12 Years Ago, Tonight

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12 yrs ago tonight, I was waiting for her arrival.

I slept on the floor, by an open window (in Wisconsin!!), I was so hot and nervous.

I adore her more every day. ❤

(other posts about her arrival: The Day I Became a Mother and  A Birth and Rebirth)

Faith, Hope and 41

I look smug about this birthday, don’t I?

Last October 7th, when I turned 40, I spent the day tending to my youngest, who was recovering from a, not-so-minor, out-patient procedure he had done that morning. While I would not recommend celebrating your own birthday in that way, I have to admit, it absolutely kept me from focusing on myself, and the fact that I had entered my FORTIES.

I’ve never been afraid of forty. But admittedly, it still stuns me, at times, that I am in this decade of my life.

At that time, I considered writing something about turning 40, but I stopped myself, because, let’s admit it, I was no expert on 40. All I knew was based on hearsay, and emotion, not, necessarily, reality. I was a mere baby in terms of what I knew and felt about it.  I suppose I still am, but I feel a bit more qualified to speak on it now that I’m ‘older and wiser’… *cough*. Or something.

The last several years have all been magical for many reasons, but this year, the year from 40 to 41, has helped me solidify my belief that I am stronger than I ever realized. It’s been a long, hard, winding road getting to this point, but I love going along it. Sometimes, I want to run ahead and know what’s around the next bend, other times, I want to straggle behind and linger in the moment. But I’m always – always – thankful for every moment of it.

Because, I know where I’ve been.

The week I turned 30, my baby girl turned one and we closed on our first home. While there were many cracks already showing, my 30s appeared, from the outside, to be off to a picture-perfect start.

Nearly everything changed from 30 to 40. So much was given and so much was taken away. Sometimes, I feel as though I lived 20 lifetimes in that decade. It was a difficult one, on many levels. I wrote about it a lot on this blog, before the bottom fell out (again), but if you were to go back and look for them, you might not know it. I white-washed much of it. I wanted to find meaning in all of the difficulties, and the suffering. I wanted, desperately, for it to have been for a reason. I needed to find that reason and know it. But, it’s not always easy to see or understand. Sometimes, it just takes faith.

My 30s were built on faith. That was all I had. My 40s are being built on hope.

I am realizing what is meant by older and wiser. I wish it came with a few less wrinkles and sags, but I am trying to embrace those as well.

There are countless variables in life, and I know that anything can happen, at any moment. I see it every day. And that is where the lessons of my 30s, those built on faith, become invaluable. If I didn’t have those, I would be living in fear, because I’ve seen too much happen, and I know what can happen.

But I also know the beauty that can come from those very things; when the wounds become scars.

A wound is messy and always susceptible to being reopened or infected. A scar is where it has healed; a reminder of what was and what is. It does not have to be a shameful reminder.

And that is what gives me hope.

Here’s to my forties.

(linked up with JustWrite)

A Note From a Frustrated Runner

I’m frustrated.

Running has been a close friend for most of my life. I was one of the fastest runners in my elementary school. I ran track in high school. I ran for fun in college. I ran to lose the baby fat after my babies were born. I ran to stave off panic attacks and depression. I ran for clarity in the days leading up to my divorce. I ran for sanity after it. It’s my time to think. Clear my head. I feel good and free when I run.

Except when I don’t.

Recently, my runs have become sporadic and more difficult. This saddens me, because, regardless of the reasons, I was doing so well in my stamina, distance and endurance for so many years. One of my goals around the age of 35 was to run a marathon by the time I was 40. I turn 41 in less than two months, and I haven’t run one. At this point, a 5K wouldn’t be worth the entry fee.

I am not where I want to be with my running. At all. And it frustrates me.

Maybe it means that my reasons for running have changed.

I’m no longer running away. Or towards something. Or for sanity (ok… that’s questionable…) But I still need the stress relief; the health benefits.

Holy cow, do I need the stress relief. And did I mention I’m almost 41? Hello, belly fat, that won’t go away!

So I’m thinking about documenting it more online here. I dunno know… But I do need accountability. I just know I need to do it, just like I need to Just Write.

Life gets busy, and stressful, but I don’t want to roll over and let it stomp all over me.

Wrapping Our Heads Around Another New Reality

This week, the kids are at their bio-dad’s. It’s their first long visit since last December; only their 3rd visit in that time.

The past two years, visits have been very few and far-between, but recently, he has decided to get them one weekend a month, two weeks in the summer, and a couple of other times during the year.

It’s all been very stressful. When he wasn’t seeing them regularly (and for a long while, not calling) there was a certain mindset I had to go into, in order to shield the children from the reality of the situation. They, too, had to try to make sense of the things that they were aware of, and how things went when they did visit him. They met many different girlfriends/fiancees during that time, and stayed at different places; all very confusing.

But, they adjusted, and coped rather well with the absence. They’ve always been good about asking questions and they asked a lot of them:

Why didn’t he call… again?
Why didn’t he come down for a weekend, when he promised he would?
Why doesn’t he write letters back?

You know, the stuff that screws with anyone, but especially a child.

Every situation is different, and so is every parent/child relationship. Our children want to know things and will drill down to get to the answer. They also know when you are bullshitting them. So, while I haven’t divulged every detail, I haven’t lied and I didn’t sugar-coat what I did tell did them.

Having their reality explained to them in terms that they can grasp, while also knowing, without a doubt, that they are safe, secure and loved, has been a healing balm for them.

We moved forward and created a new normal. One with an absentee father. Because we had too.

But now, we are having to adjust. Again. And it’s been difficult for all of us, because, once again, we are having to wrap our heads around a new reality for them. For our family.

I still feel the need to protect them, and be on guard.

I am, cautiously, thankful that they will now have (*fingers crossed*) regular visits with him.

I am nervous that he will slip back into his old ways, but praying he doesn’t.

I am amazed by the resiliency of children.

*holding breath*

Just Write

This blog is my spot for sifting through my deeper, not-always-pretty thoughts. For the less gritty version of me, be sure to check out my other site: Living The Life Fantastic, where I blog about how we’ve been happily moving forward.

Revisiting “Instagrate to WordPress”… again

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I am so thankful for my iPhone and the ease with which I can stay in touch and take photos of so many moments that would otherwise fade into my foggy memory.

I use Instagram almost daily. I say ‘almost’ because there have been a half-dozen days or so, that I’ve missed since I posted my first photo on it October 16, 2010 (yes – I know the actual date) and the honest, non-exaggerating side of me wins out in this post.

Most of these photos tell great stories without a lot of words, and would make blogging easier if I could use them regularly. But I’ve had many complaints with the WordPress app. While they have made some good updates, I still find myself deciding to wait until I get home to post a photo and caption with it, only to not do it.

So I was thrilled when I found the “Instagrate to WordPress” plugin for WordPress, back in January. It takes your Instagram photos and creates posts from them, using the caption as the post title. The idea intrigued me, so I gave it a shot and was thrilled at first.

But I do take a lot of photos that I only share on Instagram, like when I post screen shots of what we are watching on Netflix. They really aren’t worthy of a post of their own, and might work better if I posted several in a post together.

Every single photo was getting posted to my blog as an individual blog post, and sometimes, what I wrote as my caption made for a real long and/or dumb blog title. I was having to edit my Instagram posts because of how I wanted them to post on my blog, which was a big ‘ol hassle… I became annoyed. So I deactivated it, and submitted a couple of requests/suggestions to the plugin author.

I’ve kept my eye on it, hoping that some of these changes would be implemented, allowing a bit more control of how things post (eg: the option to post several photos in a collage in a single post), and the number of accounts you can use on it (I really wanted to use it on Living the Life Fantastic and have both mine and Randy’s accounts linked to it). This past week I noticed that many changes have been made to it. I’m super excited to look into it more and see how they work. The drawback: many of the changes I want are in a premium version, selling for $35. Not sure if my laziness is work that or not :/

I’m curious if any of you have tried out the premium version, or if you have another way to easily make posts from your IG photos. Or feel free to tell me to just get over it.