Saturday, March 2, 2013

Women of Westview

It has been almost a year since my last blog post and many things in my life have changed. For one, I closed my shop and decided to come back home with my girls. I've never regretted it for one minute either. As much as I loved the shop, I hated how much time it took away from them. We had an amazing summer together and then this fall I started homeschooling Addie instead of sending her to public school for kindergarten. Avery is at home with us also, and both of them are growing up so fast it makes my head spin. They played soccer in the fall and loved it so they decided to try baseball. Not sure how it will go, but practice starts on Monday so I suppose we'll find out! 

Mr. Wonderful has still been sick off and on this year, but we've been managing. Until the holidays, that is. That is when it seemed to get much worse. The meds just weren't working anymore and the doctor wanted to try something new. He sent home an information pamphlet on a new drug he wanted to try out. Of course, Mr. Wonderful just lays it on the counter without even opening it. But I just couldn't. I had a strange feeling of discomfort when this new drug was brought up and thought that if I read about it then it would make me feel better. Wrong. Instead, the listing of side effects made me even more uncomfortable. I talked to friends and family about it and got mixed reviews. Some said we had to suck it up and do what was required and some said if they were us they would run in the opposite direction. While whining about it was good, it didn't solve the issue. 

We both felt as if we didn't have a choice in the matter. We want him well. What else could we do? Everything happened so fast I barely had time to pray that all would be okay (after all, who has time to pray when they are so busy whining?) Mr. Wonderful insisted on being a "Mr. Tough Guy" and went for the first treatment alone. Which is totally out of character for him, but I'm sure he was doing it to keep me from having to deal with it (you know, being strong for me even though he's the one who is sick). Anyway, he ended up getting extremely sick from the drug. By the time he was feeling almost normal again (two weeks later) it was time for another treatment. I went along this time. I didn't like it. The nurse, who we consider a friend and who is amazing and is always there when we need her and treats us like family, noticed my discomfort. In what I'm sure was an effort to reassure me, she joked lightly with Mr. Wonderful about how the injections weren't really a big deal. He tried to go along with it, but he can't hide anything from me. We are too close. We've been through too much together. I could see how bad it was. Especially when we got home and he got sick again. 

A few days later we were off to see the good doctor for a scheduled visit to see if the drugs were working. I say "good doctor" but really, he is an amazing doctor. We love him. He is a rare one who actually listens when we talk. He remembers things about us and our family. He chats with us in the hallway when he sees us. He tells us about his children. He doesn't rush into the room ready to leave. He walks in, sits down, and gives us as much time as we need. We love him. He has worked very hard over the years to get Mr. Wonderful well and we trust him completely. For this specific visit, he spent lots of time with us going over options and answering our questions and providing information. I was a nervous wreck before the appointment and by the time the doctor walked in, I was so wound up that I spent the majority of the visit desperately trying to avoid bursting into fits of hysterical laughter. Insane, I know. Believe me, I feel it. The good doctor was concerned about our desire to discontinue the current drug, but was quick to provide another option in the form of a new drug that has just been approved. Praise God. When we started the other drug, there were no other options.  

 After our lenghty time with him, he led us to his nurse's desk to set up another appointment. By this time, the urge to laugh hysterically had turned into the urge to cry hysterically. I was shaking so badly that it must have appeared that I was having convulsions as we were greeted by the good nurse we love so much. Because we were the last people in the office, she wanted to see a new picture of the girls and chat. But then she found out that we had stopped the new drug. She immediately swung her gaze over to me. Not accusingly, but knowingly. The tears started to escape. Under her scrutiny, I felt my chest begin to tighten further. The good doctor was encouraging us to continue to pray and have faith. My convulsions got stronger and my knees got weaker. I didn't want to hear that. 
The nurse said to me that I needed to be strong for my husband. I needed to be there for him. I needed to be there for my girls. And I'm sure she said other things that any other time would have been encouraging. Except that I didn't want a pep talk. I couldn't listen anymore. The walls were closing in and I had to get out of there. The nurse said to me again, "Just pray and have faith and be strong for your husband. You have to do that. You have two children you need to be thinking of." I exploded. I'm pretty sure I may have even slammed my hand down on the counter before I barked at her that I don't have only two children, I have four! I may only have two on this earth with me at the moment, but by gosh I have four children who own a piece of my heart! And then I'm fairly certain I stomped my foot like a child before running towards the door leaving Mr. Wonderful to deal with the shocked good doctor and nurse who had witnessed my insane outburst. I'm pretty sure if I had stuck around long enough they would have had me in a straight jacket headed for the pink padded room. 

I went straight to my mom's house and cried to her and my dad for hours. They were amazing and just listened which made me feel better, but I still couldn't let it go. I was tired of being strong. I was tired of not having a "normal" life. In the less than 9 years that Mr. Wonderful and I have been married, we have been through so much. I just wanted a break. I just wanted to know what it was like to live a simple life without so many things going so badly. 
My girlfriends and I had already made plans to go out to dinner and a movie together the next night. As I met up with them, I spent the first half hour whining as they listened patiently. This was what I needed. I needed someone to be strong for me when I couldn't be. Instead of telling me to have faith, I needed to have someone to agree with me that this just sucks. Really bad. I needed someone to admit to me that they didn't know what to say about it all instead insisting that all would be fine. That's what my girlfriends did for me that night. They gave me exactly what I needed. And then they helped me forget about my worries. We spent the rest of the night laughing until we cried and having an incredibly fun time together. Just being normal. 

We got home super late and had to be up super early for a women's conference at our church. The woman who spoke was the greatest. She was funny and to the point and sincere and I felt as though my soul was open for her to see through. The message she brought was, in a nutshell, "Life isn't about you. Put your big girl panties on and deal with it." 

Have I ever told you how amazing God's grace is? He know exactly what you need and will provide it for you exactly when you need it. Throughout the message this morning, I looked back on the past four months and was able to see very clearly how badly I had been wallowing in self pity. I was able to see how sorry I had been feeling for myself and how bitter I had become. I was also able to see that God had been patient with me during that time. Treating me with great care. Holding me up and giving me support when I couldn't muster it up for myself. I saw clearly the friends and family He had gathered to rally together for me.
I also saw clearly that He was done with it. He had patiently given me support and now He was directing me to stand on my own. He was reminding me that this life just isn't about me. He was gently telling me that He had put up with my selfishness long enough and that He would have no more of it. He was telling me to pull myself together, get over myself, put my big girl panties on, and get on with life. And I'm so thankful that He did.

Yes, there are times when we just can't be strong on our own. Those are the times when we need to be supported by our family and friends. Those are the times we need to be treated with gentle loving care. Those are times when we need someone to listen to us and cry with us and pray for us. But those times can't last forever. At some point those times must end and instead of gentle words, we need someone to tell us pointedly that we need to be strong, that we need to be there for those around us, and that we need to get over ourselves. Then it is our responsibility to put on our big girl panties, thank God for His strength and comfort, and go out and provide strength and comfort to someone else who needs it.

I think that as Christians, we need to be cautious about how we offer comfort to those in need. I believe we should always pray for guidance in how to handle specific situations. We should always use care when approaching a person who is struggling. If we will allow Him, God will show us exactly what the person needs. This is what my friends did. This is why they are my friends. This why I love them. The Women of Westview have this mastered. The Women of Westview are an amazingly diverse group (If you know the Women of Westview, you should be laughing right now.) The one, and possibly only, thing they all share in common is the most important. They have the gift of love. They have the gift of showing love not only in prayerful and spiritual ways, but also in practical ways. They love one another. They support one another. They sacrifice themselves and their time for one another. They are there for one another. They provide for whatever need they see and they do it without hesitation or question. They do it for love and not for recognition. Their methods may be as different as night and day, but their motivation is the same. They do it because they care. They do it because they love the Lord and His love pours out of them. I am very blessed to call these Women of Westview, these sisters in Christ, my friends. I love each and every one of you! God Bless!  


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Um, that's a new one.

Now that the girls are getting older, they are finding new ways to entertain themselves when they are at the shop with me. Lately, they have been "shopping" here. They load up their baby dolls and stuff some things into a purse and walk around the shop together. They just browse and discuss what they see. Sometimes they will ask me how much something costs or what size it is. They even have some cards that they will pretend are money. 

Today, Addie comes walking through and announces, "I'm going to have a baby brother and I need to find something for him to wear." Um, that's a new one.

I usually just smile to myself when they say something silly or outrageous and tuck it away for later when I talk to Mr. Wonderful. Like the other day when we were riding in the car. Addie asked, "Mommy, are those dogs or are those sheep?" I bit my lip and informed her that they were goats. Thankfully, she didn't notice me holding back a giggle. She just said in her sweet little matter-of-fact voice, "Oh. They looked like dogs, but then I thought they might be sheep. I guess they may be goats." No, I'm not cruel for wanting to laugh at her mistake. It wasn't her mistake that I found funny. It was the fact that she is exactly like me in so very many ways that I found funny. Not too terribly long ago, I made almost the exact comment when Mr. Wonderful and I drove past a goat farm. I thought they looked just like cocker spaniels!!

So, yes, I normally just smile at the things the girls say. But today? Nope. No smiles. Just feeling nauseated.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Princess Peppa Guinea Pig

The girls are out of school this week for Spring Break, but have been stuck at the shop with me.
Since I knew I was going to have to work this week, I tried to make the most of their Monday (my day off). We met Mr. Wonderful for lunch and then went to the pet store. Addie has been asking for a pet since before Christmas. I want so much to give her one (even though I have no desire for one at all!). The girls are so sweet and content and almost never ask for anything. It is difficult to avoid giving in to them when they do decide they want something. 

But I must confess, I just don't want a pet because I am too selfish with my time. A dog is just so much work. If we got one, it would have to be a very small one (because both girls are afraid of them) which means it would have to stay indoors. That would mean house training and fur all over the place. Lots of work. I considered fish, but they are a lot of work, too. Cleaning the tank is such a pain. Plus, I don't really think the girls will enjoy a pet that isn't "hands on." I'm not a fan of cats, so that is out completely...the thought of an animal climbing onto my kitchen counters when I'm not home is absolutely repulsive! I had been trying to decide if a bunny would work for us. I used to have one and loved it. He was so sweet. He stayed outside in a cage, but I would take him out to play and feed him carrots and stuff. But after a while, he got so big that I couldn't hold him anymore. His nails were really long, too.

I can't stand the thought of getting an animal, and the girls falling in love with it, and spending tons of time with it, and then ignoring it when it gets bigger. It just doesn't seem right. So what do we do? Well, Addie is actually the one who came up with the best solution. I was in the kitchen getting lunch ready and the girls were watching Bubble Guppies and coloring. Suddenly, Addie says, "Mommy, I would really like to have a guinea pig. See if the store has some guinea pigs. I would like to have a white one." I wish you could have heard how casual she was when she said it. It was as if she were asking for cookies or something. It took a while, but I finally remembered that she had seen a guinea pig on tv. I was shocked at the request and couldn't help but think of "Hamster Man." I hamster-sat for Mr. Wonderful when we were probably about 12 years old. Although I thought Hamster Man was adorable, I was terrified that the little thing was going to bite me. He also escaped from his cage one night and appeared before my sister early one morning, sending her into quite the screaming fit. 

I sent Mr. Wonderful a message about Addie's request and he did some research on guinea pigs. Surprisingly, they are very near the top of the list of most perfect pets. After reading tons of information, we decided that a guinea pig was pretty much exactly what we said we wanted. It met all the doesn't get too big, it is gentle and doesn't bite, it loves people and loves to be held, it doesn't have to be house trained, it doesn't jump on you (Addie's major requirement), it doesn't bark and scare off/annoy visitors, and it isn't too expensive to care for. My only hesitation is due to the fact that I know it will stink. But supposedly, if you change their bedding often, it makes a huge difference and helps cut down on any odor. Sure.

So, back to Monday when we went to the pet store. Mr. Wonderful and I know our children well enough to know that we should let them actually see a guinea pig in person before we brought one home. After seeing them in the cages at the store, the girls were ecstatic. But I couldn't find anyone in the store that was willing to help. We left and went to another store, but they didn't have any guinea pigs. I tracked down and unwilling teenager and she grudgingly allowed us to pet a hamster. Avie loved it and begged to take it home. Addie got upset and wouldn't touch it. This was the reaction I was expecting out of her. As we were walking to the car, she said she didn't want a guinea pig at our house anymore. She had tears in her eyes but was trying to be tough and not show how upset she was. The very worst part of it is that I knew she still wanted one. She was just scared. And she was extremely upset at herself for being scared.

I couldn't take it. I thought my heart would burst. I loaded them up and took them right back to the first store. We marched inside and I told the first person I saw (a cashier) that we wanted to hold a guinea pig. Thankfully, the guy who came to assist us was extremely kind and helpful. He picked up the one I had pointed out and held it for me to pet. I must admit that I was a bit nervous. I was still scared that it would bite me! I know. I'm insane. Addie gets it from me. I was aware of that before, though. The sweet guy handed her (the guinea pig) over and showed me how to hold her. I fell in love. She was so sweet! She snuggled against me and sniffed my hands. I couldn't believe my is a rodent, after all. Avie loved her even more than the hamster and wanted to hold her right then. I talked Addie into petting her while I held her. She was hesitant at first, giggling nervously. But after really looking closely, she wasn't scared anymore. Before we gave her back, Addie seemed completely comfortable with her.

We didn't take her home with us that day. The guy explained that moving them can cause stress and said that when they are stressed, they can get sick. He suggested that when we get her home we leave her in her cage to get used to the new habitat for a day or two. Well, that isn't likely to happen if the girls know she is there. Mr. Wonderful and I talked about it and decided to pick her up towards the end of the week and keep her in our room for a few days before we tell the girls about her. I'm not sure how well this plan will work out (guinea pigs squeak and squeal), but I really don't want her to get sick. Maybe I can keep the girls busy outside so they won't find her. The girls decided on the name "Princess Peppa Guinea Pig" because of their favorite cartoon. I'll be sure to let you know how things go when Princess Peppa arrives at our house!

This isn't her, but her coloring is similar to this one.

Each morning when the girls wake up, they go straight to the living room and climb onto the couch. Avie complains about how bright it is and Addie complains about how cold it is. I give them a blanket and Addie pulls it up to her neck and snuggles while Avie pulls it over her face and tries to go back to sleep. I fix Addie chocolate milk and Avie juice and turn on the tv. I drag myself through the house trying to accomplish a few things until they decide the are ready for breakfast. I usually sit and eat with them then turn off the tv and start the day.

One day last week we were watching The Backyardigans. I wasn't really paying attention when Addie said, "Mommy, he's cute. I would like one of those." I had no idea what she was talking about, so I asked, "One of what?" Her response? "A donkey. He's so cute. I'd really like to have one." Remember when I said before that she has been asking for a pet since before Christmas? Well, she really wants one. 

Monday morning after we ate breakfast, I was getting ready to go to the pet store. Avie came in my room to show me that she was dressed and ready to go. Of course, she had dug her favorite purple flip flops from last year out of the closet. As I followed her down the hallway, she turned and asked, "Momma, don't you love the sound my flip flops make?" She was as serious as she could be. "Yes, I do," I told her. "I know. Me, too. I just love that sound." She just makes my heart melt.

The girls were on their very best behavior the entire day Monday. They had started to get a little tired by the time we were headed home. They began arguing in the back seat. Addie says, "Mommy, tell Avie that that isn't how you are supposed to say it!" Unsure I wanted to know what they had been talking about, I asked, "Say what?" Avie answered, "Tell Addie that God is bigger than nothing!" I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing, "God is bigger than everything, Avie." Avie's response? "That's what I said, God is bigger than nothing!"

There just aren't enough words to describe how completely and blissfully happy I am. No, life certainly isn't perfect. But I certainly am having a great time living it!