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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sis

We were born exactly one year and nine months apart to the same mother and father, although we don't look very much alike. When we were little girls, she had black hair and olive skin while I had blond hair and fair, freckled skin. She was always significantly taller than I was, but now I have a few inches on her. We shared the same small bedroom and full-sized bed for most of our school years, and even when we tried twin beds I usually ended up squeezing into hers before we finally shoved the two beds together. We have shared friends, favorite TV shows, favorite foods, and favorite songs, with a few exceptions. (Okay, when it came to NKOTB, she liked Donnie but I liked Joe.)



Let's face it, even sisters have different tastes, opinions, and personalities. We were a pretty good team, though, the two of us. When one of us was scared, the other was brave. I used to be terrified of having my teeth pulled, but she would coax me into the bathroom with a napkin in her hand and talk me into letting her do it. She has always been afraid of spiders, so it was my job to take care of them and hide the evidence. She didn't like sleeping by the window, but I didn't mind that much so it became my side of the bed. She was a leader and I was a follower, so for both of us you could say it was a match made in heaven. We did almost everything together. It's hard for me to imagine how her time was occupied for those 21 months before I came along! Our mom likes to tell the story about how she brought me home from the hospital and put me in my crib. A little while later she found Connie, who had climbed into the crib and was just sitting there, watching over me.



A sister relationship is a unique one. Although I know that not all sisters are extremely close, my sister and I were instant friends. Sure, we didn't always agree and sometimes we stepped on each other's toes, but we've always recognized that we have a strong bond. She is honestly the only person on the planet who can understand my history. She was there. She had the same school, the same home, the same family, the same parents who divorced in 1984. We shared in mostly the same joys and the same trials, even though we looked at them through different eyes (hers brown and mine green).



Now that we are all grown up, my sister is still my closest friend. Usually the same things make us giggle and the same things make us infuriated. She lets me love on her children and "mother" them in a way that most people might not understand. We've had separate struggles over the years, but we always find support and a listening ear in each other.

Happy, happy birthday to my sister and my friend through thick and thin!


(C & S 4/25/79)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Busyness

Sometimes my husband and I joke that we run a bed and breakfast. We do love to have house guests, so it is not meant as a complaint. April has turned out to be one of those months at our house, and honestly it has been nice for me to have a distraction from the daily gloom that had settled around here.

In the past two weeks we've had three sets of company. Although Texas observed spring break several weeks ago, most people in Louisiana had theirs last week or the week before. After a visit from my sister-in-law for Easter, my sister (who teaches 2nd grade) and nephews came during the next week for their break from school. This week my in-laws were here for a few days during their spring break (my mother-in-law is an elementary school librarian). It has been a nice few weeks of family visits, but I must admit that I was worn out! After seeing the last car off on Wednesday morning, I crawled back into bed and slept for an additional three hours despite the fact that some neighbors were getting a new roof. With the help of some earplugs I was able to catch up on some much-needed rest!

This week the weather here has been gorgeous after what I've been calling the Storm of the Century. Last Saturday we got more rain than I have ever seen here in the past 8 years, hurricanes and tropical storms included. In a matter of about 3 hours, my town was drenched with nearly 12 inches of rain! I've never seen our yard hold that much water, but fortunately we were never in fear of the house flooding.

Water in the backyard (the white shed is still tarped after damage from Hurricane Ike)


It became quite an eventful trip home from Tar.get, however, for my sister and me. We had to try several alternate routes home due to flooded roads, and we were both pretty nervous by the time it was over! I learned a few things about our coping mechanisms, though. My way of handling the situation was to call Chuck and tell him that I didn't know what to do. My sis repeated "Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh" each time we had to navigate through streets covered with swirling water of unknown depths! I know we both uttered some frantic "Lord, save me" prayers (a la Peter in Matthew 14), and thankfully we finally made it home without getting stranded!


Water in the front/side yard


Finally, it has taken a couple of days to get caught up with reading blogs again but I think I'm mostly updated. I was amazed at how much I had missed in a mere 7 days. I have been praying especially for those blog friends who have experienced heartbreaking losses over the last few days, and I continue to pray for those who still wait. You guys are never far from my thoughts! Thanks again for all of the awesome comments and support.

Monday, April 13, 2009

100th Post, Thanks, and Updates


After nearly a year of blogging, I've made it to 100 posts! My husband suggested that to mark the occasion I should give away a Swiffer, since I love mine so much. :o)

Since I didn't think of anything cute or creative to do, I thought I'd use this post as an opportunity to say "Thanks" to all of you. My previous post was a difficult one to write and you guys were incredibly supportive, as always. I really don't know how to properly thank you for all of the comments, e-mails, and prayers. Please know that I appreciate every one of you so much! Your words of understanding, encouragement, and support were amazing. I've gone back to read them again and again.

I have been doing pretty well over the past few days. We enjoyed a nice Easter weekend at our house with my husband's sister. My husband's brother and his wife welcomed their baby boy on Good Friday, so we have a brand new nephew! We haven't met him yet, but hope to in the next few months (they live in another state). We will be very busy over the next couple of weeks with visits from my sister and from Chuck's parents, as well as another trip to Louisiana before the month is over. Busy is definitely good for me right now.

One thing I've learned is that the best thing about this blog is the community of readers and other bloggers. I love getting to know you through your blogs and comments. So if you're reading this, be sure and let me know! If you've never commented before, now's your chance! Leave me a comment. I'd love to meet you.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Holding On


I've been struggling with a question lately. Well, that's an understatement. It seems that daily I struggle with innumerable questions. The latest one, though, is this: Am I depressed?

Like many of you, I use blogging as a form of therapy. It is definitely not always easy to think about and communicate all of the feelings I have about infertility and loss. It's difficult, but writing about it and getting it all out there does help some. Something interesting about it, though, is the passage of time. It feels like the minutes, hours, and days are so slow that you almost feel like you're moving backwards. But somehow, after you trudge along in slow motion with your head down for what feels like forever, you look up and realize that years have passed. Not a couple of years. Not even just a few years. Seven or eight years -- almost a decade of hoping, wondering, worrying, trying, failing, grieving, and finally letting yourself hope again. The cycle is endless, with reminders every month that nothing has changed.

Something is different for me lately. While it is certainly true that every miscarriage is utterly devastating, there have been a couple that had an even greater impact.

The first one was so unexpected. I thought, "Is this really happening to me?"

The second was so much like the first. I realized there might be something wrong.

The third told me that something definitely wasn't right but I was sure that with some help we could fix it.

The fourth miscarriage sent me into complete despair. I was so sure this was it and we'd made it so far. Our baby was growing and developing and had a great heartbeat. We were so hopeful and then all was lost.

After the fifth I began to go numb, and after the sixth I was heartbroken and still haven't "recovered" more than two years later.

I really can't explain why the last one has left me feeling that I'm down for the count, but I know that something in me is changed. At first I thought that in the months it took me to grieve, maybe I had just developed some bad habits. I couldn't get motivated to do anything. I didn't want to go anywhere or see anyone. I ate a lot of food that wasn't good for me. I didn't want to cook. I didn't even want much to do with my favorite activities, unless it involved getting lost in a book or a movie for a few hours so I might have a distraction. I began to rely more and more on my husband to take care of things and to try to cheer me up.

I wish I could tell you that I was that way for a few months two years ago and now I've put myself back together, but I'm afraid things really haven't changed at all. I can't believe that it has been this long and I can't seem to get a hold on things. Although I am sad, it's not just sadness. At the same time, it's not completely crippling. It's something that I don't know how to name. Is it depression? Not just "It's a dreary day today and I feel depressed," but Depression with a capital D. I'm not too proud to admit that it may be. Although I have no real experience with it, I think I need to own up to what's going on. I know that I'm a joyful person. I love to laugh. I'm not lazy or reclusive. I like being with people. I want to enjoy my life. I don't want to be controlled by my circumstances, and I'm tired of feeling like I have no control over my emotions.

It has been gradual but I've been realizing that I'm not quite myself, and I really want to make that better. I know that unfortunately I can't just snap my fingers and make it happen. I'm not asking for advice so much as encouragement and your prayers. As much as I hate this feeling that I'm just barely holding on, I can't help but try to remain hopeful. After all, I'd rather be here barely holding on to Jesus than anything else.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Cure for Homesickness

I have been feeling extremely homesick for the past couple of weeks. When Friday evening came around, Chuck came home from work and we talked about the weekend's to-do list. I'm pretty sure there wasn't a single fun thing on this list which included yard work, touching up some ceiling paint, and cleaning out the garage. While he went outside to get the first thing, mowing the lawn, crossed off of the list, my mom called to tell me that they had decided to barbecue on Saturday. She said she knew it was last-minute but she thought she might ask in case we could come. My sister and her family were going to be there too. As much as I wanted to go, I was pretty sure we couldn't do it. After all, there was so much to do around here, not to mention that Chuck has been playing guitar at our church on Sundays. I felt terrible asking, but he immediately said he wanted to go. He knew how much I'd been missing home, so he called to make sure he wouldn't be missed too much on Sunday. We packed an overnight bag and left on Saturday morning.

Sometimes I really crave the country. It takes us a little more than 3 hours to get to the house where I lived from age 11 until age 18, and where my family still lives today. I don't miss the house -- actually we always try to convince them to move to another house. The one they live in gives them far more trouble than it's worth. What I miss most is just the whole feeling of being home. Once we get off of the interstate and cross the state line into Louisiana, I begin to feel myself relax. I welcome the sight of the pine trees, wildflowers growing along the road, and road signs designating the parish lines. I don't even mind that once we enter Louisiana the speed limit changes to 55 mph. It's okay with me that we can slow down a little bit for a few days.

And I think that's part of it. I like a slower pace. Certainly there are pine trees and wildflowers where I live in Texas. I like where we live, but sometimes I simply long for what is familiar. I can let my guard down at home when I'm among my family. I don't have to pretend like everything is okay, or put on a brave face. I can just "be."

We spent Saturday enjoying hot dogs, pork chops, and delicious hamburgers from Mom's kitchen and my step dad's grill. We sat around the table and played a board game that lasted for several hours. We laughed, ate, played, relaxed, and ate again. I snuggled with my nephews and colored pictures with them, and I marveled at how much they'd grown in the past few months -- Nephew A had lost his first tooth since we last saw him! It was hard to leave everyone the next day after such a short visit, but driving 6 hours (round trip) in two days was worth it. It helped me feel connected again. The fact is that I've been in a constant state of sadness for weeks now... or is it months? If I were being honest I would admit that it's more like years.

These moments away, where I can relax in the welcoming arms of my family no matter how briefly, are just what I need to push through sometimes. This weekend the only cure for my homesickness was going home.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Crawfish Season

Last weekend we had our first crawfish boil of the year. Chuck did the cooking for a group of about 40 people from our church. He did a great job! The tables were loaded down with crawfish, corn, potatoes, mushrooms, garlic, and lemons, and it was delicious! I have been particularly homesick for Louisiana lately, so it was nice to have a little taste of home. We had a busy weekend of planning and shopping for the event. We were really glad that it went well and everyone enjoyed it.


Chuck manning the pots:


Our group went through almost all of the vegetables and 120 pounds of crawfish. Chuck and I claimed the leftovers, which we peeled and cooked in a wonderful crawfish casserole. I want to share the recipe here on the blog for anyone who might be interested. I got this recipe from my best friend's mom. She and I enjoyed this casserole many times when we were growing up! I was fortunate to have so many wonderful meals from her kitchen and my own mother's kitchen when I was younger.

Crawfish Casserole

1 stick margarine
1 med/small onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 small can Ro-tel, drained
1 can cream of mushroom
2 c. cooked rice
1/4 c. chopped parsley
2 lbs. crawfish tails
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
bread crumbs
additional seasoning to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
First, begin cooking rice. In a separate pot, saute onion and bell pepper in margarine. Add crawfish and Ro-tel tomatoes. Stir and cook 5 minutes. Add corn and cream of mushroom. Stir and cook additional 5 minutes. Stir in cooked rice and parsley. Add seasonings (I use garlic salt, a little black pepper, and of course, Tony Chachere's). Put mixture in a greased casserole dish and top with bread crumbs. Bake 30 minutes or until center begins to bubble.

Putting the ingredients together on the stovetop:



Crawfish casserole ready to go into the oven:



I hope you get to try this out!


NOTE: I've been told that shrimp works just as well if you don't care for crawfish or have trouble finding it in your area.