eye contact) whispers. "this is for him, so he can feel better." And quickly walks away.

Dale is socially awkward. He grabs at people, and does chicken dances in their faces, and has a hard time making friends. But, once you get passed the awkwardness--and we're working on those quirks--you will not find a more loyal, thoughtful, caring, sensitive soul.

Well, as luck would have it, after a crazy week of long mommy hours, I came down with something pretty nasty too. (My hat is off to single parents, A week of glimpses of Husband, and I get sick. Seriously, respect to those who do it without even those glimpses!) As I'm resting--no voice, and hacking up grossness, and Husband is home (cheers from everyone around--literally) and making dinner with the kids...remember this post, this is no small thing--Dale walks in and lays this note gently on my face. (The gently part is a feat in and of itself for my little friend.) 'hope you feoll betr' and signed with his name.

I love that our family is building stronger bonds together--after our close call with falling completely apart because of the emotional abuse of Husband's family--by being extra aware of the time with each other and trying extra hard to show each other we care. It takes effort and thought, but makes all the difference in being sick and miserable and wallowing in frustration. And being sick and fighting to feel better so that you too can be a part of serving each other, because it's fun, and it is what you want to do, because you love how it lifts each other.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Musing#26--Christianity, Taboos, Disagreements, Community, and Hope

It's not been an awesome week in the 'building' sense. For the house, or for us. Husband hasn't been home for dinner one night since Sunday, and wont be home in time for dinner until at least Monday. Dinner is huge for me. (Remember how much I like food?) But also, there are a few nights that I was promised, the kids were promised that he'd be home in time, only to be told as we're headed out the door he's not going to make it.

That's what gets me. The not being told something he knows for awhile until the last moment. Or being told something would happen, and it not happening at all...over and over. Giving work 100% and giving home the leftovers. (I am grateful for the job, I remember how stressed I was when Husband lost his last job. I am grateful for a hard worker.) Anyway, Dale has a part in his children's program at church and Husband promised him he'd be there. He can't make it. But he hasn't told Dale this, and Dale doesn't handle transitions well, he needs time to process. So help me, if he waits until Sunday morning to tell Dale I will burn his dinner for a month! (*gasp* not that! anything but that)

Which brings us to the purpose of my post. Not to air our dirty laundry and my frustrations, I'm sure Husband has a list of his own.

I'm a Christian. I love my religion. I try to live what I believe and try to be a good person. That being said, I believe there is a type of taboo in the Christian (and many religions) religion on troubles in marriages. Big troubles or little troubles. Everyone (stereotyping) feels the need to portray a perfect marriage. Which is all fine and good, be an example to our kids and such. But I also feel like if there were a community to work through things with, healthier relationships would be the result, and we wouldn't have to act, we could be real. We could teach our kids how to solve problems, how to communicate, and how to be honest.

With my frustrations building this week, and communication dwindling between Husband and I, I went to the internet to try and find some advice. (I've researched the stuff, but when I'm in the moment with Husband, my mind turns I need refreshers). But aside from one or two uplifting Blogs, many of the relationship sites were quite intimate in subjects and detail with even links to porn sites to help people 'relax' before attempting to solve their relationship issues. Quickly navigating away from those, I decided I would share my hopes with you.

My hope is not to build a community to replace a spouse or significant other, as far as communicating goes. But rather to build a community that supports each other through the hard stuff. With experiences that we can all relate to help each other through and uplift each other and encourage each other with. A community that wants to fight for relationships with those we love.

I would love to follow your blogs. Please follow mine. Lets build a community of clean support and uplifting hope. That we can make families and couples stronger through the tough stuff, as big or seemingly small. Not shy away from it, but face it head on and deal with it, and overcome it and grow from it--grow from each other.

This is a screenshot of my internet. I never close this site. I love this picture and am saving up to buy a large canvas of this for my entryway. Isn't it beautiful? Jesus reaching out to Paul. It's called Save me, the Hand of God  I always imagine he's reaching out to me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Musing #25--'Mommy'

I came across this whilst I was going through some files.
It's a poem I wrote when I was overwhelmed being 'mommy.'
Best/hardest thing ever!

My shirt is smeared with peanut butter
My hair? It looks a fright
Some say I may be crazy,
and actually, I might

My teeth, A pinch too fuzzy
Sleep? A pleasure sin
You wonder why I do it
Well here, I'll clue you in

Laughs that light up cities
belted without restraint
Hugs that warm the soul
Revived magic in fingerpaint

Snuggles that smell of vanilla,
Kisses that leave their mark
Chubby little hands, needing
protection in the dark

So yes, I may be tired
Who'm I kidding, I'm wiped out!
But being 'Mommy' is amazing
Best thing ever, no doubt
~Musing Middlywed

Musing #24--Storms

I LOVE storms. The sound of the rain on the roof. The wind at the windows. The thunder. The lightening lighting up the sky. Feeling safe with a blanket on the couch, in bed, wherever. And, I love the intense calm afterwards.

Last night's storm was a doozy. It woke Chip up, who woke us up as she wiggled in between us in bed and snuggled as tight as she could. She does not like storms.

Our family has seen it's fair share of storms this last year (and the years before that if I'm being completely honest. With medical issues and bills, financial struggles, and those toxic, manipulative, abusive, in-laws that infiltrated everything and tore us apart bit by bit.)

I feel like we are in that moment of intense calm. We can look around and survey the disastrous mess left behind. Roots exposed and limbs broken by the wind. The dents left by the hail. Damage from flooding. Cores singed or burned from lightening. But, there is a sense of peace. There is that calm. There is hope as we push up our sleeves and get to work to clean it all up, and make it stronger so when the next storm strikes...we'll be fortified and ready. And our marriage will be stronger. Our family will be stronger. It's all about what you put into it.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Musing #23--Thoughtfulness

It was Dale's teacher's birthday yesterday. He woke up extra early today and wrote the most darling card. "Miss _______, I hoqe you had a fun burthday" with a picture of a cake and candles. We happen to have a balloon that was in the shape of the letter of her name from a family event, and he had claimed he attached it to the note and wanted to include his favorite snack. He was so excited to give it to her and wish her well on her day.

In my selfish mindset I thought, 'this is darling, but it isn't enough.' So, I told him we wouldn't take it up to her today and we'd walk to the store after school and get her something more. He was confused, but agreed. And that was the end of it.

We rushed off to school and got there a couple minutes before the bell rang.

As I walked home, my mind drifted to Dale's thoughtful gesture. To wake up early, give his teacher something of his that was important to him, and something he really enjoyed. What more could he give? As a little boy, those things were all he had, and how dare I tell him it wasn't enough and needed to be something more. I felt sick. Righting this couldn't wait.

I came home, put together some of his favorite snacks (fruit roll ups, trail mix, peanut butter crackers, etc), put the balloon in, and took the note up. Waited until they were lining up for recess so it wouldn't be a distraction and pulled him out where I told him this: "I was wrong buddy. You were so thoughtful this morning to wake up early and do something so nice for someone else. I shouldn't have suggested we wait. I am so sorry, and I brought this up so you could give it to your teacher now because it is one of the most thoughtful gifts, and you are such a thoughtful boy."

He squeezed me tight and galloped over to proudly give what he had to his teacher he loves. And proudly announced 'the balloon used to be mine, but I gave it to you.' HA! (I kind of cringed, but hopefully she saw the thoughtfulness in it.)

I was taught a very humbling and very huge lesson, by my very little kid today. It isn't about the quantity, it isn't about the timing (it was a late birthday gift after all), it is all about the thought and the sacrifice and the effort put into things. Making dinner for my family isn't a big deal for me, I love to do it, but when Husband makes dinner for us, it is a BIG deal...he does not cook, and it takes a lot of effort for him to do that service for us. It is not a big deal for my husband to wake up early and play with the kids. It is a BIG deal for me to wake up early and takes caffeine pills to combat my medication. It isn't a big deal for some to give big extravagant gifts, but it is a BIG deal for others to find enough money to purchase a small, thoughtful thing.

I am determined to be more thoughtful. And to see the thoughtfulness in others more. Thanks Dale!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Musing #22--Trees and Growing

I've been musing this morning about fall, and about trees, and about changes and growing.

Husband's and my growing apart started back with my difficult pregnancies. He had been raised in a home with one parent who was a narcissist and one who has victim syndrome. The combination made for an psychologically and emotionally abusive atmosphere. Both were good at their game though, and to outsiders, all looks well and fine...great even... until you look past their careful facade to see what was really going on. Him coming from that culture, and me with trust issues from previous relationships with, one in particular, psychologically abusive partner...our communication efforts were not ideal.
Things were rough. Miscarriages. High Risk Pregnancies. High Stress Work. Long Hours of Schooling. Hospitalization. Distance. And that's where many things start to go wrong for us.

As I've researched relationships and toxic relationships and communication. Talking through concerns and problems and getting it in the open is considered really important. Respectful venting, if you will. I couldn't communicate with Husband, he--at that point in time--had retreated to the familiarity of his previous culture. As many victims of abuse do. And wasn't open to understanding what was really going on there. So, I had Word Documents. I vented like mad in those word documents. And boy, are some of them 'red-headed.' It is relieving and I think it helped in holding us together (because I didn't explode before I could wrap my mind fully around what was going on.)

But I also have another document. "Life's Little Enjoyments." Because gratitude is essential to any healthy lifestyle. And if I spend my entire time venting, I become bitter and cynical, and mean. (I know this because I have moments...or days...or weeks...when I do fixate on the venting and spiral into negativity...and it's hard to climb out of.) These little enjoyments pull me out of the tough stuff and help me look around at the good. I was reading back through them today. And 'fall,' 'crunchy leaves,' 'fall colors,' 'trees,' and the like were sprinkled throughout the years, many, many times. I LOVE fall.

I love the smell. I love that everything goes into hibernation (because I would sleep all day and maybe more, if I was allowed and had nothing else I had to do. I. love. to. sleep.) And that, in spring it all comes back to life. I love shade from trees. I love how massive trees start out as little twigs despite winds and snow and heat and hail.. I love the million different symbolisms you can find in trees and how each one brings hope.

This is a tree in our yard. It's lovely. But like everything in our new life, it's representative of us starting over. Because there is that one...rather large and noticeable, dead spot, as well as some other ones hidden beneath that the picture doesn't show. It's going to take some major pruning, watering, and fertilizing, consulting an arborist to see if it's diseased and what we can do about that to make sure this tree survives. But it's hopefully not too late yet. But it could be if we put it off much longer.

Maybe it's a lame cliche, but as I was musing about trees today, I mused about the parallels. Happy Fall! Enjoy the colors. The crockpot soup! The crunchy leaves! The smell of fall! And the changing of the seasons! It's all good. All of it.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Musing #21-- 9/11

Image result for 9/11 memorial
It's difficult for me not muse about 9/11 on September 11?
Was it really 15 years ago? I read that this was the first year that high school freshmen were not born yet and learn about it as 'History.' Woah! But, then again, as I think about it, I was in high school when it happened, so it makes sense.
We took the kidlets to Ground Zero last year. It was getting so toxic in the house that we needed an out. We made a quick weekend trip away. It was an amazing trip, however, it was a rough time for Husband and I, it was before we knew what was going on between us and with his family, but I knew we were spiraling quickly toward divorce, neither one of us handling the attacks well or together. It would be the next month that everything hits the fan (sorry...I hate any version of that phrase, but it's true...our life just kind of exploded). At this point we were just unhappy...really unhappy. We tried to keep it positive for the kids, but they are smart and perceptive, and pick up on body language and tone even if there is a smile on our faces.
But when we got to ground zero, it all faded. For that moment, time stood still, reality hit.  How, in an instant, life can change. Those you love despite differences and disagreements may go to work or school and not come back. As we discussed what the memorial represented to the kidlets I couldn't hold it together. Husband had to take over, and we experienced the teamwork, that connection, that we used to. And our family experienced a shift. It was minor, Almost imperceptible, but it was there. Without it I don't know if we could have withstood what was coming for our family.
This beautiful monument stood as a memorial of all those people and heroes who didn't make it back to their families that day. And the spirit around it was a memorial to me of what I have, and that it's worth fighting for.  

I also posted a video on my facebook page that shows the emotions that you feel as you are at the memorial. It is worth checking out. It is beautiful.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Musing #20--Boiling

We ordered a new rice cooker today. I particularly enjoy calrose rice...and we have been having minute rice, which is great...unless you particularly enjoy calrose...

When I opened the box, this odd little thing was in it. Apparently it is a 'hand boiler.' All the liquid is in the bottom, you hold it in your palm and it goes to the top and it starts bubbling. It's kind of amazing.

It was fascinating though, I could barely get the liquid to the top, and when it finally got there, it was an occasional 'buh-lup.' I handed it to Husband and ALL the liquid shot immediately to the top with a rolling boil. A very physical representation of how very different we are. (Although, with my red hair I'm typically the one with the boiling temper...remember this post before my focus changed?)

We had our moments today of complete and utter frustration and miscommunication. The kind where you just want to pull all your hair out and just yell But, as I've been teaching Dale...deep breaths, then think about what you're trying to communicate, then put it into words (it's harder than I think it is, and if I expect kidlet Dale to do it, I need to as well...).
It'd be a great story if we finally saw eye to eye and understood each other. We didn't. But we moved forward anyway. All the while 'Frank' (what Dale calls the hand boiler) was clear in my mind...about just how different we are. And how so many times situations in our lives have made more sense when we've cooled down, and stopped boiling, and then communicated about what was going on. Life and hindsight and all that.

Anybody else have some cool calming techniques. Dale uses the hand boiler now as his 'cool down' moment. When he's too wound up and out of control, we tell him to go visit Frank. It is really cool. He sits, and watches, and breathes, and then is calm...what? If only I could get it boiling then that could have worked for me today...

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Journey is More Fun with Friends

"The only reason, that I have been able to think of, that people like you and I go through such awful things, is so we can learn from it and help others."

This. This is the reason for my blog.

I don't have a niche. It isn't a blog of delicious calorie-free recipes or shabby chic furniture made out of popsicle sticks. (Which, I'm amazed by both)

My blog is about the hard stuff in life. Raw, real, honest.

I called a friend today to talk to her about my blog. I want to stay anonymous because both Husband and I come from large families, and with everything going on between us and with Husband's family, I don't want to cause harm or drama or problems with neighbors or friends.

That being said I want to be real. I want to be honest. I want to be positive, but life is hard.
Sometimes it seems downright impossible. So I don't want to shy away from anything merely to save face or feelings.

Said friend laid out all the reasons why a blog of such nature: Rebuilding our lives: literally (house projects), emotionally (from the in-law abuse and our own nearly-broken marriage), mentally (finding answers and improvements), spiritually (however one decides to connect with deity) , as well as our relationship and our kids well-being was too broad and too intrusive into our lives and nobody would read it or follow it.

She gave me some wonderful marketing suggestions and some great ideas to go a completely different direction (one that included furniture made out of popsicle sticks). And I hope that we can still be friends when I disregard them all.

When I was at one of my deepest, lowest points last year a different friend came to me through FB. She told me to look up narcissism and abuse and gave me a couple websites, told me a very detailed experience from her life, then told me to call her if I needed more information. I did. It was a three-hour long conversation. At the end, she said something to the effect of, 'The only reason, that I have been able to think of, that people like you and I go through such awful things, is so we can learn from it and help others.'

I'd like to try.

So, that is why I've decided to not wipe my blog and start over with some really good marketing ideas. It's just me (anonymously), being real with you (hopefully with a dash of my pitiful humor...because I love to laugh at lame things, proof Here), my education and research at your disposal, hoping that something uplifts, makes you think, inspires, or helps you smile through your journey. And I'd love to hear your experiences as well. We can all help each other out.

Please follow my blog. The journey is more fun with friends.

Musing #18--Funerals and Narcissists

Husband's grandma died last night.

It's been interesting as we have come to the realization that it will be more respectful for us not to attend the funeral. We will go as a family and pay our respects to her at her grave site after all is said and done.
We've learned a lot about narcissism over the last year, and the toxicity that it brings. Husband's family (his dad in particular) is full of narcissists. We are not professionals, by any stretch of the imagination, but have learned a ton about what a narcissist is, how it has affected Husband, our relationship, our kids, and why we've chosen to end contact with his family while we heal.
This little picture gives a good Cliff's Notes version:

But it really is so much more damaging. Actual abuse is involved. Gaslighting abuse. Emotional abuse. Psychological abuse. It's bad.
So, because of the spectacle it will be to just even have Husband's dad there (as well as his extended's quite a bunch) and then if we were to show up, after having no contact for a see the predicament? It would take the focus off of the true reason to be there as everyone would descend on us, and we just can't do that to the memory of his grandma. (The situation is even more involved than just having a narcissist for a FIL). It would be disrespectful.
So I was just musing about how different our lives are after the last year. How much we learned while living amid the toxicity. I never would have thought it important to learn about narcissism of all things. Wasn't he just a Greek Mythology character after all? But in reality learning about narcissism has brought so much understanding to husband and I. If you have any questions about it. I again, am no doctor or professional, but I have researched a ton, and could hopefully point you in a good direction for information. I would love to chat about it. Understanding starts somewhere, and improvement starts with understanding.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Musing #17--Burnout

I'm genuinely curious. How do you do it? How do you not burn out? Right now, this is how I'm holding it all together

And if I'm being 100% honest, it's not a great method. I want to add in some joints and muscles are killing me. I'm in one of those moments when everything hits me. The laundry, the dishes, the projects, the yard projects (that I promised myself I wouldn't even think about until spring because it would be too overwhelming), time with kids, volunteering at the school, grocery shopping, showering I'm sure is in there somewhere...but probably should be in there more, the list goes on and on of all good and important things. All I want to do is sleep. And yet, if something gets done, it is such a weight off my mind, even if it has do be done again tomorrow. So, I'm sitting in a room full of holiday boxes that need to be sorted, because they became a jumble with the move because we didn't take it all with us, the dishes are still there from last night because we had to talk through a bully on the playground issue (and that trumps everything), the computer desk needs to be unburried for the kids' homework tonight, and I have to leave in exactly one minute to go help in Chip's class...
I'm genuinely curious at how you manage the chaos in your lives, because I can feel the grey hairs eeking out of my scalp. (And also husband and I get snappier and snappier with each other..because insurance only covers counselling for, we'll have to figure that one out. Go to marriage counselling individually?) I need more positivity back! Maybe I should take all those ENERGY packets, get a ton done and then I'll feel like I'm ahead...HA!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Musing #16--Home=Safety

So here's that silly, little project. It's super cute (I think), and it meant a lot to Chip, but it was a 'foofy' project. On to the wall demolition!
(Although, we learned...again...that Husband and I don't think problem solving things through the same. So projecting is really challenging at time, even something suuper simple, like a stuffie hammock. It usually ends up that one person ends up finding a different project to work on so we can project in different rooms and not conflict with each other, Like one hanging a hammock and the other fixing broken curtain rods...soooo...that will need to be figured out because we have pages worth of house projects for us to work through together. In possibly unrelated news tidbits, we are actively looking for a marriage counselor now...not just talking about actively looking for one.)

The hammock!
Starts with something that looks a little like this (Expand this to the whole room):

Break out the trusty measuring tape to make sure your hanging it equally distant from the corner on both sides, and equally distant from the ceiling. (We just used large command hooks)

Attach the foofy hammock-y fabric (we used toole. Frugal tip: get it off the bolt instead of off the spool. It is much less, and much wider.). And also attach it to the back corner, or else everybody swings out of it. What? No. We would not have found this out by letting it happen! Chip's head will be below that at night!

Then fill with the obscene amount of friends and cherished ones that may or may not try to sneak away to Goodwill, but are recognized to be missing before they can get out the door. (And allow enough time for gravity to take it's course before a sleeping head is below it...just to make sure it is secure for sure...see above)

And there you have it. A super simple project that means a whole lot to a little one. 
Making her room feel like hers and expressing her personality in it is going a long way to calm her anxieties that have built over the last year of toxicity, and being surrounded by things she loves makes her feel safe. And that, my friends is the whole goal of "home" wherever it may be, in whatever state it may be in, is a place to feel safe. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Musing #15--Kidlets

We are still finding a place for stuff, and putting stuff through the elimination process and it feels great. But my projecting nerve is tingling and going nuts. I have to do something. So, I'll post a very minor project that I did today, only requiring a small, pink tape measure. (It's when the orange one is required that it's a real project). But I saw this on Pinterest (I just signed up for an account, come join me. I need people to follow and connect with, otherwise stuff like this pops up...)
I'd use a smaller version, but like the idea:

I could not stop giggling. Imagine having toilet paper as the center piece of art in your otherwise lovely bathroom. Also, imagine having I need to expound on this? Which roll do you think a child would grab if...IF...they were to only grab one if they needed one. And if...IF they were to responsibly use it for it's intended use, when so much were available to their disposal.

In other child related news, I think I'll refer to my kidlets as Chip and Dale now.

Chip and Dale walk to school collecting these, store them in their cubbies, walk home from school collecting them, walk around to collect them, at random, you should see the pile collecting in our yard.

Yes. They would responsibly take the top roll of toilet paper...

But hey! Fall is coming. And we have a home withwhich to store acorns! (Outside...for real chipmunks...)

Post on stuffie declutter storage coming later...FIRST PROJECT! (Gearing up for demolition of kitchen!...that will be funny when you see how minor this is...cute, but minor)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Musing #14--It's a Sign

Different things make a house home to different people. I could list all sorts of things from the people in it to a special teddy bear. For me it's pictures. Pictures of happy memories and the memories that come with looking at the pictures.
We put pictures up on the walls this weekend. 
Image result for throw confetti
(Sidenote: I'm not sure how to give photo credit...if I just google something am I allowed to just use a picture if it has watermarks stating it is obviously not mine?)
Anyway, we got around to our room and I had some art work and a picture and our marriage licence. Husband is an excellent handy-man. Precise (to a fault?) Up to this point everything has been excellent, with only one or two extra holes in walls--but they could be covered up....No biggie. 
He hangs up the marriage licence, turns his back, and it comes crashing down. 
I burst out laughing. 
With a mixture of shy and smug (how is that even possible? Not sure...but that's what it was) he says, 'It must be a sign. But hey look! The frame is totally beat up, but the glass isn't even cracked. We'll make it!'
Ain't that how it goes sometimes. We get totally beat up, but if it ain't cracked...It's worth working with, it's the broken glass that's dangerous and in need of immediate discardal.

(And yes, I used 'ain't' and made up 'discardal' all in one day. Whew.)  

Friday, September 2, 2016

Musing #13--Dinner

Mmmm. Food.
Is there anymore that needs to be said?
Except maybe when will fall be here? So that I can crockpot soup, because it is just too hot to eat. Which stinks. Because I love to eat.
I also love to cook. But being in a new house, without all my supplies hasn't been ideal for the home cooked. 
Although I did get a love note from kidlet the other day that said 'dare mom. I love you. I love your hom cooked fod.' So, that kind of lit a fire under my rear to at least make family dinner jump back up in priority, even if it still looks a little something like this:
Image result for chicken nuggets
Can we please put word bubbles on each of these guys? 
I do try to add some salad and fruit or something, but the kidlets keep asking when we can have homemade pizza, or homemade chicken noodle (seriously, she asks for this every time I ask her what she wants for dinner...even in 100 degree weather...), or homemade meatloaf (that one is Husband). 
So in my efforts to rebuild our broken little family. First priority in our ugly little house that feels more like home than anywhere we've lived is the kitchen and built in table (because there is no room anywhere else, and I'm obsessed with built-ins).
Stay tuned for the how-to of a table built in. And for some simple, but tasty recipes. Because as I've sat here musing about all the things that need to be done, I believe nothing is more important than the healing that happens when kidlets and families in general feel safe around a dinner table with tummies getting full. (Whether at dinner time, or breakfast time, or after school/work snack time). Home-cooked or not, it's one of my favorite places to be...Because, I mean...FOOD guys!