Chasing Contentment

Saturday, March 31

We had a wonderful time with my grandparents this week, and they seemed to enjoy themselves as well. My grandmother got great play time with Eliza, which is really precious to me. I've been blessed to have been able to be close to all four of my grandparents... I was in my 30s before I lost either of them. And they all got to meet and love Griffin, though my Bud and Gran never got to meet Eliza.

Anyway, I digress.

We're being lazy tonight. Eliza's already in bed, and the rest of us are watching the 20th Anniversary Kids Choice Awards. We even voted on who should be slimed.

And we're trying to figure out what to do next weekend for my birthday. The sadness surrounding this move of ours comes in waves, usually around big events. Mandy's birthday is the day before mine, and we always celebrated together, and this year we won't. I think we're both pretty bummed about that.

So I keep trying to think of something fun for us to do. I wanted to go to the beach, but since it's Easter weekend, we can't find an open room anywhere. And we can't afford to pop over to Disney for the weekend. I considered the Nick Hotel, but we haven't decided that for certain.

I received some remarkably touching comments regarding my body image posts, and I'll write about those tomorrow. Now, as long as I'm being lazy, I've got to go update my Netflix list.

[  posted by Chel on Saturday, March 31, 2007  ]

Monday, March 26

I've discovered the secret to having it all. No joke.

I'm currently sitting in a clean house, and I had a homecooked meal that I didn't have to cook. All of my laundry is done, and my kids are happy. As I look around the room, I see a few things that still need to be done, but I feel no guilt in not doing them.

In fact, I'm planning instead to take a nice, hot bath and read a good book. Or maybe just a bunch of magazines. And then, we're going to watch old episodes of "MONK" that we haven't watched this season and are still in our TiVo. Life's good.

Oh... the secret? My grandparents came to visit. My grandfather has fixed countless things around the house, and my grandmother's not happy unless she's cleaning something. She could move in and stay if she wanted.

[  posted by Chel on Monday, March 26, 2007  ]

Saturday, March 24

I mailed off the necklace I made for Kat (the winner of my piece in the Ultimate Blog Party), and she likes it! yay. She even put a picture of it on her blog.

[  posted by Chel on Saturday, March 24, 2007  ]

Tuesday, March 20

Moments after I got onto Griff for disobeying me, I heard him mumbling in his room, "I hate me, I hate me, I hate me." We never have to discipline him harshly. He'll take care of that himself. But the self-loathing drives me crazy.

Mainly, I suspect, because I know he gets it from me. I do the same thing.

He and I just had a discussion about how he has to learn to let things go, about how it's okay to make a mistake and about how we just need to learn from our mistakes and keep going. I really do give quite a lovely speech. I just can't seem to take it to heart myself.

I've got a double standard.

I can't let anything go. I could name wrongs I've committed against pretty much everyone I know... literally, things that keep me up at night sometimes. Things that I'm fairly sure few of them recall.

When I was a teenager, I was once grounded from using the telephone (as every child of the 1980s was, I'm sure), but I used the phone anyway when my folks were away (in the stone ages before cells). I vividly remember one night at dinner when, after my little brother ratted me out, my father asked me point blank if I was using the phone.

And I looked at that little face (he's seven years younger than I am, so he was probably the age Griff is now), and I lied. I hung the poor kid out to dry. Now, I have no idea if he remembers that or not, but if he came to me and said he just couldn't get past it, I would think he had a good arguement.

See. I'm a little nuts. If something goes wrong somewhere, I'm pretty sure it's my fault. Mike says I could find a way to make global warming my fault (I use aerosol hair spray), I would. If the computer breaks while Mike's using it, he assumes something is wrong with the computer. If it breaks while I'm using it, I assume I broke it.

That's probably one reason I'm feeling such stress at work. I fail to give myself credit for starting a job in a completely new and different - very analytical - field after 15 years in a more creative environment. I went from doing something I was really good at (now Linda & Aleece are free to disagree with my own assessment of my writing as they worked with it on a daily basis for years) to something very foreign to me.

So instead of telling myself that I'll get it in time (which is what my co-workers are telling me and what I, in fact, am telling the new group of people coming into this job - see? double standard), I tell myself that I'm not smart enough to get it or something similar.

I wrote a few days ago about something I am struggling with, and I haven't been able to decide if I want to post about it here or not. But I've always tried to be very transparent about myself here, and not talking about it seems like hiding. Plus, this is so at the forefront of my thinking lately that I'm pretty sure I either need to write about it or quit writing for a time. And that seems like quitting.

And quitting just feeds into this vicious circle of personal dislike.

So ... here goes.

Well, it'll go here soon. I'm going to go take a Chel's a Chicken break to do some laundry and figure out what to say.

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, March 20, 2007  ]

(I'm posting this after the first post of the evening, so that the three of you who are reading - and many thanks to each of you - can read these in order.)

Ok. So I'm going to keep going tonight, though I admit that I've considered not. But that would be pretty lame, now wouldn't it?

So my biggest issue ... probably of my life ... is a small and petty issue when compared with some that other people face. I will readily admit that. But I also believe that when we compare struggles we all come out on the losing end, and we diminish what we each face.

That said, I have some self-image issues. That's my PR way of saying that. The ugly voice-in-my-head way of saying it is that I'm fat. In our house, the 'f' word isn't a four letter curse word but rather a three letter derogatory word. Usually, the word's banned unless it's used in reference to yucky stuff on chicken. So you can tell when things are really bad when that's the word I use in reference to myself.

I'm not skinny. I'm not the side of a barn, either. On a good day, I would say that I'm a curvy mama of two with a body built for loving. I'd say that my body was strong enough to give life to these two little beings and one that is strong enough to keep us all strong together.

On a bad day, I'd have less pleasant things to say.

My parents did countless lovely things for me when I was a child. One of the less lovely things was that they placed a strong sense of value on physical appearance (they offered to buy me a car when I was 16 if I lost a certain amount of weight & that seemed perfectly reasonable to me at the time). To this day, deep inside, I feel like a fair bit of my personal worth is wrapped up in how I look.

I know that when things are tense for me or when I'm worried about something serious (like not feeling competent at my job), I tend to obsess on my weight and my appearance. And then I get swept into this icky cycle of my icky thoughts feeding on one another.

Here's the really icky thing... the thing I dislike the most isn't that I'm overweight. It's that I have this idea that I'm too lazy to really set a goal of any sort and work for it. Ugh.

Now I'm sure my friends are reading this and making lists in their heads of things I've accomplished that disprove that assumption in my head. And I am eternally grateful for them and their support.

And it isn't as if my health isn't okay. I've never had a doctor suggest that anything was wrong with my weight. And it isn't as if I am not able to enjoy my family or whatever activities I want. And it isn't as if Mike isn't perfectly happy with my body (God love him).

So this big blah of mine tonight is me saying that I need to be kinder to myself than I currently am... that I need to as kind to myself as I am to others. And so I'm going to make an attempt to do that. And I'm going to try to think about healthier living rather than weight loss. And I'm going to make an effort to see the lovely in me.

So there. My big confession done.

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, March 20, 2007  ]

One more thing... in a gesture of full disclosure, I will post the first photos of myself here on this blog. I try really hard to avoid photos of myself, but maybe that isn't a great plan. So here goes. Enjoy.

Me and Eliza at the zoo in Tampa.

The kids and me cooking.

The kids and me on Halloween.

Me and Olivia at Mandy and Josh's in January.

My favorite picture of me... taken by Griff.

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, March 20, 2007  ]

Sunday, March 18

We went to another Astros game today, and it was perfect. The weather was lovely... we all ate ballpark food... and the Astros won. Griff even had a little friend from school go with us, so that was good, too.

[  posted by Chel on Sunday, March 18, 2007  ]

Saturday, March 17

We painted the kitchen today. I'm thrilled with how it turned out. I took some photos of the kitchen and the new living room (which will be far groovier when we have furniture in it). The photos aren't great, but here they are.

The living room after dark (if you look closely, you can see Eliza on a beanbag under a pink blanket.)

Another living room shot... this time facing the kids' rooms.

The nook next to the kids' rooms. Obviously, the pink one is Eliza's.

My cow shelf.

The fridge & Griff's art shelf.

I never claimed to be able to take a decent photo, but I paint reasonably well (again, many thanks to Aleece for the invaluable tip to wrap my brushes and rollers in plastic wrap when not in use!). I feel a little bit like this house is like our new lives here... it was all white and blank when we moved in, but we're adding our own colors to it to make it home, to make our lives homey.

[  posted by Chel on Saturday, March 17, 2007  ]

Sometimes I think I just have to choose to rest in the comfort of believing that something is God's will, even if it isn't so pleasant at the time. That belief that God is working in my life - maybe through my life - can make a situation tolerable when it feels less than.

I worked for 15 years in a Christian environment (though without a doubt, not everyone acted in a Christian manner), and when we moved, I prayed that God would place me in a different environment so He could use me to touch the people around me. He did just that, but I hadn't realized how hard it would be.

In that previous job, I had done public relations, and I prayed that God would allow me to do something different that would use my PR skills but would also allow me to expand beyond that. He did just that when he gave me this particular job, but I had no idea how hard it would be to learn such vastly different activities.

So here I am, working in exactly the situation I requested from God and not being so happy in it. But I do know that God wouldn't have given me what I requested if the request hadn't been planted in my heart by Him.

I applied and interviewed for several PR jobs once we moved here, and I was certainly qualified for each one. But I wasn't offered any of those. And I was offered this job almost immediately. So I know that God has me in this job for a purpose.

This week was really hard at work. I'm behind - which I personally hate - and I'm tired of not knowing exactly what to do (it's a little demoralizing to go from being really good at something to not), and I'm tired of people yelling at me on the phone (though I am getting better at it).

But I keep reminding myself that this is where God put me, and I do believe deeply in His plans ... and that they are far better than my plans for myself and that, quite often, they are beyond my understanding at the moment.

[  posted by Chel on Saturday, March 17, 2007  ]

Thursday, March 15

This is kinda the way things feel today.

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, March 15, 2007  ]

Monday, March 12

Today, I'm tired and discouraged and in a not-so-swell mood. My throat is sore, and I'm struggling with some things in my head (which Mike says happens way too often), and I'm not quite sure what to do about those things (for the sore throat, I just took a Sudafed - which annoys me now that I have to buy it behind the counter, but that's another story).

I've always tried really hard on this blog to be very transparent about who I am and what I'm feeling. (I've always, also, been very vague about the work I do and where I do it. I'm not stupid, you know.) Anyway, I'm struggling with these things, and I can't decide whether or not to say them here, to express them in this way. That feels ... well, like I would be too vulnerable.

And yet, that's what I seek to show... that, at least for me, the Christian faith has immeasurable strength thanks to our Lord even while I have equally immeasurable weakness. And I think that's okay. But this particular weakness is one... well, I can't decide about putting it out there.

Sorry for the vagueness. I'm going to think about how to best address this, both in my life and on this blog. But for now, Mike just got home with a Diet Coke for me, and I haven't had one in hours now. (I know, I'm addicted. Whatever.)

[  posted by Chel on Monday, March 12, 2007  ]

Sunday, March 11

Mike has given me the most amazing gift today... a simple one, really, but a cherished something that I've yearned for lately. He's given me an hour or so here at home alone.

That probably doesn't sound like much, but I could count the times that I've had this much time at home alone since we moved here on one hand, most likely with digits to spare. And social though I am, I do love a bit of solitude.

And now, an entire hour spreads out ahead of me, and I have so many options of ways to spend that hour. It feels lush and lovely. And I am grateful for small but powerful blessings... and for a man who knows me well enough to know how much this means to me.

[  posted by Chel on Sunday, March 11, 2007  ]

Friday, March 9

Well, we've made it through another really long week, and we're delighted to have reached the weekend. Our niece and nephew are spending the weekend with us, so the kids are playing while Mike and I chill out a bit.

I've promised them a nighttime, glow-in-the-dark Easter egg hunt, so the girls... one of them... keeps bugging me about it, but she's underestimated my ability to wait her out.

And since it's Friday, and I don't much feel like blogging about all of the things I keep thinking "I should blog about that," I'll answer Tammy's fresh friday for today.

1. Five foods you can't stop eating... chocolate, Dibs, chips and salsa and queso, fresh strawberries, Hot Tamales
2. Five things you have to do every day or you will GO NUTS... have several Diet Cokes, hug & kiss Mike and the kids, check my email, read the comics (even though it kills my journalist Mike that some days I read the comics but not the front page), and wash my face before bed
3. Five things you must have in your home (no points for bed, tv, fridge, etc.)... Books, TV Guide, candles, colored walls, Diet Coke
4. Five smells that make you happy... cinnamony Christmas candles, fresh chocolate chip cookies, puppies, new babies, Lush candy bar bath bar
5. Five things that get you through the day... Mike's love and strength, faith that God really is in control, the promise of slipping into our heavenly bed with Mike at the end of the day, Diet Coke (sometimes in combination with Advil)

Clearly, I see a Diet Coke pattern. I think I'll go get fresh ice, squeeze a lime onto it and crack open a fresh DC.

[  posted by Chel on Friday, March 09, 2007  ]

Wednesday, March 7

Ok, so the Blog Party is so groovy, but my eyeballs are going to dry up and fall out before I can check out all of the blogs. Mike's making fun of me because I'm now obsessed with seeing them all. He also thinks my method of spot-determining if I'll read one is interesting, to put it kindly.

And I'm not sure I'm going to be able to find all of the notes I've made... I've just been jotting down blog numbers from the Mr. Linky list on whatever paper was handy. And now they're a little mixed up with my American Idol vote numbers. You know, I'm writing half of this in the dark as we try to get the kids to bed, so all of my numbers are running together.

But tomorrow night, I'm going to try to do a quick recap of the ones I've liked the best so far... knowing that it'll easily be into next week before I check out them all. Whew.

[  posted by Chel on Wednesday, March 07, 2007  ]

Tuesday, March 6

I've been delighted to have had so many lovely comments this week from the Blog Party. I've had some that I've wanted to leave responses to, but, of course, I haven't gotten to it (it's been a bit of a difficult week this week). So I'm just going to post all of them here... Enjoy... And thanks so much for visiting. I've been honored.

Let's see... First, thanks to everyone who complimented my jewelry. I am still a bit amazed that I can make things that are pretty and sturdy enough to wear. It was more a surprise to me than to anyone else. And Lissete, it's easy to get started. Start small and build up... put the beads together however they look good to you.

Carrie, we're not from Texas, but we just moved to Florida from Louisiana, and Mike grew up in Baton Rouge listening to the Astros on the radio & watching them on tv. He's currently teaching a night class to earn the money to pay for the MLB package on Direct TV. And we're loving spring training. Mike and Griff are skipping school tomorrow to go to the game.

And to those of you who were so kind as to leave encouraging comments about Griff (and me) finding friends. I am deeply appreciative of the prayers.

Enjoy your continued blog partying.

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, March 06, 2007  ]

Monday, March 5

I think the heartbreak of feeling your child's heart break is one of the most painful hurts of all hurts.

Griff and I have these odd little intimate conversations at random times, often in the van. Mike's teaching a night class this month two nights a week, and so the kids and I headed out to the Target this evening after finishing homework. On the short drive, Griff shared such sad feelings of missing friends and wishing he had friends here that I'm pretty sure I could feel my heart splitting into little pieces.

He was telling me about how he isn't popular (How did kids get to be popular at 8? I don't remember that until middle school, myself.) and about how the kids don't like him because he's the new kid and because he's 'gross.' (His word, not mine.) And I thought all eight-year-old boys were gross.

And the poor kid is going to have to move to another new school next year thanks to rezoning. I tried to explain that by next year, all the kids will be new, but it didn't much seem to matter.

And I tried to explain that a little boy's mom called just today to see about a play date, but he said that little boy doesn't seem to like him much at school because he's popular. (Mike pointed out that the kids here seem to be growing up far faster than the kids in our previous hometown, and that may be part of this problem.)

And Griff finished with, "I just wish I could have my old friends here." And what else was there to say except, "me, too."

Because, let's face it, I miss my old friends, too. And I've met one girl at work that I go to lunch with sometimes, but I still have yet to refer to her as 'my friend.' That seems too intimate for what we are.

I miss talking to Mandy in the street at night, waving off the mosquitos and knowing the daily blurbs of one another's lives. She has this new daughter who wouldn't recognize me if I walked in her door, and I have these kids that Mandy knows so well but about who she now has to ask.

And I miss knowing all the silly, annoying things that Linda's kids are doing. We always gave up something together for Lent, and unless she changed her mind, neither of us formally gave anything up this year. Seems we needed the support... shared misery, maybe.

And I miss driving down to see Aleece on a Saturday just to check in on her and to be checked in on. In general, I miss.

These are those sad days when a hard day at work had me missing my former profession, and then Griff's sadness reminded me of my own. These are those days when I trust that when God led us here, He also intended to provide the friends Griff and I so very much want and need.

And these are the days when, through my tears, I trust Mike when he says that it'll all be okay one day.

[  posted by Chel on Monday, March 05, 2007  ]

Sunday, March 4

It was a beautiful day for baseball.

There were whispy white clouds dotting the clear blue sky, and the home team trounced the visiting Nationals. We had big pretzels with way too much salt and yummy lemonade, and Mike nearly caught a foul ball.

It was such a perfect day for Astros fans, in fact, that Mike and Griff are going back on Wednesday for a second round of spring training action. I so wish I could go with them.

But we'll all go again, and Mike and I already have plans to get a sitter so we can go to a night game together. He says we'll take a blanket and get cheap tickets and sit on the hill in the outfied. How romantic is that?

[  posted by Chel on Sunday, March 04, 2007  ]

Saturday, March 3

Read my VisualDNA Get your own VisualDNA™

[  posted by Chel on Saturday, March 03, 2007  ]

Friday, March 2

Hi! Welcome to Chasing Contentment!

If you've come from the Ultimate Blog Party at 5 Minutes for Mom, I hope you're enjoying the party. I can hardly wait to get the kids in bed tonight, so I can party hop! (You know how hard it can be to party with a 3-year-old in nothing but her panties hanging on your leg and an 8-year-old watching a bunch of Disney shows & trying to confide in you about bullies at school.)

But since you're here now, I should tell you about me. I think that, way too often, when women describe themselves, they tell what they do rather than who they are. Or we list our roles in life rather than our qualities. Because it's easy to do that & frankly, none of us have enough time for much that's not on the easy path (Eliza ate Easter bunny marshmallows for breakfast because it was easier than insisting she eat cereal).

So here's the easy list of Chel...

What I do & the roles I play... mid-30s woman, wife, mother, employee, daughter, sister, co-worker, in-law, friend, beader, writer, tv junkie, chocolate addict, Diet Coke devotee

I've got two kids, a journalism professor husband, a new home in a new city in a new state and a new job that stretches me to the limits. I'm a Christian seeking to follow Christ to the best of my abilities, knowing that most days I'll fail miserably, thankful that God doesn't ask for success, only efforts.

And here at Chasing Contentment, I pretty much talk about those things. I blog to help myself sort through the things running through my head, and I blog to help those we love who are far away keep up with our crazy lives.

Be warned... I blog just as often about the big scary birds at my place of employment and about my love for Hot Tamales as about anything else. Like me in real life, me in cyber space is sometimes thoughtful and sometimes silly and sometimes just too darned tired to do much of anything.

If you really want to know more about me, you can see my 101 Things in 1001 Days list or 100 Wonderful Things About Me list. (I know... me, me, me.)

Go see my jewelry at CreatedbyChel or read my short story... let me know what you think.
Thanks for visiting... come again sometime. I've gotta go now & try to convince the little kid to go to bed and the big kid to read instead of watching "Hannah Montana" and the really big kid that if it rains tomorrow, we're not going to the Astros' Spring Training game.

[  posted by Chel on Friday, March 02, 2007  ]

Thursday, March 1

After spending my evenings this week being lazy, I'm knee-deep in dirty laundry, so I'm sneaking a little blogging in between loads.

There have been several things on my mind this week... and I'm not really sure what to blog about first. My parents visited us last weekend, and my dad (who Griff has always adored) rode Griff pretty hard about a particular habit of his.

For those of you who don't know us personally, my Mike is 6'2" and walks on his toes. Really. On his toes. Griff does the same thing. Eliza's already doing it. too, though I figure it'll eventually work in her favor when she starts wearing heels.

My dad's worried that the kids will tease Griff about his toe walking, and so he kept talking about Griff about how he needed to stop doing it. By Sunday evening, Griff had asked me if I could get his grandfather to leave him alone. It was heart-breaking on lots of levels.

I believe that kids are going to pick on one another. It's the nature of being children, unfortunately. I figure there are worse things for him to get teased about... how bad is toe walking, really?

Now, our Griff's not your typical 8-year-old boy. He's not interested in sports at all, and while he plays video games, he's not as addicted to them as he was a couple of years ago. He's a smart kid who would rather do science experiments than play outside. He loves "Mythbusters." He's his own little man.

I have said many, many times that the qualities that will make Griff an amazing man will also make it difficult at times to be a little boy.

Much like his daddy, he doesn't much care what people think about him. When I asked him about the kids teasing him, he told me that he just ignores them. And knowing him well, I can believe that.

Of course, my dad insisted that it's impossible for Griff to really blow the kids off. And while I'm quite sure that I know my child better than my dad does (we only see my folks a couple of times a year), it still made me wonder.

I'm thrilled with the fact that I have a kid who is comfortable enough with himself that he can do his own thing and be happy with it. My gosh, how fabulous is that? I wish I were more like that now!

And yet, are we doing him a disservice by not pushing him toward more mainstream 'boy' things? Rather than encouraging his individuality, should we be easing him toward more mainstream activities?

When we made this move, I knew Griff would be okay because he's an easy-going kid. But mostly because I know that as long as he is secure in our love and environment, he can grow his own wings.

And I think we're doing the right things with him. But in thinking about it, I have those mama doubts that come up periodically. I just have to trust that God has given us insights into Griff that others might not have and that if we listen to God's voice and His leadership, we'll be the helping, nurturing parents we need to be.

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, March 01, 2007  ]