So Jealous

I’m having a relaxing week as the single working mother of two young children—I’m not being sarcastic, it really is relaxing compared to my normal life of two parents, three jobs and four children.  Guess where my eldest children and spouse are right now?  So, SO jealous.

 

We’re doing fine.  And you probably understand that FINE is an acronym for a phrase that includes an expletive.  Just plugging away . . .

 

Hate to Exercise, Love to Train

That’s what I’ve learned about myself in the past several months.  Really, I don’t HATE exercise, but it is just so different to be working toward a goal.  Or, at least a goal that is not, “I hope I stay on this machine long enough to not be such a gross slob one day.”  Somehow, that doesn’t really count as motivation.
 
Also, for someone like me, who thinks nothing but ugly and demeaning thoughts about myself all day (and has done so for the past 30ish years), something about the phrase, “I did it!”  just melts away some of that yuckiness and makes me feel–what is that feeling?–happy?  Wow, so that’s what it feels like.
 
So, Tour de Cure was on Saturday and it was my first real sporting event ever.  I felt that happy, “I did it!” feeling when I first rode to work (turned out to be 18.2 miles in my attempt to avoid traffic), and the next time when I just took the main road and did it in 15 (took 1 hr, 40 min, though).  I felt it this morning when I rode to work in only an hour and fifteen minutes (thanks in great part to the new slick tires my coworker Jesse lent me for TdC through Spudman).  But, I got to feel that “I did it!” feeling at a real sporting event, crossing a real finish line, and I had a smile on my face I couldn’t take off.  I looked at the sky that miraculously had blue in it (despite days of threatening clouds and showers) and listened to the live music and wandered over to the free massage tables exploring this strange new feeling of spontaneous happiness.  I hate to admit it, but most of my happiness is cerebral, wherein my brain explains to me, “Good things are happening, you are to feel happy now.”  But this was very, very different.
 
It was a beautiful day, with a ride through rural Northern Utah, cloudy skies with occassional drizzle, and occassional sunny blue.  As always, the saddlesoreness was worst the first 5 miles, but then I guess it goes numb or something and gets better.  I biked the first half on my own out to the halfway rest station, and there met up with a few of my team.  There were a couple of people from the company there only to take pictures and film us, so I’ll hopefully post pictures soon. 
 
Cris, another writer who works right here in my dept., rode with me on the way back, and the chatting made such a difference I’m sure, because I never really once thought, “Are we there yet?”  Cris and I got back to the park, crossed the finish line and I honestly felt like I could keep going.  Still, thanks to that saddle issue, I really never want to do more than a 25, even though the guys insist I should do the 60 next year.  It just doesn’t even appeal to me, let alone the century (100 miles).  Maybe next year I would consider the Little Red Riding Hood ride for breast cancer, that’s 40 miles, but there is a chocolate fountain, virgin mai tais and more massage tables at the end of that one. 
 
Anyway, as Cris and I waited for our massages I asked him, “Where is everyone?” And he said, “They’re not here yet–we’re first.”  I was just shocked.  Not only did I do it, feel fine, felt like I could keep going, I got there before the rest of my team!   Needless to say, my inner child basked in an onslaught of rare friendly words from my typically abusive brain.
 
At church yesterday one of the youth speakers talked about physical fitness, and how essential it is to our spiritual and emotional health.  He talked about how important oxygen is to our mind, and how physical exertion oxygenates our mind to give us the strength to be spiritually and emotionally strong.  I gave him a big AMEN.  I have noticed that almost like clockwork, I start feeling down on about the fourth day after not exercising (training)–as apparently mild depression is my natural state.
 
This same boy read a quote from a psychiatrist that said that he had never once treated in his practice a patient who regularly participated in exercise that worked major muscle groups.  When I’m out from under that mental cloud, I feel like I really could accomplish the things I always meant to do in my life, from being a nice mom to pursuing my creative interests.  I’ve found my panacea–my magic pill–it’s just that, unlike every promise out there for things like this, it’s not easy.  Instead, it’s the hardness that makes it work. 
 
It’s the same as that happiness study I mentioned–somehow it really is the hardness that makes us ultimately happy–or at least the most fulfilled.
 
I have pictures from Lucy’s birthday and other things to share, but it will have to wait.  Here’s to training!  And, now that my runner has had to drop out of the Spudman, here’s to training to do a 10K in 6 weeks (along with my mile swim and 25 mile ride)!  And, here’s to Wade who did a sprint tri at the Utah games in his best time ever, 1:34!  You the man!
 
 
 
 
 

Arrived!

Just checking in to let you know I made it to work today in one piece—just in case you were worried.  It was probably more than 15 miles, because I chose to avoid traffic over finding the shortest route (and did so very successfully!)  It was fun, a bit of an adventure, and my legs feel a little funny now, so I beat on them periodically.  I left at 6:40 and got here at 8:20, and I generally average 12 MPH, so I was a bit slow apparently, although I still think all the windy bike trails added to my total mileage.  No gym for me today—I got here too late.  At 3ish I’ll bike the 5 miles over into downtown and pickup the van to go home to the kids. 

 

I think of it this way—why buy fuel to get myself to work when I have plenty already stored on my body that I can use for free?  😉

 

Chicken Death 09


Yesterday, with the help of Paw-in-law and David’s brother Danny and his wife Jessica and a wonderful chicken plucker loaned by a sweet chicken farmer in Sandy, we harvested 21 fryers/roasters, all weighing in at about 5-7 pounds dressed weight (after cleaning). It started out rather poorly, with a lot of “is this worth it?” thoughts.
David was being too careful IMO about the killing part and I kept reiterating how the lady I got the plucker from just took a large serrated bread knife and had them upside down (by rope, we used a killing cone made from a bucket), and sawed 1-2-3, plop, head in the trash can catcher, and it was over. I actually did the second one myself to illustrate this point, (it took four saws, I found my place, held the head down firmly, then shut my eyes for the 1-2-3—4).
I was amazed at the difference in myself since last year. City slicker has definitely been countrified. Remember I was weepy and couldn’t eat meat after that first round? The second round a while back I was just ok, but this time I didn’t have one tender feeling about it. I felt grateful, and today’s dinner (shown above) for me had a stronger sense of thanksgiving and recognizing the reality of the bounty we enjoy (plus it was super yummy), but I didn’t feel much sentimental about it–after all, I’ve been complicit in chicken death my whole life, and at least I know these chickens were well taken care of.
About by chicken 9 I finally figured out the plucker really did work amazingly and required very little after plucking if the operator (me) actually used it right, so after that I was fast. Dave bled out and beheaded, popped them in a holding pot, I scalded them (15 seconds just under boiling water) and pulled out large wing and tail feathers, then went to the plucker which is just a wheel covered in rubbery “fingers” spinning to the left out of a grate. I finally figured out to hold the bird so the rubber things went against the grain–feet on the right, and rotated the bird top to bottom, left to right, under wings and between legs, and all of a sudden it looked like a lovely roaster from the store–except with big yellow feet and a too-long, gory looking neck. I cut off the feet with chicken scissors and tossed it into the icewater in the cooler. By the end, this whole process was well under 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, Dennis was running errands to get more coolers, get more ice, get bags, etc. and Danny and Jess where making sure my water stayed hot enough–makes a HUGE difference in how well you pluck (and too long in the hot water makes the skin come off with the feathers–in the end I had to skin 2).
Last year I wanted to spare my kids the trauma and make sure I had them far away for this, but not so much this year. Ben and Sophie knew what was going on and chose to stay inside, Ben ate his chicken tonight just fine, Sophie hasn’t feeling well for a few days and didn’t eat much of anything. Noah was outside some, and not visibly traumatized, but not really happy about it, seemed puzzled and trying to figure it all out. He wouldn’t eat it today, but in general he doesn’t eat much meat, so it’s hard to know. Lucy was outside the most and it was all we could do to keep her from the feather/blood hazmat area.
At one point when Noah first got out he came over to me while I was working a chicken over on the plucker, and said, “Mom, are you making lunch?”
Lucy came over and saw the first chicken alone in the cooler water and said, “Mom, is the chicken taking a bath?” “Yes, Lucy.” I said. She said, “Is the chicken hurt in the bath?” To which I replied, “Not anymore.” David called over from his killing station, “The hurting happens over here.”
I feel like my dead pioneer ancestors are not so much derisively laughing at me this time as I’m sure they were the last time I was all weepy and traumatized over killing chickens while being perfectly willing to munch down the supermarket/Del Taco version. I didn’t think I would come to this point, but I can perfectly see myself going out back on Saturday and wringing a neck for Sunday dinner.
Once we were all done, the cleaning was a pain. Danny did 5 or 6, which I was impressed by. Although I had done it before, I had forgotten some, and I was at 15 or more minutes a bird at first, but I worked myself down to 5-7 (still terribly slow). Today I found one I’d forgotten in the cooler and was done super fast. The trick is to carefully cut around the top and bottom ends in a way where you don’t nick any of the guts, but you are able to put your hand in there like you’re stuffing the bird and pull out everything inside at once, then you need to scrape out the lungs and kidneys, which are stuck to the back ribs, with your fingernails. My fingers were sore today, which made piano in primary a little tricky.
I’m just saying, like Victor Frankl says in “Man’s Search for Meaning” where he writes about his life in Auschvitz, people can adapt to anything. We really have no idea what we’re capable of, and the things we say we could “never” do today we may find one day we don’t give a second thought.
Dinner tonight was yummy, the best part was the strawberries Ma-in-law dipped in sour cream and brown sugar. Holy cow, life is good.
Speaking of life is good, our bunnies now live under the rabbit cages in the shed rather than in them, because I wanted them to be out and more free, and they seem to leave peacably with the chickens. I let them all out in the day to run about and then they all go back in at night on their own and I shut the door. I looked in the backyard today and saw Lucy swinging on the tree swing with a couple bouncing bunnies in the grass around her and a chick or two pecking about, and it was the most idyllic scene. We’ve been so blessed here.
I tried to let the turkeys have some freedom today, as their pen opens up to the back pasture our neighbors use to graze their sheep (but is owned by our landlord). I came back to put them back in and the sheep had gone in there, eaten all their feed and upset their water. So I guess freedom won’t be in the cards for them. Oh well, more tender meat, I guess. I’ll try to get pictures up shortly.
Sorry if this was too gruesome for you, this is pretty much my journal, after all, so feel free to skip whatever.
I’m biking to work tomorrow, 15 miles, so I need to get to bed. Wish me luck.
Thanks for all y’alls sweet comments–I miss everybody lots.

200th Post: Happiness

Let me hurry and catch you up on the past month:

 

Get up, shuffle kids, get to work late, go home, shuffle/feed kids, start two hours of bedtime routine, chores, veg, crash.  Repeat 5 times. 

Saturday, get up and make a long list of things to do while managing kids and cleaning house, look up and realize it’s 4 p.m., do maybe one thing on the list, veg.

Sunday, try not to sleep during church (because it’s hard to play the piano that way), get things ready to start over.

 

So, aren’t you glad I haven’t been blogging about that boring liturgy?

 

There was one exciting thing a few weeks ago, where Noah smuggled a quarter in his pocket to primary (I was in there playing piano).  He popped it in his mouth around 10:30 a.m. during sharing time and got it lodged in his trachea just above his windpipe, triggering his gag reflex almost nonstop and causing slight bleeding for about 6 hours as we went from community hospital, then by ambulance to Primary Childrens hospital, had x-rays, had a radiologist try to push it into his stomach while he was awake and on x-ray (nightmare) and then had him scheduled for surgery to put him out and pull it back out.  Right before he was to go into surgery, he started talking again (he couldn’t most of the day) and they decided to x-ray him again (because it looked like his liver was in the wrong place—holy cow) and that x-ray showed the quarter in his stomach (and the liver “probably” ok).  We were promptly discharged at 6 p.m., and little Noah had little red spots in and around his eyes from little blood vessels broken from all the heaving and vomiting.  Next day he was warning all his little friends not to put money in their mouths.  We never saw the thing pass (poop filtering is not a daycare responsibility). 

 

Now go, scare your children with this story and hopefully spare yourself the drama.  Did I mention this happened on Mother’s Day?

 

David did his first felony trial a few weeks ago and it was exhilarating and exhausting for him—the pre-trial week, the trial week, and then this week while he’s traveling for his “real” job, I’ve been pretty much on my own in life, but it has been ok—he’s not that fun to be around when he’s stressed out anyway.  I mentioned he has some irons in the fire and we find out about them soon.  We are praying hard and ask you to join this, this Fast Sunday especially.

 

Here’s some good news—all the kids will be out of daycare after today.  I will still work 8-3, David will work at the FD 1-5 and work his “real” job around that, and we will have the kids with friends/family/sitters from 12:30 – 3:30 each day.  Since the kids are out of school, out of preschool, and out of daycare, we will save $800 a month this summer.  This will be so much better for them, and for our budget.

 

Ben is really growing up and it makes me nervous, because I feel like I’ve been just coasting as a parent too much with him and I can see he really needs active, attentive parenting complete with respect, validation and listening right now.  I also notice I tend to parent all my kids as if they were all the average age of my children—so Noah/Sophie get the most appropriate parenting, Ben is too often dismissed and overly restricted and Lucy runs wild.  This is just a generalization, but I see it happening.

 

Ben loves Tae Kwon Do, biking, scouts and wants to have his summer really start (he’s been out for two weeks).  I dream of taking them camping and fishing and doing summery things.  I pray that somehow that this life will be possible for us.  He is taking on more independence and we have nice talks at night sometimes.  Because he now goes to bed at 10, all that quiet, self/couple time we used to have after the kids go to bed is officially gone.  Kim warned me this would happen and I dismissed it.  That was about 3 months ago, but in two years I will begin my fifteen year stint of life with teenagers, so I guess that’s just where I am now—no self time anymore, or no sleep, I just need to pick between them.  Ben needs time with me to download in the evenings at least a few times a week and I need to just put him first on that.

 

Sophie is enjoying gymnastics and is excited about her last day of school today.  She’s had a good year, very much due to her wonderful grandmother/teacher, not so much due to her neglectful mom.  She really needs more from me too, and gets less than anyone.  I do end up sleeping with her many hours a night, so I’d like to get credit on that front, but alas, real parenting apparently happens when we’re awake.  I’m struggling with the idea that Sophie still has a very hard time doing the right thing and being honest when it isn’t easy and no one is watching, but I guess many adults have the same problem.  She seems to pick up the negative behaviors of others very quickly and want to fit in almost above all else.  I want to have time to help her feel more secure about who she is and help her look inside to find it, rather than outside.  Granted, she’s not even 8, but I can see red flags all over if that persists into her teenage years.  I’m trying to really tuck her in at night and chat.

 

Noah is also starting to talk and act in a way that makes me realize he’s turning into a boy, not just my little, cuddly preschooler.  Still cuddly, though.  He loved his preschool with Kona Dee, a woman around the corner who has done this for a long time, it was wonderful for him.  He is looking forward to not going to daycare anymore and being home more.  He also loves gymnastics class and is amazingly coordinated and strong.  We are still in the process of running some tests on him to make sure his metabolism/digestion is ok, because he has stomach aches a lot.

 

Lucy also is growing up on me!  Not physically, mind you, but in every other way.  She has a wonderful, sweet, strong spirit that seems intuitive, in a way, like she understands a lot about what is going on around her.  When she talks, it is as clear as a bell, even the Ls and Ss are perfect.  But, she generally chooses not to talk, except for occasional streams of gab that all of a sudden won’t stop.  She is three next week, can you believe it?  It will be a bit sad for her to leave day care, as she’s spent a third of her life there and has had a great experience and lots of friends.  There’s a good chance she’ll be there every now and then as a drop off, so that’s how I help myself feel better about it. 

 

We have been so blessed to have all the kids in wonderful situations throughout this year of me working, I really see the hand of the Lord taking care of us.

 

As for me, I’m continuing the training, have one week before the Tour de Cure and got enough donations (thanks!) to ride.  Even scarier, I start riding my bike to work on Monday.  That will be interesting.  I know you’re asking, have you lost weight with all this exercise?  Sorry, no.  Fat as ever (although I bet I can beat you skinny chicks in the pool or on a bike!).  But I have been sporadic the past two weeks with stuff at work going on and having to use my lunches to do family things.  I can’t miss one more swim class or I won’t make the Channel challenge.  Spudman is 6 or so weeks away, and I still need to find an Athena (big girl) wetsuit (new they are $300).  I’m depressed and conflicted about my garden, but can’t talk about that now.  Animals are doing great.  The Great Chicken Massacre of 2009 is on for tomorrow.  So, I guess those 21 fryers aren’t really doing great, but they don’t know it yet.  They’ll be tasting great, though.

 

I meant to write about happiness, and this fascinating Talk of the Nation show about this 60-year study on happiness, but I guess I kind of did talk about happiness.  If you aren’t going to listen to the show, I’ll give you a hint: All the things we spend all out time seeking out in our quest for happiness—rest, relaxation, a break, peace, less stress, more financial ease—of course aren’t the things that actually get us there.  It’s just like Lehi said, opposition is what creates this experience we call life.  Happy people are made happy by overcoming, working, adapting to stress, coping with challenges.  Resilience is the key, apparently, the ability to adapt to make the best of any situation, no matter how ugly.  Listen to the show or read the article it was based on: "What Makes Us Happy?"

 

This blog post is sponsored by Megan, who generously supported my campaign in memory of her sweet departed mom.  She tactfully pointed out that she wanted more blog posts because now she’s paid for it.

 

I’ll try to keep it at least weekly, if not more.  Love to all—

Valerie