Stubborn but Sweet

>> Thursday, March 24, 2011

Two years ago on his 3rd birthday, I asked Lucas this series of questions to get a peek at his perspective on his world. I fully had the intent to do it every year and forgot to record his answers last year. But here they are for this year (Lucas' answers are in bold).


cereal- Fruit Loops
drink- Milkshake
toy- Batman
TV Show- Batman
game- Batman video game
book- Batman book (are you seeing a theme around here? Last time it was cars, now we are obsessed with superheros. Too obsessed...)
restaurant- Steak and Shake (nice)
holiday-Halloween- No wait, maybe Christmas. But at Halloween you get to dress up, so yeah, Halloween.
animal- bat

If you could change your name, what would you choose? I don't know how I would change my name. Maybe just switch the letters. Start with the U, then the L, then A and C and S. U-L-A-C-S.

What do you love about each person in our family? Daddy-He is so strong and tough, Caden-He's my brother, Hadley-that he is just part of the family, Mommy- That you always play with me

Where would you like to go on vacation this year? Gotham City (of course, silly me)

What are some of your wishes for this year? I would like to get Aquaman and Cyborg because I don't have those yet. And I would like to go to the fair. (Me:What kind of fair?) Just like a regular fair.

Is there anything are you excited about? That Mimi and Pa are coming! And we can play with them! I am so excited! It will be so fun! But I will probably be in bed when they first get here and that is not so cool. But then I will wake up and they will be here and that will be super cool!!

What can you do when you are 5 that you couldn't do when you were 4 or 3? Go to Kindergarten
What will it be like to be 5? I'm really a big boy now. It will be cool.
What do you think is the greatest thing about you? That I have a good imagination and that I am the greatest little boy in the world.

And here are his 5yr. old thoughts on Mommy....

1. What is something mom always says to you? "Do not push Caden."
2. What makes mom happy? When I obey
3. What makes mom sad? When I don't keep my promises
4. How does mom make you laugh? When she tickles me
5. What was your mom like as a child? I don't know, you probably rode a bike or something
6. How old is your mom? 60 (lovely) (Me: But Grandpa Bob is 60. Do I look as old as Grandpa Bob? No, but that is just what came to my mind.)
7. How tall is your mom? THIS tall (holds his hands wide apart)
8. What is her favorite thing to do? Play with me (it is certainly in the top 5)
9. What does your mom do when you're not around? Let me think... Since I'm not there, I don't really know. That makes sense, right. (this is almost exactly what he said 2yrs ago... so funny!)
10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? Being a superhero
11. What is your mom really good at? Playing with me
12. What is your mom not very good at? Not playing with me (not sure I totally get this one, except he was trying to say that he really loves when I play with him)
13. What does your mom do for a job? She works at the hospital
14.What is your mom's favorite food? Diet Pepsi
15.What makes you proud of your mom? When she wins a run
16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? WonderWoman
17. What do you and your mom do together? Play with each other- Batman and ToyStory
18. How are you and your mom the same? We both have books
19. How are you and your mom different? We don't both have toys
20. How do you know your mom loves you? 'Cuz I just know
21. What does your mom like most about your dad? That she married him
22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go? That I don't have a good answer for. It is not coming to my mind very quickly. I'll have to think about that and tell you later.
Is there anything else you want to say that I can write here? I don't really have anything else to say.

I once again had to manage my own expectations a bit on this activity. In my heart, I thought it would be so cute to hear his answers and listen to what he had to say. In actuality, I was frustrated that just about every answer was about toys and Batman. I actually felt myself getting annoyed with him. I mean, I was asking him about himself. And he is only 5 after all, but he seems to be very self-focused and "stuff" obsessed. He really is a very affectionate kid and very tender at times. But I am seeing the need to begin teaching him a little more about service and integrity and gratitude. And not copping a major attitude. You'd think I was parenting a 13yr old girl somedays... so much drama and attitude. (BTW~ I am so grateful to NOT be parenting a 13yr old girl right now!)
But even though we are going through a bit of a stage with him right now, he is still one of the most remarkable little boys I have ever known. I recently went to see an amazing high school drama performance and as I was watching, I could totally see Lucas someday on a similar stage. He is so bright and his whole face lights up when he smiles. If he starts to sing a song or recite something and then notices someone is listening, he starts at the beginning so he can get the whole thing right. He loves to pretend and his imagination is unmatchable. He is very thoughtful and loving and yet SO, so mouthy and dramatic.
Funny how in the same post I can talk about how frustrating he is and yet how much he has my heart. Such is life as a mother of a 5year old. Actually, just life as a mother in general. :)

I Love You , Lucas Lu. You never cease to amaze me. Your future is limitless and I am so excited to see where you will go. But please don't ever stray too far from my arms. I am not complete without you. You are my world, you stubborn yet sweet little boy. Happy 5th Birthday!

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On Going Gluten-Free

>> Saturday, March 19, 2011

Align Centerlast night's dinner: feta and sundried tomato quinoa, organic green beans from TimberCreek Farms and organic Sablefish from Wallace Farms

Last October when I met with the homeopathic MD, she laid before me a somewhat strict diet she thought I should follow to help me with the overwhelming Lupus symptoms I was having at the time. No wheat/gluten, no dairy, limited poultry, mostly beef and leafy veges. Protein in the morning and before bed. Nothing acidic or processed. Only certain fruits and one-two eggs/week. And some other rules that are too many to mention....but those are the basics.
I sat kinda shell-shocked, unsure if I could do it or not but knowing that SOMETHING had to help. It couldn't hurt to try and maybe it would even help.

So I jumped in. Gluten-free, limited dairy (I can't give up butter and cheese completely yet) and lots of beef. I was/am actually following a modified version of the BloodType diet. And 5months later, I am still kinda doing it. I say kinda because I have slacked a bit on the beef/protein in the morning thing and have been allowing myself too much dairy. But for the most part, I am pretty good.
I am gluten free (most days) and no milk. I do have cheese and butter now and then but I have cut those way back. I eat soy milk and soy yogurt and am learning which GF foods I like and which I don't. My first experience with GF bread was not a pleasant one. I got some brown rice bread from TraderJoe's and it was like eating a brick. But since then, I have found a few things that I do like:
Namaste Foods Muffin Mix. They also have a pizza crust mix that I really want to try.
Glutino Blueberry breakfast bars. And strawberry too. A little dense but so, so yummy! Glutino also makes yummy crackers and some donuts that I haven't tried yet but I plan too. :)
Udi's Cinnamon Raisin Bread and Cranberry Granola. Of all the GF breads I have tried, this is BY FAR the best. I haven't ventured much into the world of GF baking from scratch. It scares me a little. It seems like such a delicate science. I have slowly been accruing the neccesary flours and binders I need to bake from scratch. And I'll get the courage one of these days. Until then, I have found some yummy baking mixes and such that are getting me through.
Stonyfield's Fruit on the Bottom Soy Yogurt- Not all soy yogurt is good. In fact, most is not. But this yogurt is delish!

And it really does help, this whole gluten-free thing. The theory is to reduce the amount of potential allergens in my body so as to calm down my immune system in general and keep the Lupus subdued. Some days/weeks I am better than others. But when I see results (ie: less joint pain, more energy) it is hard to justify eating those chips or cookies or whatever else I am craving in that moment if it will mean discomfort a little later.
So I am sticking with it for now. I am getting into a groove with it and finding things I enjoy. I am playing with the idea of making the boys GF or at least mostly. Everything I read seems to point out that our bodies don't process it well. But that would be a bigger undertaking so we might have to do that slowly and gradually. And I have no idea how it will go when Hubby and I are in Costa Rica in a few weeks, but I imagine I'll be eating lots of fresh fruit and rice and fish. Even when I am tempted to cheat or there doesn't seem to be any good options for things I can eat, I am grateful to have found something that is working for me and I pray for the strength to keep going.

If you are GF or know a lot of great GF recipes, feel free to send them my way. I am always on the hunt. Here are a few blogs that I live by:
Gluten Free Goddess
Gluten Free Girl
The Perfect Pantry

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Managing My Own Expectations...Again

>> Thursday, March 17, 2011

The day started as a trip downtown on St.Patrick's Day to take a ride on the green ChicagoRiver. But, the color was pretty much faded (you could just see a faint green tint) and the water taxis were closed for maintenance today (figures!). So.... plan B.

We walked about 8 blocks from the river down to Millenium Park. I had Caden on my back (in my MeiTai) and Lucas was a trooper with the walking (we took several breaks to rest his little feet). Once we got there, we all had a blast!
They got a kick out of playing with their superheros in the city. Maybe you haven't heard, but Batman protects more than just Gotham City. I'm sure we can all rest a little easier knowing that.

We hung out and played at the Bean for awhile. And as normal, I had to manage my own expectations a little. My idea of them having fun in the city is different from theirs. Caden was more explorative of the Bean and I had to really watch that little run-away. But for Lucas, having fun by the Bean meant 10minutes of exploring it and then 20min of sitting reading his superhero book. Which bothered me at first, but once I let it go I actually enjoyed sitting by the Bean with the boys reading to them about X-men and the Avengers.

It was such a fun day. I love doing things that are out of the ordinary, taking the boys on adventures that show them something new and hopefully make a few memories. Once we got off the train back in Wheaton and got back in the car, I asked them what their favorite part of the day was. For Caden, it was the train rides (which was predictable). But Lucas' answer puzzled me. He said his favorite part was watching a movie on the train ride. :( It was hard for me to hide my disappointment with his answer and in fact I didn't really even try to. It takes a lot of energy and effort to execute days like today. But it is important to me to give them rich experiences and things that stretch them a bit. And I would, of course, love for them to fully embrace these experiences. I think in their own way they do. It just looks different than I would expect but that is more about me than about them. And I hope that I am laying a foundation for their lives- that they will always want to be adventurous and try new things and live life fully.
Lucas could see that his response upset me. And whether it was to please me or not, about 30min. later he said "Mom, I decided that my favorite part of the day was reading about Spiderman at the Bean." I just smiled and said, "Me too, Buddy." And in retrospect, it really was.
A fun day exploring the city with my boys. Even if it wasn't what I originally expected.

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The Heart of What Is True

>> Wednesday, March 9, 2011

We brought out our Jesus Tree this morning, since it is Ash Wednesday and all- the beginning of Lent. I fed my boys breakfast and then the three of us sat together and read the first passage (Luke 2:22-38) and put the birds on our tree. We talked about what Lent means and how it is an important season of preparation just like Advent. How it is a time to reflect and fix our eyes and heart on Jesus. We had a really nice moment, me and my boys, and then we went about our day.
I would love to tell you that our day was perfect after having such a nice moment at breakfast. It wasn't a horrible day, but a pretty typical one. There was school and music class and lunch and an outing with some friends. Throw in some tantrums and whining and mommy losing her cool and it was your average day for us.

I wish I was a perfect mom. Well, at least a better one. I wish I was more patient and less prideful. I wish I was that mom who could smile 'til it hurt, even through constant whining and fits about toys and TV. I am not that mom. I get so frustrated, I feel manipulated, and I don't always deal with that well. I have big expectations for myself and most people in my path (including my two little guys). I SO wanted (and planned) to think of some new Lenten crafts to start today or plan some big family devotional or something. Instead, I yelled at Caden when he was over-tired and refused to get in the car seat (aka: kicking and screaming and whole nine yards).
I fall. Everyday. I wake up with the ambition that today I will be the mom of my expectations. And without fail, I fall. Sometimes later in the day than others (depending on how much sleep I got). And each evening, I sit by their sleeping beds and pray God's protection over their little hearts from my own faults and weakness. And today was no different. It started well and became average with a few shameful moments thrown in too. So tonight, this first night of Lent, I again sat close as they drifted to sleep, praying for God's help in teaching them and loving them and shaping them into the men they are meant to be. It is too easy to get down on myself for all the ways I am not who I should be or where I should be.

But in the quiet of their dark room tonight, God reached in to quiet my parade of guilt and replace it with what is True: I am not perfect. I am not meant to be perfect. I love those boys more than I can fathom and would give them the world. What I do is enough. I have endless worth in His eyes. When I fail them, He is there. Covering what I lack. And the places I fall, He covers those too.
Yes, I have things to repent of and areas to work on. But I am not at this alone.

My flesh is incapable, depraved and in need of my Savior. His grace covers my sin and theirs and yours. In my heart is what is true: I am loved by my God, despite my faults. My deep love for my boys is not changed by my shortcomings. I desire to give all of me to my Lord and let Him shape me. I know those things to be true even though I regularly fall short.
I only pray that as God continues to teach me the heart of what is true and show me grace for all the ways I let Him down, my boys will see Him at work.

I may not be truly prepared for Lent. I don't have any new crafts to do or exciting activities planned. I am positive that I will wake up tomorrow, hoping it will be the day I meet my own expectations for myself and yet I know I will fall. But He will be even there. Whispering again to me the truth that is in my heart. And helping me live and teach that truth to my precious boys a little more everyday. So that is what Lent will be for me this year: trying to reflect on what I know is True and fix my heart on Him so that my boys will hopefully learn to do the same.

(well... maybe one or two crafts! :) )

These ladies say it way better than I ever could:

Lenten Preparations

Why do Lent?

Lent {for the newcomer}

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Living and Striving

>> Monday, March 7, 2011

Almost exactly one year ago, I began running as a way to get into better shape post-childbearing / breastfeeding /weaning. Also a year ago, I started having the progressive joint pain that eventually led to a diagnosis of Lupus and a somewhat rocky ride so far.

So here I am. There have been some key changes in my life this past year and yet I wish I was not where I am. I don't know if it is the toll of a year of painful joint swelling and achy-ness or the sparse winter-running or the absence of the prednisone I was taking last spring/summer... but my running lately is kinda crappy. I am slow, my legs feel like lead, my head is SO not in the game. I signed myself up for a couple races in hopes that it will give me a much-needed push.
But truthfully, this whole Lupus thing sucks (pardon my French!). Really. Maybe I have mentioned that once or twice before. Admittedly, things are way better now than last spring. My pain is less although consistent. I do have some new symptoms now that I didn't have before but all this is stuff I can live with. Annoying, yes. But liveable. I have been eating gluten-free and trying to be dairy-free too (although that is much harder for me) and that seems to help. It has helped me drop a few pounds which makes me feel better mentally at the very least.

But you don't care about the details. I'm not sure I really do either. Bottom line: I am in the midst of asking God this question: how much of life is supposed to be spent just living and how much is to be spent striving for something more?

I desire so many things: A calmer spirit/mind, more compassion and patience with my boys, to run a 5K in 30min or less, a bigger house with a fenced yard, less debt, more romance, .... I would say that all those things (and the dozens of things I didn't list) are not bad things to want or hope for. But the cumulative effect of constant striving is driving me mad.
For example, I have stopped asking myself (and my rheumatologist) if I will ever be pain-free in my hands. I am setting my expectations low and hoping to be surprised.
But ultimately, if I live in this house forever and continue to lose my patience with the boys and have achy hands and run slow.... that is the reality of where I am. I can try to improve the things I can but I'm having to also come to terms with these blatant limitations and short-comings (both physical and emotional) that are staring me in the face.
I am not saying I am giving up. I am too stubborn for that. I will keep running and keep trying to figure out ways to better my situation both physically and financially and emotionally. I have just been asking God to show me the times when striving is good and the times I need to step back and just live.

I should end by saying I really do have so much to be thankful for: my sweet Lucas is turning 5 in 2weeks, Caden is spunky-as-ever, I am about to have a new niece, I get to go to Costa Rica for a week in April with Hubby's work, I have a job and friends I enjoy... all reasons to emphasize the living more than the striving.

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